Yuval is a dream-chaser.
For him, to fulfill his dreams is to feel impact - to make sure his investment of time, energy, creativity, and passion - are all directed towards something he believes in, but also working with people he deeply loves.
Yuval divides the corporate world according to this question: if the company did not exist - how would the world feel? Would it be more sad, happy, or apathetic?
He wants to create a company that if it did not exist - the world would be less of a good place to be, even if just by a little.
JoyTunes has 3 co-founders. Yuval and Roey are mathematicians; Yuval’s brother, Yigal, is a gifted musician. The first phase of JoyTunes took 5 years. Their vision was not clear, but they knew they wanted to be in every single home, to give meaning & value to people. There was a feeling of anguish with what they should begin with, what product they should build…. They were given endless bad advice, but slowly Yuval learned to decipher which advice to question and which to take seriously, who to listen to and who to write off. Above all, they learned about making decisions themselves.
Weigh & score your decisions
Yuval shared with me about the lack of confidence that follows him everywhere as an entrepreneur - he is never sure of his own opinions. We have an inner "machine learning" mechanism that we need to train constantly: our intuition. Yuval learned how to "weigh" the advice he receives - to know how much space and worth it holds, and to understand what the advice is based on. From intently listening to people who talked in absolutes - he sharpened his listening skills to be a smart, informed, experience-based habit so that each piece of advice receives an "internal score" from him that helps him calibrate the advice and know-how to use it.
As CEO, Yuval is implementing this in his company. People always listen to him because “he’s the CEO”, and sometimes, he knows that his opinion can interfere with outcomes. He explained that his employees also need to learn to “weigh” his opinion - and to use it only when it falls under his area of expertise. Yuval shared the importance of trust to facilitate such a work environment, where you can (sometimes) not listen to the CEO. Yuval explained that today, there are moves within the company that he wasn't for, or had concerns about, but sees them succeeding, which is a great lesson to learn.
We spoke about the "good of the company '' test - and that if every member of the company has the company's best interests at heart, then we are not operating from a place of ego, but from a place of openness and greatness.
Another meaningful value in JoyTunes is the value of partnership - every person that joins the company has a role in building and shaping it. As a co-builder - I need to learn and evolve, I have a responsibility. It affects all the perceptions of their policy as well, such as days off and expenses - they treat the company as if it was their own, in terms of responsibility & accountability.
The question arises - how do you maintain this identity when the company grows? And the answer is, on two levels: the first is allowing the feeling of togetherness to grow and the second is providing information at all levels.
Yuval deeply trusts his partners (which includes all his employees). All the information needs to be approachable, and there's information that needs to pass through in a “push”, for example in board meetings. Twice a month the whole company gathers for these meetings. In the first, all the data from the past month be it progress that was made, case studies, stories, are relayed. In the second meeting, they choose what to discuss on the company level, for example, the fears about the growth in the number of people in the company.
Your brother is your co-founders
The foundation was a family affair; Yuval founded the company with his brother Yigal, another brother of theirs was involved, and their parents invested. Roey, the 3rd founder is a good friend and other good friends also joined. Because of the deep familiarity with many of the people - there is a crazy amount of trust they have in one another and their respective talents.
I asked Yuval how it works, being on the company’s journey together with his brother for 10 years...Yuval said that he and Yigal were extra disciplined - when they needed to make a founder’s agreement, they talked deeply and comprehensively about everything, to make sure the proper decisions were made. From the beginning, together with a lawyer and the third founder - everything was on the table. Yuval pointed out that the fact that he is in the company with his brother and friends creates an even greater sense of responsibility in him, "The stretcher lays even heavier on our shoulders".
They constantly use checkpoints to check what's going on strategic wise, where the company is headed and so on. They made clear boundaries, for example, at Friday night dinners, there is no space for talking business. I asked Yuval if they were first brothers or founders, and he answered, “first we are brothers, then friends, then co-founders”.
If they ever fight about the business, they always go back to the “good of the company” test that was mentioned earlier - and remember that they both want what's best for the company. They also understand that because they are brothers, then they can lower the flames a bit, and the burning sensation of the fight is a little less powerful.
Yuval feels that the power of JoyTunes lies in the DNA of its people, and the amazing products they produce. They have a long way to go, with a product that is ambitious and hard to crack, so they need good people to join them that make the long and tough journey a bit more bearable. To get to the level of growth they wish for - they need to be very analytical and data-driven, and alongside that - with a great vision to be the hub of Simply Guitar, Simply piano, simply EVERYTHING…
Yuval likes to use mathematical models to solve organizational problems. And as he put it so beautifully, "probability is the mathematical side of faith". They're in a not-so-simple domain and received very doubting feedback that told them it was not feasible, that it could not be done. Yuval came back unsettled from these conversations, and Roey, his co-founder, told him “So he said so" - and it made everything fall into place. This place, the strong inner faith of Yuval, goes with him all the way. "In the first phase of the company - you have no right to exist until you have proven something. Then suddenly 10% of US music teachers work with you, and you realize you've come up with something. There is a difference between "being blind" and continuing to run with all forces for something that is not necessarily successful and saying that you are resilient once you’ve succeeded. It is measured in the test of the result, and this gap - between luck and ability to execute, is sometimes coincidental, so we must enjoy the road.”
Yuval and the team are facing quite a bit of growth pains today - everyone has their areas of concern. He is particularly concerned about how to maintain their principles even with their growth. We have made it clear that what's important is to preserve the values of the company because sometimes the principles change to suit the evolving reality.
For Yuval, the team is a huge driving force. This is a journey with high peaks and risks, the work is hard - but it’s a "good hard". Yuval shares about many founder-friends who are dealing with great loneliness, some taking anti-anxiety and antidepressants, with the help of professional therapists. And we thought together - that besides having to help those founders to take down stress & anxiety - how good it is to be in a situation where we talk to each other about these things, show our vulnerabilities, share, and consult together. No longer hiding. Yuval shared that he experiences a slew of emotions - but loneliness is not one of them, because he has amazing co-builders by his side.
Yuval and his co-builders make dreams come true through learning to play musical instruments that enable the creation of music. Music is one of the most significant & meaningful things that affect our mood. Music is life itself - in words, melodies, in the meaning of experiences and stories.
I shared with Yuval the story of my late grandfather Shemuel Bloch, whose music saved him in the Holocaust concentration camps, in Theresienstadt and Auschwitz, and allowed him nearly 90 years of a full and happy life - thanks to the harmonica, accordion, organ, and hundreds of students he taught during his lifetime.
Go play, make some music:)