Being a founder, not to mention a CEO, can be a very lonely place, carrying loads of stress and required to constantly be at peak performance. This often makes it hard to find balance between one's professional and personal life. Maintaining strong relationships with the co-founders and investors, is also not an easy task, where clarity and empathy are not always present. As one of my entrepreneurs says: “It’s not the technological challenge we deal with, it’s the mental one”.
"Throughout my +15 years as a professional, I've always been attracted to the intersection of business and psychology through entrepreneurship - What makes people tick? How do people think and act? And what motivates people in business? What drives me is being there for the amazing entrepreneurs, who are under constant pressure, so that they can make our world a better place. That’s what I’m here for, and this is my podcast – The Human Founder."
Omer Keilaf, CEO & Co-Founder of Innoviz
Omer’s family was involved in a major car accident when he was a young boy. His mother, who was a ballet dancer and owned a studio, never went back to her bar, and his sister was seriously injured. It took them many years to overcome this experience.
Years later - Omer drove his motorcycle, and once done with his ride - he told himself that he was lucky enough to avoid the statistics of 1.3 million people dying on the roads every year and that 80% of car accidents are caused by human error.
With this significant purpose - he goes to sleep and wakes up to another day, bringing safety to mobility, trying to decrease the number of car accidents and save lives.
Omer shares how when establishing Innoviz, they faced a big challenge dealing with a technological gap they weren't aware of. They understood that the problem they thought they needed to solve initially was not at all the right one. 5.5 years later, in April 2021 - Innoviz went public through a SPAC merger on Wall Street, with a valuation of $1.4 billion.
Omer shares his path in Unit 81 of the IDF, and how his character was built along the 7 years he spent there. He took from there many lessons and attributes - commitment and creativity were a couple of them. In the beginning ,when he first thought about Innoviz - he had 26 ideas. Innoviz was only #18 on the list. He has decided to solve a problem that wasn't solvable, but if someone can do it - it’s his team.
In Unit 81 he spent 2 periods - the 1st one taught him how to be an amazing integrator - to challenge the experts under unbelievable pressure and tight deadlines, so that the only thing that pushes you forward is the strong passion that you derive from what you do, knowing how important it is. Their slogan was: Capability, Passion, Commitment - making the impossible-possible. The 2nd period - he was leading tech projects, the decision maker. What he learned from there - is the power of communication and transparency - a culture he brings into Innoviz, creating trust and making everyone approachable.
Omer shared the way he sees a 1st time experience - when your eyes are fresh, you feel confident, ask questions, make your voice heards and not necessarily take things as they are - that’s where you have an impact and can lead to a healthy change.
As team leaders - you have to educate and explain things - that’s where you learn as well. Omer earns his points when he is able to share something new he has learned. His job as a CEO is to learn new things>>see the blind spots>>solve problems and>>connect the dots. Not to spend time in meetings.
Omer, 2*Orens, and the whole Innoviz Team are on a very important mission, committed to save lives. You can feel it from Omer’s vibe when he speaks about what they do and the problem they are solving. Omer shows honest, mindful, empowering and humble leadership, wrapped in a very calm and balanced personality.