Dr. Ruth Spices Up Youth Summit
It’s mid-May at the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit and the Tel Aviv weather is as unpredictable as the conference lineup. The morning opened with oversized hail that rocked the city and an equally stirring speech by pint-sized spitfire and sex therapist Ruth Westheimer.
In perhaps the strangest-ever confab panel, Westheimer, known as “Dr. Ruth,” doled out sex advice to startup co-founders.
“I promise you good sex for the rest of your life if you can adhere to my [advice],” she quipped.
The world-famous sex therapist yielded the floor to world-famous sex symbol Bar Refaeli, who spoke about her entrepreneurship and, in particular, her partnership with sunglasses chain Carolina Lemke. To Refaeli, being a pretty face isn’t enough to make it these days. The model and actress looks to Kim Kardashian as a role model who has managed to stay current in a fast-paced world.
“Kim Kardashian is the most successful businesswoman that I can appreciate,” Refaeli said, adding that the reality TV star is “super smart.”
“She got famous from a sex tape and managed to become a mega-millionaire,” Refaeli noted.
But, she said, “I never want to become Kim Kardashian,” since that level of fame “is too much for me.”
In a comic moment, 6-foot-10 former NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire posed with 4-foot-7 Westheimer.
The summit also assembled a roster of major names from the venture capital world to mentor the participants.
Stoudemire, who said he might return to Israel next year to resume playing for Hapoel Jerusalem, a club in which he is part owner, told the Journal that he hoped to convert to Judaism, saying it’s on the “the top of my list of things” to do.
This is the first year the summit is global, with entrepreneurs from 38 countries taking part. It is the third year 30 Under 30 is being held in Israel, which according to Forbes’ Chief Content Officer Randall Lane, is the most fitting host country for a conference of this kind.
“We’ve got young entrepreneurs from across the entire world meeting here, in the crossroads to the entire world,” Lane said.
“[Israel] is a place where all worlds come together, so there’s a symbolism there,” he added.
The 700-person event is unique because the only unifying theme is entrepreneurship among millennials. The advantage to that, Lane said, is that participants aren’t in competition with one another. The cross-pollination means that you’ll have boutique doughnut store owners collaborating with developers of a meditation app.
“It’s a conference of people who are doers,” Lane said.
The summit also assembled a roster of major names from the venture capital world to mentor the participants, ranging from Midas List honoree David Fialkow of General Catalyst to Jerusalem Venture Partners founder Erel Margalit.
But it isn’t all work and no play. Festivities included a beach party in Tel Aviv, a bar crawl in Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market, and an all-night music festival in a Bedouin tent in the desert with a performance by Kevin Olusola from a cappella sensation Pentatonix.
Olusola, whose band was one of the recipients of the 30 Under 30 award, was on his first visit to the country.
“It’s amazing to see what’s going on with the tech/startup world in Israel, and to meet such a diverse crowd of intellectuals who are trying to change the world with their creative capital,” he told the Journal.
Of course, the conflict is never far from anyone’s mind in this part of the world. On the last day of the summit, participants will visit the first Palestinian planned town and tech hub of Rawabi, where local problem-solving startups will compete for investment. According to Lane, the idea is to demonstrate that entrepreneurship is the ultimate bridge-building tool.
“There’s a reason a lot a great ideas come from people in their 20s,” Lane said.
“Young entrepreneurs are the ones who are going to solve the problems, not politicians,” he added.