“Kill Yourself for your Customer” - Lessons from Mort Mandel

“Kill Yourself for your Customer” – Lessons from Mort Mandel

May 14, 2015

What is it that enables a $900 auto-parts business to grow into a $3 billion multinational electronics corporation? One 93 year old, self-made billionaire, entrepreneur and philanthropist knows the answer.

On Friday, 26 March, the EDI staff had a rare opportunity and privilege to meet privately with Mort Mandel. EDI, through Vice President Ben Dansker, has served Mandel Foundation – Israel in a consulting role ever since its founding 24 years ago. Through the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem and its leadership centers in Beer Sheva and the north, the Mandel Foundation – Israel runs Israel’s top leadership training programs for professionals in the education and nonprofit sectors.

Founder of various entrepreneurial ventures and 13 non-profit organizations, Mandel lives and breathes the American dream. He attributes his achievements largely to the high quality of personal relations and ethical values in his family.

During our discussion, Mandel highlighted several of what he believes are keys to success for any company or organization. While many of them may not be new or revolutionary, they carry greater weight when emanating from a true master.

  • “Kill Yourself for your Customer” – The client should be the focus. That means sacrificing for clients and demonstrating that one is willing to go to great lengths to satisfy their needs and beyond.
  • “Find a need and fill it” – Any company or organization must clearly identify and define its niche and how it seeks to improve the lives of others. It must also determine how best to maintain and serve that niche.
  • The “beacon” or “moral compass” by which an organization or company navigates and builds success are its values. For Mr. Mandel, this means integrity, respect, honesty, courtesy and self-sacrifice—he calls them “the best of Western values.” In a (Yiddish) word, menschlichkeit. He argues that these values must pervade an organization. Not only should they be discussed and exemplified by the leadership, but they should also be printed and posted throughout the workplace so that employees understand clearly what is expected.
  • Having the right people is critical in any organization, even if it means “parking” them somewhere until a clear or suitable role is found for them. “A players” are gold—talent that is relatively scarce in the world and sought by all organizations, companies, governments alike. “A players” are characterized by their intellectual firepower, values, work ethic, passion and experience.
  • In Mandel’s experience, the most important thing to look for in an employee is “intellectual firepower”. Yes, work ethic, experience, and values are important but a person’s intelligence and capacity to innovate is what can make an organization/company thrive.
  • Growth is a frame of mind and is dependent on attitude. Mandel believes that at the end of the day 95% of companies can grow if they proficiently define growth while understanding, as well, their obstacles to growth.

Overall, Mandel places utmost importance on an organization’s people and values as the determining factors for propelling its future.

The author of It’s All About Who is, of course, still working, still ideating and still creating. Exactly what you would expect from a self-made man.


Michael Platt

VP Strategy & Business Development

Michael, EDI's VP Strategy & Business Development, is responsible for business development and inward investment promotion for EDI’s clients. His primary tasks include targeting potential leads, business development consulting, conducting market research, writing feasibility studies and facilitating communication between companies.