Abstract ideas turn into reality only by means of taking massive and immediate action.
An early entrepreneur Dekel Berenson has been involved in Internet start-ups since 2001. Founder of Kindness-365.org, a year long video based kindness challenge, he now focuses on his passions – charitable work and filmmaking. Originally from Israel, he lived in Budapest, London and New York before embarking on a five years trip around the world, reaching far away places as the North Pole and Mount Everest.
Where did the idea for Kindness-365 came from?
I first went online in 1995 when I was 16 and within a month I was already coding websites. I designed one of the earliest TV fan sites. It was dedicated to the X-Files, and just as I got it manually listed on Yahoo! (this was before Google existed) it was shut down by FOX for copyright infringement. In 2001 I was already starting up Internet companies and when I recently decided to start up a charitable organization I naturally went online. After just six months, kindness-365.org already has more than 10,000 members.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
When I’m settled down someplace and not travelling, I have a morning routine which consists of a cold shower, 10-15 minutes of guided meditation and an early gym workout. As I practice intermittent fasting, I skip breakfast, and I like to get all work related activities out of the way by noon, so I can concentrate on what really matters to me, which currently is filmmaking.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Abstract ideas turn into reality only by means of taking massive and immediate action. Once I’ve decided to pull the trigger on a project and bring it to life – I will do little else until it is materialized and an absolute success. Take for example my first short film – from the moment I decided to leave The London Film School to write, direct and produce a film on my own, I’ve put all my efforts into it, working up to 18 hours a day. Within less than three months I had a ready 32 minutes film. At about the same time my former classmates had finished editing their 2.5 minutes exercise.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I am excited that going back to basics, be it raw food, reduced consumption, or disconnecting from technology, is becoming a trend and a symbol of advanced thinking. If that’s not irony, I don’t know what is.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I don’t just think out of the box. I take the box, burn it and everything that’s inside of it, and then start from scratch. It doesn’t matter if it’s business or filmmaking, I will always go with my gut feelings and intuition, disregarding how others are doing things.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I’ve only had one job my entire life. I was 17 and working in technical support for one of the first Internet Service Providers in Israel. Everybody else was at least five years older than me. My dad was one of the managers and because I actually cared about the customers I was working five times harder than anybody else, and I was too young and naïve to be lazy and take thirty minute breaks like everybody else did. After a month of working double shifts and being rated the best support technician, I skipped a mandatory staff meeting, and was subsequently fired. That moment I decided to always be my own boss and I never held a job since.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Absolutely nothing. I’m grateful for every experience. But if I could go back and talk with my 15 year old self, I’d tell myself that my idea to just buy domain names is a good one, and that I shouldn’t let my father discourage me. He distinctly remembers me telling him that we should buy domain names because “one day they will be worth a lot of money”, telling me that I’m just a kid and that I have no idea what I’m talking about.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I tell people to quit their jobs and jump to the deep end of the pool, forcing them to learn how to swim quickly, putting all their time and effort into pursuing their passion, whatever it may be. Only about 5% are able to follow through. The other 95% stick to what they’ve always done and never change. Then they keep complaining that their life isn’t satisfying enough and blame those who took control and stepped out.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Never look at what your competition is doing. Always innovate and let other people copy you. Ask, “what else we can do to make this better”, make the change, and then ask the same question again.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Being a nice guy I’ve often hired the wrong people, wanting to give them a chance. That has never worked for me. Always hire the best.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
When I was 12 I told my best friend that the best way to make money is to start a religion. I still think that’s true.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I will always always, always, always, tell people that the best way to spend $100, or any other amount of money for that matter, is on self education. $100 could buy you three months worth of reading material, teaching you essentially anything.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
For both men and women I would recommend The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida. It is an exploration of the challenges and issues in a man’s life – work, career, dealing with relationships, love sex, and finding ones purpose. I recommend it to women too because it will give them a very deep insight into the masculine psyche and spirit.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Filmmakers Krzysztof Kieślowski and Michael Haneke, and anything by authors/speakers David Deida, Eckhart Tolle, Primo Levi and Alan Watts.