WHAT’S YOUR MOJO – LUCKY 13 with Yanir Yakutiel, CEO and Founder of Lumi

LUCKY 13 WITH YANIR YAKUTIEL, CEO AND FOUNDER OF LUMI

1. What is your business? 

Lumi. We are a tech focused alternative lender. 

2. What would your old school teachers say about you? 

“No good is going to come out of him.” 

On a more serious note, while I spent a considerable amount of time at the headmaster’s office, I did well academically.  

3. What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve received? 

Life is a (very) long game. Always try to help anyone you can whenever you can because not only is it the right thing to do, but life is also a lot easier when the world is full of people that owe you a favour. 

4. What has surprised you most about running your business? 

The amount of time that I would have to dedicate to non-business related things. Those things just never end. Also just how hard it is to find and recruit good staff. 

5. If you could go back 10 years and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be? 

Surround yourself with exceptional people and empower them to be their best, and fire people that don’t perform or fit in culturally faster. 

6. What distinguishes your business from its competitors? 

Apart from being better? I think we really differentiate ourselves by the technology we have built that allows us to scale our business quickly and efficiently. We are genuinely  a best in class tech solution. 

7. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 

In the same place only bigger, better and faster. I love what I do. I love my team and I wouldn’t want to do anything else. I don’t have fantasies about selling the business for a billion dollars and retiring to a tropical island. I’d get bored after the first week. Plus, my wife also loves her work, so she wouldn’t come with me and I wouldn’t want to go without her. 

8. Why do you do what you do?

Simply, because I love it. I am surrounded by incredibly smart and talented people. We are building something amazing together and we are having a great time doing it. I genuinely wake up every morning with a smile and I look forward to getting into the office. Very rarely is there something that I’d rather do than go into work. As they say: find a job that you like and you will never have to work another day in your life. 

9. What’s one piece of writing, speech or advice that you’ve consumed that has had the biggest impact on you? (book, show, TED talk, podcast, etc) 

There are a few, but if I have to choose just one, I have to say it’s an old EconTalk (a podcast) that interviewed the late Christopher Hitchens about his book Why Orwell Matters. I generally love podcasts. I think it’s a great medium and this one is my all time favourite. It combines so many things that I love, but specifically for the context of this question, I think the inspiring thing is both Hitchens and Orwell’s contrarianism. I try to always march to my own beat and I’d like to think that I am very defiant to authority and orthodoxy (hence the intimate knowledge of the inside of the headmaster’s office from the question above). Always call BS when you see it. I think it is also very relevant to business, and especially startups, and not only to political science because startups are quintessentially a contrarian play. You have to firmly believe in something that no one else sees and then convince others to take that leap of faith with you. 

10. If you could be mentored by anyone, who would you choose and why? 

Mmm. Interesting question. Again, I’d choose someone that isn’t traditional. I’d say Madonna. I love how she managed to transform over the years and always remain relevant. I would have also liked the opportunity to be mentored by Winston Churchill. His ability to persist against the odds and recover from setbacks is unparalleled. We remember him as the wartime hero that saved Europe from Nazism, but before he became Prime Minister, his career was defined by failure. In the Australian context, his role as the First Lord of the Admiralty during the Gallipoli campaign was seen as a career ending disaster, but he managed to stage a comeback from the political wilderness and claim the ultimate political prize. He was also a contrarian that had faith in his convictions. 

11. Name a situation where you failed and what you learned from it? 

Wow. So many to choose from. I’ve made and continue to make so many mistakes. I do, however, try (not always successfully) to not make the same mistake twice. I think that realising the team nature of startups was a very good and important lesson to learn. 

12. If someone was to portray you in a show/ movie about your life, who would you want it to be, and what genre would you choose? 

If it was a bio-epic and a time machine was available, I’d like Matthew Broderick to play a younger version of me and give the role a Ferris Bullereque pizzazz. 

13. What do you like to do to relax and unwind? 

My weekends are dedicated to watching my 8 year old son play his various sports. He is obsessed with both rugby and cricket, and having grown up in Israel, both these sports are totally alien to me. Nevertheless, I am an avid spectator and I spend my weekend either at a game, or driving to or from a game. 

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