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David Blatt © Gallo Images

NBA coach David Blatt compares basketball coaches to fighter pilots

David Blatt © Gallo Images
at TD Garden on November 14, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. David Blatt © Gallo Images

David Blatt is an Israeli-American professional basketball coach. He immigrated to Israel in 1981 and served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). After years of playing and coaching in Israel he is
currently the coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

When Blatt was asked by ESPN’s Dave McMenamin about facing criticism on the job, Blatt compared his work as a coach to a fighter pilot. Blatt said that both jobs require making many split-second, critical decisions.

USA Today calls Blatt’s analogy “one of the most ridiculous comparisons in coaching history,” but for us Israelis it makes a lot of sense.

The Israeli business culture draws many analogies and idioms from IDF concepts and jargon. Almost all Israeli citizens serve in the military. Many successful individuals also bring their military experience and idioms into the business world.

In American culture it’s considered normal and acceptable to use sports expressions in the business world; and army expressions are the Israeli equivalent.  For example:

Israelis often say “aiming at the target” to refer to striving to reach a goal, whereas Americans might say “driving it home” in a similar context.

Israelis need to “know the borders” while Americans want to understand “the ballpark figure.”

Israelis see negotiations as a “tough battle” with only one winner, while Americans see them as a “league” where more than one team can play.

Different cultures express themselves in different ways, which is liable to lead to misunderstandings. It is vital (or “game-changing,” in American lingo) to have knowledge of your business associate’s culture before doing business with them.

Learning about the origins and characteristics of the Israeli business culture enhances communication, which is the cornerstone of profitable business in our diverse, global economy.


To this end, you may find the book Israeli Business Culture invaluable. You can order it on

Please also feel free to browse the website at and read about the various workshops we offer.

OLM Consulting Founder

Osnat Lautman is a well-known intercultural expert and the author of the Amazon bestselling book ‘Israeli Business Culture’. Osnat is passionate about cultures, connecting humans and breaking through culture barriers. She created the ISRAELI™ model of Israeli business characteristics (Informal, Straightforward, Risk-Taking, Ambitious, Entrepreneurial, Loud, Improvisational) to reveal the foundations of the Israeli innovative culture. Osnat supports many organizations and individuals to effectively connect and engage with Israelis, avoid misunderstanding and maximize the value of combining the innovative Israeli spirit into a multi culture environment.

Osnat is the founder of OLM Consulting and her customer include the Manufacturers’ Association of Israel, The Jewish Agency, Verint, NYU Tel Aviv, the British Embassy, the Swedish Embassy, the Belgium Embassy, FIDF, Israel Defense Ministry delegation in New York, JCC Association, National Bank of Australia, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 888 Holdings, Corning, SkyVision, ObserveIT, MX1, Israel Export Institute, StartApp, Tel Aviv Municipality, and many others.

Osnat lived in Hoboken, New Jersey, from 2009 to 2013. During this time, she started her extensive research on the differences between Israeli and non-Israeli business cultures, including video interviews with businesspeople from numerous origins. The recorded discussions are incorporated into her lectures and workshops for demonstration purposes.

Osnat holds:
M.A in Social Science and Communications, Bar Ilan University, Israel
Certificate in Organizational Development, New York University, New York
Coach License from Co-Active Training Institute, Israel

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