Meet The Disruptors: Raanan Naftalovich Of Shamir On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Don’t be proud — let people give you the advice you need to grow.

As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Raanan Naftalovich.

Raanan Naftalovich has been President of Shamir North America since January 2015. Throughout his tenure, Raanan has been responsible for advancing Shamir’s cutting-edge designs and service capabilities, while investing in developing the North American region’s distribution network. He has played an integral role in the company since its inception, guiding the company’s manufacturing processes, marketing efforts and research & development departments.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I began at Shamir at the age of 18 and have had a passion for the optical industry ever since. I’ve worked at various positions in Shamir, including product manager, marketing director, international regional export manager, and now, president. Throughout my career, I’ve seen two main factors as essential to our success: delivering truly personal service to our customers, and a dedication towards finding cutting-edge technological solutions that move our industry forward.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

At Shamir, we’ve always been at the forefront of design innovation in the lens production industry. We utilize the latest advancements in Visual Artificial Intelligence and Big Data processing to develop lenses and coatings that improve the lives of our end consumer. We’ve also answered the call to develop products suited to the modern customer, who spends many hours watching digital screens.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

My first boss once told me that your right palm is different from your left, in the same way that one person is completely different from the next, and different business approaches are unique to each other.

When I met with a customer, they asked me tough questions about the competition. I tried to make a point that customers are different, using my palms as an example. The customer had no idea what I was talking about. I was a bit lost at that point, too. So I just put my palms together and said we’re stronger together.

Sometimes when you try to make a point it’s hard to put into words. The lesson I learned is to be honest and be human — and it’s ok to not know everything.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I have had a mentor for many years named Hillel, who is now 83 years old and lives in Israel. He has been instrumental to my success, and I believe everybody needs to have a mentor. These are people who guide you, support you, and help you when you’re lost — in business, personally and on every level.

Hillel once told me this old saying, that “sacred cows make the best steaks.” This rather blunt philosophy meant that no approach in business should ever be put upon a pedestal; that once common wisdom can disappear with modern ideas in an instant. So you should never hold one truth to be unchangeable — as every business is adapting to new challenges every year.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

I feel that a disruption is positive in an industry, when it encourages all competitors to quickly adapt and compete, for the betterment of the end consumer. When a disruption is not positive is when a development occurs that decimates many of the competing companies in the industry, thereby limiting the natural competition.

Can you share five of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

  1. Sacred cows make the best steaks.
  2. Be curious, and study every day.
  3. Be as human as you can, honest as you can. And admit mistakes as soon as they happen.
  4. Don’t be proud — let people give you the advice you need to grow.
  5. Hire people better than yourself, that’s how you improve.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

Looking for what’s new, and what people need so we can be their solution.

We are on the lookout for the next big thing. With any luck — we’ll be the cause of it. At Shamir, we’re in the business of creating innovative solutions that modern customers actually need, to not only improve their vision, but their lives. An example of this is when business moved to video calls and conferencing, we knew instantly that we had to change our focus to developing more effective and supportive computer lenses. Another example of this is the fact that we implement AI technology to determine different needs for customers of different age groups — and with these algorithms, we can do it in a fraction of the time.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

I listen to a number of media, including the New York Times Daily Podcast, the Smart List, CNET, Ted Talks Daily, and the Dropout. I feel that paying attention to the political dynamic in the United States is key to understanding the business environment here. I listen to what’s happening on the ground, for insight into what’s coming next, even in business.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I’d say that I look at life, as I would a jar. When you’re filling your jar, there’s only so much you can take. When I feel overwhelmed, it’s important to revisit my values and my mentors, who help me unload the burden and release some of the pressure, giving me more room in my jar.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to inspire a movement towards a healthy soul, mind and body. Combining physical, intellectual and personal activities is key to staying as healthy and happy as you can be.

How can our readers follow you online?

I’m most active on LinkedIn, where I also share frequent updates on new technologies and products Shamir is working on.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Meet The Disruptors: Raanan Naftalovich Of Shamir On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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