Why I Live in the House by the Side of the Road

By Shlomo  Maital

Big Belly

  In Sam Foss’s famous poem, he explains why he prefers the ‘house by the side of the road’, rather than the road itself:

            Let me live in my house by the side of the road,  

           Where the race of men go by-

            They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,

           Wise, foolish – so am I. Then why should I sit in the scorner’s seat,

             Or hurl the cynic’s ban?

           Let me live in my house by the side of the road And be a friend to man.

    As a management educator, I live (by definition) by the side of the road, rather than on the road,  and I try to teach those with courage, creativity and guts how to navigate startups on the road of life and be a friend to mankind.

    I’ve done this for 40 years.  By Oscar Wilde’s principle, “if you can do; if you can’t teach”…. I teach and admire those who actually do.

   Today, by the side of the road,  two events made me exceedingly happy.

  • FDA approval was granted for the ReWalk device, by an Israeli, Dr. Amit Gofer and his Argo Technologies, an exoskeleton that enables paraplegics to walk and even climb steps. Dr. Gofer is a quadriplegic and cannot use his own device – but is working on a ReWalk version suitable for quadriplegics too.    


   An American veteran was interviewed on National Public Radio and he explained why it is so important for him to be able to stand upright – and how he dreams of himself owning a ReWalk device (it costs $70,000, at the moment – if America built one less useless aircraft carrier, every single one of thousands of U.S. paraplegic soldiers/veterans could have a device!)

  • In downtown Brookline, part of Boston, MA., I saw a Big Belly solar powered trash compactor. (See photo). I teach this business case, about MBA student James Poss who won a business-plan contest and used the money in part to help launch this business.       The Big Belly saves 3 out of 4 garbage truck trips, helps the environment, is very esthetic, and is simply cool.    Poss thought he would sell them to ski resorts. None bought them – but the City of Boston did. Lesson:       Get your product out into the market, as fast as you can, and people will tell you how they want to use it, and WHO wants to use it, and you will often be very very surprised.       Until you get your product into the market, you will not have a clue about its true value-creating power.       Remember: make your product an MVP       – minimum viable product, and then launch it.   If you wait for perfection, you will almost always be too late.



   So —  if I could, I would be on the startup road.  But since I can’t,  perhaps a house close by the side of the road is OK, too.   On days like today, it feels great.