In May, I sat down with Tom Friedman of NY Times and flat world fame. It wasn't our first time to huddle together. We go back to a number of interesting touch points all of which share the same pattern - I have some thought which bugs me and Tom puts it in perspective to clarify my own thoughts even to me.
Tom and I first interacted meaningfully at the Saban Forum in 2005. Haim Saban invited me to take part in a panel where Tom was undoubtedly the marquee performance and I came in to put an Israeli-American perspective after his flat world. Tom gave everyone a taste of his usual flat-world performance and I was thrown in for the lions - in other words - no one wanted to speak after Tom so they let the young guy from SAP take the fall.
The next year at Saban '06, I was thrown in after Daniel Yergin, author of "The Prize". That year I detailed my very crude plan for ending Israel's oil addiction and President Peres picked up on it to push me onto this journey. Tom was sitting to my left and asked for the microphone for 5 minutes - which is unusual because you only get 3 minutes for comments. He gave a fantastic summary and perspective on how Israel, if it did what I proposed, will serve as a trial state for the US. He added a few more words of broader perspective, which I will keep private to protect the forum rules.
Since then, Tom and I keep meeting in every possible forum on energy, climate and geo-politics (I suspect that he is in more of them than I go to...). He has been tracking our path, and I finally got him to sit in our proto-1 car and take it for a spin. The result you can read in today's NY Times column titled "From Texas to Tel-Aviv".
I was called various different things regarding my sales skills. I must admit, some of them were not as nice as "selling Camels to Saudi-Arabia". The more I thought of that metaphor the more I like it. Camels are a mode of transportation that is extremely efficient in using a scarce resource. We will make sure our car though will not be designed by committee.
As to T Boone Pickens - well, I never met him, but I am now very intrigued by thethought of seeing what happens when the two of us get together and think. I suspect one day you will find someone who writes the story of that meeting. Tom will get the bragging rights for being the matchmaker.