While interviewing leaders of Silicon Valley for my book, one of the first people I was really lucky to be able to interview was Eric Benhamou, the CEO of Benhamou Global Ventures and a very respected executive, both here as well as in Israel and France.

He was also willing to be part of an event we had on April 9th 2008, where 5 international leaders participated in a panel at Pillsbury Winthrop in Palo Alto (see my web site for description) to discuss personal leadership.

Some of the leadership characteristics we defined that evening were definitely humor as well as humility. I was struck by this combination, when I went to look at Eric’s web site and found this on his home page:

After nearly 30 years spent building or running high technology companies, I created BGV to assist other entrepreneurs build or run a new generation of high technology companies. I will put my own money at risk, not others. I will coach, but will not be a consultant. I will invest my time and experience at the service of the CEO and the company first, and its investors second. I will teach, but will learn as well. I will insist on upholding the highest standards of governance and the best management principles and techniques, but will take myself seriously only some of the time. Eric Benhamou Chairman and CEO, Benhamou Global Ventures

Where else would we find leaders willing to “put themselves out there” if not here? I think that these two traits – humility and humor – have to be internalized before leadership becomes real.

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