David Sokol

David Sokol: "In many Western countries there is an erosion of freedom"

Sokol, chairman and CEO of Teton Capital LLC who won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Atlas Awards, stated that the US must continue to support Israel. "Everyone in the business world knows that you cannot negotiate with someone whose intentions are not sincere. People who are bad natured require a certain kind of treatment" 

"It is an honor to be here and I am very appreciative of the organization for the honor that has been bestowed on me," said David Sokol, Chairman and CEO of Teton Capital LLC, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Atlas Awards. Sokol, whose firm manages $12 billion worth of assets, said in a conversation with Laura Cellier: "Ayn Rand's philosophy had a great influence on me. I read her books at the age of 18 when my father was still a farmer. A philosophical discussion about entrepreneurship and creating value for society was created within me. This is an experience that changed my philosophy of life. Ayn Rand's writings illustrate that one must believe in something in life philosophically in order to make a difference."
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דיוויד סוקול
דיוויד סוקול
David Sokol
(Photo: AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
What are the milestones in your life?
"It's simple. I came from a rural farming background, so hard work is fundamental to me. It's very important. Furthermore, right after I graduated college as an engineer, I focused on solving problems. It seemed very clear to me how to solve problems, but I found myself in the company of smart people. After meeting with more people I realized that I can express my thoughts, and people appreciated them. The ability to ask simple questions is also important to me.
Israel is facing an existential war against extremist elements. How do you think the US should act?
"First of all, I apologize for the conduct of the United States that stopped the shipment of weapons to Israel. Terrorism is terrorism, and everyone in the business world knows that you cannot negotiate with someone whose intentions are not sincere. People of bad nature require a certain kind of treatment and the United States is trying too hard to play politics with Iran, the Houthis, and Hamas. The United States must continue to support Israel and I apologize for our lack of support."
Today there is an increase in anti-Israeli, anti-Western, even anti-American feelings. Did Ayn Rand see this coming?
"Yes, absolutely. You see it well in the book 'Atlas Shrugged'. When we think about everything that made America great, we see that it is freedom, it is the ability to achieve human potential. The United States and Israel are wonderful countries, but a successful society must maintain its principles. The American government is going in a socialist direction. The government thinks that equality and opportunity must be translated in a certain way but those who look historically understand that socialism can only work if all people are the same - and we are not the same. What is happening on campuses is difficult to watch and illustrates how much we have lost control of the universities and the values that founded America. Someone once said that for evil to succeed, good people need to simply do nothing."
What advice can you give to entrepreneurs?
"First, stay on your course, do what you do well. And beyond that, pay attention to the small details in everything and also listen to the words of Ayn Rand. Today in many Western countries there is an erosion of freedom, of the basis of what brought us here. We must make sure that freedom will remain."