Courtesy Winslow Swart
Alan Weinkrantz near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Weinkrantz died in an apparent car accident in Tel Aviv this weekend.
Tech Giant and mutual friend Jonathan Medved wrote a tribute in the Jerusalem Post
this weekend entitled: Alan Weinkrantz: A Jewish Heart as Big as Texas
. I couldn’t say it any better.
Alan Weinkrantz was a great citizen of the world. His professional title was El Presidente, Alan Weinkantz & Company. He could have added, “International Smuggler of Authentic Culture” to the list of official titles. Alan brought influence, inspiration, and innovation with him across continents, along with tech swag, good wine, food and exotic spices.
There will never be another Alan Weinkrantz. His reputation amongst the tech world’s thought leaders is profound because he was one of them. A moment's search on Google results in an outpouring of mourning and praise from the giants in the industry. That's because of the impact he made on aspiring technology entrepreneurs and those just pondering their future.
My daughters grew up with Alan in our lives. So much so that my eldest daughter Alessandra was asked to give a personal tribute at a memorial in Israel this weekend. Alan graced the dinner table at our home on numerous Jewish holidays and Sabbath meals over twenty plus years, making him officially family to us.
Because so much has been written this weekend about Alan the PR Strategist, I want to focus on Alan the brother and friend. Even though we orbited some of the same professional circles, we did it as buddies. Everyone reading this that knew him is nodding their heads, because Alan approached everything he did with a deeply personal touch. As far back as 2001, whenever Alan and I would attend a tech mixer or board meeting, he would introduce himself saying, “Hi, I’m Winslow Swart.” This, then, obligated me to introduce myself as, "Alan Weinkrantz." His wit disrupted the status quo and decorum and gave people permission to not take themselves too seriously. I was just riding on his coat tails.
Alan was an immensely generous guy, though he sometimes pretended not to be. One day he called me and asked if my daughter Elisheva, who is a vocalist, would like to go see Diana Ross at the Majestic. I said sure. Then Alan, "Ok. I’ll pick her up at six.” Ended up being fourth row seats or something. Really cool.
It's well-known that Alan was a huge connector of people, but he also liked to promote the noble causes of not just his friends but the startup ecosystem in general. During the peak of the economic crisis I released a book on resilient leadership.
He immediately interviewed me for his blog. One of his soundbytes became professional marketing collateral for the book after that: “The perfect book for the perfect storm we are all in. – Alan Weinkrantz." I never got a bill for that. Only lots of lunch invites on his dime.
It is because of Alan that I joined Geekdom in its infancy. Because of Alan, I landed a speaking gig at Google in Tel Aviv. It is because of Alan that hundreds of my friends and acquaintances have a similar stories of success to tell.
Alan’s kids Lauren and Aaron were always central to our conversations. School, travel, trials, careers, he was a very loving father and let us in on the parts of his life he cared for most deeply. He fostered their independence and creativity. And he made us all feel a part of that. I want them know how big their family is, that all of us who loved Alan are here for them.
Alan was culturally fearless – from New York to Berlin, from Nazareth to Athens, from middle Europe to San Antonio and Tel Aviv – he spanned and linked economic pioneers with one another, creating affinity and sometimes partnerships.
I mentioned on Facebook how Alan had invited me to be his officemate 15 years ago on Broadway next to the Witte Museum. When I asked how much the rent was, he said to just come in here and create and have your meetings and do your work. His energy was an asset. In a way, in addition to him being generous to me early on, I think he was in fact pioneering the whole co-working space concept.
In tech startup terms, Alan was a total badass. He was living his dreams. I remember five years ago, when business was a little sluggish locally, he told me he wanted to spend half of his time working in Israel and traveling the world, and the other half in San Antonio and the States. Though he had been doing some of that, he had a bolder vision for working internationally. And then he just did it!
Just as he encouraged his own kids, and all of us to live our dreams, he walked his own articulate, delightful, and entertaining talk.
We can all help Alan's kids by donating to the gofundme site
set up to help with funeral services.
Winslow Swart is Chief Inspiration Officer at Winslow Consulting, a former Director of Strategic Partnerships at Geekdom, and a longtime friend of Alan Weinkrantz.