#metoo, #hetoo, #shetoo: for the boys

Everyone’s talking about Harvey Weinstein; even the white board at the entrance of my office, where usually someone scribbles the name of the day’s delegation, even the white board yesterday was #metoo.

And everyone is talking about women being afraid to talk, and women now talking, and how women can protect themselves, and how women should feel comfortable being open… and men who should have done more and failed, and men who are embarrassed by their own silence, and men who are also #metoo… While nothing there is untrue… I can’t help but notice how the majority of articles – in fact I haven’t seen one that isn’t – are about the implications on the women.

Personally, I would like to see a strong male leader – prominent, famous, someone with a strong male following, a big hairy Alpha – discuss what men need to examine in themselves, and how we all need to change the culture that currently fosters the current male experience, perspective, silence, and most of all, expectation.

When I see feminist or feminish women with only sons, I wonder if they cherish the job of teaching their boys a different way, a better culture… there’s only so much exposure to everything I can give my daughters… the even-ing of the playing field goes both ways… doesn’t guiding our sons towards gender partnership count for as much?

I’m jotting down notes here, please share your ideas… we’re all learning as we go…

1. My son doesn’t get to speak to my daughters in the kind of tone I wouldn’t want to be spoken to by a man at work, in the street, or in my marriage. Been there, done that. Verbal abuse still costs a bunch of therapy bills.

2. All of  the kids in this house are partners in praise. Drew a picture of your favorite cartoon characters from scratch? Wow, that’s awesome. Solved a new kind of math problem? Great job. Remembered to feed your stuffed leopard it’s breakfast? Good thinking. Did another sibling’s nail polish really well? You’re getting good at that! I want the boy to know it’s his job as a sibling to lift up his sisters. I want the girls to know it’s their job as siblings to lift up the others. We can all be partners in lifting each other up where we need it, or where we feel it.

3. The legos are stored in the pink box and the cooking set is in the blue box. Ok, this sounds stupid and maybe yeah on the face of it, it’s not really that important. But I try to check myself when it comes to silly traditions that are actually ingrained cultural definitions that have become symptoms of a greater problem, which is, putting everyone in a predefined, limiting… box.

4. Living in the same house as a real example of a thoughtful, self-aware man partner. Yeah this one is tough. But I got the partner part right before having the son. There are plenty of examples of thoughtful, self-aware men. Hopefully every boy and girl has at least one they look up to.  

Zooey update: sixteen months

Summer, full-time

This is the first time in eight years we haven’t gone abroad to visit extended family for part of August. I feel a little bad, as you’d get a bunch of spoiling, but we did travel in May, your grandpa has come for a week, and you have been abroad three times in your little life. And what do you know? You’re happy as long as your immediate family is around.

So I brought you to work one day to say hi. There was Bamba there; there were computer cables there; you were happy.

We actually did a lot of exciting things during this time, too.

You got to finger paint.

You ate at restaurants. You started eating properly with spoons. You went swimming over and over (you love the water. Love. Water baby.) You drew on the sidewalk with chalk. You ate chalk. You sat in the waves at the beach, you watched boats at sea.

You took some more steps to keep up with it all.

Sibling love

It comes in all shapes and sizes and levels of torment. I’ve been thinking a lot about sibling love… I guess for years. As long as I’ve had siblings. Zooey, it’s all born out of something good I’m sure. The need for attention, the human requirement to be loved. Whether you get a playful kick or a not-so-playful kick in the face… it’s not you. It’s the struggle to be heard, to know one’s place, in the sibling universe.

Because for every maka there’s a spoonful of precious maadan.

For every too-tough tug, there’s a basket of laughs.

What’s next

You’re getting out there. You have a big year ahead – graduated from the comfort of your sweet loving Moroccan metapelet, you’re going to join a dozen other kids (likely more) in the nursery atmosphere of a maon. It means more language, more interactions, more experiments, more friends. We’re looking forward for you, Zooey.

Have you heard of Facebook?

It’s mid-2005. I’m sitting across from the CEO of a growing startup in what I hope – as a 23-year-old leaving the path of a journalism career to actually pay some bills – is the last interview for the job.

‘Guerrilla marketing’.

The CEO is kind, but my mind is racing as he now asks me to give some examples of the ways I’d engage in guerrilla marketing; ideas I could bring to the team. I’m racking my brain for a semi-intelligent answer – suddenly I realize how young I am – and the next thing I know I’m saying –

“Have you heard of Facebook?”

I still remember that day fairly vividly. It was the day I became conscious of something I think I’ve always done but never realized I was doing it: using personal experience to guide my actions, and the spirit of experimentation to create new opportunities for myself. For years, my CEO (and mentor) would remind me of how I blew his mind that day, as I logged in to my infant Facebook account right on his computer. There was a profile pic, the Wall, ‘too close for missiles, I’m switching to guns’. Facebook, just over a year from its own creation. Playing a random and active part in my career’s creation.

In a Jerusalem tech tower, there we were: 22-year-old me, a successful and recognized entrepreneur, and my contemporary, Mark Zuckerberg.

What I have pulled from that experience, which was the foundation of six years at Answers.com and the rest of my ongoing career, is that if you manage to become self aware enough, you can figure out how to use your own personal experience, worldliness, perspective, and spirit of experimentation as your guide. Shhh – do you hear that? It’s you, with the ability to feed your gut feelings. To build an idea into action. To learn a new trade. To become an influencer.

That day I opened a door for myself. And I got the job. And became a guerrilla marketer for as long as that was in style. Then a social media marketer, a content marketer, a marketing manager, a community manager, a brand builder.

Throughout my six years there, I learned so much about people. About high tech. About leadership. About startups. About Israel. About myself, as part of a pre-internet and post-internet generation. About early adapters. About humility and learning and biding my time.

My advice is, train in becoming self aware enough not to miss opportunities. But also self aware enough to know when it’s time to watch and learn and listen. That last part helps you know when the time is right to take opportunities, to take the leap of faith, to trust the brainstorm.

Maybe the best opportunities are born from the desperate need to justify your 22-year-old self. Or from knowing you have something to offer; you just need the guts to do it.

Zooey update: fifteen months

We can hear you… your language is taking better shape… whether it’s your soft babble or your ‘dis’ or your just-barely ’emma’. We hear you, Zooey. We’re listening.

Or maybe it’s your language in movement… your little sideways waves.

Or maybe it’s your attempt at major movement – trying to walk. Taking steps to taking steps. You are deliberate in starting the next challenge; you do it in your own time.

They’re all steps to getting to the next level – being a part of the bigger gang.

Why do you get out of bed and go to your workplace every morning?

Is it a sense of personal responsibility to your commitments? Is it driven by the requirement to be paid in order to live your life?

Is it because you believe in what you do? Or what your organization is aiming to do? Are you looking forward to some major event, and each day is a step in that direction? Or are you chiseling away at a glacial pace, knowing someone long after you will be the one at the finish line, but you got in early on the relay?

Is it because you’re building your own professional self? Or you are part of a team, and without you, the gears can’t run?

Is it because you need meaning in life to get you going in the morning?

Is it because you need money to make your life run?

Is it because if you don’t, people will judge you?

Is it because you owe it to the cause?

Do you often consider why it is you get out of bed and go to your workplace every morning?

Does your answer ever change?

‘Where are they now?’ edition

Is it a getting older thing? A life experience thing?

Years pass, before you know it, decades pass.

Then you start to enjoy the thought of meeting up with old friends. Old bosses. Old acquaintances. Old teachers. People who taught you. Who, today, still wouldn’t laugh at you for when they knew you as a puppy, still growing and learning. For slipping or saying or believing ridiculous things.

Met with someone today from a previous life. From… well… over a decade ago. We caught up on 13 years. I was going to be a journalist and ended up in startup marketing. He told me he remembered the first year he joined the staff of our newborn campus Hillel, and we went down to the Israeli Consulate for some activism thing. And we stopped at some gas station and I came out with a freshly purchased Sunday Times. Who would do that anymore? he seemed to imply. Or, maybe, what student would do that back then?

Something I didn’t remember but was interesting to hear. The details get fuzzy and motivations blurry. Maybe it’s life place now, maybe because I don’t get enough sleep or have enough time to spend on memory. Maybe that’s why we like to get together after all these years. A quick hour to remember what was. Remember what’s real.

Soft hair.

“Ima, feel how soft my hair is.”

How many times have we said/heard our girl friends say this?

“Ima my hair is so smooth today, I used extra conditioner.”

She has thick hair and it gets knotty; I tell her to use double.

“Ima, <boy friend> is going to love it…”

Huh?

“He tells me he likes it when my hair is smooth.”

They’re just innocent six-year-olds. Everyone loves smooth hair.

“He is definitely going to want to be my friend today.”

I stop her dead in her little girl tracks. I call for her to come back. Her brother is standing next to me, wondering what is about to happen. She skips back towards me. I bend down, so we’re eye level, and I take her face close to mine.

“Listen to me: no one is your real friend because your hair is smooth or because they like your clothes or because of how you look. Your real friends love you because of the kind of friend you are. <Boy friend> loves you because you are a good friend. Otherwise, you are not real friends.”

She smiles and nods and I tell her to go have fun, and she bounds onward toward the path to her kindergarten.

Her brother looks back at me. I look at him.

“That was important,” I tell him.

I should have said, “for you too.”

Zoey update: fourteen months

Sisters.

You have a couple.

And one sings you sweet songs and strokes your chubba arms and gives you kisses.

And the other kinda tortures you.

…and then she sings you sweet songs and strokes your chubba arms and gives you kisses.

And while you’re not being entertained by your siblings’ madness, you’re learning to entertain yourself. Singing. Talking. Waving. Clapping. Climbing. Slapping.

P.S. Can you maybe not slap me so hard in bed in the mornings?