The Prime Minister makes a PowerPoint

It’s night three of my daughter’s cough and it’s gotten much better. I’m sitting uncomfortably on the Hello Kitty stool next to the crib, with my forefinger making lines in her palm, my phone on ‘play’ in the other hand, and in my left ear, an earbud is loosely holding on.

The prime minister is making a point.

It’s been there all along. The Americans have been briefed. Iran lied, in large Times New Roman font.

A curtain is removed, revealing mischief, and another curtain is removed, revealing added mischief.

Binders and discs of menace. 110,000 shards of threat.

Slide after slide, graphic after graphic. Warhead drawing. Embedded incriminating video. Shabab in Times New Roman. Project Amad in Times New Roman. I wonder who was responsible for cleaning up the slides before they went on stage. I wonder if they felt like I do before my work goes on stage.

On some level, above or behind or despite the Prime Minister’s choicest phrases, we’re all wondering the same thing: how the hell did the Mossad agents on this project get away with this? And which non-Jew will star in the leading role someday?

The theatrical prime minister is making a point. In the age of social media, all he needs is a 90s-era PowerPoint, tens of thousands of documents stolen and smuggled from Iran in one January night, and Times New Roman.

Times New Roman, the universal language in making a point.

And then it’s morning, and I’m walking my daughter to gan, she’s shying away from the big black dog that hangs around the area. Parents are mumbling half-thoughts to their kids. Gates are squeaking open. Car doors slam. The sky is cloudy, the branches on the trees are ever-so swaying.

And looking around me, I remember last nigh. Huh. Just as simple as Times New Roman. We put ourselves out there in Times New Roman.

At 70, you get your own Snapchat filter.

Independence is affording the time to celebrate your existence.

Independence is getting your own Snapchat filter.

Independence is being proud of someone you never met named Netta.

Independence is the freedom to openly mourn your dead on your terms.

Independence is enjoying making choices on a global scale.

Independence is watching your kids grow up in a place where you chose to be and you are always.

Independence is being able to defend the people you love and the principles you live for.

We should all know and feel true independence, no matter where in the world you currently consider ‘home’.

Thoughts on another Israeli Memorial Day

All around, kids pick up bits and ask their parents…

“What is בן האבוד בלבנון?”
“What is מבצע אנטבה?”
“What does רומנטי mean?”
“Why is that kind of flower everywhere?”
“Did that שיר really happen?”
“Why do they put the flag down?”

On a walk through Har Herzl (Israel’s national cemetery) this morning, hearing about many many dead sons, it occurred to me that it will never matter what age my kids are; I will always wonder where they are, and the comfort of knowing where they are at any one time could maybe help ease the hard parts of being a parent.

And then I thought,

a., it’s not realistic, and

b.,

they may be somewhere that is as painful as not knowing where they are.

Tell-All: 4 team management lessons from Summit planning

I recently, ahem, was part of a core team running one of the biggest events in startup-Jerusalem each year, in its 4th year. It’s a production put on with a lot of demands, a lot of resources, a lot of professionals, but the core team from within the company are not necessarily production careerists (though a couple of us are definitely).

Before this year, the event planning was fueled with stress, rife with resentment, and even filled with fear. This year was different. And I’ve been exploring why.

1. The revolution will not be televised – and will not happen without a good team. 

For months we joked about filming a documentary of the event prep. We (I) didn’t do it, but if we had, it would have probably been side-splitting hilarious (to us). Something I learned was, any job – even the hardest, the ones that make you feel enslaved, depraved, and unappreciated – are actually awesome if the people around you are fun to have around, genuinely good people, and hardcore team players. That was a real turning point for me; why shouldn’t planning an incredible, complicated event be fun, if the people you work alongside inspire you to do your best possible job? The chemistry was right, the people were solid, and the goal was clear. It was a new level of teamwork we brought out from within ourselves.

2. A team is the sum of all its parts.

A few years ago I had this revelation. I was wondering why people would pay me to write for them. I knew practically why, but it was a symptom of impostor syndrome, and I really didn’t get it. I asked the question on twitter, and got a response: because they can’t do it themselves. They actually aren’t equipped with the skills.

Ever since then, I repeat this to myself. I’m not a logistics person; someone else is not a brand-builder. I’ll never run the finance department; someone else won’t be writing compelling invite copy. And so I build this appreciation every day for the people around me, diverse skill sets and frames of minds. Different career paths leading to this project; different life experiences to lend. I wish more people could appreciate how we all have something to contribute. If we acknowledge healthily what we lack and promote with vigor what others contain, we become a stronger force – with better results.

3. Ditch the dead weight – from your mental load

When working on such a massive, months-long project, it helps to leave behind the haters. The ‘this has nothing to do with me’ attitude of colleagues. Feeling held back by a need to convince everyone or try and infuse inspiration into every single colleague is not going to help me do a better job. I found staying focused on the end result was the right way – more calming, more productive. And luckily, from previous experience, we had the confidence to know we could keep moving forward and that we were right: it was going to be successful, amazing, and even better than we ever imagined.

4. Putting the ‘der’ in leader. 

Ok, this is going to seem obvious but shutup it’s been three years and I still don’t always get it.

I find managing a team challenging. I freely admit it because I think it’s healthy and it prompts me to work harder to seek out mentors and case studies to learn from. I’ve had no direct mentor, and frankly, not always the best examples to learn from. So I’m winging it.

This was the first year I felt properly equipped to run my part of the event as far as personnel. So I knew I had no one to blame but myself if I mess it up. And there were plenty of pitfalls – delegation is still rough on me. But as the heat got turned up, I knew it was manager do-or-die – if the team doesn’t get to take the wheel, then what is the point of joining for the ride? I lose them now, I lose them in the future, too.

Last week I learned what it truly means to let go – of the doubt and fear – and felt such a new pride at this smart, proactive, flexible team I somehow found the insight to put together. The right people – true team players – seek out opportunities to grow and stretch their skills. They don’t just take orders but they own their roles and figure it out. We need to surround ourselves with people like that – at work, at home, in life. It’s what makes a manager a leader.

There’s so much more I could offer insight on – and forgive me, it’s been quite a hiatus from thoughtful posts in the last few months while I was running around, well, learning. For that we’d have to get a cup of coffee or maybe just a humble facebook chat.

After all, there’s still event followup to put together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last week.

This isn’t how I thought it would end.

I didn’t think the end would begin with a deep soreness, tiny stabs of pain, highlighted by stinging tears; the added torture of me trying to hold all this in and stay strong for you, to avoid the chance you’d feel unwhole, to acknowledge your instinctual longing, to turn away in the hope you wouldn’t see me holding back, and cry yourself to sleep.

I just didn’t see it coming, I didn’t know that’s how it would go.

Day by day for this last week, I held back while you went ahead. How each day, you could start a little more fresh, a little more optimistic; how you could then end each day a little more fulfilled, a bit brighter, that much more ready.

Without me.

You were slowly moving on, and I wasn’t seeing it. My time was occupied waiting for us to reunite.

Day by day, you managed; surpassed; moved on.

One week later, you are the happiest I’ve ever seen you.

Running ahead, a vision of fresh opportunity, arms open, drawn to people who are not me, people who have not nourished you with love and comfort for the last year and a half. At the other end of these last few days, you haven’t run to me in desperation, clinging to the crutch I nurtured. Now you see me and smile while you hang back, greet me brightly from a distance. Even Ruth, she said to me today – one week later – “you know, she’s just so happy. I can’t even explain why. She’s just been happy – changed.”

It’s been a week. And I never thought once in this time that this is how it ends. You, reborn. Me, at a loss.

I didn’t want to hurt you, I absorbed all the pain. And I didn’t see it coming.

And here we are. The physical pain has passed – it’s been a whole day without the break in my chest, the throbbing, the feeling of being shattered, burst open, bruised. That’s subsided and now I look up from this dark week and the tears are receding with the tide, the cracks are filled, the sores are healed; but the pain in my heart is encased in a crust that is raw and fresh and choking.

And you – you’re happy. And tonight, I hold you in my arms, your tiny head resting against my shoulder, the slow, mellow motion of your breathing against my upper chest… as I hold you like this, in the dark room, quiet and at peace… as I hold you I know you are happy. And I know I am, somehow, too. And I know this pain is about my loss and my failure to never consider it could end like this, but knowing – somewhere, between the tender bruising that is both reminder and revelation – somewhere, deep inside my chest, right behind my deflated, soft, healing breasts – baby girl, this is for the best.

#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.  

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.