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.

The impossible quest.

It was exactly two years ago that I started my current job, director of marketing at a fast-paced startup in a relatively new yet traditional industry. It was also exactly two years ago that I was finished with the mandatory paid maternity leave with my third child. I was coming off a full time marketing consultant position, something I had been doing for almost three years from home.

Newly minted director, newly commuting to an office, newly minted mom of three. It was also a war, it was also the heat of the summer, it was also a major reckoning which basically came down to: what the fuck am I doing?

It was the start of an impossible quest. For the first nine months, I resolved to uncover someone exactly in my position, but 5-10 years later – someone working a full time manager job at an intense company, whose partner also worked full time, who had no time for late night TV show binge watching or running or taking the kids out after tzaharon to anywhere further than a nearby park. Someone with a super intense job, thrown into a managerial position with no training. Someone who was a mother of a three, living in an apartment, no hired help, no parents in the country, no family support nearby. Not native Hebrew speakers, new to every step along the way. Someone who was hacking it to the finish line.

Me. But in 5-10 years, having lived to tell the tale.

I’d ask the female partners at my company. But they’d be disqualified, lacking these criteria or those criteria. I’d scope out women at conferences – my seeming peers. But, no – not full time, or full time less kids, or Israeli partner with parents in town, or some other thing. I’d look around on career oriented Facebook groups. I’d ask people outright.

I’d get a lot of ‘Ooooh I also need that! When you figure it out let me know!’

I honestly thought I could find that person. Surely she exists. Surely someone’s done this. Lived this life. Surely she’d mentor me. Tell me it’ll be ok. Laugh with me and cry with me.

That person does not exist. Not two years ago, not now.

But she will in 5-10 years.

As I look around, having added more to that plate – four kids seven and under, four different drop offs and pick ups next year, two doses of private daycare tuition, same full-time demanding jobs for both parents, still no parents within 30 minutes, etc etc – I know and accept there is no such mentor. No one has my life. No one has your life.

Unique special snowflake shit.

So I’m left to figure it out. I have no idea what the next 1-2 years will look like. I know that I am not limitless so we’ll figure out where that line gets drawn pretty soon.

I will say this: holding a two-month old in one arm and cutting cherry tomatoes with the other is possible. So at least there’s that.

The pregnant working mother perseveres in the face of conf–erence.

Credit: The Real Jerusalem Streets

Credit: The Real Jerusalem Streets

A little while ago, I was approached to speak at a marketing conference for end-of-February in the new Hub Etzion shared workspace.

I was in the middle of other conference insanity, but January Liz was all like, shrug whatevs let’s do it so I agreed. Knowing fully that in another month I’d be presenting a marketing talk about audiences to an entire room of marketers – eight months pregnant.

So obviously last week, end-of-February Liz was like oh crap. I’m eight months pregnant. is that an excuse?!

It’s not. Not for me, not right now. So I’m glad I pulled through and didn’t go the route that comes naturally – opening with a stereotypical female apology, explaining that I need some slack cut considering I’m creating a human, bla bla.

I thought about it. I kept it in my back pocket while developing my talk. But by the time I was on the drive to the conference I knew I wouldn’t go there.

The last time I spoke at a conference, it was when I was pregnant with my second. Interesting, right? It was the beginning, I felt horrible, and was trying to hide it still. So no one actually knew. But I knew I had to pull through.

I’m lucky to live in a culture – especially the Israel -> startup -> Jerusalem scene – where mom-friendly is fairly normal, where even if things aren’t totally ideal, pregnant women aren’t a shock to see presenting at (or organizing) conferences.

I owe some of that to some of the most family-friendly bosses I’ve had in my career here. Including the CEO of my current company, who routinely encourages expansive working motherhood.

Considering I’m about to upgrade from a couple to a bunch (a gaggle? a murder?) of daughters, I’m going to give myself a pat on the back for spending the last year and a half attempting to figure out this whole nursing working mother/pregnant working mother thing.

By the way, BlueCon 2016 was a great morning spent with peers (thanks to BlueThread Marketing), and Hub Etzion (founded by women!) is a lovely beginning to something positive and encouraging growing in Gush Etzion.

State of the Workspace 2015: working from home vs working from an office

I’m at a point where I can say I’ve gone both ways, and, a year into my ‘new’ job, I can sum up my thoughts on working from home versus working from an office.

In no particular order, except that the first item on the list is OBVIOUSLY most important, here is my…

State of the Workspace 2015:

Clothes: Actually… It’s not as hard as I thought to fake it with clothes that feel like pajamas but play the part. Perhaps even harder than the ever elusive ‘work-life balance’ is this – the ‘feel good-look half decent’ balance. And about ten months in, I figured out concealer.

Audio enrichment: Podcasts while running in the morning – check. Podcasts while commuting in the morning – check. This category gets a tie.

Fitness: Now I spend the time I was running, driving. But I also spend the time I was sitting at a kitchen table eating, racing around the office to find people. The fact is, I really missing running. I miss feeling fit. I felt more fit during my third pregnancy while working from home than I do now.

Food: In this category, I lose either way. Why is food during work hours such a hassle?

Networks: Obviously working in an office with lots of different people connected to other different people is better for making connections, getting fresh air, and practicing my native skills of empathy and tolerance. Well, some of the time.

Coworkers: From home, I worked for a ’boutique’ marketing agency, learned a lot about the business, worked on very different projects, experienced client relationships and sharpened a lot of skills. I was working with a tiny team of people I’ve worked with for years before – we knew each other very well. And Skyped daily. But I always knew – introvert that I am – that I missed having a team in my vicinity. Knocking on other people’s doors (or barging in as the case may be), striking up conversations over coffee. Part of that is the fortune of working with great people. Part of that is – introvert that I am – I do require human interaction in doses. Like vitamin D.

Parenting: You know what – in a weird way, working in an office wins. You’d think that being home all day means when you pick up the kids you have way more energy to spend with them. But I find it to be the opposite. I was a drag as a WAHM. I was done by 4pm. Now, I’m still on at 4pm. And 6pm. I’m tired, of course. And I have way less time for the random stuff I used to do for the kids. But the quality of the time and my mood is way better. And I can be amusing and silly way easier with the energy floodgates opened.

Boundaries: I didn’t have as much opportunity to push boundaries. I had some – working with clients taught me a lot, both business-wise and skills. It did push me. But being around dozens of people and solving tactical problems while solving people problems while keeping my shit together at a constant rate is a whole other skill set. Which, it turns out, I already had from the pre-WAHM days. I had just forgotten.

Happiness: When I took my current job a year ago, I knew all hell was breaking loose. The hours. The commute. The energy. The sacrifices. How would I manage it all? But as absolutely insane as it was to be thrown in the deep end right from the gate – I was growing happier. And then I realized – working from home wasn’t working for me. There are a lot of benefits, and a lot of things I miss.

And then, this past winter, those days it was pouring outside, and I’d think, ‘who the hell would choose to go outside for any reason today?’ but I’d still push myself to get dressed and get in my car and wish for the WAHM lifestyle… well, those days did always come to an end.

I’m simply… happier now than I was then.

Seriously, I think it’s the vitamin D.

So, State of the Workspace 2015: I’m sure I’ll work from home again. I’m sure I’ll work in different offices, too.

But after three years at home, I’m happy to be doing something different.

5 metaphors that describe my working motherhood right now

Just for fun, because I just finished working and it’s after 10pm, here are five metaphoric-idiomic examples I can think of off the top of my head that describe my experience right now as a fairly career-driven, family-driven, career driven, family driven, career and family driven working mom.

  1. I’m on a roller coaster that in theory could stop, but I can’t reach the lever, and the fact is, I kind of don’t want to reach for the lever, because I’m a sado-masochist curious about where this will stop.
  2. The chicken comes first. Also, the egg. Both come first. And you rule the roost. Both roosts. You rule all the roosts even when you’re pooped.
  3. Most of the time, it’s about keeping your head above water. Sometimes you just have to hold your breath and jump in, feet first. Sometimes it’s not you jumping in, but your kid, at his swim lesson, while you’re scrambling to organize a press release.
  4. The ball is in my court. Constantly. But my hands are tied. And now my wrists are tired. And also my face. My face is tired.
  5. There is no such thing – for anyone, ever – as sleeping like a baby.

And with that, Slack is buzzing and some kid is stirring and cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon…

5 ways #KahenaCon got me pumped to go back to work

I signed up for KahenaCon soon after registration opened. Maybe even the day it opened. I really enjoy this conference for getting inspired in the kind of work I do, by hearing from others doing it and by the atmosphere we create when we get together. It’s a gathering of marketing professionals within the kind of environment that suits us – plenty of networking time, solid speakers, awesome lunch.

But this year I had an alternative motive – not only get inspired by the work I do, but get inspired to start looking for new work in my field. Looking for your next professional opportunity can be rough when you’ve just released a new add-on (parents, amirite?).

Newborn at home means new job hasn’t sounded as attractive as it should. It’s making me do a lot of thinking. Luckily, a marketing conference had its say today.

Here are 5 ways KahenaCon inspired me in the search for my next digital content marketing opportunity:

1. Ladies, ladies ladies. 

The conference kicked off this morning with two fabulous females: Joanna Lord, CMO at BigDoor and Kate Morris, digital marketing consultant at Distilled. There is just something so welcoming about this when you’re a lady at a conference.

To anyone rolling their eyes (ugh, why do ladies always mention ladies?)… too often in the startup/marketing/hi tech world, we don’t see enough women up there. And for KahenaCon to fly out and kick off with two of the best presenters out of the whole day, who happen to be girls? Makes me feel good about our profession, too.

2. We’re alone but we’re not alone…

A few minor points Joanna made in her keynote session, ‘The Loyalist Advantage’ might be the thoughts that resonated best with me today. They both validated my self-worth as a marketer and offered a healthy dose of nostalgia for when I worked for a larger company:

  • Sometimes it’s lonely when you’re a marketer in a bigger company. But at least we’re all in it together: Can I have budget? *No.* I made something out of nothing! Can I have budget? *No.* I could do this better, can I have a developer? *A developer for marketing?! No.*  
  • We jump in head first while the execs hang back. Someone has to for a company to survive… so there we are. First responders.
  • We’re chameleons – usually the only ones at a company who are evolving… and we also take it upon ourselves to evolve our colleagues and company, too.

3. Second life for the ‘struggling’ writers.

There’s a GIRLS story line this past season where Hannah ‘sells out’ working for an advertising agency and laments her disloyalty to her creative writer self. I totally got that but it’s also incredibly naive; if she moved over to digital marketing, she might see how much room we have to create.

And really, where else would we all be if it wasn’t for this professional space? We, the recovering English majors… the dime-a-dozen MBAs… the disillusioned former journalists (FYI, I qualify as only two of those things).

We got a second chance to be creative and make our own path in an ever-evolving profession. I think we done good and I’m ready to get back to the conference table.

4. My local marketing buddies.

This might be unique to Israel. We’re blessed with an intimate hi tech and startup community, which has created an even more intimate digital marketing community. I genuinely enjoy being a contributing member to this group and seeing my colleagues a few times a year so we can discuss tactics, method, and our dangerous habit of operating Twitter while high on coffee.

5. Pumping breastmilk in a conference room.

True story. A breastfeeding-friendly conference organizer is a sign of a mother-friendly professional culture which points to a wider family-friendly society. And I’m so, er, pumped to be a part of it and know that for the most part, I will be welcome as a working mom as much as the (likely) working parent who takes me on their team.

So… when I get those batteries charged for the daily pumping… time to get back to work!

Get a job in Israel when you make aliyah… and more.

Wrote up some mostly career-oriented advice for someone who is considering moving to Israel in the next couple years. With that much time to mull it over and prepare, there are lots of things you can do to make it a smooth(er) transition with the right kinds of expectations set.

So here’s what I got; feel free to add more in the comments!

  • Career: see if you can start tailoring your career towards jobs that you’ll be more likely to get here. If hi tech is your area, that’s already a great start. Becoming open minded about shifts in your title/area is key. Things won’t be exactly the same, and if you can embrace shifts, you’ll be more likely to find a job you’re comfortable with here.
  • Another thing is see if you can get an opportunity to work for an international company with a branch in Israel, or that will let you work in Israel, telecommuting. It doesn’t come natural for everyone, but if you can handle working from home/doing American hours, lots more opportunities may be open to you. Flexibility is important.
  • Networking – absolutely. Both in the States (referring to point above) and in Israel. I’d start dialogue with people here now – on Twitter, like you did with me, reading up on blogs (seems like everyone is doing it), connect with people on LinkedIn and if you’re planning a pilot trip, see if you can join some tech/work-related events while here. In Israel, it’s mostly who you know.
  • Live in a place conducive to getting good jobs. Basically, that’s the center for the most part if you’re not an engineer. Jerusalem is ok, Beit Shemesh and Modiin are in the middle, and Tel Aviv of course is the closest to the most opportunity. But lots of people commute between those areas. I live in Tzur Hadassah and commute to Jerusalem. Lots of people commute from BS and Modiin to either Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Or work from home!
  • Start skimming the job lists and boards to get an idea of what’s out here. There are a few I can think of off the top of my head: IsraemployJobShukJobMobJobs in Israel.
  • On top of that, start thinking about regular life outside of work. Where you’d live and what’s that like (Flathunting) and other boards where people post all kinds of stuff (JangloTaanglo, there are others for different cities).
  • If there are kids in the picture, that’s a big one too, and means you have to look really deep into the places you’d live… I recommend getting in touch with other Anglos in different towns/cities through the Jewish Agency, UJIA, Nefesh b’ Nefesh or AACI.
  • Be wary of people who speak too (or only) positively, though… I think it’s important to get a fully realistic picture so you come prepared. Hey, I’m a realist.
  • Mind your expectations: Going with the above, I think it’s important to keep the fantasy alive while managing your expectations of life here. It’s not all a dream and it’s going to be work. If you’re ready to work for it and take on the challenges, you’re ready to live the immigrant life in Israel.

Post your own thoughts in the comments…

Giving lone soldiers their post-army profession.

Lone soldiers.

I have no idea if that is just an Israeli concept, but what it means to us is the demographic of soldiers in the IDF who are immigrants and have no immediate family located in Israel to support them throughout their army service. They have no default place to go for weekends off or Shabbat and holiday meals. The family they have to visit is abroad somewhere – Brazil, England, France, Australia, the United States, etc.

They come to Israel and serve and then they leave the army but a lot of the time they don’t leave Israel; they’ve made aliyah, after all. So they need professions, skills, education – they need what we all needed, a first job to kick start a career in Israel.

Your company or organization could possibly help them with folks who’d like to mentor a lone soldier in their potential field.

The HESEG Foundation offers scholarships for lone soldiers and matches mentors with their scholarship recipients in the fields of computers and software, communications, law, business and accounting.

For more information, contact Itamar Shalev.

Here’s a bit more about the HESEG Foundation:

HESEG Foundation provides full academic scholarships and living expenses to former ” lone soldiers ” (חיילים בודדים) who have completed their services in the IDF and have chosen to make Israel their home. Lone soldiers are men and women from all over the world, who come to Israel to volunteer in the IDF. These remarkable individuals leave their families and friends behind, and are driven by their ideals and commitment to Israel’s security and future.

HESEG was established by Canadians Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman as a way to recognize and honor the contribution of the lone soldiers to Israel, by providing them with an opportunity, through education and career development, to start a life in Israel.

The HESEG scholarship program focuses on nurturing leadership and motivating achievement in the academic world, and in broader Israeli society. Scholars are required to meet a high academic level and contribute to their community through weekly volunteer work.

From discussions held by HESEG with its scholars HESEG identified a need for scholar counseling and guidance. As a result HESEG has launched the mentors program, a personal guidance program where professional specialists from different fields offer their guidance and expertise to our scholars and alumni.

There are currently 21 mentors participating in the program, three of which are advisory board members. Mentors are matched up with scholars based on shared interests and meet with their scholars in an informal setting to offer advice and guidance.