March 17, 2017
I have no idea who these guys are.
But they were willing to pose for a photo after I stopped to chat with them. I wanted to express my appreciation for doing their bit among the many thousands of emergency services, military, and security contractors who made today’s Jerusalem Marathon possible. Ordinarily, I feel gratitude in my heart, though I tend to hold it inward. I’ll usually try to remember to say thank-you to an individual or small group if I feel a sense of appreciation, or if it’s just the courteous thing to do. But today was a little different.
I “only” ran the 10K this year. That’s after two years of doing the half-marathon. I just got too darn busy this time around, what with “leaving” Cisco, finding new work, getting ramped up and settled into my new professional life, and all that. I simply didn’t have the time to train the way I had the past two years. I realized that, and decided I’d join the throng doing the 10K, as for me that’s more of a fun-run, not requiring a level of preparation that’s beyond my scheduling constraints. [By the way, yes, also I’m tremendously grateful for being fit and healthy, though that’s not the main thrust of this communication.]
WARNING: if you get easily ticked off and flared up reading religio-political commentary, especially where frictions in Israel society are exposed, in all their ugly hostility, please stop reading now. I don’t want to get folks’ anger buttons pressed, and expose their resentments. That’s not my aim, not my purpose, and it’s not what I’m myself feeling right now. My aim is … appreciation.
There were demonstrators at the marathon this year.
Maybe they were out there in past years, but if they were, I hadn’t noticed. This year, around kilometer 3, on King George St., I nearly tripped over one. Had that happened, I’d almost surely have gone flying. On the infrequent occasions that I fall when running, I tend to recover my balance or at least manage to go into a roll, and thus prevent serious injury. But who knows. The field was so crowded this time, and I was frankly clueless that the person blocking me was actually _trying_ to cause disruption and damage.
Honestly, my mind didn’t acknowledge that there could possibly be demonstrators intentionally blocking the path of the runners. My “תן כתף זכות” (“give the benefit of the doubt”) mechanism kicked in and registered him as a photographer, because there are actually photographers who sit, unobtrusively, along the route, snapping pictures.
So what was I to think when suddenly, I saw a police officer literally drag the demonstrator out of my path, just in the nick of time as I was about to plow into him full throttle. And a few additional cops were guarding some of this demonstrator’s buddies, whom they’d apparently managed to apprehend and pull off to the roadside, moments earlier. The demonstrators were chanting slogans, though it was hard to make out what they were shouting, as I was plugged into my running music.
Further down-route, there was another demonstrator carrying a sign. Something about the marathon being terrible for the Jews, and government policies that harm yeshiva boys. Though to be honest, I don’t know if the latter guy was connected with the first group.
To my pleasant surprise, I didn’t for a micro-second feel any sense of anger. From the get-go, my predominant emotion–really the only thing I felt about the incident–was gratitude and appreciation toward the police officer who exerted himself dragging away the demonstrator prior to my having a collision, and his colleagues who were involved in managing the situation. And also toward the other runners, who stayed focused on the race, and kept their collective cool.
That we’re living in such “interesting” times, and somehow manage to pull off a full-blown city-wide athletic event, in Jerusalem of all places, is to me nothing short of miraculous. Thank you, God, for again bringing us to this season.
May we merit the ability, the willingness, and the heart-felt desire to practice really listening to one another, acknowledging in thought, word, and deed the Essential Humanity that unites us as a Species.
Thank you, everyone.
February 3, 2017
Here’s the talk that I gave at Megacomm 2017, as a participant in Reinventing Yourself—Expert Advice on Personal Rebranding and Transitioning, a panel discussion on which I participated along with Nathalie Garson, Charlie Kalech, and Sigal Abbatovi Shamir, and moderated by Sara Halevi Kalech.
On November 13th, I got fired.
It was one of the best things that ever happened to me.
No, I didn’t say it was one of the easiest things.
It still isn’t. I’m still adjusting.
So what was so great about getting fired?
What makes you sure I’m not putting you on with overheated self-help hyperbole, or singing kumbaya for my own self-aggrandizement?
The answer is … opportunity.
To do what?
To develop professionally, to have new experiences, and to grow personally too.
Forbes magazine recently asked the question:
How many careers do we get in a lifetime?
The answer is we don’t know because it’s a moving target.
But we do know that for most of us, it’s more than one; likely it’s several.
And we can certainly expect to have more than one job.
So you may be wondering, how many careers has this guy had?
How many jobs have I had?
The answer–in the ultimate sense–is one; one career, one job. And this applies to all of us. Because …
You are the founder and director of You, Inc.
And I’m the founder and director of Me, Inc.
No, you won’t find these companies by searching Google or by looking on LinkedIn.
Because they’re not companies in the conventional sense, of course.
Rather they reflect an attitude, a mindset, or even better, a way of experiencing work, relating to your job, and managing your career.
But what does this really mean?
It means actively seeking out opportunities to do new things, take on new challenges, and grow in ways that you might not have anticipated.
I’ll give you the example I’m most familiar with … myself.
I made Aliya about 25 years ago.
I frankly hadn’t a clue what I was doing.
What was worse, I had hard time admitting that to myself … I certainly couldn’t admit it to others.
I started off teaching English. And then, a couple of years into the Aliya project, I got into hi-tech through technical writing. Some friends teased me that I’d be writing on the back of shampoo bottles. I’m still waiting for that assignment.
After about a year of technical writing, I was told I’d need to learn how to write macros, you know, those programs that automate activities in Word and other tools.
At the time, it was pretty scary. I hadn’t been one of those kids who took quickly to computers when they started appearing all over the place when I was in middle school.
I found a friend to teach me the essential control structures and syntax of BASIC. I got my boss at the time to order some books and reference guides (this was before the Internet had really taken off).
And I learned programming, or at least enough to get myself going on the job.
Eventually, I wrote and published some articles on Word automation, and became rather adept at the programmatic side of MS Office. Without calling it re-invention, I’d had my first taste of what would evolve into a set of adaptive habits that would come in handy throughout my career.
Some years later, at another job at a different company, a product management assignment came up. A whole new set of skills were needed. Another opportunity.
And then, some years later, project management. Followed by technical journalism and newsletter writing. And most recently, training teams in financial compliance, project auditing, and due-diligence procedures.
This last assignment was almost a four-year stint. What was special about it was that it took me WAY out of my comfort zone. Previously, I’d been quite phobic about anything having to do with money. Oh boy, did I have to get over that fear fast. In fact, I had to convey to others a sense of confidence explaining financial policies, processes, and procedures.
What’s the common thread in all this? Does there have to be one?
Not necessarily, though I find that identifying a common thread helps in placing some understanding and awareness around the process that’s going on.
For me, that thread is communication. That’s my core skill, and the one I always draw upon, and tap into.
What do I mean by communication?
Beyond all the buzzwords, technical terms, tools, technologies, and industry jargon, what I value most is communicating with human beings. Knowing that about myself has been invaluable. But getting there has taken some introspection and soul-searching. It also requires patience and the ability to weather what might appear initially as negative experiences or setbacks.
For you, the core skill might be written communication; or spoken; or maybe it’s a love of technology, finance, product acceleration, information architecture, content design, or user experiences.
But these are really just examples of things that professional communicators do at various points in their careers to learn new things, to expand their skill sets, grow their knowledge base, succeed on the job, or at the next job, or at some point off in the future.
I’ve come to call this the Art of Reinvention. Or, a set of habits that helps you weather storms in your career, turn setbacks into growth opportunities, or simply to keep the faith and see the positive in whatever circumstances you find your job situation.
Embracing reinvention is not necessarily the easiest path.
But I believe it’s the right one.
Because if nothing else, it gives you a chance to tap into the best parts of yourself, to hear the voice that reminds you to remain calm, to draw upon your wellspring of confidence, and to be resilient.
I hope these last few moments have been helpful in some way, or at least provided you with some take-home ideas for things to think about.
I’d anyway be happy for your feedback. And that includes letting me know what you didn’t like about this talk. Maybe you’ll be helping me with my next reinvention assignment!
Thank you all.
January 5, 2017
Miketz, the Torah portion that was read last Shabbat, begins with a dream, and is followed moments later by an abrupt awakening; into the reality of impending famine. Pharaoh is not a particularly noteworthy leader. However, he is able to acknowledge his limitations. He does this by delegating management — in this case, of the Egyptian empire—to Joseph, who for all the imperfections in his family life, is clearly possessed of a Divine spark, and a deep wisdom that affords him a view into the future.
Pharaoh’s dream doesn’t only portend famine; it foretells also a period of abundance. We can learn from Joseph to see the purpose in both—times of scarcity, and times of abundant plenty—and to tap into our deeper wisdom and act with intelligence, so that we can aim to stay —despite external circumstances—in a place of abundance.
Gathering to bid farewell to me and to friend and colleague Batya Neppe
As Beresheet winds down, and we transition into Shemot a few weeks from now, it’s always with a pinch of sadness that I feel myself saying goodbye to a family story—not always a family without problems—but what’s clearly a series of family narratives in Genesis—as we enter into the wider world of nationhood that we emerge into during Exodus. I experience this latter book as perhaps less personal, but nonetheless a necessary step in growing out of our previous confines.
To borrow a phrase from Cisco management, it is with mixed emotions that I’m talking with you here today. On the one hand, I’m sad as I face leaving so many dear friends and fabulous colleagues of many years. At the same time, I realize that this is a necessary step; that only by blowing the dust off of skills, talents, aptitudes and abilities long dormant, do we really extend ourselves beyond merely surviving … only in doing so can we truly stay alive.
Passion? Excitement? Energy? Focus? It’s up to you!
I’ll share some personal examples that I believe could be informative for us all.
During recent weeks, I’ve done things that I’d only imagined doing over a period of decades.
- Attending professional networking events and startup gatherings; not just to passively sit back and watch slides and listen to lectures, but with the aim of approaching strangers, pitching them ideas, and really hearing their feedback.
- Participating in more general networking events like meetups sponsored by NBN. Some have asked, Why would you want to meet with Millennials, with people half your age? Well, one of them might be your next boss!
- Taking a good look at your resume; and if you haven’t got one, write one. Send it around for feedback to the people who scare you the most.
- Doing some pro-bono consulting, getting a sense of what running a business and managing clients is like.
Rabbi Nachman says “כל העולם כולו, גשר צר מאוד, והעיקר לא לפחד כלל”, that the whole world is a narrow bridge and the important thing is not to fear at all. I don’t fully agree. Fear is an emotion that all human beings share, and in fact, it’s part of our humanity. The important thing is not to allow that fear to take over and get the better of us. I hope we can all use it as a springboard to enable and inspire us to take proactive steps to prepare for any eventuality.
Yes, we’ve certainly been exposed to a lot of jargon and standard motivational phraseology these past several years at Cisco; and it can sometimes be a bit off-putting. But the important thing, I believe, is to ask what we can do to stay positive and true to ourselves.
Passion? Excitement? Engagement? Laser-focus? Well, that’s up to you. Because only you can decide what parts of yourselves you’ll bring to work. Though what I can say with near certainty is that the future direction for SPVSS won’t come from the top-down. Rather it will come from grass-roots efforts to chart a course for the business unit and making a convincing case to the leadership. Will Cisco succeed in selling subscription-based, cloud-hosted video and security products? I don’t know for certain, but I sure hope it does; and what I do know is that if it does work out, it will come down to extending ourselves beyond our comfort zones, taking some calculated risks, and reaching into the best parts of ourselves … in a word, being like Joseph.
Will you do it? I believe you will. And I’ll tell you why. I’ll tell you what I believe sets you apart. Four words, all beginning with “I”.
Will you innovate?
Will you be inventive?
Will you improvise?
Of course you will! You’re Israeli!
… you know how to make things work. You’ve all done some great and courageous things in your lives, and there’s room for more.
The takeaway message here is that, like Joseph, you have the power to decide how to respond to circumstances. There’s the option to remain a prisoner. And there’s the option to reach into yourselves and find the resources that make you special, and that give you a sense of limitless freedom. What’s more—like we learned in Knowledge Sharing—you can collaborate to make those special qualities exponentially more powerful.
A parting gift for Batya
Folks, יהיה בסדר, it’s going to be good.
You’ll make it good.
That’s the NDS spirit. That’s you at your most real.
Thank you all, and God bless.
August 15, 2016
A short speech delivered to Har Hotzvim Toastmasters on August 10th, 2016.
I hope you’ll enjoy!
May 11, 2016
מאת: דוד אדג’אש, בין יום השואה ויום הזיכרון, תשע”ו, 6 במאי 2016
אני זוכר כאשר הייתי בערך בן שלוש, אמא נתנה לי מרק אלף-בתי של אסם, כמובן בעברית, וסיפרה לי שזה מרק שבא מישראל. לא ידעתי אז המשמעות, אבל כן הבנתי שזה היה משהו מיוחד
אני שכחתי לכמה שנים את הייחודיות הזאת
אני זוכר כאשר הייתי בן שבע, פתחתי את הדלת והיה עיתון, ראיתי בדף הראשי תמונה של אסון נורא שקרה במקום רחוק. אמא סיפרה לי שמחבלים – היא קראה להם “גוורילות” – תקפו והרגו ישראלים. התברר לי אח”כ שזה היה הטבח במעלות
ואז התחברתי וזכרתי את המשמעות
March 19, 2016
When I compare how little enthusiasm I had during the weeks leading up to this year’s race, with the pure, unmitigated, and open-hearted joy I experienced during the actual run, I’m only reminded of how important it is to consciously and actively work to perform the heavy lifting needed to move beyond energy draining karmas (read: ambivalent moods) and, as the famous athletic shoe company instructs, just do it.
I found myself deeply moved by the masses of Am Yisrael–and our dear friends and supporters, many of whom came at no small expense, to participate–running in this year’s event. I was moved to tears several times seeing how many participants were running in memory of victims of war and terror, as well as those participating to raise awareness and funds for those whose lives have been impacted by war, illness, poverty, and various misfortune.
I was also quite overjoyed seeing my lovely and wonderful wife, Ilana Sobel, *** four different times (!!) *** during the course of the race!! Thank you, sweetheart, for tracking my route and turning out to cheer me on … and for the great photo of me chugging away at km 11.
As you may recall from my post following last year’s race, I really connect with my Dad’s memory during the Jerusalem run, especially when things happen that can’t be explained in any rational framework. Last night, a very dear overseas friend with whom I hadn’t been in touch in some months, contacted me asking what impressed me as a deeply mystical question, one that’s quite out of my league … but right up Dad’s ally. That I was able to provide an answer by scanning him a page of Dad’s Kabbalah Notebook left me with an immensely connected feeling, which augmented quite powerfully during the last 4 km today, when my physical energy is rather drained, and I’m running more on resources of the Spirit.
Thank you all, dear ones near and far, for reading my post. And biggest thank you to the Ultimate Timeless Experience and Eternal Companion for bringing about the Conditions of Life on Earth for this moment to happen.
ברוך אתה יהוה, אלוהינו מלך העולם, שהחיינו וקיימנו והגיענו לזמן הזה.
January 31, 2016
This morning, I did something that I do rather infrequently. That is, I responded to a research survey, this one being conducted by a tech comms professor at a college in New Mexico. The request was to list—in the respondent’s opinion—the most important trends, technologies, and theories impacting the tech comms field over the past five years (with a limit not to exceed ten items).
Having been mostly out of the field for the past almost three years, since transitioning to the financial side of the technology sector, I realized my response might be perceived as a bit presumptuous. Though once I got beyond that initial reluctance, and betting I’d have what to contribute, my thought process got itself into gear. Then, as I started putting together my list (some of which I realize—like outsourcing and apps—are no-brainers), it got me thinking more deeply about the issue of surviving in the brave new world of off-shoring, crowd-sourcing, and rapid paradigm shifts. Which led, in turn, to my evolving theory regarding ‘springboarding’ — or, radical flexibility—as a job survival and career development strategy.
So here are my top 10 items for what we should all be maintaining in our field of awareness as we courageously plow ahead into the ever-changing, but always essential, professional practice of sharing knowledge with those seeking answers.
- Off-shoring, meaning, expand and deepen training in order to keep US-based TC’s relevant in current market.
- Outsourcing, similar to above, though focused on “manpower” firms as the competition as opposed to overseas TC’s.
- Crowd-sourcing, meaning, forcing the question as to ‘why do I need in-house TC’s if the customer will anyway Google their questions’?
- Cloud-based documentation, meaning, ability to host documentation in a highly modular fashion where updates can be made on-the-fly and in a way that’s transparent to the customer or end-consumer.
- Video and animation. YouTube contains lots of real gems, offering ‘how-to’ instructions for everyday applications like Word and Excel, as well as for specialized and highly-specialized solutions. Screen-cam tools enable reasonably quick creation of animations and storyboards that have replaced more “traditional” text- and still image-based documentation. These skills are must-haves for today’s TC.
- Single-canvas presentation solutions (for example, Prezi), which have made fast-paced animations another need-to-have skill for TC’s. (I actually prefer to call these tools “infinite canvas” or “non-linear object path.”)
- Documentation on-the-go, meaning docs — or any information —consumed via apps.
- Metrics, that is, the demand for TC departments, teams, and individual practitioners to prove their added value by demonstrating statistically how documentation products and services contribute to the bottom line.
- Agile methodology, which is a whole philosophy, but I’m referring specifically to having the customer or end-consumer play an essential role in the feedback loop that impacts the documentation that the software (or any product or service) provider delivers.
- DevOps, which is another whole philosophy, but I’m referring specifically to TC’s needing to keep up in an environment where continuous development and continuous integration rule the day.
In closing, I’ll add that perhaps the most important item, not included in the list above, is what I would call spring-boarding or perhaps “radical flexibility;” that is, the awareness that your professional practice is likely to change considerably in tone and in scope every two or so years, and could even become completely unrecognizable and in need of swap-out after three to five years.
Wishing us all much success as we go forward.
October 11, 2015
בראשית was your Grandfather Yitz’s favorite parsha. He taught that בריאת העולם, the Creation of the World, was the greatest act of Love that God ever performed … and continues to perform. What a wonderful thing that you both got to read Grandpa Yitz’s favorite parsha, and that you did it so beautifully.
We also know that the Creation of the World wasn’t only an act of Love, it was also a tremendous act of Will … of רצון, and that the Creation of Humans, which happened shortly after, was no less an act of Love and Will.
However, as Ne’eman pointed out in his D’var Torah, it didn’t take long before the Humans that God created weren’t exactly acting in sync with God’s Will, as their behavior both inside and outside Gan Eden would demonstrate.
Eating from the עץ הדעת was just the beginning. By the end of the parsha, sadly, Man has become consumed by evil … and God is preparing to destroy the world. And as Tzvi just discussed in his D’var Torah, society had collapsed and the moral structure of the world had fallen apart.
What can we learn from this story? The world’s very first story?
We have to wait a few months … or maybe a few thousand years … or perhaps a few billion years, to transition from בריאת העולם to מתן תורה, when we receive a set of commandments that we can apply toward Guiding Human Life on Earth.
But we’re still left with the question: How do we bring our own Will into alignment with God’s?
We have lots of great teachings — and teachers. Yet we live in a time when it’s not always entirely clear to us what we ought to be doing with ourselves, our time, our attention, and even our thoughts.
When do we go out and seek answers from our Sources? And when do we focus our attention inward and seek answers from within?
When do we look for guidance in the law, and when do we look into our own hearts?
Tzvi and Ne’eman, I think you’re both developing a toolbox to help you wrestle with these questions. I’d even say you’ve both been working on gathering those tools for a while already.
We hear a lot these days about the importance of making good choices. The news is filled every day with stories about people who made poor choices.
Yet how do we know whether the choices we’re making are the right ones?
In trying to answer this question, I wrote down a few ideas that I thought of today to help guide you.
- Choose good mentors.
- Choose friends and companions not for their popularity and status, but for their honesty, integrity, and decency; because they can help you become better people.
- Strive to do what’s right, not necessarily what’s popular.
- Be kind to Planet Earth … and to its people.
- Remember that people are never perfect. None of us will ever be. Be patient with people.
- And then, have patience, and even more patience.
- Remember that the easy answers are often not the right ones. Take time to really think!
- Most importantly … Keep adding to this list!
I love you boys. I’m happy for your accomplishments. And I’ll admit … I’m proud of you.
Thank you Ilana for making the impossible a reality.
Thank you Mom for your wisdom and love.
Thank you dear friends for your kind support, and for making our simcha so special.
May we all merit experiencing מעשה בראשית … constant creation and renewal … in every moment of our lives.
August 2, 2015
I’m disgusted, saddened, dismayed—and yes, angered – as much as anyone, by the violent events of this past weekend. I’m also quite frankly, disappointed and scared by the harsh reactions of decent, caring, and law-respecting people, some of them my friends, who are responding with – perhaps understandable – but misdirected rage at entire sectors of the Jewish population who do not condone, let alone endorse, the horrific acts perpetrated by a few warped and hateful individuals.
In particular, I get worried when people who, under more ordinary circumstances, are deep thinkers and clear-headed deliberators, make statements aligning themselves with proposed “solutions” that are at best simplistic and at worst fan the flames of alienation and suspicion. Can we experience our justified feelings of anger and disappointment without allowing ourselves to be manipulated?
I am very upset – though sadly, not surprised – that politicians are exploiting these events for their own gain. No, I’m not naïve enough to expect they’d do otherwise. But it does make me sad when an opportunity for unity and healing is turned into yet another forum for partisan rants and shouting into the echo chambers of our most base feelings and fears … our lowest common denominator of reactiveness.
Stabbing gay people is not a tenet of religious Judaism, in any of the forms it manifests, Orthodox or otherwise. Burning Arab families asleep in their homes is no way a part of Zionism, or any expression of Jewish nationalism that has withstood the test of time. That individuals somehow associated with these groups have done so is tragic. Though let’s remember, this is a fringe, not a reflection of the vast majority.
The perpetrators of these acts should be apprehended, brought to justice, and prevented from roaming free to cause further harm. The injured should be healed, the mourners comforted, and the communities assured that their safety is vitally important and a priority for the majority of decent folks … across the various divides.
I ask that we reflect quietly before jumping to make general condemnations. That we seek to understand before making ourselves understood. That we fix what’s broken within ourselves before suggesting or imposing solutions upon our fellows.
This is very hard work, exacerbated by our collective feeling of brokenness right now. Speaking for myself, listening compassionately when I’m upset is admittedly not my strongest suit. But I frankly don’t see any other way to help bridge the rifts that are gaping wide open within ourselves, our families, our communities, and our society.
I would like to make myself available to anyone who would like an opportunity to be heard without judgement, categorization, or interruption. Or to just pray together if you find that helpful. I would like to ask that others do the same … if you feel you can.
These are rough times for the Nation of Israel — and Planet Earth – right now. And there are likely to be some difficult days ahead. Let’s be good to one another. If we’re not, no one else will.
March 28, 2015
Here’s a slightly annotated version of what I texted Ilana shortly after I completed the route:
“Finished (the 21K). Felt fantastic. Euphoric. Said shechechianu (שהחיינו) at finish line. Endorphin rush toward end was beyond anything I’d ever experienced. Was in tears most of the last 2.5 kilometers. Felt Dad’s presence so powerfully. Wow. Now I know why I did it. Felt like I just got up from Shiva and gave birth to my authentic self. Love you.”
My newly discovered “secret” to success: running—or any sport based around individual endurance—isn’t about you against yourself; it’s you with yourself. Because open-hearted kindness to yourself will get you so much farther than you ego ever will.
Be good to each other, everyone. Life’s too short for getting caught up in the BS.
Shabbat Shalom / Peace