January 5, 2017

NDS-Cisco: Moving On

Posted in business networking, NDS-Cisco, Torah tagged , , at 1:34 am by degyes

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

October 11, 2015

Dvar Torah – Beresheet – Tzvi and Ne’eman’s Bar Mitzvah

Posted in Commentary, Family, Torah tagged , , , , , , , at 11:05 pm by degyes

Ma’aseh Beresheet

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.

Mazal tov!