Afternoon Tea in Jerusalem Blog

Life in Israel

Israeli commercial life and society

In addition to my work as a business coach, one of my interests is blogging about life in Israel. This is a country full of contrasts – over eight million citizens living in an area the size of Wales. You can see snow and the lowest place on the globe in the same day. Although surrounded by geopolitical extremes, Israel has achieved a decade of high economic growth. My work brings me in contact with an array of new companies, exciting technologies and dynamic characters. Sitting back with a relaxing cup of strong tea (with milk), you realise just how much there is to appreciate in the Holyland. Large or small operations, private sector or non profit, my clients provide experiences from which others can learn and benefit.


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When the business mentor practices what he preaches

Yes, there are differences between a business mentor, business coach and a business consultant. And yesterday I was offered a wonderful opportunity to illustrate them.

I was asked to deliver a presentation near Tel Aviv to the 9th Annual gathering of the Israel Small and Medium Sized Business Association. It was a surprisingly wide variety of 700 people. For me, one of the highlights was the panel featuring Jamilia Hier, a Druze lady whose soaps are now sold in dozens of countries around the world.

Jamilia started from next-to-nothing, in a society that does not necessarily enhance the status of women. As she explained to a captivated audience, 95% of her staff are female. And she employs Druze, Christians, Jews and Muslims, and nobody checks to see who is who.

My own talk featured six key reasons why people should seriously think about engaging a business mentor, as a person who sees what is not said or is overlooked. This outlook is neatly surmised in the following two questions:

“What is the question that you do not wish a business mentor to ask you,……and why”?

Yes, a mentor is a person who sets out to challenge; to drive beyond the accepted boundaries. He looks for an entrepreneurial spirit.

In contrast a business coach, can be compared to a sporting analogy. He is looking to improve core skills. And the consultant has a more hands-on role, often becoming involved in the decision making process.

Preparing the presentation proved an interesting challenge. Most of my work is with those who were born in English speaking countries, usually in the Jerusalem region. This time, I was confronted by a more natural Israeli audience, where a Jerusalemnite was the rare exception.

So, I had to mentor myself by considering: –

  • What was going to be the wow factor?
  • What is the hook to the main point?
  • What would make them laugh?
  • How could I deliver something new?
  • What would be the closing punch line, and how to deliver it?

It was a fascinating process. In each instance, the differences were not huge, but subtle and important enough to force me to change my patter. And I had to practice, repeatedly, my delivery, exactly as I encourage my clients to do so.

If there is one tip I can leave you with, it is as follows. The talks that appeared to be more successful – and I hope that includes mine – included a personal element. The presenters hid the boring commercial message behind a story that contained human insight.

Guess what? In those cases, I believe that fewer people in the audience were “just checking their mobile phones…..yet again”.

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