Afternoon Tea in Jerusalem Blog

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.

Tuesday morning, Christmas day. A bit chilly, but the sun is shinning. No snow in the Jerusalem hills and none down the road in Bethlehem.

Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics has just released some figures re the Christian community in the Holy Land, arguably the sole place in the Middle East where the numbers are increasing. And I quote directly: –

  • Approximately 175,000 Christians live in Israel; they comprise about 2% of the State of Israel’s population.
  • 77.7% of the Christians in Israel are Arab Christians.
  • In 2017, the Christian population grew by 2.2%, compared to 1.4% in the previous year.
  • The increase in growth resulted mostly from the immigration of 597 Falash Mura Christians from Ethiopia.
  • Most of the Christian Arabs reside in the northern part of Israel: 70.6% reside in the Northern District.
  • 40.9% of the non-Arab Christians reside in the Tel Aviv and Central Districts; another 33.8% reside in the Northern and Haifa Districts.
  • The localities with the largest Arab Christian population were Nazareth (22,100), Haifa (15,800), Jerusalem (12,600), and Shefar’am (10,200), as of the end of 2017.
    800 Christian couples married in Israel in 2016. The median age at the first marriage of Christian grooms in 2016 was 29.2, and that of Christian brides was 25.6.
  • In 2017, 2,504 infants were born to Christian women, about 75% of whom were born to Arab Christian women (1,877 infants).
  • Among all students studying toward a first degree, Christian Arabs were most highly represented in the following fields: public administration (14.2%), history of Israel (12.1%), and the multi-disciplinary humanities program (10.7%).
  • Women constituted 75.2% of Christians studying toward a second degree, compared to 62.7% among all students studying toward a second degree.
  • Compared to Arab Moslem students, the percentage of Arab Christian students studying education and teacher preparation was lower, and the percentage studying engineering, architecture, law, and medicine was higher.

The numbers are not large, but they are the follow up to a major act in the world’s history. Funny how the open roles of Christians in Israel, in Jerusalem, never seem to be reported with the honesty that they deserve.

It may be a tad British, but I am currently enjoying a fascinating podcast about leadership. Interviewing a former England cricket captain, the key feature is how you can take an average team – in sport, commerce or a social group – and mobilise it into something sensational.

In terms of the Palestinian issue, much has been discussed recently about how President Abbas has just started his 15 year of his term in office, when he was only elected for four years. It is too easy to be cynical. Just how much of a motivator is he?

However, as if to add to the challenge, this week Abbas demanded the dissolution of the Palestinian Parliament.

The reason?

Abbas is recognizing that at 83 years old he must consider what will happen the day he leaves office. Under PA (Palestinian Authority) law should the president leave office without a successor, the Speaker of the Parliament takes over as President of the Palestinian Authority for two months after which presidential elections are held. The current Speaker of the Palestinian Parliament is Aziz Al-Dweik from Hamas.

And let us recall that Hamas threw the PA out of Gaza in a most violent manner, and is challenging its position in the West Bank.

The above synopsis sparked a series of comments from a financial analyst, David Frankfurter. He observed:

I wonder if these members of the parliament that did not meet are to continue receiving a salary, benefits, electoral assistants and other financial assitance? How much did it add up to? This could be another element of side effects of the US withdrawing financial support to the PA.

If so, it would be a signpost to the Europeans on how to introduce efficiency to the aid they keep flowing. It is yet another indicator to the European taxpayer as to what a wasteful manner their elected representatives and finance ministries use their taxes on misdirected foreign aid.

Worth a thought. Maybe write to your rep and ask them?

It has been a quiet week. A chance finally to update my LinkedIn profile. And that should be an easy task for me to write, as I am a business coach and mentor?

Hmm. How to write in 120 syllables what I do? How to text out an elevator pitch? It could read too generalistic. More pondering.

As I was driving home, I was contacted by a customer, who had been taking a break from meeting me in order to absorb and to implement what we had been discussing. He asked me to recall how I had suggested to him that before taking out a large commercial loan, he sorted out his personal loan.

Bottom line. The bank has agreed to slash the rate of interest he pays, saving him thousands of shekels in the process. Further, they are now revamping his request for a commercial loan, both for a higher amount and with much improved terms.

Cool! And it spurred me to think about what other projects I had been involved with over the past few days.

One of my current favourite case studies concerns a finance intermediary company, facilitating loans worth tens of millions of shekels annually to families and businesses who usually ‘fall between the gap’. The CEO has been worried that his sales force are not effective enough, despite a healthy bonus system.

I have been gradually introducing the owner to alternative forms of ‘incentives’, often seen as the one word to summarise the entire theorem of economics. Had he asked his staff what motivates them? Had he realised that different people are motivated for different reasons and by different means? What is it about his new employee that makes him an immediate success, and from which others can learn?

In other words, this ten year old company is on the verge of restructuring its back office sales structure. All this from a CEO, who had originally informed me outright that he did not believe I could mentor him.

And the two subjects that particularly motivate me at the moment? I am thrilled to be involved in the expansion of the services of one of the  business hubs in Jerusalem. More on that another time.

Second, a provider of medical services has called me in. Formally, they only opened their doors less than two years ago. With minimal outreach and with even less advertising, they are already attracting hundreds of people a week. Effectively, they are entrusting their confidence in me to show them how they can create a stable business model to finance a multi-operational facility in Jerusalem.

On reflection, I find that there is a single factor connect all of these (and several other) exciting projects. I cannot claim to be an expert in most of the specific fields of activity. However, that is the role of a mentor and coach; to use core generic skills, developed through a range of experiences, to understand how to bring out the best talents in their customers and to offer a multiple of customised approaches.

And it really is fun to be involved with these people. The question is how to put all this on LinkedIn?

In March 2018, Israel’s Prime Minister gave a rousing speech to a group of supporters in America. After touching on geopolitical issues, Benjamin Netanyahu (Bibi) quickly moved on to comment on the strength of the Israeli economy. At the 9 minute mark he said:

We made it (the economy) stronger by moving to free market principles, which unleashed a spark of genius…..

He probably would not want to be reminded that this process was started in the middle of the 1980s by his arch enemy, the late Shimon Peres. Ironical. And as finance minister 15 years later, Bibi carried the success further forward.

What is not ironical, but sure seems hypocritical, is the Prime Minister’s current handling of matters.

Before explaining, I must point out that Bibi is the PM, Foreign Minister and Defense Minister, as well as holding at least 2 other portfolios. He is not the Minister of Finance, but his influence is there to be seen.

Ostensibly, the official rate of inflation remains low in Israel, a little over 1% annually. However, the shelves of supermarkets are dominated by about ten local food manufacturers or importers, and their prices have increased significantly in recent years. Public utilities, such as the electricity company and local water authorities, are set to introduce new price hikes. The cost of bread, a staple of poorer families, is also expected to rise. And thus it comes as no surprise that the yellow-jacket symbols of Paris have now reached the streets of Tel Aviv.

Under a free market economy, the government should be saying: “Sorry, as unfortunate as this may be, there is nothing we can do”. In fact, in direct contradiction to the stirring words of the Prime Minister, the very opposite is happening. It is intervening. There will be a limited increase in the price of bread. A smaller shift in the cost of power and water is in preparation.

And how will this be paid for? Higher taxes, in all likelihood. In other words, more intervention.

The Minister of Finance, Moshe Kahlon, is a coalition partner of Bibi and they are sworn foes. The two are considered the smartest political movers in town. Kahlon has agreed to keep deferring duties on the imports of some food products. I should be grateful?

How about relaxing all duties? How about allowing the import of fruits and vegetables for those items when they are not in season in Israel? Why does a carton of Alpro soya milk cost 2.5 times as much in Jerusalem as it does in London, to give one example?

You have got to wonder just how indebted are the politicians to these strong interest groups in the economy that they lack the political will and skill to set the Israeli economy truly free?

Palestinians should be allowed to improve their economy without worrying about whether they will give up on their national cause.

Thus wrote Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, on the Ma’an News Agency website of the Palestinians.

He is correct. Whatever side of the seemingly intractable Palestinian – Israeli argument you may be on, the economies of Gaza and Ramallah seem unsustainable. And whatever the true numbers, unemployment is super high, productivity continues to find new levels to sink towards, while overseas aid is petering off.

Reliable figures for the financial activity of the Palestinian government have been hard to obtain for many years. The reasons vary. Recently, former Israeli military intelligence officer, Yossi Kuperwasser set out an analysis of the 2018 budget. The key points are: –

  1. The total budget is about US$5 billion dollars.
  2. Around 15% or US$775 million is supported by overseas aid, including the taxpayers of Western countries.
  3. US$155 million is allocated to aiding prisoners and / or their families in Israeli jails, assumedly for charges relating to terror incidents.
  4. And: The P.A. budget for supporting the families of “martyrs” and the wounded is $185 million. This sum is used to make sure that 24,000 families of “martyrs” and wounded who reside inside the “homeland” get a monthly allowance, 13,500 such families who reside outside the “homeland” get a monthly allowance, 375 families get special monetary assistance, 28,000 families get health insurance, and monthly allowances are paid to the victims of the 2014 conflict in Gaza. 

Earlier this week, Saleh Barghouti calmly drove past a crowd of Israelis at a bus stop and  mowed them down. Of the seven wounded, one was a woman in her seventh month of pregnancy. The baby was delivered in hospital, but was immediately diagnosed with difficulties, resulting from both the shooting and its premature arrival.

Last night, 4 days old and with barely enough time to name him as Amiad Yisrael, the child was buried. In the picture below, the infant is seen wrapped in a prayer shawl. The man looks petrified that the body in his hands is so small and light that it may fall.

Image result for picture of funeral of Amiad israel

Of all the terrible stories of terror from around the world – Manchester, Boston, Bali et al – this is truly the saddest picture that I have ever seen. I saw it and froze.

As for the other parties to this story, it appears that Amiad’s mother is beginning to recover from her serious wounds. Meanwhile, Barghouti was shot dead by Israeli forces while resisting arrest. However, as per the strictures of the Palestinian budget approved by President Abbas, Barghouti’s family is set to become the financial beneficiaries from his heinous crime.

One postscript for Abbas, who this week celebrated his 15th year in his position, originally democratically elected for just four years: Earlier today, a couple of miles from where Barghouti struck, two other Israelis were slain. Clearly, this will place a further demand on the Palestinian budget, leading to additional calls for aid from European treasuries.

 

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Every now and again, business owners have to face up to that dreaded task of updating or upgrading their presence on social media. For many, especially those who run SMEs, small and medium sized enterprises, the very thought of such change can be emotionally exhausting – and I am not exaggerating.

Just recently, I took on the task of revamping my own presence on LinkedIn. I decided that it was time to do this properly, and I have been investing hours in a self-learning process. Most of the blogs have concentrated on creating a winning profile. I can offer that the Top Dog Social Media Company is particularly thorough on this aspect.

Others look at strategy creation. And a surprisingly relatively few number of articles relate your LinkedIn efforts to raking in clients. After all, let’s be frank. We write subtle and glowing praise about ourselves in order to generate additional revenues.

As I was doing my homework, I felt that something was missing in the process. Late last night, the ‘very obvious’ dawned on me. Before I could move ahead, I had to define four stages, and do so in a most clean, clear and pertinent manner.

  1. Define what I do
  2. Explain why I am successful at that task, and thus….
  3. What I deliver
  4. What are the results

Agreed, nothing too revolutionary in the first line. However, adding in the next three and also demanding specific statements that can be validated, now that is something very challenging.

As a business mentor and coach, surely I should have been aware of the fundamentals of this process. Yes. I have to admit to my guilt.

There again, as I recalled to a fitness instructor in Jerusalem this week, I remember talking to a top software sales person, who informed me that they do not update the antivirus on their home computer. (The instructor observed that he has become too casual about how he uses gym equipment and is slovenly about changing his own routines.)

And how to go about completing these four stages? Few can do it properly on their own.  I strongly advise taking on the help of second party to bounce off ideas and who is not afraid to offer their own thoughts….that you may not wish to hear.

 

 

 

My client finally turned up for their second meeting. He was late and the gap had been far too long. I could tell immediately that progress had been minimal, and that is being complimentary. I may be operating in the holy city of Jerusalem, but it was clearly time to “kick some aXXe”.

It is my job as a business mentor to find a way through the billowing clouds of excuses and to jolt people forward towards their commercial vision. I had a plan for the gentleman, and I was going to take no prisoners along the way.

I had taken stock of what I had to work with. Young, quietly clever, a very talented sales assistant, and relatively new to the city, our hero had little commercial background. However, I assumed (correctly) that he carried a hidden determination to succeed.

I laid out my pitch. It was time to stop talking about theories and to create a practical action plan. Agreed. OK, I asked, what is your target? The response: a few clients over the winter, although a 100 are needed to establish traction.

Fine, I said. We are going for 200 in 3 months. Gasp. Surprise. I then demanded a work schedule from next week, as to how he would haul in the magic 100. The key is to start from the end. In other words, understand what needs to be done in the final week, and then in the penultimate week. Etc. The confusion dissipated into full engagement. He had decided to enjoy the journey.

We laid out the basic “offer”. We determined the “how”. We considered “why” clients will buy in. We analysed his weaknesses, suggesting solutions to each one.

Sixty minutes later, the white board was pretty filthy. My client was looking bemused. Before entering my office, he had some vague concept. He was leaving with a lot of homework, and very much up for the fight.

And what had been the trigger? He was prepared to change, and I had seen that in the first meeting. I was able to utilize that fearless flexibility in him.

By the beginning of next week, he is expected to have drawn up a time chart to ensure he can fit in all the tasks over the coming weeks. Speak to me at the end of the winter to see what happened.20181206_150020

Many argue that we are a slave to technology and the pop up menus of the social media platforms around us. On average, we check our phones 150 times a day. We are afraid of missing something……when we think we already know it all…. and then crave more info.

In a compelling analysis, Tristan Harris recalled that:

Cornell professor Brian Wansink demonstrated this in his study showing you can trick people into keep eating soup by giving them a bottomless bowl that automatically refills as they eat. With bottomless bowls, people eat 73% more calories than those with normal bowls and underestimate how many calories they ate by 140 calories.

This week, wearing my hat as business mentor and coach, I was interviewing people in Jerusalem. In one hour sessions, the aim was to understand their concept, give them some initial advice and then consider how they may approach official agencies to receive additional coaching.

The first customer of the day strutted in. With the briefest of intros, he wanted to know if we could prepare a business plan for him.

A fair request, but I needed more info in order to answer. Very quickly, he interrupted my approach. The questions were declared irrelevant. He demanded a yes / no answer. I tried to explain, but was interrupted. I tried again, but I could that his patience levels were diminishing far quicker than the daily life of my mobile battery.

I was then asked if I could write the plan. I replied that in theory that was possible, but I felt there was not enough chemistry between the two sides. To my surprise, this comment was taken as an insult. On reflection, I suppose that he had assumed that if we were sitting in the same room, we have clicked and thus the next stage will happen automatically.

My point is that I felt that he had been tricked. He had treated me like Google. He had expected to walk in, ask, and be answered on the spot. Who needs an hour? Waste of time. Turn out a biz plan today so that the bank will me the loan tomorrow, no?

Social media is here to stay. However, it has changed thought processes. Those like Harris may argue that it has diminished our ability to think and to help ourselves.

The role of a business mentor is to pose questions that people are uncomfortable with. The success of Facebook et al will not take that power away from me. The question remains if we can retain our ability to realise that the importance of human intelligence.

How will Britain leave the EU? Under what terms? Who will be the PM? I am not placing my bets. What I have found significant is that amongst the hubble and bubble and much trouble, Britain’s Secretary of State for International Trade, Dr Liam Fox, has found the time to pop over to Israel. Why?

There are some very significant facts for the UK economy, that Israel’s opponents would have you ignore.

  • Britain’s Department for International Trade said goods worth $9bn were traded between the UK and Israel in 2017, a record year.
  • The number of Israeli companies that set up in the UK after the Brexit referendum increased by 28 per cent, as did Israeli investment in the UK by 33.5 per cent.
  • Israeli-made generic pharmaceuticals are also a major supplier for the NHS.

Earlier this week, yet another seminar was held in Tel Aviv encouraging cooperation between the two countries health sector. And add to that Fintech and a whole series of innovation tech partnerships. In other words, the economic and commercial bonds between the two sides are growing, mutually, for the benefit of all.

Bilateral trade has almost doubled in recent years, despite or in spite of the hate of the BDS movement. Looking ahead, there are clearly plans on the table to resolve expected hiccups from the exit from Europe.

Item One: Last week, several anti-Israel protesters took to the streets of London. As members of the LGBT community, they were protesting against the performance of the Israeli singer, Netta. What a video of the event clearly brought out was the ignorance of the demonstrators, because Netta herself is a proud to associate herself with LGBT.

Netta’s visit to the UK was action packed. She went on to appear at an event on behalf of British Airways. It was only a few months previous that she had been introduced to Prince William, who is just two places away from being the King of England. Imagine boycotting those royal institutions. Bizarre!

Item Two: Where the BDS – boycott movement – against Israel seemingly recorded some success was the threatening announcement of Airbnb. This global brand has a jaw-dropping 150 million users on its mobile app . As senior commentator Tom Gross observed: Airbnb is targeting “Jewish owned” properties in the West Bank. “There are about 200 other disputed regions in the world but Airbnb will not be boycotting any of these others (for example, Turkish occupied Northern Cyprus, Chinese-occupied Tibet, Crimea, Moroccan occupied Western Sahara, and so on).”

In his weekly report, Tom Gross also added with great contrast how a “female BDS activist, Jess Balding, has fallen in love with a female Israeli soldier and converted to Judaism. Balding has now moved to Israel and says she now wants to study to be a rabbi.” Maybe she will meet Netta?

Item Three: Dodging between this hypocritical noise is the not-so-well-known Idriss Deby, the President of Chad. His visit to Jerusalem this week is significant because, he is not just the leader of a country, which is 60% Muslim. HIs territory is full of raw materials such as oil and gold.

Deby has received full coverage. In similar fashion, Prime Minister Netanyahu has openly travelled to Bahrain and Oman in recent weeks. And who knows what is happening behind the diplomatic scenes between Saudi Arabia and the Holy Land?

Which reminds me: Did you hear the news about Saudi’s boycott of………..the Palestinians?

Yes, it is stupid. Actually, it is worse. BDS is malicious and hateful. But could you imagine what would happen if the movement was really successful?

Item Four: Sniffphone“. I kid you not with the name. You see………..

Israeli Professor Hossam Haick of the Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology was awarded the European Commission Innovation Prize last week for his invention of the SNIFFPHONE, a device that uses nanotechnology sensors to analyze particles on the breath and is able to pinpoint to exact diseases, like certain kinds of cancer, pulmonary and even the early stages of neurodegenerative diseases.

Haick is not Jewish. And while the country may not be perfect, as far as possible, Israel practices pluralism. Thus its citizens come up with these invention that can have a truly positive global impact.

However, BDS would have you believe that this life-saving product should be boycotted, like Netta. Strange? Funny? Bizarre? Or just downright anti-Semitic, the very antithesis of pluralism.

 

 

It’s over a decade ago now, when a workman turned up an hour late. He briskly entered, telling me off for deliberately giving him the wrong address. I was too bemused to object.

Yesterday, a gentleman arrived 40 minutes late for an interview, complaining that the place was very difficult to get to. Hmm, as I considered all the others in the office. However, what should I respond and when?

I decided to hold back, looking for a more appropriate moment. And my reasoning was very clear to me. For most of us when we are late, it is because we have not left nearly enough time to arrive on time. Why? Usually it is because we are unnerved by what is in front of us or we do not belief it is of value.

Thus, we drag out that cup of coffee. We miss the earlier bus. We sneak in an extra phone call. And all of this is done, while we try to fool ourselves that we are seriously trying to be ‘on time’ for our appointment.

And in the end, the only people we really fool are….. indeed ourselves.

Back to my critical gentleman friend. We sat and discussed. As a business mentor, did I believe that he could set up this concept  – it is a service based venture – in the Jerusalem area? Yes, I responded very categorically, and his eyes lit up. “But on one condition!”

Panic swept across his face. I continued. “You need to change. You are seeking to provide a service for others. You cannot blame them for your mistakes.”

The moment he asked me to explain further, he realised his mistake. “If you want to be late for a meeting, I don’t mind. You pay for my time. However, don’t you expect a higher standard from yourself?”

To drive home the point, I did not say anything else. I let my facial expression exclaim ‘do not blame me for you not valuing my time with the respect it deserves’.

Our hero of the story signed up for a series of sessions on how to develop his new business.

 

 

 

Israel is a country replete with conservative religions. It is located in the Middle East. Therefore, women do not have a key role to play in its society, correct?

That is certainly what liberal critics of the country would have you make believe. Just last week, a leading rabbi was kept under house arrest for harassment of young women. Known cases in the army – the largest bureaucracy in the country – total about 1.000 annually. Wages of women compared to men in similar jobs regularly lag behind. And the rest seems to be a familiar story…..

….or maybe not. The days of Prime Minister Golda Meir are four decades behind us. The outgoing governor of the Bank of Israel and at least the leaders of two major banks in Israel are women. Of the 120 members of the Israeli Parliament, 35 are female, a ratio that is improving consistently. Two of the country’s growing stars in TV journalism are women (and neither are Jewish).

I was particularly fascinated by three articles on women in Israeli society that have featured in the press recently.

Karin Eibschitz Segal is the head of Intel’s R&D in Israel. That means 7,000 jobs and an annual revenue of around US$30 billion has a lot to do with how she is ‘feeling every morning’. For the record, Intel has made around 18 purchases of Israeli companies since 1974. 20% of its r&d team are estimated to be women.

Returning to politics, Aliza Bloch and Einat Kalish Rotem were recently elected as mayors of the cities of Beit Shemesh and Haifa respectively. Both where considered ‘dark horses’, ousting male incumbents who were considered safe bets just weeks before the polls opened. Interestingly, the former was the head mistress of a school, whose ex pupils are considered to have voted for her en masse.

And finally, and maybe surprisingly, is Hannah Ziad. I had never heard of her until last week. With over 700,000 followers, she is the country’s leading YouTube blogger. The vast majority of her fans are from Arab countries, looking out for her latest fashion tips. Now aged 25 and developing her own brand with a designer from Bethlehem, she has been active in social media for over a decade.

Does all this make Israel a ‘Garden of Eden’ for women to live in? Unfortunately not. However, it is an indication how the country is progressing, beyond the traditional religious restrictions. It also show how others can learn from these changes.

Just under a decade ago, my wife and I visited Prague.

A beautiful, fascinating city, I recall that it had around six million visitors a year. One key site was the Jewish Quarter and its rich history. At that time, Israel’s tourism industry had posted a new ‘high’ of about 2.5 million tourists annually. In other words, ironically more foreigners were exposed to Jewish cultural interests via The Czech Republic than from the Holy Land itself.

Jump forward to November 2018. Yesterday, I attended a seminar hosted by the Israeli Tourism Ministry. In attendance were several prominent business mentors and coaches such as myself, listening to the Director General (in picture), senior academics in the profession and others.

The message? Times are a changing. The ministry is supporting a massive programme of building hotel rooms around the country. Tourists – especially those with deep pockets – are flocking in. This year is likely to conclude with about 4 million visitors for the first time.

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So what has happened whereby that last month alone there were 60,000 extra visitors compared to October 2017?

A much heralded stat is that there are over 300 local start ups involved in the area of travel tech. Could this be one of the key reasons why flights to Eilat have risen tenfold in two years.

The ministry would also argue that much is to do with their change of policy. Instead of just passing out funds via local authorities, the mandarins today are deliberately targeting specific sectors. Those who win out are often seen to be enterprising and innovative.

For example, for the recent royal wedding in England, the ministry pulled a great ‘out-of-the-box’ stunt. They ran an advertising booth not far from Windsor Castle.

Israel is now on the map not just for religious tourists, travelling to holy sites in Jerusalem and around the Sea of Galilee. It provides a spot of relaxation for business vacationers. There are health resorts, medical tourism, wine tasting tours and much more. Geopolitical issues are now longer the handicap of the past. 2019, spurred on by the Eurovision Song Contest, looks as if it will see more records broken.

 

This week’s monthly meeting of the networking group “Jerusalem BioCity” showed just how much the city has emerged commercially. Once, the domain of bureaucrats and tourists, Israel’s capital now hosts venture capitalists with significant clout, in addition to world class working spaces and financial support from the public sector, all dedicated to the health community.

The meeting ‘s key speaker was Dr. Zvi Karni (middle of the picture), the CEO of Alma Lasers, who delivered an excellent summary of his company’s successes.

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He was preceded by four leaders of Jerusalem-based medical or bio start ups, each offering a new solution in their individual fields. What I found fascinating is that most had created a solid business model and had found financing, despite being lodged in the supposed commercial backwater of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem BioCity is at the fulcrum of a change that has global impact. If you google the phrase ‘Jerusalem bio / pharma’, you discover an amazingly vast spectrum of IP. Two of the key factors in this development are the city’s leading hospitals and its multi-campused university. For example:

ITEM ONE: Asana Bio Group Ltd. has invested $2.3 million in the Lumir Lab, located at the Hebrew University, that will provide clinical trial services to companies that are developing a wide range of medical cannabis-based products in a bid to help them get widespread legitimacy.

ITEM TWO: An new HIV drub, developed by Zion Medical in Jerusalem, appears to be “99% effective”.

ITEM THREE: Now at Phase 3 stage for its leading product, Gamida has filed for a US$69 million IPO on NASDAQ.

What next? Keep googling. Blink and you could miss it.

 

I was looking at a summary of the week’s news. There were a series of amazing reports coming out of Israel, which were just ignored by the international media. It would interesting to understand why, but here’s your chance to catch up on what you missed and put out the word yourself.

IsraAID has a proud reputation for responding to international crises, such as in Haiti. German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has just presented to its “German branch the German government’s highest honor for integration. The award was for giving psychological support in Arabic to at-risk refugee women and others affected by gender-based violence living in shelters, in addition to training and counseling for shelter staff. “

On the high-tech stage, ‘brand Israel’, a.k.a., the start-up nation, continues to steam ahead. In the third quarter of 2018, Israeli companies raised $1.55 billion in 131 financing rounds. So no surprise that Jack Ma, champion of Alibaba, made yet another trip to the Holy Land last week. He observed: –

Most people innovate for success, but Israel innovates for survival. You have no diamonds, but you have a large diamond industry. You have no car industry, but you are a leader in auto technology. You have no water, but you export vegetables to Europe.

Boeing is the latest company to throw off the shackles of the past. It is poised to enter a US10 billion defense contract with Israel.

Similarly, in the automotive industry, Israel is now the core for global manufacturers rather than the pariah. According to research from Roland Berger, “investment in the Israeli smart mobility sector reached USD 22 billion over the past five years.

London and Tel Aviv could not be more different. The home of cricket, where it is supposed to rain 11 months of the year, or the sweltering humidity of costal Israel, where people are constantly on their mobiles. Take your pick.

When it comes down to business, London has the historical advantage. Last week, it emerged that London houses 36 of UK’s 60 Unicorn startups, representing more than a fifth of all unicorns in Europe at a total valuation of $132bn. In comparison, Berlin holds the second biggest city spot with just eight unicorn startups, worth $32bn.”

Impressive. Yet two days previously, I was reading an article in The Sunday Times newspaper, which asked who are the alternative Silicon Valleys in the sun. At the top of their list appears Tel Aviv. And the reasons?

  • 6-12% corporation tax for tech companies
  • Well regarded research universities on hand, with multilingual students in abundance.
  • Young population.
  • Highly cosmopolitan scene.
  • Great rentals available, even if prices are not the cheapest.

Neither item is a conclusive statement as to where you should go to open up your start up. That said

Israeli high-tech companies raised $1.55 billion in 131 financing rounds in the third quarter of 2018, according to a quarterly report on high-tech financing rounds by IVC and ZAG. This is a slight decline in comparison with the $1.65 billion raised in the second quarter and the $1.6 billion raised in the third quarter of 2017. $4.54 billion was raised in 444 rounds in the first three quarters of 2018, the most ever raised in Israeli high tech during a nine-month period.

I have just spent 10 days walking around London and the English countryside. Even in the most obscure places, you find that somebody is shouting out an interesting message about their business.

On one particular day, my wife and I strolled for miles, through forests, up and down rolling grassy hilltops. And then we unexpectedly came out to a clearing to be greeted by a coffee house, doing a roaring lunchtime business. Home made pies and cakes, at seemingly reasonable prices. About the only thing they had not sold out of was coffee and tea.

This was not ‘passing-by’ custom. People had deliberately come here.

The reason I mention this is that on my first day back, apart from writing this blog, I have to give a talk on creating a winning business model. So as a Jerusalem-based business mentor and coach, let me just offer two insights that came my way, while on holiday.

We found a place to stay in London, using Booking.com. Great location in the city, the one room studio looked inviting on the website, even alluding to a balcony where you could sit outside. In fact, the entrance hall smelt of damp, the doors creaked, the fan in the bathroom sounded as if it was about to launch with NASA, and I could go on.

We will complain. The place will be graded accordingly. However, compare all that to the small flat that some friends of mine place on Airbnb. Their location in Israel is residential, neither close to business nor tourist centres, and yet they have an over 80% occupancy rate.

Why? Because they care about their customers. They have placed much thought into why people want to stay in such a lodging. As I suggested a few weeks ago, they have considered, in depth, why people want to buy.

We also discovered that travelling to and from Luton Airport is never a problem. Their are several buses an hour, multiple routes, 24/7, at amazingly attractive rates. You wonder how taxis can compete? They do. I know of one person who specializes in customers to and from Israel. His fees are a touch less than his competitors, but still way above those charged by the buses.

And how does he ‘get away with it’? His car is clean. He turns up punctually. He is polite. It is a service worth paying a bit extra for.

Meanwhile, the bus service from the airport in Israel to Jerusalem is not brilliant. For decades, one taxi service has dominated the roads. The shuttle fills up with ten people and then drives off. If you speak to their offices in Jerusalem, you are often left with that feeling of wonder what you have done to annoy them.

My wife and I waited for 50 minutes on last Friday morning – after an overnight flight – for the driver to pull out. He insisted on hanging around until his vehicle was full. He claimed that the rules allowed him to wait a full hour.

And as we were sitting there, helpless and clinging on to the last piece of patience we could muster, and waiting for others to pile aboard, many other travelers sauntered by with their luggage on their trolleys. You see, they were heading for the new railway line from the airport…to Jerusalem. Clean, still getting over a few teething problems, and none of the ‘unsubtle driving techniques’ of Israeli taxi services.

Your business model is often the base for an executive summary. Guess which model above would and would not appear to have a future. Be specific in your reasoning. And then, work out how these answers will have you summarise your business to a prospect.

 

 

 

 

The Israel Britain Chamber of Commerce is one of those old fashioned chambers, where a smile and firm handshake takes you a long way.

This week, it organised the 8th Annual UK Real Estate Convention, kindly hosted at the home of the ambassador David Quarrey. In his welcoming speech, Quarrey rolled off the numbers to perfection. For example, 2016 and 2017 saw record trade between the two countries. 2018 is not far behind.

What struck me was that roughly two billion shekels – say £0.45bn – is invested every year by Israelis in the British property market. As if to prove the point, David Fattal delivered a presentation as guest of honour. Just this week, the Fattal Group announced the purchase of the Midland Hotel in Manchester.

The Midland …… will be a significant addition to the Fattal group’s portfolio of properties in the UK, which will number 9,309 rooms in 44 hotels when the deal is completed.

With a touch of ironic timing, earlier this week, Graham Stuart, who is Britain’s Secretary of State for International Trade, declared that:

The UK and Israel have a strong and important trading relationship, and we are committed to strengthening it. The commercial team in our Embassy in Tel Aviv actively promote UK-Israel trade in the medical sector and are sponsoring a delegation of 6 Israeli importers of medical devices to meet with UK companies at the upcoming Medica Trade Exhibition this year.   There is also extensive bilateral collaborative medical research between the UK and Israel. The UK-Israel Tech Hub, based at the Embassy, helps to create tech and innovation partnerships across several sectors, including healthcare.
Next month, the Embassy is organising a visit by a delegation of senior NHS officials to Tel Aviv to meet with Israeli healthcare companies who are looking to invest in the UK.

Eight days have passed since a Palestinian kidnapped, handcuffed and shot two Israelis in a factory in the industrial zone of Barkan in the heart of the West Bank.

A few days later, this form of ‘self-defense” was justified by yet another resolution from the British Labour Party, this time emanating from the area of Brighton. Personally, I find this form of argument repugnant. It is barely discourse. Rather, it represents a set of statements based on hatred, whose design is the very opposite of peaceful coexistence.

I am not going to argue that the relations between most Jews and most Arab in the West Bank is like a rose garden on a summer’s day with birds twittering in the background. However, Israel’s weekend newspaper cobbled together some facts that are worth copying here and analyzing.

There are about 100,000 Palestinians working in Israel on a daily basis, and roughly 2/3 have a license to do so. Another 30,000 work in places like the Barkan area. If the average monthly wage in the Palestinian territories is around 2,500 nis, a typical Palestinian will bring home about 6,500 nis (about US$1,800) from an Israeli employer.  Of the 8,000 or so workers in the Barkan district, about 3,500 are Palestinians with a license.

Let us be clear. Since 2010, the Palestinian Authority, which controls the West Bank, has officially banned its followers to work for Jewish enterprises. These are the same companies that by Israeli law have to pay the Palestinians full social security contributions, which are negligent under Ramallah law.

In some factories, Palestinians do climb up the tree of management, although rarely to senior levels. That said, incidents of murder or lesser violence have barely been reported since the industrial zone was established 36 years ago.

The BDS movement, prominently supported by much of the Labour Party, would put an end to this creation of mutual wealth and trust. In other words, the Israelis should be boycotted and sent packing. In their place would be……….well, I suppose fewer Palestinians, earning less than half their previous wages, and without the social benefits that a Labour Party demands for its own membership in the UK.

I suppose this is where hatred is so valuable, as it is required to help to cover up the malignant contradictions of the BDS thought process. And in the meantime, the local authorities are constantly preparing more space for factories in the West Bank, which looks to be an economic win-win policy for all parties, who care.

 

 

 

 

I have been asked to give a series of lectures in the Jerusalem region on creating a killer business model. And when considering what makes a strong selling package, I came across a series of massive failures by those who should have known better – remember how Hoover UK promised a free trip to America if you bought £100 of products?

As a business coach and mentor, I find myself asking a question: Why is it that sophisticated executives make such blunders? What is it that they ignore?

I am fascinated by the practical, if not obvious, approach of Mark Banschick.

…. the buying decision is the result of both how well information was transferred from the business to the buyer, and the believability of the information…….customers need constructivist support, i.e. things that make the product or service personally meaningful. (My emphasis).

Interestingly, in this age of Amazon selling, Banschick makes the point that sales are often secured when a potential customer can touch or feel a product.

Cole Shafer takes this argument one stage further.

People buy to move closer to pleasure or further from pain (or in some rare instances both)

Shafer explains that sales are concluded for a wide range of different reasons; emotional, need, herd mentality to name but three. It is the job of the seller to understand what makes their target community tick and what message delivered by which medium is the most effective.

Again, all fairly obvious. However, why do so many of us – corporate and SMEs – miss this? The answers vary from laziness to arrogance through to the ‘fear factor’. What they all have in common is a lack of attention to detail.

So my question to you is what have you ignored in preparing your latest sales campaign? And have you ever considered how much you will benefit from just another 1% growth in sales?

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