What is the thing you love most about Israel?
Life is complicated, and sometimes a crisis pulls us out of our careers for a time. Coming back from a crisis is HARD but it’s not impossible. I’ve been there. It took time (years!) and a lot of patience. Below are tips on how to get your career back after the worst happens, and how these tips worked for me.
Just a little background…my late husband and I were vice presidents in the same tech company in Tel Aviv when he was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer. We loved working together. We drove to work together each day and even shared an office. We had three small kids under six and a wonderful nanny. Partners at home and the office, we were living our dream. And then it was a nightmare.
Within 10 days of his diagnosis, he entered the hospital for surgery. He was only supposed to miss a week of work. There were complications and he ended up staying a month. Neither of us went back to our jobs.
Often with a crisis comes money concerns. How much time away can you afford financially and emotionally? How much time do you need? The latter is not a question you can answer in advance, but you should know your rights and maximize your entitlements. Check with your company’s HR and your insurance agent.
It took several months, but once the right treatment protocol was chosen, we fell into a routine and I found freelance gigs in my field – more junior than I had been in years – that gave me the flexibility I needed to take him to treatments and other appointments while giving me something to focus on a few hours a day besides my family’s troubles. It also kept me in the game.
How did I find the gigs? I kept an eye on my online professional forums and applied for projects as well as jobs that were not necessarily freelance or part-time. Once in a meeting, I convinced them to take a chance on me for a small project to start, with no commitment for more. And then there was usually more.
I found that by earning a lot less, I fell into a lower tax bracket so the cut in take-home income was not extreme.
Of course, part-time or freelance isn’t always an option. In that case, try to stay in touch with online professional communities and even attend the occasional meetup in your field. The idea is not to disappear completely.
After my husband died, I worried about my little family’s future, but we were too broken for me to go back to work full time. That was an important realization, as I battled with my ego over being under-employed. I continued freelancing to make ends meet while I struggled to make sense of my new reality.
It took about two years before I started applying for full-time jobs, and I applied for director-level instead of VP-level positions. I was given and accepted the advice to take something less challenging professionally because I had so many challenges at home.
Accept that there will be setbacks and you can overcome them. After all, the worst has already happened. Gigs drying up and insurance complications are small in comparison.
In every job interview, I was asked why I left my VP job. The first few times I found myself close to tears. So I developed go-to answers for common questions that protected my feelings and privacy. For example, for that question I would answer truthfully, “I had to handle a family crisis, which has since been resolved.” It sounds cold, but that was the point. No one ever asked for more details.
About 18 months into the director-level job and five years after my husband’s initial diagnosis, a client from one of my freelance gigs became the CEO at another company and asked me to join as a VP. I was back. I was back…but I was not the same person as before.
It was not an easy transition, so my last tip is this: Forgive yourself for wanting your career back. Forgive yourself for stumbling if and when you do. Forgive yourself if it takes more time than you anticipated. You have been through enough, so please, be kind to yourself.
In the last seven years, I threw 5 bar mitzvahs and a wedding. This is in addition to countless global executive events and conferences over my 25+ year B2B marketing career and the 8-10 events our charity Jeremy’s Circle holds each year for hundreds of children and their families.
I don’t love planning events. They make me nervous. The level of uncertainty is huge – from suppliers that may or may not deliver to the weather which may or may not cooperate. And everyone who attends is a potential fan or critic. But here are some basic pointers that can help you plan a successful event, even if the thought of planning makes you shudder. If you don’t have the patience to read to the end, scroll down for an event planning checklist.
Always start with the money. Your budget is going to impact every decision you make so first and foremost know how much money you have to spend. Now subtract 15% and that’s your working budget. You’ll thank me later.
When it’s not a standalone event. Family celebrations, in particular, can be several events rolled into one. At the bar mitzvah last month, we also threw a Thanksgiving dinner the Thursday before, a dinner for the out-of-town guests on Friday, and then the main event was on Saturday. The upside is that these events serve as “warm-ups” for the big event, bringing your guests closer together. The downside, of course, is the organization and expense. These should be considered when building your budget.
Pick a date and time and commit to it with save-the-date messages up to a year before. This is particularly important for guests who will need to travel and/or tend to be heavily booked. You don’t need to get fancy with save-the-date messages. You can design something adequate in a free program like Canva and send it by email, SMS, Messenger and/or Whatsapp depending on your crowd.
Make your invite list and check it twice. Santa Claus might not be coming to town, but if you invited all your cousins except one…well…your aunt is going to give your mom a mouthful. I like to use Google Sheets for this so I can share with comment permissions only with those I need to consult with (and then unshare when I’ve received enough input). Have separate columns where you add up your adult and kid guests because generally, the caterer will charge you differently for them.
Location. Location. Location. The venue should give your guests a unique experience that reflects you (or your company). It should match the number of people that are coming and the mood you want to capture. If the space is attractive enough, you might not have to invest in extra decorations. The caterer often includes simple centerpieces for free. Every room looks better with flowers.
The food better be good. Most caterers have tastings. This is not your opportunity to show a chef how much you know about cooking. I’ve been to tastings and overheard others tell the chef how to cook the dishes better. Save it. The purpose of the tasting is to select which foods will best suit your guests. Really. Your guests hit the gym that morning so they could eat dessert. Make it worth their while. That said, if you have guests with dangerous food allergies or other critical dietary requirements, you should definitely tell the caterer early in the process and remind them repeatedly.
About alcohol. Let’s face it, parties tend to be happier with alcohol. You may be able to save money by buying hard alcohol at a discount from outlets or DutyFree and bringing it to the caterers yourself. Can’t hurt to ask.
Get your stakeholders involved. If it’s an executive event, keep the business team updated. They are the ones speaking to your guests before and during the event. If it’s a bar mitzvah or sweet 16 – then involve the kid in the decision making. If it’s a wedding, ask for advice from your future in-laws. Take them to the tastings. Have them speak to the DJ or musicians about their preferences and talk to them about your entertainment plans.
That’s entertainment. Fun is not one-size-fits-all and you want your guests of all ages to have a good time. What will happen at the event? Will there be a presentation? Dancing? Singers? Speeches? Interactive games? Photobooths? Magicians? Caricaturists? Have a plan for the evening outlining the timing and make sure all your suppliers on hand know and are prepared. If you want to show a video or other multi-media, go the day before to make sure the equipment works. Almost all of us have been to an event where the guests wait patiently while workers-in-black scurry around a stage fixing whatever was broken. If you see with your own eyes the day before that all is in place and working, you will sleep better that night!
Expect 10-15% to not show up to a personal event like a wedding and even more, like 30-40% to not show up to a corporate event.
RSVPs need to be managed. If you are using an event site like Eventbrite, this is a no-brainer. The site manages it for you. Otherwise, use email for RSVPs. Consider creating a special address just for the event like BobTurns60 at gmail.com. The idea is to keep all the communications in one place so no RSVP gets overlooked. Check each of the RSVPs against your invitation list. Don’t assume that just because they didn’t RSVP, they won’t show up. Some do. So you need to follow up with anyone who has not replied to you as you get closer to your event. Also, don’t assume that just because they said they were coming they will.
Some people will not go to an event if they don’t think they have a safe and affordable way of getting there and back.
Parking is Precious. How will people get to the event? Do they need parking? Should you arrange for transport? Will the bus need a place to park? At the latest bar mitzvah, which was on the other side of town, we pre-ordered a fleet of Gett taxis for the kids in my son’s class. This cost us half as much as a mini-bus. Whatever is decided, the details should be included when you send your invitation to your guests.
Send guests home with something branded, to serve as a reminder of the experience. I once threw a “5 senses” themed executive event. The guests could choose their giveaways in advance – which helped us collect the RSVPs – headphones for sound, scented candles for smell, etc. It doesn’t need to be so complicated. Photo magnets with the name and date of the party are a popular and affordable souvenir.
The week before the event check-in with each and every supplier. Remind them of the exact location (they also need to know where to park), date and time and the services you closed with them. Do a wardrobe check. Does everyone have something appropriate to wear? Do they need mending or ironing? Don’t leave it to the last minute – there will always be something more urgent to do the day of the event.
Expect the unexpected. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself. You threw a fun party – so relax and have fun. Things WILL go wrong. I promise. At our latest event, roadblocks appeared inexplicably on the street of the venue so the taxis had to stop down the street. The caterer messed up the seating cards, so some people had 3 cards and some had none. The tables were too close together. The cola was placed in carafes and no one drank it because they couldn’t identify it… Lots of things that were not 100% under my control went wrong. As I knew they would. But my kid had a great time – a fun, meaningful, and memorable experience with people he cares about. And his friends had a great time. And my family and friends had a great time. And so did I. So mission accomplished.
Two words about after: Thank you. After the event, thank your guests for coming. Handwritten notes are lovely, but it might just be easier and totally acceptable to send short messages to their phones.
I think I covered everything…if not, or if you have more tips, please share in the comments. Good luck with your next event!
Wow. Your company has been sold. And you are not part of the deal. How can the sale springboard you to the next step in your career?
Over the past few years, my latest employer sold several of its business units. In each case, some teams joined the acquiring company while some did not. The tips below are what worked for many to find their next jobs, in most cases in even better positions than they left.
First step: Breath.
You worked hard at building this brand/product/service and you succeeded in making it valuable enough for another company to want it. Pat yourself on the back for a bit as the news sinks in. Now open up a clean page and let’s start writing the next chapter of your career.
Second step: List your successes.
List the accomplishments you are most proud of during your tenure at the current job. Can’t think of anything? Are you one of those people that don’t recognize the value of their own work? So ask your boss what she thinks was the most important thing that you contributed to the team. Ask your co-workers. Since you are all going to go your separate ways soon, this is a unique opportunity to gain honest insight into how others value the work that you do. Did you provide a unique solution to a problem? Achieve exceptional results? Create something particularly smart, creative and effective? Are these accomplishments quantifiable? Make a list for yourself. Besides a lovely ego boost when you might need one, this will serve as raw material for interviews and your CV in just a beat.
Third step: Take a good look.
Look around you. What were the things you liked most about your current job? The least? What is important to you? What do you want to be the same or different next time around?
Fourth step: Update your social media profiles and CV.
With your list of successes in hand, update your LinkedIn profile and CV with your proudest accomplishments. Check them for grammar and spelling mistakes using the built-in tools in Word or with apps like Grammarly. (This is a pet peeve of mine – I will never invite someone for an interview if they write that they have strong communications skills but the CV is full of errors.) But it’s not just about grammar. Get feedback on the content of your LinkedIn profile and your CV from people you trust.
If you haven’t updated your other social media profiles in years, now is the time. You don’t need to show yet that you are leaving your company, but the profile pictures should actually look like who you are today.
Fifth step: Make a list of your top tier contacts to update.
These might be the headhunters you worked with in the past, the professors who always gave you an A, the former colleagues that just-so-happen to work in companies you’d love to join and more. Update them with your status. Be honest. Many of us have been raised to feel embarrassed about being imminently unemployed, but there is no shame in not being part of an acquisition. Tell them, “I just wanted to let you know that my company was sold and I will be available for a new adventure in the next few months.” Invite them to coffee. Catch up. Ask them which websites or headhunters they would check out if they were you. And in this way you are letting the market know that you are available for something terrific.
Sixth step: Reconnect over coffee.
So you updated your CV and you applied to every relevant job that pops up in your job alerts on LinkedIn (you did assign alerts in LinkedIn, didn’t you?). You have started wrapping things up at work, and you have more free time than you have had in years. Awesome! Take this time to meet friends and other contacts that you might not have seen in a while because you were too busy working. Meet them for coffee. Go to a Meetup together. Take a workshop and learn something new. Having time between jobs is a GIFT. While change and uncertainty can be stressful, we spend so much of our adult life working, it’s a shame not to enjoy the breaks, no matter the reason.
Now what about me?
Mobfox was recently acquired, leaving me in the position of trying to figure out what to do next.
About a hundred years ago (it feels), before my high tech career, before the five kids, before the MBA and even moving to Israel from the US…I completed a degree in creative writing and published a number of short stories in literary journals.
So…while I follow the steps above and keep my eyes and ears open for my next VP Marketing/CMO gig where I can have real impact…I am also doing something completely different. Part of writing this down is a kind of contract with myself to pick up my writing where I left it so many years ago. And I will document my journey here on this blog. I plan to write fiction as well as blog posts on marketing best practices and tips, gentle parenting, and well, all the other stuff that pops into my head and only writing it down will sort it out.
I invite you to come along on my journey by subscribing to this blog.
This was originally posted on the Mobfox blog.
Corporate social responsibility is nothing new. The concept of CSR first came into vogue midcentury. What is new is the true commitment to social justice that millennials have brought to the workforce. Motivated by a desire to work in jobs that allow them to make a positive impact on the world, this generation expects its employers to act as responsible stewards of society, turning CSR from a nice-to-have to a must-have.
While CSR activities often show what is important to the company’s management and audiences, it can serve another purpose, too – while doing good. Finding and keeping top talent for technology firms is fiercely competitive, and today’s hot fields like blockchain, autonomous vehicles, and IoT dominate headlines and scoop up the top-flight experts. CSR, on the other hand, can make a difference for other tech companies as they position themselves to attract skilled employees.
Millennials Make the World Go Round
As the Brookings Institution notes, millennials will account for more than one third of the American adult population by 2020, and will comprise 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. Eight in 10 millennials expectbrands to make public declarations of their “corporate citizenship,” and recent attention to gender discrimination and other social inequalities has magnified their focus on how companies integrate social consciousness and action into their corporate cultures.
Moreover, broader public opinion trends show a widespread appetite for CSR. According to the 2017 Cone Communications CSR Study, 78 percent of Americans want companies to address important social justice issues, while 87 percent said they would do business with a company based on its advocacy on issues they cared about. Employees who work for companies prioritizing CSR may not only find a greater sense of personal fulfillment at work but may also enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that the larger public appreciates their company’s commitment to social action.
Tech companies can gain a leg up in the competition for top talent and ensure that their workers remain happy with their jobs by integrating corporate social responsibility into company culture. Not only is CSR a vital resource for revitalizing communities and attracting mission-driven talent, it is also uniquely suited to the tech industry. Leveraging the exceptional skills that tech employees offer can maximize philanthropic impact, expanding the reach of CSR initiatives in new ways.
Tech’s Vital Role
Technology fulfills a crucial function in how we give back and raise impact. One-on-one tutoring with underprivileged youth, for instance, no longer has to take place in the cities where the children live; it can cross neighborhoods and even international borders with the ease of a Skype account. Elderly recipients of food packages can now log into apps that allow them to indicate their preferences and personalize their shipments.
Another example of this is Mobfox’s hackathon to benefit the Israeli animal welfare charity SOS Pets. The event not only positioned the company as one with an active and involved CSR program to current and potential employees, but also as a target-oriented and effective organization offering solutions to real-world problems.
Mobfix the World
Prior to the hackathon, Mobfox engaged in a dialogue with SOS Pets to discuss the challenges the charity faces in its everyday work and to help them narrow these down to actual pain points. This provided the “hackers” of Mobfox with a framework to optimize the solutions they would design. Divided into cross-departmental teams, Mobfox employees applied their specialized skills to bring greater precision, efficiency, and impact to SOS’s work.
The results checked many boxes. The non-profit received personalized, tech-driven solutions and the Mobfox team members were thrilled to have an opportunity to use their skills creatively and contribute to a good cause.
This strengthens two simple, time-tested principles: first that it’s essential for companies to do their part in addressing social challenges, from global climate change to world hunger to animal welfare. Second, employees who are engaged with their work are happier and more productive employees – and creating a workplace culture that emphasizes giving back is a surefire way to boost employee engagement and job satisfaction.
As the workforce evolves, and as the challenges society faces demand our concerted attention, companies cannot afford to give short shrift to CSR. It’s time for technology companies to use the skills at their disposal to give back with impact. Not only does it invigorate the team, raising creativity and productivity at work, but it just might make them feel good too.
This article was originally published in ChiefExecutive in May 2018.
Well, maybe you already are a great employer, but it’s a well-kept secret. Communicating that you are a great company, and encouraging and engaging your happy employees to communicate that they believe you are a great company too, is at the essence of employer branding. I recently gave a presentation on employer branding at Viola Group to their portfolio companies’ HR and R&D VPs. Check out the presentation below or read below my article originally posted on the Viola-Notes blog.
All it takes is some code and a dream to become the next Israeli startup success story, right? The technology scene in Israel is flourishing, and as more and more tech companies start up and the established ones continue to grow, competition for talent to write, package and sell that code is growing as well.
It’s arguably an employees’ market, and the talents can decide which company best suits them, but they have precious little information to predict which company will give them the best return for their efforts. They ask their friends and family and search the web for insight, and this is when your employer brand becomes pivotal.
What is your employer brand reputation? How do people from the outside see your company? Before developing your employer brand, you need to understand how the workforce sees you.
First, ask your newest employees why they preferred your company over other options. Next, ask the employees who have been with you a while, what makes them ignore inquiries from other companies. Finally, ask people who have been through the HR process with your company and turned down your offer, why they turned it down (in case the reason relates to something that you can work on to improve).
What is your company’s story? Who tells it, how and where? Every company has a story, and generally, it is told in a number of different ways by a number of different people.
It’s management’s job to define a narrative that encompasses where the company comes from, where it is now and where it is going, and to help everyone align under the approved story.
HR, R&D, Marketing, the rest of the team, company alumni, social media followers, the press, anyone who has read the press, and more, are all in a position to influence a potential employee’s impression of your company. By keeping the story as consistent as possible within the company, chances are good that the story will remain the same outside the company as well.
Who are you looking to hire, and what do you know about them? As with any marketing effort, you need to understand your audience and how to best reach them.
What are they looking for in an employer? What motivates them? What do they read? Where do they look for professional answers? Are they looking at LinkedIn or StackOverFlow or both? Do they read tech blogs, business papers, or both? Your Head of R&D can help direct you so you invest your time and effort in the correct places.
Be heard in all the noise. Reach your target audience using a wide range of channels.
Leverage the communications tools and resources that already exist in your company, and point them in the direction of your current and potential workforce.
How do you know if it’s working?
Define your success benchmarks in advance and decide how you will measure your activities. For example, if your primary goal is recruitment, measure each of your efforts by comparing the cost-per-candidate and the cost-per-new-employee for each channel. Then refine and focus – and do it all again.
Good luck! What did I miss? Please let me know what has worked for you!
Lately, I have met a number of startups and service providers working from attractive and accessible shared workspaces like WeWork and ExodusHub. But it’s not for everyone. It is a hard call when working on your own or starting something new to take on the extra costs of an external office.
So how do you decide whether to stay in your home office or move out? Here are some questions to help.
Do you have an adequate home office?
Maybe you are starting a new chapter in your professional life. Maybe you have been working from home for years, but your kids who have always shared a bedroom now need more privacy. Or maybe you have been ousted from your home office by a new baby and you are now relegated to the kitchen. What you need is a place to work, and unless you are running a home-catering business, if the room doesn’t have a door, you don’t have an office.
Do you need to meet with clients frequently?
It is perfectly reasonable and acceptable to hold intimate meetings with clients or partners at coffee shops. Larger meetings requiring a large screen or whiteboard, or with more than four people really need a room. Shared workspaces often allow you to schedule meeting rooms with the necessary equipment.
Can you afford it?
In the past, the cost to rent office space seemed prohibitive but today shared workspaces make your office away from home very accessible. If your start-up is just starting up, you can rent a smaller space and trade up as your team grows. In Central Israel, you can get a good looking office with parking and amenities starting at about $200/month in Petach Tikva with prices doubling and growing higher as you grow closer to downtown Tel Aviv.
Is it easy?
Dorothy nailed it. There’s no place like home. So if you are going to give up the conveniences of working from home, make sure to minimize the obstacles to your new office. Is there plenty of parking? Is it a short commute? Do you like the overall look and feel? Are you comfortable with the other people that are working there?
Are you distracted at home too easily?
For my entire career, I have moved between outsourced and in-house positions and I always enjoyed working from home when I could. Personally, my best work hours are in the early morning. Will you be tempted to take a “quick break” to put in another load of laundry or unload the dishwasher, or other tasks that should be saved for less creative hours? Decide whether you can (and want to) balance the distractions and responsibilities at home during your more fruitful work hours.
Are you a lone wolf, or are you better in a pack?
One of the biggest advantages of shared workspaces is not the snacks in the kitchen. It’s the people you meet while making coffee. Depending on your business, you might find your best leads or strategic partners down the hall. While some people enjoy working in solitude, others feel more comfortable when there are other people around.
There are plenty of shared workspace options out there, with various degrees of shared resources and interaction with others. If you decide to leave your home office, it’s just a matter of deciding what’s right for you.
It does seem a bit self-involved to name a form of communication after myself, but hey, so is creating a blog. The truth is we all have our very personal ways to communicate – effectively or not so effectively. Pamunications are my personal and professional truths in written form.
The name comes from work – I am the VP Communications at the app delivery company ironSource. When the company was still relatively small, I handled all the communications myself – PR, internal com, SEO, social media, community outreach, web content, conferences, and more – so Communications and Pamela merged into one word. Today I have a small team, but the name stuck in my head.
So here is my list of topics that are important to me and I believe I have something worthy to say.