5 Things I Learned Working in Israel

Have you had the chance to visit Tel Aviv in the last few years? If you haven’t and you’re passionate about business, I’d argue there’s no better place to go.

Israel has been deemed “Startup Nation” and for good reason. The country boasts some of the most creative and tenacious startups and entrepreneurs in the world. Some refer to it as the next Silicon Valley.

I had the incredible privilege of living and working in Tel Aviv for the last two years. Everyday I was amazed at how much I learned by surrounding myself with entrepreneurs. It often seemed that every Israeli I met either ran a startup or had the next big idea to change the world.

I’d love to share a few things I learned while working in Startup Nation. Yalla:

1. Don’t be satisfied working for someone else. It was no coincidence that every Israeli I met seemed to have an idea for a startup. Israelis know that the only way to truly make it big is to go out on your own and make it happen. Israelis dread the 9-5 attitude and would do anything to avoid having a boss. They know the only way to succeed is to take a risk.

2. Casual is a better way to work. The real Israeli secret to business success? Going to work in shorts and a t-shirt.

I remember wearing a suit the first time I ever went on an interview in Israel. The first thing the interviewer said to me was, “If you work for us, you’re never going to have to wear a suit again.” He was right. During my almost two years in Israel, I never wore a suit again.

Israelis are casual people and they always make themselves at home. The result? Creativity. I truly believe that feeling relaxed and at home helps boost your creativity, while rigid-suit-wearing-environments only stifle creativity and lead to a culture of conformity.

3. Scarcity breeds creativity. Israel is a country with few natural resources, far less money than most Western countries, and little peace and quiet. Creativity is a necessity to survive in Israel and as the saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

Israelis are experts at taking lemons and making lemonade. Whether it’s creative mechanisms to combat water scarcity, cyber security software, or some of the best military technologies in the world, Israelis know how to make the best of any situation. The fact is: Scarcity drives innovation.

4. English is king in a global work environment. The more time I spent in Israel, the more I realized how lucky I am to be a native English speaker. English is today’s universal language and more often than not, the official language of international business. Further, the US, UK, and other English speaking countries are often the first markets Israeli startups seek to penetrate. The ability to skillfully market, communicate, and write in the English language is a tremendous asset to any Israeli company.

5. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Israelis say what they’re thinking and don’t hold back. In Hebrew, Israelis call this “Dugri,” which roughly translates to “straightforward.” At first, Israeli directness can seem rude and intimidating. But, it really does make for a better work environment. When your co-workers say what they’re thinking and don’t sugarcoat their criticism, it allows you to better learn from your mistakes, improve your work quicker, and overall increase your work productivity.

Are you currently working in Israel? Feel free to share your experiences and what you learned below!

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