It’s a little embarrassing for me to admit this.
After 15-years of living in Israel, I still don’t speak Hebrew.
I know, I know, “Mike what’s up with that? Go to ulpan!”
You’re right. I’m a 3-time ulpan dropout, (I feel like Frenchy from Grease).
Not speaking Hebrew has limited me socially, professionally, and even at the grocery store. Sure I can stumble through the words, communicate somewhat, and understand 75% of what Hebrew speakers say to me.
But that’s not enough.
Being the “New Immigrant” in High Tech
That’s how long I worked in Tel Aviv as a creative director for high tech startups.
They hired me for my experience writing high-level English and producing marketing work that appealed to people’s emotions to drive purchase decisions.
Also, my ability to wear many hats, (marketing & business strategy, copywriting, video editing, public speaking and presenting) meant I got to do work I loved.
But being an employee in high tech is NOT for everyone.
Those were very hard days for me. Commuting to Tel Aviv from my yishuv everyday meant:
- 5am: Wake up.
- 5:30am: Get on a bus to a train to a bus.
- 8am: Go to the gym (the only time I could do it).
- 9:30am to 6:30pm: work at the office (even during COVID).
- 10pm: get home to my family (most of the kids were already sleeping)
It was a tough way to live, but again, as a non-Hebrew speaker this was one of my best options.
Starting My Own Business: No Excuses
Not being able to speak the native language made it hard to really connect with Israelis both in my professional and personal lives.
So I left high tech, and started my own creative services business. That was last year, and despite the financial challenges of building a new business and supporting a family of seven (5 kids + wife + me) has been tough.
But here’s the thing … I’ve been making excuses:
- It’s so hard because I don’t speak the language.
- Local businesses want me to market to Israelis in Hebrew.
- This would be SO much easier in the USA.
So here’s my confession: that’s all BS.
I am the one standing in my own way. Sure, there are challenges, but you can either face them one-by-one head-on, or avoid them. Truthfully, I’ve been doing the later.
Drive the Bus to Your Success
We all have the ability to succeed in any situation.
Humans are adaptable. It’s what made us grow some thumbs, come down from the trees, and build the Internet.
I must keep reminding myself there’s no magic formula or savior that will do any of this for me or you. WE have to make it happen.
Want to speak Hebrew? Start watching some videos and sounding stupid in public.
Want to build a business? Find a way to relentlessly get clients both here and in the USA – lots of people are doing this, why not us?
Want to live a good life in Israel? It’s a great life when we embrace the differences, power through challenges, and take the time to enjoy the ride.