Israel Unfiltered: The future of meeting up in person
Meetup.com is a platform that has revolutionized the way people connect and gather around shared interests. From technology to literature to sports, Meetup.com has made it easy for individuals to come together and form communities centered around specific interests, and has even become a foundational Jewish innovation, facilitating Jewish connections and helping to build Jewish communities around the world.
Much of the site’s success can be traced back to the platform’s current CEO, David Siegel, whose leadership and vision have played a crucial role in driving the growth and success of Meetup.com.
As a Zionist CEO with two kids in the Israeli army, David has brought a unique perspective to his role and has prioritized the development of Meetup.com as a platform for building community and connections. Under David’s leadership, Meetup.com has continued to grow and expand its reach. The platform now hosts thousands of Meetup groups in cities all over the world, bringing together people with diverse backgrounds and interests. This growth has been driven in part by David’s commitment to user experience and his focus on creating a platform that is easy to use and accessible to everyone.
I met David following a talk he gave at SalesKenes in Tel Aviv, and afterward invited him to speak with me on Israel Unfiltered. Over the course of a riveting hour we discussed a range of topics including the platform’s successes, the future of in-person social meetings and the importance of kindness in both business and personal endeavors.
We began by touching on the motivation that drove Meetup.com’s founder, Scott Heiferman, to develop the site in the first place.
“Scott Heiferman, a wonderful Jew and lover of Israel, was in a state of shock like everyone else was after 9/11. He went down to the lobby of his apartment, and he met with someone and he said, ‘Hey, what floor do you live on?’ and the person lived on the exact same floor as he did. And he’s like, ‘you live on my floor. I’ve never met you before,’” David recalled.
“He kind of had this Eureka moment. ‘It shouldn’t take tragedy to build community. My goal in life is going to be how can I build community, not through tragedy, but by finding ways to bond people around common interests.’ So really, actually, right from the get go, it was about building adult friendships — which is, by the way, the number one most searched term on Meetup. It was always about friendship, community, finding your people and not having to rely on going to restaurants or bars or whatever it is to find them.”
As the conversation continued, we landed on David’s book, Decide and Conquer, which offers rules and guidance around the importance of decision making. One of the key aspects of its inception is the idea that, as he put it, “Your life is a result of the 1000s of tiny, insignificant decisions that you make every single day at all times.”
In his book, David lays out several “rules” that can lead to better decision making throughout one’s life. I asked him which of those rules resonates with him as being the most relevant to everyday life.
“I would say the rule around being kind versus being nice is probably one of the most important things for success in business and in life. The importance of being kind is under-appreciated. It leads to being a more successful leader,” he said,
When is it hardest to be kind? “What a great question,” David responded. “I would say it’s hardest to be kind when you are in a bad place yourself. If you’re not taking care of yourself, and you’re not in a good place yourself, it’s much easier to take out that aggression, frustration, etc, on others,” he said.
“I would say that, just like the oxygen mask [in a crashing plane], you’ve gotta take care of yourself first,” he joked. “You know, to be a more successful leader, you have to take care of yourself; you have to be doing all the right things, whether it’s exercise, eating healthy, sleeping appropriately… If you’re not kind to yourself, then you’re not going to be able to be kind to others either.”