Of Jewish Mishna Wisdom, Simon Sinek and COVID-19

Photo: Simon Sinek, Pexels.com (cottonbro).
Photo: Simon Sinek, Pexels.com (cottonbro).

In this year of Corona Crisis, the immortal saying from the Jewish Mishna “know where thy came from and where you are going”, together with the known “Start with Why” wisdom of the awe-inspiring Simon Sinek could not be more relevant to us all. Here’s how it played on my professional career so far.

It has been 3 years since a very special moment occurred in my life. In October 2017, WeWork held its Creator Awards in Tel Aviv. In the event, I was surprised to receive the Community Giver award, in front of an audience of more than a thousand people.

The story behind the story is that I originally applied for the Creator Awards on behalf of a project I was a part of, where Israeli start-up MyMDband collaborated with United Hatzallah to provide medical bracelets to Holocaust survivors. We believed that this Israeli-innovation-meets-social-impact project, where together with the then-Crowdmii team we brought Christians and Jews together to support this cause, was a perfect fit for what the WeWork team was looking for.

We did not make it to the finals.

Then, I was surprised on stage with the Community Giver award, decided to donate it completely for the MyMDband project, and Adam Neumann decided to double the donation right then and there. Epic stuff.

For me, 2017 was not free of personal hardships – in business and in my personal life. But, it was the year my personal business grew tremendously, and with the Creator Award – 2017 truly ended with a “bang”. This was also the year I started to evolve my messaging around ideas which I incubated with for a while, such as the “business unit” manifesto and how to derive lessons from my heritage and culture in order to think like an entrepreneur in the new world of work.

So yes, I was able to position myself as a thought leader in my industry. But, I always bothered to also take backstage consulting projects, in order to exercise other forms of management and leadership.

Throughout the entire time, from 2017 until the outbreak of COVID-19, many told me I am wasting my time. “Why shed blood, sweat and tears on things that are holding you back? Speaking pays much more, and you do it well – do it more! Beyond your target audience. Do what you’re good at!”

And then came COVID-19.

Photo: Assaf Luxembourg

Who would have thought that 3 years later, the main backbone of my business – which was speaking engagements and seminars – would die off completely? My repeating customers sending most of their employees home, with no clear future path? My competition willing to lower prices by a large percentage, just to acquire some Zoom webinars gigs?

Thank God I had my other, less public revenue streams, which allowed me to risk-manage and focus on them for business growth, while Corona was a death blow to others in my industry around me.

So, this is where I find myself today:

Same “why”: I am still the same “me”, with my same passion, same mission. I still love and feel committed to the same ideals, same causes, same community. Thus, I still aspire to serve the same people, industry, companies, organizations and individuals.

Different “what and how”: I refuse to define myself by what I do and how I do it. I try my best to let those change as the market dictates. And in 2020 Corona Crisis, the market dictates.

On my way: I am far from reaching a “Promised Land”, but my “why” serves as my Polaris – the north star – as I wander through the desert of this new world of work.

The wise Simon Sinek taught us that we ought to “Start with Why”. I once added that I believe this is also the true source of innovation: When you know your “why”, you let the “what” and “how” change, thus reinventing yourself.

I hope this journey takes me to my Promised Land.

דַּע מֵאַיִן בָּאתָ וּלְאָן אַתָּה הוֹלֵךְ וְלִפְנֵי מִי אַתָּה עָתִיד לִתֵּן דִּין וְחֶשְׁבּוֹן“. Know where thy came from, where you are going, and before whom you are destined to give a judgement. (Mishna, Avot, 3,1).

About the Author
Assaf is passionate about promoting business in and with Israel, helping and mentoring entrepreneurs, advising young professionals with career planning and self-fulfillment, and more. Assaf acts as a brand ambassador of Israel as 'Start-Up Nation', speaking to thousands of businessmen, investors, entrepreneurs, young professionals, students and others, both in Israel and around the world. Assaf also works as a business development and marketing consultant to Israeli start-ups and others.
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