The Importance of A Good Headshot Is Huge

I remember when I was working at Spark and got my first company head shots taken. It was a big deal for me and I knew I wanted them to come out good. So I went to the store and probably bought a new shirt and jacket to wear on top.

When I finally got them… YIKES! I sat in the office reviewing them with my friend. Nothing like a couple grown men literally making the biggest deal out of a silly little head-shot. And we proclaimed out loud how vain of a conversation it was. It was funny.  But it was ultimately decided that while it was one of the most vain conversations of all time, the head shot needed a re-do.

The outcome of round 2 is the head-shot I use on everything.

My Name is Aaron Friedman and This is My Headshot

Aaron-Friedman-Image

I always wonder about the people who change their Facebook and Twitter avatars. For me, this is it. It’s the perfect picture that looks exactly like I do in real life. Which believe it or not, can make all the difference.

People See The Avatar Online and Recognize Uou Offline

It was right after the ALYN bike ride and to celebrate the long ride, my grandparents took us to a hotel in Jerusaelm. There I am, sitting at lunch and someone comes up to me and says ” Aaron Friedman, right?” Sure enough, my friend Clark who was visiting from the states. We never met in person, but he recognized me from my Facebook picture.

Believe it or not, that was the second time it happened that week. And it happens all the time where someone recognizes me from my head-shot.

It’s kind of wild.

A Few Tips I have on Head-Shot-Optimization

  1. Get one that looks like you  and really shows what you look like.
  2. Make sure no one else is in it. If you have to pay a few bucks for a professional one, it’s totally worth it.
  3. Be consistent and use that image EVERYWHERE. Anywhere you have an avatar should have that image.
  4. Don’t wear layers. Keep it really simple and modest. This is the first impression people will have of you.

So before you think about changing your head-shot, remember that a picture is worth a thousand words, and often times, this is the first visual people will have of you. So make it count.

And in the event you don’t want people to recognize you, then just do whatever the heck you want :)

A Parenting Slap in The Face From A Growth Hacking Conference

I learned a valuable lesson today at the growth hacking conference in Tel Aviv and it had nothing to do with marketing. It had to do with parenting. This post is dedicated to my first born, sweet little boy. Thank you for being compassionate on your old man :)

My Son Lost His Pencil Case

See, the other day, my son came home from school and his pencil case was missing. It was a 3 section case that contains basically every piece of school supplies he has inside f it. They call it a “kolmar” here in Israel. And it was gone. He made some kind of crazy excuse, which truth be told I didn’t really doubt at all. Something about how his teacher needed to borrow a pencil so he took out his case, lent her one, and then he doesn’t remember what happened to it.

Dovid Morning Reading

 

But I was frustrated. “How could you lose your pencil case?” “That was so irresponsible of you!” We went to go look for it together. And when I couldn’t find it, I probably made him feel like crap then too. Some horrible passive aggressive punishment to destroy his self esteem.

Even this morning, I told him I was going to buy him a new case, but I probably didn’t really say it in the nicest way.

And Then I Lost My Notebook

There I am at this conference in Tel Aviv. My computer was dying (poor planning) so I took out my notebook to write down a few tips. The day progressed like any other with good speakers, a stop at Facebook to visit and old friend, and then a visit to Stratasys to see 3D printing in action, and then it dawned on me… “WHERE IS MY G-D DAMN NOTEBOOK!!!!”

“S#*T!!!!”

“I MUST HAVE LEFT IT AT THE CONFERENCE!”

I am panicking.

For real.

Every note I have written down in the past 6 months is in that book.

So I am driving, trying to make sense of this, explaining to myself that its going to be ok, when it dawned on me…

I deserve this.

Dovid Hiking

I deserve to lose every single thing I had written down in that notebook in order to learn this lesson.

I Gotta Learn to Chill Out and Accept Mistakes

He is a boy. He loses things. It happens. Clearly I lose things too.

I walked in the door,  and reminded him about his missing pencil case, and I saw that look in his eyes, thinking how disappointed I must have been at him.

But then I came clean and told him I lost my notebook. Immediately his expression changed from dejected to sort of confused, and then what looked like relief and validation. I explained to him that I lost my notebook too, and I was wrong to make him feel bad. We all lose things and its ok. Mistakes happen and that I was sorry.

We had a moment.

He said, “it’s ok, I forgive you” and gave me a hug. I didn’t deserve it, but I gladly took it.

Dovid and Abba

I would happily lose that notebook any day just to make me a better parent. And I am thankful for that moment of clarity.

(And now that I have learned the lesson, if anyone sees it, please let me know :) )

Starbucks F*cking Up Your Name Is Brilliant!

A brilliant video, parody, of a guy working at Starbucks and completely botching people’s names when he writes on their cup, showed up on the internet. First of all, its hilarious, so if you haven’t seen it, I have embeded it for your viewing pleasure.

The name screw ups are hilarious and I found myself asking, is it intentional? Does it say somewhere in their marketing playbook to do this intentionally? I’ll bet not, but if it were intentional, it would be an absolutely brilliant marketing play because the risk is relatively low. Isn’t it? Maybe. Maybe not.

But tt got me thinking. The video touched on something that I don’t think the actor intended to…

Is All Press Good Press?

Now, this is obviously a highly debatable topic. In fact, we were discussing this in the office the other day (ironic timing) with the colossal Dijorno’s pizza screw up. It is almost as bad as the Malaysia Airlines Bucket List and who can forget the Red Cross getting drunk?!? Side note: I might know some jobs in marketing departments opening up soon.

In these situations, the damage was done, the average marketer will remember what happened, but the masses? I’m not sure sure. Pizza hut (I think??? Look it up up) is still in business. And so is Abercrombie and Fitch with all their craziness and stupidity.

But in the case of Starbucks, logic would say this is completely harmless for the brand.

Let’s break down the theoretical risk using some scenario planning (this is a method I learned from my colleague / Mentor / Friend / possible Rabbi Scott Hess… did I do it right?? :) ):

Scenario 1: Those who just don’t care and are not on Social Media This group is neither harmful of beneficial to starbucks. They can probably be ignored without giving it a second thought.
Scenario 2: Those who care but are not on social media Listen, after all, their name was misspelled. I hate it as much as the next guy when people spell my name Erin. Do I look like a girl?!?! The threat level for this individual is also relatively low. Worst case scenario, they might go and tell a few of their friends what happened and be all grumpy about it. And hell, they should be pissed. Someone spelled their damn name wrong, dammit! If this customer is really pissed, they might never return. And no one likes to lose customers. But I would say this is a relatively extreme case, if this customer gets so pissed off because their name was mispelled, then, maybe you don’t want them as a customer in the first place.
Scenario 3: Those who don’t care, and are on social media This group has a great attitude and doesn’t let the minor screw ups in life get them down. But brace yourself starbucks, they will likely find it funny and want to share it at your expense. They like sharing on starbucks, and it will make some of your staff seem relatively incompetent or suffer from severe hearing deficiencies. But overall, this is a satisfied customer, that knows not to sweat the small stuff.
Scenario 4: Those who care and are on Social Starbucks, this is the group you are going to want to pay closest attention to. Why? Because they are the loudest. Typically whenever these uproars start in social, it’s from a very tiny, but extremely loud subset. They are the ones that will instantly tweet/ instagram/ facebook it. If they are really pissed off, they might even try to find creative ways to give Starbucks a bad reputation, like create a website, reach out to the press, or blog about it.

The Risk

If this were an intentional marketing push, I would say it’s actually a relatively small risk. The theoretical riskiest scenario would be scenario 4, but it’s really not all that risky. Truth be told, all the great attention that comes from this “stunt” would be quite worth pissing off a few customers. So they tweet about it, big deal. The likely hood of that actually making some kind of negative impact is slim to none given the circumstances. And what if they never come into the store again? You can’t please everyone, and in this case, the extra brand recognition and visibility might be worth the loss of a few customers.

All PR is Good PR… Depending on the Circumstances

The fact here to consider is that most people won’t “really” get annoyed about this slip of the pen too much that they abandon their local barrista. Starbucks should thank them with a gift card if they do tweet it because the brand awareness people are creating on their behalf is priceless. It’s the least the could do.

Unless of course its offensive or degrading. To combat this, Starbucks should make specific guidelines around how this is executed, erring on the extreme side of caution. That is not something to take lightly.

I say, this should, if it’s not already, be part of their strategy. It’s downright brilliant!

 

How To Use Your American Cell Number Anywhere

Step By Step Best Way To Use Your US Number in Israel When You Make Aliyah

I touched on this topic in a previous post I wrote (here), but I wanted to elaborate because anyone who I speak with that is making Aliyah asks me the same question: “What do I do about my US number and How do I keep in touch with people?”

I will add to that, for cheap. No one wants to spend a lot of money when they do this. The move alone costs enough.

So far, I have successfully used this process / method / technique / hack (whatever you want to call it) for the past year and a half. And I wholeheartedly stand behind it. But, I imagine as things change, it won’t last forever. But for now, its incredible. And it might. But I don’t know either. So if something goes wrong, this post is my legal right for you NOT to be angry at me, or worse :)

Here is the 3 step process I used:

  1. Transfer your American phone number to Google Voice
  2. Set up a Golan Telecom phone number for your Israeli line
  3. Forward your US number
  4. (optional) make your number a free landline

Step 1: Transfer your phone number to Google Voice

This part is pretty simple. One little note I like to add, is that regardless of what you decide to, this is probably the best and cheapest (free) way to at the very least hang on to your phone number that you have probably had for the past 7 years.

Head over to Google Voice (http://google.com/voice) and if you have a number already that you don’t use, just go to the settings in the top right (the pinwheel) and click Change/Port. There is a one time $20 fee to do this that you cant get around. And I believe it can only be done for cell phones so if you have a number you actively use, you might want to start thinking of ways to get creative.

A small word of caution: be careful because this will cancel your US cell phone plan. Try to do this as close to your Aliyah as you can. I did it a month before we left and got us unlimited T-Mobile cell phone plans which I forwarded my Google Voice number to.

If I recall correctly, the porting process could take up to 72 hours. So don’t be alarmed if its not working right away.

Step 2: Set up a Golan Telecom phone number for your Israeli line

The reason I say set up Golan is because I don’t know of any other carriers that give you a US number. And this is the key to everything.

In your Golan Telecom settings, there should be an option for Intentional Numbers. You will be given the option of choosing 2 International numbers that friends and family can call you on. I have US and London. It doesn’t matter what number you choose, just take any number. You will never use it again.

 

Seriously, don’t stress here. You will literally never use this number again. Everything else is done in the Google Voice platform.

Step 3: Forwarding Your US Numbers

After you have chosen the number, head back to Google Voice, and set up the call forwarding to your Golan international number. This is really quite simple and straightforward in the Google Voice platform under settings like the top picture.

And then that’s it. You should now have your US cell phone ringing on your Israeli cell.

(Optional) Step 4: How To Get A Free Land Line

Everything I said will work without this step. but, if you want a free US landline, you will want to add in this additional step

Go to Amazon and order the Obi100 Telephone Adapter. But I need to be clear that this is where the process is not iron clad. Obi announced a while ago that they were no longer servicing Google Voice or Google Voice blocked them… I don’t know. But regardless, they warned us that it would stop soon… but it hasn’t an still works amazing at home. That said, who knows.

But this is the device that will effectively give you a free VOIP landline in Israel.

Anyway, the setup here is pretty simple. Just follow these instructions, and you will be just fine.

A Few Other Pointers

  • Google Voice can be forwarded anywhere, Since we had our numbers on Google Voice, we just forwarded our Google Voice numbers to that free US number Golan gave us and magic, our family and friends can call the same numbers we had in the US and it will ring all the way over here in Israel.
  • Even when we took a trip to the US, I got us prepaid TMobile sim cards and just forwarded our Google Voice numbers to the T-mobile number.
  • This entire thing is predicated on Golan giving the free US number. A reminder warning, if that goes away, so does that free call forwarding. But at least you will still have the number
  • At the moment, Google Voice is free. But keep in mind, that could change.

Hope this helps and that you find it useful. Feel free to still ask me questions. I usually answer them :P

“Time” for a New Year, Again

During this time of year, a time of reflection, I can comfortably say this year has been an incredibly awesome year. Time has been good to us. We have grown together as a family, had points that strengthened our core, challenged our sanity, laughed an amazing amount, cried some too, but all together. We even added a new little one.

friedman kids

This year was good. Life is good.

But I Haven’t Been So Good To It.

We have been here before. We have come full circle. I am sitting here reflecting on the post I wrote just a year ago promising all these changes, some of which happened. And I think starting off the year strong is a given, but as time went on, all those things faded into the abyss. I exercised. I probably annoyed everyone with constant pictures of myself doing the Insanity workout. But dammit, I did it! And, honestly, it was great, and I don’t think I ever felt as good as I did at that point. Then I got lazy. But then I tried again. This time T25. Then I quit. Then I sat on the couch and became a potato and couldn’t even bring myself to try.

And while sitting on the couch, I couldn’t bring myself to read one of those books a month that I promised myself I would. I tried. I always had one next to my bed, but it never happened for a million little reasons. All that structure I told myself would happen faded with time. I used to learn the Daf Yomi every day, but then I started some new projects with work and convinced myself that I was “too busy” and didn’t have time.

Those are all excuses. And bad ones I might add.

I once heard that some of the most successful leaders take “alone” time. Time to just sit and think and decompress. I had an epiphany when I was in Brighton a couple weeks ago and had some serious alone time. Since May, hell, since we made Aliyah, I hadn’t taken any REAL time to myself. I felt blocked and on auto pilot.

This summer didn’t help. We had a war. My family almost didn’t make it back to Israel (I am being dramatic, but sort of). I started a new job (jobs). Every distraction you can think about, we had.

But I know the problems at least. The problem is misusing the time I had.

Time Is A Precious Jewel

I once heard a great story. I can’t recall the source, but it’s been about 10 years since I heard it and it still impacts me every year around this time.

The story is of a simple jeweler living in the outskirts of the kings land. He was however the most skilled craftsman in the land. He could take the most ordinary jewels, rubies and gold and shape them into the most beautiful works of art anyone has seen.

It wasn’t before long that the king heard about this  jeweler and decided that he was going to see how good this jeweler really was. The king personally went with his servants to the house of this jeweler. When the jeweler opened the door and saw the king standing before him he was shocked! “Your highness” he said, “I never dreamed that you would be standing at my door. What can I do for you?”

The king said to him, “I hear you can turn the most average jewels into the most beautiful works of art. I have a proposition for you. I will give you a chest filled will all the diamonds,  rubies, gold and silver and all other priceless unique jewels that you can use and you have to make me the most uniquely amazing piece of work that I have ever seen. If you can do that, then you can keep all the extra jewels. And if not, then you have to return to me every jewel that is in that chest. Will you make this piece for me?”

The jeweler is excited and accepts the offer.

The king said to him “you have a year’s time to create this masterpiece”.

The jeweler sat down and began drawing up the designs for the king. But after a while he started to get frustrated and couldn’t think, so he decides to take a little break and focus on more important things for now. After all, he has a year and he has no doubt that he will please the king. He is so confident in fact, that he decides that it couldn’t hurt to start  spending some of the profit that he will make.  

Six months later the king decides to check up on the jeweler. He sent one of his messengers to the jewelers house. And the jeweler has clearly not thought about his job for a while. When he sees the messenger, he gets caught off guard.  The messenger reminds him that he has six more months to create this masterpiece for the king.  The messenger leaves and the jeweler gets nervous. He let so much time go to waste. So he sits down and starts to draw up some designs. But after a while, the same thing happens. He slowly begins to forget about his project.

With a month left the king decides to pay the jeweler a visit himself. He knocks on the door of the jeweler and when the jeweler answers the door, he sees the king and falls to the floor in fear.  The king tells the jeweler that he stopped by to see how the progress on his jewel was coming?  The man, scared that lying to the king could cost him his life, says, “your highness I really haven’t given much though to it at all”.

So the king says to him, “you know our deal. You have one month left and after that if you haven’t made the finest jewel for me then every last piece of the riches goes back to me”.

The jeweler is horrified. He takes a look into the treasure chest and he sees how many of the jewels he has spent. There are hardly any left. He sits down to work and he gives it his best.

When the king finally arrives the jeweler is anxiously waiting. The king says to the jeweler, “do you have my jewel?”

“I do” says the jeweler, and hands the king a box.  Inside the box is the most exquisite necklace that  anyone has ever seen.  The king studied it hard and then said to the jeweler, “this truly is the most beautiful piece of jewelry I have ever seen”.

“But think”  says the king, “think how much more beautiful it could have been if only you put in this effort from the beginning. There were so many jewels that could have gone into this that you never even saw. There was so much potential for this piece that was lost from the beginning. If only you worked as hard from the beginning as you did during that last month this may have been that much greater.”

And with that the king left.

I think the moral is very clear. Every second is a precious jewel. All the incredible things we could have done during the year if only we used our time in the right way. It’s upsetting to think about sometimes how much time is wasted. How much time I have wasted! The million times I could have pushed myself a little harder but said “I just need to rest for a minute” and there goes the night. The ideas I had that were ready to be created, but then… the internet.

There will always be distractions, but what have I been doing with the time I have? What have I been doing to block out those distractions?

This “Time” Will Be Different

I suppose all I can do is try. A few things that I have started doing recently (or want to do) to use my time better:

  • My commute is a giant waste of time. I drive twice a week to Tel Aviv which takes me 4 hours total minimum. But its a complete waste. So thanks to my friend Shlomo, I have stated taking the train which allows me “quiet” time to read and think.
  • Meditation. I think sometimes I am afraid to not actively do things. But I think its important. So I am going to try for 30 minutes a day to just have quiet time. Time to reflect, think, and re-calibrate.
  • Exercise and Health. I really started stinking at that. I don’t even walk anymore. My car is my default. This needs to change. Thankfully I am healthy, but I have a family that I am terrified something could happen to me and… I will stop. I started riding my bike to work. I started walking. I need to eat healthier.
  • Technology All The Time… this is a problem for me. I am frankly an addict. I need to learn to put down my phone and pay attention to whats around me. I know its a problem. I need to work on it.

Like I said, we have been here before. I have been here. Life is a cycle and it will keep going around and around. And we are back to where we started. But we are different every time. I feel different. And I know the same resolutions and changes I hope to make, the grandiose goals I have set for myself, will start off great and then life will kick in and the ups and downs will happen. I am confident there will be successes, but I also know that I will get back to this point next year and wonder, where did the time go!

If I can say I have learned anything from this year, its that the effort and pushing forward is more important than anything else. Time is precious and it needs to be treated that way. I need to take advantage of every second that I have.  Life is too short not to.  

To a year of using our time the best we can and making the most of it. A Shana Tova to everyone. 

friedman kids kiss - innocence