Showing posts with label Business. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Business. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Nanny Interview - 5 Steps to Success

Editor: another great article in the nanny diaries by nanny Frankie ;-)

First impressions are one of the strongest ingridients for a successful ending between you, parents, and child. Does it sound like a recipe? It is a chemistry that explodes into success or explodes into "seeya letah". It is not an easy task to enter the home of a stranger and leave the home a needed and wanted employee. You must be prepared to look and sound confident and intelligent. They do not expect a rocket scientist. They expect a happy, loving, and enthusiastic individual to look after their child as if that child was your very own. There are 5 steps to climb to achieve this goal.
1) Appearance:
Present yourself on time and looking your best. No heavy make up. No dirty hair or messy cloths. No bad smells or food between your teeth! BE CLEAN, sweet, happy, and act glad to be there.
2) Meeting the child:
Do not "grab" for the baby. (if your mom is still pregnand simply ask how she is feeling and how wonderful she looks). Most interviews take place when the baby is very new. Show great interest, smile a lot, but do not push yourself too strong. If mommy wants you to hold their baby - do not refuse, please wash your hands first. Support the child's head and be confident about how you hold a new born. The impression of good hygene goes a long way.

Nanny interview... a great way to start!

3) Experience and Life Saving Skills:
Be prepared to answer questions about your experience. Be enthusiastic about your love of children. Have some knowledge about child development. Education can come from a paperback book or the net or from your own life experience. Just a little information can again make a successful impression. A course in C.P.R. is a MUST. A nanny must be able to do everything possible to save a child's life. The courses are available and not at all difficult. Everyone on the planet should have these skills!
4) Trust and Expectations:
Parents need to trust you not only with their child but with their home as well. Show them you are trustworthy, honest, and will keep "things" clean and in order. Do they expect more than childcare? Be sure to discuss what is expected of you. Some families are very organized and neat and some are, well? NOT! Be nice, but discuss the rules before the game starts. (Cooking, Laundry? Ironing? Dishes? Light housework, or just children.)
5) Salary Last - LAST - L A S T ! ! !
You are "on a roll". You look great, sound amazing and chemistry is on fire. They seem to like you and you feel good about them. The child is so sweet and already under your skin. The trust between you seems solid and now comes the $64,000 question. How much do you charge? Tip for the day! What is the average salary in this area? One only has to visit the area gardens BEFORE you interview and simply ask the nannies before hand. You will get a pretty good idea.
DO NOT SELL YOURSELF SHORT and don't be unreachable. Your recommendations and reputation can really help you achieve the salary you deserve. Again, educate yourself before you enter an agreement or contract. Don't forget hours, insurance, pensions, vacation time. The more you know all laws covering your work the better. The AACI can help answer any of these questions. Any lawyer and government agency will also have answers.
Good luck! Wishing you all the best! Any questions? -- e-Mail Frankie the nanny.

P.S. Did NOT like this family? Say thank your - Bye Bye - Be Nice -- TRY AGAIN!! Read More...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Dafka & Shain - Custom bags and more on Iben Gvirol

Frankie the nanny made an amazing discovery the other day. In her search for a bag, she has been browsing large and small stores all over the city. She stumbled upon a neat little store on Iben Gvirol that makes original custom bags. Dafka & Shain is one of four stores selling the creation of Dafna 'Dafka' (colloquial: 'in spite of' or specifically, precisely) and other Tel Aviv designers. Dafna 'Dafka' designs these 'amazing bags' according to nanny Frankie. So I joined sam-d for a visit to the tiny store on 125 Iben Gvirol. If you are munching on a falafel or sucking down a cold coffee you would miss this little store. But DON'T! Dafna designs and manufactures in the store itself these simple colorful designs. She uses extremely durable and environmentally friendly materials. The main material is an industrial leather with cotton fibers that is as durable as good leather and is even water and scuff resistant. She makes a variety of designs from large wallets (at 120 NIS) to large bags (about 300 NIS). The larger bags can also serve as book or laptop bags for the more discerning and fashionable Tel Aviv students.

Don't pass up the tiny front of Dafka & Shain at 125 Iben Gvirol
The mainstream design is made up of the main compartment and a flap with a sewn image. Dafna will custom design the colors of the bag and the flap and will custom choose an image from a wide selection of classic and funky designs. If you have a favorite picture or an art piece she will print an image to size and sew it on your bag. The images are printed with water and wear resistant ink and sewn onto the leather. This makes for a colorful and durable bag.

Colorful sample bags you can take with you, or use for inspiration
Dafna gave us a short history of her creation as a career. She started out as a painter and illustrator and stumbled upon the idea of decorating bags with original paintings. Then came the design phase and she quickly realized that there is more to this than just her painting. She settled on using bright colors and illustrations ~ and as they say in the biz... the rest is history. Today she has a flow of customers from the environmentally and animal sensitive to the style seekers. She wanted to create a simple and beautiful, yet durable and environmentally friendly bag. So searched and found this leather substitute that is mostly used for upholstery. The material is imported from Italy and at the small quantities she buys can cost as much as good leather. This is what keeps the bags unique. Other designer offer similarly priced bags from real leather, but this is where Dafna says 'DAFKA' NOT! ~ and this is where you can be unique too. -- Dafka and Shain, 125 Iben Gvirol - 03/546-5152 or Dafna 'Dafka' - 050/7373-145 Read More...

Street Life - Eat, Drink, and Romance

Tel Aviv is starting to show spring colors. In other cities that would be flowers and green leaves. Or street performance of magic and music in the town squares. Here it's romance and food. What are the colors of romance and food? Well, it's smiling faces, colorful plates, shiny windows, and more cloths in pastels than black. The weather is starting to allow comfortable outside sitting, and there are still a the enclosed glass shelters from the winter. Like urbanites in Europe and N. America, Tel Avivians feel the awakening of spring weather and light. If you come from a cold weather country you may think about how exaggerated spring for Israelites is, but never the less, spring brings "street colors". For me this is people in cafes, parks, and boulevards. With small apartments and getting smaller (this phenomena of making a small apartment into two smaller ones will be dealt with in another article), good selection of cafes, bars, and restaurants. So for Tel Avivians social living outside is the way of life, no matter what Venicians or Parisians say, Tel Aviv thinks they are the best at this. On any day you can find people in cafes working (laptop services like WiFi and power is available in many places), couples romancing, and students studying. If you come from a US college town this would seem natural, and if you lived or visited Paris, Venice, or Barcelona the crowds would make you feel that deja-vue again.

Arlozorov & Iben Gvirol: Cars, Horses, and Cafes - Eat, Drink, and Romance
The business world has not missed this phenomena and preference of street living. On any day you will find architects presenting plans to clients, insurance and investment proposals discussed, and interviews for high-tech and retail sales jobs in many cafes and one or two bars. With the attitude of 'mind your own business ~ please', most people are not afraid to discuss their most intimate personal issues like salaries, finances, and even sexual habits. For the most part, the people in the next table are anonymous and do not seem to care even if they overhear something juicy. During the day cafes seem to have more business and school activity than the rest of the day. During the evening hours romancing and 'starting' ~ a term for hitting on the 'girl next table' is much more common. The main Tel Aviv boulevard have been lined with tables from restaurants for many years. The amount and agressiveness of the table placement seem to follow both the weather and the general economic mood of the city. Now the weather is warming up and the economy seem to be taking a short rest. So let the tables get moving begin.
Spruced up flower bed in a walking path, outdoor living is not limited to cafes
If your style is more sporty or does not fall into sitting around, there are plenty of walking paths, beaches, and parks to run around. Biking and jogging is slowly coming back with the warm weather too. So is simple walking and bench warming. Tel Aviv seem to be taking this pass time also well with spruced up flower beds, repaired paths, and freshly painted park benches. Again, these are not limited to the older set kibitzing. On any evening you will find plenty of teen agers and 20-somethings hugging and kissing in a hidden spot. Also, the ever present teen age groups are going to find a bench or a street corner to congregate and enjoy a warm evening outdoors. So get out... and come enjoy the city... Read More...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cafe Greg in Dizengoff Center, a breeze from the north

There is a new player in the Tel Aviv cafe race: Cafe Greg on the second floor of the Dizengoff Center (north building). It is an extension of a small chain based in Haifa. Since everybody is opening cafes in Tel Aviv, the race is on to win the hearts of the drinkers. Cafes in the malls have not been as much of a bid deal in Tel Aviv. Probably ever since Abraham passed through from Messopotania to Egypt people have been sitting around drinking coffee here. There are a few very old cafes which survived the changes in the city, but for the most part the new 'hot' spots are clean, fresh, and heavily packaged. Cafe Greg has a little bit less of the slick marketing of Aroma, Arcafe, Cafe Cafe, and Cafeneto. Maybe because they are a smaller chain or maybe because they just started competing in the Tel Aviv region. The nice thing about the Dizengoff location is the environment, its still a 'mall' in every sense of the word, but the corner they picked is a little quieter, next to a book store. The furnishing is comfortable with couches and padded chairs. They also give you a feeling of comfortable service without hovering and interrupting your conversation.

Greg in Dizengoff Center, comfortable couch for coffee
If you want to meet someone in Dizengoff center or even in the area, this is a good place to get a cup of coffee and to have a talk with a friend. On a regular day you will find half of the people working on their own or having business meetings. The city needs places like this, off the street and close to the commercial businesses. There are a few other cafes in the center, but they tend to be in busy locations and the furnishing is more utilitarian. Greg hit on a trend of shopping and working in the mall and having a comfortable place to rest for a while.
Cafe Greg also has a nice breakfast and lunch menu. Salads, sandwiches, hot lunch plates (schnitzel, chicken, etc.) and a few side dishes. Cafe Greg is a good place to catch a bite for lunch and get going quickly. So in Dizengoff Center, head to 'the Greg' and have a cup-'o-joe and a talk with a friend... Read More...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Terrorism, Worries, and MONEY ?

I don't like to write about politics and terrorism. Mostly because there are lots of good political writers and endless Israeli-Palestinian blogs. Also, I tend to think that speaking about the situation here in Israel is not productive. Only by doing something can we really change the situation. I don't think that writing in a blog and telling people how "wrong" falls into the "doing something" category. But the terrorist attack on a Jerusalem Yeshiva last Thursday has really hit a nerve. Not just in my body but in the collective Israeli nervous system. It seemed to have hit the Tel Aviv stock exchange as well. The Tel Aviv 25 index took a drop at the morning opening on the next session (Sunday 9-Mar-08).

is the TA25 index a sign of the Israeli collective nervous system?
The same goes to a few other worried minds like the tourism operators, specially these catering to Jewish religious groups, mostly non-orthodox. The ones sending their children to instill Zionist values but not too much of it. Just like the past two intifadas, tourists abandon Israel completely when the terrorist activities escalate. Some of you are probably nodding your heads, rolling your eyes, and saying quietly:

'who is this heartless-capitalist-nut anyway?'

Well, good thinking, after all, are we trading a few tourist or investor dollars for the life of 8 religious-pious Torah students? Especially at one of THE most renowned educational institution in Jerusalem (a veritable Harvard of the orthodox world)? Well, yes and NO! Yes, I write about the non-political issues and stories in Tel Aviv and Israel. NO - I am certainly not blind to the pain and anger of the Israeli spirit. This attack is by far the most disturbing in a long time, maybe since the big wars of 1967 (six day war) and 1973 (Yom Kippur war). For the first time, terrorists have gone into what would be considered a sacred location. Well, now the Israeli army has the 'excuse' to go and attack Gaza and who knows what else... you see. It's easy to get distracted into the political commentary mode.
      So here I go back to the non-political, slightly capitalistic, mostly economical and daily life writing. Let's focus for just a minute on the economic, social, and daily work life in Tel Aviv. Economics do matter, specially in a country with such a fragile economy, it's own currency, no trade with adjoining countries, and high or even VITAL dependence on foreign economies. While the pain and anger of a terrorist attack spikes our adrenaline, the economic impact lasts a long time. Actually, what terrorist activities have done to Israel economically and socially could be considered a greater damage. It affects all the population with exception of a very small part at the top and the very bottom of the socio-economic scale. Socially, terrorist attacks demoralize people and spread a feeling of uncertainty. The wars and intifadas were used to blame the sharp economic cycles, ultra-inflation, a continuous brain drain, difficulty in attracting foreign investors, and a slew of other problems which plagued the Israeli economy. The problems in the past were all attributed to the 'security issue' with the Palestinians. The same was also said to be the driving force in the social split between the ultra-right Zionist and the central Israeli camps. Essentially giving the ultra-right side fuel and incentive to justify settlements and attract new members. Which makes for a social-political split and further angers the Palestinians and creates an endless cycle of blame and violence.
        Back to Tel Aviv today, the feeling on the street is simply of sadness. In Tel Aviv the last few days you sense that people simply don't have life. The vitality in the talk of cafe and restaurant patrons was sucked away. The quiet is simply a sign that people don't even know what to say to each other. That small-talk and excitement about daily activity turned into serious hushed conversation. What difference does it make that you are taking a vacation next week. Or that you have a new job? That new car you bought is just what you were dreaming of, and it was cheap because the Euro is so low? You see, even "heartless-capitalist-nuts" have feelings and care. We also live with the reality of daily life, economics, and the struggle for happiness. Not the idealistic-politicized happiness, the simple daily feeling that most people deserve. One of them is the comfort of a rational and predictable economy. One that does not depend on the whims of a terrorist attack or a protest settlement somewhere in a deserted Judea hills. Maybe the practical, economic view of the world is an idealistic opposite to the political one, but I don't think this way. I tend to think more in terms of what people really need. When it comes to the economy, surprisingly it is just what the political side wants: security, predictability, and peace of mind. So you see, thinking about the economy and people's daily life is not such a: heartless-capitalistic-nutty idea! Read More...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Dollar is OUT! (the door) ~ should you panic now?

The use of the dollar is making a quiet exit in Tel Aviv. The main US and International accounting, management consulting, and law firms are dropping their use of the dollar for quoting and charging customers for services. They are shifting to the use of the new Israeli shekel (NIS). But there is a catch, they are re-pricing their services at the rate of 4.3 shekel to the dollar (today's rate is 3.65 NIS/$). Is this going to shake any one's trust in the "mighty dollar"? Not likely, not even in Israel. The reliance on using the dollar as a quoting and billing for services in Israel goes back to the hyper-inflation years. That was so long ago that most people will tell you stories about the Israeli economy by the light of a campfire somewhere in the woods. In other words, the weak Israeli shekel (now it's a 'new' shekel, it was a 'regular' shekel before and a lira before that) has been making a steady progress in strength and stability for over two decades now. Mostly because of the steady and wide range economy. The depency on a single market or a single sector is long gone. Also, the economic impact of the wars with Palestinians is also much less than ever before. In the second Lebanon war of 2006 the Israeli economy barely registered a blip. Stock market and NIS prices actually moved up rather than down. The strength of the NIS is simply a consequence of both trends.

KPMG Israel, moving rates of billing from dollars to shekels -- finally?

So Why do American and European companies move from billing in dollars to shekels? Simply because the dollar versus the shekel has declined by 20% in just a few months. Accountants and management consultants are not about to take 20% cut in pay, no matter where they work and who's company name they have on their business card. So the final result is a small discount if you signed a dollar contract in the last six months. The firms probably have price adjustment clause somewhere in their contracts anyway. But if they didn't, don't worry, they will make it up in the next billing cycle. Overall, the Israeli economy is on an upswing. It's about time, since the the second Lebanon war, second intifada, and the dot-com collapse before that. There are other good trends in terms of trade with new regions in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The relative political stability in Africa is also helpful to Israeli companies. Finally, Israelis are much better off politically and militarily than ever before. There are less promises of "final peace" with the Palestinians, but the separation of Israel from the Palestinian territories seem to be holding. If you have any comments or insights into these trends, please drop us a line and we will address your comments. All the best, with a few more shekels in our pocket, AmiV from Tel Aviv ;8~)' Read More...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Life in the City - Working in the City

Looking for a job in Israel, make sure you protect your rights. Every employee is protected under the National Labor Law. If your rights are violated or your employer doesn't pay you on time, the various labor courts located in most cities will step in at your request and enforce your rights. I suggest you hire a lawyer to go to court. The telephone company prints an English yellow pages, let your fingers "do the walking". Otherwise call information, get the phone of the local Bar Association and they will get you a lawyer. It would be smart if you check with a lawyer and find out all the benefits you are entitled. Just like in America, there are two methods. One is if your employer is covered by a collective bargaining agreement. If that is the case, this will cover your wages, hours, and conditions of employment.

Tech jobs listing in English on

If your employment is not covered by an agreement, it will be covered by a private contract between you and your employer. Negotiate your own contract with the aid of a lawyer. Get it in writing and take your employer to Labor Court. In Israel people's rights are protected legally. Remember Is classified as a first world country. Here you have rights, sam-d-man // life-and-the-city [sm]

Editor's note: This blog or article does not advocate or advise on legal matters. We do understand that employees sometimes find themselves in a difficult situation with regard to pay, working conditions, and other situations. Therefore, we strongly advocate standing up for your rights. Tel Aviv is a good place to enjoy strong labor laws and their enforcement. Best of luck in finding a job and contributing to the Israeli work force! Read More...

Foreign currency trading volume... and exporting COMPANIES?

The last post was about the decline of the dollar. Israel has been dependent on the mighty dollar for a long time. I started to notice that regardless of the decline of the dollar, or even due to it's decline, Israel is moving slowly and systematically away from too much dependence on the US economy and it's currency. One thing that would be interested to notice is what amounts of trade we are talking about. The Israel Bank (the government's) statistics show a total trade of 54 billion dollars was exchanged in all foreign currency last year (2007). For the year before (2006) the amount was 36.6 billion dollars and for the before that (2005) it was 28 billion dollars ($16B in 04). Well, this trend shows that Israel has increased it's trade by 48% the last year and by 193% over the last two years. Nice numbers, which would mean, that the dollar's decline is even more important to the economy and each Israeli citizen's pocket. But in the numbers there is a bigger trend, Israel is trading in a much larger rate than ever before. So while the dollar is declining, the amount is going up. Overall, the dollar's decline has an impact on individuals and companies, but the growth in total amount is more important. This is what you see in the offices and conference centers the last two years.

Ten shekels, worth 16% more the last six months... and going up!
The growth of business export in Israel is not only growing, it is also changing the way Israelis work. This trend of cooperation on a global basis is copied from American and European companies. But it also fits well with the international makeup of the Israeli work force. It is also a reflection of the pent-up desire to build a richer economy outside the limitation of a small country in the transition from 3rd world to a modern economy. The unique situation in Israel is based strictly on skills and creativity. Israel has developed a system of exporting companies, projects, management, and intellectual property. This is probably the most enviable position in the export world. While China needs to build factories and train workers, Saudi Arabia needs to pump and store crude oil, and Argentina needs to develop agriculture, Israel needs to put in networking infrastructure and build office complexes. The strategy of building companies and developing research and development organizations has been in the works in Israel for more than 30 years. Intel has come to build their first manufacturing plant out of the US in 1974. The office of the chief scientist (Israel government agency) have been supporting "technology incubators" since 1991. The office of Export and International Cooperation has resources, specially for small Israeli companies, to find experts for starting and growing international business.
Israel Export and International Cooperation Agency
These and other agencies all look for outside help, which means, strong push for companies from all over the world to work, invest, and cooperate with Israeli companies. It all adds up to what is going on here, exporting COMPANIES! It started with selling start-ups to American technology companies and now it has spread to Asian technology and international bio-med and pharma companies. So, if you have dollars and are worried about the value in New Israeli Shekels, don't worry so much, you can always buy an Israeli stock and see your worth go up. Or if you have a bit more to invest, get a few Israeli entrepreneurs together and sell your company to a Korean tech firm in a few years. Read More...

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The all mighty DOLLAR ? does it need steroids ??

The dollar's value in New Israeli Shekels is going down. Not just a little, and not just this week. In the last six months (mid July '07) the value has gone down 16% (4.3NIS to 3.7NIS). With the dependence of Israeli economy on the US, you would think that people are rioting in the streets? But no such thing is happening. Well, people are certainly worried about the dollar here, probably next to the shekel it is the most used and respected denomination. But the reality is a little more complex. While Israelis always had respect to the US dollar and the American economy, there are bigger factors which drive the economy here. Today, no single element actually dominated the worries and headlines of the Israeli economy. The largest factor today which swamps the dependence on the US dollar is the shift of the Israeli economy from single market and single product focus to a more fractured and multifaceted structure. This shift together with higher emphasis on cooperation with foreign economies is easing the impact of the dollar's drop. The second largest factor by far is the drop in impact of Palestinian terrorism on the economy. Like the value of the US dollar, these are two uncontrollable factors, which to some extend bothers Stanley Fischer, the Israel bank chairman.

US dollar value in New Israeli Shekels, last 5 years, drop from ~5 to 3.6
Professor Fischer, a US import of sorts to the Israeli government attests the respect of 'locals' to the US economic strength. He is the first, and by far, the most prominent non-Israeli to hold a position of power in the Israeli government. To Israelis this is a "new" way of thinking, but Israelis are no longer too proud not to take advice from someone like Fischer. Actually, the appointment of a foreigner to such an important position is a reflection of Israel's ability to look outside and to use resources that are not available or developed internally. The attitude of doing what is most useful or practical in terms of resources is causing the shift from the dependence on the US economy and the dollar to greater use of other denominations and economies.
Value of Euro vs. NIS, set at 5.6 +/- 0.2
I notice that the shift to trade with other countries and develop business relations there is not simple or easy. Changes, specially on a large scale, are not quick to happen. Also, understanding and trusting new partners takes a certain amount of investment which to some extent is not recovered. For Israeli business this is a difficult step. Both the size of the economy and the history of how it was developed, has not trained business people to invest in long term relationships without seeing returns quickly. Some of this stems from the large amount of business based on early government investment and development. Some of the emotional hurdles to the changes come from simply the overall changes, the need to do something that will stretch the country's business position, preferences of the workers, and molding sectors to new habits. But, with today's global changes, Israel as a small country has done this a few times in the recent past. So, don't cry for the dollar Israel... and don't worry so much out there in the business world. We are moving, changing, and doing what it takes to have a better way of doing things. Read More...

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Old soldiers don't dies ~ in Tel Aviv they don't fade either

If you are at all aware of what it going on in the political life here in Tel Aviv, you surly know about the Winograd Report on the Second Lebanon War (2006). (NY Times, Washington Post, Chicago Sun). The full final report came out yesterday, although the interim preliminary report came out a long time ago, and it caused the Commander in Chief, Dan Chalutz and the secretary of Defense Amir Peretz to resign, the Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had stayed in place. There are many accusations on how the whole political and military organizations handled the attack from Hezbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon. Of not is the large amount of criticism on the leaders than in any other time in Israel's history. But since the anger over what happened in the war was dissipated over the months, and since Olmert and others are not "going anywhere", business seems to be "as usual".

Final Winograd Report, is it OK to "lose" the war?

Well, the question we are all asking is: "Does this mean that Israel has lost the war?" -/- "Does this mean that Israelis are happy with Olmert?" Good questions, which by reading the daily papers and listening to the radio, most Israelis are fairly clear about. First of all, the "war" was not "lost". The quotes are not a way of evading the point. But Israelis have stopped thinking about the war with terrorism as "won or lost". I could say that for the most part, people see as the "war" with terrorism, in all it's shades and stripes as "a total loss". It is not only a loss of young soldiers and civilians, but a big loss of energy and effort. But most of all a loss of an opportunity to work with Arab countries, specially in the economic and cultural realms. The loss is probably more for Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and even Syria and Saudi Arabia. Why? Because these neighboring states are closer geographically, culturally and even economically than any other country which has close relations to Israel. Because of the "Palestinian problems" everybody seems to be pointing to the other side with blames and accusations. I guess everybody is looking for the big "peace leader". Begin, Rabin, Sadat and even Arafat didn't turn out to be the ones. In the mean time, Israeli businesses are installing telecom and Internet systems in Eastern Europe and central Asia. Israeli stocks and investments are done in the US and in Europe. Israeli architects and builders are working hard in Africa. But really no cooperation on anything significant with any Arab country.
Now back to the 'raison d'etre' of the blog, Tel Aviv life and business. The good news again is that most of the business media has not even mentioned the Winograd report. Why? Mostly because it's old news, but also because it makes sense to simply ignore bad news, even if it's historical news. This schizophrenia I wrote about yesterday is what is driving the Israeli business to distance itself from anything even remotely related to the security situation. This is even more true with anything related to business with Arab countries (or companies). So now the Arab world is facing a bigger problem. How to convince Israeli business to lead where the politicians failed? Well, this leadership from the business world happens once in a while, but not here. Take for example at the situation between US business and Cuba, you don't get a good feeling. In the Cuban situation, US businesses, specially tourism, sports (baseball) and agriculture (sugar, tobacco) have been trying to do some sort of business with Cuba, but again, not doing very well. But than again, what are the Cuban to do? Well, this is what it seems to be when thinking about Arab leaders all over the middle east. What are they to do? Well, it is not at all the same situation, because Israeli businesses would probably love to work 100 miles away instead of getting on a plane and working 6,000 miles away. Anyway, these are some thoughts about what is going on here. I personally don't believe that this is "sad" at all. I also don't believe that anyone "lost" the war, but having portions of Lebanese villages and parts of cities bombed to oblivion is not a great sign of anything, specially intelligence, wisdom and compassion. Which is what Israelis think they bring to people all over the world. At least to places which are not Arab. Something to think about, specially if you are an Israeli or an Arab business leader. Read More...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Does Wall Street care about Abu Mazen?

or Does The Marker Care About Terrorism?

I have been reading The Marker, Ha'Aretz's business paper for a month now. It comes to my door, and it is starting to drum into me the business vs. political schizophrenia in Israel. This is something that in the US and Europe is taken for granted. There is a strict separation of economic to political worlds. But in Israel, until a few years ago, this was not the case. Every time anything happened it was blamed on the "security situation" ~ a key term meaning: "the terrorist attack last night is scaring off investors... tourists... foreign companies..." Well, it seems that this is not the case any more. Maybe it's the fact that foreigners have been coming here for a long time and have shown Israeli business that some things are beyond their control so they need to do something else. At one time Israeli businesses compared terrorism in Israel to the drug trafficking in the US and South America. But they noticed that large US corporations never really talked about how drugs affect them. It may cause a robbery at some 7-11 stores or lower the Real Estate value in some neighbourhoods. But that is no reason to mix business and politics. It may be that Israelis have noticed that if you don't talk about "security issues" you start thinking more about what you can really do with what you have.
The Marker, Israel's #1 business paper, no mention of "security"
In some respects this shows the maturity of Israel business. But in other respect this is also a shift of Israeli business to more global standards. It seems to me that up to the early 1990's most of the influence in Israeli business came from the US. This was before the Russian immigration which brought a million people to Israel and the smaller and steady immigration of Jews from UK, Australia, Canada and France the last decade. These changes in the population and the acceptance of Israel in Europe has changed the business in Israel dramatically. Today, the influence from US companies and government is still strong, but business here is much more independent and connected to Europe and Asia. There are probably more Russian speaking professionals in position of power and influence than native English speakers ten years ago. Slowly this shift is starting to show up in the media. It is also showing up in the way Israeli companies think about doing business outside of the country. One excellent example is the building and architecture sector. For a long time, most of the building and design by Israeli firms was done exclusively in Israel and Africa. But the last few years, Israeli builders and architects are looking more to eastern Europe and central Asia. This is mostly because of the available architects and builders with culture and language skills relevant to these markets. There are even a few large companies owned or run by Russian immigrants who started out at the bottom and made it to upper management. For the most part this is good news for Israelis, dependence on a single country like the US has it's risks and this is something that Israel has gone through before. For the US it means less influence on Israeli business and indirectly on politics. This is a change, and it seems like Israelis and others are going along without too much difficulty. It is also good news to US companies with strong international influence. In Tel Aviv today you can find more culturally Russian workers than anywhere except Moscow. Which means, that American business can come to Tel Aviv and run or support business operations in Eastern Europe. Which is probably as good as running an operation in Prague, Warsaw, Bucharest, or Budapest. At least that is the opinion of most Israelis. Anyway, there are lots of interesting observations in how Israel is changing it's business stance. So keep your eyes open at companies which are building their markets in other places, specially to the north and the east of here. Read More...

Friday, January 18, 2008

We are back... + fashion race in the city

Nana's (a portal for blogs and discussions) fashion section (
Hello again. I have been out for a while, mostly trying to figure out what would work by reading and researching other blogs. I also tried to read what popular blogs and writers say. It seems to me that besides being controversial people try write interesting material for a specific group. Writing about Tel Aviv, specially the "things" (i.e. stores, events, food, buildings) tend to interest only people who want to know something else. When I wrote about places to shop, there seem to be interest from tourists and foreign Real Estate investors (American & Canadians). When I wrote about the gym on Iben Gvirol seems like young Americans wanted to know the difference between one place and another, not just that specific gym. A blog is not like a newspaper. Even with a few contributors, focus seems to be more useful to readers than wide coverage. Sometimes as a blog writer, we forget that in a newspaper there are tens or even hundreds of writers! But the benefit of a blog is the personal viewpoint and the interest of the writer. I am not saying that in the NY Times the food editor does not like going out to eat as much as I do. Maybe he does and maybe he is even better at writing about it. But he is not in Tel Aviv and does not eat a mix of flavors and cuisines like people here now. Hopefully you don't need the writing at the level of a NY Times editor or writer to enjoy what is going on in Tel Aviv.

So what's next?

I am going to write about what I see. Not just the "things" but the behaviour of the people. I think this is more interesting, specially since it's very different than other places. Some of the differences I think have to do with the blend of cultures. It's very hard to describe, but it's fantastic! is a popular fashion destination.
Walking down the street in central Tel Aviv is a mix of fashions that one would not see in most big cities. Certainly not in New York, LA or even Milan. First of all, the population in Israel varies from recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union to Jews from Iran and Ethiopia. Second of all, Israel also has second and third generation Israelis from all over the world. Literally! the population in Israel has background from everywhere. Third, the is a wide gap in social, economic and religious background. All these blended together is thrown onto a new culture of fashion consumerism and a geographic location not exactly European or Asian or even African. At the traditional European fashion corner you will find most of the brands from the big fashion houses in Italy and France. At another corner is the American contingent, from Levi's jeans to Ralph Lauren upscale designs. Than add a little corner of Arab/middle-eastern influenced designs, specially for women (I would also add the Indian/Sri Lanka/Pakistani influence here). Finally, there is the encompassing everything Asian "knock-off" but not exactly. By that I mean fashion which is an attempt to clone every other known brand but with a twist. A large amount of clothing and accessories find their way from China, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam and a few other small South-East Asian countries.
How does that translate to everyday fashion? Well, it's hard to explain, but it's a great idea for a project of photographing people on the street. For the most part, Israeli women love to mix styles from all around the world, so a women dressed in traditional European design will add a colorful scarf or jewelry from India without thinking about it.
In the marketing and retailing front, Israeli merchants are a mix of western influence and local names. The three large malls in Tel Aviv (Azrieli, Dizengoff and Ramat Aviv) play a large role in the access of western fashion to the public. This includes stores who sell under the international tags and local fashion names. In the smaller stores and boutiques there are more specialized names. The new port area has a small number of specialty boutiques, specially with Italian and French fashion. The port area is trying to become the new upscale fashion shopping area. There are even roumors that the city itself in the form of regulation enforcement is helping this effort somewhat (rumors that bars are being asked to 'quiet down' and not become a center for nightlife). On Bugrashov street there are smaller shops with odd and more specialized fashion. This street you will find the newer, 'younger' names like the first Israeli Crumpler bag store. I hope this is a new start for my writing. Which started out in a desire to explain the fierce "fashon race" that is running rampant in Tel Aviv. It seems to me like what was happening in the US and Europe in the 1980's and 1990's. When the big designers lured people to buy more cloths at higher prices. Which in turn stimulated stores to open up fancier and bigger stores and eventually "boutique chains". Specialty chains that target a certain style and population (i.e. The Gap, The Limited in the US). Well, if you want to hear about other things 'in the air' in Tel Aviv, drop me a line. Thanks, Ami Read More...

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Lawyer in the city - a short introduction

Need a lawyer in Tel Aviv? If you are a tourists or you live in Tel Aviv getting good legal advice is no problem. Tel Aviv University has a world class law school. There are also many other good law schools across the country. Weather your legal problem is big or small, lawyers are available to help. If you have a claim against someone don't be afraid to call the Israel Bar association and get a referral. You may also contact us at the blog and we will try to find you someone that can help with finding a lawyer.

Israel Bar Association English page
The lawyers and judges follow generally the same kind of remedies as they do in the United States and Canada. This country has a first world legal system. If you plan on doing business in Israel, hire or consult a lawyer. Some of the laws are very similar to what United State and European business are expecting, but some are not exactly in every detail. Israel has many laws to protect consumers, but in some cases you need to be proactive.
A law firm's Hebrew site
Come to Tel Aviv, relax and enjoy but remember if someone violates your rights or is negligent toward you, get a lawyer... sam-e-man ~ in Tel Aviv, the city Read More...