Short, Emotional, Negative, Point Out, Positive — US Trip May 2015
A month ago I embarked on a month long trip to the US. The itinerary included three weeks tour by the US Department of State and another week of work with Tapingo in San Francisco. A year ago after the Israeli Juggling Convention a nice German juggler taught me a neat way to summarize complex and intense experiences. She counts off the fingers and each signifies one point to remember. Here is that summary for me
(Links to stories from without the trip are at the bottom)
Pinky finger — What was too short?
My attention span was too short. Last week Tapingo’s VP of R&D gave a presentation to our US office on cultural differences between Israel and the US. He made some over generalizations but in my opinion he touched on some important points. When mentioning Do’s and Dont’s he lined out for our American office that when working with Israelis one should get to the point. Americans sometimes choose not to in order to not be confrontational, political correctness or other considerations. Without going into the argument about what is better, I will admit that my attention span is too short. Looking back at my trip there were too many times when I zoned out. I’m sure that if I would have forced myself to listen I would have picked up new things from my environment. My attention span was too short.
Ring finger — What was emotional?
Israel’s branding as startup nation was emotional for me. Throughout the entire trip, staying at the Tapingo office included, Israel shined as a beacon of entrepreneurial light. At every city and almost every person I spoke to, deep appreciation for what was going on in Israel came up. This is emotional for me for many reasons. One part is that for the first time the conversation around Israel has little to do with politics. Another is that, it having little to do with politics makes me emotional around washing away with actual problems. Being proud of my country makes me emotional.
Middle finger — What was a negative part?
Chasing the money dragon was a negative part for me. In the entrepreneurial \ tech \ business world there are people of many types. Some are in it for family reasons, some are social entrepreneurs and some for no particular reason. Of course there are those who are there just for the money. Chasing the dragon is a slang phrase of Cantonese origin from Hong Kong referring to inhaling the vapor from heated morphine, heroin or opium. Another more metaphorical use of the term “chasing the dragon” refers to the elusive pursuit of the ultimate high in the usage of some particular drug. In the South Park episode “Guitar Queer-O”, Stan and later his dad become addicted to a video game in which the player chases a dragon (but never catches it) while injecting “virtual heroin”. I feel that many people in the entrepreneurial world chase the money dragon and never catch it. Being surrounded at times by the “chase the money dragon” mentality was negative for me.
Index finger — What should be pointed out?
I’d like to point out that I took a long trip on my own. For a month, I was on my own. This trip didn’t have as much freedom as most Israeli backpacking experiences have. That being said, it had a lot less Israelis. Even though the Tapingo office in the US has one Israeli working there, I can count the amount of Israelis I met throughout the trip on the fingers of the hand of a not-so-careful-carpenter. I recall five years ago when my friends were coming back from their backpacking trips. A common sentiment was that coming back to Israel there is an adjustment to make in realising you are not on your own anymore. For a long time now not traveling alone was an issue I thought about regarding myself. I’d like to point out that I took a long trip on my own.
Thumb — What was a positive part?
Finding out that I am privileged. Finding out that that one has privilege has been correlated lately in my life with negative thoughts. In this trip I have learned to use phrases such as “I feel fortunate to have…” or “I am thankful that I am…”. These phrases imply positive feelings towards the privileges that I have. Indeed I am male, white, from a developed country, financially stable etc etc etc. Reaffiriming my privilege, aside from it highlighting how shitty the world is, has made me feel good. If there is one takeaway for me from this trip is that I am fortunate for the life that I have. Finding out that I’m privileged has been the positive side for this trip.