I dedicate this blog to Pauline and Erel - If I knew then what I know now...
I couldn't believe it! After a year of freelancing from job to job, trying to survive the recession while integrating my life into the Big Apple, I landed at a small office that housed a venture capitalist firm based out of Jerusalem, nearing the end of 2009!
I had an amazing boss, Pauline, who became the voice of reason that I needed to navigate my work load. She not only trained me, being that it was my very first admin position, but she always asked and encourage me to achieve my goals in pursuing theatre companies, talent agents, and casting directors. She would tell me, "When you are not engaged with your art, you lose that spark in your eye." If the firm had not closed its doors in New York, I think I would have happily stayed there until I "made it." ...But then again, "Tempt!" would not exist if I would have stayed there. But boy was it THE "job that paid the bills" for me. My assignment was mostly about helping Pauline assist, Erel the Chairman and Founder of the firm, which I can vouch for his work ethic by saying that he very seldom slept. And within our first introduction and beyond, his strong stature, sharp Hebrew vocal inflections, ignited an example to never enter a room without a purpose, care, determination, and strategy. It was a presence that, for me, defined leadership.
After my job came to a close in late 2012, I did manage to have a few irons in the fire: take the next survival job, take a deeper dive into the entertainment industry, and embrace my new introduction to real estate. Before I knew it, simultaneously, the development of "Tempt!" and the act of getting my real estate license were tightly interwoven into my schedule, little did I know, I was blindly opening 2 businesses at the same time.
Once both of my business ventures headed for a downturn, (not the most celebratory way to welcome 2016 mind you) I accepted a new office assignment that happened to be a Jewish organization. Thanks to being ill at time of my introduction, I was on a heavy dosage of antibiotics too intense to really interact with my environment other than editing documents on a computer screen. But, the vibe that I did receive was warm, welcoming, and provided a great deal of support, unlike the vibe that was occurring with my stalling businesses.
Suddenly, one day, I was struck by an emotional recall of my past that I had completely forgotten about...I heard the Hebrew language spoken and I could feel a sense of my overlooked values wash over me. I could feel myself digging into the reminders of the person that I was with Pauline and Erel, long before digging deep into real estate and the entertainment industry...That person still exists and as I was hearing the deep, guttural, projection of this passionate language streaming off the tongues of people who were determined to make the world a better place, all of my doubts and short comings were suddenly coming to a sharp halt, faster than I could say מספיק pronounced "Mahs-PEEK!" (meaning ENOUGH In Hebrew).
It then dawned on me that the tragic flaw of my ways started to come to life the moment I was introduced to what I like to call the public persona syndrome. I cannot speak for other industries throughout the American culture, but I can say that there is a strong commonology between certain parts of real estate and the entertainment industry being that the primary goal was to establish a public persona, using the FAKE IT TIL YOU MAKE IT mask.
No disrespect to those who have lived successful, fulfilled lives when mastering this skill, but I personally had a very hard time with this practice. I've even looked back at my professional notes to see what all of my feedback entailed and tried to find a common ground with the following expectations, from the stench of voices past;
- "You need to dumb yourself down"
- "You need to work smarter and not harder"
- "You need to prey on vulnerability and like a puppet master, play with their strings."
- "You need to color your hair platinum blonde and lie in a tanning bed long enough to give you melanoma if you wanna be successful in this business."
- "You need to pretend to be confident and hot headed to be taken seriously in this business."
Would you like to guess which feedback came from real estate and which came from entertainment industry? If so, please feel free to email your answers at firstname.lastname@example.org
Now to be fair, not everyone in these two industries projected these types of expectations onto me. But unfortunately, the recent circumstances forced fed me these expectations. And as the rise of their daily influences were forced upon me, I began to choke.
לא טוב! Pronounced as "Lo tov!" (meaning "not good" in Hebrew). One day, at the Jewish organization, as I stood around at the ice cream social, I was approached by a co-worker, from Israel, by the name of Amir. We had very common interests in the arts and he, in almost a fatherly way, started to ask questions about my own creative developments. As we proceeded with our conversation, the need to imagine a public persona automatically disintegrated....I didn't need it. I could reveal my strengths and my weaknesses without feeling like I needed to hide...I didn't want to hide behind a public persona, especially when talking about my weaknesses. Tears of relief were started to form in my eyes, as we started talking about "Tempt!" and I didn't even bother holding them back. Why hold back feelings of gratitude?
Pauline and Erel began to appear into my mind more frequently after my conversation with Amir and I started reading articles, watching youtube videos, engulfed by Erel's will and determination to find potential in everything he feels that is worth investing. Undeniably, I was in a highly intelligent, very innovative environment when I was working with Pauline and Erel...I was just too young to understand it at that time. And even now, when I think about them, my current employers and my appreciation for those in my life who gravitate to spiritual enlightenment; I am left to wonder about the expectations and the FAKE IT TIL YOU MAKE IT public persona.
Aside from morality, value systems and spiritual beliefs, if I were to perform the expectations shown above, I am left to ask; how are they sustainable? Especially, if I want to build a business with long lasting relationships? If FAKE TIL MAKE IT is a part of a business plan, how would I begin to build authentic working relationships? How can trust be developed if a business plan involves manipulation?
And if I need to work smarter rather than harder, I have to ask, isn't a part of working harder a launching pad to learn how to work smarter? (Feedback would be greatly appreciated on this one)
And how does preying on the vulnerability of others enrich my life, my goals, if the only intention is to shift all of the focus on others, to figure how you can control them? AND where would the opportunity of learning from others take place if manipulation is the business plan? And since both industries are dominantly people driven, how can these tactics achieve life long success?
And to dumb myself down? What kind of business relationship is that? What if I'd rather not be responsible for other's insecurities and inferiority complexes? Honestly, do I need to put that in writing? And again, the trust issue, how can one begin to trust me if I'm nothing but a real-life fictitious character?
As far as my appearance goes, there will be no platinum blonde hair and fake tanning in my future. I happen to like the fact that I am Sardinia-Italian looking, thank you.
After the first treatment of this entry, I took a second look at the public persona syndrome along with the expectations, shown above. Reflecting back of them now I can't help, but find them hilarious. Think about it! Obviously, these are coming from individuals who didn't have a clue about me, personally or professionally. And seeing this in writing, I now see that their only objective was to use me to push their own delusional agendas.
Why do I call them delusional? Because my real estate clients were smart and highly intuitive. They could smell the prententious stench from a mile away. Same goes for those that I admire and have had the privilege to work with in the entertainment industry, in New York.
And to approach this agenda,spiritually, well...I can relate to those in my environment who scoff at these expectations and say "It's not good Christian practice", "It's not what a true Catholic would do", "It's not a part of my Jewish values," "It's immoral and irresponsible" "Karma is real" "Don't forget the African saying: Never trust a naked man who offers you his shirt." - And it's great to feel that level of support and know that I am surrounded by individuals who share the same values.
...And to this present day, I hear a voice speak Hebrew and think of Erel...or I take on an assignment and think of Pauline, all I can bring myself to say is...It was all supposed to just be a job that paid the bills...Who would have thought that it would open my eyes and show me all that I value in building relationships?
I've had to change the ending on this blog because as I drew the conclusion, an opportunity was offered to me for the first time, in a year, to be on a production team for a film a friend of mine is creating. And as I received the e-mail, I was so elated that I leaped out of my chair and skipped over to the office lounge to grab a fresh cup of coffee. I found Amir standing there and the moment I told him of this new project, he looked at me and said "That's new, there's a spark, in your eye."