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  • On Washing Machines and Martial Arts - a True Story about Product Management, and a Lesson for Life

    The other day, my mother's washing machine broke. My mom called the technician, who humbly told her: "Ma'am, I can't fix this washing machine. It requires a spare part the company no longer manufactures. You must realize this machine is older than I am... It is 47 (yes - forty seven) years old. We only manufacture spare part for 17 (seventeen) years after we place a model in the market." Long story short, my mom shopped for a new washing machine, and all is well again. I find this story has two fascinating facts. The washing machine served my family well for 47 years. I don't think I am aware of any other product that worked for such a long time. The company manufactures replacement parts for 17 years after placing the product in the market. (* And if your'e wondering, the manufacturer of said washing machine was Siemens.) Nearly 50 years ago, as Siemens was releasing this washing machine to the market, they had to make a decision - for how long do they keep production lines open, in case some customer will require a spare part... I can imagine the meeting taking place, some people arguing for a shorter support period, and others explaining why a longer support period is required, and eventually they settled on a magic number - 17 years. This was a not a theoretical number - this meant they would need to keep production lines open, and the production machines working, and the employees trained on these machines, and keeping some amount of spare parts in stock, and having another amount of spare parts for the machines that produce the spare parts, and stocking material to run the machines, and... A non-trivial number. 17. Years. With many real-world implications. As part of their services. As part of their planning. As part of their realization of what makes a great product. Hint: what makes a great product - is not only the product. It as also the service. Also the planning for the day after the release. The whole product ecosystem. Many times product teams invest so much in planning Version 1 of their product and hardly leave any energy, brain power and resources to what happens after they place Version 1 in the market. Support, Bug Fixes, Missing Features. Marketing. Interacting with Users. Learning Lessons. Implementing Conclusions and Lessons Learned. All of these are (often) "forgotten" in the excitement of planning and releasing Version 1. And we must remember - releasing a good product is only the first step. Any product (and product team) worthy of itself must plan for the following versions. You must realize the milestone you reached, as significant as it may be - is just a stepping stone to the next mile along the way. Every Milestone is a Stepping Stone along The Way. Those of you who have read my previous post – "Sometimes, your best is not good enough. Now what?" – are already aware of my fascination with martial arts, and efforts practitioners invest in the day-to-day practice, and in the promotion ("belts") system. Many practitioners are so focused on their next promotion, and super-laser-focused on their black belt promotion (which in turn reminds me of the focus on Version 1...) – they forget the goal is part of the journey. Those who think a Black Belt is the End of the Way – won’t earn the Black Belt and won’t understand The Way In less than a month, my friends from the MABE program at Reichman U will be graduating and receiving their Master's Diploma in Behavioral Economics. For them, with love and appreciation, let me adapt slightly: Those who think a Diploma is the End of the Way, won't earn the Diploma, and won't understand The Way.

  • Sometimes, your best is not good enough. Now what?

    Not everyone can run a marathon. I know the common wisdom (a.k.a "The Internet") says otherwise, and that if you practice enough, anyone can do it. I disagree. Not everyone can run a marathon. But for the sake of discussion, let me modify my statement to something we can probably all agree on: Not everyone can run a marathon in less than 3 hours. (If you still have doubts regarding the modified version, check out Marathon Run Times By age and ability. And if still, this site claims at most 4% of the population runs a marathon in 3 hours or less.) You can practice all you want, be as committed as possible - and yet not succeed in completing a marathon in less than 3 hours. And if you can (congratulations!), be aware not everyone can. So for the rest of the post, let's talk about me/you/we who belong to the other 96% of the population. And we'll leave the marathon alone. You all know what is your most painful domain, in which you've practiced, you invested, you committed, you reached your peak, you've made your best - but your best is just not good enough. Now what? This happened to me many times. This happened to me in many domains. It happened in sports, during my Army service, high school, work, my Bachelor and Master's degrees and in other domains. So much so, that I consider myself a self-proclaimed expert on the topic. What to do when your best is not good enough? Let me share my most recent "your best is not good enough" experience. Krav Maga. It all started at the age of 7 or 8, as I was watching the neighborhood children go to their Judo classes, and I really wanted to practice martial arts. At the time, joining the Judo classes didn't work out (for too many reasons, out of scope of this post), but I carried this dream with me for a long time. In a long overdue realization of a childhood dream, at the ripe age of (CENSORED), I finally stumbled upon the martial art I've always been looking for and never knew - Krav Maga. Practicing Krav Maga is a continuous uphill battle. The vast majority of practitioners range in age from 15 to 35, and with me being older than most of their parents a - it's a challenge. It's now my 13th year, and some promotions/certifications (a.k.a. "Belts" - Yellow, Orange, Green etc.) - and the more I practiced, and the more I improved, and the more proficient I became - I can not count the times I felt I'm at my best - but am still not good enough, and I was convinced I will fail to make it to the next level. * Don't confuse this with the infamous Imposter Syndrome. It is not a case where I was good but thought I wasn't, and fear that soon everyone will find out. My best really wasn't good enough for the next level, using objective external point-of-view. ** Also, don't mistake with "Fake it till you make it" - I'm not describing a situation where you're expected (or should hope) to "endure until you'll succeed". My point is sometime you won't succeed... And yet you may want, may choose, may decide. to endure. Because "not making it" does not mean you're ready to quit. So now what? I don't know the answer - but I know what worked and is working for me. First, I realized that all the facts are true. I was at my best, and wasn't not good enough, and  may never be good enough. It may have reached a local peak, a local maximum - and do not have the ability to reach the next peak - and surely never make it to the peak-of-peaks. Next, I realized that as disappointing as this may be, the Krav Maga journey means more to me than reaching the peaks. Improving, and persisting are goals I value, and if the cost of persistence is disappointing for not reaching peaks - then I have enough internal peaks to conquer, even if not reaching the next promotion. And finally, I was pleasantly surprised a number of times along the road. I found out that "letting loose" or reaching the certification/promotion goal, and not trying to reach external peaks - but instead focusing on conquering internal goals - allowed me sometimes to also achieve the external goals. But that was a bonus. A pleasant surprise - but not a condition or a pre-requisite for using the above. I hope this is clear. Here's a summary of my recipe for dealing with the moment you find out your best is not good enough: 1. Accept. I may not be good enough. Even if I try and try and try and even reach my best - an external objective point-of-view may still decide it's not good enough. Deal with the disappointment. 2. Continue. If you care about the journey, and the achievements, then don't give up. Simply continue. You'll surely progress - even if you never reach another external goal. Sometime - you'll be surprised. But Don't make that part of your reasoning. In the past year, this happened to me twice. During my Master's degree studies, in a highly-complex Financial Economics course, where no matter how hard I tried, and no matter how good I worked, I failed to get the fluency level I wanted. I practiced and read and viewed and solved so many different quiz - and yet - when the time came for the exam - I just wasn't good enough achieve the grade I wanted (and really thought I would get). Then, in Krav Maga... I worked, and practiced, and worked harder, and practiced harder, and gave up on a number of other activities just be able to practice more and reach a level "good enough" for my next promotion/certification - and failed twice... In the farther away past, in my professional life, I was involved in a super-complex project. I won't name names to avoid disclosing too much... I was brought in for my technical understanding and knowledge of the domain, and for my soft-skills (meaning, I know to working with many types, and help them overcome differences). But I also wanted to be hands-on. To get my hands into the nitty-gritty parts of the project. The rest of the team was super-talented technically - and I wanted to play in that domain too. But no matter how many coding hours I put in - I wasn't on-par with the rest of the team - and after two very frustrating weeks - I had to admit to myself the my technical best within that project - just wasn't good enough... And I focused on architecture and soft-skills aspects of the project. The goal is super-important to me, the external validation (my instructors, my professors, my coworkers) is very important to me. The external validation teaches me whether I'm good enough. But so is the journey. My internal valuing of "doing my best", and continuously improving. So even when my best is not good enough (as things stand right now) - I'll celebrate my progress, my improved understanding and implementation - even if it's not good enough for external recognition. Accept & Continue.

  • Lesson Learned from Schmicago (Schmigadoon! season 2)

    The other day, I happened to stumble upon the Apple TV series Schmigadoon! - which I found quite enjoyable. An overall happy-fuzzy feeling musical-style program, with song+dance messaging packing numerous oversimplified life-and-living-related messages. Among them, I found one which I really liked and felt worth sharing: Happy endings don’t exist But here’s a pearl you may have missed Every day can be a happy beginning. The message (as I read it) is: Don't assume you'll have a happy ending. Not everything we do will work out for the best. No matter your level of optimism (and I'm a great optimist usually, as other posts of mine will show) - you can't count on that. But - every day can be a happy beginning - a new opportunity to (re)start positively, again. A 180-degrees change from a super-pessimist message to a super-optimistic one. Liked.

  • הפקה מקומית - משפחת אדאמס - וואו!

    לפני כמה שבועות סלי סיפרה שקנתה כרטיסים להפקה מקומית של מגמות המוזיקה והמחול של תיכון מור-מטרווסט מרעננה, של המחזמר ״משפחת אדאמס״. (כל התמונות הן מהתוכניה המושקעת שהפיקו במגמת העיצוב של בית-הספר.) ראשית אומר - אילו היו 90 הדקות מהמהנות שחוויתי באיזשהו אירוע בידור. היה מצחיק, היה מרגש, היה מרשים - ומידי פעם היינו צריכים להזכיר לעצמינו שמדובר בהפקה של תיכוניסטים וצוות המורים שלהם - זה היה פשוט ממש ממש ממש מרשים. תוסיפו לכך שגם את מלאכת ההתאמה לישראל והתרגום לעברית ביצעו התלמידים והצוות - וואו! הדבר הראשון שאמרנו לעצמינו כשיצאנו היה: ״איפה קונים כרטיסים למופע של שנה הבאה? תרשמו אותנו!״ וגם היה בונוס... כידוע אני אוהב ״משפטים מחוזיים״. מתישהוא בהצגה, כשגומז ומורטישיה רבים על משהו כזה או אחר, גומז אומר למורטישיה: על מה שחסר לי בעומק - אני מפצה בשטחיות‎. אהבתי! המקור באנגלית (בעזרת גוגל) הוא: What I lack in depth, I make up for in shallowness. זה פשוט עובד כל-כך טוב. מזכיר כל כך הרבה דברים רלבנטיים לתקופתינו (אבל כנראה שנצחיים ובכל תקופה חושבים כך...)

  • [Nov'21] ToDo: Masters in Behavioral Economics? [Jan'24] Done!

    Nearly two and a half years ago, I decided to start a journey, of going back to school and pursuing a Masters degree in Behavioral Economics. Two years after the program started, I submitted my thesis (a download link can be found at the end of this post). And this past week, I received my Certification of Eligibility. What have I learned? (and please forgive me for oversimplifying things, but my mythological first boss Victor Wrobel taught me to Keep It Simple Stupid): People are less rational than we think they are... (small surprise) People are less rational than they should be... (bigger surprise) People are less rational than they think they are... (even bigger surprise) All of this is true, not only in general, but even in cases where it's economically clear what is financially better for them. Behavioral Economics not only offers a better understanding of these observations, but also helps categorize these (mis)behaviors, helps understanding what and why leads people to these (mis)choices, and proposes methods of guiding people towards behaviors that would benefit them. (* If you want a more-technical one-paragraph version, I've added it at the end.) In one sentence I'll say, this program was all I could hope for - and then some. Thank you Prof. Guy Hochman and Patricia Mikowski-Kahn, for the idea and execution of this program, and the full support along the way. A big shoutout to the Reichman University Behavioral Economics program and the team implementing it. Thank you to the staff of teachers and professors - and the class students - you've all made my journey that much better... Not all students study as good as others - and the same goes for teachers. BUT all students love to study, and do their best to be their best - and the same goes for teachers. So thank you to all of you. A special thanks to my study group (you know who you are!) - you made my studies that much more enjoyable. A final thank-you to my thesis advisors, Prof. Jacob Goldenberg and Dr. Moshik Miller - you made the thesis research process a fascinating and enjoyable part of my learning experience and reenforced another principle my first boss taught me - "always choose to work with people who are much nicer and much smarter than you are - and good things will happen". My thank-you list can not be complete without thanking my better-half and my family for their support and understanding. You made my journey great. (*) Behavioral Economics reveals that people often make irrational decisions influenced by emotions, social norms, and cognitive biases, challenging traditional economic models that assume rational behavior. Central to this field are concepts like Heuristics, which are mental shortcuts leading to biases, and Prospect Theory, which shows how people inconsistently value gains and losses. The field offers practical insights into human behavior, highlighting why and how people deviate from rational choices, and provides tools like Nudge Theory to positively influence decision-making. Its applications extend to policy-making, marketing, and finance, underscoring its significance in understanding and guiding human behavior in economic contexts.

  • My Wish for the New Year

    I wrote this right after the Hebrew new year, intending to post it 2-3 weeks later. Then, October 7th happened. I wrote about other things. As the end of 2023 is approaching, these wishes are truer than ever. Here is the post, as originally written. This past weekend marked the Hebrew New Year, and as is customary for many people (but never for me, at least not until this year), I wrote some new-year wishes. Here is a version of what I wrote... May this be a year where we try hard to understand, and not only to explain. May we succeed in understanding other people, and explaining our thoughts to other. We all deserve better, and I'm optimistic and believe that things will be better. Let us remember, that despite everything, this point in history is one of the best for humanity as a whole - and we can make it better. By caring and understanding we can make a different. May we find joy and happiness in everything the new year brings - and may the new year bring many things for us to be happy about. Shana Tova! Happy New Year!

  • May He Who makes Peace in the Heavens, make Peace upon us, and upon all Peace seekers

    At tough time, people dream. Some have nightmares, some let their imagination fly, and despite (or because of) the tough time, the dream of better world. So here is my (naive, optimistic, unrealistic) dream. It's super simple. An ancient Jewish prayer (at least as early as the 11th century), says: עֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם בִּמְרוֹמָיו, הוּא יַעֲשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם עָלֵינוּ, וְעַל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן Loosely translated (inspired by some formal translations), it means: May He Who makes peace in the Heavens, make peace upon us, and upon all Israel. Amen. I would like to extend this prayer to all people. May He Who makes peace in the Heavens, make peace upon us, and upon all peace seekers. Amen. If you're willing and wanting to leave in peace, with you neighbor, and work out your differences in a peaceful way, and remove hatred and violence from your system - then may peace be on you! Peace has a price. But it's a dream so good, it may be worth dreaming, not only for you, but also for all those who are so different from you. Peace be upon them too - if they seek it. May we be worthy of the lives sacrificed on October 7th, 2023. Let the silent majorities stop being silent, and stand up. And may our efforts be worthy, and May He Who makes peace in the Heavens, make peace upon us, and upon all peace seekers. Amen.

  • Two Quotes by Golda Meir Z"L, Unfortunately all too relevant.

    Golda Meir Z"L, Israel's 4th Prime Minister, 1898-1978 “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.” "If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel."

  • Point of View - Night and Day

    Last month we went sailing, and when I later reviewed the pictures, I had to check and recheck the details... As you can see below, these two pictures were taken in the same location, seconds apart (I didn't realize it until later). The only difference is/was – the direction I pointed my camera. Same world. Different view. "We see the world not as it is - but as we are" (anonymous*) (*) Source of quote unknown. Many theories, no final verdict. See Quote Investigator research

  • ה״מכפיל״ של ״הביחד״ מעלה את כולנו מדרגה

    (*) פוסט קצת תורני מהרגיל - אבל ההבנה והתובנה הנובעים ממנו - חברתיים בעליל... אמלק: ביחד אנחנו שווים יותר - כל אחת ואחד שווים יותר בנפרד - וממילא הסך גדול יותר. בספר תהילים (קכ״ב, ב-ג) נאמר: ״עֹ֭מְדוֹת הָי֣וּ רַגְלֵ֑ינוּ בִּ֝שְׁעָרַ֗יִךְ יְרוּשָׁלִָֽם: יְרוּשָׁלִַ֥ם הַבְּנוּיָ֑ה כְּ֝עִ֗יר שֶׁחֻבְּרָה-לָּ֥הּ יַחְדָּֽו:״ - והגמרא בתלמוד ירושלמי מצטטת את רבי יהושע בן-לוי (ריב״ל) שאומר: ״א"ר יהושע בן לוי: ׳ירושלם הבנויה כעיר שחוברה לה יחדיו׳ עיר שהיא עושה כל ישראל לחברים״. כרקע, חשוב להבין כי בנושא דיני טומאה וטהרה, לא נוהגים לסמוך על כל אחד, אלא בדרך כלל סומכים רק על הצהרות של ״חבר״ - אדם שידוע כמקפיד על דיני טומאה וטהרה. ריב״ל מחדש לנו כי בשלושת הרגלים, כאשר כל עם ישראל עולה לירושלים, אזי ירושלים עושה את כל ישראל ל״חברים״ - כולם הינם בדרגה שניתן לסמוך על הצהרותיהם בנושאי טהרה וטומאה של פירות הארץ. עד כאן תהילים והתלמוד הירושלמי - והחידוש של ריב״ל. אבל מה אנחנו למדים מכך? מה הרעיון מאחורי דבריו של ריב״ל? בעבר שמעתי הסבר יפה וחשוב, שמסביר שאומנם עם ישראל שואף לדרגות הקפדה גבוהה בדיני טומאה וטהרה, ולכן בדרך כלל סומכים רק על ה״חבר״ - אבל כאשר יש כינוס וקיבוץ של העם בשלושת הרגלים, אזי לטובת קידום הערך החשוב במיוחד של אחדות עם ישראל, ובכדי לא לייצר פלגנות דווקא בתקופה שבה כולם נמצאים יחד - אנחנו מוכנים ״לוותר״ מעט על ערך הקדושה (הבא לידי ביטוי באמצעות הקפדה על דיני טומאה וטהרה) לטובת חיבור ואחדות (ולכן נעשה את כל ישראל כאילו הם בדרגת ״חבר״, ונקבל את הצהרותיהם בנושא טומאה וטהרה). אבל בשיעור שהייתי בו לאחרונה הועלתה אפשרות אחרת. יכול להיות שאנחנו בכלל לא מוותרים על ערך הקדושה לטובת ערך האחדות וה״ביחד״. אלא, שנדרשת ״כמות״ קדושה מסויימת. כאשר מדובר ביחידים מעם ישראל, הם נדרשים לרמת קדושה שבה כל אחד נדרשת להקפיד על טומאה וטהרה ברמה של ״חבר״, כדי שנשיג את ״כמות״ הקדושה הזו. אבל, כאשר מתאסף העם כולו (בירושלים, בשלוש הרגלים), הוא מהווה ״מכפיל״ כוח, ומקפיץ מדרגה של רמת הקדושה. ואז, היחידים שבדרך כלל אינם במעלת ״חבר״, מגיעים למעלת חבר - לא ״כאילו״, לא בוויתור - אלא פשוט שכוחו העם, כוח האחדות, כוח ה״ביחד״ - מכפיל את רמת הקדושה של כל יחיד ויחיד - ומעלה את הסך הכל הכללי של ״כמות״ הקדושה אל מעבר לכמות הנדרשת, ומאפשר הגעה למסה הקריטית. ביחד אנחנו שווים יותר - כל אחת ואחד שווים יותר בנפרד - וממילא הסך גדול יותר. זה לא וויתור. זו לא פשרה. זה בעצם האידיאל, הלכתחילה. המצב הרצוי. ה״מכפיל״ של ה״ביחד״.

  • The Genius of Steven Wright

    The Epictetus quotes I posted on May (link at the bottom of this post) got mixed-feedback - some liked, some criticized. I hope this month will work out better. I stumbled upon the following Quora answer by Aime Ishimwe, who answered the question: "What is the sharpest-pointiest thing in the world?" (link at the bottom of this post). * The original answer had 35 quotes. I removed some, reordered them, and grouped them as I saw fit - but I would have found about them without Aime Ishimwe - so thank you! And thank you Steven Wright. Some you'll possibly/hopefully enjoy - but others worth thinking about - and using. And reusing. Stop and Think A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good. A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory. If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something. When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane. The sooner you fall behind, the more time you'll have to catch up. Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it. The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese. Why do psychics have to ask you for your name? A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research. Hard work pays off in the future; laziness pays off now. If you want the rainbow, you got to put up with the rain. Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm. Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines. My mechanic told me, "I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder." Enjoy Half the people you know are below average. 99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name. 82.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot. Ambition is a poor excuse for not having enough sense to be lazy. The hardness of the butter is proportional to the softness of the bread. The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard. Everyone has a photographic memory; some just don't have film. If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you. Cynically Funny All those who believe in psycho kinesis, raise my hand. I almost had a psychic girlfriend, ..... But she left me before we met. (Link to my post with Epictetus quotes) (Link to Wikipedia entry on Steven Wright) (Link to Aime Ishimwe answer on Quora)

  • IMHO, The Best & Simplest Decision Making Tip

    Disclaimer: I found this works great for me. Both in my personal dilemmas, and whenever people asked for my opinion (that was their first mistake 😊). I believe it will work well for you too. No guarantees. (While I have been using this intuitively for many many years, I first heard the formalization of it in a TEDx talk by Prof. Yossi Yassour, with roots in Behavioral Economics. Link below). It works best for two-or-more options, yes/no dilemmas, and requires little effort. Questions such as: Should I buy this property? Or should I continue looking? Should I sell this property? Or hold on to it? Should I accept this job offer? Or the other job offer? Should I leave my current position? Should I cancel accept the invite to the event? Or reject it? (If you have another dilemma you'd like to try, and you're not sure how to apply – please – contact me and let's give it a try.) And here it is – in a nutshell, and to use Prof. Yassour terminology, you should use Passive Decision Making instead of Active Decision Making. Let's take the case of the two jobs offers. Suppose you're fortunate enough to have two job offers on the table, and you're not sure which one to take. Both have certain advantages - and other disadvantages. Not trivial to compare. You like both. But you need to make up your mind. What you should do is the following... Imagine you just got a phone call from company A, regarding job offer A, telling you they are really sorry - but the job offer is no longer relevant. So effectively, you must take job offer B. Are you relieved? Or do you feel you've missed the opportunity of you life? Now, flip the situation. Imagine you just got a phone call from company B, regarding job offer B, telling you they are really sorry - but the job offer is no longer relevant. So effectively, you must take job offer A. Are you relieved? Or do you feel you've missed the opportunity of you life? I dare say, in most case, you'll have clear "feeling", intuition, of which of these phone calls you prefer to get. If you prefer the phone call from company A... then you probably prefer the job offer from company B, and vice versa. That's it. Use Passive Decision Making (a "what if someone made the decision for me" approach) - would you be relieved? (Link to TEDx talk, in Hebrew, with English subtitles. Slightly more than 16 minutes, but listen in x2, it still makes sense)

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