As my term as Chair of Conexx has come to an end, I thought I might share with you a few of the key lessons I’ve learned (or relearned) during my 27 months as Chair.
Lesson 1: If you don’t ask, then the answer is always “no.” We are not the sort of organization where people volunteer for opportunities or challenges. And general requests for help addressed to the entire organization have usually gone largely unheeded. In that respect, we are no different than most not-for-profits. But I consistently have been impressed with the willingness of our membership and Board to pitch in when they receive a personal request for help. If we’re going to continue to succeed as an organization, we have to have that personal touch, and we will continue to need you to step forward when asked.
Lesson 2: Create your own feeling of satisfaction because you’re not always going to get credit from others. Robert Woodruff, a long time CEO at Coca-Cola, famously said “There is no limit to what a man can do or how far he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.” Putting aside the gender issues in this statement, I think it can be directly applied to Conexx: there is no limit to what Conexx can accomplish so long as we don’t mind if no one gives us credit for the work. I’ve had to relearn this lesson many times as Conexx did great work to make connections between Americans and Israelis through business, and then had its role forgotten as those connections matured and flourished. We need to take our satisfaction from the knowledge that we were there at the start, and that the connections may not have happened at all but for our involvement.
Lesson 3: Get your elevator speech ready. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told people that I’m involved with Conexx and the response was: “That’s great. What’s Conexx?” We’ve always known that one of our greatest challenges is to increase awareness of who we are and what we do. It’s one of the reasons that we created a Marketing and Communications Committee as part of our Strategic Plan (and I’m thrilled that the Committee is working so effectively!). But our best chance to create awareness is through our Members, which is why each of us needs to have our elevator speech ready at all times.
Lesson 4: If there is a connection to be made with or for Israeli business, Conexx can get you there. Over my time with Conexx I have been consistently amazed at the ability of Conexx to make connections within Israel and, conversely, for Israeli businesses. Looking for a business that does cybersecurity for utilities? Conexx can help. Want to connect with professors in Israel doing basic research on hydroponics? Conexx can help. Want to understand how to connect with funds that invest in Israeli early stage companies? Conexx can help. We’ve done all those things, and we could do even more so long as our Members act as our heralds and champions.
I have always believed that Israel’s security stands on multiple legs, one of which is its economic strength. As a result, I’ve viewed my work with Conexx as doing a very small part to contribute to Israel’s welfare. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do that. I have no doubt that Conexx will achieve even more under the leadership of Guy and Benjamin Fink.