Jan 5, 2011

My typical day at work

Happy New Year everybody!

Today our superwoman Office manager decided to share with you how her working day looks like at The Gifts Project. Her name is Rachel Adelman and her day is definitely a very full and fulfilling day. Have a peek:

"Somehow over the years I have picked up the reputation for the person that can just get things done. When my little brother needed help finding his first job, I took him to the mall and helped him get hired at a music store. As a placement coordinator for an internship program in my last job, whenever the impossible needed to get done (like dealing with bureaucracy or finding an internship in a new unique field), it was an unspoken understanding that I was the person my colleagues turned to. This ability to make things happen has also been very beneficial here at The Gifts Project, where each day is a new adventure.

My not so typical day:

7:15- Alarm goes off and I hit the snooze button.

7:20-7:45- This happens about 3-4 more times, but I eventually drag myself out of bed.

7:45-8:00- Never sure where the time goes. I’m definitely awake at this time, but usually I end up organizing my apartment (dishes from the day before, laundry, etc…) or am in front of my computer scanning all the headlines. This is a habit that I can’t seem to break. I am a total news junkie. It is a byproduct of being a student of Political Science. There is nothing worse than getting to class and not knowing about some huge crisis that is going on in the world. After a while it becomes addictive to read the news and to always be ‘plugged in’. So you keep doing it, even when you haven’t been on call to start a political debate at any given moment of your day for over a year and half.

8:00- Realize that I have 15 minutes before I have to leave the house and jump in the shower and try to get ready as quickly as possible.

8:26- Leave the house

8:31- Watch the bus pass by me and then start running down the street in heals hoping that I catch it.

8:33- Get on bus number 5 and start my journey from the old north neighborhood of Tel Aviv, down Dizengof to Rothchild Blvd where the Gifts Project is located. The passengers on bus number 5 represent a microcosm of Tel Aviv. It is a true Margate Mead experience and you can really feel the essence of this city on this particular bus line. For those of you who take or have taken that bus, you know exactly what I am talking about. There are the kids dressed in gothic clothing, businessmen in a full suit, high-tech employees in jeans and a t-shirt listening to their iPods, tourists, foreign workers, elderly, school children, soldiers on their way to the central bus station and here and there you have people coming home from being out the night before (or that is at least the assumption I make after looking at what they are wearing). I love people watching, so despite the fact that the bus takes the longest route possible from my house to Rothchild Blvd., there is always something to keep me entertained. And when there isn’t I always can connect to Internet via 3G and read more news and emails.

9:00-9:13- Arrive at work and thank G-d every time I enter the elevator and see that the floor we work on is still locked, meaning that I am the first one there, since I’m late and don’t want anyone to know. The truth is that I love coming to work. I just hate getting up in the morning, so I find myself running late most days, no matter what time I set my alarm.

9:15-10:00- Drink coffee, read emails, make a list of things I need to do that day, scan the headlines of the tech news, and most importantly greet all the gifters as they walk through the door. I know they work really long hours, so I try as hard as possible to be a beacon of energy and always smile. I know it may sound cheesy, but I definitely feel like it makes a difference. Usually Ron arrives first, after that Yon, then Erez (Erez is actually a tricky one- he either arrives before me or after Yon- I sometimes wonder if Ron sends him early to check me from time to time J) Maya, Danni and Marti, Berry and then Gartner all the way from Hod HaSharon.

10:00- The real beginning of my day at work. Like I said, I love my job. Perhaps it is because I work in a startup, but every day is really filled with a new adventure. I don’t really do anything that is typically secretarial. I don’t make coffee and most people who call, call Ron, Erez, Maya and Berry directly. I also don’t schedule meetings because they like to do that for themselves. What I do do, is make sure that it is fun to work at the gifts project. I feel like I am learning how to be a good Jewish mother. I make sure the boys always have yummy snacks and food in the refrigerator and plan all sorts of cool surprises.

Aside from fun, I take care of all the details. When I first started working here Ron gave me a list of 53 things that needed to get done around the office, but he just didn’t have time for. I am proud to announce that yesterday I finished the list, when Avi the guy that custom makes our chairs came to fix an arm that broke and gave us a complementary lesson regarding the proper way to sit which will cause less back problems and also allow us to strengthen our stomach muscles while we are in front of the computer. If that isn’t added value, then I don’t know what is!

While I won’t go into detail regarding every item on this list, the following is an example so you can get a better idea of what I have been up to:

1. Buy new desks (this went through various stages- shopping at IKEA and on Herzl Street to find the perfect desks for our Cyber Ninjas)
4. Set up ethernet connection so we can stop connecting via wireless
10. Copy Elevator Keys (there are only 2 people in all of Tel Aviv that know how to copy the keys to our elevator since the lock is probably as old as Israel itself- Rothchild and the whole preservation project of Bauhaus architecture apparently also is relevant for elevators and not just the exterior)
13. TGP Anniversary Party – I found someone in Israel that was able to make a cake with sugar figurines of the munchkins and Floyd (you can see pictures on our facebook page).
22. Get a copy of the key to a storage room on the same floor as our office, which happens to be home to our communications hub. This was no simple task since the owners of that storage room were not keen on this idea at all. I think giving them a Floyd sticker and bribing them with expense chocolates was what really helped me finalize the deal.
45. Build a Barcony. Building a barcony is a must for every company with a balcony. We have this amazing balcony with a view of Rothchild Blvd (which I will tell you more about soon), yet we had no real way of enjoying this important feature in our office. We built a bar on the railing and I bought bar chairs from IKEA and now we can have really cool coffee and lunch breaks outside. I think that this is by far the best thing I have done up until now. It has improved quality of life for all of our employees. I know that for me personally, the balcony has increased my moments of joy each day by at least 20%. If you are ever on Rothchild, you are welcome to come have coffee on the barcony and experience this for yourself.

11:00- I leave to do errands. What is great about my job is that I am never just in the office all day. There is always somewhere that I need to go- bank, post office, IKEA, computer store, office depot, pharmacy (we can’t have sick gifters) and more. Most errands are so I can be one step ahead of everyone else- making sure that the office is stocked with all necessary supplies, bills are paid and that no one ever says, “I wish we had …” without it appearing in the office the same day. Sometimes I even read people’s minds and appear with what they wished before they said it out loud. Since for all intents and purposes, it is still summer in Israel, I am more than happy to stroll up and down Rothchild Blvd from place to place. Rothchild is my favorite place in all of Tel Aviv. Architecturally, historically and culturally it is one of the city’s gems. Before I worked here, I always came to the Blvd on days off to drink coffee and soak in the atmosphere. So you can imagine how glad I am to be able to do this every day. There is just one thing that I have to admit that is still a huge mystery to me. No matter what time of the day I get to the office, leave for errands or lunch, or go home, the coffee shops are always filled. Can someone please tell me what these people do for a living that they can sit in coffee shops all day?

The coolest errand I ever ran was going to our amazing graphic designer’s house to drop off a birthday present. Since we are in the business of gifting, there is nothing more important to us than making sure that all of those around us not only get the full experience of giving gifts, but also experience the moments of joy associated with receiving the perfect gift. My favorite part of gifting is surprising the recipient. I left the gift with a neighbor, so I didn’t get to see the look on his face when he opened it, but I know from the email we received afterwards that our mission was accomplished. We added a moment of happiness to the recipient’s day and he really appreciated our gesture. This in turn gave us a moment of joy. If you are wondering, yes the gift was a group gift :) What can I say – being in the business of gifting is actually being in the business of increasing people’s overall moments of joy in life.

12:00- The Lunch Ceremony. I get back to the office and then we start the “where are we going for lunch?” discussion. Despite the fact that we are a relatively small company (for now), it is the most challenging moment of the day to come to a decision regarding where to eat. There are several things that complicate the issue- actually two specific people who I will not mention their names. Let’s call them David and Adam (their names have been changed to protect their identities). David is a hard core vegetarian and Adam only eats meat. Eventually we come to a compromise, but it is not without a full on battle. It can get even more complicated when we decide to split via department or gender. Luckily I have a degree in Government, Diplomacy and Strategy and can use my conflict resolution skills to make peace. Once we have decided where we are going to go, another tricky issue arises. Between the declaration of intent to eat to the time where people actually act on this urge, it can take up to a half an hour. Everyone says that they are hungry and ready to go out, but somehow everyone still sits at their computer typing away, waiting for someone else to get up first. Then a few people get up, stand at the door and wait, yet others continue to work, so the originally people that took the brave move of leaving their desks, end up back on their computers.

13:30- The whole lunch ceremony is over and then I have 1.5 hours to finish up my work for the day. I usually dedicate the afternoon to projects- content writing, market research (yes I’m a nerd and love to research) and community management for our facebook pages and twitter handles (which gives me a legitimate excuse to be online all day long).

15:30- I realize that I was supposed to leave a half hour ago—sometimes they kick me out of the office since I’m here past when I am supposed to be and sometimes they are just so busy working, they don’t notice.

16:00- I get on the bus and head towards one of what I like to call my “after school” activities- volunteering with African Refugees or other organizations I volunteer for, alumni association meetings, and attending lectures. Otherwise known as my “second shift”. One of the reasons why I took this job, was so that I could continue to be socially active. I feel like I have the best of both worlds. I get to be a part of the startup nation by day- living and breathing the world of entrepreneurship and innovation and then by night I work hard to make Israel a society that I can be proud to live in. While this country has some of the most creative minds in the business sector, running world class companies, the public sector doesn’t have the same bragging rights. Far from it even. It feels sometimes like civil society is crumbling under our feet and we don’t realize how bad it is, because the history of our country is to go from one crisis to the next, putting out fires, rather than focusing on social policy that will help make a long term change.

There are countless non-profits in Israel, working on countless social causes. I have volunteered with many including an after school program for gifted children from low socio-economic neighborhoods, an organization that works with the elderly, national service program for post-high school students, a school for autistic children, and the list goes on. I chose to dedicate my time most recently to the plight of African asylum seekers and refugees in South Tel Aviv. Unfortunately this population is the weakest in our society today as they have no status and no voice. The Israeli government has kept a policy of no policy and does not check asylum requests. Over the years, the number of asylum seekers has increased with now close to 1000 crossing the border from Sinai each month. There is an estimated 30,000 African asylum seekers and refugees living in Israel today, mostly from Eritrea, Sudan and Darfur. Recently thing have become more difficult, as the Ministry of Interior began explicitly printing on their temporary visas that they are not allowed to work, therefore have no legal way to support themselves. At the same time the government has also said that they will not enforce this policy, however it still leaves asylum seekers at the mercy of employers who are willing to hire them. Asylum seekers do not have the right to national health care, therefore only when they get sick enough to be hospitalized can they receive medical care, as hospitals are not allowed to turn them away, even if they cannot pay the bill. The organization I volunteer for, ASSAF, provides social and psychological services for asylum seekers and refugees. I am involved with giving orientation lectures and tours, helping new comers understand their surroundings and Israeli culture. In addition I am part of the PR team, giving lectures and tours to Israelis and foreigners interested in this issue, and community management for our facebook page.

Most recently, I also helped organization a demonstration, in which over 1500 asylum seekers and Israelis participating in, calling to stop the building of a detention center for refugees in the Negev Desert.

I continue to be active with this team of volunteers to advocate together with the asylum seeker community for their rights and to help Israelis better understand who they are, as the Israeli government has worked very hard at branding them as infiltrators and work migrants. In addition, we are working together to create policy suggestions which will provide pragmatic solutions for this problem.

21:00- Get home from my ‘evening shift’ and get ready to go out with friends. I like to work hard, but the most important thing in life is finding a balance between work and play. I make sure to take advantage of Tel Aviv’s fabulous night life as often as possible.

00:15- Realize that my alarm on my phone is going to wake me in 7 hours and counting and start to walk home

01:00- Go to bed and dream about gifts, making the world a better place and the next day that awaits me."


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