No, â€œCrocs & a T-Shirtâ€ is not the name of some up and coming indie band from Bensonhurst. Itâ€™s the unavoidable truth that helps describe and even define the high-tech scene in Israel, as well as practically every other field, now that I think of it. Except for maybe the IDF General Staff or the Cabinet. Maybe. I donâ€™t know about you, my dear, but when I hear â€œflip flopsâ€ I immediately think of this:
But in Israel, it is part of our informal culture and society. We canâ€™t live with it and we can’t live without it.
While our high-tech geeks, even the executives and CEOs dress like teenagers on vacation with their parents, it would be foolish to underestimate their skills and abilities. As part of my job with Hitech StrategiesÂ Â I get to hear hundreds of pre-pitches, All kinds of high-tech start-ups come to us for a variety of consulting services (the newest package, for only $5,000, includes a night out with me, ladies and gentlemen!). I wonâ€™t lie; during the first few meetings, I was quite taken aback by how casual it all was: noshing on baigaleh, making silly/obscure pop culture references, telling stories and jokes, being extremely straight-forward and brutally honest, and of course, the inevitable, predictable, unavoidable crocs and a t-shirt that are worn time after time, like some kind of uniform. That being said, it didnâ€™t take long for me to adjust and adapt. Now, we start every meeting with a shot of whiskey – it helps with the conversational flow and allows me to be less conscious of the horrific footwear.
(As cool and down to earth as my bosses are, I still haven’t really managed to convince them of the benefits of Whiskey in every meeting… single malt, delicious, delicious single malt. Lets just say it’s more of an aspiration) Even while sober, I love our meetings, because I get to hear such amazing ideas and meet such creative and talented people. Also, I put my MBA skills to work by asking questions that nobody else thinks of, or adding some psychological interpretations sometimes overlooked by some of these highly technical individuals. One way to view them:
The only thing missing from this list: I wear FLIP FLOPPYS where no man before me has dared. I am still waiting for a start-up team that will invent a food called â€œFat No Moreâ€: the more you eat, the skinnier you get… and it tastes delicious! Please work on it, guys. Thanks much. I especially love the use of the term â€œThe Valleyâ€. Coming from LA, the valley means the San Fernando Valley, or maybe even Simi, if youâ€™re pushing it. In Israel, people freely and commonly use the term when speaking about Silicon Valley. You know, they say something along the lines of, â€œWe are going to the Valley in three months to pitch to investorsâ€ or possibly, â€œMy friendâ€™s husband moved their whole family to the Valley last year.â€ In the high tech world, when they say this, they are not talking about Tarzana or Encino.
In conclusion, I love this country. Here’s an explanatory anecdote: A short while back, after dancing the night away at the Namal, I went with a group of friends for a late night, healthy burger snack. Donâ€™t worry, I had half a burger. Very responsible of me, no? We sat down to indulge at the delicious Â Agadir at 3:30 am, and when the famous Zohar Argov song came on (Zohar Argov)Â , literally every single person in the restaurant started clapping and singing. Even the girl I met that night who was depressed about some guy (she wouldnâ€™t stop talking about him all night … oy) smiled and joined the choir. Whether in a meeting with high-tech start-ups, or out dancing with friends, you just canâ€™t miss the the crocs and t-shirt phenomenon; so, if youâ€™re coming to the Holy Land hoping to score a job in the sizzling hot high tech sector, come prepared! Bring your crocs, and give away your tailored, Riley collared shirt with the French cuffs. Loosen up, crocs and t-shirt isn’t just a fashion faux pas, it’s a way of life.