Monday, January 23, 2017

What does it really take to live successfully in Israel?

Resa Gooding
Marketing Strategist for B2B Software Technology Companies

While Israel may be one of the smallest countries in the world plagued with a lot of negative publicity, it’s also one of the most amazing places to live in. For those who’ve ever felt that they wanted to make a change in their life, feel closer to their faith, or simply live in a beautiful, diverse country, Israel could be the perfect choice.

As for me, I was born in the tiny twin-island country of Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean – a place known for its pulsating calypso music, and its exotic carnival. It’s a country with a rich cultural history, filled with people that are of Indian, African, Syrian, Lebanese, and French Creole descent.

10 years ago I decided that I needed something different in my life. I decided to leave everything that was familiar and comfortable to me and start my life in Israel, and I can say without any hesitation that it was the greatest decision I ever made. I’ve learned more about myself and others in the past few years than I ever thought possible.

The thing is that I’ve met quite a few people that have considered moving to Israel, but ultimately talk themselves out of it. I’ve learned several things over the past decade that I think are important for anyone considering the move, and I strongly believe that anyone can make this huge step if properly motivated.

1. Know yourself

I learned about Judaism, I attended Synagogue, I even converted – all to try to fit in to Israeli culture. However, what I found was that trying to fit in was causing me to stand out. It was more important for me to be myself. To speak in my native language (English), to be proud of my background, and to never hide my intelligence. The minute I became prouder of who I was, I was treated more positively.

2. Learn the unspoken rules

Understanding the (endless) cultural and religious statuses became an important part of my comfort and the comfort of those around me. This is especially important in Israel, which – for its size – is filled with people of very different backgrounds. Learning and accepting them all helped build a foundation for understanding Israel better, and making sure I understood the behaviors of others around me.

3. Don’t take things personally

As a black, non-Hebrew speaking, non-Jewish woman, I experienced some unique challenges moving to Israel. For example, I had an interviewer tell me that he knew I would do a good job, but that others in the office did not want to work with a dark skinned female.

At first I was offended, but quickly realized it wasn’t necessarily designed to offend. In some cases, the reasons were religious – for example, some religious men couldn’t touch or be touched by women for religious reasons, and they were concerned that I, as an outsider, wouldn’t understand. In some cases it was simply confusion. They had rarely seen anyone like me before, and didn’t know how to react. By learning not to take these things personally, I was able to thrive – and start to break down some of these prejudices in the process.

4. Know there is more than one road to travel

Israel itself was a huge change. But I also knew that there was more that I wanted to accomplish. I had a friend that would always remind me of all the weird, strange, silly, and bold paths I took in the past. I must have tried over 20 different business ideas until I found the ONE. Today I run a successful Marketing and Events Consultancy working with startup companies as well as building tourism and business initiatives between the Caribbean and Israel under CaribIsrael. I’m convinced that if I had limited myself to one path, I wouldn’t have ended up where I am now.

5. Ask for what you want

To achieve success in Israel I had to learn an important skill – asking for something when I needed it. In Israel, no one is going to guess what you need or give you things (including a bigger paycheck!) if you don’t demand it. You have to be willing to put politeness aside at times, fight for what you want, and believe in yourself and your abilities.

6. Don’t be afraid to try something new

Israel is a beautiful, wonderful place. But it’s not without its challenges. Those that live in Israel have learned this, and adapt it into their life. They constantly live on the edge, knowing that there’s no time to get too comfortable, which is why they’re always pushing the envelope in terms of innovation. This culture has taught me how to break out of my comfort zone to take charge of my own life and destiny. It’s allowed me to appreciate this country and my own life plan even more.

7. Be ready to work twice as hard

So often we look at successful people and assume it comes easy. As an immigrant to Israel, I’ve learned how important it is to go into this with the right mindset. If you want to be successful, don’t sit back and ask yourself why others have it so easy - you have to be ready to put in the work, and expect a tough yet rewarding path.

8. Follow the advice of those you admire

Everyone is going to try to give you advice in life. However, one of my mantras is to follow the advice of those whose lives, success, and mindset is what I most wanted to emulate - Oprah Winfrey, Tony Robbins, Lisa Nichols - not necessarily the advice of those who maybe did care about me but were not living the life I truly admired. That's not to say I don't respect the opinions of others because sometimes the ones closest to you reflect your shortcomings. But I've found this simple filter will help take you where YOU want to be, and help you accomplish what you hope to accomplish.

9. Be willing to break the status quo

When I first moved to Israel, many assumed I would want to stay in the Ethiopian sect, since I would feel more comfortable but, I refused to be boxed in. I moved to an Ashkenazi neighborhood, and even though I’m often the only black woman everywhere I go, I’ve found that breaking the status quo has helped more than myself – it’s helped break down barriers for women and people like me.

10. Be open, but respectful of your privacy

When interacting with other Israelis, one of the first things I noticed was how open they were. For a while I felt like I needed to be more private, but the more I opened up, the more others accepted me and began at the very least to respect me.

Yes, Israel has a very unique culture which is a rich blend of history, religion and politics, so to some extent it’s important to keep your private life a mystery rather than be someone that announces it to others. However, there are many times when it helps to simply open up more, let people in, and show that you’re open to developing great friendships.

Start your own path in Israel!

For anyone thinking about moving to Israel, all I can say is go for it. Life in Israel has allowed me to learn so much about myself and to personally and professionally succeed in ways that I never imagined possible.

Always happy to hear from others how they found success in navigating new territories.


Resa Gooding-Eshed is an avid marketer specializing in forming and executing lead generation marketing strategies for SaaS and software/technology companies based in Israel and USA. Hubspot Certified this is the platform she primarily works with and is always excited to be #Hubspotting and getting new clients onboard so they too can achieve their lead generation goals.

She is also a regular speaker at Taglit - Birthright Programs and loves to meet and speak with people considering moving to Israel. Feel free to connect via LinkedIn.

1 comment:

  1. I am happy for you, but do you ever think about the plight, oppression and hopelessness felt by the Palestinian people who are treated worse than animals? Reminds me of South Africa under Apartheid when Athletes and Celebrities would turn a blind eye to the Atrocities. It will take time and horrendous sacrifice, but the Palestinian people will get Justice like the black South Africans did.


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