An unexpected forgetful week in Israel

One of my New Years resolutions for 2016 was to visit a minimum of two new places that I had never been before and these places had to be somewhere that were not the typical ‘holiday’. As a start up founder holidays are something that don’t take priority, so I always look at mixing time off with a strategy of furthering my network and to learn new things along the way!

I was already fortunate to join Plan Ireland in May with a group of incredible people to travel to Ghana which was life changing. This July I had the opportunity to do something I had never done before, myself along with 49 other strangers  from all over the world travelled to Israel for a week.

This was a trip that is organised and sponsored by the Schusterman Foundation which is led by Lynn Schusterman who is truly an inspiration.

I didn’t quite know what to expect as I didn’t know much about Israel in terms of their culture and renowned history but I just felt like this was a trip not to be missed.

I was fortunate that I didn’t have a huge knowledge of Israel before as it limited my expectations. I arrived on a Sunday morning and from the minute I touched down in Israel I was greeted by beautiful weather, friendly people and food that you could never get tired of.

Most memorable breakfast
Most memorable breakfast

On day 1 myself along with a few other’s travelled to the airport to meet the rest of the group who flew in mainly from both the West and East coast of the States. Even after a lengthy flight to Israel everyone still arrived with smiles on their faces and eagerness to meet everyone! From here we were whisked off to start the adventure that took us into the middle of no where but to then be greeted by a flock of sheep.

At first I had assumed that we were in the wrong place but there was certainly no mistake. We were quickly divided up into two teams and to await further instruction regarding the sheep that were starring blankly at us.

It looks easier than it actually is!

One of the leaders then explained how herding sheep can teach us a lot about leadership and highlight the type of character you are when trying to lead a group and in this case we were leading the flock of sheep.Twenty minutes later 15 strangers had to combine together to direct sheep and goats around an obstacle course. This set the tone for the week.

Each day was designed to teach us something new, experience something unique, taste food like never before and to give us an opportunity to think differently. This consisted of physically building boats to sharing stories that represented life changing moments in our lifes that has led us to where we are today.

Team bonding!
Team bonding!

On the third day we travelled to the Syrian border on quad bikes, learned in great detail of the challenges of Syria and it’s borders, visited and stayed in Kabuts and really understood how communities work together.

The trip begins to the Syrian border
The trip begins to the Syrian border

The 50 people that were on this trip were leaders in their own right whether they are founders, investors, intrapreneurs it all involved a form of leadership. I felt as though this week was a breath of fresh air as it gave us an opportunity to not lead but to be a part of something and to learn from one another.

We had the opportunity to meet with the Jerusalem major who was both inspiring and exciting to listen to and hear his enthusiasm for the future of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was one of my favourite places that we spent time in as the people and surroundings were special and everywhere we went always told a story.

But of course being a start up having the opportunity to learn and meet with start up founders from Israel was really interesting. I admire their determination and relentless behaviour in creating a valuable business.

1 start up for every 2000 people!

It was a memorable week but what made it the most memorable and life impacting was the people on this trip. The team behind this trip are truly incredible and the work and effort they made was remarkable. They managed to bring together 50 strangers from around the world who were strangers on day 1 to now close friendships and learnings from one another on day 7.

Quick dip in the Dead Sea
Quick dip in the Dead Sea

It’s one of the most invaluable networks I’ve been fortune to be apart of. Israel is somewhere that I would previously not have had on my top 10 places to visit but it is now on my top 10 places to return too.