10 Tachlis Ideas for Getting Your FB Page High Holiday Ready

It’s Elul and the High Holidays are just around the corner.  Now is the perfect time to get your Facebook Page ‘Likeable!’ How will you use it as an entry point for prospective members seeking to engage in the holiday season, and as a point of connection for current members?

 We’ve compiled 10 ideas to get the conversation going.  Feel free to add your ideas and your social media "New Year’s Resolution" for deepening your community’s engagement.

1. Create a series of 5 questions to ask on your page related to Slichot and Elul. It’s always a good idea to ask at least two people in advance to comment on each one to get the converstion going.

2. Recruit 10 community members to hold up a sign that indicates something they are thankful for.  Post 2 photos a week over the next five weeks on your Page.

3. Ask fans what is a new beginning for them – you can create an open ended prompt in your post, like "My new beginning for this year is…."  Follow up with weekly "new beginnings" updates.

4. Be transparent – show how you are getting ready for the high holidays, including "behind the scenes": photos of staff stuffing envelopes with tickets, setting up chairs, cleaning the kitchen, etc.

5. Share content from Jewels of Elul daily to the page. Hit "share" and ask your own question on top of it. Create a video "playlist" of videos that address High Holiday themes and post them once a week during Elul.

6. Post seasonal recipes and ask people to talk about their own versions of those dishes.  Solicit favorite holiday recipes and memories and encourage people to include photos.

7. Welcome new members by name as they join your community and upload their family photo (with their permission).  Encourage folks to find these new community members and introduce themselves over the holidays.

8. Play "Jewish Trivia" – develop a list of little known facts and customs about the High Holidays and ask questions in a post…revealing the answer later in the comments. Example: Why do some people wear tennis shoes on Yom Kippur?

9. Create Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Simchat Torah Timeline cover photos and rotate them out accordingly.

10. Crowdsource part of your High Holiday drash by posing questions to your community and soliciting their responses.

What is your community doing to get your Facebook Page ready for the High Holidays, and to capitalize on the increased attention during this time of year?


Becoming the Leader of a Networked Nonprofit: The Jewish Enrichment Center

Right before Thanksgiving, Caren Levine (Darim’s Learning Network lady extraordinaire) suggested that I write a blog post about how we think about out work at the Jewish Enrichment Center as a networked nonprofit. We are not a networked nonprofit, I thought. At least not yet. But now, months later, I can see that we’ve come a long way.

Early in our planning, a few of us read The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive Change, by Beth Kanter and Allison Fine. I was inspired by the book’s vision of a nonprofit that’s connected with its volunteers, transparent in its business, and nimble – able to shift internally, quickly, to meet emerging needs. “Do what you do best, and network the rest,” Kanter and Fine told me. As a startup with limited resources, it sounded heavenly to have a community of volunteers sharing the workload. I was hooked.

But I'm not naturally a network person. I'm the kind of person who reclassifies emails as unread, pretending I’ll answer them someday. At the time I read the book, I had never written a blog post, was never chosen by my family to take pictures (who wants a blurry, back-lit photo?), and couldn’t imagine why facebook was a good use of my time.

But Kanter and Fine had held out this tantalizing vision of what the Jewish Enrichment Center could be, and I was certain we COULD realize it in our community, if only I’d learn some new skills – online and off. So I applied for help through Darim’s Boot Camp. How would my much younger sister-in-law put it? Oh, yeah. Best. Decision. Ever.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far about being a networked nonprofit:

  • Listen. The most important thing I can do is go out and listen, online and on the ground. I’ll find out what people in my community care about. I’ll discover where parents are already online talking with each other, and I can join in the conversation.
  • Permanent beta. It’s a gigantic (and rewarding!) task to create an innovative new model of Jewish enrichment. Our mindset has to be permanent beta: what matters is that we stay true to our vision of partnering with children in Jewish exploration. The logistics of it all – they’re fluid. So we experiment, trying new ways to partner and new online tools to build relationships around Jewish engagement. We embed regular reflection into all aspects of our work. And when something doesn’t work, well, it’s frustrating, but also okay, because we knew from the start that not everything would sparkle. We move forward.
  • Be transparent. Speak authentically. As nervous as I was about opening up our work to the public, creating a blog that details our day-to-day partnership with children may have been the single most important step we took in connecting with our community. Those pictures of children really DO tell a thousand words. Parents, grandparents, folks local and national – all can get a true taste of what it’s like to be part of the Jewish Enrichment Center.
  • Listen harder. Because our deepest human desire is to be seen, to be known for who we are. I want every child, every parent, every person who interacts with the Jewish Enrichment Center to know that their contribution matters.

The response has been extraordinary. It seems that the more we share and the harder we listen, online and in person, the closer people grow to the Jewish Enrichment Center and to each other. When I share our needs or struggles (now THAT took some getting used to), people offer their help. Or at least their empathy, which I appreciate, too. We seem to be developing a communal sense that we’re all in this together. Our success is shared success.

We still have a long way to go. I want to do a better job facilitating relationships around Jewish engagement, and I don’t yet understand how to use our Facebook page and tweets to keep in-person conversations going. I also want us to be braver, making even more parts of our organization transparent. For example, I love this dashboard at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and wonder how we might make our own finances and stats more transparent (and generate a little more financial love in the process).

What have you learned on the path to becoming a networked nonprofit?

Rabbi Rebecca Milder is the Director of The Jewish Enrichment Center, and was a participant in the Social Media Boot Camp for Educators, which is generously funded by The Covenant Foundation.  She tweets at @remilder

Social Media: The Illuminated Megillah

There’s a lot of buzz about the increasingly image-driven nature of social media. At the forefront of this discussion is the latest hot social network, Pinterest. But it’s not only this virtual pinboard. Everywhere you look, memes are being generated to better marry words and pictures, kinetic typography videos are turning letters into animations, and infographics illuminate otherwise meaningless statistics. Pictures are the most highly engaged content on Facebook. Where is all this coming from? pinterest boards Image Credit: Thomas Hawk I’ve recently been reading a book by Dan Roam called “Blah Blah Blah: What To Do When Words Don’t Work.” It’s a fun and thoughtful read, definitely recommended. At the heart of Roam’s argument is essentially this: our brain works in details (words) and big ideas (pictures). We’re enamored with words, and we’re very good at them, but we’ve lost some connection with the picture part of our brain. Pictures are primal; they represent the earliest form of visual communication (think cave drawings). Pictures are evocative, emotional. They really are, as the saying goes, worth a thousand words. The image trend in social media is helping us reconnect with this essential part of ourselves. cavepainting Image Credit: williamcromar Just as importantly, pictures help us tell stories. I love graphic novels for just this reason. There’s a big difference between describing a frightening moment, or a sensual smile, or tears of joy, and literally drawing that out. While words help us understand and frame thoughts, pictures bring those thoughts to life in powerful ways. And we need them both – words and pictures work together to give us a fuller picture of the world around us. This is a huge opportunity for Jewish organizations. Words, pictures, and stories – this is what social media is all about…and we’ve got plenty of all three elements to share. Perhaps even more importantly, though, is the opportunity social media offers us to listen to others’ stories; their words and pictures strung together, the way they’ve framed their ideas and the things they care about. Social media gives us the structure to open up in new and meaningful ways, and there’s a wealth of things to learn. So in the spirit of Purim, I challenge every one of us to think deeply about the pictures we use, the words we choose, and the stories we tell. Social media spaces can help us craft our own illuminated Megillah, telling and celebrating the narratives of our people. It can also help us hear others’ stories, if we only listen. megillah1 Image Credit: victor408

Free Agents: Insights from #TakeBackThePink

I had pre-ordered Beth Kanter and Allison Fine’s book, The Networked Nonprofit, and read it within 48 hours of it arriving on my doorsteps. Yet I am amazed by how what I learned from it continues to mature over time, rather than become outdated or irrelevant. Like a good wine or well aged cheese, it just keeps getting better. Of particular interest to me lately is the concept — and value– of free agents.

Free agents are individuals who are working outside of organizations to pursue the mission — organizing, fundraising, energizing. They aren’t on staff, or on the board, or hold any formal volunteer position. They’re just enthusiastic fans who believe in the purpose. In the past, they have been dismissed as either novices who are not committed to working with the system, or risky because they aren’t signed on to “tow the company line” so to speak. In today’s connected world however, each free agent is able to not only spread their message far and wide, but are able to organize and create real impact. While they may believe in the mission wholeheartedly, they also want to be free, creative and engage on their own terms.

The recent Komen/Planned Parenthood debacle provided an interesting experiment through which to reflect on free agents and their work specifically in a fast paced situation. [Note that my participation in this effort was personal, as a free agent, not as a representative of Darim Online. However, I believe that my experience and reflections can provide import insight for the Darim community and thus are worth sharing here.] After hearing the news, my colleague Allison Fine started a Facebook Cause called “Komen Kan Kiss My Mammogram” which has raised over $17,000 as Alison, her friends and their friends passed around the link, enabling people to turn emotional outrage into action. Shortly thereafter, the free agents began to circle and convene. There was a big opportunity to make a difference here. What impact did we want to make, and how would we do it?

Enter #TakeBackThePink, a campaign which, briefly, was designed to highjack the #supercure Superbowl campaign to keep the riled up country focused on taking action to combat the real enemy: breast cancer. We have documented the campaign and our reflections here. Beth Kanter has blogged about it here, Allison Fine here, Amy Sample Ward here, and Lucy Bernholz here. Stephanie Rudat was also a critical member of the team. It was an honor and privilege to collaborate with these brilliant women, and many many others who added their voice, energy, personal stories, heart and brain to the effort too. We were passionate, and we had fun doing it. We were free agents. We were coordinating among ourselves, feeling out emotions, boundaries, strategies, division of labor. And while we were so attentive to each other, we were not also dealing with the politics or policies or pace of any institution. We were free free agents. No strings attached.

At a few points, our potential collaboration with organizations did rise as an option. For example, soon after we clarified that #TakeBackThePink was not anti-Komen but rather pro-women’s health, we sought to spread the word and build partnerships in a way that’s very consistent with our networked approach to working. We learned that Brian Reid had compiled a list of statements from local Komen affiliates in many cases distancing themselves from the mothership, or articulating their freedom to making their own local funding decisions in their region. To me, it seemed quite powerful to align with them — it may have helped add legitimacy to their local brands, and would have helped our message grow roots and spread further. Yet while many of the fighters and survivors (or friends of survivors or victims) in our group felt strongly that Komen funds important research and is not all bad, others wanted nothing to do with Komen. And aligning with us may have been risky for those affiliates as we are (to some degree) unknown free agents, with rapidly evolving goals and approaches, and they were in a risky situation to begin with. As much as our goals may have been aligned, there were too many strings attached for all of us. And in a rapidly moving blitz that was evolving hour by hour across the country, any strings were too much, too slow, too compromising.

The lesson I learn here is that there are different kinds of free agents: regular free agents (those who work fairly independently but in conjunction with organizations) and then there are really free agents who have no organizational alignment whatsoever, but can have massive influence nonetheless. There are also long distance free agents who work on an ongoing basis to make social change, and there are sprinter free agents who pour a ton of energy and time into short term, high impact opportunities to make social change. Interestingly, in the recent Komen uproar, Planned Parenthood found they were long on sprinting really free agents, and it (literally) paid off.

Leaders of today’s organizations should educate themselves about free agents (read The Networked Nonprofit for starters) and think deeply about how to work with free agents on an ongoing basis, and in fast paced environments as well. Millennials in particular are well positioned to be free agents, and as they continue to mature, their modes of engaging and supporting organizations may look more and more free-agent-y. As Ben Wiener said at the 2011 Jewish Future’s conference, “We don’t meet, we tweet.”

Do you think about how you engage with your free agents? What can organizations and leaders do to make their missions and work more free-agent-friendly? As a free agent, what organizations make you feel like you can run and soar? How do others take the wind out of your sails?

The Emerging Field of Network Weavers

After in-depth conversations with around 30 network-weavers in the Jewish world as part of my Network-Weaver Series, I have seen that there are a lot of really passionate people building networks that are quite impressive – and the term “network-weaving” resonates with many of them quite deeply. It puts a descriptive word to what they do in connecting others toward a greater cause; and more importantly, it acknowledges that they are not alone in doing it. On a parallel level, more and more organizations are becoming aware of the possibilities of working with networks that can drive forward causes and campaign, build and unite communities, and provide support and resources that bolster Jewish identity. Yet there is confusion and imprecision in terminology – most notably, the term “network” itself. Once a network is properly understood to be a system of interconnected individuals or groups who share some factor(s) in common, it is not always clear how to integrate work with networks into one’s day-to-day activities. How do we support and strengthen the execution of this role in our organizations, and in the community as a whole? Based on my conversations, I believe three parallel tracks are necessary to make the Jewish world’s already invaluable efforts – in education, social services, community-building, social justice, and on – more effective and connected:

  1. Training: Organizations, their leadership, and their professionals well-positioned to build and sustain networks should gain a greater understanding of how networks operate and how to work in a networked way. This training will be most effective if it includes a continuum of learning the theory and practicing it in action.
  2. Connecting: Network-weavers across organizations need to be connected to support one another, share frustrations and best practices, find resources (including people, information, and funds), and collaborate;
  3. Professionalizing: These steps and others will build toward the professionalization of the field of Jewish network-weaving – which will create a commonly accepted terminology of network-weaving, its challenges and benefits. With this understanding, it will become more standard for organizations to incorporate network-weaving into their job descriptions and their strategy.

The fact is that professionals across the spectrum of Jewish nonprofits are already weaving networks – that is, connecting people with resources and each other for greater goals. Communications and alumni relations professionals and those in outreach, education, and young adult engagement are just some examples. In my interviews, I have observed many common themes amongst those who excel at network-weaving positions. These include a desire to get to know others due to an insatiable curiosity for and fundamental love of people; a knack for retaining knowledge about others so as to formulate helpful connections between disparate parties on the spot; and an ability to employ these talents and others for the sake of driving forward projects, and ultimately missions. Yet while many of the network-weavers I interviewed spoke of the innate and intuitive “people skills” their work entails, there are tools, technologies, as well as theory and strategy behind building networks, which have a firm academic foundation that can be learned and applied. Furthermore, I believe that network-weaving throughout the Jewish world will become increasingly effective as network-weavers learn to practice a greater degree of intentionality – a consciousness first and foremost of the larger vision they are seeking to achieve, and then an understanding of how networks operate and how they can be strategically leveraged toward those goals. The process of training, connecting, and professionalizing that I have laid out will help those who are currently in network-weaving roles to become more effective – as well as those who are naturally adept at network-weaving characteristics (such as relationship-building) and would like to fill professional network-weaving roles to grow into them. This, therefore, would also tremendously benefit the organizations network-weaving positions are housed in, and the Jewish world as a whole. Considering that so many organizations and individuals are currently exploring the path of building networks, I believe it only makes sense to find ways to weave our efforts together. Network-weaving sounds highly theoretical until you try to put it into practice. At the point when talk begins to translate into action, everyone will need to support one another through the challenges and combine our energies and resources toward the solutions. What do you think needs to happen in order for this field to be professionalized? What do you need in your organization and/or as a network-weaver? How have you created organizational change, and what do you dream of for the future? If you would like to be a part of these efforts, please contact me! Deborah Fishman is a network weaver interested in new opportunities to create change in the Jewish world. She was most recently Editor and Publisher of PresenTense Magazine. This post is cross-posted on Deborah’s blog, hachavaya.blogspot.com, as a part of her ongoing conversation series with network-weavers about their best practices. Deborah has published many of these interviews and other network weaving thoughts on eJewishPhilanthropy.com too.

Myers Briggs for Network Weavers

Networks and network weavers are quickly becoming the hottest terms in Jewish life (and elsewhere). Deborah Fishman’s been doing a series of interviews with ‘network weavers’ on eJewishPhilanthropy, The AVI CHAI Foundation, The Schusterman Foundation, The Jim Joseph Foundation and others have been making big investments in not only developing their own network strategies, but also in help their grantees and fields of interest start to work in more networked ways.

Last night I gave one of the first ELI Talks at the North American Jewish Day School Conference (NAJDS). As I sought a “network” image for my presentation, I noticed how different the shapes of these maps can be. In a fascinating discussion with Deborah Fishman we explored different types of skills and personalities in network weaving – those who have deep connections with a modest network. Those who have tentacles that reach far and wide. Those who are nodes, connecting people to one another.

I’m going to hypothesize – I don’t have data on this, and I’d be interested to know if it exists – that different styles of network weavers (personality, skills, training, preferred tools, strategic objectives) will produce different patterns of network maps.

For example, compare the structure of the following: I hypothesize that we could codify these types in some way akin to a Myers Briggs Type Indicator evaluation to better clarify network weaver types. Further, I think that organizations, if they are able to clarify what they want from a network weaver, would have a preferred “type” of network weaver.

In our challenge to develop excellent network weavers, and encourage more organizations to effectively use them, could this sort of “type indicator” help organizations clarify what they are looking for, and help match-make employers and employees more effectively? I wonder to what degree these types are influenced by personality, training and/or experience? Can you train or assign someone to be a type of network weaver, or are they predisposed to certain styles because of their personality? I welcome input, research, challenges here – I’d love your help in refining these ideas.

An Old-Fashioned Writer, Writing in the New Digital World

A relative, 10 years after beginning his Ph.D. thesis, still hadnt finished. Couldnt get it just right. Knew it would be scrutinized. Wanted to make it right; didnt want to be caught in imprecision, or worse yet, error. 10 years. Not finished.

Two years ago I had a similar problem. Trained as a lawyer, being a publisher and editor, I live in a world of words. Theyre important; theyre permanent. I am accountable for what I write, and for what my company publishes. Words will endure. They need to stand on their own, be thorough, be accurate, be complete.

But Behrman House needed a blog, and as the leader of our firm I needed to contribute. To share my views in that informal setting. So write I did, but I did it in my old way: I wrote, edited got it vetted by colleagues, checked, rechecked, sometimes rewritten. A short piece, with a quick thought, could take hours. It just wasnt worth it.

I thought back to my college days, where I wrote a weekly column for the paper. I just banged it out. Every week, one evening. Went the whole campus. It was pretty good. And I had no fear.

So I made a decision: Ill trust myself: write the damn thing, read it once, fix obvious errors, and post it. Simple as that.

So I tried it. Truth be told, the first time I chickened out. Sent it to Dena Neusner, our Senior Editor, who can tear apart and rebuild my writing like no one else, and makes it 30% shorter on a regular basis. She did her magic, and I decided I was done. Posted it. And, next time I didnt even send it to Dena.

Im writing this to all of you who grew up in my world, the world of permanent words, the world where every one of those words is equally important, and permanent. And to all of us I say: Just write the damn thing, and post it. It will be liberating. Think of it as conversation, not a permanent position. (Lisa Colton spoke at the GA of the permanent beta, and shes right.) It will never be worth it to spend a half-day on a blog post, so if thats your standard, youre censoring yourselfit will almost never be worth it to spend the time, and so youll never be able to share your views.

Just write the thing.

PS: I wrote this one on the airplane coming home from the GA. Once, straight througha half-hour. Put it aside for a day, then spent another 10 minutes cleaning it up. Im done. I hope its good, and I hope you find it useful. If not, maybe Ill be more successful with the next one.

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Screen Shot 2011-11-10 at 10.06.10 AMDavid Behrman is CEO of Behrman House Publishers, the leading publisher of textbooks, software, and other educational materials for Jewish religious schools throughout North America. Before joining Behrman House, he was a consultant with McKinsey & Co, in New York, where he served clients in the service, transportation, and not-for-profit sectors, and he also practiced corporate and securities law with Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York. He is a graduate of Haverford College and Stanford Law School, where he served on the Law Review.

Pro-Sumers: New Rules For The Jewish Future

This week I was at the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly in Denver. Embedded in the event was The Jewish Futures Conference, which featured the work of several exceptional leaders in the Jewish community, as well as creative ideas submitted to the organizers, and teens sharing their ideas and projects. The following are my remarks, which opened the afternoon to set the context for presenters such as Chris Lehmann and Tiffany Shlain. Every GA registrant was given a copy of Elie Kaunfer’s book Empowered Judaism, and since I’m interested in you thoughts, and I have 3 copies of the book (I lend it out regularly, and bought copies for my own synagogue’s leadership), I’ll happily pass on the fresh copy I got this week to one person who shares your thoughts on being a pro-sumer, the Jewish future, or take-aways from the GA. Be a pro-sumer in the comments!
Jewish Futures: Lisa Colton

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I’m here to tell you that the rules of the game have changed. I wish I had a nice, neat little book to hand you that would make everything clear, but it doesnt exist yet. I will, however, spend the next few minutes sharing what Id write on the back cover if it existed. At last years Futures Conference we began exploring some of the new rules like how content should be open, remixable, meaningful and relevant, and community building. Today, youll learn a few more. You probably have others which you can contribute with the microphone in your hand (the twitter hashtag is #Jewishfutures), or add in our online discussions after our event today. Youre a prosumer too. Together, were writing the future of the Jewish people.

Today, fundamental shifts in society, behavior and technology mean we must question some of the most basic assumptions that have driven our field, and our organizations, for the last several decades. Over the last 50 years weve actually seen an outsourcing of Jewish education to the professionals in institutions, and the focus on organizations that program the Jewish calendar to fulfill the demand of a consumerist Judaism culture. Looking back, we can see that this is actually an aberration from Jewish life throughout history, where outsourcing might have meant going to someone elses house for Shabbas dinner.

Today were talking about pro-sumers and our emerging pro-sumerist culture. A funny word, perhaps, but a very powerful concept that I think is actually great news for Jewish life and learning. Isnt this really what most Jewish educators dream of? That their students will grab the reigns and take an active role in learning, creating, and furthering their own (and their familys and their communitys) Jewish life? The rules of the game may feel foreign, and in fact may feel threatening to those of us who were raised, trained, and have developed our careers based on a different rule book. But as we challenge ourselves today, I want to acknowledge that these changes if we can understand them and adapt to work in alignment with them are good news.

Individual empowerment, the democratization of information, and the ease of collaboration are defining our current era. These three characteristics of todays culture have profound implications for how build and sustain organizations, how we use our professional expertise, and how we empower the people within our networks and communities to achieve our Jewish communal goals.

While this cultural revolution may be strongly influenced by advances in technology, but its not actually about technology its about what technology has made possible. Clay Shirky, in his wonderful book Here Comes Everybody, asserts that the age of social media means that organizations no longer have a monopoly on organizing. What he means is that individuals can now very easily and powerfully coordinate and collaborate with less infrastructure than was previously needed to accomplish those goals. The uprisings in the middle east and the Occupy Wall Street protests are just two obvious examples of this. But such bottom-up collaboration and organization also manifests in education and the Jewish community. Lets look at two examples.

First, the Khan Academy. If you dont know about it, its founder — who studied electrical engineering at MIT and got his MBA from Harvard — started tutoring some family members by creating short videos to explain topics they were struggling with at school. The Khan Academy now has over 2500 micro-lectures on topics such as math, history, finance, physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, economics and computer science. The impact of this discovery is that Khan has basically flipped classroom and homework time so students can watch the lectures or demonstrations at home, and then do the homework in class, sometimes collaboratively, with the teacher available for assistance anytime. Both Google and the Gates Foundation have made significant investments in the Kahn Academy, and its been featured in a TED talk earlier this year. The Khan Academy is democratizing education through its mission of providing a free world-class education to anyone, anywhere. If youre interested in learning more about the concept, check out the Twitter hashtag #JEDchat, where last Wednesday night a group of Jewish educators shared their efforts at flipping classrooms and discussed the potential impact for Jewish education. (More on that chat here).

Another example is the surge of Independent Minyanim that have sprung up in so many communities over the last several years. The Indie Minyanim really illustrate those three characteristics I mentioned a moment ago: Individual empowerment, the democratization of information, and the ease of collaboration. These individuals are willing to work hard and invest a lot of themselves to have the opportunity to be pro-Sumers. They do not want to be passive consumers or participants. I highly recommend reading Elie Kaunfers book, Empowered Judaism, which is included in every GA registrants bag. The book gives powerful insights into this generation and mindset, which are relevant far beyond minyanim.

While the popularity of Indie Minyanim is not limited to young people, it does point to the importance of recognizing the different characteristics of the generations. While Gen Xers were a hint of what was to come (entrepreneurship, for example, as a way to producing our own I fall into that category), the Millennials and the generations that come after will be even more different. Millienials seek meaning (in their jobs, and beyond), want to feel empowered and trusted, and are really good at collaboration. And they are willing to work for it. After you read Elies book, go study up on Millennials. It will make you a better parent, grandparent, teacher, employer and friend, and will clue you in on how to lead your organization and our community to be successful in The Jewish Future.

So, if it hasnt already been clear, the message here is that the times, they are a changing. In really fundamental ways, and quickly. And while the pace of change may be exhausting and relentless, Im here to tell you that for the rest of our careers, perhaps even the rest of our lives, this rate of change is going to be the name of the game. Youre gonna have to get use to it. Thankfully, weve got a lineup today thats here to help.

Now that we recognize things change, change often, and arent always predictable, we are learning to be more nimble. Perhaps Tech companies did this first, but many have also adopted the idea of the Permanent Beta. We used to spend lots of time, effort and often money perfecting something and then release it to the world. In a Permanent Beta you release the Beta version something well cooked but not set in stone, and then constantly refine it with your users. You listen, get feedback, adjust, listen some more, and continuously evolve. Whereas we used to be focused on the destination, we now embrace that its all about the journey.

I liken this to the idea of Naase Vnishmah a fascinating concept for our current age that Ive been thinking about a lot lately, inspired by my colleague Miriam Brosseau. This comes from the biblical verse where the Jews are standing at Mount Sinai express their acceptance of the Torah with the words “na’aseh v’nishma, which is roughly translated and understood First we will DO, and then we will UNDERSTAND. I think this phrase perfectly encapsulates a Jewish-Permenant-Beta mindset. I encourage you to think about how Naase vNishmah can be a guide for you to step into this new age, experiment, learn, and refine. Because we wont get to the future by thinking about it. We have to DO it.

It has been said about the late Steve Jobs that while he invented gadgets, his real impact was that he changed society. Pro-sumers similarly are moving Jewish learning and knowledge and empowerment into the communal space, not only limited only to the professionals and traditional methods of delivery that many of us are used to. Pro-sumerists are opening up new worlds that we cant yet even imagine. And as communal leaders we stand at a very important cross roads where we can see these new paths as a threat to what we know and have built, or as the key to achieving our shared goals in an era governed by a different rule book.

To help understand this crossroads, Ill leave you with an analogy which I hope will rattle around in your head for a while. Its inspired by Beth Kanter and Allison Fines work on Networked Nonprofits, from a book of the same name.

Beth and Allison talk about three stages of evolution of organizations, moving from a fortress to a focus on transactions, to greater transparency and the embrace of networks. The old model is like a fortress there are insiders and there are outsiders. There is a bold distinction between the producers (royalty) and consumers (commoners). They are divided, and the structures of society are designed to reinforce that division. In the Jewish community, we may find that our language, policies, program structures and behaviors make up these fortress walls. For some, Hebrew might be this barrier. For others, the concept of synagogue membership might be another fortress wall. Regardless of what you think about Hebrew fluency and Synagogue membership, the Fortress model does not work with pro-sumers. Period.

On the other end of the spectrum is a model more like a sea sponge that is sustained by its interactions with the organisms and environment around it. It survives, and thrives based on the flow of water in and out the pores and center tube of the sponge. Its open to the community, so to speak, in nearly every way, and lives in symbiosis with other organisms. This is the model where pro-sumers thrive. Where they can make a positive contribution, where the host organism wants and values their participation. Where information and intentions are transparent, where those who are interested in producing, can.

For example, while my synagogue has a very successful preschool program, a few mothers of infants wanted to gather, socialize, learn and build community before their kids were two and a half. They mentioned it to the synagogue leadership, who empowered them to go for it and are available to support and market and provide space to make it happen.

Because we count you all as very hip and thriving pro-sumers too, we invite you to add your voice to the conversation. I want to float a few questions for you to think about as we move through this event you can engage on Twitter (both talking and listening) using the #JewishFutures hashtag today and share your thoughts in a longer format on the Discussion Forums at JewishEdChange.net. Ive kicked off one discussion topic there, but feel free to start new ones. You are, of course, PRO-sumers!

Now remember, there’s a copy of Empowered Judaism up for grabs — share your thoughts, ideas and questions in the comments to have a chance at snagging it. Just as important as producing is listening — we really do want to hear what you have to say.

Millennial Generation & The M-Factor

imagesAs a twenty-year old, it is interesting to read a book about “my generation” aka the Millennials. The Millennials were born between 1982 and 2000—“sometimes called Generation Y, GenNext, the Google Generation, the Echo Boom, or even the Tech generation—are 76 million strong and compose the fastest-growing segment of workers today” (Lancaster & Stillman 5). Lancaster and Stillman write “The M-factor: How the Millennial Generation is Rocking the Workplace” which is based on a vast amount of research and stories that highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the Millennial generation as well as how the workplace is altering based on the entrance of this new generation. This is a great read for organizations trying to market themselves towards hiring millennial employees, managers working with Millennials, and Millennials themselves entering or already in the workforce. The author thoroughly describes seven trends of Millennials; here is a quick overview along with what I took away from them: 1. The Role of Parents: Millennials have a close relationship with their parents; they look to them as more than role models but as friends and they want their parents to be involved in their lives. Millennials are entering the workforce with less work experience than other generations, mostly because their parents would rather them travel, volunteer, play sports, and be involved with extracurricular activities. This means that many Millennials are cultured and bring diverse experiences to the workplace. This close relationship with their parents demonstrates that Millennials:

  • Work well with other generations
  • Have been coached their whole lives and expect the same in the workplace
  • Need to have defined boundaries on privacy and confidentiality so they will not share private information
  • Want mentors…and mentoring millennial employees will add value to them as employees and the organization as a whole

2. Entitlement: Millennials have continuously been told “the world is their oyster”, therefore if a Millennial is not happy in a position, they might just leave due to their idea of the availability of unlimited opportunities. In order to keep Millennials in your organization, think about recruiting, retention, rewards, and respect:

  • Recruiting: paint a realistic picture, have a great internship program, use technology (ex. videos) to help demonstrate what the org is like
  • Retention: make sure Millennials have enough to do (no ZZZ’s), mix up their work, discuss their futures with them
  • Rewards: rewards don’t have to be big to be meaningful, customization is great, reward while it is still rewarding (In relation to #5, Millennials move at extremely fast rates so if you wait to reward, it will not have as great of an impact)
  • Respect: remember the golden rule, respect goes both ways

3. The Search for Job Meaning: Millennials want to make a difference in the world, be heard, feel like they are contributing, innovate, and know that they are succeeding—so help them do this! This also connects back to entitlement. If Millennials do not have meaning in their work, they are much more likely to leave. 4. Great Expectations: Whenever a new generation enters the workforce, expectations about work need to be re-defined to compensate for generational disconnects.

  • Set clear expectations for millennial employees during recruitment and training
  • Coach on explicit and implicit matters…Since Millennials are entering the workplace with less work experience, they may need to be coached on these implicit matters, don’t assume they know all! For example, how to sell an idea, how to leave an appropriate outgoing voice-mail message, what to wear to work, etc.
  • Transparency—important to Millennial hires that there is a level of transparency both within the organization and to the outside world
  • Manage and communicate expectations clearly

5. The Need for Speed: Simply, Millennials live in a generation that moves at an extremely fast pace and sometimes do not understand why everyone in the workplace is not moving as fast as them. Make sure to:

  • Discuss the speed: For example, sometimes emailing is faster than phone calls however a manager might want a Millennial to make a phone call in order to foster a relationship. Instead of just acting or assigning tasks, discuss with Millennials why you do things the way you do.
  • Manage the pace: It is helpful to define what “ASAP” means and set timelines and deadlines. A Millennial might take ASAP to mean within the next hour when the task really does not need to be done until the following week.
  • Multitask efficiently: Millennials have grown up multi-tasking and can usually do a couple tasks at a time. Let them multitask when it is efficient for them but also make sure they understand why sometimes just focusing on a particular task is important.
  • Efficient meetings: Millennials might have insight on how to accomplish meetings more efficiently which might help to reduce meeting time. For example, using Google docs before a meeting for members to collectively update each other and ask questions so meetings can address issues and new material.

6. Social Networking: The Millennial generation uses social media tools daily, unconsciously networking themselves to the larger online community. Organizations have a lot to learn from Millennials as they have an innate ability to think in a networked way through social media and interpersonal interactions. Be open to using social media tools to network and further your organization and develop a social media policy and strategy for your organization. Lancaster and Stillman also discuss how Millennials find out the most information about organizations online so make sure your website is up to date and full of information to attract Millennials. 7. Collaborating: Millennials work well on teams. They know how to delegate efficiently and choose the person best suited for a task based on skill, not hierarchy or seniority – Put Millennials on teams and make sure knowledge transfer occurs between generations (Millennials collaborate well with other generations also). Lancaster and Stillman’s book is full of pragmatic approaches and they share many more tips and hints for working with the Millennial generation in their book, so check it out! What have you experienced in working with Millennials, or as a Millennial, entering the workplace?