At our Israel on Demand seminar in June, one of our main themes was showing students how they can be positive change agents for Israel on campus. To that end, we invited Jeff Swartz, former CEO of Timberland, to share his experience with us of being a change agent in both the business world and as an advocate for Israel. Jeff described his personal relationship to Israel and encouraged students to share their Israel experiences with others. Telling your personal story, he said, is much more powerful than telling facts. Also important is who you are speaking to, a lesson Jeff learned from President Clinton. When it comes to advocacy, Jeff learned that people can be broken down into three groups: the yesses, the nos and the maybes. While advocates may be drawn to focusing on the nos and turning them into yesses, a better use of your time and energies is to focus on the maybes.
One way Jeff learned to focus on the maybes in his network is by taking them to the Israel. Twice a year Jeff takes business leaders from the United States on a trip to Israel. The purpose of this trip is to demonstrate the benefits of investing in Israel and working with Israeli companies. While in Israel, the businessmen have the opportunity to meet their Israeli counterparts and find common ground with them. Jeff's role is not only getting them to Israel but bringing each participant to see an aspect of Israel that is specific to their interests.
The presentation ended with Jeff fielding questions from the students. Many questions were about his professional background, while others focused on what it means to be an Israel advocate on campus and how to best tell your story. Jeff’s talk left the students motivated and ready to go back to campus to reach out to all the maybes on their campuses.
Click here to watch a video of Jeff's presentation.