Why I Do What I Do

If you’re here, it means that you have something to say to the world. I want to help you do that. I believe that as individuals, each of us has something to offer that contributes to the elevation of the collective consciousness, to the development of humanity. And when you have the right people who listen to you, your message generates a life of its own.

There’s magic in community; when you gather people around your brand or your message it strengthens the message, and passes it on. But it also creates a unique connection between people with the same interest, people who wouldn’t have been connected if it wasn’t for you and your message.

We all strive for belonging and connection. Communities offer that. I see my mission as helping people form this belonging and these connection opportunities. And my drive to do this comes from my own personal struggle with belonging and connections.

My Communities Story

I started working to building communities back in Tel Aviv in 2000, long before Facebook’s golden age. But thinking about it, I actually started my interaction with communities at the age of 8 – by virtue of feeling that I belonged to none.

I was a strange bird in the environment of the southern city of Beer Sheva, Israel. A quirky, slightly effeminate kid who was bullied by the boys and wasn’t one of the girls. At school I could hear kids laughing behind my back. To avoid being picked on on the street, I usually crossed to the other side if I saw a group of boys coming towards me. Nevertheless, I refused to change who I was, and hoped that someday somehow I’d feel like I belong.

In order to pass my time alone, I built a safe and secure environment in my room. I would listen to the radio for hours and follow all the songs on the British and American music charts. I followed Kylie Minogue and other pop artists extensively – almost religiously. This became my world.

At high school it became easier, because people were more mature, plus students were more grades-focused and I did rather well at school. Nevertheless, as teens discovered sex, I started to realize how different I was from anyone else in my class.

During my high-school years, two major events happened: First, a European TV show I was watching daily, “On The Air with Clive Pearce” ran a “video letter” competition, which I competed in by submitting a video telling about myself and about my city. I won 2nd place. The other event occurred a year later, when the song “That’s What Love Can Do” by group Boy Krazy, suddenly became a hit in the U.S. after failing in the UK a year before. I called the national music radio station and told them I had bought the single during the UK round. I was invited to the station and that song quickly became “my song,” with endless mentions and flirting with the radio hosts.

Both events cracked open my small-town-bullied-boy image, and connected me with media that until then seemed so far away and so big. Suddenly there were places where I was appreciated and understood; I knew that as soon as high school ended I’d leave town. And so it was. After high school I also came out as gay, and although I did have a couple of friends in Beer Sheva, it was clear that we’d have to continue our lives out of this town.

I left to live in Tel Aviv, with no job, no money, no plan, and no friends. I had only one gay friend in Tel Aviv who invited me to become his roommate in order to start my life. It was all so big and so new for me, but I managed to find a job, started going to the gym, and collected friends who liked me even though I was gay – and maybe precisely because I was gay.

2000, after two years in Tel Aviv, was a huge year of change for me: I started working with Tapuz, an online communities website, and my natural intuition for gathering people around mutual interests immediately kicked in. I joined the Forums Management team and together with two great women, we managed over 1,000 communities, based on shared interest. That same year was the first time I flew to London and saw Kylie Minogue for the first time at G-A-Y Club.

Seeing Kylie live for the first time had a powerful effect on my quest for belonging: the majority of the audience was gay (like me), everyone loved Kylie (like me), and everyone was friendly! I was blown away. When I walked back home that night, crying tears of joy, I suddenly realized that that night I felt like I belonged. As I’d gotten to talking to some of the audience at the show, I realized how many of them shared my solitude, my isolation, my searching, growing up.

After Tapuz I moved on to work at Helicon Music, one of the two largest record companies in Israel. I worked in PR and management of artists. Building fan communities and listener-base was easily my favorite part of the work, as I was always very passionate about music. Thanks to Kylie, I understood exactly what fans want and need from their idols, and I helped to establish that for the thousands of people who followed my artists.

I worked closely with the artists helping them understand the power their words and actions had to create a passionate and loyal community amongst their fans. There is so much opportunity there – to drive sales, yes, but also to fill people’s lives with meaning and belonging.

The L.A. Experience

When I moved to Los Angeles in 2009, I started as a Hollywood foreign journalist, and my articles have reached many thousands of readers. What was extremely important to me when I interviewed was to ask meaningful questions, and not just the PR or gossip ones. I was thirsty for quotes that might help people in whatever difficulty they went through in their lives. I was recruited to write the TV and Movies blog for Myspace. The service itself – and the blogs specifically – gathered many fans and naturally pushed them to form communities around their favorite artists. That is exactly where I excel and what I believe in.

Working in the U.S., I’ve tapped into many communities, whether through work with non-profit organizations, or in my own projects. I’ve written my first book in English based on an anonymous blog I ran a decade earlier in Israel, and I’ve worked with both Jewish and LGBT communities. I’ve launched an app-based pop radio service and a blog for gay dads. I’m a voracious reader, always looking to expand my understanding of human behavior and the true meaning of connection and belonging, which to me are the two pillars of any community. This has always been my passion and will always be.

So Why Do I Do What I Do?
I work to help people and organizations create communities where people can come together, find each other, find meaning, and something about which to be passionate. I do that because I’ve seen what it has done for my life and for the lives of so many others. And I do it well for the same reason.