“Be slower. It’s 100% ok for founders to slow down and build resilience.”- Yam Regev
Entrepreneur, Marketing Leader
Yam is an ex-farmer, ex-Sayeret Matkal soldier. He founded a few successful businesses and functioned as a CMO, growth adviser, and digital transformation strategist in a few startups and organizations with thousands of employees. Previously, he held the position of CMO at Zest, a company that he co-founded.
Every week we send the same list of questions to a different founder from companies of all sizes. Each week we get new answers, insights, perspectives, and tips on how we all can shine a bit brighter.
1. What is a daily habit you love doing?
My 2018 core personal resolution was to start running 4 times a week.
I hated it then and hate it now. But what I discovered is that when I run, my brain starts opening up to many things: I think a lot about my family and who I should contact that I haven’t spoken to in a while. My baby-brother is autistic, so we usually speak or text messages every day. Then I think about all the home/family tasks I have for the day.
After that, I think about all my personal and professional tasks and I organize their priority in my mind. Next up is all my creative work — I have quite a good social media presence and I try to maintain a solid weekly activity on it. I think about what I should post next and what my opening lines should be.
This morning run, although I hate it so much, tends to be hyper-productive and relaxing for me. Disclaimer — I run 15 minutes a day and then do a small workout, so don’t think I’m a marathon athlete.
2. What piece of advice would you give yourself when you started? What advice would you ignore?
Meet at least two people that you define as 10x what you are. They can be a 10x better business person than you, they can be a 10x better father or mother than you according to your measurements, they can be extravagant entrepreneurs, or just someone who did something that you’d wish for yourself.
Learning from others is the best way to improve yourself and tighten up what you strive to be. The added value here is that you’ll manage to build personal connections that can be used now or at any time. This is intellectual property you are earning here.
Remember that what worked for them will 100% not work for you, though. Adjust what they say to your personal, professional, and business biologies. This is not mathematics.
The worst advice I got is to listen to other people’s success stories and try to implement them as they are.
“Always question everything” is part of my mentality and when working with founders and marketing execs about their marketing initiatives I make sure to keep this mindset throughout the process. This makes me rethink methodologies and assumptions and improve every aspect of my self and professional being.
When you’re at a lecture hearing about “the best way to…” or “how we succeeded to…” — just know that if you copy-paste what they do, you will not make it and you will lose time and resources.
Take this advice with a grain of salt and adjust it to yourself.
3. What piece of content (book/podcast/Ted Talk) is your favorite or has influenced your life?
Quite early on I understood that being an entrepreneur means that you need to sharpen up your marketing skills. Marketing skills doesn’t mean growth, SEO or social media stuff but it means one thing: Understand humans and how the human mind works.
There are two documentaries that influenced my life perception as a whole. These affected my professional-being to the extent that, retroactively thinking, they accelerated my career path progress.
The core element that was planted in my mind is: “Question Everything”
The two documentaries are:
Geekiness aside, visualizing the fact that anything we know and see is questionable through watching these two documentaries shook up my world as a young entrepreneur. I then understood that water-bending is my small superpower and that by questioning anything, I can re-build my own theories about how things should be done.
This is true in the way I act as a father, a husband, and a person, but also in how I pave my entrepreneurial journey, how I do brand marketing, demand gen and product marketing for my own company and others which I consult to, and what I demand from myself and expect from the ones who surround me.
4. What is the most valuable investment (time, money or energy etc.) that you’ve ever made?
I invest 2–4 hours each week to help other people in whatever they need.
I believe that mutual support is a must-have that got lost over the past few years in our society and especially in the tech world. COVID-19 revived this important matter and I think that mutual support is the “next to normal” currency.
I make enough time available to speak with young entrepreneurs about whatever they need, help dozens of marketers to find jobs each month, and speak with many users each month about personal and professional life, regardless of the company I work with/for.
Karma-wise, I’m sure it will pay off.
I urge other entrepreneurs to do the same and help other people and entrepreneurs as well.
*See Adi Azaria, CEO of Workiz and previous Co-founder of Sisense, share a similar perspective on taking time each week to help people grow.
5. Is there a quote, mantra or message you live your life by and that you resonate with? It can be someone else’s as well.
“Good enough is better than perfect.”
Metaphorically speaking, building a startup is like a game with 100 shots. After 100 shots, the game is over. It can be over because another competitor is now building exactly what you built, because you ran out of cash, because something happened in your personal life, because you ran out of motivation, because a global pandemic just outbroke and hundreds of more reasons.
Working in a “good enough” mindset means that you know that not everything is perfect and not everything needs to be perfect. Not your day to day life, not your product, not your tech, and not your marketing. And it’s the shortest way to become more complete with what you do and how you do it. This is happiness in the making and it takes time to absorb and undertake this mentality.
And a mantra I’m now feeling is so critical, especially to the time we all leave in:
Be slower. It’s 100% ok for founders to slow down a bit these days and build their resilience.
Do the dishes
Clean your house
Drink beer mid-day
Call your family and friends to check how they’re doing
Or just stare outside your window and breathe in the gusts of wind
“Slow life” has unfortunately always been the lifestyle we turn to only after a bad thing happens. We’re now getting a unique chance to experience taking things slow and see what benefits we get from it.
The calmer you are, the more resilient your team will feel, the better your results will be.
6. What helps you stay motivated on good and hard days?
As a battle-tested entrepreneur and marketing leader, the actual people who use the products I’m building or do marketing for are the core reason for me to feel motivated more than anything else. The fact that I can impact tens of thousands of people and organizations around the world is what makes me tick.
In most of the startups I’m working with, I immediately ask the teams to stop calling these people “users”. They are not drug addicts but humans who utilize your product to help them do their job better.
They are humans first, professionals second, and only then your “users”. And they are the reason you do what you do. A great example is Gong that calls their users “Gongsters”.
7. What are you passionate about other than managing your own company?
I’m passionate about raising my three daughters as successful women that will have their freedom of choice and feel complete with their life, personality, body, advantages, disadvantages, mental and physical challenges.
It took me 25 years to understand that I have a slight case of ADHD, a slight sensory imbalance and that I’m dyslectic as far as it relates to handwriting and reading long documents (like books for instance).
I had to find these disorders by myself after not understanding why I couldn’t learn in school like my friends and why I struggled to finish my degree in University. I actually didn’t end up completing my degree. Instead, I dropped out and founded a very successful web marketing agency with two co-founders.
With this experience, knowing that my daughters will love themselves as they are is a passion I recently discovered in myself.
Yam’s daughters after another long day of him passing on knowledge to them
8. What have you recently thrown away or released from your life that made a positive impact and why?
A year ago I threw the idea of working late-night hours out the window. I’m trying to keep my working day to 8 hours sharp, unless there is an important activity or if I am behind agreed timetables.
Working late-night and extra hours like 14 hours a day killed me, killed my family, killed my relationship with my friends, and changed my personality. Even though I worked more, I may have achieved less in the end.
Since working in a more mindful way, I earned back all of the above. I believe entrepreneurs should work smart, not hard. This is a marathon and whoever properly manages their schedule, goals, roadmap, and timeline, wins.
9. Share a failure you have experienced and what you learned from it.
I tend to fall in love with the solution. It is a mistake as it is drifting me away from trying to solve the core problem of what a product is aimed to solve, namely.
I’m happy that this tendency is behind me and that my mind is set to make sure that any product and marketing efforts I’m leading are here to support an effort in solving an actual pain. Falling in love with the pain you should solve is the right mindset.
10. If you could have anyone in the world answer these questions who would it be and why?
I wouldn’t go far. I like to keep things real so my choices are professionals who “did it” but they still have their feet on the ground and their answers can help me and others in an actionable manner that we can start executing ‘tomorrow morning’: