“Are you going?”
“Wouldn’t miss it. Are you?”
We’ve been looking forward to this year’s Temech conference for Women in Business for quite a while – practically since last year’s conference was over. But first, a recap for the ladies who were there, the ladies who didn’t make it, and the men who, nebach, aren’t allowed in.
The Temech Conference (according to the little booklet we get on signing in) has three main goals:
1. To give us the tools, knowledge and inspiration to grow our businesses.
2. To help us form valuable business connections with other women like us
3. To help us gather strength and inspiration for the months to come.
I must admit that I’m coming with no great goals in mind for this conference. I want to learn from the speakers I’ve known before (Rabbi Yitzchak Berkovits), speakers I’ve heard of but never met (Jamie Geller and Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi) and more. I want to spend a fun day off from work (taking notes during lectures and doing interviews during lunch doesn’t count as work, right?). Did someone mention lunch? A classy lunch at the Ramada sounds good, too. In fact, as a work-at-home mom, any lunch I don’t have to prepare myself sounds good to me.
So – are we set? Four of us band together and order a taxi to get us there on time. All of us busy ladies climb in, tell the driver our destination, pull out our siddurim and begin to daven. After a few minutes, one woman asks the taxi driver to stop talking about Itzik. Who is Itzik? We have no idea, but it’s clear from our driver’s cell-phone conversation that whoever Itzik is, he’s in the doghouse. “Tomorrow, maybe they’ll talk about you!” our brave friend cautions the bald, burly man who’s steering, talking and fiddling with the buttons of his radio. Luckily, our driver laughs and changes the subject. He stops fiddling with the radio, too, and gets us where we’re headed, safe and sound.
We arrive a few minutes after the scheduled starting time, but still have a few minutes to sign in and snag a coffee (the one with extra caffeine, please!) and a croissant (is this the one with no calories?) and schmooze – er, network! – for a few minutes before being shooed into the large hall. Naomi Elbinger, the conference organizer (and author of myparnasa.com – the Jewish business blog), greets us and gives a brief intro to featured speaker Jamie Geller – yes, she of “Quick and Kosher – the Bride Who Knew Nothing” fame.
Expecting nothing is a fantastic way to go into a day because you’ll never be disappointed. I expected something better than last year, and not only am I not disappointed, I come away wowed. Jamie Geller is entertaining and down-to-earth, teaching us all about how to build a successful brand. Step by step, she takes us from markets and messages through naming the business, logos, WIIFM (“What’s in it for me?”), websites and more.
“If you remember nothing else from today, remember this,” she concludes, and explains that what makes a brand extraordinary is its “why” – the emotional reason that makes a person want to purchase that item. Simple, right? Basic, too. What’s more, it works.
On to the next speaker: Rabbi Yitzchak Berkovits, renowned posek and founder and Rosh Kollel of the Jerusalem Kollel. (He also taught me in seminary, more years ago than I’d like to admit.) “The Gemara says that someone who wants to join the Jewish people has to be told the difficult things, and also the easy ones,” Rabbi Berkovits begins. “This is because there is no situation that the Torah does not deal with. Everything fits with the goal of coming closer to the Creator.”
“Business law is complicated,” Rabbi Berkovits explains, “and halachah is even more so.” He proceeds to mention a few subjects for us to be aware of, to be careful about. Among other topics, he touches on honesty and integrity, dealing with the government, selling your product, responsible investing, work relationships, technology and more. “Make sure you conduct your business in a way that’s allowed and encouraged by halachah,” he concludes, promising that if we do so, we can be sure that our endeavors will find favor in Hashem’s eyes.