I've just returned from my first trip to MyHeritage headquarters and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. My biggest takeaway has been the new respect I've gained for our parent company, the people that make up MyHeritage, and for the entire country of Israel. I've enjoyed sharing the experience with all of you via our Legacy User Group on Facebook, but in case you missed it, I've republished the experiences below.
Friday, January 26, 2018
Well...I'm off this morning to visit our new MyHeritage company headquarters in Or Yehuda, Israel. Looking forward to learning from and rubbing shoulders with my new colleagues. I'm scheduled to present a training session - giving a background of our Legacy software, our webinar series, and sharing thoughts about the genealogy industry here in the states. I also hear that I may be doing a Facebook Live at the offices. I'll also be hosting our live webinars next Tuesday and Wednesday which begins at 9pm local time. Not sure if I'll be completely asleep or very awake. We'll see. Stay tuned...
Saturday, January 27, 2018
My first breakfast in Israel was yummy - breads, cheeses, tomatoes, yogurt, eggs and more breads. Hotel food, yes, but a great way to start my day. I also have a nice view of the Mediterranean Sea from my 7th floor room. Now I'm off for my first day at MyHeritage headquarters.
Sunday, January 28, 2018
I arrived at MyHeritage headquarters this morning and had our kick-off meeting. The offices are incredible and there's so many good people here! And check out the Internet speeds. Can you guess which one is the MH internet and which is mine at home?
Sunday, January 28, 2018
First full day at MyHeritage headquarters is wrapped up. Oh how I wish every one of you could have been here with me today to learn and experience what I did! You'd be so impressed with MyHeritage. It began with a yummy breakfast and conversation, followed by an intro to the week's activities. We were trained on customer support best practices, what's coming with DNA (it's really big!) and discussed 2018 goals. The biggest moment for me came when Aviram Levi (chief marketing officer) explained that it was something that I shared with him at a recent RootsTech conference that gave him, and the company, a different perspective of how MyHeritage could better interact with the genealogy community. They shared several changes that MH has implemented since then. There's still a gap to fill, but they seem to be genuinely concerned with the genealogy community. It reminded me of my first encounters with our Legacy company and my interactions with the Legacy founders (Dave/Ken) when I first approached them some 20 years ago - MH also seems to be willing to hear our comments and suggestions. Wait...I take some of this back. My actual biggest moment of the day was a brief personal conversation with Aaron Godfrey (VP Marketing) when he shared with me why he loves working at MyHeritage. Aaron shared that his passion is being able to make a positive difference in the world, and that he's able to do this at MH. Immediately the hairs on my arms stood, because I have always felt the exact same way and that I've been able to do that at Legacy. Ah yes, I forgot about another fun meeting - I met with Ran and Regev who will be the presenters at Tuesday's webinar on DNA Matching. They're also going to be talking about their new Chromosome Browser. Join early though, because we're now beyond 2,500 registrants for this one. Now, I haven't slept yet since Friday morning (it's Sunday evening now) so I'm certain I've rambled and maybe the above makes no sense, but I am energized and once again feel that it was the right decision to align with MyHeritage in the way we recently did. They, or should I say "we" have a great vision of genealogy's future and it's exciting to be a part of it. OK, time for bed now. Another full day tomorrow. And Marian Pierre-Louis, I'll be sure to get some good pictures.
Monday, January 29, 2018
Oh boy, I'm glad I discovered today was Monday and not Tuesday.
Monday, January 29, 2018
One of my favorite new words - Sababba - Hebrew slang for great or cool or no problem. I've heard it said many times here in Israel. Sababba!
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Don't read this post unless you're okay with being completely jealous and being happy for me!
It's now Wednesday morning (I think) in Tel Aviv, Israel and I'm now recovering from one of my "best days ever!"
The day began with what was supposed to be a motivational speech to our employees by MyHeritage's CEO, Gilad Japhet. He said instead of that he was going to use the time wisely and provide specific training and feedback. By the time he concluded, I was doing flips and cartwheels inside my mind about how excited he got me. I really wish all of you could be here to see the inside workings of this company and the vision they have for the future.
Immediately after he concluded it was my turn to speak to the company. After such a motivating session, I was extremely nervous to present my part. If I don't say so myself I think it turned out very well. I gave a brief history of our Legacy Family Tree software, our users, our webinar series, and was asked to share how I feel MyHeritage can improve.
After lunch we had a company excursion. (Incredible that a company treats their employees with such respect.) We had a tour of the 5,000-year-old city of Jaffa (where the prophet Jonas spent time) which included a stop at the flea market where I was treated to a local desert - Malibi. Yummy.
Speaking of yummy, our next excursion was to a restaurant where, like the cooking shows on TV, we were split into three groups, had a timer of 90 minutes, and were commissioned to prepare 3 main dishes, 2 sides, 2 salads, desert. We were filmed and judged. And although I was the one who stood out as the one not having a clue what he was doing in the kitchen, our group took first place. The food was incredible.
After a full day, it was back to work again for our Tuesday DNA webinar. I'm not usually awake at this time of day so was nervous if I'd be awake to host, but I think my internal clock has adjusted well enough now. The webinar ended up being one of the all-time favorites. The MyHeritage DNA is today receiving rave reviews throughout the genealogy industry. When Ran spoke about the upcoming 1-to-many Chromosome browser, the chat log went nuts unlike I've ever seen before. And they announced that contacting matches was now free for everyone, among many other fascinating announcements.
I've now just two days left in Israel. Although I didn't think to plan any extra sight-seeing plans into my itinerary, I'm having the time of my life (just wish my wife and kids were here too, we'll have to come back). I don't know how to say it without feeling prideful or boastful, but working for MyHeritage is one of my life's biggest decisions and it's proving to be the right one. They/we have a vision for the future, they/we care about genealogy and genealogists, and they/we are going to reach great heights together.
OK, I'm done. Here's a few pics.
Malibi = yummy desert
Christian church in Jaffa
Part of the marketing team in Jaffa (5,000 year old city) overlooking Tel Aviv (new city). Tel Aviv means old and new.
Me, Ran, and Regev - product manager and DNA scientist after our webinar together.
The wishing wall.
Ingredients for our cooking competition.
Getting ready for the competition.
The final dishes we created. Yum.
Selfie with the Mediterranean Sea.
Tuesday, January 30, 2018 (post by Aaron Godfrey)
After a long day in and out of the office, here's Geoff hosting a webinar while visiting Israel! (It's 9pm!)
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Well, another full day of work today awaits me at the MyHeritage offices in Or Yehuda, Israel and then I say goodbye. Can't believe it's gone this fast. I've made many good friends - my new colleagues have treated me so well. Pictured here was lunch yesterday - hummus and salad. I'd seriously come live here just for the food. So good. I did have to suggest that they try an Idaho potato someday though. Also pictured is a small team I worked with and learned from during one of our markethon sessions. These people are seriously among the very top of educated, considerate, and fun people I've ever known. Thanks everyone for being a part of my journey. Shalom!
With my new friends eating hummus for lunch.
Hard at work with part of the marketing team.
Thursday, February 1, 2018
My time here at MyHeritage headquarters comes to a close. In about an hour I will begin my 24-hour journey back to my home in Middleton, Idaho. It's bitter sweet to leave because I feel as if I have another home here now. The friendships I've developed with my colleagues and with the country of Israel will always be with me. Thanks for being a part of my journey here. I've never been more confident and at peace with Legacy's new home in MyHeritage. And seriously, there are incredible things to come in 2018 and beyond. It's the best time ever to be a Legacy user, a webinar viewer, a MyHeritage member and a genealogist!
The Marketing team and many of my new friends.