Immigrant actor finds his stage in the business world

Michael Weitz offers business executives training on how to improve their overall "performances" in the workplace.

September 17, 2007 23:45
2 minute read.
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If, as William Shakespeare famously wrote, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players," then new immigrant Michael Weitz may just have found the perfect career to import to Israel. Trained by the US-based Actor's Institute and accredited by the International Coaching Federation, Weitz, 30, has translated his skills as an actor, director and producer to the corporate world and offers business executives training on how to improve their overall "performances" in the workplace. "It's about power and presence," says Weitz, who arrived here two weeks ago and is in the midst of apartment hunting in Tel Aviv with his Israeli-born girlfriend, Mor. "There are no books to read or notes to take but rather practical exercises." Weitz, whose work with the Actors Institute includes running workshops for large corporate clients in the US and Europe such as American Express, Lloyds of London, Merill Lynch, Boston University and the London Business School, will continue his hybrid form of life coaching from Israel and travel mostly in Europe. "Until now most of the [Institute's] coaches work out of New York; I will be the first person to commute from Israel," he says, adding quickly that this theater-based coaching differs significantly from life coaching or executive coaching. It falls somewhere in the middle, says Weitz, who was born in Savannah, Georgia but has spent the last five years living in New York. "Life coaching is paid for and designed by the individual and executive coaching is about improving the company. What we do is to deal with the business person but also focus on that person as an individual." The service purposely has no official name because "we don't want our clients to put themselves in boxes," he says. "What we do is unique - some people refer to us as creativity consultants," says Weitz, who also coaches a handful of people privately. "We use exercises from the theater to highlight certain principles. We look at how the executive can engage the audience in the storytelling." Asked whether the fictional, sometimes deceptive, world of acting might in fact conflict with good business practice or ethics, Weitz responds with conviction: "There is always this assumption that actors hide themselves or lie, but in reality the opposite is true. Really great actors don't lie when they are on stage but instead bring out a very true and real side of their personality that most people don't see everyday. "We train executives to stop sugar coating things. Sometimes at work, people feel the need to be someone else but we give them permission to bring the real person, the person they are at home, to the office." While initially Weitz plans to continue working internationally from here, he is hoping that further down the line, after he finishes learning Hebrew and getting acclimatized to his new homeland, he will be able to offer his services to Israeli companies too. "My aim is to work with people who are interested in operating in the world markets," he says. "I have already started to do market research into whether this will work here."

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