Wisdom 2.0 seeks to bring mindful corporate culture to Israel

Group promotes "mindfulness" at work; six years after its debut in San Francisco, it is holding its first conference in Israel.

JOURNALISTS AT work at their desks. (photo credit: REUTERS)
JOURNALISTS AT work at their desks.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Michal Hiss-Oshman, the Israeli who is in charge of Learning and Development at Facebook in London, disapproves of the term "work-life balance."
“I’ll never feel balanced between the two of them," she says. She prefers the terms "work-life integration."
Hiss-Oshman, who is back in her mother country to speak at the Wisdom 2.0 conference in Tel Aviv Thursday, believes that the relationship between corporate and worker needs to change if companies are to remain productive, and employees sane.
"A couple of weeks ago I was reading my son a book, and behind the book I was hiding my iPhone and responding to messages. They were not important or urgent, but I couldn’t bare the thought of not replying," she said. It was only when her husband caught her that she realized the absurdity of the situation. "This is wrong!" she said.
Wisdom 2.0 is a group that promotes "mindfulness" at work, and six years after its debut in San Francisco, it is holding its first conference in Israel.
"This is the future of work", says Yaakov Lehman, organizer of the event. "If you want to engage the growing base millennial-aged knowledge workers, mindfulness, compassion, and creativity better be on your radar.”
The conference pushes back on how the onslaught of technology can force people to be connected to work 24/7. The basic philosophy behind it assumes that being mindful of such issues can make employees happier and more productive because they will be less likely to burn out.
Though it may sounds like a new-age, hippy dippy love-fest, or some sort of corporate Woostock, the event regularly draws serious executives from the most important tech companies in the world. Aside from Facebook, Thursday's event includes speakers from Google and LinkedIn, plus Israeli companies Glide and MadMimi (which was acquired by GoDaddy).
“I’m not hippy dippy. I don’t do yoga and I don’t meditate. But my career experience, where companies tried to fit me into a box and tell me how I should be my best self, drew me to this conference,” says Hiss-Oshman.
At Facebook, she says, her experience was better than in previous corporate jobs. Her supervisor asked what was important to her, and she found herself telling him about being Jewish and her weekly Shabbat candle lighting ritual.
"He was like 'no problem, leave when you need to on Friday to get home for Shabbat,' and every week he sends me a message saying Shabbat Shalom," she says.
“A lot of companies think about the sexy things, the free food and things like that, but this is what really makes a difference,” she added.