Introducing Azriel Manes, Director, Hebrew Speaking Operations
Let’s talk about his morning habits, his “Ani Maamin,” his most significant challenge, and what he finds to be the greatest fun at work. Here we go:
I start the morning with: Tefillah for another day of achieving objectives. I mention the staff and the people close to me and ask for their personal and financial success. I take the bus to work and utilize the 50 minutes of traveling to learn a few lines of Gemara and read enrichment books.
I listen to: There was a time when I would listen to Eytan Azaryah’s Podcast, “The Winners’ Biology.” Highly recommended.
Book that most affected me: Hard question. There are a lot. Almost every book I read gives me a push forward, at least a little. There’s a line in Anthony Robbins’s book, “Awaken_the_Giant_Within” that I’ve taken as an ironclad rule for success: Constant and non-stop improvement, “CNI” for short — that’s my motto.
What keeps me going at work: Our ability to positively impact other people’s quality of life time after time, and the outstanding results we see in the field.
And another thing: The business world is progressing in giant steps towards digitalization, while the world of NPOs is lagging far behind. I feel driven not to remain stuck with “the norm” in the field. I like to take the initiative — to take things apart, solve problems, and put the system back together as a machine in which all components (manpower, technology, content, and clients) work in a well-oiled and effective way. When I succeed in doing that, I’m happy.
Your greatest accomplishment: When I joined Mesila six years ago, we used to document every call and every client on an Excel chart and most communications were done by phone. With an average of over 30 new clients a month at the time, this created a mountain of problems and fires to put out. I installed an advanced program for managing Mesila’s clients and their coaching process, including hundreds of automations that saved thousands of manpower hours and resolved countless problems. We also integrated a system of tracking progress of the coaching and quantifying it, so that we could measure the success of our coaches, families, and businesses.
Today, Mesila can handle thousands of clients every month, because we have the infrastructure built in. I’m happy about my part in this.
When the impossible came true: Mesila currently offers guidance programs to chassanim in the finest yeshivas, before their weddings, to help them build their home on firm financial foundations. We do this al taharas hakodesh, with meticulous monitoring of the content and the speakers. This is a project that once looked impossible because of the precedent it set. Rabbis Avraham Malachi and Shlomo Kirschenbaum worked on it for 10 years (!!!) until it received the blessing of the gedolei hador shlita, without exception.
And another impossible thing: The Mesila staff. People with values who are in the right positions. That is the realization of Mesila’s success.
A major challenge you hope to resolve: Mesila has set as its 10-year objective to affect a half million people a year. Their shorter-term goal is to achieve financial independence within 3 years — with the work covering itself through clients’ fees and government/organizational collaborations. That way, we’ll be able to invest donations in new projects to benefit the community. (We have hundreds of ideas on hold…)
Something you love at work: To employ only workers who grow together with the organization, to see the progress of the organization and the people as one entity. To look ahead and see past the horizon, and then to return to reality, streamline procedures, and build a durable system that connects future to present — a system with high impact on the community, as a group and as individuals.
Something from your vantage point: A tip for decision makers in Israel: There are countless programs out there for studies and professional training. Unfortunately, wise financial management is not at the top of the list of educational priorities, even though it is the foundation of success in academics and professional training. Without financial stability, it makes no difference how much a person advances professionally or how much he makes. He can still be snowed under by financial pressure that affects all the circles of his life. I recommend to those decision makers to use the experience we’ve accumulated at Mesila during our 25 years of work and promote guidance and prevention programs on financial topics, by linking up with organizations within the community who have already proven their success in the field.
And if you people up there are listening, then one more little point: The government has a logical tendency to spend as little money as possible on as many people as possible. The result is lots of group workshops for many participants at the same time. But personal, one-on-one coaching processes are irreplaceable and the return from them can often reach 20 times the investment. (That’s based on statistics showing the average monthly profit to Mesila families figured annually.)
Ki MiTzion Teitzei Torah – Something that Mesila can teach organizations around the world: Mesila never stops learning and innovating. We never “finish school.” The staff is constantly learning on the job and integrating the new insights into our programs. To learn is to grow.
The staff at Mesila never settles for the old and familiar. From our aspect, there is no “comfort zone”; we are always thinking of ways to change and improve, reevaluate and upgrade. Every step of progress is a springboard for the next step forward. B’ezras Hashem, good can be better and better can be excellent.
Something that you saw in other branches of Mesila and implemented in Israel: Professionalism is the fundamental principle of our organization. We believe that “If you want do something, do it right” — no cutting corners, taking shortcuts, or sloppy amateurism. The professional work of R’ Shlomo Odze, International English-language Operations Manager, and R’ Moishe Kohn, Professional Manager of the English-speaking Families Department, is a source of inspiration that I am happy to translate from one language to another.
One thing we didn’t know about you: At Mesila, a new administrative method was integrated this past year, in which major moves were made to upgrade the organizational structure, objectives, and decision-making process. This is a method that helps developers achieve their goals. At Mesila, it succeeded remarkably.
I am in the middle of a fascinating pilot to replicate this method from the business world to the Olam HaTorah, along with my brother-in-law, a talmid chacham of stature. We are setting goals, building a vision and core values, and all with the goal of helping him realize his spiritual (and necessary material) objectives in this world. This project is very exciting for me. If we succeed we plan on sharing the system with the public, for zikuy harabim, to enhance and glorify Torah.
To you, Mesila is: Believing in the impossible. Giving hope where there is none. Empowering people to improve their quality of life and achieve serenity and financial stability