16 Leadership Activities from Israel - OkDork.com

16 Leadership Activities from Israel

2 years ago, I was at a dinner party when someone told me about a free business trip to Israel.


Your boy couldn’t wait to sign up. 🙂

The business trip was called the Schusterman REALITY Tech trip.

It’s a one-week trip to Israel with 50 other people who applied, and I got accepted this year.

Even though the trip is to Israel, it’s not just limited to Jewish people.

50% of the attendees weren’t Jewish.

The 50 attendees included:

  • People who sold multiple successful businesses
  • A vice president at Nike
  • An entrepreneur who met the Pope

One of the biggest things we talked about was how to be a better leader.

Today I’m sharing 16 of the leadership activities I learned:

  1. Goat workshop. This is hard to do unless you have goat or sheep but the very first thing we did is try to lead goats from one place to another. Like a Shepherd. I won’t spoil it but we assume most leadership is from the front, you may need to challenge your assumptions.

    Goat herding
  2. Nights out. This was the most powerful activity we did. They dropped us off in the middle of the desert and gave us two rules:
    • You must talk to yourself outloud for 10 minutes
    • You can’t stop talking
    • Go find a park, yard or anywhere quiet to do this. I was shocked how talking to myself outloud gave me so much clarity.

  3. “You can talk to me about…” This was the first thing we did when we arrived. You introduced yourself and then said, you can talk to me about: X and Y. I said magic and bicycles. It was a great thing to share so people could easily approach you about a topic.
  4. Artifacts. This was very powerful and intimate. You had to bring an artifact or picture of an artifact that represented a major point in your life. I brought my dad’s Shabbat candle holders and a picture of my bikes. Then you shared the stories behind them.
  5. Hippy breathing. We did this on the top of Massadah. Stephanie (who literally is the nicest person I’ve ever met) led this, and you’d do 3 breaths from the stomach, heart, and mouth… Do it rapidly for about 1-minute. You get light headed and pretty euphoric.
  6. Birthdays. Have everyone guess the likelihood anyone else in the group has the same birthday as themselves. Then ask what’s the minimum amount of people you need to have 2 people with same birthday. Then go around and have everyone say their birthday. (It’s 23 people btw.)
  7. Do a leadership dilemma challenge. Each person gets 15 minutes to share their challenge and get feedback about it.


    • Introduction - 4 min - about situation as questions
    • Clarifying - 4 min - ask questions to really understand
    • Duck tape - 4 min - main person is silent
    • Integration and dialog - 3 min - closure
  8. Build a raft together. Do some type of group activity where you have to self-organize. We were in groups of 8, given a guide book, and told we had 30 minutes to build a raft with 4 barrels, rope, and some logs. I’ve never been a part of the group where I don’t take over as leader so to be with a bunch of other Type A people and figure out how to work together was interesting. Biggest takeaway was do more planning ahead and then debrief after the experience.
  9. Eye staring. This is advanced and quite uncomfortable. With someone else stare in their eyes for 30 seconds. You connect and learn a tremendous about another person even when you don’t say a word.
  10. Push ups or calisthenics. Every Monday at 10am at Sumo we do calisthenics. I learned it from a friend who worked in Japan. It’s great way to unite the team and start Monday with a little blood flow. As well we do a single clap at the end where we have to be in unison before the meeting can adjourn. As well, during calisthenics we do a pushup and then hold it. Hold it longer than you think. Most people can do more than they can imagine.
  11. What kind of leader are you? On the beach they used a bible reference of Moses, Joshua, Miriam, and Sara. I don’t know shit about the Bible but the idea was each of us has a leadership style:

    • Moses - Visionary. They have ideas about where to go.
    • Joshua - Operations. They make sure shit happens.
    • Miriam - Cheerleader. They are supportive and help everyone stay positive.
    • Sara - Spokesperson. They let everyone internally and externally know what’s happening.
  12. Compliment and hug. Get in small teams and have each person compliment the others and then hug them. Awkward yes, powerful, hell yes.
  13. Sad time you were grateful later. Share with another person about a time that was sad, but later turned out to be a situation that you were grateful.
  14. Favorite memory with your family. Mine was at 6 years old when I was eating strawberries and whipped cream at a buffet in San Francisco. Yours?
  15. Bless one person in this group. Go around and bless something positive for another person on your team.
  16. Perceptions. We did this at the end of the trip where you went around in small groups and asked what you thought of the person before and now. Super interesting. Major takeaway is to be the person people perceive you as when they first meet you.

You never know what you’re going to get out of different experiences. I’m very grateful to go on the trip and hope you got something out of my notes.

Group shot #2

“Reflect every morning what a great life looks like then ask yourself what is holding you back from greatness.”

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23 responses to “16 Leadership Activities from Israel”

July 6, 2018 at 9:00 pm

It sounds like a beautiful experience. Thank you for sharing the lessons taught and learned, they are transferable beyond leadership.

Nigel Elder
June 29, 2018 at 5:18 am

Is that photo taken in the main street in Jaffa?

June 20, 2018 at 12:07 am

I don't have much to say other than this sounds fucking cool.
This sounds like a REAL leadership training course vs. sitting a room talking about it.
Thanks for sharing your experience about this. It's piqued my interest, for sure.

Russ hamilton
June 18, 2018 at 9:06 am

“Reflect every morning what a great life looks like then ask yourself what is holding you back from greatness.”

I like this quote and agree with its challenge. I know super successful people with a shitty life-hate their wife, kids are on drugs. Then there is this guy at the parking lot toll booth, and he is the most pleasant person I’ve met.

We can achieve great things in life, but we have wasted our lives if we do not treat others greatly.
This is what I must review each morning-who’s life can I help today? Then actually do it.

June 17, 2018 at 10:12 pm

"Then ask what’s the minimum amount of people you need to have 2 people with same birthday....It’s 23 people btw. "

It seems you left out part of the explanation here. As written, the answer is 2. Or 364 depending on interpretation.

23 is the minimum number of people you need to have a 50% probability of two people having the same birthday.


June 16, 2018 at 12:52 pm

Some really amazing ideas for connecting with humans... lol. It seems so easy, right? These are quirky enough that I could use them all. Thanks for the post Noah.

Daniel Mac Sweeney
June 16, 2018 at 3:52 am

This was a lovely post Noah. Looks like you learned a lot about yourself on this trip. I especially like talking to yourself for 10 mins or so as it could help when talking to others and being more confident. Looking forward to your next adventure I bet ?

June 15, 2018 at 4:04 pm

Really liked this nugget " Major takeaway is to be the person people perceive you as when they first meet you. "

thanks for sharing Noah.

June 15, 2018 at 11:57 am

This was a really unique & interesting post to read. Thanks for sharing Noah!

Paul Warren
June 14, 2018 at 9:20 pm

Some really great takeaways in this blog piece Noah.

Thanks for sharing.

June 14, 2018 at 7:17 pm

I also like bicycles........

Athena Moberg
June 14, 2018 at 5:32 pm

Thank you, Noah. Like Sonya, I’d love to know, what was the biggest or most surprising thing you learned about yourself??

June 14, 2018 at 5:10 pm

Great Article! Loved it

David Gilbert
June 14, 2018 at 3:36 pm

Mazel Tov Noah for having such a wonderful experience, and for sharing with the world.

June 14, 2018 at 12:48 pm

Really great video! No fluff, filled with practical advice. Sounds like it was an awesome trip!

Dan Millar
June 14, 2018 at 11:41 am

Very interesting post, I think I'll have to revisit this and put some additional thought into points 11, 13 and 14.

I find the quote at the end both interesting and troubling as it seems to push the person to assume they don't already live a great life. Who is the quote from?

Scott Hack
June 14, 2018 at 11:11 am

Thanks Noah! I really appreciate you sharing this with me. I think there are 2 or 3 nuggets that I can weave into my residential real estate brokerage.

Sonya Looney
June 14, 2018 at 10:56 am

Super interesting trip and lessons! What was the biggest thing you learned about yourself?

Ms HEIDY Waywell
June 14, 2018 at 8:10 am

I love this so much. It has given me tons of inspiration to share with my colleagues and peers. Thank u x

June 14, 2018 at 7:44 am

Noah - thanks for sharing. Your notes about these different activites are just what I want to (and will) incorporate into our team meetings.

I really love the one about artifacts. I've learned that there is so much reflection that comes from sharing artifcats with others. It can be from a major point in your life, as you noted. Or, an artifact from the work on a recent team project. When you share them things show up that would have otherwise been missed.

Thanks again

All the best!


Marc Torio
June 14, 2018 at 7:29 am

Noah, one of the great posts about leadership in a while from the different blogs and newsletters I read. Great way to share it from a story point of view. Looks and sounds like your definitely an impacted person from the experience! Have a great day!!!!

June 14, 2018 at 7:24 am

Powerful lessons. Great takeaways. Thanks for sharing Noah.

June 14, 2018 at 7:19 am

Thanks for sharing Noah. Very cool activities. It says something about you and your fellow 49 attendees that you were up for it and not just there for the tech but the personal growth (that leads to great tech indirectly).