Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A great day for Israel - and nobody noticed

Not too long ago I blogged about the fact that Israel needed more athletes.  I said that it would be great to see more Israelis enter well known sports and get top notch results there.
Well, it happened, but did anybody notice?
On Saturday June 18th, 2011 former 5 time Mr Israel and IFBB Pro Amit Sapir placed 3rd in the Toronto Pro SuperShow of Bodybuilding, and he placed 3rd and captured a spot in the Mr Olympia contest.  He is the 1st Israeli EVER to accomplish this feat! 
Mr. Olympia is no joke, it is often called the superbowl of bodybuilding, and it is where the biggest and most well conditioned bodybuilders compete to claim they are the best.
Amit will be on stage for the 202lb category, which is quite the category.  This is the last year that the division will be at 202, as it goes up to 212 in November. There will be very tight competition.
Amit is not only the 1st Israeli ever to qualify for Mr. Olympia, but he is also a 5 time Mr Israel, a feat which has not yet been matched.  If that isn't enough, he represented Israel in Olympic weightlifting as part of the Israeli squad in Athens 2004.
Fans of his have been posting pictures and videos of him all over facebook, YouTube and twitter, but where has he been mentioned in Israeli news???  Doesn't he deserve a heroes welcome?  What more can you do for a country, you serve in their army, you represent them in the Olympics, and you become the 1st citizen to accomplish a task for them, yet not even a word?
I happen to know his manager/PR rep, and Oz does a great job getting his name out there, but not too many people bit at the opportunity to cover this.  Amit is sponsored by a company named Advanced Genetics, a great well known Canadian company... shouldn't an Israeli company have his back?
I am SO very proud of Amit and happy for him and his accomplishment.
Amit, we have never met, but as a Zionist and lover of Israel I thank you for what you have accomplished.  Show the world that Israelis are capable in sports as well.
When you get to Olympia, no matter what, you have Israeli fans supporting you 110%.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Olympics

So it has been a full year since the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, and all across Canada celebrations will be happening, and in Georgia, it will be a day of mourning.
Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili lost his life in a practice run on the Vancouver luge track the day before the opening ceremonies.  During the opening ceremonies, there was a very respectful moment of silence, and that was the right thing to do.
Here is a question for you... did you know that Munich has a bid for the 2020 Olympic Games?  Same place that 11 Israeli athletes were assassinated in a terrorist plot.  Has there ever been an apology from the IOC?  NO... Has there ever been reference to the event during an opening ceremony at the Summer games?  Not to my knowledge.  2012 will be 40 years, will London do the right thing?
There is a respectful plaque in memory of the athletes in Munich, but is that enough?  If 11 US athletes were murdered, it would be remembered at each and every Olympiad.
I know it cannot happen any time soon, but I would love to see Tel-Aviv bid for the Olympics.  Until that day, us as Jews and Zionists can never forget the 11 athletes who died unnecessarily.
Let them be remembered and honoured:
The 11 Israeli team members taken hostage and subsequently murdered by PLO terrorists were:

  • Weightlifter Yossef Romano, 31years old
  • Weightlifter David Berger, 28
  • Weightlifter Ze'ev Friedman, 28
  • Wrestler Eliezer Halfin, 24
  • Wrestler Mark Slavin, 18
  • Wrestling referee Yossef Gutfreund, age 40
  • Wrestling coach Moshe Weinberg, 33
  • Track coach Amitzur Shapira, 40
  • Shooting coach Kehat Shorr, 53
  • Fencing coach Andre Spitzer, 27
  • Weightlifting judge Yakov Springer, 51.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Should High Schools be peanut free?

I was having this discussion wit a cousin of mine the other day, and after a quick explanation he agreed with my point of view.  You see, I sell many health foods, but most have some form of nut int hem since nuts provide a great source of essential fats and many also offer protein and fiber.
My 4 year old son is in a private daycare, and that daycare is 100% peanut and sesame safe.  Due to that and the fact that all food served must be Kosher, no food can come into the school from an outside source.  I think that is a great policy for the safety of the kids, and to help ensure Kashrut as well.
I think that every elementary school in the world should be peanut safe, just because the younger kids don't fully understand allergies and what can happen.  I highly doubt too many grade 1 or 2 students can explain what an allergic reaction is and what the worst outcome may be.
That brings us to high school... do they need to be peanut safe?  My quick answer is no.
Most high school cafeterias are required to be peanut safe, yet they offer soda, chocolate bars and chips, therefore helping more kids fall into the trap of obesity.  Not only that, but high school students are more aware of death, and the consequences of allergies.   It is also a time for them to slowly become mature when it comes to their lives, and being proactive about their personal allergy is taking a good step.
Kids are allergic to bees, yet you cannot make a high school bee safe.  Some kids are allergic to almonds, or peaches... what about certain flowers.
I feel bad for kids who have a severe peanut allergy, I understand that it is potentially fatal, and every caution must be taken.  When a child is 15 they need to be aware of their allergies, let them ask their friends not to eat peanut butter around them.  Make sure your girlfriend doesn't eat peanuts before you skip class to go make out in the broom closet etc....
I know many cafeterias that would love to offer high quality organic bars, energy bars and protein bars, but cannot, simply because they are made in a facility that MAY have traces of peanuts.  So instead, they offer the regular array of crap... let the kids have Mountain Dew and Doritos for lunch or recess, that's the solution!
You cannot tell restaurants that they MUST be peanut safe... NO... if you have an allergy to a certain food, you have to be aware of it.  I get severe migraines from MSG, so Chinese food and most buffets are out of the question.
There are people that suffer a severe allergy to gluten, yet schools aren't told they must be gluten free and celiac safe.  If you are gluten intolerant or allergic to gluten, the duty is on you to eat what you can.
I am not trying to be insensitive, and I understand that many people will come out and say that right out of the gate, but my point is valid.  Furthermore, I think that all daycares and elementary schools should be peanut, sesame and almond safe.  I also think that more elementary schools should try to be gluten free, as that also helps children's concentration levels.
High Schools should not be peanut safe.  The big wide world is not peanut safe.  Restaurants are not peanut safe.  Most large companies are not peanut safe, neither are most law firms, accounting firms or retail locations.  Even if a high school is peanut safe, a teenager with a peanut allergy could go to the local mall on the weekend, speak to a sales person who had a peanut butter sandwich for lunch and KABOOM!!!
Let High School students have peanuts!!!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Israeli contacts needed

So in my valiant effort to slowly transition my business to be in Israel, I have made a few contacts.  I have signed a few suppliers to an exclusivity deal allowing me the rights to import and distribute their products in Israel.  Most of my products would go to supplement stores, pharmacies and health food locations.
My big asset here in Canada, is I know all the big buyers.  I am well connected with Popeye's Supplements, online retailers, and hundreds of gyms and stores.  In Israel I know nobody :(
I have done my research and I know I need to contact SportPharma, which is essentially a GNC replica.  I would also like to make contact with some large pharmacy chains, I know there are quite a few.
I am looking for people who are currently in Israel who are involved in sales that would like to potentially earn a few extra commission dollars.
Please pass this information around and contact me by leaving a comment or by Direct Message on twitter

Thursday, February 3, 2011

How to support Israel

Many people around the world are very supportive of Israel.  Jews living in Europe, The United States, Canada and even South America are all fond of Israel.  I recently had a discussion with a Chinese associate, and he said that he has met many Israeli business men on China and he would love to visit Israel.
However, with as many supporters as Israel does have, it also has its haters.  Hezbollah and Hamas want Israel destroyed.  Neo-Nazis worldwide want Jews dead.  Palestinians want our land, and most Arab countries don't recognize Israel's existance.
I am not 100% sure that I can comment on what is happening in Egypt, pretty much after page 45 of the Hagaddah my knowledge of Egypt is minimal at best.  What I do know is this, Israel and Husni Mubarak are not friends. They have a silent peace, and its one Israel want to keep, and needs to keep.  Israel doesn't fully support Mubarak's dictatorship, but they also do not want an Islamist regime taking power in Egypt.
No matter what happens in Egypt, or even in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan for that matter is that we as Jews and proud Zionists must support the state of Israel.  There are multiple ways of doing this, and the easiest way is to make Aliyah, however, that isn't possible for all of us, and some people prefer to live elsewhere, and that is fine.
Now again the question is raised, how do I support Israel?
I cannot answer that question for you, but I will tell you how I support Israel.
First off I ALWAYS put some change into a blue box, and every year, my son and I buy trees through JNF.  I also teach my son about Israel, so that he too will grow to appreciate Israel and understand Israel's meaning in my life and his.
I buy State of Israel bonds for myself and my son, and I recommend people buy them as Bar-Mitzvah gifts as well.
I also buy T-shirts and items from Zahal and I proudly wear my Sayeret Matkal t-shirt to the gym.  I feel that more people should buy items from The IDF as it helps support the troops and their families as well.
I proudly wear the Israeli flag at Pro-Israel rallies and events, and I make sure to support Israel publicly on sites such as facebook and twitter.
Perhaps I am on the right track, maybe you have better ideas for me, either way, I do what I can.
If we can all do what we can to support Israel, we will always stand strong!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Customer service & eCommerce

Like most business people in their mid 30s, I use the internet quite frequently.  I have made a comfortable living buy running internet based stores and services.  I have made good use of sites such as eBay and PayPal.  I use PayPal as the payment method on my websites too.
I can assure you that the business I am in has plenty of competition, so I have made it a point to not only offer great products at very competitive prices, but I make sure my staff offers the VERY highest quality of customer service.   All emails get answered within 24 hours and calls are answered politely and professionally.
Recently, I wanted to add a feature to one of my websites, so I called the hosting company.  According to them, since it was a feature involved in my checkout process, it was PayPal that could help.  So, I sent PayPal a very detailed and fairly simple email.  I received a reply that had a lot of writing but no answer.   I replied stating that I did not get the answer I had requested, and I am no closer to having my answer than before.  3 days of emails to and from and I still did not get a direct answer, so I called them, waited on hold for quite some time and spoke to a guy that was barely understandable.
After about 40 minutes on the phone I got frustrated and asked a simple question, "Not to be rude, but please answer with a simple yes or no, do you understand what I want?  And if you do, can it be done?"  I got a long winded answer that again, did not result in a yes or no.
eCommerce and online stores are not a fad, they are how we are going to continue shopping.  Some sites such as eBay are user friendly, easy for just about anybody to use and if used properly, can make you quite a bit of extra income.  Other sites such as Amazon are very hard to navigate and aren't very clear as to what needs to be done. 
Despite actual website design, I feel that customer service has been neglected with so many large companies that have moved towards the online service domain.  If I walked into a bank and didn't get an answer, I would likely change banks.  PayPal is lucky since it is the biggest money transfer service on the web, and for the most part, a great site and great service.
Perhaps because I come from a  restaurant and bar background that I feel that A1 service MUST be given at all times, but I feel that customer service has gone down the tubes lately.  It is very hard to find an online store that offers great products, great prices, and live friendly customer service, and that is too bad.
Although the internet is the new way of socializing and networking, we must not lose our manners, professionalism or ability to interact with our clients.  I assure you in a few years, it is the businesses that offer service and support to their clients that will survive.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

2 more cents on Democracy

Yesterday I pointed out exactly how and why Israel is a democracy.  I want to just add a small foot note to that blog.  Israel is recognized as a democracy by some of the most well respected democracies in the World, for example Canada.
Not too long ago I wrote a blog about how PM Harper stood up for Canada. Germany and Israel have good relations. The United States is an ally to Israel, even though it appears that President Obama is somewhat anti-Israel.  Bill Clinton, Both Bushes, and even Richard Nixon all came to the support of Israel.
If Israel were not a democracy, I can assure you that would have never happened.
Israel is such a democracy, that although she didn't have to, Golda Meir resigned as PM.  (Its a great fact to know that Israel had a female leader well before Kim Campbell was PM of Canada and the US still has not had a female President).
After an investigation, Israel declared that Ariel Sharon could never act as Minister of Defense.
Those that claim that Israel is not a free country and not a democracy need a lesson in politics and history.