Good morning!  Today’s guest blogger joins us from Israel by a connection that honestly makes me thank God for the internet!  Asnat’s friend, Nitzan, sent me an email after finding my blog through Steve Aitchison’s Top 50 Personal Development Blogs.  He recommended Asnat as an ideal person to be interviewed in this series.  From his brief introduction – and especially from the title of Asnat’s book which you will have a chance to win here! – there has been something about this cosmic ‘poke’ that leaves me goose-bumpy.  Before I was through reading Nitzan’s email introducing Asnat, I had this conviction that Asnat and I were meant to meet to so we could work on a project together.  I pitched this idea to her…and we hope we have set the wheels in motion for something.

I am telling you this because I want you to become aware of these “random” meetings, or coincidences or whatever you want to call them.  Face them with an open mind, and tap into your creative channels to discover what lies within these connections.  I’ll be blogging more on this in the next few weeks.

And now, very gratefully, I introduce to you: Asnat Greenberg!

Can you tell us a little bit about your background – where did you grow up?  What were your hobbies as a child and a teenager?  And then as a young adult, what profession did you choose and why?

My older sister and I were raised in a middle class home, filled with warmth and love, by both of our parents. My father was an educated man who always looked to broaden his horizons. You could always find him reading a book. My mother was sharp and quick witted.

I liked to read as a child. Every day I read two books. I would go to the local library with my sister, where we would exchange our books daily. I remember that we would hurry home so we could start reading. Each one of us would finish our book, and then we would switch. In my eyes there was no greater joy than reading. As I grew older I began to take an interest in science fiction. The future fascinated me. I read Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Jules Verne, and many more.

When I had to choose a field to study in University, I didn’t know what to choose. I was good at the exact sciences, but I was not particularly interested in math or chemistry or the like. They seemed to be too dry for me. So, left with very little choice, I decided to study Economics. Today I understand that I chose that field because my father was an economist. I don’t regret it at all. After my studies I worked in the Israeli Central Bank for 20 years in a variety of positions. Economics is a propelling force in our world, for better or worse. Nations’ and individuals’ actions are driven by this force; international disagreements and even violence stem from it.

Can you tell us how art came into your life and what purpose it serves in your life?

I started dabbling in art by chance. Although I’ve always taken an interest in design, I never thought I would become an artist. What was surprising was how quickly I became connected to this world. I partnered with an artist friend of mine, and we make grand and unique works of art. Making art in a partnership is something that’s very unusual. Helen, my art partner, found it very strange at the beginning to work with someone else. Personally, as an economist, I see it as rational. Working as a team has its advantages, and as an economist I have a lot of experience doing so. Our success in working together is predicated on three things: 1) our ability to curb our ego, 2) our willingness to relate to each other’s work in a respectful and honest manner, and 3) our shared taste in art. (Click here to visit their art website)

Art does not serve any interest. It simply brings me happiness, and that’s a good enough reason to spend my time on it. We should always do what makes us happy.

I first heard of you through your friend Nitzan who suggested you would be a perfect interviewee for this series (and he was right!).  He directed me to your book, Secrets of Kindness: A Journey Among Good People, and from the title I knew it would be a book I would fall in love with.  And I did.  Please tell us how you were inspired to write this book and how the experience has added to your life?

Although I’ve always enjoyed writing, I never intended to write a book. Everything happened by chance. I thought about the importance of hope, and how to reinforce it. The conclusion that I drew is that in order to connect people to hope, we need to help them reconnect to the best elements that lie within them. And then I knew what I wanted to do: I wanted to disseminate  motivational stories about good people – about their acts of benevolence and, beyond that, about who they are: what makes them happy, what saddens them, what they think about money and power, what kinds of people they respect, what their dreams are, what inspires them, and much more.

The vantage point of one that comes from the regular world to the “altruistic” one undergoes a change. I think writing the book made me a better person. Not necessarily in any grandiose way, but a better person nonetheless. I try to make my environment more positive. One of my interviewees, a young man named Liad who volunteers in a mental health clinic, told me: “I advocate being positive.” That sentence resonates with me till this day, and I am much more aware of that sentiment in my day to day life. I seek out the positive in people; in everyone. I also tend to find it. I am also cautious when giving advice when helping another. Often times when offering advice we tend to see ourselves and not the person we are supposed to be helping. I learned more about humility and curbing my ego. I think that I am also less judgmental than I was before embarking on this journey.

Were there any obstacles you had to overcome in order to work on your book? 

There were no obstacles. I was so enthralled by the project that nothing posed a problem for me. When we are full of excitement for a project and go after it with all of our heart, then we are going on the correct path and the world opens up for us.

What advice do you have for my readers who are poised to make a big leap in their lives – either to change careers or to tackle a project of passion?

Just enjoy it! That’s all you need. And try not to fear the leap.

Thank you so much for your time, Asnat.  And a special thank you as well to Nitzan who has kindly been our translator! 

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Well, dear Readers, I hope that has been a dose of inspiration for you today – and I know that if you pick up a copy of Asnat’s book your world will open up and you will see increased possibilities for kindness.  Have a wonderful Friday!

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Asnat Greenberg is an economist, an artist, and a writer.

She worked in the Bank of Israel for 20 years as a Senior Economist, managing billions of dollars worth of foreign investments

A few years ago, she followed her heart, left the Bank of Israel, and began to create art, exhibiting in the US and in Europe.

Her book, Secrets of Kindness: A Journey among Good People, that has been published recently, is the story of her journey through the world of altruism. This fascinating mosaic of interviews with good people forms an impressive and inspiring document showing the human spirit at its best.

She is married, has three children, and lives in Jerusalem, Israel.

You can visit Asnat’s website here.


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