To Figure Out Her Calling, This Israeli Let Her Dad Analyze Her Dreams

This week at the Tel Aviv airport: A psychologist who believes our dreams hold the key to our psyche, and a glimpse into the debauched world of marketing

Ofer and Stav Grosbard.
Tomer Appelbaum

Ofer Grosbard, 64, lives in Haifa, and Stav Grosbard, 26, lives in Budapest; Stav is arriving from Budapest

Hello, what will you be doing in Israel?

Stav: I came for a friend’s wedding, but only for two days because I’m in the middle of exams.

What are you studying?

Stav: Medicine. I think Budapest is one of the best places for that; there are lots of Israelis and everyone is friends. The studies are tough, but I’m very much enjoying the good decisions I’ve made.

Dad looks proud.

Ofer: Without a doubt.

Stav: The truth is, it was thanks to Dad that I got my act together. I went for a post-army trip to South America and came back confused, not really knowing what I wanted to do.

How did you deal with that, Ofer?

Ofer: She couldn’t make up her mind for a long time.

Stav: I even thought of studying psychology, like Dad.

Ofer: Psychology isn’t bad, but I thought medicine would be better. Psychiatrists do better than psychologists. Anyway, we had some confrontations and I pressured her, maybe a little too much. I think I was a little scared – suddenly I didn’t trust her, I thought she was taking too long a break. But that was my problem.

Tell me, why do parents worry all the time?

Ofer: We don’t trust ourselves as parents, and we always feel that what we did was random.

Stav: Maybe it was actually good that there was a little pressure from him; it was important for me to know that he believed in me.

Ofer: We talked a lot, and in the end Stav’s dreams revealed to her what she wanted to do. But for that you need a psychologist father who always asks in the morning what you dreamed about last night; otherwise when you get up in the morning you forget.

Do you believe in interpreting dreams?

Ofer: I’m always interested in dreams, of the whole family. And of course my patients know that they have to bring a dream to every session. But you need to put a notebook next to your bed, because after a few seconds it’s gone. It can drive you a bit crazy, because you really want to get up quietly, but it pays off. In my own therapy I filled notebooks with dreams for two-and-a-half years and understood things that I hadn’t been aware of before. To understand what you feel gives you greater control.

Can you give an example?

Ofer: Let’s say I met somebody and it wasn’t pleasant for me, but I ignored it, and that night he appeared in a dream as a monster. That’s how I would understand fear of a person deeply. Dreams allow you to know what you feel in your symbolic language. A recurring dream, which is what happened to Stav, is a very deep experience.

What did you dream?

Stav: I had a few dreams that year. In the first one there was a fire and I knew what to do. I thought it was just random, but it went on with somebody who fell off a bicycle in the woods and somebody who was burned and I resuscitated him. In all the dreams I was the one who saved people. And then I would get up from the dreams and felt good. I knew that was something I wanted to do.

Do you know what you want to specialize in?

Stav: I want to work with children, and I want something challenging, and it’s important for me to create ties with the patients. So I’m thinking about oncology. Even though I didn’t choose to study medicine with a sense of mission, I did come to it with some hope.

Ofer: That’s part of the way she is. She comes across modestly and talks about what a genius everybody around her is, and gradually it turns out that she’s the real genius. And I’m being objective!

I believe you.

Ofer: But I have to tell you that when she was invited to a pilots course [in the military], we all laughed at her at home. What kind of pilots course? She gets moving so slowly – in school races she was always last. To this day I feel guilty that maybe we didn’t appreciate her abilities. That stays with me.

Stav: As a girl I dreamed of becoming an actress, and in high school my studies didn’t interest me and I wasn’t a super-successful student. When I started med school I thought I’d fail the exams. After the first one I went home and cried. But then I got a good grade. I said, “That doesn’t make sense,” but maybe there was some small realization that I could do well. It went on like that, and it’s surprised me again every time. Maybe reality is just showing me that I’m just fine.

Alex Pratt.
Tomer Appelbaum

Alex Pratt, 40, lives in London and flying there

Hello, how did you spend your time in Israel?

I was here for a big marketing conference. I love Israel. I’ve been here around 10 times and I’ve also come with the family and the children and with my mother for her 60th birthday. I wanted to show her Jerusalem, which is an amazing place.

How was the conference?

A lot of business and a lot of drinking. I think the difference between an event here and an event in other countries is that in England and the United States, for example, it’s really hard to get into a practical conversation. But here in Israel, everyone comes to do business. If the conference starts at 8:30 in the morning, at 8:30 somebody comes who wants to work.

They sound industrious, those Israelis.

Around the world there are pockets of high-tech, startups and entrepreneurial culture. You get that in Israel, in Berlin, in Amsterdam, in Austin [Texas] – they’re all similar in terms of entrepreneurship and innovation. But if the same company sets itself up here and in Austin, I think the Israeli branch will have a better chance of success. Israelis know what they want and there’s no BS. It’s true that people who work with Israelis have to get used to them, to understand that it’s not vulgarity but directness that they are experiencing – but in the end it’s wonderful. The only thing I don’t like to do with Israelis is to bargain, because I never win.

What sort of work do you do?

We do exhibitions and conferences. I’ve been working for the same company for 15 years. When I started, in 2004, the world was very different. We actually got into the business through good old print: I worked at a magazine on internet gambling.

At a time of a serious boom in the industry.

Yes. There were a lot of young people who made too much money and threw too many parties, but in time it got more complicated, and the marketing of gambling is very restricted in many places. In my company, over the years, we also got into events and conferences in other fields.

Are a lot more conferences being held now, or is it my imagination?

It’s not your imagination. The events industry is growing all the time. Our company produces about 300 events a year. Events of 40,000 people, and in Hong Kong there’s an event involving 90,000 participants that goes on for three weeks. To get an event like that off the ground is like work at a construction site.

Where’s the most fun?

The conference I like best takes place in Hamburg and is called Online Marketing Rockstars. It’s a conference that’s a music festival with tens of thousands of people and plenty of shows and DJs. Lectures during the day and dancing at night, and you have a bracelet with a chip that you use to pay for everything.

Your life sounds like one big party.

I work abroad something like 50 to 100 days a year. I really like the trips, but I have three children and I miss my family, so I try to come home on weekends and keep the trips as short as possible, so as not to upset my wife.

Don’t all those flights get on your nerves?

I try hard not to work on flights. I really don’t like the fact that there’s Wi-Fi on planes now. For years, that was the only time I enjoyed quiet and didn’t need to be connected. I get around 200 emails a day and I’m always on something – Slack, Skype, WhatsApp, email, Facebook, Telegram. There are so many ways to be connected today. Maybe too many.

Don’t all those connections make conferences unnecessary? Can’t you just meet online?

A conference is a good way to meet people. In the day-to-day you just go home at night, but at a conference you have an opportunity to meet people from your field, learn something or meet a new client. Despite, or maybe because of, the technological developments, people want to meet face to face these days. That’s human nature. We might be able to do a lot of things by texting, and I’m sure that one day they’ll come up with VR that works well enough to converse through it, but it’s not the same thing. In the end, we want to shake someone’s hand and look them in the eyes, certainly if it’s someone we want to do business with. A meeting always adds a level of trust to the spectrum. And there’s another level if you have a beer together. In fact, it’s a lot easier to do business over a drink – you only have to hope that people will remember you in the morning.