#FINNFam Friday | Meet Danny Sudwarts
September 2, 2022
1. What would your splurge meal be and at what restaurant?
There is a restaurant in Jerusalem called Angelica, which is a French-style steak restaurant – the sort of place which someone like me can only go to either for a very special occasion or if he gets a coupon. And my meal would be their best starter of a fish ceviche with a mango and citrus sauce. The main would be their duck breast which they cook with shallots, Jerusalem artichoke and a demi-glace of blueberry sauce. That would be washed down with a pinot noir from the Gva’ot Winery, a boutique family-owned winery in the hills of Samaria north of Jerusalem.
2. What’s your go-to productivity hack?
For me, at least, it’s nothing more than a good night’s sleep and a healthy diet, which I can’t claim to maintain myself all the time – certainly, my lifestyle is not the healthiest – but I recognize how my productivity and efficiency improves when I have had a decent night’s sleep and a more grown-up diet.
3. What’s a movie or book you’ve recently read or seen that you’d recommend?
I recently read The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, which I believe is a must-read for everyone, especially living in today’s age. It details his experience and the true horrors of the Soviet penal system based on both his own experiences as a prisoner of over 10 years in the labor camps in Siberia and the testimony of other survivors. I think it serves as a very important warning for all of us of the dangers of the excesses of authoritarianism and that it can come from either extreme of the political spectrum. And it serves to remind us just how fortunate we are to be living in liberal democracies and just how valuable freedom is. It’s not just depressing – it also does provide a kind of inspiration for the perseverance and the endurance of the human spirit, despite the traumas and the horrors that we can be subjected to sometimes.
4. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I happen to be – at least, I was in my younger years – a massive Lord of the Rings geek, and I think probably the best advice I received came from Gandalf in The Two Towers when he says: “The wise speak only of what they know.” It can be seen as a throwaway comment but, for me, it epitomizes the importance of holding my tongue, listening and educating myself on issues that I don’t know so much about before I develop opinions or start to espouse them. So, I try, when I engage in conversation – whether it’s about culture or politics or anything – to try to make sure that I’m talking from some sort of position of authority. And if I’m not, then I try to remain quiet and listen rather than make empty noises.
5. As a British expat, what’s the most fascinating part of Israeli culture?
For me, it is Israeli culture in general, which is one that is excessive in its informality and really very much the antithesis of British society and the reserve which I tend to practice myself and I’m so familiar with. People here are inherently impatient, almost systemically so. Arguments erupt at the slightest provocation, but they also evaporate just as quickly. And impulsiveness is seen to be a virtue, while patience is almost something to be scorned upon. And yet, despite all that, it seems to work. There is a very real sense and feeling of belonging here, and living here you feel a sense of social responsibility, which I’ve very rarely witnessed in other places, and certainly not on a national level.
6. What’s one professional skill you’re currently working on?
I have a natural inclination toward procrastination, so time management is a skill I’m always having to keep working on. It’s a challenge which seems to constantly evolve as both my responsibilities evolve as I’ve grown within the company, having started in an entry-level position and being where I am now almost eight years later, and also as modern society has evolved with ever new distractions.
7. If you could choose a superpower, what would it be and why?
I would choose supercharged sarcasm. British humor is notoriously sarcastic, and I can’t claim to be immune from that. I’m also very much someone who believes in the power of words. And I also have a loathing of bullies, and I find there’s no better way to take the wind out of someone’s sails than through a well-placed verbal jab. Supercharged sarcasm to put the more oppressive individuals back in their place.
8. What’s your favorite app and gadget?
I’m trying to somewhat wean myself off devices and being glued to my phone. I’m essentially trying to force myself to grow up a little bit. As someone who actually grew up without smartphones and all these distractions, it’s amazing how quickly my generation has become so heavily reliant on them – almost to the exclusion of more important things, so I’m more trying to police myself in a sense. But my favorite app is probably Words with Friends. I like wordsmithing, things that are intellectually or academically stimulating and competitive, so Words with Friends tends to tick those boxes for me.
My favorite gadget would actually be the Gameboy Classic I received when I was about 13 years old. For me, it kind of harkens back to a simpler time when video games, arcades and what have you were more about bringing people together and meeting up with your friends to play, while today it seems that you retreat into your basements and only talk to people over headsets. So, that’s why I still have a special place in my heart for the Gameboy.
9. What would you do with your time if you didn’t have to work?
I’ve always had this pipedream of one day owning a small jazz bar if I didn’t need the income and didn’t have to worry about turning a profit. It would just be kind of a small, classy yet unpretentious establishment with subdued lighting, classic cocktails and live music ranging from the classic jazz hits from the ‘20s and ‘30s to contemporary artists. Music is a great unifier. There’s no easier way to bring people together, and you know and to dispel arguments than with good music and good alcohol, so it’d be a place that could encourage discourse and collaboration in a friendly and welcoming environment.
10. Can you reflect on your career at FINN thus far?
I’ve been at FINN for nearly eight years now and one thing that I’ve found is that however much I think I know and I think I’ve achieved, there’s always more to learn. One of the great things, particularly of having been able to get my entry into marketing communications in the Israel FINN office is that our office has really evolved, and I’ve been able to grow within it. We’ve become much more sophisticated, much more specialized, and I feel that I’ve been able to do so in tandem with that.