Writing a book is a real challenge that takes you out of your comfort zone and requires time, analysis and confidence from you. It’s more than an exercise of style, but a real and deep conversation with yourself and others.
Meet Ilan Dray
Senior Director of Creative at Aqua Security, with over 25 years of experience in advertising and interactive multimedia/digital product design.
As the co-founder of Inkod.com, the leading UX/UI Studio in Israel and one of the top 100 digital agencies worldwide, Ilan has extensive experience in B2B digital product design, particularly cybersecurity.
Ilan is also partner at toDay Ventures, a Tel-Aviv based Accelerator, and mentor at IAI Innovation Center powered by Starburst. Please enjoy my #designwithdot interview with Ilan Dray!
1. Your expertise and passion for digital product design has led you to co-found one of the leading UX/UI studio in Israel and top 100 agencies in the world! How did you start your creative career? What drives your creativity?
Thanks for the question. I will try to make it short 😉 I was born in Israel and left when I was 6 years old. Raised in Paris, the center of Art & Culture, I lived there for almost 20 years and for sure got inspired.
I studied Arts & Literature, was passionate about philosophy, architecture, biology, and physics. I believe that those studies had a lot of impact on my creativity. During my degree in Visual Communication at one of the most famous High School in Paris, ESAIG Estienne, I won an award for Best Poster at Chaumont International Posters Festival. The poster was related to a very sensitive subject of Israeli terrorist attacks on buses from the same time period.
I realized then the power of visual communication. I was able to create a conversation around the disinformation coming from the biased French media that in turn lead to a better image of Israel. Since then, my vision was to create whatever initiative that gave a positive impact on Israel, call it Zionism 🙂 I’m just another cool guy against BDS.
After high school, I joined an advertising agency and this world of ephemeral creations was not so appealing but in the same agency called PPDL, I was lucky to start digital creations with the first steps of Minitel (don’t ask me my age then :P) From floppy disks with interactive presentations to CD Roms…
Very quickly, I understood that Israel had always been a few steps ahead of tech with Teletel (like Minitel but better) – so it was clear to me that I wanted to come back to Israel.
I then joined a digital agency with a huge portfolio based in Tel Aviv called Ventura Communication led by people such Yossi Vardi (ICQ etc) and Ventura family. Even though I had been an execution designer in France, I had already gained lots of experience, this job was my shortcut to learn Hebrew. Since then, I stayed in this same company until becoming the creative director and even VP of Creative when it got acquired by Safra family for $4M making it one of the leading digital agencies in Israel, named EAGLESHADE.
In this time frame, we won international awards after awards and even got best website of the year by the UN for The City Of David 🙂 My vision was to make Israel on the map in the Design community and not only was I successful in that but also we got: 4 FWAs (Favorite Website Awards) with EagleShade + 7 FWAs with Inkod + 1 FWA with Freedom & Partners (NYC). After the second economic bubble explosion, I left the company and decided to create INKOD.com with Roni Nizri 🙂 The rest is history.
Up to today, what drives my creativity is to help Israeli startups get funded, bring international investors to Israel and help the economy here since I do believe that a country with a strong economy is the basis for peace.
Former VP Creative at Cybereason who just got funded $200M and became unicorn to my job now at Aqua Security as Senior Director of Creative to redefine the world of cybersecurity are just a few examples of B2B successful Israeli startups that make a real change in this world and inspiring around the world.
2. How did you come up with “Fusion Design“? What can we learn from your book coming out?
Fusion Experience summarizes all the years with a love of creativity, teamwork, integrations, and how to bring benefits to our users and place them back in the center of the conversation. With the tech evolution and by understanding and writing part of methodologies even actually taught in Academies, I realize that our processes as product design experts are not relevant anymore and need for a real change!
Our approach is very linear and like blind horses, we run after targets and KPIs not relevant at all to tech evolution and what our real audience expects (generation Y + Z and what we called generation Alpha for the next centuries). Working with expertise in Big Data (FinTech, Cyber Security, B2B / B2G…) made me realize how much we are forgetting our main purpose as Users Experience experts.
FUSION EXPERIENCE ENRICHES SEAMLESSLY ONE’S DIGITAL LIFE BY CONNECTING ALL THE SERVICES THAT MAKES USER EXPERIENCE BETTER, FLUID, AND ON THE GO.
In such a connected world where we can instantly have everything at our fingertips, the user has become very disconnected from the digital experience as a whole. Fusion Experience invites you to change your mindset and to create holistic digital experiences that are more connected and leave the user wanting more. So, let’s Fuse!
3. What’s your dream? Where do you want to see your life and the world in 10 years? Year 2030!?
This book is a philosophy and I simply try to define a wave that is happening and if we do not bring back benefits to the users by connecting them better and not only engage them for capitalism purpose and data (no more privacy), so we will lose the basis of our values and the end of democracy since separating them instead to fuse them.
I do recommend highly the latest movie “Social Networks Dilemma” which is all about our loss of data privacy and how we are manipulated by tech giants. One of the initiatives that I created to fight back that issue is Cyber for People, to democratize the world of cyber and give proper solutions to all our digital challenges today (cyberbullying, data privacy, scams etc.). Feel free to visit cyberforpeople.com
My dream is that we will Fuse our knowledge and be more creative to find solutions instead of complaining all day long around politics and media.
In 2030, Michael Jackson had hoped to give “our children a better place” Here are some of his last words at the 2:40 mark on this video here. That’s my dream too.
Share your knowledge and become a source of inspiration for others.
4. You’ve worked with so many amazing brands and projects. What type of projects are your favorite and why?
My favorite projects are divided into 2 types:
First off, all the philanthropic initiatives that I have supported since SHALVA center or Schneider Hospital for Children that we did pro bono at Inkod. Some others include initiatives that I run such as women’s equality in tech or cyber for people blog.
The second type is growing startups… yes! Not startups from their first days where classic POC / MVP methodology works perfectly but the ones that got funded and lost control of the own beast they have created. Agile methodology is hard to implement with Israeli startups mindset and the shock of cultures when becoming global… it basically makes things go heavy like a dinosaur.
This is where my expertise and fusion experience comes into play!
I love to guide these growing startups in this challenging period when they just have received $50M+ funded and trust me the cashflow is crazy and if you do not have the right strategy, it can very quickly end in a catastrophy.
Fusion Experience is the key of success!
5. What advice would you give to your younger self 10 years ago?
Don’t stop to learn and stop complaining ? Whatever in this world that you see as a problem, call it a challenge and turn it into an opportunity. Share your knowledge and become a source of inspiration for others. Help anyone you can help without interest, I believe in Karma. Learn and never stop reading, tech goes quicker than you and data is overwhelming.
Last but not least, try to find balance between work, family, friends and your personal life… if you work too much, or are in a stressful environment, it means that something is wrong. You cannot be at your top creative space like this. So dare; dare to change and to move forward. From failures I’ve learnt more than from my successes.
6. What are your thoughts on social media? Hate it? Can’t live without it?
Control it! As parent or as individual, just simply start taking note of the time spent on social networks. Did you know that if you spend more than 1 hour a day on social media, that equates to you spending more than 15 days per year on these platforms. If you are cool with that and are actually learning something from social media, it’s all cool… if not, stop the notifications from your mobile phone and watch the movie “Cambridge Analytics”. It will give you a good taste about what I think about Social Networks.
When you find the balance (and believe me, it took me some time) you start to control your time better and digital social networks can be then more effective with positive aspects. I still believe that my best tip is try to grow your real social networks even during this social distancing period… Don’t get me wrong… it’s nothing compared to a nice drink with some friends! Personally, my networks of friends from real life have given me more opportunities than in the digital world.
If you are over 45 and don’t have an under30 mentor – not mentee, mentor – then you are going to miss fundamental shifts in thinking that are happening.
7. What is your philosophy about life? Or a mantra, quote or proverb you want to share with us?
“Aspire to inspire” are my own words and motto. If Another great quote that Iove is by Bruce Lee, ‘Empty your mind, Be Water my Friends’… Listen to it in this video in loop, it is priceless: https://youtu.be/6t3EOfgfq4I
8. What’s your dream travel destination or the next place you want to visit? #TravelWithDot
I recommend you to travel to Sardegna, Italy.
I just went recently and discovered a paradise.
I dream for my next destination to visit Dubai since we are now in peace agreements with them and I’m totally supportive of positive energies 🙂 Who is coming?
9. What’s your favorite food experience you would take me to in Tel Aviv, and what would we eat? #EatWithDot
You have the greatest food in Tel Aviv and I will be happy to invite you to Stolero… Try out their fish cooked in mango leaf or the best Hamburger in town. And to answer your question about my favorite food, nothing better than a great pizza! I know for a French guy it is surprising, but you will have to trust me on this one.
10. Who has been a mentor or someone you have looked up to for advice and inspiration?
There have been many mentors in my life, from the wonderful Marcel Marceau, to Bruce Lee. From Marcel I learned to communicate in silence and from Bruce Lee and I learned the philosophy of life. Today, I’m surrounded with friends from different expertise and they are always here to help me for anything I need… but the most inspiring person is for sure my mum <3
“If you are over 45 and don’t have an under 30 mentor – not mentee, MENTOR – then you are going to miss fundamental shifts in thinking that are happening.” I believe so much that the new generation has a totally different mindset and we need to understand them better to create solutions adapted to them in order to make this world a better place. My mentor in this category is an expert in neuromarketing and his name is Octave Banon … and his mother is one of the most inspiring women I know, Anilore Banon – who is sending the first sculpture on the moon through the Vitae Project.
11. Dragon or Unicorn? Why?
Dracorn ? since I dare creatively and make dreams come true.
The Fast 5
1) Your favorite Instagram feed right now:
Magio Lopez. Magician and Story teller. Simply funny, inspiring and unique. All what I love in one man
2) What is the Best Life advice (or lesson learned in business) you ever received:
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold — built on the idea that in embracing flaws and imperfections, you can create an even stronger, more beautiful piece of art.
So my best advice is to embrace your imperfections and your fears. In my personal life as also in business, I always try to get perspective before overreacting and I like to see how far we can be creative with what we’ve got and not focus on what is missing 🙂 That’s real creativity.
3) Best website/destination you go to for inspiration:
First, from nature, I’m learning so much from God’s creations. My next sources of inspiration would be my travels, local people, arts, culinary scenes, music and culture. For the big secret, in every one of my creations, you can see a reference to classic or modern art or mythology. And the most surprising will be
Toys-R-Us. The effort invested to create colorful toys. I love to visit their shops… in one place you can find so many new trends.
In addition, I’m very inspired by architecture and interior design and my favorite site is Metalocus.es/en.
4) The App you can’t live without?
Definitively Clash Royal 🙂 Simply genius game and 2 wins to meditate are enough for me.
5) Book we should all read?
Teaching Magic by Eugene Burger… life is magic, so master it!