Yael Cohen Aris: “Sometimes it’s better to be smart than right”

“Sometimes it’s better to be smart than right” — This is one thing that I still find very hard to follow since my biggest weakness and sensitivity is injustice. Sometimes I’m so determined for justice, even when the fighting itself could take such a big toll, that even if you get justice in the end, the outcome […]

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“Sometimes it’s better to be smart than right” — This is one thing that I still find very hard to follow since my biggest weakness and sensitivity is injustice. Sometimes I’m so determined for justice, even when the fighting itself could take such a big toll, that even if you get justice in the end, the outcome is still a loss.

Top Israeli model, former software engineer in the IDF (Israel Defense Force) and social media superstar Yael Cohen Aris is a one-of-a-kind star in the making. Having already amassed 2+ million followers across all major social media platforms, Yael is ready to use her voice and platform to empower women and shatter stereotypes within her industry.

Celebrating the female body “HolyLand” was created out of the idea that the phrase “holy land” refers to the human body as a temple. Specifically for her publication, Yael thought the name was the perfect representation and most respectful and honorable way to acknowledge and admire a woman’s body while celebrating the freedom to express ones sexuality. When launching “HolyLand” Yael also wanted the publication to focus on and shine a light on the beautiful women of her home country. “I created “HolyLand” to support the ideas of freedom, acceptance and to promote the freedom of women to express themselves — their bodies, their femininity and their sexuality.” — Yael Cohen Aris

Having spent almost half a decade with the IDF (Israel Defense Force) and serving with an elite tech unit, Yael used her experience from her time in the army, combined with her experience as a social media content creator, turned down job offers from big tech companies and decided to work for herself and develop her own community site with visions of launching a bigger creators platform, which lead to her recent creation of and create “YC Demons,” a multi-media tech company.

From a young age, Yael found her love for entertaining and became a natural in front of the camera. While finishing her mandatory military service after extending her contract from the standard 2 years for women to completing 4 full years, Yael began streaming on Twitch and creating a buzz for herself on social media. After booking an international campaign with Dan Bilzerian’s “Ignite Campaign” in Thailand, her popularity began to rise. Capitalizing on this opportunity, Yael took full advantage and grew her fan base exponentially by cultivating and caring for her community. Yael prides herself on acknowledging that her followers aren’t just followers or fans, they are a community that grow with her and her career.

When Yael is not busy in front of the camera, coding or running her magazine and company, she loves to spend her time with her family and pets, as well as playing video games and doing anything to feed her creative side.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you share with us the “backstory” that led you to this career path?

Thanks for having me! Ever since I could remember, I’ve always had the passion to create and perform. I would dance, sing, write, draw, act, etc. In high school, I found another love- learning. I especially loved math, biology, and sports. I was very good at computer science, so I learnt it too even though it wasn’t my love until later in life. My attraction to create kept growing. This side was always with me, even when I made a rational decision to learn coding and become a software engineer in the army for 4 years after I was accepted to a special program. I knew the world was heading in this direction. While being a soldier, I’ve opened an Instagram account as my little place to express myself. I quickly came to realize the huge potential within social media. Not only could I have a stage and a voice to promote what I believe in, it was also a great advertising tool that became a game changer to all of my business ideas and visions for projects that I was starting to form at the time. When I finished my duty, it was time to take the obvious path to segue into one of the top tech companies. However, I decided to take a more risky, independent path and combine my experience in programming and what I’ve built in social media to go after my passions while developing my own projects.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career? What was the lesson or take away that you took out of that story?

A bizarre story that happened to me is when I found out that a company that creates sex dolls has decided to turn me into one of their sex dolls without my consent or knowledge. They made it look just like me, down to the tiniest detail such as my beauty mark under my lips. They attached my photos and videos and even called it “Yael”. It was very shocking. It made me realize that we can never predict or take into consideration all of the consequences that might come of our choice to expose ourselves online on a bigger scale, and that there are many helpless situations you can find yourself in once we’ve chosen it.

What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?

I think firstly, define your own definition of success and don’t be afraid to dream big. Start converting your dreams to practical goals, then set millstones and break it down to smaller steps and tasks. Thinking outside the box and believing in yourself is a powerful combo. And I truly believe each one of us contains much more than what we are usually taught.

Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?

My parents are my biggest teachers. They have the biggest impact on my life and my choices. I share everything with them. I love to hear their thoughts and wisdom from their own experience in life.

How are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?

Everyone can bring goodness to the world- I don’t think it needs to rely on success. Especially since part of my own definition of success is being a part of making the world a better place. This was my biggest motivation when taking social media more seriously. We can always start small and use whatever resources we have at the moment. I started by sharing my own views, hoping to bring more awareness and important discussions on matters that I think don’t receive much attention. It can be about how we perceive social norms and patterns, i.e. different people can have different opinions and we don’t have to agree in order to respect one another, think, and do our own research before jumping into conclusions. It can be about how we perceive women that feel comfortable with being sexual and expressing it, and that it doesn’t contradict that they are intelligent, good, strong, talented, and have values and achievements (which led me to launch my magazine “HolyLand”, to support the ideas of freedom, acceptance and the ability to contain). It can be about my views on relationships and what my opinion is on what love really means. It can even be my views about death (which in my opinion, doesn’t need to be taken as a fact in life). In general, I think that we need to talk more about what our norms are, what we perceive as granted, and question whether they are still necessary, where they came from, and we need to do to change in order to create a better future for ourselves. In every new project I’m getting into, it’s important for me to focus on at least one big cause I’m hoping to achieve, change, or promote.

Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?

It’s a mixture of events I’ve experienced in life. One reason is how much people underestimated me simply because I posted photos in a bikini or because I’m a woman in the tech field. Another reason is how I was “blamed” for being too sexual too early or more accurately, I expressed this side of me more than society norms in my environment allowed. Also, my experience from past relationships and my inability to grasp and accept death. Each experience helped me form and get more confident in my views. As my community on social media has grown, I’ve come to realize that I can make an impact.

I even remember a debate I had with my mother and brother one time- who can make a bigger change in the world, someone with a huge influence or someone with lots of money? Back then I thought that the answer was influence, today I’m not so sure.

Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?

My best friend, Eden. We met in the army, clicked immediately and became best friends. He always says that as he got to know me more, his views changed dramatically. He believed in me and my goals and wanted to support me in this adventure. He decided to join my projects and help in making a change.

Today he’s not only my best friend, but also my right hand and business partner. I couldn’t be happier that things turned out that way!

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or an example for each.

Well, I’ve got to admit I’ve been told this before by my parents, but I guess I still had to learn on my own and I’m still struggling to apply it!

  1. “Pick your battles” — You can’t fight in all of them. So, pick when it’s essential and pass when it’s time to let go.
  2. “Sometimes it’s better to be smart than right” — This is one thing that I still find very hard to follow since my biggest weakness and sensitivity is injustice. Sometimes I’m so determined for justice, even when the fighting itself could take such a big toll, that even if you get justice in the end, the outcome is still a loss.
  3. “Trust your instinct” — It helps me in many cases in my life, especially regarding people. When it comes to business, of course we all have our own interests, but It’s so important for me to work with decent people. So, my instincts play a big role here.
  4. “Be yourself” — It’s something that my parents kept saying ever since I could remember. I didn’t understand this when I was a kid. I was still figuring out who I was and developing my own personality. But the more I grow up, I realize how important it is to stay true to yourself. Getting denied while being yourself is still better, in my opinion, than achieving something by trying to be someone else.
  5. “Knowledge is power” — So I’ll keep some details to myself. 😉

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

It’s funny that you ask this, I actually have an idea in mind for a movement that can make a real change in the world. It’s still in diapers (Is this also a term in English?! I mean at “a very early stage”) and this is actually the first time I ever bring it up & share it with the world! The name is, “Newmanity” (New humanity). A movement that benefits humans as a species and not a specific country, government, religion, or you know, a specific group of people. I do think there is a big place for culture and I respect others beliefs, but I don’t see why it needs to divide us. Even though I proudly served my country where I was born and raised and extended the years I needed to serve in the army, I always questioned the ideas of Patriotism, Nationalism, the ideas of countries and borders, etc. I realized back then that whether I take the independent path or whether I work for a corporation, it must be one that goes hand in hand with my agendas and benefits the entire population of the world- humanity. I have a bigger vision in mind that I’m eager to promote- A united species living in harmony in their home, planet Earth. I was told countless times in my life that I’m naïve and over optimistic, but it won’t prevent me from still believing and pushing this idea further. Now more practically, for starters it will focus on gathering people from all over the world with the same ambitions, start to raise awareness, and discuss global issues and their solutions. Once we gain more resources, we can apply it more efficiently.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?

“Be your supporter, not your enemy”. Life can be full of difficulties, judgment, and disappointments. Don’t add to it and be so hard on yourself. Be the one giving a good word. For me, it’s so hard yet so important to apply, because I tend to be a perfectionist in what I do. I push myself too hard sometimes. Not to mention, my goals in life are close to impossible. When I feel something is not exactly as it should be, it can bring me really down.

We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Whoever wants to discuss with me on how we can make things better together- Meal is on me! When I was very young, I heard about Elon Musk and appreciated his decisions and directions he made, which was in favor of making the world better. Yet he never sacrifices his own self and lives a good life for himself and surroundings.

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