By Laura A. RoserEarly this year, I had the pleasure of interviewing a variety of business leaders. But I wasn’t interested in learning how they succeed in business. Instead, I asked them about how they find meaning, what kind of a difference they are making in the world, and what they would like their impact to be. The wisdom I walked away with was brilliant. The following are some excerpts of wisdom from these incredible leaders.
Good Food for Everyone
“My big audacious goal is good food for everyone. I made a pledge this year during the UN general assembly to take action on the UN’s SDG 2.0 and 2.5. 2.0 is to end world hunger. 2.5 is centered primarily on crop and animal diversity. And that speaks directly to our founding principles at Tender Greens and my own personal point of view as it relates to ingredients and farming practices. If we can grow organic food in a way that is regenerative and healthy for the planet, we move the culture in such a way that people are more plant-centric — not exclusive — but more plant centric. This promotes human health and planet health. If I play a relevant role in moving the needle on those issues, it’s something I’d be very proud of.”
– Erik Oberholtzer, 50, Co-Founder, Tender Greens, Los Angeles, CA
Erik Oberholtzer is the co-founder of Tender Greens, a pioneering fine casual brand founded in Los Angeles, CA in 2006 with a mission to democratize good food. A vision of the future he continues to drive as a Food Forever Champion on global biodiversity for the Crop Trust with whom he cooks globally alongside the world’s leading chefs. He joined the Rodale Institute’s board in 2019 to help drive awareness around soil health, regenerative organic agriculture and food as medicine. In 2009, he founded The Sustainable Life Program, a six month paid culinary internship program with a mission to provide a path forward for foster youth. Many of the students now hold leadership positions at Tender Greens, serving as beacons of success and inspiration to those at the edge of society.
In 2019, Erik joined Cohere as an advisor to founders of conscious brands as they navigate the headwinds of scale. With the success of Tender Greens, he provides a founder-centered roadmap to growth with emphasis on culture, supply chain integrity and long term strategic planning. Currently he is advising brands that are putting the health of people and the planet first, such as The Butcher’s Daughter in NYC/LA, Pocono Organic’s regenerative farm and Mulberry & Vine in NYC.
Prior to founding Tender Greens Erik worked as a chef in many of California’s best restaurants. This chef identity informs his intense dedication to ingredient providence, technique and deliciousness without compromise. A daily practice of meditation, fitness and good food helps Erik show up with a calm demeanor in a dynamic world. Erik is based in Brooklyn, NY where he can be found enjoying thoughtful meals with friends.
Lisa C. Sachs
Things That Matter
“When my daughter was around ten or twelve, my son is two years younger, I was starting to see a lot of selfishness at that age. I thought it was really important to be a good example to them, but also have them participate with me. Together, we volunteered for a nonprofit family service organization that helps families who need support. They put my children and I together with a family with a young boy close in age to my son who had had a liver transplant who needed a liver transplant shortly after his birth and later developed aggressive lymphoma. They also had a younger daughter and were really struggling. The mother needed a respite. So, we adopted this family, and my kids became personally involved.
Every Friday, we would drive to their home. My children learned the value of spending time with these kids. To this day we are all close family friends. My daughter today is very active in volunteering. As is my son.”
More from Lisa about her legacy:
“If I were a celebrity or a politician, I could make really broad impactful statements — positive or negative — and at least momentarily be heard in the sea of soundbites or newsflashes. But I would rather just be one of the millions who had a profound impact on the lives I touched by simply waking up each day excited to share talents, nurture and care for my loved ones, and mentor the next generation. I’m hopeful these smaller and incremental contributions have a longer lasting impact on our world. It’s the little things that matter. That’s my hope anyway.”
– Lisa C. Sachs, 62, Managing Principal of Cuming, Los Angeles, CA
Lisa is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and a Fellow of the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA), and a Certified Construction Manager (CCM). She is a past president of the CMAA Southern California Chapter and Chapter Foundation, and in 2014 was appointed by CMAA as its first ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) commissioner representing construction management in the applied and natural sciences.
For over twenty-five years Lisa was a key contributor to the success of two of the largest multi-billion dollareducational construction management bond programs in California as managing principal of Cumming, an international construction management firm. Her commanding role on these programs influenced the quality of the built environment and improved the level of contract performance by bothdesign and construction professionalsbased on shared lessons learned andindustry best practices. Currently,Lisa serves on the ConstructionManagement Advisory Councils fortwo institutions in Southern California,the New School of Architecture &Design in San Diego and Cal State Northridge.
Lisa has authored several books on construction management including, What Is Your Construction Management IQ. Her book is an introduction to Construction Management, a textbook for students, a hands-on manual for Construction Managers, and a clear, in depth discussion and description of the latest complex developments in project delivery. Recently she coauthored a second book entitled, What Is Your Construction Management EQ? And in 2019 in collaboration with the CMAA College of Fellows, expects to complete the trilogy with the release of a CM Career Guide entitled, What Is Your Construction Management VQ (Value Quotient)?
Paul J. Zak
A Love Plus Equation
“Our brains are made for love. And that love comes primarily from other people. We should be putting as much love into the world as possible. I try to make every interaction have what I call a love plus equation. I want to have more love in the world after I’ve spoken to you or somebody else than was in the world before we started the interaction. It’s a really simple rule, and I reflect on it every single day. So, when I interacted with the person from Starbucks, did I add love to their world or was I neutral or did I take love out of the world? If you’re doing that and focusing on adding love, then most things you do are probably the right things to do.”
– Paul J. Zak (a.k.a. Dr. Love), 56, Neuroeconomist and Author of Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High Performance Companies, Claremont, CA
Paul’s two decades of research have taken him from the Pentagon to Fortune 50 boardrooms to the rain forest of Papua New Guinea. All this in a quest to understand the neuroscience of human connection, human happiness, and effective teamwork. His academic lab and his companies develop and deploy neuroscience technologies to solve real problems faced by real people.
His latest book, Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High Performance Companies, uses neuroscience to measure and manage organizational cultures to inspire teamwork and accelerate business outcomes. His 2012 book, The Moral Molecule: The Source of Love and Prosperity, recounted his unlikely discovery of the neurochemical oxytocin as the key driver of trust, love, and morality that distinguish our humanity. In another obsession, Paul’s group uses neuroscience to quantify the impact of movies, advertising, stories, and consumer experiences. Along the way, he has helped start several transdisciplinary fields, including neuroeconomics, neuromanagement, and neuromarketing.
Paul’s research on oxytocin and relationships has earned him the nickname “Dr. Love.” That’s cool. He’s all about adding more love to the world. Visit his website at www.pauljzak.com
Hidden Treasures in Earthly Vessels
“In the Bible there is this verse that says, ‘There are hidden treasures in earthly vessels.’ There’s something beautiful, something sacred within us, as people. So, my focus is developing people to show them that there’s more to you than what you think there is or what you’ve been told. We have many churches across America with many communities in need, but often times the members are not actively engaged in their community. They are kind of like a hermit community. My hope is that many more would rise up within the church to help fulfill the needs and give vision to people who feel stuck or like there’s no hope.”
– Ben Sosa, 25, Associate Pastor at Refinery Church, Fresno, CA
Ben Sosa is an Fresno native who ministers and resides in the great city of Fresno, CA, as the Associate Pastor at Refinery Church. His focus is to help those struggling with poverty, emotional problems, addiction, and drug abuse find a better way. He is a graduate of Biola University and a licensed minister of the Assemblies of God. Ben has diverse ministry experience in the local church, House of Prayer, and outreach ministry. Growing up in Los Angeles fueled his passion for cross cultural ministry and has led him to participate with various expressions of the Christian faith within the context of Korean-American, African-American, Latino, and Anglo community. His hope is to empower people to their fullest potential by means of spiritual formation and discipleship.
Norbert J. Kubilus
Mentoring the Next Generation of Leaders
“There are probably right now at least dozens, if not scores, of executives in companies and in higher ed who had previously worked for me and who I mentored. And others I mentored who I met socially or through other professional organizations.
“Here’s a story that illustrates this mentoring effect: I was playing at a vendor golf tournament some years back, and I was paired up with a senior vice president from a multinational resort company. I had never known him personally, and we introduced ourselves. He goes, ‘So, you’re Norbert.’ And I say, ‘Yes.’ And he goes, ‘I have heard so much about you. I have two directors in my organization who worked for you. I have to thank you for how well you developed them.’
“When I think about legacy, that’s what I’m trying to create. People can create all kinds of millions or billions of dollars of things or new products. No, for me, it’s the passing on intellectual capital and helping people develop emotional intelligence, find themselves, create their brand, and go with it.”
– Norbert J. Kubilus, CCP MBCS, 70, President Emeritus at Coleman University, San Diego, CA
Norbert J. Kubilus recently retired as President of Coleman University. He is a career senior technology executive, educator, and consultant. As a transformational leader, he helps organizations and individuals achieve the seemingly impossible. A graduate of Seton Hall University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, he is the author of over 70 professional and academic publications, and he is a frequent speaker on leadership and mentoring.
Building Businesses That Heal
“A lot of times I’ll start a business and then put management in place—it’s kinda like building spec houses, but I build spec businesses. I built a demolition business recently and brought in a really neat young man to run it. He has a master’s degree in nuclear engineering, but didn’t have any passion for what he has his degree in. But he’s great at math and loves people. Now, if you just own a demolition business and you have your master’s degree in nuclear engineering, there’s a discrepancy between your degree and what you do every day. The dirt, the grime, the sun, and the concrete is really divorced from your background. This makes it very hard to stay incentivized.
“To be successful, you have to understand the truer story of the Phoenix labor market. When you go to a Christmas party, you hear the conversations of men talking about their third and fourth Christmas parties they have to attend because of divorces and who’s in prison. These are 20-something-year-old-boys. It’s just terrible brokenness on the planet.
“You need to understand a truer story that if you establish your business correctly, you might be able to provide eight hours a day of work for someone who has their entire life, up to that point, done nothing but fought. Fought through the foster program. Fought until they got into the military. They’ve done nothing but fought and for the first time in their lives there’s eight hours a day where they get to do something productive with their minds and hands. Where they can heal so that when they go home, they can be more prepared to have a productive life.
“When you understand your business in a greater sense, there’s something incredibly fulfilling about building a sustainable environment for people to heal.”
– Daniel Zimmerman, 44, President of TrustFall Business Group and CEO of TankTechsRx, Phoenix, AZ
Daniel has established multiple product and service businesses over the past 20 years. Currently, he is the President of TrustFall Business Group, a business coaching firm in Phoenix, Arizona, and the current owner and CEO of TankTechsRx, an industrial probiotics solutions company with distribution across the globe. Daniel is a passionate educator who focuses his efforts helping people author a more sustainable version of hope within their business. He and his wife have 5 children and enjoy an adventure filled life tucked away on a little river on the outskirts of a sprawling desert.
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Laura A. Roser is the founder and CEO of Paragon Road, the #1 authority in meaning legacy planning. For more information about meaning legacy planning services, visit www.paragonroad.com.