All Posts in Workplace Relationships

April 13, 2017 - No Comments!

Lisa’s Story

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I can’t believe it has been over 17 years ago that I started this journey with SBC. As I made a leap from the corporate world to consulting, little did I know that I was joining an organization that would make such an impact on my life, working with the best leader and team. After working with our first client, Allergan and AMO, I remember thinking to myself that this organization was something different - it's not just an ordinary firm, but one that has built its foundation on relationships and integrity. These core values aligned with what I was looking for and have truly allowed me to experience the perfect work/life balance. I have been able to pick my kids up from school, work in their classroom, and attend sporting events, all while being able to fulfill my passion for building relationships and helping great people connect with great companies. I love that each person on our team is always willing to help out and brainstorm ideas, and even though we are virtual, we are able to collaborate and support each other. As I look back I feel so blessed to be part of an organization that values its clients and for the relationships that I have made along the way. Congratulations to 20 years and thank you Sherry for being a mentor, and allowing me to be a part of this journey!

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Blog
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December 4, 2015 - No Comments!

SBCo November Newsletter: Purpose Driven Giving

This is a time of year when we are grateful for the people and work that surrounds us. Our good friend Rob Reindl transitioned from corporate life, as CHRO with Edwards Lifesciences, to a blended lifestyle that incorporates fascinating consulting work, giving to the community and sharing his leadership skills with others in unique ways.

Several years ago, Rob began looking at non-profits and the OneOC family offered impressive focus and purpose driven work helping other organizations give back and engage their employees in meaningful work.

In 2015, OneOC launched the Center for Business & Community Partnerships, which helps companies build and grow their giving and employee volunteer programs in order to maximize charitable activities and generate needed resources for local nonprofits.

We sat down with Rob Reindl, now Chairman of the Board for OneOC, to learn a little more about his role and their purpose. We found out that the Center has helped give companies a chance to make a difference in 2015 by supporting 91 organizations, creating 231 new projects and enabling 12,000+ hours of first time volunteer hours.

Reindl_DSC7314Sherry Benjamins (SB): Following a successful and rewarding career as CHRO with Edwards Lifesciences, what prompted you to get involved with OneOC?

Rob Reindl (RR): I was lucky to come from Edwards which was extraordinarily innovative and growth oriented. When I decided to retire I knew I couldn’t play golf every day and I wanted to contribute and give back to the community. I had developed these leadership skill sets during my career and saw no reason to let them go stale. There is something intrinsically rewarding about impacting your community.

I researched many non-profit organizations, but felt like my skill set would be valued and have the most impact on a really important cause in our community – helping companies build philanthropy and purpose driven cultures.

SB: Tell us more about your role as Chair for the Board within OneOC?

RR: I was on the board for about a year before I was approached to be the Chair. My main focus is attracting and retaining board members, guiding our meetings, influencing participation by board members and committee members, as well as leading the charge on fundraising.

SB: When you look back at the last year as the Chair, what have you enjoyed most?

RR: I loved the excitement around raising $500,000 for our Center of Business & Community Partnerships. It has been great to see the influence we are having in the first year of this Center’s evolution.

It is inspiring to see the high level of participation by companies and leaders. We are really compelled by the urgent unmet needs in Orange County. Half of the students in Orange County live in families making less than $40,000 a year, 1/3 are not insured or under insured, and 55% of 3rd graders in OC are reading below the proficiency level. Not many people realize the scope of unmet needs in Orange County. I like having a strong line of sight to meeting these needs.

SB: What is the challenge that companies face when they want to build purpose driven cultures?

RR: There is this heavy fixation on profit, especially for public companies. Most people don’t align volunteering and giving with meeting business objectives, but there is a business case of being purposeful. It’s been shown that there is a direct correlation between doing good in the community and doing well in business.

SB: It is not unusual to see the larger firms create foundations and participate actively. Do you see more mid-market companies doing this?

RR: Yes, a great example of a mid-market company seeing the ROI on doing good in the community is Fluidmaster. Fluidmaster has implemented a volunteer program and some relatively small giving initiatives, but have seen profits double and turnover reduce by 20% because of these programs. Employees stay at organizations with purpose. Most employees want to see their work make a difference and have impact.

SB: Where are you seeing the demands for “Growing Volunteerism”?

RR: OneOc is made up of two buckets - giving and volunteering. Volunteering is typically skill based, hands-on experiences. For instance, Disneyland selected approximately 26 employees to donate their skills to a non-profit for a few hours a month. The employees get to develop unique skills and the non-profits benefit from their expertise. It’s an amazing way to make employees feel like organizations care about their development AND care about the community.

Giving is made up of foundation creation, employee gift matching, disaster relief assistance, scholarships, and our gift cards.

SB: What is your advice for leaders/companies starting this journey if they have not created “do good” initiatives?

RR: My biggest recommendation is to think about how your values and skills align with a philanthropic organization. Do your research and talk to a few non-profits and their leadership. Find out how they contribute and what their mission is. Think about where you might contribute your skills and have influence. We find purpose when we are doing things we love, or attempting a new challenge and expressing our thoughts so that actions can be taken for a result greater than ourselves.

It is ok to start small. Build an aligned strategy between your organization and the non-profit you have identified. You don’t have to do large scale volunteering right away; start by giving gift cards for the holidays or participating in hands-on volunteering. Your energy and passion for this will grow and be contagious as others learn what you are involved in.


Most companies are seeking purpose AND profit today. We have to thank the Millennial generation who has moved the needle in this change. They seek out purpose in everything from what they buy to who they work for and relationships they seek. Of course, many generations value purpose. The younger generation has just accelerated this for us. In a time of more uncertainty than ever, we are looking for ways to help those in need and giving back makes sense.

We have entered a new economy, as Aaron Hurst describes in his book, The Purpose Economy. He lays out the context for how people and organizations are focused on value. Rob shared his story about how he found a way to line up his personal values with an organization that embraces those values in his community.

As you reflect on what matters to you most, consider giving in new ways. The great business challenge we face is not how to build a fine tuned machine, but how to build a human-centered organization that does good on all fronts.

August 28, 2015 - No Comments!

SBCo August Newsletter – Two Women Entrepreneurs: Talent Matters in Food & Film

This month we decided to highlight the creativity, impact and courage of two women entrepreneurs who are successfully using their strengths and passion to share their love of food and film.  Natasha Feldman and Julianna Strickland started their own company, Cinema & Spice, over five years ago and have been Best Friends, Producers, Directors, Writers, Hosts, and Goofballs ever since.

Cinema & Spice Productions makes web-based cooking shows. Natasha and Julianna have worked with a variety of companies including C&S tvYahoo, Kraft, Le Creuset, Keds, Warner Brothers, Lifetime, and KitchenAid to develop and create youthful and creative shows.

Their Webby Nominated Cooking Show, Cinema & Spice (C&S), has been featured in The LA Times,  Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, The Union Tribune, and on The Steve Harvey Show. Each episode  of C&S  is inspired by a movie or television show and features original recipes, useful kitchen tips, and ideas for  entertaining.

Sherry Benjamins (SB): It’s so great to chat with you Julianna and Natasha! Tell us how you started such an imaginative company?

Natasha Feldman (NF): I had just graduated from LMU and decided that I wanted to go to culinary school. Julianna had just graduated from USC with a film degree and we were both working in the same restaurant. At the time that I met Julianna I needed a roommate and she was looking to move out of her apartment, so we became roommates, co-workers, and friends.

We experimented in the kitchen and filmed these mini-episodes of us cooking. The first episode was horrible but we kept playing with it in the editing bay to see if we could create some structure and purpose. At first we thought just our friends and family would watch, but soon we were gaining a following.

Long story short, we started getting sponsors for our episodes and we eventually connected with Yahoo! and grew our business from there.

SB: What role do each of you play in the organization? Do you have a team to help you run this company?

Julianna Strickland (JS): Someday we may be lucky enough to have a full support staff, but for now it’s just the two of us and our freelance team. Natasha is the one who develops recipes, does the food styling and writes. I am all the things under the surface that allow our business to run.

For instance, I do all of the back-end production, accounting, hire the film crew and edit all copy.  And we like to do the creative brainstorming for each episode together. We are strategic about getting the best talent available to help us in areas where additional expertise is needed.

SB: Cinema & Spice does their own videos as well as videos for brands. Do brands approach you and just ask for a video?

NF: Yes, brands reach out to a platform, such as Yahoo!, AOL or a YouTube company, looking for content and we get the requests through the larger companies, usually.  Sometimes the request is for general concepts to see if they feel it fits in with their current landscape and needs, and other times it’s for full-blown productions. We have been fortunate to work with brands like Kraft, Le Creuset, Keds and KitchenAid.

SB: It is great to hear that you are able to inject some of your creativity into these very large organizations. How can corporations use a similar level of creativity (besides hiring you!)?

NF: Large companies can’t be afraid of the new; it’s no mystery that the world as we know it is changing. That doesn’t mean that companies should make rash decisions to completely alter their brand. Organizations are quick to “blow up” a process or initiative, but sometimes you just need to approach it in a new way.

We find companies often spend egregious amounts of money to work with big production houses and end up with a product that looks like everyone else and doesn’t break the mold. If you don’t hire someone that’s a little risky and don’t make a product that is a little risky, you won’t get the impactful result you were looking for.

SB: There is a lot of change happening right now as the millennial generation enters the workforce. You are both Millennials… any advice for organizations on how to “handle” your generation?

NF: It is really important to embrace the strengths of others and use their talent and perspectives to compliment or break out into something new. We see and honor the power of collaboration. It is pretty easy for Millennials to create a website and launch a company, but there is so much power in the wisdom and expertise of older generations. Technology changes, but the core needs and wants of people don’t change much. Millennials are a valuable asset to fill in the gap between the new technology and the established business.

JS: We are constantly at the crossroad between old and new. The tech space is all about the newest thing, but in the food world, established and authentic brands actually have respect from the consumer. There’s a similar crossroads within organizations between the newest thing (Millennials) and the established/respected business.

SB: You launched your own business in an industry that has a lot of big players. What drove you to take this step?

NF: I will say we were a little naïve to an extent because we had a dream and we decided to go for it. It certainly hasn’t been without consequence, but if you were to ask if we would do it over again, I think we would both certainly say yes.

SB: I am hearing more often these days from corporate professionals who say, “I am ready for a change because my work isn’t exciting or fun anymore. I need to find my purpose again.”

JS: If you choose something you love to do, you will always find the joy and purpose in it. We are lucky to be able to enjoy our work through creating our own episodes, making branded content for others, and volunteering to teach the next generation how to cook, both through our shows and at local food banks and low income housing around LA.

SB: What does 2016 look like for Cinema & Spice?

NF: In 2016 we want to continue to branch out with our production company. We meet so many brilliant people inside organizations as well as independent talent (comedians, actors, bloggers, etc.) that we want to partner with to produce their content. Watch for new episodes and productions that we hope inspire you to incorporate healthy eating into your lifestyle.

Our Thoughts…

Seek out talent the way Julianna and Natasha do for their business.  Imagine having the creativity, passion and trust in your workers so that they bring their best to your culture every day.  They get to work on something that did not exist yesterday. This dynamic duo is crafting a new on-line and social presence in a changing world.

They think creatively about how work gets done. This supports predictions that new models of work, worker and workplace have arrived.  Natasha and Julianna are just one example of young leaders who demonstrate that we have left behind “business as usual.”  Tap into your employee’s imagination and you may be thoroughly surprised what can be accomplished!

You can learn more about Cinema & Spice on their website, YouTube channel, or Instagram!

May 2, 2015 - No Comments!

Are you in a Profit Paradox?

We hosted a learning event this past week and enjoyed a provocative discussion with Dr. Gustavo Grodnitsky.  I invited our clients and a few really smart and engaging millennials who bring amazing honesty and refreshing energy to our discussions.  This is written by Derek Kozaites, a recent graduate is interested in International Studies and business.  Read what he had to say;

"I had the pleasure of attending a “Great Starts Breakfast Series” hosted by S.Benjamins & Co. The series is in its tenth year of orchestrating inspirational meetings to Southern California’s most forward thinking professionals. This particular event, presented by Dr. Gustavo Grodnitzky Ph.D., was titled “The Profit Paradox: Culture in the New World of Work”. Dr. Gustavo, a Colorado native known as a “social hacker”, presented an intriguing look into the rapidly changing environment of culture in the workplace. In his words, “culture trumps everything” (which is also the title of his new book)."

Derek says that Dr. Gustavo’s overarching theme of change is in seeing the world in a social context.  He said, "Analyzing the contextual nature of human behavior, Dr. Gustavo set the stage for the corporate struggle between business norms and social norms, arguing that companies with a social focus towards their “stakeholders” will ultimately succeed. Backing up this argument, Dr. Gustavo revealed one of the most captivating results of his presentation, a ten-year profit comparison between classic capitalism and social capitalism companies, which dramatically favored the social capitalism companies."

"As a member of the newest generation of young professionals, I took a sigh of relief following Dr. Gustavo’s presentation, finding comfort in the fact that businesses all over the world are seeking to understand and meet the demands of our ever-changing culture."

We better listen to these millennials - 80 million of them are entering our workforce in the next few years.  Thank you Derek for sharing.


June 20, 2011 - No Comments!

SBCo Newsletter- November 2011

Making Sense of the New Cogenerational Workplace™

The workplace is not what it used to be and neither is our workforce. The nature and availability of work is changing in important ways, ways that will impact workers and re-define who are workers are for many generations in decades to come.

The generation’s discussion has been hot for a long time but now, my colleague Jim Finkelstein, Founder of FutureSense, and author of his second edition of “Fuse: Making Sense of the New Cogenerational Workplace™ (available on iTunes,, Kindle and through his website at addresses the issues of the cogenerational workforce in a fascinating way.   The implication for this challenge is huge for those of us in Human Resources and as advisors to our senior leadership.

Jim sees a more complex culture ahead for organization, manager and employee. He refers to the change inside companies as a “colliding” of generations that is transforming how we work and succeed. In some ways this is just the beginning, Jim and other experts in this arena say that more change is ahead as the Digital Natives (10 year olds today) enter the workplace in the not too distant future. These are the kids that grew up on games, ipads and digital everything.

For today, just imagine a company where you and your daughter or your son competes for the same position. Scary thought, but not so far off. Jim calls this the “eighteen to eighty year old” talent dilemma that companies are facing now. Seniors are re-entering; Boomers must stay in the workplace; Gen-Xers want to move up and Millennials want to move in.

Many organizations are starting to get creative to attract, engage, tailor development, and address learning differences of these diverse generations. Mark Huselid, Professor at Rutgers and author of “Workforce Scorecard” calls this “workforce strategy segmentation” as we plan for future talent. We can see that the future is now. The problem is that some companies are still embracing 20th century ideals by reacting slowly in a fast paced and dynamic 21st century workplace.

In Jim’s new book he shares that from Google to Godaddy, organizations are finally getting creative in reaching out to and engaging diverse talent pools. Microsoft is known for creating mentorship programs for young professionals and give reverse mentoring roles to senior managers who help the younger ones navigate in new territories. It is truly a win-win. I asked Jim more about the forces at play as companies increase virtual work and expect dispersed teams across the globe.

Is there a revolution underway in the workplace?

There is no doubt that the pressure is on for many organizations to find critical skills of talent and do a better job of understanding the needs of multiple generations.

Companies that understand managing diversity and retaining talent know where their risk areas are. Jim recommends three strategies for those that are just starting this journey.

  1. Determine if your company is “cogenerationally savvy.” Discover whether your company has a business strategy, a process for conversation and dialogue that is appropriate for early professionals to senior “statesman.”
  2. Identify where the high risk areas are, such as in Nursing, where the senior Nurse still sees the development of new talent in the same way that they were trained. Many of these approaches are outdated and alienate the new graduates today.
  3. Re-evaluate and re-structure the reward systems for many are still 20th century designed structures and do not offer the customization and flexibility that is needed today. We need to understand why people show up to work. What motivates a twenty-something is quite different than a boomer.

Truly understanding your workforce means you care about the “human-ness” of your company. It is time to put this first. Much has been written about business relationships and care for the customer. We are suggesting that focus on the inside is paramount before focusing on the outside.

To learn more about this topic from your peers, let us know what you think on our blog. We have a new web site at and would like to know what you are doing in your workforce to be “cogenerationally savvy.”

Published by: admin in Newsletter
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June 20, 2009 - No Comments!

SBCo Newsletter- July 2009

Getting Along with “Them:” Simple Things To Do Right Now Jim Finkelstein, CEO FutureSense

Jim Finkelstein’s new book, FUSE: Igniting the Full Power of the Creative Economy, has just been released. The book is a 21st century primer for Boomers and Newsletter Image 2007Millennials in the workplace. He collaborated with his co-author, Mary Gavin, a gifted communicator, writer and consultant on this project.

FUSE is a roadmap to the major attractions and hidden talents of both generations; a training book for beleaguered Boomers and frustrated Millennials; and an instruction manual for anyone wanting to attract, motivate and retain employees, or to contribute the full range of their talents to their organizations.

Jim’s goal in writing the book was to show how a mashup of the generations – not a gap – but a fusion of their unique and specific perspectives and abilities can lead to innovation and speed products, services and people into the creative economy of the future. He believes that these are people practical solutions based on common sense. Jim believes common sense is about taking action, but he recognizes that you need to know what to be doing.  According to Jim, “We’re missing the point if we just focus on the attributes of each generation. Let’s talk about specific actions.”

We had a chance to catch Jim between his many presentations and consulting projects to ask him about things we can start doing right away.

If you’re thinking, “I really want to relate to them, but I don’t know how to do it. How do I change my spots?” here is some of Jim’s common sense advice.

Two things that Boomers can start doing right away:

• Seek to understand rather than be understood. Try being a collaborator or teacher/mentor rather than the manager. Boomer management style is to make statements about the way we do things. Jim’s recommendation:  turn those statements into questions that will invite collaboration.

Rather than tell a group, for example, how you want to structure the meeting, gve a group a pre-set agenda and ask for input: “How can we make this a more productive meeting? Should we turn cell phones off – or how often should we take telecom breaks?” etc. Make an open space for collaboration, “Here’s what we need to get done. How do we get this done?” Jim notes, “Millennials are more psychological than other generations. They need to be engaged more on the emotive than the cognitive scale. They are forcing managers to manage people, not jobs and not tasks.”

• Recognize they see things differently. Before you feel offended because people are texting while you’re talking, remember this is the generation of multi-tasking at its most complex. They don’t see dual activity as rude—it’s just how they function. If they are paying attention to you as well as the texting, try to roll with it.

Bonus suggestion:
For years structured meetings, etc., have been in 50 minute segments with 10 minute breaks. To get the most involvement from Millennials, make some kind of break after 20 minute segments. It may seem like more work, but you’ll get more attention from your employees if you recognize they need shorter segments to hold their attention. Again, this is how they function. {Editor’s note: some of us Boomers will appreciate shorter segments as well!}

Two things that Millennials can start doing right away:

• Respect and honor the wisdom and experience of people who came before you. Learn from their trials, mistakes, successes. Be in a learning mode to learn from everyone around you. Be a student and take the approach that you can learn from each other

• Be patient and firm: don’t give up your point of view but realize it may not happen at warp speed. You may need to learn how to play the game differently. Be patient and helpful; be a teacher. Be willing to teach the old dogs, but in sound bites, and teach by example. This is a much better approach than moaning and whining if you don’t get your way right away.

Bonus Suggestion:
Give them the answer and then show them how you got there. Boomers want the answer first. If your boss gave you an assignment that you know can be done in a more efficient way, find the solution to get it done. Get them the answer they need first. Then let them know: "There is actually an interesting and intriguing way to get this done. Can I show you what I did?”