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How These 6 Business Innovators Find Meaning

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Early 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.

Erik Oberholtzer

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)?

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