Are you feeling burnt out? Today on The Legalpreneur, I welcome our longstanding member, Nicole Bensen, to discuss burnout, retreats, and mindfulness training. She got her start at Google, managing the well-being program for women. Working in big tech can be stressful, so Nicole took a leap of faith and started Tentacles and Tea, a wellness retreat and coaching business that helps you escape the grind in some of the most beautiful locations around the world.
Everything runs on divine timing, Nicole started her business the moment the world shut down, but that did not phase her! She shares how she pivoted her business model to online coaching and persevered through the past two years. Her hard work paid off, so today she is announcing her first in-person retreat in Switzerland! This trip will be an amazing opportunity to reconnect with yourself, have some fun and meet great people in the process.
Nicole reveals how helpful her Legalpreneur Membership was to the formation of her company, and the benefits of having an attorney on hand! Join us as we dive into the world of Big Tech, woo-woo, and personal development.
[0:40] Nicole’s journey from Google to entrepreneurship
[2:40] How Nicole landed her job at Google
[5:00] Networking within your organization
[7:40] Why Nicole left Google
[10:00] Shifting to online courses
[11:35] Workshops for corporate teams
[13:00] Nicole’s first in-person retreat
[20:00] Reframing the WOO for your audience
[23:20] The flex of having the Legalpreneur Membership
To learn more about Nicole, click the links below:
The Legalpreneur Podcast is advertising/marketing material. It is not legal advice. Please consult with your attorney on these topics. Copyright Legalpreneur Inc 2022
Andrea Sager 00:03
Welcome to the Legalpreneur podcast. I’m your host Andrea Sager founder and CEO of Legalpreneur Inc. As a serial entrepreneur and someone that works exclusively with small business owners legally protecting their business. I’m dedicated to covering common legal issues faced by business owners, providing you with the business knowledge you need to catapult your business’s growth, and showing you just how some of the world’s most elite entrepreneurs have handled these legal and business issues themselves. In true attorney fashion, the information in this episode is not legal advice. This is for informational purposes only. And you should always consult with your attorney before implementing any of the information in the show.
Andrea Sager 00:46
Hello there welcome back. I am joined by Nicole Benson. She is the founder of tentacles and tea. And she has been a legal prayer member for a little bit now. She’s been in for over a year. And I admire her because she has done some amazing things. And I’m excited to have her talk about it here on the podcast today. So Nicole, thank you so much for joining me. Thank you, Andrea, I am so inspired by you. So I’m excited to be here. Thank you. I appreciate that. Well, can you get us started and tell everybody about your journey, how you got to where you are today. And don’t hold back? Because a lot of people are scared to like brag, and I’m just like, No, tell us brag on yourself. All right, okay, well, where do I even start, I spent about almost a decade at Google. And there I worked in human resources. And I’ll tell you about my last role there it was managing the well being program for Google’s female leaders. And that was one of nine different programs that I manage. But while I was there, managing this wellbeing program, which was essentially taking the women out of the boardroom and into gorgeous locations on wellbeing retreats around the world. Ironically, it totally burned out myself.
Nicole Bensen 02:00
So I decided to take a step away from Google and launch my own wellbeing retreat company. And in the world’s most ironic timing, I left Google to start a retreat company on March 13 2020.
Nicole Bensen 02:15
So most people probably know what happened. But day one of being an entrepreneur was day one of shelter in place here in the Bay Area. My kids were doing home schooling from the dining room table, my husband was home. So all that to say the retreat portion went on pause. But I had to pivot to start teaching online courses in happiness and wellbeing and mental health and building psychological safety and got my positive psychology coaching certification. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the last few years. I love it, and the resilience to start entrepreneurship on the day that you really can’t.
Andrea Sager 02:52
But I admire you for your perseverance and continuing and I know you have a retreat coming up, which we’ll get into detail about. So make sure you all stay tuned for that because I’m like, Oh my gosh, I need to see if I can get away for that. Because it actually looks not actually like it wouldn’t be cool. But it looks extremely incredible. But what I would love to hear is, what was your background, getting into Google getting into these roles at Google? Not that I’m questioning your background? And whether you should be doing this or not? I’m just curious, like, how does somebody even do this? Oh, I love this story. Because I am not what most people think about it. So I grew up in Silicon Valley. Here’s the beautiful version of it. My dad’s a software engineer, I grew up in Silicon Valley. Of course, like, of course, I’m gonna work at Google, right. But what people don’t know is, I had a super religious upbringing, where women essentially weren’t taught to do anything, but get married and have kids. And so I didn’t get my four year degree. And long story short, I went to an interview at Google. And during my interview, the person told me that I would never be hired there. Because I don’t have a four year degree. Oh, my gosh. So fast forward. Obviously, I just let you know that I was there. I was successful in five different roles in two different countries. I was promoted, I managed a team. I did the thing. And so what I think is really beautiful is during my time at Google, I got to see them evolve from the company that only hires people from elite Ivy League schools, to realizing that the person who is successful without that probably has something that you want to dig into too. Yeah. So when I got into Google, it was in the recruiting industry. And so I had had years of recruiting, which helped me have the work skills to be successful there. And then during my time there, I volunteered for a few different areas of places that I was really passionate about. So event planning, planning experiences, all that
Nicole Bensen 05:00
That was something that I was really interested in. So as an example, one of the events that I helped to plan was take your parents to work day. And it was so cool. It’s so fun because you get to see all these adults bring their their parents to to work. So I got to volunteer on that team, which essentially helped me network with people who are on different teams. And so I’m a big proponent of networking, because you never know where those connections are going to lead you.
Andrea Sager 05:24
Yeah. And it’s also networking within the organization. A lot of people think of networking as like, let me go meet people from other organizations, but especially in the corporate world, you have to network internally, I’m learning that right now with the NetSuite accelerator we’re in, because I see a lot of so it’s with Oracle. And it’s so fascinating to see the operations number one of a huge corporation, and to see just how so many people that work for NetSuite want to network internally. And I never it’s just now opening my eyes to how much networking is done in house at a corporate company?
Nicole Bensen 06:03
Yeah, for sure. I mean, there’s, we’ve all been to those awkward networking, happy hours, right? Where you’re like, I don’t even know what to say, or how to start this conversation. And so it’s so much easier when you’re in an organization, exactly what you just said, Andrea’s people think like, I need to figure out how do I get into this other company? But is there somebody at your current company who worked there before? Or who does a similar role? Or can you just get to know something about that person? And I think Google did a really great job of most people had open calendars. And so it wasn’t frowned upon to you know, throw 10 minutes on someone’s calendar and ask them if you could network and have a virtual coffee.
Andrea Sager 06:41
Wow, that’s really interesting. That’s a really cool concept as well. And one question that I have for you about Google, and then we’ll switch to what you’re doing now. But what really made you want to take the leap? I know you said you were burned out. But it’s I know that it is scary. taking that leap from corporate to entrepreneurship, and especially in the middle of like, at the beginning of pandemic. What was that final deciding factor like? And what did you do to prepare? Did you have a full blown business plan? Did you you were just like, I’ll just figure it out. Like there’s, I’m not testing you. I’m just curious, because I know some people are here like listening. How do I do this?
Nicole Bensen 07:23
Yeah. Let me think where to start with that question. So it was very difficult for me to make the decision. I love Google, like to the state, I love Google, I met the most amazing, smart, bright people there. And as cheesy as it sounds, most of the people there really feel like they are contributing to making the world a better place. And it sounds so cheesy, but you feel like you’re this part of something. And so there was not only that part of my identity, but there’s those golden handcuffs that the longer that you stay there, the more the more stock you get. And all the beautiful things right. Um, so for me, my breaking point was a person in my family had been diagnosed with cancer. And I went into chat with my manager, and I was just sobbing. And the response that I got from this particular person wasn’t very encouraging, but more about like, how are you setting up your desk? And yes, that’s important. But I just realized, not realized at that moment. But it drove home the point that like, I could disappear from Google on the stock is not going to change a penny, I could disappear from my life. And obviously, my family’s worlds are going to be upside down. And so I just had to take the pause. And it was very, very difficult, again, because I was told at the beginning, you’re never going to be hired here. And so I felt like I had really proven something. And now I was part of this elite group. And I just had to make the leap for my mental health. What I did to prepare is I definitely saved money. And so I said, Okay, if I don’t make money for an entire year, I’m going to be okay. And the beauty of hindsight is, we realize now with a pandemic was, I mean, even when I gave my two weeks notice, we had no idea what the world was gonna be like. So the first three weeks was fun, right? It was like, Okay, we’re gonna teach math at home by you know, how many glittery nails are we painting ratio of two out of 10. And then it was we’re at home for six weeks. And so it just spiraled and I had to pivot. I don’t know, if I would have known what the world was going to do. I don’t know that I would have been brave enough to make the leap at that point. So I think it’s beautiful and poetic that I didn’t know because I’m not sure that I would have made the leap and I have zero regrets about leaving.
Andrea Sager 09:41
I love that I like I have goosebumps hearing you talk about it. But one question and first of all, like, I commend you for making that lever. I was pushed out I was fired. So I was wanting to make the leap, but I didn’t have the courage to make the leap. So I know how hard it is. So I commend you 100% Like I had asked You now making the transition. And, of course you have this plan of what you’re going to do and then the world stops. So then you transition to courses. And I’m curious, how did those initial launches go? Or how did that initially go? How are you finding clients? Because I understand at this point, everybody is online, but it’s still not easy. selling those. So I would love to hear that journey.
Nicole Bensen 10:26
I would love to chat with somebody who has it figured out. I’m still working on it. So yes, at the beginning, I created this program, this course of the things that I had planned to teach at retreat. So wellbeing, mental health, happiness tools, I say that my stuff is based in science, but flirts with Woo, because I am used to work with really research science, data driven people, and I am one of those people. If you just tell me try this breathing exercise, and you’ll feel better. Okay, maybe. But I want to actually know that there were 1200 studies done with this many people and I want to know all that stuff. So I had planned to teach all those in beautiful locations all over the world. Obviously, when we weren’t traveling, I decided to start teaching those in a course. So I started off with a four week course that I taught online, live. And that essentially started with friends and friends of friends. And then I evolved it to be a longer course. And all this to say my launches have had zero, my launches have had crickets, I have had the opportunity to work with some amazing people. But not every single launch has been not after I realized how difficult it was to to get individual people to even know who I am, let alone invest a fair amount of money with me. I pivoted to start teaching to corporate teams, because it’s a lot easier to have somebody hand over their corporate credit card for a team workshop than it is to have a person do that. And so that’s been the majority of my business for the past few years is all workshops to teams to help them get one three and five minute tools that boosts their happiness in the middle of their day, when they don’t have time to take a week off to spend in the mountains with the monks. But they have three minutes before their next call, what can they do? Those are the types of things that I teach.
Andrea Sager 12:21
Oh, I love that. That is so exciting. And now. So this retreat coming up, is that your first one? Oh, that’s exciting. Okay, we have more to talk about. But go ahead. This is a great place to go ahead and talk about the retreat. Yeah.
Nicole Bensen 12:35
So yes, it is the first one that I am planning where the public is able to come. This, again, is what I used to do at Google. So I know how to create a beautiful, safe space, luxury activities. And I’m essentially creating what I needed in that moment. So I didn’t have a week to go to a women’s conference where I could network with people, and a week to go on that silent retreat with the monks where I could learn while being tools in a week to go on a luxury vacation with my girlfriends, right. So what I’ve now created is I say a week, this one that’s coming up is five days, but essentially a space where you can rub shoulders with other ambitious women leaders who are investing in themselves at this level, get those wellbeing tools, and really get the white glove treatment and just be spoiled. Like I want people to arrive in the spot, I hand you your glass of champagne, or non alcoholic cider, whatever you’d like. And then I take care of you I create this space for you. So the one that’s coming up is in October, we are going to be in Switzerland. We kick off with two days in the city of Zurich, where we will go to a dinner that is all about cheese. I don’t know if you’ve ever had raclette. But it is essentially melted cheese all over potatoes. And it’s delicious. We do an entire spa day where we go through a ritual of 10 different stations where you can, you know, it’s like a cold pool and a warm pool and a scrub and all the things and a rooftop pool. I won’t go day by day. But there is a perfume making class a chocolate making class. Another spa day where we go to this gorgeous hotel on the top of a mountain and they have this overhanging platform restaurant that overlooks Lake Lucerne, we go on a mountain activity where we’ll take a boat and a train and a 360 degree view gondola up to the top of a mountain. I mean, the activities are lovely. And then the things that we’re going to be doing are one of the activities is let’s say that you’re coming, Andrea, I’m going to ask you for three to five people who know you will and whose opinion you value. And then I’m going to reach out to that person and say Andrew is coming to this retreat. I want you to tell me about a time where you saw her exhibiting a strength of place where you were inspired And I want you to write her a letter about it. And I want you to be specific. I’m not going to read the letters, but what I’m going to do is print them out, put them in an envelope. And so then when you come to my retreat, after we’ve done the perfume making activity, you’re going to have this perfume, that is all the things that you love. So it is personalized, unique to you, I’m going to ask you to spray that on yourself or roll it, whatever. And then I’m going to hand you your letters, and you’re going to get to read three to five letters from people who love you. And they’re going to be telling you about the values that they see in you and your strengths and all these things. So that’s an example of somebody they can give them. Yeah. Isn’t that the best gift? Yeah. So what I do is tie that research. So there’s research about your olfactory system, and how smells can connect you to memories. And so when you go home, after Switzerland, you can spray this perfume uses perfume, and remember all those good feelings and your body is just going to remember that. So yeah,
Andrea Sager 15:59
oh my god,
Nicole Bensen 16:00
I can tell you about the activities. And then I can tell you what other research is that goes into it, like the chocolate making is not just about making chocolate is going to be about like mindful tasting, it’s a mindfulness practice. And as a little bit passionate.
Andrea Sager 16:14
I love that. And can you tell the people the price, because I know it is very reasonably priced?
Nicole Bensen 16:20
Yeah, so the first five people who sign up are gonna get $1,000 off of the 8750. Price. And I just announced that I’ve partnered with a company who is able to do a breakdown of the price. So all you have to do is put $1,000 down, and then you can pay the rest over a few months. And it is all interest free.
Andrea Sager 16:41
I love that. And the thing is, I have done many of these like experience trips, because I’m not a lazy traveler, I want to just go and be I don’t want to plan anything, I don’t want to do anything. And so I love these types of trips. And I paid like almost double of what you’re charging. And I think for less dates, too. So this is very, very, very reasonably priced. And I need to double check the dates. But I’m serious. Like, I’ve never been to Switzerland. And I’m very very, very seriously. Like I think I’m pretty much going to do it. Because I haven’t done I haven’t signed up for a trip this year. And so I’m like, I think this is the universe like here’s your trip for the year.
Nicole Bensen 17:22
I agree, I would love to have you it’s going to be so much fun. And I mean, my fellow entrepreneurs will will know this. But I priced this one where essentially, I’m not even making a profit on this one. I’m just doing it because I’m so excited about it. So yeah, the next ones to come, who knows what the pricing will be like, but there will be some more all over. But for this one, I was just like, I just want to like birth this baby and get it out.
Andrea Sager 17:46
I mean, I’ve paid the others that I’ve been on, I think there were like $15,000. And they were I mean, they were very, very well put together very experiential. Like it had a lot of meaning to it. I will say nobody wrote letters. That’s really exciting. I literally was like tearing up thinking about like, what people would write.
Nicole Bensen 18:07
It’s amazing. I we used to do this activity at Google. And we would hand them their letters and a packet of tissues.
Andrea Sager 18:13
Yeah, I was I’d say hopefully. Okay, one question I have about the women, you’ve worked with a Google so I always just like you said the science with a bit of Woo. I’m, I always tell people like, I’m very transactional, because I’m an attorney. But I also mix in the womb with it. So when somebody’s like, oh, somebody so and so owes me this amount of money. I’m like, Okay, well, legally, this is it. But energetically is that can be worth your time going after it. So I am very much woowoo. Like all the Whoo, here, like I’ve done plant medicine. So I’m very curious about these executives at Google. Do you see that a lot of them are woo as well. Or some of them just like straight laced, like, hardcore, like, no emotion, just add it. I’m just so curious about this.
Nicole Bensen 19:05
I would say they are very data driven, but they are not emotion less. So I can distinctly remember, there were these executive women sitting in a circle. And they were going around introducing themselves and, you know, kind of what brought them to this point of being able to invest a few days in their well being. But the way that we had to position it at Google was it was called sustaining high performance for women. Because a lot of people think that you are either focused on your success, or you’re focused on your well being or your mental health, and it has to be one or the other. And if you focus on one, the other one falls down. But what the science is actually saying is that if you’re taking a moment to pause, if you’re focusing on your happiness, you actually end up more successful and so it was a matter of showing that research, to be able to get their buy in but back to the story of this circle. I remember This one woman introducing herself and she said, I’ve been at Google for 13 years. And I keep telling my family after this project, we’ll be able to slow down, oh, just after this month, as soon as this fire is put out, then we’ll be able to do that vacation. After this, Mommy won’t be working every night. And I remember her sitting there and crying. And that was one of the straws on the camel’s back. For me that was like, I don’t want to be that person. I don’t, I clearly see that these people making double triple my salary are having the same exact thoughts, the same exact problems, the same exact challenges that I’m having. And the money might make some things easier, but it’s not solving it. So yes, they are research and data driven. We didn’t do as much Whoo, in the, in the workshops with them. But sometimes it was just about how you framed it. So when we talk about like getting into the flow of doing things in that moment, where you lose track of time, and you’re getting things done, you’re super productive. And there is research and science that goes into that. But there’s also research and science on the woowoo side as well. But you just don’t talk about it that way. It’s just reframing. But if you look at like manifesting, if you say manifesting, people will sometimes freak out. But if you say we’re setting a goal, and we’re looking at the steps to get there, and I want you to visualize that goal, I want you to imagine putting that basketball in the basket, I want you to imagine getting up on that stage. What is a dress rehearsal? What is it when you’re planning to do a TED talk, you are rehearsing it, you are imagining in your mind what it’s going to look at, look like you’re setting the goal that that’s manifesting. Yeah. So a lot of it is just reframing.
Andrea Sager 21:41
Yeah, I love that. I love that. I love that. I will brag on myself. I’m proud of myself for learning how to reframe a lot of it for my clients, because I know like, who’s who, who’s not who needs it to be worded this way, who needs it to be worded that way? And I think that’s a skill. Like I think it really is a skill that people have is being able to recognize who your audience is who you’re talking to, and realizing, hey, what language can I use here? But I agree that I think it’s, it’s all the same, it’s just a matter of how are you looking at it. Transitioning just a little bit. I would love if you could talk about your time in the legal prayer membership a little bit how we have helped you, I this is something that I steer away, like, I’m shy to ask people like, hey, how has this helped you? Like, has it like, I tell you, like, brag on yourself, but I’m shy to ask you like, Hey, can you brag on us forever? So if you could allude to your time with Legalpreneur, I would love that.
Nicole Bensen 22:40
I mean, first off, what is freaking flex? Is it for me to be like, Oh, I sent this to my attorney, my attorney review this, like, that alone is so great when somebody sends me a contract, and they’re like, Will you speak to our team? And, you know, here’s our contract. I’m like, oh, I need my attorney to review this. Like, first off, just love that. But yes, I’ve been a Legalpreneur member for I want to say it’s going on two years. It’s gonna
Andrea Sager 23:03
say yeah, too. Yeah.
Nicole Bensen 23:05
And you have helped me with getting a trademark on my business name. On my actual name, you have helped me get an Instagram account, because for some reason tentacles and T was taken on Instagram wild, you helped me with reviewing contracts. As I just said, You’ve helped me review My own contract that I’m putting together for this retreat. You’ve helped me with putting together a contract for my corporate clients. So you know, I’m a one person team, what happens if I get sick and I can’t run this, this workshop, I need to have a contract. So you helped me with all of those things, trademarking copyright conversations, you know, and then again, just the flex of saying, My attorney is so great.
Andrea Sager 23:50
Yeah, that’s like the number one thing that I love to advertise is telling people like, you can actually mean it, when you say, let me run it by my attorney first, or because so many people, especially small business owners, and those in the online space, they’ll be like, Oh, well, if I don’t get this payment, I’m gonna get my attorney involved. And when like, my clients come to me and say that somebody told them that I’m like, Just CC me and tell them like, here’s my attorney, go ahead and like, reach out to them. And then they never hear from them again. And it’s great.
Nicole Bensen 24:17
Ya know, it’s been so helpful. And I’ve recommended you to many people, even the people who are looking at doing the trademark stuff, I know you have a course on doing it yourself. I, as an entrepreneur, solopreneur have so much stuff on my plate. This is not something I want to learn, you need to learn and props to everybody who does it on their own. I would rather just say like, Hey, can you do the search? Can you figure this out for me? Because I know it’ll be done. Right. And well,
Andrea Sager 24:45
yeah, and that’s, that’s our goal is to just be the one stop shop. Like, if you want to DIY if you want to work one on one with an attorney like no matter what, like, we got you covered. Yes. And I’m actually working on I don’t know if you ever did anything with the Google for startups program. I am. But I’m actually about to submit my application for the Google for startups, Latino sector. So crossing my fingers with that one, yay, I am, I’ve said this over and over. But I truly am on a mission to just not only help small business owners and startups with the legal side, but also the attorneys. Because what I’ve realized, and I think a lot of people are starting to realize this, but women and underrepresented minorities, that’s the majority of small businesses, because we get the shaft in the corporate world. And so it’s like, eff this, I’m just gonna go do it on my own. And so being able to serve those communities is an honor. And I’m really excited to see where this goes. And I’m so grateful that you have stayed with legal partner as long as you have. And I’m so excited that you finally get to have your retreat a little over three years later, but that’s okay. Yes. Better late than never. And it’s all divine timing, all divine timing. But Nicole, if you can tell everybody where to find out more about you where to get more information about the retreat if they are interested.
Nicole Bensen 26:18
Yeah. So my website is just my name. It’s an IC, O L, E. And my last name is Benson and it’s B e n s, e n. So Nicole benson.com. You can find out all the information about me there, Nicole benson.com/switzerland is where you can see the retreat information. As mentioned, you helped me get tentacles in tea on Instagram. So I am tentacles and tea. On Instagram. My email is Nicole at tentacles and t.com. And yeah, thanks so much for having me. I’m so glad this has come full circle, because I first heard you on a podcast years ago, and was like, Oh, she knows what she’s talking about. I need Andrea.
Andrea Sager 27:00
Yes. I love it. Do you remember what podcast? It was? I
Nicole Bensen 27:03
heart my life. Emily Williams. Oh, I
Andrea Sager 27:05
love Emily. And she just had her baby. Oh my
Nicole Bensen 27:09
gosh, yes. They had a I was in her mastermind. Yeah. Right. They asked Who would you like to have come chat at our thing. And I was like, please get Andrea to come.
Andrea Sager 27:20
Oh my gosh. Thank
Nicole Bensen 27:21
you. So yeah, it was like, oh, you know your stuff. I need Andrea in my life.
Andrea Sager 27:29
I love it. Well, Nicole, thank you so much. And for those listening, we’ll put everything in the show notes. You can just click there. And I think I’m definitely going to be there in October. So if you want to come meet us get in and be one of those first five.
Nicole Bensen 27:42
Oh my god, it’s gonna be amazing. We’re all going to hang out in this rooftop pool overlooking Lake Lucerne and eating chocolate and cheese and reading letters. It’s going to be awesome.
Andrea Sager 27:55
All right, we’ll see you next year at Legalpreneur, we’re committed to providing a supportive legal community. For all business owners. I know how scary the legal stuff can be. If you found this information helpful, I would be so grateful if you could share it with a fellow business owner. And quite frankly, it doesn’t cost anything to rate review or subscribe to the show. Your support helps me reach more listeners which allows me to support more business owners in their entrepreneurial journey. Have any questions or comments about the show? Feel free to drop me a line on Instagram. I promise I read all of the messages and comments. And if you want to be a guest on the show or know someone that would make a great guest simply fill out our application form and a team member will reach out if we think it’s a good fit. I’ll see you in the next episode.