nicole bensen

Whether joining one of my corporate workshops, wellbeing program (Next Level You), an #IamRemarkable session, or 1:1 coaching, most of my clients work in a corporate environment. I’ve had the honor of supporting people who work in tech, entertainment, real estate, education, and consulting—in companies including Google, YouTube, Apple, Netflix, Cisco, KPMG, Dropbox, CBRE, San Jose State University and start-ups.

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Spot the octopus?

Tentacles and Tea, like its quirky name, takes an irreverent approach to “healing the mind, body, and soul.” Instead of asking you to change who you are to “become more whole,” Tentacles and Tea sits starkly in the opposite corner: to encourage you to self-amputate the parts of your life that are no longer helpful—whether it’s your career, expectations, past, or something else.

It’s this line of thinking that inspired my approach to wellbeing, based on an interpretation of the incredible octopus, known for its ability to be flexible (literally), to problem-solve, camouflage, ink and flee, or voluntarily break off its own limb to escape a toxic situation.

My name is Nicole Bensen; I’m a happiness and wellbeing enthusiast, and I’m delighted you’re here. After spending nearly a decade at Google, where I ultimately managed the wellbeing program for executive women leaders, I ironically experienced burnout myself. In pursuit of a healthier mental place, I had questions like:

I founded Tentacles and Tea to share the research I learned, and to facilitate creative, joyful ways to increase happiness, resilience, and wellbeing.

(And, no, I’m not a meditation expert; yes, I still have champagne taste, and no, research shows that wanting to be happy does not equal being selfish. In fact, happier people are more likely to help others!) 

My mission is to support you in creating a more meaningful, connected, happy life. I do this by encouraging you to set boundaries, to offer yourself compassion, to do things that make you happy, and by emphasizing your strengths to help you achieve your dreams—whether your dream is to volunteer full time, learn French, or use your private jet more often.

I look forward to meeting you at a retreat, corporate workshop, my group program, or in one-on-one coaching soon.

“Is it possible to be happy without becoming a meditation expert?”
   
“Am I allowed to want nice things, or is that being selfish?”
   
“Actually, is wanting to be happy the very definition of being selfish?”
   
“Why do I believe being selfish is ‘bad’?”

LEARN MORE ABOUT ME

Watch this space for global wellbeing retreats for women once we’re traveling again.

In my last role in Corporate America I planned learning experiences in luxurious locations in and outside the US, and I’m thrilled to be offering those to you in the near future.

Corporate facilitation: My most-popular corporate workshop, “Increasing happiness, resilience, and success,” is 2 hours of simple, fun, research-backed ideas. Comments have included, “That was exactly what my team needed,” to “That felt almost indulgent,” and “[This] workshop was the best part of the summit.” Another popular teambuilding workshop is “Building Connections and Psychological Safety.” Contact me to discuss how I can best support your needs.

Pssst...

One-on-one Positive Psychology Coaching: We’ll work together toward achieving a goal you have (or helping you discover what that goal is if you’re feeling stuck). My methods are based in empirically-validated techniques for assessing and developing your potential, identifying and overcoming obstacles, and supporting you to achieve greater levels of success. Whether you want a promotion or relaxation, I'm here for you.

My signature program, “Next Level You,” gives over 25 tools to busy, overwhelmed, stressed-out people who want help in increasing happiness and resilience, overcoming Imposter Syndrome, and feeling worthy beyond accomplishments. You’ll be handed simple, actionable ways to increase your wellbeing AND your success. You don't have to give one up for the other.

For #allthetools

Personalized and private

Let’s work together

Groups and work teams

Executive Coaching

Next Level You

Team Workshops

Retreats

“Your session was just what we needed and was timed so perfectly to close our year. It almost felt indulgent during the 90 minutes yesterday. Thank you for your passion about this and leaving us with tools to use. We are all better for it!”

— Julie, Director, Google

“Just what we needed. We are all better for it.”

“A sincere thank-you from our entire team for the amazing Building Connections session you facilitated this week. This type of vulnerable, reflective and engaging exercise is exactly what the doctor ordered for a team that was coming together for the first time in-person.

Also - I can’t even count how many times the ‘80 year old bday party’ was referenced throughout the remainder of our offsite. It is certainly going to be a mainstay reference within our team and speaks to the power of that type of futuristic reflection.

Thank you so much! We are honored to know you and have shared this experience with you.”

— M, Account Executive, Google

“Exactly what the doctor ordered for a team coming together for the first time in-person.”

“It was so great to have you as a speaker for our IWD North America 2022 event. The audience loved the exercises, and found it incredibly helpful and enjoyable. We look forward to more opportunities to partner for future developer community events!”

— North America Developer Communities Team, Google

“...speaker for our IWD North America 2022 event.”

“A sincere thank you, Nicole. The team is still smiling and feeling energized. We really appreciate you setting such a wonderful tone for vulnerability and connections.”

— J, Director, Google

“Vulnerability and Connections”

“Nicole is an awesome presenter with a deep understanding of wellness science and practice. She’s confident, accurate, thoughtful, and passionate. Our team said the workshop was the best part of the summit - leaving them with a sense of calm and realistic methods to increase their happiness.”

— Brea, Administrative Business Partner, YouTube

“[Her] workshop was the best part of the summit.”

“Nicole recently ran an #IamRemarkable workshop for our Women@Signifyd ERG, and it was truly transformative. Not only did our participants leave with an important, enriched perspective on their accomplishments and how to talk about them out in the world, they all bonded on a deeper level than most of us ever have in a professional setting. Seeing our brilliant, accomplished women get so vulnerable and raw was one of the most meaningful experiences I’ve gotten the pleasure of participating in. Thank you, Nicole!”

— Emily Mikailli, VP of People Operations, Signifyd

“Truly transformative. Seeing our brilliant, accomplished women get so vulnerable and raw was one of the most meaningful experiences.”

“Thanks a million for spending time with [our leadership team] yesterday! It absolutely got at what we needed. The reflections and gratitude shared during our debrief were exactly in line with what we were hoping for. There was depth. We focused on us as humans. Our connections. Belonging. All of it. Appreciate you big time.”

— Manager, Google

“The reflections shared were exactly what we were hoping for”

“Nicole is a natural-born facilitator!!! She led an eye-opening #IamRemarkable workshop for our leaders on my team. This material is truly transformative. Nicole’s approachable character allowed our team to feel comfortable enough to discuss the challenges of self; she shared personal examples, as well as research studies, and provided a safe place for all of us to be vulnerable and share our experiences. The feedback survey showed 100% of the team felt it was a good use of their time, and we all finished the workshop feeling ‘empowered and in-touch with our self-emotional IQ.’ I’ve never been a part of something like this with this team before; that was really powerful. Thank you for arranging this for our team. Our team members are connected on a new level, and I'm so appreciative of Nicole leading this for us.”

— Andrew Levie, Workplace Experience Director, CBRE

“I’ve never been a part of something like this with this team before; that was really powerful.”

“Nicole created and facilitated a 90-minute workshop for my team called, ‘Increasing happiness, resilience and success.’ She shared research and exercises and fostered a safe space for my team members to connect with each other and learn tips to boost their wellbeing. People said the session allowed them to reground and refocus, and in some cases made them realize that they hadn’t taken a moment to slow down until that very moment. This exercise was imperative for our team after the craziness of 2020 where many of us are balancing work and home life in a way we’ve never had to before. Nicole’s presentation style adds to the calming and grounding nature of the content, she is very inclusive and does a wonderful job fostering a safe environment for people to share. Looking forward to partnering with her again soon.”

— Jenica Erickson, Staffing Manager, Google

“Calming and grounding. Inclusive.
Safe environment for people to share.”

“Nicole ran a 90-minute workshop for our Virtual Offsite, and it was a fantastic experience. She curated the flow of the class to meet our team’s needs and made it engaging and entertaining for everyone. If you are looking for happiness and well-being training, Nicole’s workshop is the best in class. Nicole teaches the team about the importance of Happiness, but she also empowers attendees with tools and actionable advice!

I can not recommend this workshop enough! Thank you, Nicole, for your expertise and professionalism.”

— Event Planner, Google

“The best in class”

“Nicole’s session was therapeutic, thought provoking, and an inspiring push to take control over the life I want vs. the life I have. It’s powerful to re-evaluate our happiness and own it. Thank you, Nicole.”

— Rachel D., Google

“Therapeutic and thought provoking”

“So grateful for the work you did to hold space for this team. You asked the right questions and allowed us to come into a special safe circle, lean in and be accepted as who we are. You are so good at this craft. Grateful for you!”

— Manager, Google

“Allowed us to be accepted as who we are”

“Nicole’s presentation [for the Women’s Empowerment Network Conference at San Jose State University] was inspiring and engaging. Her sense of commitment, combined with humility is a unique style that enrolled the audience to explore how change informs shifts in direction and is a sign of growth and not failure. She instills personal efficacy and respect to support and encourage career and life changes. Our university program participants’ feedback (mostly juniors, seniors and recent graduates) affirm that she is incredibly insightful and has an extraordinary ability to connect and provide the space for others to grow and excel to the next level!”

— Diana Ruiz, Women’s Global Leadership Initiative WGLI

“An extraordinary ability to connect and provide space”

“Nicole is well-researched and experienced. One of the most notable impacts is my ability to break out of spirals. I am a chronic overthinker and overanalyzer. The [Next Level You] workshop helped me to stop the spiral and move out of it with several different methods—I’ve used a bunch of them at different times. I fall asleep easier by shutting these spirals down!”

— Erin Watson, Senior Program Manager

“Nicole is amazing...an absolute delight of a human being.”

“If you’re feeling overwhelmed with no time for yourself (like I was), you’re going to benefit even more by signing up for Next Level You. The workbook is still something I pull out. It’s been helpful to look at the things I was trying as part of the workshop homework and realizing six weeks later I’m naturally doing some of these things week-over-week. I want to say it’s been life-changing, and I know that sounds silly, but it brings me immeasurable joy to practice some of the things I learned. I now write gratitude letters every single week!”

— Victoria Kroll, Product Support Manager, Google, and President of a non-profit

“I want to say it’s been life-changing, and I know that sounds silly.”

“Nicole Bensen designs thoughtful and hugely effective programs for high achieving women — she is hands down the best program manager I’ve ever worked with. Run, don’t walk, to sign up for her new program, as it is sure to sell out soon!”

— Christine Carter, Ph.D., Author, Speaker, Coach & Consultant

“Thoughtful and hugely effective programs for high achieving women”

“We are *so* grateful for you. Thank you for sharing your time and expertise with the women@BLD community, designing a workshop that is relevant, timely and empowering, offering tools that are accessible and easy to maintain. The workshop went really well—am in AWE of the number of folks that joined us (it’s amazing for us to hit 50+), and clearly, the feedback has been tremendously positive.”

— Natasha Wright, REWS People Development Program Manager

“Relevant, timely and empowering”

“Next Level You is a way to connect with other people, learning how to take on life’s challenges, or even your own personal internal challenges. It’s a course that is grounded in facts and research and also has a community aspect.”

— Ashley Mills, Management Consultant

“Grounded in facts and research”

“Nicole is truly a gift...the generosity of her energy, time and glow were beneficial to our organization as we celebrated the value of being ‘Better Together.’ Her ability to jump in, include others, and leave a positive vibe in her wake is why she’s been a legend at Google and beyond. Can’t wait to attend one of her travel retreats and learn more from her! Thank you Nicole... much love!”

— Heather Webb, Talent Development Leader, Google Operations Center

“Ability to jump in, include others, and leave a positive vibe in her wake”

“My team was overwhelmed with positive emotion after taking the #IamRemarkable workshop. In such a dark time, it has been difficult for myself and my team to remember exactly why we are amazing, what we are truly gifted in, and how and WHY we should be sharing our accomplishments with others. It was motivational, and is a lesson in self-advocacy and kindness that I utilize in my personal and professional life.

Plus, Nicole is a gem to chat with. Her energy is so calm, non-judgmental, and you can see her passion for helping others grow internally. 10/10, would recommend this workshop and Nicole’s presence to any working professional!”

— Robin, Event Team Lead, CBRE

“Remember why we are amazing, what we are truly gifted in, and how and WHY we should be sharing our accomplishments with others.”

“Your content could not be more timely for so many of our managers both personally and professionally, and it was lovely to see everyone respond to you - those who know you and those who don’t. Thanks again for sharing your scientifically grounded approach to what really makes our worlds spin and for giving us more tangible resources to support ourselves and our teams.”

— Nina, Staffing Manager, Google

“Tangible resources to support ourselves and our teams”

“The most valuable thing you presented for me today was actually the thing you said about, if ruminating/over-thinking was actually working, you would have solved the problem by now. That was such a simple concept, but my mind was blown. The overall value I think your program offers is showing how, as humans, we are very much alike. We are biologically wired and have evolved to perceive certain things as a danger to us even if it really is not something life threatening. And that even the highest-achieving people can feel like frauds and make mistakes. So much good stuff that your program [Next Level You] puts out.”

— Sabrina Porter-Parees

“Even the highest-achieving people can feel like frauds.”

“[The Next Level You program] is a way of examining our thoughts and the lies we tell ourselves to break past that and become better, happier people.

Two benefits: 1) Setting the time aside to invest in myself was really valuable to have that thing I knew I was going to do every week that was going to bring me something and nurture something in me. 2) Having this toolbox I can draw from of things to turn to when I feel stuck and blocked and boxed in.”

— Crystal Coleman, Product Support Manager, Google

“A way of examining our thoughts and the lies we tell ourselves”

“Nicole recently hosted a 45-minute Happiness Workshop for my group. She is an amazing facilitator, her calming presence is contagious and the content she shared was fascinating and well-researched. I particularly enjoyed the actionable small ideas that will make a big difference in my and my groups’ lives. Thank you so much for your time and energy.”

— Julia Arndt, CEO, Peak Performance Method

“Amazing facilitator...presence is contagious, and the content is fascinating and well-researched”

“Nicole Bensen is an extraordinary guest speaker and workshop host! Nicole's research-backed, thoughtful content and contagious positivity greatly impacted our team summit in the best way. The planning process was seamless with consistent check-ins leading up to the event. I always knew I was in good hands with Nicole and would not be stressed day-of. As a planner, I actually got to relax and feel like an attendee the entire workshop. :) I have only received positive feedback from my team. Thank you, Nicole!”

— Megan M., Google Health

“Extraordinary guest speaker and workshop host”

“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend your [Next Level You] sessions. The information, practical tools, and connection with the other ladies was exactly what I needed at this point in my life. Thank you.”

— Michelle Kandah, IT Program Manager, Cisco

“Exactly what I needed”

“AMAZING. Real, honest, open. It was a truly memorable experience, that has played a huge part in me pivoting from over-functioning / undervaluing and thinking so little of myself to WOW I am incredible!

I have recommended you and the [#IamRemarkable] workshop to so many already - it is a must for every woman who ever questions herself. Your approach made me feel safe, secure, and able to be bluntly honest with complete strangers from all over the world!! What was a shock - those who I saw as 'sorted' or accomplished, have near identical feelings and issues of undervaluing and hoping they will be seen and not have to stand up for their worth.

Nicole, you have been an angel for me this year. I feel truly blessed to have met you. Experiencing your coaching and true passion for all women to believe in themselves has been life-changing that is playing out in real time as I type.” 

— Julie Pole, UX Researcher

“Life-changing”

“I’ve picked up so many tools to level up my self-confidence! I loved being a part of Next Level You. This couldn’t have come at a better time. I also learned different practices on how to stay calm—which I need because school starts next week!”

— June Caloroso, Speaker, Career Coach

“So many tools to level up my self-confidence”

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Dear Nicole,

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Thank you, my friend!