South Florida’s got talent? Some CEOs say yes

The Miami Herald

South Florida’s got talent? Some CEOs say yes

CEOs were asked: How did you approach holiday spending/giving? What has made it different from previous ones? 

The vast majority of our annual giving is done through the Ansin Foundation. The amount we give is relatively  consistent from year to year. What changes are the allocations, which are determined by the needs of the  community and major projects in the community as well as our relationships with organizations and their leaders.  We like to have a personal involvement and know that we are helping to fund something that makes a difference. 

Andy Ansin, Vice President, Sunbeam Properties 

Not much has changed in our approach from previous years, apart from our children being at different stages of  life — one nearing completion of high school, one nearing completion of university and one now married. Rather  than focus on short-term gifts, it has been on gifts that either assist them during this stage or help them as they  transition to their next stage. Also importantly has been finding ways, as they move out of the nest, to bring  everyone together through shared trips and celebrations. 

Michael Balaban, President, CEO, Jewish Federation of Broward County 

During my time at Visa, I learned how large a role electronic transactions play in making a difference in people’s  lives during the holidays. It also changed my personal approach on holiday spending. Last year was my first fully  cashless holiday season, as I took advantage of the many rewards and discounts that are associated with  payment technology. I also spent much of my holidays enjoying quality time with my Lime colleagues as well as  giving to the charities and issues that matter most to me and my family. 

Uhriel Bedoya, Florida General Manager, Lime 

My holiday spending has not changed, but my family has recently incorporated, during the season, larger gifts to  charitable nonprofits. We are fortunate to have had success in our careers, love and life and feel a need to help  deliver opportunity to someone else’s life. 

Anita Byer, CEO, Senior Byer Insurance & Risk 

Same as always: A budget for every one who we stuck to religiously. The only real difference this year was the  arrival of another grandchild. The budget was somewhat ignored for that new addition! 

Carlos R. Fernandez-Guzman, President, CEO, Pacific National Bank (PNB) 

I love Christmas and the holidays so I spend and splurge at that time of year. I did more online shopping, as it  was more convenient with the shorter window between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I was a little more subdued  with giving, as I wait and see what 2020 brings. 

Christine Franklin, President, Cherokee Enterprises 

As we do every year, we threw a nice holiday party for our team which everyone seemed to enjoy and appreciate.  What I’ve realized is that people enjoy experiences and moments together far more than gifts and material items.  In terms of giving, while my wife and I continuously support a number of important charitable causes, this year  she did something extra that I really admired — she gave someone close to our family $1,000 to help pay his bills.  At first, I immediately thought, “You did what?” but then I realized this was a true act of kindness that we should all  strive to achieve in our daily lives. 

Arnaud Karsenti, Managing Principal, 13th Floor Investments

My approach did not change this holiday season. I am a big believer in rewarding employees during the holidays,  donating to charity, and giving meaningful and thoughtful gifts that don’t necessarily carry a big price tag to loved  ones. Material things don’t always bring happiness. In the end, to me, the greatest gift one can give loved ones is  time and attention. Happy 2020 to all! 

Bernie Navarro, Founder and President, Benworth Capital Partners 

Every year, we try to use the holidays to disconnect from our daily hustle and connect with extended family. It also  allows us to reflect on the year and clear our heads for the year ahead. This year, we took a trip to India so the  kids could visit the Taj Mahal. My wife and I have stayed away from gifting on specific occasions and instead let  gifting be a spontaneous occurrence not connected to any event. Toward the end of the year, we also catch up on  our annual giving targets, donating to specific charities that we support. 

Sanket Parekh, Founder and Managing Partner, Secocha Ventures 

Two big changes in holiday spending over the last few years: Gift cards continue to proliferate within our families,  and now that our family is growing (including grand kids), and our newly married or single kids are on a budget,  each family member selects one name from a secret raffle held at Thanksgiving and gives that selected individual  a really nice gift that they want at holiday time (within a budget). 

Julio Ramirez, President, CEO, JEM Global Consulting 

For us, the holidays are an important time to support a variety of charitable causes, which include the National  Association for Urban Debate Leagues, which sponsors debate programs for inner city high schools around the  U.S. and has peer-reviewed research supporting a significant improvement in scores and high school graduation  rates. I have been a board member for over a decade and am currently the board chair. There is a Miami-Dade  Urban Debate League that needs support. 

Stuart Singer, Administrative Partner, Fort Lauderdale office, Boies Schiller & Flexner 

I did about 90 percent of my shopping online in 2019. In 2018, it was probably about half of that. My kids and wife  are easy because I always know ahead of time what they have on their wish list. Family and friends received  mostly gifts they could consume and of course, there were some gift cards in the mix and charitable giving. 

Evelio C. Torres, President, CEO, Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade and Monroe

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