Nothing to be sorry about


I’ve lost track and stopped counting the amount of days and months we’ve been going through this pandemic.

Zooms, Videoconfs on Microsoft Teams, Webinars on Bigmarker, Google Meets and Webex have become our everyday as we continue to let our office space invade our personal space. And to be clear, it is not the other way around. Even if you’ve been lucky enough to be able to establish one room in your house as a reserved “no entry allowed” office space where you can focus on work, it is still within the confines of your home.

Work schedules have gone out the window. No matter how many times you read an info-graphic telling you to compartmentalize your day and set work/personal time boundaries, you know that in this new reality, even the biggest, most structured control-freak has no way of fully isolating and ensuring that his/her office time is solely that. The guy delivering your goods from the supermarket does not respect office schedules… and your boss is still gonna want that Powerpoint presentation he asked for at 7 pm to be ready before 8 am of the next day.

Compartmentalizing at a 100% rate is a nice pipe dream and nothing else; any and all other percentages under that, are some form of reality we have to deal with… And if we’re honest with ourselves, we had to deal with this even before the pandemic. Remember when the school used to call you at the office in the middle of your quarterly meeting to let you know your kid barfed and they need you to bring him a clean set of clothes?

Last week, my kids returned from their summer break to a new reality in distance learning. Prior to this term, they did have distance learning (started in March) but it was in an asynchronous way. Specific tasks, tutorial videos and lessons were uploaded to an online platform and the kids had until 5 pm of that day to get through their daily obligations. Though this non-real time format certainly had its limitations (i.e. direct interaction with the teacher in order to ask questions) it DID allow for better time and equipment management in my home, where three kids and their two working parents are now not only struggling to share a network, electronic devices and overlapping schedules.

In the new format, my wife and I are constantly finding ourselves juggling around our work day of meetings and attempting to provide some sort of oversight to our kids’ education as the challenge to keep them engaged in real time Zoom sessions from 8:15 am to 1:00 PM becomes larger and larger. And yeah, shit happens. Like, all the time.

iPads run out of batteries because the kids forgot to plug them in or some charging cable is the mysterious victim of planned obsolescence and it has to be replaced; microphones stop working because “somebody clicked on something”; materials they are supposed to use during a class go missing and that school project which requires the use of a power tool isn’t gonna get done by itself. Plus, “I didn’t understand what I’m supposed to do and the teacher isn’t answering my question because she muted me” is now a part of our every day lives.

Oh yeah… and then there’s music class… that joyous moment when I have to find a way to concentrate and get actual work done while my kids blow on their recorders, so sure of themselves when supposedly playing Coldplay’s Viva la Vida but sounding more like one of Yoko Ono’s musical masterpieces.

Yesterday afternoon, I was hosting a Brand Strategy Map workshop and during some of the most critical content moments of that event, I was interrupted by my youngest, who wanted me to help her upload her homework. This morning we were getting a leak fixed in the house and the workers were banging hammers on a wall while I was connected on a call with our Bogotá colleagues. Last week I had to excuse myself from a sales pitch meeting in order to reestablish my eldest son’s zoom connection with his homeroom teacher.

During these (and many similar) instances, I found myself providing apologetic explanations to the people on the other side of calls and videoconferences. “I’m truly sorry, I just have to take care of this really quickly”, “My apologies, there’s a really loud truck outside of my home and I couldn’t hear that”, “Please excuse my kid who is not respecting my office space”… I’m sure you’ve done the same. We’ve ALL said that we’re sorry.

Well I say screw that! We have absolutely NOTHING to be sorry about. We are coping. We are adapting. We are diligently doing what we are able to do so our lives don’t stand still even though our world has to do just that in order to overcome the pandemic. We are allowing the sanctity of our homes overlap with all the necessities of our jobs and our kids’ schools. And since we are ALL in this together, we should also be completely emphatic when our colleagues tell US they have to interrupt work in order to tend to their kids or when their dog barks or when the trash collector honks his horn.

None of this is our fault. We didn’t choose to be thrown into this new work/life dynamic but I think we’re pretty good at figuring out ways to keep working through it. Technology has allowed us to have SOME form of continuance both in business and in our kids’ schools.

Imagine if this pandemic had hit during the 80s. No way would we have been able to effectively maintain businesses operating at a 100% work-from-home scheme. Kids in school outside of the classroom? Forget it! It would have been a completely lost year.

So I’ve decided to stop saying that I’m sorry. I’m not sorry at all. I’m DAMN proud of the fact that my kids are doing their best to learn via zoom meetings. I’m damn proud of the fact that I was able to upgrade my internet setup in a country where there are NO DECENT ISPs and we were resourceful enough to put up a mesh system at home which allows us to hold five simultaneous video-conferences without intermittence. And yeah, we paid for that with our own money and got it set up respecting social-distancing guidelines. We did it because it was a new need and because that’s what it takes to adapt.

While we could have been running around like headless chickens, we found a way to procure a screen for each kid to be able to connect to their classes (yes, we are lucky enough to be able to sort of afford it and I understand that most people in my country don’t have that luxury, but that does not demerit our willingness to further invest in things we didn’t need before Covid-19).

And I’m not just talking about these things to gloat about my wife and my resourcefulness. I am sure that we’ve ALL been going through some version of this transformation. We’ve had to transform our management models, revamp our strategic plans, developed new communication channels, streamline budgets, work on team morale and in many cases, take tough choices regarding people. Did I mention all of this has been done while kids all over the world continued to poorly play their damn high-pitched recorders in the room next door?

So no, I’m not sorry if in the middle of a status report meeting my little girl walks in to kiss me on the cheek and tell me she loves me. I’m not sorry for my son asking if I can clarify a math problem if that means stepping away from my computer for 10 minutes in the middle of reviewing a sales proposal. I’m not sorry for not meeting an arbitrary deadline on the delivery of a TV spot script if that delay meant I was able to schedule a zoom call with my marketing team with the sole purpose of sharing a beer with them and check up on their mental and emotional health and spirits.

I’m not sorry for opening up a window into my non-perfect, cluttered, disorganized, chaotic, noisy and very real home. I love my home and every member of it and anyone who is allowed in it is also welcome with warmth and a smile, so at the very least they should enjoy it… even if it does mean our conversation might be interrupted by a door-to-door salesman or dog barking once in a while.

Our work and personal lives are no longer compartmentalized. Personal privacy and divided schedules took a hit as a means to keep us going. No matter how great they are and especially with younger kids, school teachers are going to need us more involved than before in this new educational model (at least while kids get used to it and probably for as long as it lasts). These are just facts of life and we can sulk about them or we can keep going and be proud of how we’re been able to figure things out. This is one of those glass half empty/half full situations. It’s not a perfect time.

The way I see it and at least from where I stand, we’re not coasting or using Covid as an excuse to be lazy or underperform. We’re surviving and doing a damn good job at it. Can we do better? Sure. Are we going to continue trying to do better and further adapt? No question. Is it going to be messy? Quite enjoyably so.

Don’t be sorry. Be proud.

Ya basta de gallos en México, aquí no hay gallinas


En las noticias leo una declaración del rector de la Universidad Madero (UMAD), Job César Romero, en la que señala como causa de las desapariciones de mujeres “las libertades que las chicas tienen.” Añade que la “autonomía para viajar en su carro o en otros medios” las vuelve presas y víctimas de crímenes como la violación y/o feminicidio.

Y aunque asombra la forma de pensar del rector, asombra más ver en la sección de comentarios de la nota cómo se detona un fuerte debate entre quienes coinciden con el punto de vista del Sr. Romero y quienes sabemos que cualquier intento de justificar actos viles de esta naturaleza y señalar a las víctimas como responsables, no sólo es insensible hacia ellas sino una franca muestra de genuina estupidez.

En MVS Radio, durante el programa “Dispara, Margot, dispara”, el locutor Sergio Zurita, sin pena ni preocupación por sus palabras, critica la forma de vestir de las mujeres cuando recogen a sus hijos en la escuela y les propina la siguiente recomendación: “Ganen mucho dinero y cómprenles muchos juguetes, pero lleguen a recogerlos decentes, o de menos súbanse los pants, para que no se les vean las teclas operadas.”

Tras la indignación de algunos grupos sociales y los balconeos en prensa, ambos Job César Romero y Sergio Zurita hacen comentarios para disculparse y “aclarar lo que quisieron decir”… y la vida continúa.

A las 9:00 pm del sábado pasado, escucho música a unas cuantas casas de la mía. Paso por el domicilio de donde proviene y me doy cuenta que se trata de lo que hoy en día llaman “una reu” de preadolescentes que aún no tienen edad para legalmente entrar en una discoteca (ahora les llaman antro pero es lo mismo). Entre las canciones del mainstream actual,  de repente escucho el coro “Estoy enamorado de cuatro babies / siempre me dan lo que quiero / Chingan cuando yo les digo / Ninguna me pone pero”. La canción continúa relatando de manera celebratoria la manera en que Maluma sostiene relaciones sexuales con distintas mujeres y no sabe que hacer ya que “todas maman bien”. Los preadolescentes bailan y ríen mientras incómodamente intentan sus primeros “ligues”. Las palabras de la canción no los inmutan.

Aclaro que el mal de la misoginia musical no es exclusivo del reggaetón. La música norteña tiene ejemplos como “Y ahora resulta”, del grupo Voz de Mando, en el que el cantante le reclama a una mujer que “te puse pechos, te puse nalgas y una cintura donde tú tenías llantas / te compré un carro que ni sabes manejar / ahora resulta muñequita ahora resulta / maldita puta, antes de mí tú no eras nada”.

En las bodas bailamos al ritmo de la Sonora Dinamita con su hit “Que Bello”, sin poner atención a una letra en la que una mujer pone de lado su orgullo y le ruega a un hombre diciendo “pero me arrepiento, en el piso o donde sea tómame.”

Cuando Dylan Klebold y Eric Harris perpetuaron la masacre de Columbine en 1999, algunos quisieron apuntar a que “ellos escuchaban a Marylin Manson” como lo que los llevó a matar a trece personas antes de suicidarse. Mi visión no es tan miope y no quiero decir que un par de canciones misóginas son la causa de la crisis de una cultura mexicana que ha interiorizado la cosificación sexual de la mujer, pero su popularidad tan natural sí es síntoma de una situación que amerita cambios drásticos.

En una carne asada cualquiera (sí, soy de Monterrey y las carnes asadas son obligatorias) con mi grupo de amigos que tienen hijos de edades similares a las de los míos, la plática muchas veces se torna a un recuento de vivencias y ocurrencias de nuestros pequeños. Las anécdotas suelen ser graciosas o el esperado pavoneo de papás orgullosos. En una reciente ocasión, uno de los papás mencionó que uno de sus hijos “tiene mucho pegue entre las niñas de la preprimaria” y cerró su comentario con el famoso dicho “cuiden a sus gallinas, que mi gallo anda suelto”. Todos y todas rieron. … y la vida continúa.

En Cholula, Mara Fernanda Castilla de 19 años sale a un bar un jueves por la noche. El resto de la trágica historia ya es conocido… Y lo peor del caso es que Mara Fernanda no es la primera ni será la última.  Pero los comentarios francamente decepcionantes vuelven a emanar… “¿Pues qué estaba haciendo una niña de 19 años en la calle a las 5 de la mañana y seguro borracha? / Ella se lo buscó / ¿Por qué se quedó dormida en un taxi?”, etc. La atención no se centra en el deplorable acto de un ser ruin sino en supuestos “errores” de una joven que optó por solicitar un servicio de transportación que consideraba seguro.

El domingo pasado varias queridas y valientes amigas salieron a marchar en distintas ciudades del país. Su canto de denuncia gritó “Ni una menos” y ellas se hermanaron con cualquier mujer ofreciendo su casa como refugio en caso de necesitarlo en cualquier momento. El mensaje era claro: las mujeres lamentan vivir en un país en que tienen que cuidarse de más.

A las mujeres de México, me encantaría decirles que esa solidaridad de género, ese grito de protesta, esa exigencia de justicia, son suficientes. Aplaudo el esfuerzo por protegerse, pero creo que hay que pegarle más directamente al problema de verdad. El problema de verdad NO ES que ustedes se estén exponiendo o arriesgando. El problema de verdad NO ES y no se resolverá acatando las recomendaciones de vestimenta que les da el Sr. Zurita. Ustedes no son el problema y deberían tener el derecho de salir de noche y de vestir sin temor a ser ultrajadas. Por favor, nunca lo olviden.

El problema de verdad es un cáncer sistémicamente interiorizado en nuestra sociedad. El problema de verdad son todos y cada uno de los estímulos que generamos o permitimos consciente e inconscientemente para normalizar o justificar las acciones de cualquier hombre que se siente con el derecho de violentar la integridad física y psicológica de cualquier mujer, sin considerarlo incorrecto y sin temer consecuencias.

El problema no está en criar a nuestras hijas a saber protegerse mejor. ¡Y vaya que debemos de hacerlo! El problema está en que evidentemente no estamos haciendo lo suficiente para criar a nuestros HIJOS para ser hombres de bien, hombres de verdad. Hombres que no se sienten más hombres si  “siempre les dan lo que ellos quieren” y tienen múltiples mujeres que “chingan cuando ellos les dicen”. Hombres que sepan que las mujeres son sus iguales, que sepan que “boys will be boys” es una pendejada, que entiendan que la cosificación de la mujer no los hace verse “más cool” o como “conquistadores” sino como patéticos cavernícolas. Hombres que cuando estén transportando a una mujer en su carro y ella se queda dormida, ni siquiera puedan considerar la idea de faltarle al respeto de ninguna manera, mucho menos privarla de su libertad, violarla y matarla “porque no me pude contener”. Hombres que sepan que no son animales y no pueden justificar sus acciones por “instinto”. Hombres que por misma integridad no quieran ser malos hombres pero que si lo fueran, tengan pavor a consecuencias que deberán de llegar y aplicarse de manera rigorosa.

Tenemos que cambiar. Tenemos que ser mejores.

Sí, mis hijas sabrán cuidarse y exigir respeto, pero a las mujeres de México y también a los hombres porque creo que este compromiso nos beneficia a TODOS como sociedad, les comparto esta promesa e invito a otros a asumirla:

Dedicaré todas mis capacidades como padre para que mi hijo no sea un “gallo” que acecha y que ello genera razón de orgullo en él, en mí o en sus amigos. Me comprometo a señalar todos y cada uno de los indicios que vea a mi alrededor que fomentan que los niños y los hombres se sientan “gallos”. ¡Ya basta!

Porque si algo que queda más que claro y admiro de ellas, es que ante todo y hoy más que nunca, las mujeres de México no son gallinas.


I get called “a good dad” a lot


Context: I’m a man, a husband and a father living in Monterrey, Mexico.

I get called “a good dad” a lot. Stating this is by no means, an intention of bragging.

HiRes-1024x661I get called a good dad when we’re at an airport, I notice my toddler needs a diaper change and I tell my wife “we’ll be right back, this one needs to go to the bathroom.” I get called a good dad when I take my kids out to breakfast on Sunday so that Mommy can get a much-deserved extra hour of sleep. People call me a good dad when I take my kids to a birthday party and endure the loud screaming, running around and ordinal chaos that occurs in such events. I get called a good dad when I calm my son down after a fall with a scraped knee, when I play tag with my daughters in the park or when I’m able to get them to an afternoon class on time. I get called a good dad by other mothers when I go to parent-teacher conferences at our kids’ school.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for any recognition I get. I am very conscious of my responsibility and role as a father to try to be the best paternal figure I can be toward my kids. I work on this every day and every way that I can. But consider the following:

  1. My wife does these and many other similar things as a parent to our children. She does them ALL the time and quite frankly, most of the time she does them better than I do (not because of her gender, just due to her personal talents). Does she get called a good mom? Sure… but not nearly as often and not nearly with the level of appraisal and amazement as the “good dad” comments I receive from random people in the street. My wife, as a woman and a mother, is socially EXPECTED to be a good mom. Apparently, being a good mom is considered normalcy, which raises several questions: does society think that good moms are good effortlessly? Do we really think that each and every challenge that drives other people crazy about dealing with kids has zero effect on mothers? If so, without any surgical operations, is there a way to turn me into a mother? Now? Please?

Sarcasm aside, being a mom is damn hard. It’s not something that happens magically or naturally. Even when you factor in your belief of the power “maternal instinct” may have, that only accounts for a mother’s intention to love and protect her children, not her talents to do so effectively.

  1. Apparently, society has very low expectations of what my duties as a father are. If what I am doing generates amazement and reasons for praise, what are average dads doing? Should we be worried about that? Why are we being way too complacent toward fathers? Even if you believe that traditional (old) roles where a mother stays at home and a dad goes to work apply (and trust me, even if you wanted them to, in this economy they don’t), that arrangement should not give men a pass at being fathers. What happened to the women’s liberation movement and why did it not tackle societal gender and paternal/maternal roles? We should be diligently working on reassessing society’s demands on dads. How can we get the ball rolling on that? Now? Please?

If we never expect fathers to be good fathers, they never will be. If we don’t demand fatherly figures to step up their game, we will continue raising children with less than adequate paternal examples who grow up to be less than adequate fathers themselves… in a downward spiral.

  1. People are very strange. As mentioned above, we apparently underappreciate good mothers and overvalue good fathers… But when Mother’s Day and Father’s Day come along, we tend to be way more festive on May 10th than on the third Sunday of June. Is that our guilt trip acting up on us? Do we know that we suck at valuing moms all year and hence try to overcompensate this in one measly day? I propose the following: let’s recognize good moms AND dads all year long and when deserved, equate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day celebrations. Meaning? If you suck at being a mom or a dad, you should not get a cool gift for it. And if you truly are a good mom or dad, congratulations and know that I applaud your efforts and admire you immensely. That is the best gift I know to give.


A guy trying to be a good dad, but not always achieving it.