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.

Brindando a la distancia


Llevamos un poco más de 10 días aplicando distanciamiento social. En la oficina, hoy cumplimos la semana de haber implementado home office completo.

Tengo la suerte y orgullo de liderar a un equipo de siete talentosos compañeros y compañeras, actualmente residiendo en dos ciudades distintas. Coordinar acciones a distancia no es algo nuevo para nosotros e incluso contamos con esquemas de flex time y home office que desde hace ya bastante tiempo nos permiten en caso de requerirlo, tomar un día de la semana cada uno para trabajar desde casa. Sin embargo, ESTE home office es considerablemente distinto por múltiples razones, las más significativas de ellas siendo:

  • TODOS estamos en Home Office (en lugar de una persona a la vez)
  • Los niveles de estrés alrededor de la pandemia y la carga adicionada de trabajo suma al reto.
  • Estamos en Home Office al mismo tiempo que nuestras parejas e hijos, lo que significa mayor cantidad de distractores y necesidad de compartir los recursos (entre ellos la preciada velocidad del wifi)

Mi equipo de MKT y Diseño en esta primer semana en que se está adaptando a esta nueva realidad del trabajo 100% remoto, también se enfrentó a varios bomberazos, relacionados con la necesidad de generar materiales de urgencia para nuestros clientes. Enfrentamos la curva del cambio al mismo tiempo que una serie de necesidades inminentes. Dormimos poco y entregamos mucho. Como lo comentó una las personas del equipo, “es probablemente la semana que más horas he trabajado”.

Quienes me conocen, saben que el tema de liderazgo me apasiona y entienden que disfruto mucho de entusiasmar a mi gente y conectar en persona. Mucho de mi estilo de liderazgo tiene que ver con ESTAR. Siempre busco que en mis equipos existan flujos de comunicación abierta y que podamos motivarnos los unos a los otros, trabajando en conjunto para lograr nuestros objetivos. Me gusta que mi equipo sepa que pueden apoyarse conmigo. Me importa que mis compañeros cuenten con el tiempo y los recursos necesarios para hacer su trabajo de la mejor manera, incluyendo el importante recurso del tiempo y su balance de vida (el burnout es un obstáculo para la productividad, no una medalla a la dedicación). Esta semana, trabajando a distacia, TODAS estas condiciones de trabajo que busco garantizar, se vieron amenazadas por las dificultades que tiene lograr conexiones significativas a través de comunicaciones vía email, textos y voice notes de Whatsapp, especialmente en una época de alta ansiedad y constantes cambios de señal.

Anoche trataba de dormirme pero esta situación me tenía intranquilo. Además, me preocupaba saber cómo estaba cada uno de los miembros de mi equipo. Me interesaba saber cómo estaban lidiando con la incertidumbre, con sus preocupaciones y con sus obstáculos personales y profesionales. Sin otro afán que el deseo de que esto le sirva a alguien más, quisiera platicarles brevemente de lo que hice para atender esta intranquilidad.

A la 1:30 de la mañana, como última cosa que hacer antes de irme a dormir y porque en ese momento se me ocurrió, envié un Meeting Request a todo mi equipo. El subject decía “Brindis Semana 1”, el cuerpo del mensaje incluía una liga de Microsoft Teams para videoconferencia y en la descripción los invité a que antes de unirse a la sesión, se sirvieran su trago de elección. No había agenda, objetivo planteado, pre-reads ni talking points.

A raíz del home office incrementamos la frecuencia de nuestras juntas de gestión para estar más al tanto y mejor coordinados entre todos, pero esta sería una sesión completamente distinta…

Dio la hora de la reunión el día de hoy y todos nos conectamos a la plataforma. Les pedí que encendieran sus cámaras, lo cual despertó algo de nerviosismo ante algunos de los compañeros que desde su casa no habían sentido la necesidad de peinarse previo a la junta… pero era importante que no sólo nos escucháramos sino que pudieramos VERNOS. Es sumamente dificil hacer vínculos emocionales y conectar con una foto de perfil en una ventana de videoconferencia.

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Durante casi una hora, estuvimos platicando sin una agenda formal de trabajo, tareas, deadlines y responsabilidades. El menú de bebidas incluyó un amplio panorama que incluyó vasos de agua, limonadas con whiskey, cervezas, refrescos y tequila (no todo el equipo comparte mi gusto por los brebajes etílicos). En este espacio hablamos de cómo nos sentíamos trabajando a distancia, reflexionamos sobre la suerte de poder estar laborando de esta manera porque nuestras funciones nos lo permiten, nos preguntamos respecto a familiares y amigos, nos deseamos salud y bienestar, compartimos buenas noticias y planes para seguir aportando valor desde nuestra trinchera al negocio. Nuestras conversaciones parecían más un catch up entre amigos que una sesión laboral entre colegas.

Yo me conecté desde el cuarto de mi hijo, que ahora durante el día se transforma en mi oficina y espacio de concentración. Una compañera pudo conectarse desde su sala/comedor y tuvimos el gusto de ver a su abuela pasar en medio de la reunión. Contamos con la presencia de una colega que está en su maternity leave, pero que quiso conectarse para saludar a todos. Vinieron un par de mascotas a regalarnos sonrisas y pasé el reporte de la salud de nuestra colección de cactáceas de la oficina, que temporalmente están viviendo conmigo ya que si las hubiéramos dejado en la oficina, seguramente no sobrevivirían a la pandemia.

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Terminamos la sesión brindando por la salud de cada uno de nosotros, por nuestra resiliencia, nuestras capacidades y ánimos reafirmados. Ese Don Julio 70 nunca había bajado con tanta facilidad… Cerré la semana con la tranquilidad de haber dado algunas palabras de aliento al equipo, de haber podido, aunque fuera a través de una plataforma tecnológica, ESTAR ahí para ellos. Pude agradecerles por sus esfuerzos y contagiarme de su entusiasmo, que después de una semana sumamente demandante, también necesitaba del boost que recibió a través de nuestro intercambio.

Me siento mucho mejor que lo que me sentía anoche.

La invitación a los líderes de equipo es entonces, a que además de asumir el reto de asegurar la productividad mientras implementan las políticas y acciones que hayan definido para hacer frente a la pandemia, no olviden atender el factor humano y encontrar otras formas de seguir alimentando la convivencia. Recordemos que nuestros equipos están lidiando con condiciones nuevas… van a estar intranquilos. Van a tener dudas, incomodidades y dolencias. Van a extrañar su ambiente de trabajo y sus rutinas y van a necesitar atender esto. No todo es seguimiento a tareas y KPIs. Un equipo desmotivado, golpeado anímicamente o sin visión y guía, no puede operar (ni a distancia ni presencialmente). Ante las presiones que enfrentamos en tiempos retadores, es muy fácil poner en segundo plano el factor humano y el importante rol de ESTAR para ellos.

El ciberbrindis ya está en agenda para repetirse el próximo viernes y se sumará a nuestros touchpoints como equipo, así tal cual lo tuvimos hoy: sin agenda, sin lista de tareas a revisar ni resultados a evaluar. Simplemente para estar… y creo que se quedará incluso después de que hayamos superado la contingencia de Covid-19. Si ustedes no han considerado aún este tipo de touchpoints, los invito a hacerlo. Créanme, que aunque parezca un acto insignificante, vale la pena y hace una diferencia.

Gracias por leerme y espero estas líneas les hayan sido de provecho.


P.S. En caso de que alguien de mi equipo lea esto, aprovecho para reiterarles mi agradecimiento por el esfuerzo extra para adaptarse a esta nueva realidad al tiempo que mantenemos nuestros niveles de servicio y calidad de nuestros entregables. ¡Siguen siendo unos chingones!

Lead… authentically


In your personal life, authenticity is about being yourself regardless of social context. In business, it’s about walking the talk, being true to ethical principles and maintaining your personality and essence consistently. Traits of a true leader.

Trascend via leadership


This holds true for any position of leadership, both in professional and personal settings. 

Leaders look to be challenged


If you surround yourself with “yes-men”, you will never attain the unimaginable and you will never find out what you’re really made of.

A visionary leader looks to be challenged. “My way or the highway” is fine for emergency situations where decisions need to be implemented quickly but in the day to day operations and long-term vision, you’re missing out if you’re so insecure about your own standing that you won’t allow for (or promote) healthy debate. Valued professionals don’t want to follow… they want to co-create and co-achieve. Invite them to.


Obedience vs. alignment


True leaders are able to promote and achieve enthusiastic alignment within their teams. Bad bosses rely on constant demanding of obedience due to their own shortcomings as motivators, communicators, influencers and leaders.

Lead yourself


Before trying to understand what motivates and drives your team for results, have you taken the time and space to figure out what makes YOU tick? It’s amazing how many people operate by inertia and don’t identify their own drivers, just because they’re caught up in the daily grind and pressured to meet that next deadline. Breathe, reflect, know yourself. It’s essential if you’re going to try to lead others.

Be proud.


If your team is empowered by your leadership instead of limited by your inability to lead them, to motivate them, to enable them to get results they thought unattainable, their achievements have your branding all over them. And you’ve helped develop them further. That is something to be proud of.