Apr 9, 2019

Bryant Galindo: Self-awareness and building a strong collaborative culture in your startup

Bryant Galindo is an awarenow coach, conflict resolution expert and co-founder of CollabsHQ.

He works with startups to help them resolve co-founder disputes, create feedback processes for new managers, and create high-performing cultures of collaboration.

Awarenow team interviewed Bryant to understand more about his background, work, and projects and the value he creates for startups and individuals. As well as how his personal values of authenticity, transparency, and empathy influence the work he does.

Awarenow team interviewed Bryant to understand more about his background, work, and projects and the value he creates for startups and individuals. As well as how his personal values of authenticity, transparency, and empathy influence the work he does.

“I envision a world where empowered creators connect and create new ideas based upon their differences, and use these differences to create a better world,”

How do you want to make a difference in the world?

I believe that change starts by acknowledging the uniqueness inside of other people and us. From here, we can create a safe space where we use our differences for the common good.

When we are aware of our uniqueness and feel empowered to speak, we are taking the first step to resolve conflict.

For startups in particular, whose growth depends on innovating, acknowledging and leveraging the differences creates solutions that may not otherwise be apparent from the first go-around.

Why did you choose conflict resolution?

I have spent my life trying to reconcile my internal conflicts. During my journey though, I understood that battles (both internal or external) are sources of empowerment — only if we choose to view them that way.

What was a personal breakthrough for you?

Two years ago, I came back to Los Angeles after spending some time s in NYC, where I was studying full time at Columbia University as well as working. I went to a Halloween party, and to this day I don’t know why but I was randomly stabbed in the neck by a stranger. It was a traumatic experience — I suffered from depression, and I had to find myself again. My path towards self-discovery culminated in the creation of my business: Workplace Collaborations. I wanted to teach people how to talk about their fears, use them to empower themselves and others, and learn how to create win-win solutions.

How do people approach you?

I have marketed my services specifically to co-founders. The people who contact me usually face issues related to the relationship with their co-founder, investments, equity restriction, problems with the product.

An interesting aspect of my work is that founders I’ve worked with in the past are starting to bring me in to do culture development work with their entire teams. They see how beneficial the work has been to them, and they want everyone in their company to benefit from it too.

How do people change after working with you?

BRYANT: It depends on the person, but usually the change I see is related to confidence, empowerment, compassion, emotional self-awareness, and balance. I help people change their internal stories and the way they communicate, so they aren’t afraid to ask for what they want and craft better deals.

How do you compare to a psychologist?

The work is similar, but also different. As a psychologist, I help clients deal with their fears. I create a safe space where they can express their anxiety, and help them accept it as a collective issue. They come to understand that they are not the only ones that feel that way — and they find compassion and empathy for their situation. In addition to this, I created techniques to address specific issues including a collaborative disagreement process and other scripts to help people with giving/receiving feedback.

You said that you focus on co-founders, but do you target other segments?

BRYANT: My clients are usually men who are white or women who have a tendency to get anxious and want to reach perfection. I help men develop compassion, and I teach women how to assert themselves without sounding aggressive. I mainly work with startup founders, but I also coach executives of big companies, who come to me through referrals or word of mouth.

What was the most challenging experience in your coaching career?

I worked with a 4-person team where one of the founders had mental health issues. He was depressed and burned out — and that affected the co-founder dynamic. He would come back to the same story over and over again showing clear signs of depression. I had to call out the behavior showing compassion — it wasn’t easy. I mapped out all the internal stories and helped him recognize them so that he could see what was going on in his mind and modify his behavior. This client found me thanks to a Medium article that I wrote: “Co-founder disputes kill startups. Try mediation before it kills yours.” (https://medium.com/@bryantgalindo/co-founder-disputes-kill-startups-try-mediation-before-it-kills-yours-9a6aa2a8a5b)

Could you give us an example of suggestions that you would give to our expat founder (Russian, female 25–33 years old) based on your perception during this interview and general guidelines?

Culture can shape the way we negotiate and resolve conflicts. A Russian negotiating with Americans has to keep in mind that it is essential to create an emotional connection through body language. Italians, for example, are very expressive emotionally, and if they negotiate without using that emotion, they might not be taken seriously. On the other hand, Japanese people usually don’t show emotion, but they use other tools to negotiate such as rituals. I would recommend that you, based upon your cultural heritage, adjust your negotiation techniques to find a balance between the country you come from and the state of the people you negotiate with.

What about the role that gender plays in negotiation?

When women negotiate on behalf of someone (e.g., children) they negotiate better than when they negotiate just for themselves. This happens because biases are internalized, but they can be overcome when women negotiate for someone else. If you need to negotiate a raise or better working conditions, think about who else beyond yourself would benefit. It’ll help anchor your self-confidence issues (if there are any) while driving forward toward a win-win result.

Do you think that women would pay to hear a man talk about women’s issues?

It would be hard for a man to talk about general issues that women face, but if the session was focused on something specific (negotiation, conflict resolution), I think that women would be happy to learn about these topics from a masculine perspective. I would give them insider knowledge as to how a man views these things while helping women out in negotiating better.

In this changing world, more and more men are questioning what it means to be a man. The same happens to women. What do you think about these tendencies?

BRYANT: I’m familiar with the male personal development. I am a leader of an organization called “The Heroes’ Movement.” 

I help facilitate retreats to address what it means to be a man by looking at different areas such as psychology, ancient wisdom, and fitness. I also have a strong feminine side, which has helped me in work with women.

Let’s talk about the major benefits of a workshop with you. What would be the primary benefit of a retreat, gender-neutral, of around 50 people? What would be the primary benefit for women in a small group session? And what would be the significant benefit for men in a short group session?

During the gender-neutral retreat, I would provide insider information on how to negotiate, and I would give negotiation guides to add tangible value. Regarding women, I know that they don’t want to come off as aggressive, so I would help them look at their internal stories around that and reframe them. I would ask them if they think they are offensive or assertive. Being assertive means that you know your worth and you know how to vocalize and create boundaries.

Men often label women as aggressive because it makes them feel better. I would start by creating a new story for these women: “I’m just assertive, but people see me as aggressive.” Regarding men, I would teach them how to be better negotiators. I help men embody emotions from a place of strength — this is called tactical empathy.

I teach them that emotions can be powerful tools to use in negotiations to connect with the other side. I have a master class in persuasive negotiation.

Why should people work with you or come to your events?

I teach you how to work with someone who thinks differently than you. We all believe in collaboration, but the reality is that partnership often goes out the window because disagreements pop up and people don’t know how to react. What makes my message unique is that I have a professional background coupled with personal life experiences that have taught me how to speak from a place of confidence and inner strength. I can help you change your internal stories, so your outer expressions can change too.

What is the main issue that people experience when they ask you for help with conflict resolution and negotiation?

Regarding conflict resolution, it’s usually burnout around a situation. The people who reach out to me don’t have any more moves they can make, and they realize they need external help. I have mainly focused on conflict resolution, but I also worked with entrepreneurs who need help with negotiation. They want to make sure they are creating the best deal, and they want to influence the other side. I teach them how to use tactical empathy to make sure the other side feels heard.

We know that you are passionate about self-transformation and self-awareness in conflict resolution. Can you elaborate on that?

You can hire coaches or trainers to teach you a script, a model, a way to resolve conflict — but these methods don’t work if you don’t change the stories you tell yourself. I take my time with clients to make sure that when I leave, they don’t have to call me again. I want them to know that they can do this on their own because that’s what they are paying for.

“I help you look inward so that your outward expression changes too.”

How do you see yourself in five years?

I want to be an international diplomat, and I want my company to grow to 25–50 employees. I’m working on another project called “The Collaboration Academy,” which is based on different topics around conflict resolution and negotiation for startups. I’m also laying the groundwork to become mayor in ten years. I am a Latino, I speak Spanish — and I think that I could also make a difference in the Latino community.

Why do you want to be a mayor?

For three main reasons:

  • I grew up in LA, and understand people who live in this city.
  • I’m highly educated, and I want to use my education to create change.
  • I hate separation, and politics is about competition. I want to create a collaborative environment in the public space. We need a new way of doing politics, a new way of thinking and using democracy, integrating technology to engage people.

What is the role of self-awareness in this change?

When you stimulate self-awareness, you trigger the desire for change. I assess at the beginning of my work with clients to activate that self-awareness. We have energetic bodies, and the way we enter the world with our energy creates an assemblage point, which can shift depending on our level of self-awareness and intention. I help to make this shift because it is usually hard to make it on your own. I think that self-awareness means taking these components of energy and spirituality and making them tangible.

Do you bring these spiritual components to your work?

I stay away from it in large settings, but I use these tools one-on-one if the client is open to it. I worked with a client recently using a visualization technique to have him focused on the embodiment of what he is seeking when he speaks in front of a crowd. I had him visualize what that person looks like, feels like, what is wearing, etc. Spirituality, for me, means getting a better understanding of who you are deep inside.

We are interested in this combination between your professional background about conflict resolution and spiritual work. Would you be open to using spiritual practice in both conflict resolution and negotiation?

I would use spirituality in conflict resolution, but negotiation is more formulaic. I could talk about energy regarding money. We attach value and intention to cash, so we create an energy field around it. When I exchange money, I feel gratitude. Letting go of money with a positive attitude allows that fixed position that most people have around money to open so more money can come. There are a lot of ways we can talk about spirituality and how it impacts conflict resolution and negotiation.

Interested in deepening your conscious leadership skills? Request a free intro session with me on awarenow to see if we’re a good fit.

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