I believe in building trust and in creating relationships based on trust.
I do this by listening well, creating safe spaces, and connecting at deep levels. I coach, teach, and share from my own experience, so that people can have more love, awareness, and possibility in life.
I’m an executive coach and co-founder of MasterCoaches. My partners and I work together to create great places to work.
Let’s start a few years back. An important turning point came to me on the morning of July 19, 1995. I was at my breakfast table reading the local newspaper when I came across a story that almost knocked me off my chair. It was about a business coach in town who had successfully transitioned from a quality management consultant at a large defense contractor. This was the same defense contractor where I was about to go into work that morning. As I read the story, I found myself saying: “Coaching! This is exactly what I want to do next with my life.” I didn’t know where this was coming from. It felt as if life was grabbing me by the shirt collar, shaking me a few times and shouting: “WAKE UP!”
That day, I called both the coach in the article and the coaching school that it referenced. A few days later, I had hired myself a coach and was enrolled in Coach University – one of the few online coaching schools available at that time.
Are You Crazy?
For the next five years, I led two professional lives: one as a successful engineer and project leader, and the other as a beginning executive coach. Although my wife was encouraging and supportive, some family members and friends nevertheless questioned my sanity. Their quizzical looks implied: “You have bachelor and master’s degrees in engineering, a promising career, a family with two pre-school daughters… and you want to become a coach? Are you nuts?”
I just nodded and smiled.
I’ve learned that it’s more important for me to pay more attention to my inner compass than to focus on what everyone else – with good intentions – tells me I should do. In fact, one of my favorite poets, David Whyte, has said it best: “The greatest tragedy of the soul is not that we fail at living our own life but that we fail at living someone else’s.” In other words, too often we lead a life that a parent, teacher or mentor has wanted for us, instead of a life that we’ve freely chosen. So, although it’s useful to obtain perspectives from others, it’s also important that we look inside for the important choices in life. What I love about coaching is that it’s rarely about telling people what they should do.
It started several years earlier…
I’ve always been an avid learner. My mother and maternal grandmother were both teachers. To earn extra money, they also sold World Book Encyclopedias, so we always had the latest edition in our household. My parents would joke about the hours their 12-year-old spent reading a random volume. I’ve always been very thorough in most everything I do, especially in my learning. Years later, after taking the StrengthsFinder assessment, I would discover that this is actually a strength which the Gallup organization has termed “Maximizer.”
Later, in college, there were two subject areas that I was completely enamored with: technology and humanities. I would spend countless hours learning about computers, software algorithms, and computer networks. At the same time, I also loved learning about the great philosophers, thinkers, and artists throughout history, and how their important contributions created inflection points in humanity’s development.
I remember taking a college course in artificial intelligence and thinking to myself that, finally, there was a way to combine my two passions and “help a machine become more conscious and self-aware.” I later learned that it’s much easier to achieve this with people than with machines. Hence, I’ve been doing the same, basic thing ever since I can remember: helping to create greater awareness and to expand the range of available possibilities.
Experiencing struggle even earlier still…
My early childhood had many challenges. I was born in Cuba in 1960. Although my parents ensured that my younger sister and I never lacked the essentials, I nevertheless experienced driving with my dad to a pump station to fetch fresh drinking water, standing in line for a weekly ration of meat, and having to watch every word I said for fear of repercussions. I will always be grateful to my parents for getting us out of that system in 1967. Shortly thereafter, while living in Miami, my parents divorced. A couple of years later, my mother, sister, and I moved to Puerto Rico, where I lived for the next 10 years.
It wasn’t easy moving from Cuba into a new country, a new culture, a new language, and starting over. But I had some great role models that taught me the value of working hard, getting a good education, and developing a love of learning. Most importantly, my sister and I always experienced unconditional love and constant reinforcement that who we are really matters. This became a solid foundation that I would always lean on when life asked me to “turn on a dime” and start over.
There were important experiences that left an indelible imprint in my life. First and foremost was my Catholic upbringing. Then, in 1987, I took the Dale Carnegie Course in Public Speaking and Human Relations. This course transformed me from a shy and introverted young man into a more confident and self-expressed leader. After this 12-week course, I returned to it as a graduate assistant and helped teach it for the next 10 years. I also participated in Toastmasters and even took several courses in improvisational comedy. These experiences helped to hone my communication skills.
Other transformative experiences included: The Landmark Forum, The Newfield Network Graduate Program in Ontological Coaching, and the Integral Institute’s Organizational Leadership programs.
Then, outside of my immediate family, there were teachers and authors who influenced me profoundly: Thomas Leonard (founder of Coach University), Julio Olalla (founder of The Newfield Network), Fred Kofman (Conscious Business), Og Mandino (The Greatest Salesman in the World), Benjamin Zander (The Art of Possibility), Ken Wilber (A Brief History of Everything and Integral Spirituality), Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead), Wayne Dyer, David Whyte, and Jerry Stocking. Historical figures that I admire and respect include: Abraham Lincoln, St. Ignatius Loyola (founder of the Jesuits), Mahatma Gandhi, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
My business partner, David Brown, has also been an important influence. I first met him in the year 2000 and immediately resonated with his deep intellect, respectful irreverence, amazing creativity, and playful nature. We have attended several trainings and conferences together, gone on retreats with other colleagues, and collaborated on articles and projects. I can truthfully say that I’m a much more enlightened human being thanks to David’s gentle and edgy coaching.
What It’s Like to Work with Me
My ideal client is a successful senior executive, oftentimes with a technical or analytical background, who is curious, exercises leadership, loves to learn, and is a good teacher/mentor. He or she also aspires for much more and values the partnership in our working together. My ideal client learns from me, I learn from him/her, and we both become better leaders and human beings.
I begin with the premise that everyone I work with is whole, resourceful, and complete. There is nothing broken that needs to be fixed. Moreover, everyone has strengths (talents that they’ve augmented with knowledge and skills) that can be enhanced. So we work on their strengths and also on “things that get in the way of their strengths.” Lastly, we work on ways to counterbalance too much emphasis on a given strength.
I enjoy getting to know people. I build a safe, confidential, and trusting space where people are free to share anything regarding any aspect of their life. Although our primary focus tends to be work-related, I find that there’s a coherence and consistency to life. So, if something is not working in one area, then there’s usually a related area that’s not working either. Similarly, when we make gains in one area, other areas tend to also benefit. Bottom line: there are marked benefits when we work with the whole person.
I invite you to a special type of conversation that is rarely found inside an organization. It’s a conversation where judgment is suspended, where you feel fully heard, where you can explore angles that have not yet occurred to you, and where you can finally find an outlet for the nagging voice in your head.
1995 – Present: Executive Coach
- Coached Motorola executives in South Florida, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico during part of a 9-month leadership program.
- Coached senior executives at NASA with emphasis in leadership, effective communication and onboarding.
- Coached for NASA’s Systems Engineering Leadership Development Program (SELDP).
- Coached senior executives in Japan, Spain, Canada, Mexico, the U.S., and various South American countries, representing industries from finance, to food services, to high technology.
- Led several half-day and full-day time management and communication workshops in both English and Spanish.
- Taught 6-month teleclasses for the Coach Training Alliance from 2002-2003, in both English and Spanish.
- Was president of the Space Coast Chapter of the International Coach Federation (ICF) from 1998 – 2000 and in 2005.
1985 – 2000: Software Engineer and Project Manager
Led project teams in support of multi-million dollar contracts and proposals (wireless, embedded, real-time systems) with cost, schedule, and personnel responsibilities.
- Certified in the following 360 assessment instruments: Lominger’s VOICES, Benchmarks from The Center for Creative Leadership, Management Research Group’s Leadership 360, Caliper 360+, Leadership Agility 360, and NASA’s 540.
- Certified in the Cultural Orientations Inventory (COI) and proficient in DiSC, MBTI, and StrengthsFinder.
- Trained in Integral Organizational Leadership at Integral Institute weeklong seminars led by Ken Wilber & staff founders in Boulder, CO in 2004 and 2006.
- Completed The Newfield Network Graduate Program in Ontological Coaching in August of 2002. Also completed various Newfield courses and workshops.
- Landmark Education Corporation: multiple personal & professional development programs, 1999-2001.
- Coach University Coach Training Program, 1995-2001.
- Teleclass Leader Training, 2000 and 2001.
- Advanced Courses in Leadership, Project Management, and Software Project Engineering, 1993-1999.
- Dale Carnegie Course in Public Speaking and Human Relations, 1987. Graduate Assistant for seven other Carnegie courses from 1988-1998.
- MSE (computer engineering) University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1985.
- BSE (electrical engineering) University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, 1983.
- Member of the International Coach Federation (ICF).
- Founding member of the ICF’s Special Interest Group for Spanish-speaking coaches.
- Integral Institute Business & Leadership Center.
- Conversations Among Masters (CAM).
- Hispanic background (born in Cuba, raised in Miami, FL and San Juan, PR), fluent in English and Spanish.
- U.S. Citizen, in a committed relationship, with two college-age daughters.
- Other interests: philosophy, Zen, improvisational comedy, bicycling, weight training, reading, Yoga, meditation, tennis, traveling, and leading-edge technologies.