Digital Chatter Episode #001: Andy Cabistan
This is the first interview of Digital Chatter with Andy Cabistan, an entrepreneur and business go-getter.
Eric: Hello and welcome everyone to the Digital Chatter Series. Today I have a good friend of mine, Andy Cabistan with me. Everyone say hello to Andy.
Andy: Hello hello!
Eric: All right, so, Andy you are an entrepreneur. You are literally in the thick of everything right now. You have a small business with big hopes and dreams and it’s all based around communication and helping businesses communicate better internally which will externally benefit them so any tell me a little bit about your background and how you got started with this.
Andy: Right. So first of all for having me Eric. I have always been passionate about helping people communicate effectively. Communication, storytelling, teamwork, leadership all those things combined I think you can make magic with that. It started through different experiences as it started with me growing up in Costa Rica understanding how different cultures communicate. In Costa Rica we have a lot of people from all around the world that come and visit. It’s the biggest most friendly environment and understanding the the styles, the different cultures will bring to a country and then you will learn from them and then later on moving to America, experiencing and seeing how people communicate in a different culture, in the American culture. And then in college being involved with many, many organizations like The Student Government, like Human Rights Organizations, and seeing how everybody will work together as a team towards the same missions to accomplish something, right. And that flow of getting something accomplished, a goal, a mission, there has to be a perfect flow of communication.
Andy: So later on I became an entrepreneur. I started another company, Culture Me, that you may remember and that was a little mobile app for delivery services but that product didn’t really work out. But during that time I met two awesome guys who are the founders of a branding company called Focus Lab and they do design they do branding for big companies and they had this tool that they were using for their team and their clients called DiSC and this is a behavioral tool that shows people how they communicate and behave with others in a way that makes sense to them. So they saw so much value using this that they realize, “hey we would love to figure out a way to create more materials and more tools to help people in different companies in different environments work better together, communicate better together.”
Andy: So they brought me aboard. They said, “hey Andy, we are looking for somebody else. We’re looking for a third partner and we want to make this happen.”
Andy: So I came on-board and pretty much we joined the same feel over hey we want to help people communicate effectively we want to see teams collaborating effectively. And then we started our company and the name of our company is Watson Works.
Andy: So that’s pretty much all of my story. It has honestly been in my heart for many years. But thankfully a year ago we started doing something to actually solve this problem of people just just can’t communicate sometimes.
Eric: Sure, you know, in fact that’s actually the number one thing when a CEO is asked you know what do you think your business needs to do better. The number one thing is communication. I mean time and time again. Over 90 percent of CEOs will say that’s the number one thing. So I mean you’re literally taking on a a huge issue that exists across the board. I mean this is small, medium, large enterprise companies deal with this communication issue and just give me an example of some of the issues that some of your clients experience.
Andy: Yes so something that happens that it happens very often is that we all have different ways of looking at the world and behaving in the world. So we will have personal strengths and weaknesses, and with that it comes different ways of approaching problems, of approaching people. So what I see is that really the problem is that there is a lack of self-awareness of how you function how you come across to people. And then there is a lack of empathy for the way other people express themselves. So this is a problem that I see over and over again as I go with the companies, as I work with different teams. Sometimes every side is wrong because they have the right answer and we have a really good answer. The problem is that comes time to compromise and combine, how they’re coming across and what they are trying to say, the values and the style of other people, there is a big clash. So to bridge the gap between pretty much all of the common and which for all the similarities and differences that these people have. So that’s very common, lack of self-awareness and a lack of empathy.
Eric: That’s interesting and I think you know I’ve done a test with you. You went ahead and gave me a test to do, and I filled out that very, very short form, compared to a lot of other forms I think a lot of people in high school filled out forms that said what will you do when you grow up or who are you like. This is a very short and simple task that helped me realize some things that I already knew a little bit about myself. But it helped me understand maybe more the reasons why I am and just because I’m extroverted doesn’t mean I like X Y and Z though. So it is very informative and I think the power in this kind of testing and this information is not only for myself to understand you know how I work and the best way that I can work with others. But when I had this test off the results to someone else that I worked with on a daily basis whether that’s a boss or a client, whatever, that will empower them to understand how I work.
Eric: For example my project manager, he and I’ve been working together for years now and he gets me. But I still think you know we’re handing him this information, a lot of light bulbs went off in his head. So tell me who is this perfect for? What kind of industries are using this?
Andy: Yes this is interesting. This is a tool that has been around since the 1970s. It’s used in many industries for hiring. The interesting thing is that imagine you have had your company, 100, 200, 500 people taking an assessment for them to get to the next level of the hiring process and then they get hired. So that’s when maybe they saw their results but they realized the potential of understanding really this information to actually become better team player. So they got in the industry so we decided to go ahead and create materials to actually teach people how effectively use this methodology. Just imagine that you’re learning English or Spanish, You may go to class you may do homework but it’s not until you immerse yourself in the culture that you can understand
it well. So what we do is attracting most people into that into that cultural course of this methodology and actually the thing is for them to introduce themselves due to this methodology to this new language for them to understand everybody.
Andy: But it is up to the leaders of the companies to introduce that to their cultures. OK so let’s say you train your sales team of 20 people. They went through the DiSc training with us and everybody’s understanding their own communication styles, the communication styles of the people they work with, and they’re also understanding that they’re getting a second nature now understanding people’s styles that they speak with on the phone. Just by the first five minutes with them they will realize that the person maybe what we call a High – a very interactive person or a very straightforward give me sound bites will the voice very quickly to the point. Or a person that really takes some time to think about it and see how whatever you’re offering to them will impact the whole picture, their team, their people.
Andy: So that’s something that we tried to offer to people is for them to understand a new methodology to introduce to their cultures and the leadership plays a key role because as I told you, you have these 20 people then let’s say you have five new people coming into your team. You want to get them up to speed on this DiSC stuff so they can go through the training with them. So it’s a common thing for the company instead of taking three or six months, or one year, sometimes to figure out someone’s style because relationships take time. Understanding people takes time. So this is a really good way to sort of understand the psychology very quickly and then through time of course you’ll start understanding values, motivations. But this is very important to understand how to connect with them.
Eric: I think that’s a good point. When I first took the test and got these results – this is basically anyone who have worked with me the last six or 12 months could have probably come up with the similar results but I mean literally this test takes barely any time and these results save headaches and pain and suffering and trying to communicate with someone and you know figuring out the different methodologies like you say, in order to connect things so much better. That’s really the power I think of of what you’re doing.
Eric: So we’ve dove into Watson Works, I’d like to know a little bit more about why is communication such a big deal for you like why. You talked a little bit about it in the beginning but let’s dive back into that and what’s so important about communication.
Andy: Going back to I guess growing up in Costa Rica getting exposed to different environments, moving to America when I was 16 years old by myself. I think that was the tipping point right there. I moved to America from Costa Rica to get a better life, get an education, become a professional. At 16 left everything, came without my family, just myself. And it took some time for me to understand how to communicate and which I had to learn English how to not just understand the language but also express things in effective ways. Since I came here I paid so much attention to people’s ways of communicating. I will see a people’s number, I would see people’s body language. I will see, I will hear their tone of voice. Initially I didn’t understand many things so trying to read everything the person was doing, I was trying to get the point of exactly what was
going on so I just I was just it’s just something that it just became something that I became obsessed with – understanding how people function, understanding how people communicate.
Andy: And through the years, of course I went to college, I got my my education, I got involved with many organizations and I was able to, it’s interesting, intuitively, almost apply a lot of the things that I learned early on to work with people. So I just did this with this link of working with people having an effective flow of communication and then the leadership aspect of it is very important because you may have a process of communication but if you don’t have a leader if you don’t have people that are there to make sure they’re sustaining that culture of things, the the processes of things, they have people’s backs, they have integrity. People lose motivation and even if they understand how to communicate effectively, they won’t do it. So this is one my personal life experiences, it is my obsession with understanding how people communicate and also seeing through the years how people sometimes were getting very unnecessary, unhealthy discussions sometimes and realizing that they didn’t need to go that far to get upset at each other, they just need the right argument about their case.
Andy: So they ended up getting mad or frustrated you know. So I want to help people understand how to just get their ideas communicated effectively to others so they can just have better lives. When you communicate effectively, when you get your point across, you have more peace in your heart, you’re more motivated. It’s just healthy and this is something I just want to solve for people. I’m on a mission to help people with this.
Eric: That’s awesome. I mean you bring up a good point when you were 16 and understanding communication and the colloquialisms in the United States. I mean you had to do that to survive in order to assimilate to our culture. Coming from Costa Rica and I’ve been there as well. Beautiful country you know. And everyone is typically all smiles there, right? Pura Vida, right? Here in the United States things are a little different and sarcasm is a big big deal in the United States and that is very difficult for foreigners to pick up on because if you don’t detect the subtleties and voice change in tone and just the way that someone’s talking about something you will lose it. You will believe exactly what they’re saying. When in reality they are being sarcastic. You know someone says, “oh my gosh I could just die tomorrow!” All of a sudden you’re going, “no!”
Andy: This is interesting. And there are studies when you’re learning a new language, you start taking things very literal. You find the most effective way just to say what you’re saying. You don’t get too much fluff to your ear the way you communicate and that’s funny because as I learn English for the past years, I am a very straightforward person. I just stick with like sentence by sentence whereas I don’t get too much fluff just because just the way I learned it. But something funny, something really funny about sarcasm and I was actually going to give you an example very similar.
Andy: When I was in high school, I was getting very confused by sarcasm and I had a math teacher, he was really cool guy. And I sat in class one time and, he was very sarcastic of course, so I said, “hey I just don’t understand sarcasm, I just don’t get it.” So he said, “OK
Andy go home and Google sarcasm and come back tomorrow and give me an example to figure out if you actually know what sarcasm is.”
Andy: So I go home, I google sarcasm and it pretty much is something they you say that you don’t really mean. That was the way I kind of understood it. So I come to class the next day and the professor asked me, “Andy so do you have an example for us?” and I said. “Yes I am going to kill myself tomorrow.”
Andy: So that was the example. I was very serious and then I said just kidding. I didn’t have to say just kidding to say what I wanted to say. He laughed. Everybody in the class laughed, he was just really really funny. Yeah I mean that’s a perfect example. Sometimes that tone of voice or how you say I mean that will change everything.
Eric: Yeah and it happens every day. Every interaction we have is communication and like you said earlier non-verbal body language things like that are all a big deal. When you turn to the side and speak with someone that’s completely different versus being open and having your hands open like this. You know people who cross their arms and talk versus doing power poses and everything. It’s very, very interesting.
Andy: Right now we’re very focused on the team aspect of things so with using the DiSC methodology but in the next years my hope is just to have a series, like a portfolio of tools for everything. How do you non-verbally communicate. Watching your voice. Listening! listening is so important. So having a series of courses and combining a lot of materials with that. Actually right now for managers and business owners we are developing a platform for them to have a centralized place of everybody in their company to understand the communication style so if you have let’s say a new Director of Sales coming into your city, of course they will take some time to meet the entire team. So what we do is that we put in this platform everybody’s communication styles so that that manager, that director has better tools to just start getting connected better with people, with his team and then get to the meat of things which of course whatever goal they have. So, super excited about that too.
Eric: Awesome. Tell me more about some of the businesses you want to work with and who is best fit for this.
Andy: Yes so what we say is pretty much small to medium sized businesses where they have a group of people, a team that works in a collaborative environment. That means they work in projects together they’re constantly communicating via email with each other or Slack. Or they’re just pretty much working on projects all the time. Sales Teams, they’re really good for this because it helps them just work amongst themselves but also with potential leads so understanding the styles and psychology of people they speak with is extremely valuable. Customer Service work very well. As far as the industries, this is very ubiquitous because this really applies to many industries but huge interest I have right now just because of my passion is the tech industry. I would love to serve people in tech – emerging startups and hopefully maybe working on their second round of funding. They are getting to that point where they need to build a little more structure.
Andy: Sometimes you know they won’t have maybe the time to work on the culture or they just don’t have the tools so I want to help them have those tools and also just start introducing something to that culture of their company. So small to medium size business in any industry but tech is something that I’m very interested about right now.
Eric: Perfect, perfect. So Andy tell me is there anything else. This has been a great discussion. Is there anything else out there you want to give away to people, is there anything you want to leave people with today. And tell me what that is.
Andy: Yeah you know I would say, think about the word compassion when you communicate with another person. Try try to understand where they’re coming from. I’m reading a book, maybe you will know what it is, but I can recall right now. But it was try to understand others before you try to have them understand you OK? I would understand where others are coming from. I’m probably paraphrasing this but the whole point of this is if someone comes across as rude to you or someone comes across as overly friendly to you, the rude person maybe didn’t mean to be rude and the overly friendly person didn’t really mean to be annoying.
Andy: If you start trying to dive deep into the background of what is happening in their lives maybe this is a person that has been hurt many times in their life and their defense mechanism is to just come across as like, put a wall. And the friendly person maybe hasn’t had, well the overly friendly person, I would say maybe hasn’t had that much exposure to to a loving environment and that person is in so much need for love. And by love I’m not meaning anything crazy. I mean a hug, attention.
Eric: They create love because they didn’t receive it.
Andy: They didn’t receive it either. They didn’t receive it when they were younger or they are just going through some hard times. I really don’t think the majority of people wake every morning and try to make another person’s day miserable. I don’t think people wake up trying to just be sad. I really think people want to have a great day. You know what happens is that sometimes they just, they’re trying to figure out life, as we all are. We come across sometimes as things that we’re not really, you know, because we’re putting a mask. Sometimes we’re trying to put on that game face that sometimes it just doesn’t get the message across. So if you deal with the word compassion just before you flip on somebody before you get mad at somebody before you start getting upset. Really go a little extra mile and try to figure out where they’re coming from. And then I can guarantee you you will build better relationships and work your home and with your friends so that’s something I would like to leave you all with.
Andy: That’s perfect Andy, thank you so much. I appreciate you being on the Digital Chatter Series. Thanks again and we’ll put a link to Watson Works down here.
Andy: Eric, Thank you!