Interview with Bryant Gálindo
Founder @ CollabsHQ

Is your co-founder team having difficulties communicating sensitive issues? Are your cross-functional teams suffering from a lack of communication? Does your startup culture not support open dialogue or feedback? I know you're the type that is relentless. Your startup is finally growing. But frustrations or resentments build because people aren't communicating with one another or don't know how. I'll train you in collaborative communication, and coach your startup or co-founder team in building it's collaborative intelligence - the ability to work with people who think differently than you. Learn more about CollabsHQ here.
In terms of workplace etiquette and relations, what separates our generation from those before?
The millennial generation and Generation Z - I think one of the major things that really separates us in terms of workplace etiquette and relations is our reliance on technology. We're fully comfortable with new changes, innovation, and all of these different aspects that come with rapid change. And when you're dealing with older generations, or at least hierarchical structures within the workplace that require top-down communication patterns, this actually butts heads. Because while for our generation, we have this informality to how we communicate and how we are in the workplace, the generations before us actually were not like that. The workplace was a professional place: you put a suit and tie on, you had your role, you had your duties, you had your power to regulate how it is that you ended up actually relating to one another. But for our generation and the generation that comes afterwards, Generation Z, that is changing for us - and we want workplaces that on not only are fun but also allow us to be ourselves. There's not this boundary, if you want to call it, between workplace me and then outside me. It's one and the same. We want to bring our full self forward, and that allows us to have actually really strong relationships. But the flip side of that is that we actually become very informal in our communication, and end up actually not being able to to have overt disagreements with one another - we end up wanting to just send a bunch of emojis and GIFs, maybe even brush off different conflicts or disagreements, because we're actually not very comfortable going into that space with one another. So these are just some of the differences of how our generation relates to one another, as well as our etiquette patterns, and it really does relate to how it is that we communicate with one another.
What led to your decision to rebrand as CollabsHQ? How has this changed your own processes and clientele?
The rebrand to CollabsHQ from Workplace Collaboration was one months in the making. I had a strategic partner at the time name Patrick Courtnage, who was also my best friend, that I would bring on on a contractor basis. And as I was thinking about what kind of help I needed to really take my business to the next level, I really wanted someone- as well as a rebrand - to capture that. And so it made sense to change from Workplace Collaboration to CollabsHQ because I was developing this in-suite of services, or value ladder, to target clients. And that meant not only creating different workshops, speaking engagements, coaching and consulting, but I wanted to be this non-stop shop for all things collaboration-related. And you may think, "What does collaboration-related mean?" Well, for me it was about, "How do we create the services to target the different pain points that come with people just working with people from across the world?" A lot of my clients are distributed start-ups, remote-based, are scaling, have their own team members or employees throughout the world. And so, I wanted to make sure that I could capture the nuances that come when you're communicating with someone who has a different cultural background from you, or maybe even trying to negotiate. And so CollabsHQ - the HQ being headquarters - meant, not only am I aspiring to showcase the future of communication within remote base or distributed startups, but I also want to be that one-stop shop where people can come and learn about collaboration. We're not fully there yet, but it has changed how I thought about scaling, as well as what types of service I am looking to actually start developing going further, as well as products.
In your last interview, you talked about how a lack of boundaries can cause large problems within a company. How difficult is it for managers to backtrack once they've blurred the line between boss and friend?
So let me tell you a story. This is a story about a founder that I was working with, he was one of four founders in a four-founder team. And he was known as the peacemaker, the Mr. Nice Guy. And as we were working together and coaching him on how to be assertive in his communication patterns, one of the things that popped up was that he was too friendly with people. And what caused that, was that when he had to give feedback to someone - especially a specific woman - the woman would end up actually crying and utilizing emotion in such a way to overwhelm him, where it actually felt kind of manipulative. And so as he was delivering this feedback, the woman would cry and he - being the Mr. Nice Guy and peacemaker - ended up always just wanting to appease her and make sure that she felt okay, but then nothing ever changed as a result. It became so toxic, that after a year about this going back and forth, he had no way of really going backwards - which is when I came in, helping him kind of correct that. And he was able to do it, but the problem is that you have to kind of be real: to be honest and yet to start naming the dynamic in order to be able to go backwards in time, so to speak, to create a foundation that wasn't ever set. And so, if you have these problems where you are a manager - a first time manager, specifically - or a founder, or you're having to manage someone who is also your friend, you have to from the beginning get very clear as to what are the parameters of the professional relationship, what is expected from one another and how you'll stay accountable to that. The minute you are not accountable, it shows to the employee that your boundaries are weak and that they can actually not be a boundary. And so doing that requires a little forethought, it might be a little assertive and stern, but in the long run knowing where you are and where you end and begin - especially in a professional setting - can be very helpful for employees.
In your opinion, what are some of the most high-tension events two co-founders can go through? How can they mediate these tensions?
I group some of the high-tension events that co-founders can go through in three different boxes: money, vision and personality. So a lot of these issues will come down to - do we have the money and the resources to scale? Where's that money going to? How do we pay ourselves? How much equity do we want? Do we save some equity later on? Do we divvy it up? A lot of that will come out and is usually the focal point in the beginning for founders. Second is vision: strategy around how to grow the company, where to go, maybe your MVP fails and you're trying to figure out what are the next steps - do we keep going? Do we change the vision? Do we pivot? If there is an agreement or consensus around that - or at least productive disagreement - it can get very disastrous in the long run. Then lastly is personality: which can span a spectrum from working styles to energy output, to: are each one of you able to be friendly and take risks together? And so these little buckets are things that can really cause high-tension events between founders to really cause problems later on, if they're not dealt with. And in order to mediate these types of tensions, the founders have to, one, have a very clear partnership agreement that outlines these things to the best of their ability, as well as a mechanism for accountability and third-party review. One of the benefits that I see from a really strong partnership agreements is bringing in an outside counsel, advisor, consultant. Someone who can bring in an outside perspective to be the deciding tiebreaker, as well as helping them communicate past these issues. Because sometimes when you're so in the muck of things, it will be very difficult for you to bring in a higher perspective that will help you find that third way forward, in order to be able to mediate these things together. But it is not impossible, you can do it, and it definitely helps you if you're able to have these types of conversations from the get go.
How does being based in Los Angeles present you with a unique clientele that wouldn't be found elsewhere?
Oddly enough, Los Angeles presents a unique clientele, in the sense that a lot of the startups that I have worked with are wellness-centric, food-centric. But my company is remote, and so a lot of my clients actually come from New York, D.C., San Francisco, Colorado, as well as Europe and even one or two from Australia. And so because I can do mediation, workshops and even consulting work virtually - sometimes a client will pay me to come out - my client base isn't actually just in Los Angeles. It's actually throughout the world. And so because I do inbound marketing, well the one thing I will say is: that I have the unique ability to position my services in front of my target market according to paying points, and not necessarily just to geography. It allows me to have a larger spectrum of clients to choose from, as well as qualified leads.