Feb. 2, 2023

Leverage People, the Human Way

Listen in as hosts Matt Perez and Jose Leal converse with Cristina Imre, Entrepreneur, Global Executive Coach and Mentor based in Romania, about mastering the game of life and business by understanding human nature. 


Jose Leal (00:00):

Welcome to rHatchery.live. My name is Jose Leal, and I'm here today with my partner Matt Perez. And today our guest is Cristina Imre. Did I pronounce that right, Cristina?

Cristina Imre (00:12):

I think it's the best pronunciation during the last six months in my course, so, perfect.

Jose Leal (00:19):

And you're with Quantum Winds. So, Cristina, you're over in Romania, just to be clear. And we're sitting here in the Silicon Valley, but you do a lot of work with north America.

Cristina Imre (00:30):

Most of my work is in North America. Yes.

Jose Leal (00:33):

So tell us about what you do and, and the work that you're doing.

Cristina Imre (00:37):

I'm very happy to be here with you both. That's my first thing I would love to see. I watched a couple of your podcast and love to be a little bit more controversial and bring the truth out today where we are living in such a complex world, and I think that this will be one of our touchpoints. I'm currently an executive coach, and I work with the startup founders, especially in tech. So Silicon Valley would be part of it and helping those kind of revolutionary deserving founders to reach the level of dragon because today we start to not talk so much about unicorns, but dragons. And so I'm that kind of secret weapon in the back, helping them to reach their voice with in check and everything in check, to not lose their drive and joy also through the journey. And also I work with the executive corporate executives as well, and CEOs. Those are my target market. And most are from the US. Also, I come with the serial entrepreneurship background. I had six startups as founder, co-founder, and also intact during the last years. So as I like to talk about myself having two decades in the trenches, understanding human nature and business combined, because basically my journey was through that.

Jose Leal (01:58):

Very cool. So our, our topic today you had talked about doing, working with people in a more human way, or leveraging people in a more human way. Can you, can you tell us what you mean by that?

Cristina Imre (02:17):

I think the secret power lays in understanding humans like we are with our needs and at the personal level. And this is something that today is so much missed. And like, take us here, if we talk, if we are like robots or AI trying to emulate AI today and be as clever and smart and with such a good memory, we wouldn't transmit anything. But we do have this human needs that I need to be amped inside the equation. And every time since I, I started to understand how important human nature understanding is from high school, when I had the revelation, everything shifted because I was interested in business as a true born entrepreneur, I would say. But I saw how unstable we are and how shallow we are, and I knew that we can do better. And I, I saw the different facets of the human being, and I couldn't understand why we behave this way in one second, another way in one. And then we changed in a, into a demon or a saint. And I wanted to understand that and then to leverage that into the workspace. And today I think it's more important than ever, and you might contradict me here, that we became too complex to complicated. Our world became too complicated, and we forgot about the human nature, the human, the basic elements like the Maslow pyramid. What we do need to, to have to be happy, productive, have a fulfilled life without being miserable. What do you think?

Jose Leal (03:54):

I think you're right on. So in no argument there, I'm sorry to say, I couldn't agree more. I think your point about human nature being at the root of what we need to deal with is why we called it radical. Radical means root and the root of work is really human nature. And if we don't understand human nature, we don't understand work. And so, I, unfortunately, I don't think we're going to have much of a debate here about those, that specific topic. We may disagree about how we do it but what we need to do, I don't think needs is something we'd argue about. So what are you doing? How, how do you see that problem? So let's, let's frame it as a problem. The problem being that we're not seeing human nature as part of how we organize work and how we think about work. Is that fair to say that that's the problem?

Cristina Imre (05:00):

Yes. I think that we as humans went through different cycles and in different speeds, speed levels. And if we consider what happened during industrial revolution, it was a different kind of aspect where human beings needed to focus on different ways to integrate work into their lives and also their kids and their families. And then it came, the, the new internet, the internet and the, the digital revolution. And we are in where everything got to a different level of speed, and we got too many things on our plate. So, and I would say here, what we got our privileges, so many things got to our hands. Our, our lives became so easy from so many different perspectives compared to our ancestors, our grandmother, grandfather, so even our parents' lives, and we don't know how to handle this. And you can see this with, with the young generation, we have so many opportunities today, and this makes us in miserable. So that is the paradox we are living into in the, the most abundant world during our, let's say lifetime as human species. But we are unhappy. And so this needs to be addressed because otherwise now it, it gives the AI aspect and it's a different threat to human nature, human needs. And we might lose ourselves in this translation. And here I would love to intervene and we to intervene more, Hey, stop, stop what we can do as humans to not lose ourselves in the process of becoming, of having everything around us.

Jose Leal (06:45):

So let me, let me maybe ask a couple of questions around that, because again, I couldn't agree more than that, that what you've just identified to me is the most critical part of human nature and the work that we're doing, which is that we've moved to a world where we have so much more time on our hands that we are now having to distract ourselves from that time. We don't know how to deal with our time. It was different when all our time was spent eating ourselves, clothing, ourselves, covering, you know, building shelters. But now we have time to spend in ways that we've built distractions to maintain that time.

Cristina Imre (07:39):

Many disagree with this because you're saying like, we have more time, and most people would say, we don't have time anymore for anything. The thing is, we have much more resources and opportunities and what you said, it's exactly right: distraction. And we need to choose between these distractions. And we don't have a guideline, it's just too soon in our history ancestry. That's why I like to touch human nature as a combination of all the sciences, more or less scientifically proven to understand where we are as a species. And this is one of the things we don't have yet a guideline that it's proven to work when we, you have everything around you and all the resources to compete in the marketplace, to have a wonderful life and whatever you are on this word. And also to work with that inequalities.

Matt Perez (08:34):

I want to stop you there for a second. What do you mean by work? Is that, what do you mean by work?

Cristina Imre (08:42):

Yeah. This is a very good question, huh? Here we could, we could debate a lot. What is the importance of work in our life? How we can.

Matt Perez (08:52):

What do you, what do you mean by work? Is that the thing that you go out to every morning? Well, not anymore, but that you work at somebody else's company or, or.

Cristina Imre (09:04):

To provide for yourself and your family. To get the financial means and resources to provide for yourself and your family.

Matt Perez (09:15):

That was good. Thank you.

Cristina Imre (09:17):

You're welcome. And so being here, it's very important for us to, to start to have a guideline about okay, now we are living in a different world, what we do with what we have, but not forgetting from where we are coming from and what are our basic needs to be met.

Jose Leal (09:38):

And is that the work that you're doing? Is that our, our question number two is what are you doing about that? So how are you taking that insight, that question that you've identified, that problem you identified, which in my book is the right question, is the right problem.

Cristina Imre (10:01):

You know, as more or more I work, and with the years I noticed that yes, this is basically my job and I need to start to simplify things with my clients and the companies I work with. Because we became so over complicated with systems, structures, what we need to do, and competing with robots and computers, that we should do what they do anyway and will do better than us not knowing how to leverage technology in our favor, seeing it as a threat and also trying to compete with it as humans, with other kinds of capacities and abilities. And I would argue now when I start to work with the client and the company that, okay, let's just start from scratch because, you know, every time I start to work with someone, basically they will say, okay, an executive coach with a serial entrepreneur background cool, we will talk business, we will start a business. It's almost never the case because once I go to, to truly know at the personal level, my clients, and this could be one at the company level where I then have one-on-one conversations with leaders and executives from that company all the time, it gets back to personal all the time. And I, I see that, that that's the main issue because those fundamental needs, including belongingness, are not met enough. And I might have executives where you might wonder, they have so many responsibilities on their shoulders, and you might work on negotiations on what they need to do tomorrow or next how to solve problems, how to manage a company, or people are under them. And no, they have completely different other focuses. Not at the beginning. Not at the beginning, because it's about the status. Again, a status problem you need, especially as a man to show how tough you are, how much of a leader you are, and that your preoccupations are very serious businesslike. And so I do have my own methods to extract the truth and go to the depth of what they truly need and where they are currently, 90% of the time, they have a personal issue to solve, to be solved. And those are coming from psychology, psychological needs or family needs or friendship needs or other kinds of needs. And then those will create the chain reaction that once they are solved, the business problems will just dilute many times themselves naturally because they are on better ground mentally and emotionally.

Matt Perez (12:36):

So, so you're saying people are working too hard, the people that you.

Cristina Imre (12:40):

Oh, absolutely. And they have so many expectations to be perfect. We have the expectation to be perfect. Now, just look at the internet, right? You should have a perfect profile all over social media where you have a profile to look good, and what you are posting, everything is about branding today and everything can be now so much leverage with some help. And so everyone sees the beautiful, perfect side of yours from the exterior. And this is one of the main causes of unhappiness because you believe that you are the lamest person in the world, and your life is just so boring and nothing compared to others. And that's a huge lie. We are living a huge lie.

Jose Leal (13:24):

That is a beautiful way to say that.

Matt Perez (13:29):

That's what, that's what my kids would call possers. Yeah, that's a lot of I don't, I, I feel one way on the inside, but I project the different thing. But, I agree with you. The thing of people are working too hard trying to think the whole company out. And that's not good.

Cristina Imre (13:53):

And as you mentioned, your kids, what do you think would be the most important factor to now I don't even know, educate our kids to be ready for the future with all of these things on the plate, having all the opportunities, the ai, but also climate issues conflicts in the world. What would we do? What should we do with our current generation to make them as ready as possible to change current things?

Jose Leal (14:22):

Stop looking at the lens of the world and start looking at the lens of yourself.

Cristina Imre (14:28):

Nice. How about you, Matt? What would you do?

Matt Perez (14:32):

Yeah, I'm not as big a fan of the individual as a thing, unto itself. The individual exists, but a community is, has a lot of knowledge. And, that's, if you were the only person on the island, you wouldn't need language. You wouldn't need any of the things that we deal with. It, it would be, life would be very simple. We don't live on an island. We live now with a billion people on this earth. And the only earth we have. And we need to think of how we work together. You, that's why I asked you the question about work because I don't think of work as just survival work is, is what we do with other people. And sometimes, you know, that that contributes to our survivability and sos and stuff like that, but sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes you do it for not directly, you do it artistic reasons you do it for because it feels right. But it's, the committee is, is the important thing. The individual is too, but we can't forget the committee. The thing about my, my oldest child is a co-author of the book that we wrote. So I'm not so worried about him. I'm not worried about the other one either. But you're right. The fact that we have so many things available to us is the problem. We, simplistic question. Very important.

Cristina Imre (16:15):

And this is not something that we should just cut. So someone to misunderstand me that, okay, now we should just restrict everything and go back to the communistic type of economies where you cut out the resources. No, but you do need guidance. And as a child grows up and needs education from family and then school and society, the same way our current generation, especially the young ones, they do need some guidance and what direction to go and what is important. Otherwise, that's why they are now so susceptible to suicide, depression, and anxiety. And they are looking for something else, not financial means as, as we can see through the last statistics. But happiness, belongingness, they, they feel so lonely. And this is such, even CEOs, I work with entrepreneurs, it's, it's one of the pandemics of our lives feeling lonely, misunderstood, because our communication went wrong at some point, became so shallow and so simplistic and has nothing to do with me wanting to know you. And here we could just start to talk about the personal aspect. I truly want to know you, Jose, as a person, not just co-host in this episode. And then we say bye and everything is cool and we never talk again. That's not value, you know?

Jose Leal (17:42):

Right, right. And, and the conversation, I mean, your point is, is super well made as is, well, as is Matt's point around community is very valid. But community, I like to think of community as understanding myself and then understanding what I need from you and, and the community. You doing the same thing in return. If, if we don't, if I don't understand myself, and I am going around just doing what you do because that's emulating what everybody else is doing, that's what we've created. Everybody's emulating everybody else. I suspect when you talk to your founders you find that they're doing what somebody else has done. They describe their products as this, but like that, in other words, they're describing it as what somebody else has done in many ways. Right?

Cristina Imre (18:43):

So, you mean they are not authentic enough.

Jose Leal (18:46):

They're not connected with themselves as much as they're connected with other people and other things that are happening. And so, when they have a new idea, they can't frame it from themselves, they can only frame it from others cause they're not in touch with what, where that idea came from. And I speak about this from my own perspective, because as an entrepreneur, when I left corporate, what I did was start a couple of new startups with an external perspective rather than the internal perspective, which I had never done before, but I learned in corporate to, to actually think about how am I going to exit this? How do I create it in order to prepare it for sale? How do I position it and do all the proper IP and all of that stuff for the exit and not produce it because of my, I'm passionate about what I'm trying to do. So there's a difference between externalizing our reasons for doing things and internalizing those things. Do you agree with that, Cristina?

Cristina Imre (20:04):

This is very interesting in and deep discussion about what you're pinpointing now, you know what I've noticed many times, let's say there are amazing founders who have an idea and they create a startup around that, and they are working, working to bring this dream alive. And it might be very unique for their needs and what they discovered, but they become converted very soon once they hit the ground with financial needs, they need investors. Maybe the clients are not coming as soon as they want it. Maybe they're not as good at marketing as sales. They start to freak out and they start then to look outside, okay, it sounds like I don't know what I'm doing. Let's see what can I do, and what others are saying. And if they take also a big amount of phones and they have a board and they need to comply, and they have so many shareholders to satisfy at once in usually at point number two, year two, many of these founders lost the initial idea purpose of the company, and they start to get demotivated because the company doesn't resemble anymore with the initial vision. And so now this might be related to the huge percentage of the startups that fair.

Jose Leal (21:28):

I couldn't agree more. I think not only that, if they can jump that gap, that second-year gap that you're describing, then they end up doing it on the metrics.

Cristina Imre (21:42):


Jose Leal (21:43):

Right. So then again, they become attached to the metrics, the metrics that the board has defined and that the leadership team has defined, and now it's all about the metrics. And so they lose sight of the impact that they wanted to make in the first place. And they're just chasing metrics.

Cristina Imre (22:02):

And they keep the conf and they need to keep confidence. That's why I am around year two, three, let's say seed above series eight or the financial equivalent of that with the founders I work with because they still have that confidence. And years two, and three, it goes away if things are not met. And it's interesting because this, I saw with corporate executives, if you see the turnaround with corporate accept this many stay two, three years in a company and they move, it is not just because, okay, I had a mission and I solved it and I go to another company. But let's see, when I entered here, everyone saw me as the new CEO who has this vision is powerful, is new, it's interesting, you know, mystical and so forth has all the answers. And that starts to lose around year two, three. And so, okay, it's better now to move because that was my power now. And okay, they also have their shareholders, their board, and they just lost that ground of grid they had initially that could be similar to a startup where and okay, now I need to move. So it's interesting because I saw these connections. I'm not sure if you saw something like similar.

Jose Leal (23:12):

Absolutely. I wonder with your experience because you've probably been in contact with more startups diverse startups than I, with your experience, how many are actually able to stay connected to that initial passion through that gap of, of disconnecting? They're no longer the go-to guy in their mind they lose that sense of themselves.

Cristina Imre (23:49):

I would say this matches with the percentages of startup successes around, and even the investment percentages of 10%, 1 out of 10 some, maybe two, but closer to one, 1 out of 10 startups. And this, again, it's so personal because it's directly correlated with the personality, traits, behaviors, and strengths, the backbone of the founders. If I also invested, so I was an investor, was a venture partner, so I did a lot of things to understand this human, major, and business combined. And it was intentional because I wanted to have a broad perspective. This is when I invested. And today, if I would go back to my investor hat, I hope I will soon sooner than later. This would be my first thing. I would look now today at the founder, not the idea as much and, the potential of the market because these are the two main things all the investors and ventures are looking at today's founders and how big the market is. And it's growing, not decreasing. And so some have this some favor founders, some the market, or both. For me, it would be the founder 80% 80 today if I would be to invest in a startup.

Jose Leal (25:15):

Matt, did you have any thoughts or...

Matt Perez (25:18):

There was a comment that came online as when they chase the metrics, they wind up working 24/7 affecting the relationships, families, et cetera. And that's what I mean by they're working too hard. So, so yeah, it, it absolutely happens. And really what, what you call 'em the metrics, they're all financial is, is how much money you're making, how many things you're selling, how many things can you count? And the things that he brought to a party that made him powerful and all that stuff was not necessarily about money. Yeah. They wanted to be wealthy and do well and stuff like that because that's, that's important for people. But when it becomes nothing but the metric that financial metric is when things start affecting relationships and, and making you sick and things like that. And I'm talking from experience, when you try to focus on that, you say, I'm going to get really good at that. It's when you failed the most. So we're close to the half hour. I don't know if you have any other questions.

Jose Leal (26:35):

Yeah, I think I think, we have a few more minutes, so let's, let's maybe try to wrap this up. I, I want to get a sense of Cristina's vision for this. So, we move towards understanding human nature. We connect people to themselves. We reduce the focus on the external metrics and the external concepts of why we're doing this. And where does that lead us? Please correct me if you think I'm wrong in what I've stated there, but.

Cristina Imre (27:12):

I do have some direct messages here. We cannot discuss this more briefly, but basically, it's about the connectivity and the way we see work and life because yes, we defined work at the beginning, Matt, and we had different views around this, but we don't need to separate work and life. That's very, very important because our ancestors didn't our, the tribes and if we go through evolutionary psychology because it's a lot in my work, was so anthropology to really understand what we are, where we are coming from, what works and why. From an evolutionary perspective, this was very, very key and we didn't separate the two in order to separate and just create that kind of life-work balance. For me, that's a big B and it doesn't work because there are different parts of our lives. We do need to integrate them and see them as complex things. If I work with you to Jose and Matt and you are my coworkers, maybe I would love you to be integrated into my personal life and go with you to tennis on the weekend or swim and know your kids and have parties together. And this was, in the past something that brought a lot of happiness because people didn't see this kind of disconnect that creates so much barrier and unhappiness between us. And so for me, the people I work with or, or teams I create are part of my extended family. And those who work with me know that I use this term a lot with extended family and this is how  I would see things work much better in the future. And when it comes to KPI with this I finish maybe I give some ideas to your to others and especially corporate executives and starters. I do have my personal KPIs with my clients. We define them at the beginning of my coaching program. And that might be like a relationship with my wife, with my kid, with the way I ...my... with my personal health. And so they quantify where I am in all these things and they, we have a note based on that and what it means with segments. And then each month we give another note and those are the KPIs that are reflective of the personal aspects of our life. Mental health, physical health, and spiritual health, not just financial or business.

Jose Leal (29:24):

That's awesome. Good, good, good. That's very, very good. Yeah, we need to talk some more Cristina, cause I, I couldn't agree more with your vision and your intention of how we move forward.

Cristina Imre (29:38):

Next time. I might invite you to my podcast.

Jose Leal (29:42):

Well, maybe we can co-host the podcast cause that sounds interesting too.

Cristina Imre (29:47):

That would be the best.

Matt Perez (29:50):

So next week we'll have Lisa Gill. Lisa is a tough leadership TR trainer and she also runs a podcast called Leadermorphosis. Yes. Something about metamorphosis and, and leadership leader amorphous, that's what it's called. And I've been on her podcast as well and very smart, very nice person. So that, that'll be the person next week. So we're looking forward to that. And thanks to Cristina for all the energy that you brought to the podcast. I really appreciate that.

Cristina Imre (30:38):

My pleasure.

Matt Perez (30:40):

And with that, I think we're done.

Jose Leal (30:44):

Thank you again, Cristina.

Cristina Imre (30:46):

Thank you also for inviting me. Bye, everyone.


Cristina Imre Profile Photo

Cristina Imre

Executive Coach, Entrepreneur & Mentor

Two decades+ in the trenches understanding human nature and business combined. Global Executive Coach & Mentor for Ambitious Purpose-Driven Founders, CEOs & Change-Makers with a Unique, Signature Coaching Program, Serial Entrepreneur | Keynote Speaker.