Hi, I'm Jorge

A researcher, writer, and leadership strategist dedicated to empowering your life — at, and beyond, work — with the paradoxical fusion of critical thinking and emotional literacy.

I train teams and individuals to become more resilient, foresighted, and productive in their work and personal lives, using actionable insights from cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and cutting-edge leadership research. I employ rigorous methodology both to constantly update my multidisciplinary knowledge and to measure the performance of my clients — before, after, and in the midst of learning — and adjust my teaching approach accordingly.

Check out my courses for corporate teams
and key pieces of my research

The research track I followed happened to be far from linear and conventional. Having graduated from my country's largest and oldest medical school with highest distincion at 23 y.o., the last thing I'd think was that a decade later I would be teaching forecasting, emotional intelligence, and leadership to tech and finance companies and sharing relevant pieces of my research with mental health professionals in clinical setting. Nor could I remotely imagine that this highly prized research would follow neither from my formal education, nor from my desire for a better economic future outside my native country, but instead from the biggest act of courage and the biggest creative endeavor in my life — writing Souls of Silence, my first book.

This book, while being a love story and essentially a work of fiction, dealt with systemic corruption, medical malpractice, homophobia, and mental health stigma among other social issues. In large part, addressing those problems was motivated by my own existential experience in Russia, but their contextual and historical analysis quickly revealed that they were globally relevant, incurred tremendous human and economic costs, and called for a solid, rigorous, multidisciplinary research to find meaningful solutions — which is exactly what I spent the following years doing.

I was lucky to be equipped for it. Aside from my fluent knowledge of foreign languages, and my training in evidence-based methodology from the medical field, a part of my wiring, obvious from my teenage years, was the ability to zoom out of apparently individual problems and see them within larger cultural contexts, and then spot connections between dynamics and phenomena that many people don't see as related — and then communicate my insights and strategic solutions in a transparent, accesible way. There's no way for me to accurately define how much of that ability stems from skill and experience and how much of it I owe to genetic lottery — and this would be a meaningless, rhetorical discourse anyway. Just like any person, I got privilege in some areas of life and disadvantage in others, for no fault and no merit of my own.

What really matters, though, is that today I can leverage this research and data to contribute value to teams and organizations across diverse fields around the world. I'm grateful to be able to see the difference my work makes, and to help others dismantle the barriers that, collectively and individually, keep us from living our best potential and making our unique impact.

Contrary to the cultural classic — segregating our work, family, and personal lives from one another, and then hustling to use different sets of values, priorities, and ethics to fit in best into each, my research revealed that the most successful and impactful leaders stay true to themselves wherever they are and whatever they do. This may sound platitudinous, but for most of us (myself included) it's easier said than done. We're by default conditioned to care about being liked, approved, promoted, or rewarded from the outside, than to respect and act upon our innermost truths. Integrity — keeping our decisions, behavior, and communication in alignment with our real values — demands, first, that we get crystal clear on what those values are, and second, that we develop straightforward ways to hold ourselves accountable when we sway away from them.

Values are, quite simply, ways of living and behaving that we hold truly important in our hearts. They are the inner compass guiding us to, and the inner pillars that support, our best decisions. They aren't eloquent statements to be put on our Instagram and LinkedIn pages. They are principles to be tested and practiced as we go through our everyday life. And hell, no matter the eloquency we profess our values with, how much we practice them is objectively measurable and observable.

So my professional values are not any different from my values outside workplace. It's an imperative for me to be transparent about them with any potential client or employer.

Remarkably, most of them emerged as essential values of daring leadership in the research — so I consciously practice what I teach.

Time is our most coveted and non-renewable resource. My research holds a huge amount of substance, and I have huge passion to share it — and I respect that not all of it is relevant for a particular client or team, while the time they can spend with me is often limited. As a way to practice my respect for the time and attention people give me, before starting a course I ask them about their most difficult struggles around leadership, relationships, and workplace culture. Based on their answers, I develop the distillation of my data the best serves their needs, and then follow up on their feedback about how efficient is our time investment.

As values are always reciprocal, I expect my clients to respect my time in kind. If a team or an individual client thinks my work isn't the right fit for their tasks, I ask them to be clear about that as soon as possible. The last thing we all want to invest our time into activities where we don't contribute value and don't obtain value — even if corporate headquarters are okay with spending funds on those.
"Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind." One of my academic mentors, the NYT-best-selling author and researcher Brené Brown, chose this sentence as a tagline for her most recent leadership book. I can't emphasize enough how urgent this finding is in the Western corporate world. We're all conditioned to believe that niceness is the utmost virtue when navigating our relationships with customers, colleagues, or supervisors. That always keeping on a smile and saying "Fine!" and "Great!!" and "Sure!!!" and mastering evasive replies to tough board meeting questions and uncomfortable feedback sessions makes us safe and successful.

In fact, niceness keeps us miserable and inefficient. Collectively and individually. And, sure as hell, it has nothing to do with kindness.

Long-term efficiency, just like kindness, requires clarity around intentions, feelings, and proceedings. It requires being clear about what you're willing and not willing to negotiate. It requires developing the skills to say "No" in an appropriate way when you're not going to do something, instead of "Maybe"; to communicate tough feedback in a empatethic and generous way when someone has to be transferred away from their current position; and to put closure on relationships that despite your best effort no longer serve, as opposed to ignoring emails and not returning calls.

Clarity has also to be practiced around our mistakes and shortcomings, which leads me to the its closest sibling: courage.
In my work and my life, I choose what's right over what's fun, fast, and easy; I choose truth over comfort; and I make both strategic and small decisions from the heart, not from the fear. I show up, speak up, and stand for what matters to me and what impacts other people. I speak truth to bullshit, and truth to power, staying civil at the same time. I challenge my own assumptions by practicing critical awareness and explore my own biases to deliver best results to my clients. I stay away from using how-tos, easy fixes, unrealistic promises, and other rhetorical manipulations to sell my work — even though my training in cognitive biases allows me to leverage those.

For me and the leadership students I've taught over the years, courage also means knowing to distinguish smart risks from reckless endeavors — especially when we're in positions where our actions have big and long-lasting ramifications. Being truly brave involves accurately assesing costs and benefits, monetary and non-monetary, short-term and long-term, before making every decision. I would be happy to tell you that courage only requires you to proceed knowing that you may fail. But in fact, it demands that you realize you will, at some point, fail. Therefore, when incorporating courage into our culture, we have to develop the skills to judge what projects, decisions, and policies are worth implementing even if they fail — and have a contingency plan to deploy when they do.
I question "either... or..." framings and often end up evolving to "both .. and..." framings. I come from both quantitative and qualitative research. And, in qualitative research, one of the best measures of our individual and collective intellect is the capacity for paradox — i.e. the ability to hold in your mind, and act upon, seemingly competing ideas. In neuroscience, that's how they say you stretch your brain and start to see beyond the perspective of your individual nose.

Our general culture is full of dichotomies: black or white, good or evil, us or them, emotions or logic, money or ethics, crush or be crushed... The list could go on for pages, but these false, contagious narratives exploiting our hardcoded cognitive biases not only cause wars, political clashes, and authoritarian backlashes. They have become pervasive in our corporate cultures as well. Ironically, when doing my work in the most progressive countries, I was quite shocked to see how trivialized, distorted narratives around identity (falsely marketed as feminism and diversity policies) were heedlessly implemented at the cost of excluding talent from opportunity, reinforcing oppressive models of power, fostering shame culture and sabotaging accountability.

What was missing here the capacity for paradox, the ability to spot bullshit, and the failure to adopt a multifaceted perspective around complex issues related to identity, such as patriarchy, white supremacy, homophobia, ableism, classism etc. While tackling them has a huge impact on the long-term success of an organization, they cannot be tackled in trivial ways. Essentially, we had to work on the same concept that underpins real empathy and quality forecasting — the so-called dragonfly eye. The metaphor here refers to the fact humans have the one and only lens that we see the world through, and that lens is soldered into our eye. A dragonfly eye, by contrast, has a huge surface covered by thousand of lenses, each looking at the world from a different angle, and then the visual information from each flows into the processing brain. The dragonfly, in fact, sees more and better than a human.

While we cannot change the single-lensed anatomy of our visual system, we can — and should — do that with our cognition. Our lenses on everything, including corporate tasks, policies, and struggles, are shaped by age, education, race, gender, and other arbitrary circumstances. Making best decisions requires seeing beyond our lens and aggregating other people's perspectives into our judgment, without losing our own. That's uncomfortable and difficult, but doable. That's why neuroscientists call it the stretching of the brain. The brain you get as a result is truly worth it.
I do what I say and I say what I do. I only take commitments that I've reasons to believe I can deliver, within the arranged timeframe and at the arranged quality. I don't overcommit to boost someone's perception of my worth, because I know my worth, and I'm not in the business of negotiating it.

By modeling reliability, and helping my clients understand things that get in its way amidst corporate routine, I contribute to creating a culture of trust in the workplace. We cannot trust each other unless we know that we can rely on each other, and that our words reflect our true intentions, thoughts, and feelings. That's how reliability brings us full circle to clarity and courage.
We humans are a social species. Much as our culture perpetuates the mythology of individualism and self-sufficiency, it cannot change the reality that we are inherently dependent upon one another in ways we often don't even realize. What it also means is that belonging is a basic human need — and that holds true across family, workplace, school, and all areas of life. In the absence of it, we cannot feel safe and bring forth our best potential. Belonging, especially for non-native English speakers, is often confused with fitting in, and both small teams nad large corporations often have this confusion embedded into the culture.

The difference quite simply is that fitting in requires you to change who you are, while belonging demands that you be who you are. If this still sounds too poetic, let me break it down prosaically: a fitting-in culture makes every employee to fit a certain cognitive, emotional, and behavioral mold, in order to be approved, promoted, and rewarded. A belonging culture not just permits, but celebrates people for showing up as they are in the workplace, because it operates on the understanding that diversity of ideas and perspectives underpins resilience, innovation, and creativity.

Fitting-in cultures are inherently related to power-over and shame, while belonging cultures fairly distribute power and accountability. If you're a corporate leader in the modern highly competetive global economy, the last you want is for your employess to have to fit in, instead of belonging, at the workplace.

Another consequence of the social nature of our species, empathy is crucial to practice — but somehow there's so many cultural misconceptions surrounding it.

Empathy is the skillset and practice (not just an attitude) of being fully present with someone in their emotion and accepting that emotion as valid regardless of how we see the situation that caused it. Empathy is at the core of human connection, and it's as crucial for the functioning of organizations as it is for our personal lives. In my work ethics, empathy shows up as the practice of listening to, and unconditionally accepting, the emotions that the toughest issues my clients experience — from losing to their market competition to forced layoffs to major disruptions of operations due to geopolitical events — and then analyzing if there are collective cognitive patterns and organizational dynamics contributing to those issues. Both as an individual therapist and a corporate coach, you cannot get to the heart of a struggle, and see possible solutions, without first seeing and accepting human emotions that surround it.
At work, I strive to show up as I am, bringing to the table the best of my knowledge, gifts, and beliefs. My priority is to contribute most value, not to earn biggest approval or make most money — and such contribution of mine, just like such contribution of anyone, can only happen from the place of authenticity. Like most Spaniards, I unapologetically speak with my hands and get heated up as I go into subjects I truly care about (holding on to critical thinking and civility at the same time).

I know from my research that courage and authenticity translate into successful leadership long-term, and I also know that they are modeled and cultivated in small moments. In my classes, I create a space where all my clients, from C-suite officers to tech startup interns, can put down the armor and let their true selves be seen, just like I do the same. This is essential to make sure that we can truly wrap our heads (and hearts) and have meaningful conversations around the findings that I lay out. There's no way you can understand the toughest and most hurtful leadership challenges, like shame, perfectionism, power-over, and privilege, if you keep your armor up (and the higher you are on the corporate hierarchy, the more years you likely spent building it up and the heavier it weighs you down).

In daring leadership cultures that I help to build, armor is neither required nor rewarded. These are cultures where people can grow to their full potential and contribute the most to corporate productivity, at the same time feeling seen and valued for their contributions, instead of feeling commodified or reduced to compliance.

I hope I'll see you building such a culture with me. One team at a time, we end up making this world a braver, fairer, and more prosperous place.

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