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It’s early June 2020 and the United States is going through unprecedented times.
I connected with Fortune 500 Leadership Coach and Psychologist Dr. Ana Irueste-Montes because I wanted to understand better what’s happening right now.
As a European who’s never lived in the US, I sort of feel a little lost here....


Dr Ana Maria Irueste-Montes online:

Thanks so much for listening.

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Welcome to the addicted to learning podcast. My name is Gabriel Horvat, and each week I get to bring you inspiring stories. Lessons learned and insights from people who forge their own paths in life. Appreciate you guys spending time with me today. Let's get right to it. This is episode number three, with leadership coach Dr.

Anna Maria Irueste-Montes. Now the timing for this episode couldn't have been any better. Really it's early June, 2020 and the United States are going through unprecedented times. I connected with Anna because I personally just want to learn more about what's happening right now in the U S. And as a European, who's never lived in the U S I sorta really feel lost here, but I want to understand what's happening, about Dr.

Anna Maria Irueste-Montes, real quick. She is a professionally certified coach, board certified coach, as well as a psychologist, licensed to practice in several US States. She's worked with fortune 500 executives as well as up and coming entrepreneurs or management consultants. I think in this episode Anna’s compassion and empathy for all people, especially the ones among us that are hurting right now, really comes through.

And I can't wait to share this episode with all of you. So here's for you. My talk with Dr. Anna Maria Irueste Montes. Thank you so much for, um, for connecting again. Um, I just really want to learn, you know, because I'm a European over here and I just don't have the insights that you have, um, having lived in the U S and also with your background in, uh, psychology and leadership.

Um, how about, how about we start like this? Where were you born, Anna? I was born in Mexico city. Yeah. Um, uh, yeah, I was, uh, I'm a native of, uh, of the, you know, uh, Capital of Mexico. And they took away the district, which is federal district and have just kept Mexico city. So I was born there, um, many, many months ago and I’ve, you know, lived.

Um, in Mexico city. And then I lived in a small border town for a little while, then back in Mexico city. And then I lived in the States off and on. I did a couple of years of high school here then went back to Mexico. I did my undergraduate in Mexico city and then came back for graduate school, uh, here in the States.

Um, I've lived here in the States and, uh, ended up having to leave the States, um, because I was not granted permanent residence, uh, at the time. And so I had to leave and then I reapplied again and was able this time to get permanent residence. And then eventually I became a citizen of the United States.

Okay. And you've been in the US uh, 10, 20, more than 20 years, I think. No half of my life. Wow. Okay. So, so you're at this point Mexican-American are you not? Yeah, yeah, yeah. This is. I, I, you know, I am, um, well, I, um, as I said earlier, my girlfriend's American and I've always been sort of fascinated with America.

And, um, I feel like America still to this day is the only country, um, on the planet where as an immigrant, you know, you can come to America and you can, you know, become American. Yeah, it's a really interesting country. And one of the things that made me fall in love with this country was that it is, uh, an inspirational country.

It's an aspirational and inspirational country. It looks toward the future. If you look at many cultures, they tend to focus on the past glories of the, of the nation. Uh, whereas the United States, uh, you know, except for Trump, which is the only president that I know, and I'm not a historian that has focused his attention to the past to, uh, you know, make America great.

So to bring back. Uh, and illusionary America, which is basically so very racist America, but is the only person that had kind of look back because all the other precedents have looked forward to what is our potential and you know, who we can become, who we can be. And I think that that sense of wanting, um, To be better, to do better, to reach for the skies.

Uh, it is very much an American dream. That's very much what the American dream is. Yeah. Now to, to reach for the skies, to, to better yourself constantly. Um, Do you feel like there's something lacking right now in America with that? Yep. Well, um, America is a contrast a city. Uh, it, it really is the ying and the yang and the best of the worst you find the greatest and the worst.

Um, and it all. Is living together. And I think part of it is, is that, um, what makes American grade is the constant influx of immigrants and, um, because each immigrant, um, brings new newness to the nation. So it is relatively speaking at young nation. So, uh, so it is about, um, you know, ringing all these.

Incredibly mixture, uh, in, um, and I, I think what, what has happened, um, is that, uh, we're moving away from that sense of, you know, you are the welcoming place of everyone to, um, more toward, you know, what other countries have had, which is that. Nationalistic on only us. And, you know, we are, uh, uh, you know, where I try where group and no one else, you know, everybody else has an invader.

Um, so, and, and Trump unfortunately, is doing that. He's closed the borders. He's goes to immigration. It really right now, uh, immigration or. Practical sense in my perception has your stopped. Uh, and to me, um, you know, that's like killing the golden goose. Can, you know, the story of the wounds that laid the called Nate X, um, you know, if you killed the goose, then you will not have any more golden necks.

And I think that. That is what is happening, uh, in America today. And that saddens me a lot. Um, the other thing that attracted me to this country was, uh, for a long time, this was the freedom of the press country. And. Um, you know, and the freedom of the press to be what's critical and important because, you know, I came from a country, you know, w when I was growing up that, that, you know, you could, uh, you could be incarcerated or, or sanctioned, you know, for example, there's this comedian, um, that make a joke about, um, one of the precedents and, and he was suspended.

Um, for long periods. And I know other journalists that were suspended that you know, that they couldn't write, uh, and, uh, for, for the papers and it was different in the United States. But that's another thing that has changed, um, because, um, you know, papers have started to disappear and they had been bought by just a few people.

And so it doesn't represent, um, the knowledge of everyone. So the internet has come to play a role. And yes, the internet has allowed us to see other aspects, but it also, because of the algorithms that they use, you know, what you see is what they think you want to see. So you only get one-sided. Um, view of things.

And I think that too has contributed to the more of the division. Um, in addition to that, the work that, um, some of the precedents, including, including Nixon and, uh, and Trump of the biding, the country of, um, you know, you're either with being, or you're against me. You are you. If you're with me, you're a Patriot.

And if you're against me, then you're not. Um, and so, and that's created more and more, um, division. So, so right now we're, we're a very polarized nation and, you know, we need to get back to the table. We need to get back to stability. Um, you know, in the, in the old days, Congressmen from the both sides of the aisle, we'll get together for lunch, for dinner and interchange and become friends.

And now, you know, if you do that, um, you get sanctioned by the other side. So it makes it hard to. To find common ground and come together. So, you know, I think that right now with what is happening right now, um, I'm hopeful that, that, you know, people are starting to talk about race, um, which. It has not been.

I think that that people have been comfortable to talk about, but maybe we start to talk about race. We will start to be able to talk about other issues, um, that you denied us rather than separate us. You know, the best antidote to prejudice is to get to know people that are different from you and get to know them as human beings, because the moment you do that, then that.

All those stereotypes and all those preconceptions start to fall off. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I mean, we're all just. You know, human beings. We're all sounds so cliche, but we're all the same. We're all humans on this planet. Yeah. W yeah, we want, we want our families to be safe. We want to be able to feed our kids.

We want them to do better than we do. We want to be able to have them be educated. Um, and, and for us to be able to have, uh, a decent living, you know? Yeah. Absolutely. And it's like, there's just so much polarization going on. And you know, it's like, yeah, you're either with me or you're against me. And it's like, like you said, it's like, almost like it's not even an option to like discuss, sit at the table together and come up with the, you know, Reasonable, you know, solution for everyone and work through the problems.

No, it's like, you know, either you love me or you hate me. Yeah. And I think part of it is that, you know, um, You know when people, you know, but I'd work with, you know, with people in organizations or, you know, one of the problems is that, um, when people have conflict is because they feel that one of their.

Core values or principled values have been violated. And, and, and so then they react rather than act. Uh, so one of the first things is to really take the time to listen and to really communicate effectively. And that means to really, um, spell out, you know, what. Does this particular value, how do you define this particular value?

For example, you say, you know, he's disrespecting me well, you know, because he always comes late to work. And for you. Part of showing respect is to be on time. Um, you know, cause to you that shows that you care about the other person, but this other person is saying, what are you talking about? You know, I respect you all the time.

You know, I am polite with you. I let you talk. I give you your turn. I, you know, um, acknowledge you. Um, I validate you so I'm respecting you. Um, and but time is not. You know, if I'm late, it has nothing to do with disrespecting you. It has to do maybe with my inability to, to see time in the same dimensions that you do.

So it's not until when people are able to have that, um, conversation that they can begin to understand each other. And then, then you can begin to say, okay, how. What can I do? Um, that can be different, um, that will honor you. And what can you do, um, on your part to understand where I'm coming from? Um, and then that's where we begin to have those.

Um, solutions dialogues. Um, and there are groups already that are starting to do that more, um, that I, um, bringing together people from opposite sides to begin those conversations, but there's so much more work to do. And right now the, the problem too, is that unfortunately, Trump. Instigates that division.

Um, he promotes that division, um, you know, he creates chaos and, and, and makes it more difficult, um, then to have this kinds of dialogue. Yeah. Yeah. And, um,

how, um, which, which core values are being. Attacks, I think might be a good word to use here on both sides right now. Maybe, maybe, let me reframe your question. Let's look at, you know, what are the things that are important, um, for the conservatives and, you know, and the, and the Democrats on the conservative side, you know, they, they, um, They want lower taxes, uh, free market, um, capitalism, you know, the regulation of corporations restricting, um, uh, labor unions, uh, gun rights.

Uh, it's about preserving the institutions like religion, uh, um, uh, uh, property rights, um, the, the, the right to bear arms, um, you know, um, they won, uh, social stability, but they, they won the least interference of government in the process. Um, you know, it's about. Um, my individual rights, you know, and, and protecting those individual and property rights on the other side, the Democrats, um, value , you know, social equality, um, to protect them Berman, um, to strengthen this social safety net, um, you know, um, protecting minority rights.

Um, culturally some, um, uh, and keeping separated, um, church and state. So, so, so we see one is about law and order and the other one is about justice. And, and so, um, again, how, how you look at it, how you define it, how you understand it. And how can we find that, that, that common ground? Sometimes, sometimes we're not able to, uh, to see things the world in the same way, but we need to find.

What's something that we both agree on, for example, on the issue of abortion, um, you know, on one side, there's those that say, um, it's my right. Um, I have the right to decide on my body. And then the other side is saying, no, you don't have that. Right. Because you're, you're already killing someone. So we're not going to come together on that, but maybe we can go, come to a middle man, which is.

We want to protect children. We won, um, you know, what's best for children. So let's work on that because as we work on that, maybe we can begin to move closer to what a core people are and help reach that understanding between one on the other one and accept and respect those differences without. Um, you know, feeling, um, that, that you have been violated, uh, as a person.

Yeah. Yeah. It's interesting that, um, you know, obviously right now there seems to be this conflict between, um, yeah. I hate to say it, white people and black people. Um, and, and again, Trump has contributed because right from the beginning, even before he got elected, it was all about, you know, um, it, it was all about protecting those, those, those quiet rights and, you know, and, um, that and minorities were, um, portrayed as thugs.

Um, all, all Brown people, like, you know, Mexicans, Hispanics are portrayed as, um, rapers, um, uh, you know, gang members. Um, so, you know, he talks about the, they common, right people and he, and he, you know, foment, spear, And, and promote sphere. Um, you know, he says that he would say things like in the old days, wouldn't we wouldn't be so nice when speaking about, about a black person.

Um, so, you know, so that. Constant. And he he's, I I'm, he's a great marketer because you know, he's not a leader, but he's a great marketer. You know, he really knows how to use fear effectively. Um, you know, and marketers know about fear and market. There's snow. How do you fear effectively? And he is a master at using for your effectively.

So. It's for his own benefit and that he promotes that because then he also then, um, you know, reinforces the key space and you know, where the law or their folks and, you know, we are going to appreciate serve our, um, our, our bodies. We're going to reserve our, uh, you know, that. Uh, the LDT to, uh, to go to church and, and pray.

Um, and, and, and, and everybody else wants to take that away from you. They want to take your, uh, your guns. You'll get to protect yourself. And so he really feeds on that fear. And, and the funny thing is, for example, um, I'm talking about, about the cons, uh, you know, um, the reality. Uh, how it got so big is that, you know, Colt, which was one of the first builder stuff, uh, guns, um, so that they were selling less guns.

As people moved to cities away from the countryside. Yeah. So they created this campaign, uh, about, you know, um, you know, uh, guns as part of the, um, you know, second amendment doesn't mean patriotic. Um, so that's how it started. Um, and, and, and so, whereas the constitution says about this is about having, you know, when it talks about a militia, it's talking about like, um, you know, the guards, like the, the, um, folks that are part of the, uh, can come in, uh, into the, and support the military.

Um, Yes. Uh, yeah, national guard. Thank you. I was in that, uh, come up with, um, but it all started as a marketing scheme from, um, from Colt and it has evolved to. You know, I have a fight about, you know, my right to bear arms, my right, to defend myself. So, and, and, you know, uh, like I said, um, Trump is a master. He repeats the same message.

He uses the same words and we know memory requires that we repeat the message. We repeat the same words and little by little, then you become unconsciously part of what we believe. Hmm. Hmm, wow. Um, the, on the topic of Trump being, uh, a marketer and, um, I would add also I'm a master salesman. Um, um, he, he just, yeah, he just knows how to push all the right buttons.

That's, that's what it seems like to just elicit, you know, a reaction from people and. You know, this is also one of the things they say in marketing, you know, any sort of radical reaction you elicit in someone is better than no reaction. So you essentially want to polarize, you know, um, because that's how you attract attention.

Um, you know, and he shared gotten a lot of attention. Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

Yeah, no, sorry. I said, but when it comes to leadership, in terms of building trust, you know, in terms of being consistent and reliable in terms of having the Batian, you know, a real clear vision, um, in terms of, uh, find, helping people find meaning, you know, except for his small base, um, If he doesn't do it for, for, for the nation.

Um, you know, and, um, you know, we know that, uh, listening, you know, active listening is an important part of being a leader and empathy is an important part of being elite there. And strategic thinking is an important part of being a leader. Um, and you know, And, you know, plan, um, plan ahead. Um, all of those are not things that we see in Trump.

You know, we, we do see, um, that he, um, wants people to align with him because I, in my own personal perception and that's my, you know, my perception and he said he's values are, um, loyalty. But not loyalty to the countries, just loyalty to him. Um, he's value is to be number one. Um, you know, and it doesn't matter, uh, if he has no morality in the process of, of getting to be number one, And vengeance.

Uh, I think, you know, he has talked about Benjamin's, uh, how to suppress, uh, the enemy where there is in marketing, whether it's in life. And we see it would see him is very vindictive. Um, to those that contradict him, he's been addictive toward the press, his speaking, he has been dictated toward others. So, yeah.

Uh, like I said, as a leader, he, he's not a good example of. The exemplary leaders that, that we want to see. Um, but as a market they're Yankees effective. Hmm. Well, what would be maybe, um, whether someone right now, or maybe someone, um, you know, from the past, from history who, what you say, um, is, or was a great leader, Well, in terms of, of people that I see as, as I, you know, uh, that really have, um, and the people right now, um, I think Alyssa bill Warren, even though, um, again, as a land of contrast where the most advanced in some areas, and we have.

Not being, uh, able, and we've been fairly backwards in terms of electing women, but I think Elizabeth Warren or, um, is really a good example of someone that has set clear vision. Has a clear plan knows, um, what steps to take to implement them that are, um, he, she fabled to listen, to incorporate, uh, to compromise, um, to inspire.

Um, I think that, um, you know, she definitely has a lot of the, um, leadership, um, skills and, um, Leadership qualities and she is, um, you know, moral, ethical, um, and for restaurant in my book has no sense of morality. I would say, I wouldn't say he's immoral because I think he's more a moral and he just doesn't have it.

Hmm. Hmm. And, um, again, sort of like, um, taking maybe like the bird's eye view, um, because, um, it's just like so difficult to really, uh, get a feel for what's happening in the U S from afar, because as you said, there's so much. Uh, polarization going on and so many biases everywhere, uh, constantly, you know, people, you know, looking for, you know, so much, I guess, the nice way of putting it would be to say there's lots of confirmation bias going on right now.

That would be the nice way. Um, for people that don't know confirmation bias. Um, no, maybe you want to explain it. Well, you know, we all, we all have assumptions and biases, um, and, and it is important to look at what those are. Um, and you know, we look for, um, what confirms. Uh, what supports are bias? So I might say, um, you know, I'm clumsy and I'm able to take my tray of dishes 99% of the time to the sink without any incident.

But the a hundred time I dropped things. And then I say, see, I told you you're a really confident person. So we only noticed those things that support those biases that we already have. So that's why it's so important to, to, um, look at what are our beliefs and why are our biases? Um, you know, and beliefs are the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and how the world works and their stories, but then some of them happen early and, uh, we assume that they are us, so we need to revise them and see if they are limiting our progress or facilitating our progress.

And in terms of biases, I think that we really need to look at what are those biases. I. I think that, um, you know, there's a test that is called implicit bias that was put out by Harvard, um, that by the university of Harvard, it's free, you can Google it, you can go in there and you can take it and discover what are your biases so that you bring them up.

To the front, because if we don't know what, what biases we have, we're going to change them. So we need to help ourselves become more aware of what our beliefs are, what our biases are, what our assumptions are and, and check them out, really check them out. And then, and then, uh, like I said, if it's a, if it's a belief and it was useful, Up till now we say, thank you.

But then we let it go. It's like having a size three shoe. But now I'm a size seven. I'll tell you the people, you know, it's not that that belief is not going to allow you to do the same things now that you feel  just like your shell wearing side street. You're not going to be able to walk and run with the same effectiveness as to be worse.

I said, so you need to think that, you know, that belief, um, And substituted it because it's limiting you rather than facilitating your progress. And the same is true for rises. The same is true. Um, you know, for, uh, for, um, beliefs. Yeah, absolutely. Um, so as your role as a executive coach to, um, executives management consultants, um, Really, I think all kinds of people, um, that you have the pleasure of working with over the years, what are the biggest, um, sorta like patterns or maybe the top two or three things that people come to you with the most?

I'm sure you've seen a lot of patterns over the years. Yeah, well, you know, they, they, uh, th th the main problem, or whether it's a small business or a larger business, it's communication, you know, communicating really, um, active listening and active listening means more than hearing. It really means, uh, to listen, to connect.

Listen to understand, um, because you know, there's different levels of communication. One is, um, a simple exchange of information, you know? Um, where is, uh, and street? Oh, two blocks to the left and one to the right and you're there. So that's the exchange of information is when we start to listen to the other one and we're listening, um, To to understand, but also to kind of convince the other person to, um, see the world as we see it, because each one of us sees the world differently.

And the problem we said, we're addicted, addicted to. Right. You know, my version is the right person. And so when we. Get stuck in that level. Then we start really moving forward to where really integrating, um, all the ideas and really maybe come up with a third or a better solution between both or a way that we can work better together.

So it's about really, um, taking the time to, um, to, to listen, to connect and to really, uh, reframe. We ask things in a different way. Um, check assumptions and see, why am I reacting this? What assumptions have I'm making with the, with the information I have, what other information do I need, uh, to, to make, to make more progress?

You know, the things are people come to me. Is to become more self aware of themselves, you know, it's, they want to make progress, but they are finding themselves stuck because, um, you know, uh, all of the assumptions that they're making and limitations that they're putting on themselves. So you want to help them, um, and look at, okay.

Um, let's explore that, you know, what. What's keeping you from reaching your goals. And many times is inside our head more than outside obstacles, um, that are carrying there. And then thirdly is, you know, um, they, they won't want to, uh, move further. They, they want to grow further, be more effective. Um, You know what they do.

So it's always helping them understand what their strengths are, um, and how to leverage those strengths to help themselves, how to use their emotional intelligence, how to use one aspect of their emotional intelligence to help them balance another aspect that they might be having some problems. Um, and I'm not as strong in.

So those are the kinds of things that people come to me for. Yeah. It's like, um, the, the tried and tried and true, but, um, you know, I'm just thinking about self-sabotage and holding yourself back and, um, you know, that's certainly, I've had a lot of my life, uh, kind of like, um,

uh, yeah, it's so refreshing to, um, To hear that, you know, even those, you know, big, successful, you know, people that we look up to, you know, fortune 500 executives, for example, that. You know, they're struggling with the same issues at the end of the day. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Then the imposter syndrome, you know, and they're gonna find, uh, that I'm, you know, that I don't have all the information that I'm not the expert, that, that I didn't faking it all alone.

And, um, you know, the reality is that. None of us can be experts. Um, and, um, because there's always morning, even, especially today, there's always more information than anybody com um, feeding their brain. Uh, so, um, you know, you need to shift things and instead of looking as, as yourself, as the, as the poster, because you want to be, the expert is probably yourself out of the expert role.

And put yourself back into the learner's role. No, cause we are all learning and no one expects that the learner will have all the answers because none of us do. We're always in the process of learning. So if you, if you just make that simple shift in the words you use and the way you think, uh, it makes a world of difference.

You literally have me smiling, sitting here while listening to you.

That is the perfect thing to, to end this podcast on, you know, we're all learners, um, to, you know, to assume the role of a perpetual learner. Um, yeah, I think, I think that's beautiful. Do you have any parting words, something you want to ask people to do? Um, anything that comes to mind at all? I, I think, uh, yeah, um, one, you know, I, I believe in gratitude and I think that when we see the world from the perspective of gratitude, um, the world is a very different world and I think that we need to.

Be more grateful, um, in, in this world. And we can be grateful for anything, you know, for, for the fact that we woke up today for the fact that I can sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee, literally, who are many people in the world are not able to do that. Um, and the other thing is, you know, become aware of what your core values are.

Um, because when we. Leave and practice our core values. That is when we are the happiest and when we feel the most fulfilled. So know what those core values here are and ask yourself at the end of the day. How did I honor my values today?

That's so beautiful. Wow. Wow. And I just spoke my water. Can you still hear me hear you perfectly? It's so beautiful. I spilled my water, but I really did. It's just water. So I'll leave it

all, Anna, thank you so much for, um, for connecting and for talking and for providing, um, insights today. I really appreciate it. It's been my privilege and, um, I wish you the best and I wish all your listeners the best. Thank you so much. And, um, talk soon and you have a beautiful sunny day in California.

Well, and you have a beautiful night, I think. Thank you. Bye. Take care. Bye-bye.