Getting Serious With Your Business Relationships with JC Quintana

In business and in life, relationships are part of our identity — They influence our culture and social norms, they can impact our our growth, and they contribute to our success. 

In our latest episode of Uncover The Human, we sit down with CRM expert and relationship facilitator JC Quintana to discuss the importance of relationships in the corporate world. JC teaches us about building serious relationships with both customers and employees to help our organizations truly thrive. With relationships built on transparency, candor, and mutually set expectations, we're guaranteed to succeed, together.

You can find JC via his website

Dialogue Prime 

and on



Credits: Raechel Sherwood for Original Score Composition.

YouTube Channel: Uncover The Human








Alex Cullimore: Hey, Cristina.

Cristina Amigoni: Hi, internet is back. It's working. It worked for full hour and a half. Thank you, Xfinity.

Alex Cullimore: That’s funny. We just got off with JC Quintana who is fantastic, who was talking about relationships and business relationships. I was thinking about that because my Internet kept dying before we started recording. And there are certain companies you can't get away from and your internet provider is one of them.

Cristina Amigoni: That was bad relationship going right now after the last few hours.

Alex Cullimore: I'll tell you what, they don't care either way.

Cristina Amigoni: That’s the thing. They’re thinking monopolies. You need them more than they need you on the seven elements of what's that relationship costing me, they – yeah. There’s no way I’m looking at that.

Alex Cullimore: And to their credit, they don't do a ton of lip service about trying to act like they care about what I think either. So, the expectation is pretty much met. I get what I'm expecting.

Cristina Amigoni: Maybe, it is more balanced. We had a wonderful conversation. So many things to learn from JC from his books and workshops and everything that he does, just the way he really focuses on the fact that it is about relationships, and it's about serious relationships. Why invest in the relationship that are not serious, and you can read his books and listen to the podcast to figure that out.

Alex Cullimore: Yeah, enjoy this conversation with JC Quintana.

Cristina Amigoni: Enjoy.


Alex Cullimore: Welcome to Uncover the Human where every conversation revolves around enhancing all the connections in our lives,

Cristina Amigoni: Whether that's with our families, coworkers, or even ourselves.

Alex Cullimore: When we can be our authentic selves, magic happens.

Cristina Amigoni: This is Cristina Amigoni.

Alex Cullimore: This is Alex Cullimore. Let's dive in.

Authenticity means freedom.”

“Authenticity means going with your gut.”

 “Authenticity is bringing 100% of yourself not just the parts you think people want to see, but all of you.”

“Being authentic means that you have integrity to yourself.”

“It's the way our intuition is whispering something deep-rooted and true.”

“Authenticity is when you truly know yourself. You remember and connect to who you were before others told you who you should be.”

“It's transparency, relatability. No frills. No makeup. Just being.”


Alex Cullimore: Hello, and welcome back to this episode of Uncover the Human. We are joined today by our guest, JC Quintana. Welcome to the podcast, JC.

JC Quintana: Great to be here. I was really looking forward to this. So, I can't wait.

Cristina Amigoni: Excited to have you.

Alex Cullimore: We are very excited to have you. We got to meet JC in person a couple of weeks ago at a conference we were at, and he gave a wonderful presentation. Yeah, we’ll let you tell your story, JC. Where do you come from? What are you up to?

JC Quintana: It almost sounds like a cutting on you, where you come from? Where do – so yeah, my journey here, to kind of maybe set the stage 100% of what I do both myself through my company, DialoguePrime. And some of our partners is strictly facilitating conversation or dialogue that improves relationship or leads to quality relationship. And the journey here was completely unexpected. I started in technology a long time ago, I left the Air Force after 10 years, being a technologist and I thought this is great. I'm a trainer, I do technology, I do call center kind of stuff for the Air Force. Get out of the Air Force and go do that. So, I became a technologist and trainer for many years and ended up implementing customer relationship management technology, what we know as CRM today and some of the famous brands that Microsoft and Salesforce and other companies put together.

Somewhere in maybe 10 years in, maybe a little longer than that, I went over to a client. That was a very different client. This is the State of Florida Department of Children and was doing a project and all of a sudden it went from a technology project to using technology to build a stronger relationship between the parents and the state and the caregivers, that led to the health and safety of children that were not doing well. They didn't have funding; they didn't have the education they needed. So that piece, the technology piece became very real, and all of a sudden, I went from saying, let's implement CRM, to saying how do we implement something that focuses on the right stakeholder and their needs, drives relationship quality and manages the right processes and the right things.

 I'll tell you what I learned from that. What I learned from that was, I didn't know nothing. When it shifted from technology to the behavior and the outcomes, relationship outcomes that that technology was driving, I realized I didn't do anything. I was listening to some of your podcast before here and one of and the trends that I kept hearing was, and I went back to school, I went back to get my Master’s, and so that was my journey as well. I really felt like something as foundational to the human, to the human being, as relationships, which defines our identity, defines our social norms, I couldn't just go in with a technology background and a bachelor's degree and tackle it. I did go back to do my graduate work and my PhD work. And guess what I learned, I learned – I knew nothing. I learned that I knew nothing about it. So, the journey continues. The more we learn about what makes human beings tick, and what drives them to define a relationship as a quality relationship, or relationship of value, is something that we all need to study, is something that we need to continue to learn about, and more importantly, we all need one another to help us define that human element and that relationship element, because we're all growing. Our knowledge is a drop and our ignorance in ocean.

Cristina Amigoni: So well said and it's true, and it's always learning. It's always different. It's always learning. It's not a one and done. It's like, “Okay, now I get humans, we're good. I'm done.”

Alex Cullimore: Finally, check the box.

Cristina Amigoni: Check the box.

JC Quintana: Now, fast forward probably 10 years since that journey, I think now we're trying to figure out where business success is tied or anchored on the human relationship. We talk to companies of all sizes, I'm getting ready to go to one of our favorite wonderful athletic equipment and clothing friends in Boston to visit with them, right? And the same element, right? That technology drives behavior, but what behavior are we trying to promote? The two are tied to one another. I do a lot of that work. If I could give my book away, I would give it away, because I think people need to kind of know what drives relationship but is doing really well on Amazon. And then there's another book, speaking frankly about customer relationship management that is tied to that, and also doing really well. So very grateful to be on this journey and doing this for a living.

Alex Cullimore: That’s definitely a very neat space. You did mostly like CRMs? Do you mostly do with like customer relationships, internal relationships? Or do you have a focus? 

 JC Quintana: Yeah, so it's mostly customer relationships. But what we're learning is, even with CRM technology, the behavior is so closely tied to internal employee outcomes and collaborations. And so even though technology like CRM, that whatever that C is, that see can be patient, customer, constituent, member, it could be many things, seems to be what the technology drives, right? Building more relationships with the right people that ideally, like I say in one of my books, ideally, with the people with whom you can effectively build that relationship. That's the key. Not all businesses are for all relationships.

But if you can do that, you also have to come back and say, “Well, internally, who are the stakeholders with whom I'm building a relationship in order to make my external customers feel rewarded for doing business with us?” So maybe the relational aspect, the relational database aspect of building relationships is not usually directed at internal customers, but I think it needs to be, and yes, I do work on both. I always remind companies that, yes, maybe you want a customer, but who's going to help you maintain it? Who's going to help you give them what they need? Who's going to help you make it easy for them to be your customer? And who's going to help them enjoy being in business with you? Well, guess what? That's your internal stakeholders. And if you're not doing CRM work, strategy, and technology, that is holistic, then you are going to be doing CRM wrong, right?

Cristina Amigoni: That's a very good point. I remember it when you were giving your presentation how everything you said, during your presentation was just inspiring. It was just, yes, like somebody's finally saying this out loud. Thank you.

JC Quintana: Well, interestingly enough, when you guys gave your presentation, I feel exactly the same way. I thought, “These are kindred spirits. These are kindred spirits. I'm glad to meet you.”

Cristina Amigoni: Which we can definitely, for the people watching the video. The signs that JC has in the background are signs that I'm going to adopt as my Zoom background, “Be a nice human”. One of the things that came up before we started recording was a great thing. The one common thing is that we can't get away with the fact that we're all human beings. That's one thing that we all have in common, and it's always going to determine what happens with the relationship, what happens with the business, the account the success, all of it.

JC Quintana: Yeah, your human being. You're going to have to deal with it. You can read as many books as you want, as many from the podcasts that you'll hear here in this podcast channel, and you can get really smart about it. But there's one thing you can't get away from, and that is the fact that you're a human being. Unless you're part of the movie, remember Robin Williams’ movie Bicentennial Man, many, many years ago where that was his journey, right? He started with that mantra of one is glad to be of service. And that became his life and it made him into human. The rest of us can’t get away with it. We’re Andrew in the movie. We're human beings we can’t get away with being a human being.

Alex Cullimore: It's funny, you mentioned that like that. It's a common – I hadn't even thought of it, this commonality, and a lot of the people we've talked to you on this podcast, there is like returning to education, I realized this was a thing. So, I had to go get it, and we brought it up a little bit even at the conference. Nobody has classes yet at least there's very few and very few people take them on classes for how to build relationships. What that means, how do you do human things? And so, it's interesting that you're talking about, you end up going back to it and having to revisit this. I'm curious if you have examples of like, you're talking about behavior being driven by the technologies. Are there ways that you've seen behaviors driving like, especially from CRM, what kind of behaviors are driving? And how have you thought about changing those?

JC Quintana: Yeah, so when it comes to CRM technology, specifically, there are many bad behaviors that we've learned over the years, right? With all due respect to all the amazing CRM companies that brings me into their events, I love going there, I love our partners. And I think that it says something that many of these big companies are bringing me into their employee events and their partner events. I think that what this says is, “Oh, JC talks about relationships. And that word is at the center of the thing that we sell millions of dollars off.” Hopefully, that's what they're saying. But there are some habits, bad habits that we built. One of the bad habits that we really built. I've written a little bit about this on both books because it's not important. In the CRM book, and in relationship psychology book.

What I say is, none of us are in the business of giving away things, most of us are selling things, and we have gone through that very popular business model canvas that Mr. Wilder, and his partners built, which says, “You have a value, and there's people to whom you deliver that value through certain channels.” If they see your value, and your value proposition aligns with it, that's a good fit. You need channels to deliver that. And then you're in business, right? You generate revenue, and you manage your cost.

CRM users, a lot of implementers of CRM think that that's all there is to it. Right? They forget, that is not just about that part of the journey, just about matching the value proposition with the right customer segments to the right channels. It is about aligning relationship expectations of the value, and maintaining relationship expectations so that people do the very things that we love them to do want them to do, which is stay, buy more and tell other people about it, right? So, you can't have it all by just going, “Here's a hammer, you want to hammer? Bring me the money for the hammer.” It doesn’t work that way. Maybe in Amazon, maybe in the world of Amazon, that will work. But for most of us, when you ask about the bad behavior, I think that what we've done is we've allowed technology like CRM to drive that behavior, and focus on rewarding people for selling something, at any cost, no matter the relationship quality, no matter what it does to the relationship, how we may damage it. It's almost like a really insincere person that goes out to date as many people as possible, leaving a trail heartbreak behind, really what it is.

Because that's what we do to our customers, right? We kind of go, “Hey, buy something from us. Hey, would you tell somebody about this?” And you heard me telling a story about during the presentation about my wife, right? I mean, it's hard to see the picture, but there we are, right here, kind of hard to see it. That's the wedding dress and our entire family, center of my life. I knew. I mean, I remember I met her three years, she was a little younger than I really, I would have dated, but then, next time I saw her on the hallway of the university. It was like, all those movies were like the lights, the angels fly, and everything else. I really was. I thought, “Okay, I want to marry this woman.”

So, on our first day, that's the kind of stuff that I was thinking. I was thinking relational. I was thinking what are her needs, circumstances, characteristics, capacity? How does that match with what I want in life? How can I align with some of that? How do we He kind of go towards the consolidation and improvement of this relationship so that we can formalize it in and live together forever? I didn't ask transactional questions like we often ask our customers; about will you buy from me? Immediately after they buy, asking them to recommend you to others. Not something I would have asked my wife at the end of our first date, right? I wouldn’t have said, “Wow, this has been an amazing date. How likely are you to recommend me to others?” No. A relational goal and the outcomes were relational, so as a result, or because it was relational goal, we needed to take some relationship-based actions, right? Who are you? Who am I, as a human being? What are our needs? Do our needs match? Do I have the ability? Do our circumstances may get in the way? How can we change the circumstances to match the need? All those things are things that we have to do intentionally, based on the relationship we expect. Long answer to your question, Alex. But yes, we build so many things into technology like CRM, that reinforce bad behavior, that no wonder many implementations fail, or no wonder many salespeople, customer service field marketing people don't want to use the technology because they know what the right behavior is, and that technology is not driving.

 Alex Cullimore: Interesting. So, would it be fair to say that behavior becomes transactional? Is that one of the main kinds of conflict points here? It becomes a bunch of data points. How likely is this opportunity to close? Where are we? How many touch points have we had? Everything is –

JC Quintana: You brought up the transactional question. There are many relationships, and I intentionally on my second book, on serious relationships, which, by the way, somebody just told me something about the way the publisher set it up as a self-help book, which is brilliant, because now when you go on Amazon, we type serious relationship, my book is the first one to come up.

Cristina Amigoni: Perfect.

JC Quintana: You may have been searching on how to build a serious relationship with your mate, but my book comes out, right? So really, if you're listening to that, and you're looking for a book on interpersonal relationships, my book, the seven things are just applicable to interpersonal relationships. I totally forgot the question you asked me, Alex.

Alex Cullimore: We're talking about transactional nature.

JC Quintana: So, in the book, I intentionally start by saying, you know what relationship you want to be in. And if the other person is okay with that type of relationship, then as you define what it is, and accept what it is, then you also set the expectations for how we will work and how it will function and how it will either grow or potentially deteriorate. So, I think that it would be maybe not bad, but maybe I'm trying not to use the word ignorant, because that's a strong word. But I think it would be a little ignorant of us to think that there aren't transactional relationships out there in the universal world, and also in the business world, right? The problem is that we tell people, “Oh, Alex, Cristina, we love you. We want you to be the best customer or the best employee or the best partner, and we're going to do so many things for you.” And then we don't meet the professional promises, we end up going to transactional things, right?

So, there are transactional and relational elements of every relationship. If you know what they are, and you set the expectations correctly for what they are, then you're fine. But when you start out saying this is relational, and act in ways that are transactional, then don't be surprised if that customer goes, “Hey, that's not what you promised me. You didn’t meet my expectations for the seven things that we talked about. You didn’t meet my expectations for what this relationship is, for who I am individually, for engagement, for accountability, for knowledge, for transparency, and for the way that things look, and that is the salient part of it.” Because transactional relationships are one thing and relational behavior is different.

 Alex Cullimore: So very true. I love the seven things and I remember how it made me think quite a bit. I still think through that when you gave that presentation, and the first question was like, how much is this relationship costing you? Because especially in business, we don't sit down and think about that, not as often as we could. And we definitely don't think about it from the seven elements that you bring up so that it's like, okay, let's break it down. Because it's probably not all of them, hopefully, maybe it's just one or two. But what are all these elements? And especially for us, when we work with companies on organizational change management, we need all of those elements to actually be aligned, and we're not going to be able to succeed in helping them with a change.

JC Quintana: Yeah, there are businesses that are sort of based on a very transactional model relationship, right? I love doing business with Dollar Shave Club, which was just acquired recently. Obviously, I don't use them as much as I used to use them when I was clean shaven. Alex, you and I, we can share the beard. But they are based on a very transactional model, right? I need blades. How much is that? And I go online, I pay some amount a month, and I get the blades. And guess what, if I don't need your blades, because I'm growing a beard, then I don't buy from him. And yet, Dollar Shave Club has a very relationship-based model in that they understand their audience, right? They engage their audience, and they do it in a way that matches the expectations of that audience.

They know that they're going to be calling me or emailing me every month, because I get their blades every month. But they keep me informed on new products that based on their knowledge of who I am, may interest me, right? So, again, it weaves between the relational and the transactional. If we don't understand our audience and not know our expectations for transactional and relational elements, we're not going to have them as our customers for very long. I got to go to somebody else that knows me better and knows what aspects of transaction and relationship are weaved into our relationship as a consumer and as a company.

Cristina Amigoni: That idea of like setting the expectation upfront, that I'm going to start using lots of one nightstands/marriage metaphors for how people choose relationships in business.

JC Quintana: I agree. I agree. I think I have had so many people contact me on LinkedIn, in the language might as well be going, “Hey, hey there, hey, hey.” I'm going, “Okay. I'm married”, these are strictly like strictly businesses, strictly salespeople and companies trying to solicit business to me, and they're using language that it's like, “No, I'm not going to jump into a relationship with you. I need to know you better. I need to know who you are, what are your values? Who are your people? What are your ethics?” That means more and more to people, to such a degree, as a matter of fact that, you may know this already, but I teach design thinking at four universities here in the US. And we have a model for innovation has been around for a long time that has three overlapping circles. And we usually say, when those two circles overlap, understanding the needs of the user, person, human, understanding the needs of the business, whether it's something that we can actually afford, and then maybe the needs of technology, and feasibility and things like that. If you're going to hit that sweet spot, then we have the power to innovate.

Well, there's a fourth circle that we've added to that, which is, do you do business ethically? Do you believe in sustainability? Do you try to improve the world? Do you care about people, and companies don't realize that that's how we are changing our thinking to do business with companies? We want to innovate with them. We want them to innovate for us. But we want to know who they are from all those different angles that include, how will they know us? What is their ability to support our relationship with us? How innovative they are in technology and opening the path to innovation? But yes, who are you as a company? What are your values? What do you believe in? Does it align with what I believe?

Cristina Amigoni: Yeah, 100%, and especially when it comes to action, so everybody's great at putting the great values on their website and on the walls, and into the mugs and whatever swag they have on. But are you actually acting that way? Do you walk the talk? Or is it just the talk? And it's pretty easy to see that right away. It doesn't take much, usually.

JC Quintana: Yeah, I agree. I think that – and Alex, this just goes back to your question. You were asking about the bad habits of CRM things, right? That's it right there. We make a lot of promises that we even use CRM systems to market. We use marketing lists and marketing automation. We know how people respond, whether they open up an email when they open it, where they click, and how much interest is there is in a certain product, right? That's great. We do really great at telling people that this is a safe product, and they are going to love it. But there are people at your company, keeping that promise. It is internal stakeholders of your company that keep your promise and many times we don't have a way of for knowing whether our internal stakeholders, and I say a stakeholder, because it's not just employees, there are many companies that sell their franchise, third-party partnerships, channels, et cetera. But we have no real clear way to understand how those internal stakeholders are meeting the promise of our brand, and the promise and expectations that people have of their relationships with us. So, after all, is it really customer relationship management? Consider those.

Cristina Amigoni: It's a good word.

 Alex Cullimore: There's a huge importance to be placed on making sure your brand's promise aligns with your delivery, which makes sense. We do want to make sure that that is – that whatever is promised, whether it is more transactional, or more relational, or some of both which everything is covered, we talked about, like unconditional love, but there's usually something you could do that would piss off somebody enough. There are boundaries.

JC Quintana: It's true. We talked about those expectations towards the customers. So, let's talk about the employee part of that, the employee part of relationship management and expectation setting, and the transactional and relational elements of that, there are, I know that this is not going to come as a surprise to anybody listening to this. But there are employees at your company that only want a transactional relationship with you, they want you to tell them what to do, they want you to pay them, they want to take that money, and they want to go live their best life, right?

While you, as a company, and as a leader, are saying to them, “Give us more time, give us more effort, give us more investment, be completely sold into the vision of this company”, by the way, those bonuses and those profit sharing, and millions of dollars we're making, we're not sharing any of that with you. You don't get any of that. Now, we'll give you a ping pong table and we'll go ahead and give you whatever drinks you want out of the fridge. And that almost, I hate to say it, but it almost sounds like not having a valued employee, but like having a pet. That is insulting. I’ll give you a little squishy ball and a bone and you get to play with that, and we're over here making millions of dollars. Those employees don’t know that.

So, the depth of quality and the depth of the relationship and the depth of how sold employees are into your brand, and into your company, and it'll make you more profitable, is directly related to what can relationship they came as transactional or relational, from the leaders of the company. This is true in human relationships on my wife's equity theory, in school social exchange theory, and is back to what you mentioned earlier, Cristina, I talked about costs. To many employees, their employees are asking to do things that are costing them in terms of effort, frustration, fear, loss of quality of the relationship in their own personal life, and that's not equitable. So, if it's transactional, then say it. “I’m going to pay a little more to do this, go do it.” And I go, “Okay, I understand the nature of our relationship, shake hands, we'll go do it.” But don't set up expectations or relationship by telling your employees when you hire them, “Oh, this is going to be the best place to work and we care about you and your family, and you're going to grow here.” But when things get tough, then all of a sudden, it's strictly transactional, and all those relationship and promises go away.

 Cristina Amigoni: Yeah, I was just thinking about that, because we talked about layoffs before we started recording, and how that's a big thing. It's like you're part of the family, we care about you, look at our nice little values on the wall, that we never leave. You can read them every day. And then you have the whole, please work overtime, because you're already working overtime, because we can't do it without you. And then as soon as there's a bump in the road, let's lay you off, we don't really care, because we're not going to change our salaries to keep you around.

JC Quintana: Yeah, and that's exactly right. Poor millennials, and I have several millennials amongst my five children. Millennials get demonized a little bit, because they don't like just accepting some of those traditions and rules that we've set that, frankly, don't make any sense. I've gotten in trouble at events at like very high-end corporate events by showing up without a tie, and I find that a little ridiculous. Millennials would say, “Why would you tie something around my neck and try to strangle me with it?” I would say, “Wow, that kind of answers what a tie is. But he looks good.” And we said, “Oh, that's what a formal attire looks like.” Well to me, this is what a formal attire looks like. I'm wearing it and it's perfectly acceptable.

We've set some of those rules and the bad behavior that comes from it in things like, “Yes, you work at a company, and you're there, and you give your all and you get it.” In the old days, this don’t happen anymore, but you work there, and you work to the bone, and you sacrifice your health, and you sacrifice your family. Don't worry, we're going to give you a watch at the end of that.” And millennials are like, “What? No. If I work here, and I put a lot of my effort into this, either give me more time to go live the life that I want to live, or if I'm spending more time here, I want to see a little profit out of that. I want to see a benefit out of that.” And millennials expect a more equitable and reasonable relationship with employers than we all ever did throughout our careers, right? We have to address that, that the world is changing, people are becoming more aware of everything.

We have access to information, like no other time in history, and your employees are smart, they know how much you're making. And if you say – I’m saying this, but it's true. My wife and I have 30 years together. So, we have a very close relationship. I tell her everything and she tells me everything. However, I have developed this addiction to printed shirts. I got like 30 of these from the same brand. Sometimes I go, should I tell her that I just bought like eight more of those shirts? Some of that intended transparency and candidness we have, all of a sudden, it comes into question. That happens a lot in the workplace today. I think that a lot of times, an employer will start with, “We love our employees, we want to give them what they need, so that we build an environment that is a psychologically safe environment.” You guys know all about that, where quality is built. But then when things are tough, then we don't want to be as transparent with them, because we don't think that they can handle it and that is wrong. That is wrong, wrong, wrong. That is not a genuine relationship.

A genuine relationship requires candidness and transparency, like I talked about in the book. It doesn’t require trust all the time, because not everything requires trust. That is something that we talk about bad behavior, I think we've taught people that we have to trust them, and they have to trust us. No. Trust is given in context, right? I can fly a plane, but I'd get into an airline and fly to Colorado or Florida with you, right? But ask me to trust you to fly the plane, and that's a very different thing. So, trust is given in context. But transparency is always required. Give people a choice to trust you or not trust you. That's not always required. Trust isn't always required. But transparency always is. I think we've lost in the workplace. I think we've lost it with our customers, to where we don't tell them things that we should be telling them. But mostly with employees and partners, if you want a strong relationship, then make the investment in things like candor.

Alex Cullimore: We’re putting it, if you think about just setting expectations for relationships, if the company happens to be very transactional with their employees, like you said, there are lots of employees that will want that. Lots of people want that transactionality. This is what I get from work, and I get to do something else on the outside of it. If you have a problem with that, then it becomes easier to manage expectations on both sides. It's just transparency, it's not trust, as in, I’ll always take care of you. If you're looking for a company that will take care of you, then you have to find that one. That's what you then look for. But if you're the company that says, we care about people, because it sounds like people have to say that now, but we don't do it on the other side, and it's just lip service and you're going to run people right out the door.

JC Quintana: So, we do this workshop. In the pandemic, we took the book, and I tried to think of like, what would be the best way to get people to read the book, but then talk to other people about it. So, we build this online training that is chapter by chapter this thing. It allows you to talk to people about it. But my favorite way of delivering that is an actual workshop. So, we do one day into the workshops. The most workshops that I've done over the last four years have been employee workshops. We've had to come back and get employees and leadership together in the same room and say, “Okay, let's talk about the seven things. Where did we go off the rail with our expectations? What relationship did your employer think this was? And what relationship did the employees think this was?” Oftentimes, we find that, the disconnect is horrific and dangerous, right? Because the person with the least power tends to be less transparent about their situation. Therefore, the employee doesn't know that their employees are about to walk out the door until they actually do.

 And then what do we do when that happens? We do and I Tina Turner, “Baby. Come on, baby. I know I’m mistreating you baby. Come on, come back to me, baby. I'll do anything for you baby.” It sounds like ridiculous. But it really is. We do that to employees where they they're about to walk out the door when you mistreated them, and then all of a sudden, we say, “We'll increase your pay.” Do you really want to stay in relationship that buys you chocolates and roses after they beat you up and then they want you back? To me, we have abusive relationships in the workplace that are just as bad psychologically, as many that we sadly see in interpersonal relationships.

Cristina Amigoni: Very true.

Alex Cullimore: Christina put it well, with the idea of why do I have to give notice to get noticed? Why do I have to be walking out the door before you're like, “Oh, okay. You were serious about all those things? Well, sorry. Hold on, let's talk.”

Cristina Amigoni: “We want to keep you now, and we'll give you anything you want.” And I'm like, “Yeah, you only care about me when you realize you're going to lose me or when I'm already out the door, when people give notice.” At least when I give notice, there's no turning back.

JC Quintana: Yeah, I agree that.

Cristina Amigoni: It's a difficult decision that's taken weeks or months or years, and once it's out of my mouth, it's not a threat. It's not to get more, it's because I'm already out the door.

JC Quintana: Yeah, exactly. You know what I think is probably one of the most dangerous mentalities and thank goodness, thank goodness, that we've got so many authors that are writing about this and putting their foot down about it. And it is the – it's just business mentality. There's no more dangerous mentality, it’s just business mentality. It is never, ever just business now, because you cannot disconnect the human from the business, therefore, it is always human. If there's one phrase that I would love, just to kind of melt away into the ether and disappear forever, it’s just business, because it never is.

So, these seven elements, that we talked about, I usually encourage people during this workshop, and it could be employees, it could be customers, it could be business partners, it applies equally. I always encourage people to, at some point or another measure where that is, right, take the time to say, “Okay, let's find out if any expectations have change”, which from the psychology perspective, we know that expectations can always change. Anytime there's a change, it needs characteristics, circumstances and capacity of both, or one or the parties in the relationship. During the pandemic, that happened to almost every company, right? I always encourage people to kind of stop and say, “Okay, let's go back to definition.” Is this the same relationship that I expected? Or are the terms still the same terms? Are the expectations the same expectations? Are the outcomes – is the value the same? No, let's talk about that.

Am I the same person that I started out when I first met you company, customer, partner, right? Because we grow. We change. Are you considering who I am as an individual? During this last election, a lot of people change their circumstances, characteristics, capacity, needs, based on the state of the world, which is still in flux. Engagement, technology changes. Do I expect you as a company to engage me differently? My situation has changed, do I expect the engagement between us to change? Have my responsibilities, levels of accountability, levels of knowledge that we expect, has that changed? Has the environment itself changed? Has the level of transparency that we need to make this relationship work changed?

So, I always encourage people, no matter what it is, and also to embed it, embed it into CRM systems, and management systems, are we managing expectations regularly, realistically, transparently? Otherwise, the relationship is going to start going stale, is going to start deteriorating, and you may not even know that it's happening.

Cristina Amigoni: It's so true. It takes courage. It takes courage to do that, to have those conversations. I was thinking about, like, with us with our clients, to say like, “Hey, at six weeks or two months or whatever, how long the engagement is, at some point after the beginning, we're going to have to sit down and go through this.”

JC Quintana: I agree with you. I was talking to one of my students, so I'm trying not to give away which company it is, but it's a fairly large company, technology company that you and I know. We use their technology every day. I said, “What was the biggest challenge that you experienced during the pandemic?” And she said, “To me, it was calling customers with enough candor and transparency and honesty to say, I'm sorry, but we're not going to meet the terms of our agreement, because we're having financial problems. We've lost members, we've lost subscribers.” And so, it's not just an interpersonal relationship, where we run into heartache, and we have to go to the other party and say, “Forgive me, help me. Let's do this together. Let's create value together.” But it keeps coming back full circle to Alex's question, right? We built all these really unreasonable habits based on unreasonable thinking and methodologies that are not relationship in nature, when the very nature of who we are is relational.

So, let's change it. Let's go back to being human beings and saying, “I can do this, and you can do this. Let's do it, shake hands. Let's define the terms. Let's kind of talk about our expectations, and if those ever change, let's have that level of candor to come back to the table and talk about how has changed.” In some cases, no, the relationship no longer works. I give you a hug, a virtual business hug. I don't know if this is interesting, but I think we should do more of it, and go our separate ways. Or we've reached an inset and we reach sort of a place in the relationship where we need to talk about the outcomes and the outcomes and expectations have changed. So, let's talk about it. Out of that, can come transformation. Like I said a second ago, out of that, we may realize we're not the best fit for one another as a customer or an employee or a partner. And we go on to better stronger relationships with a good heart, knowing that we've not done each other wrong. Just like interpersonal issues.

Cristina Amigoni: That saves the relationship. That’s what’s amazing to me. Having those hard conversations, having that candor, going through the steps of recognizing mutually recognizing like, this is no longer good fit, then we can both go our separate ways. And when somebody is looking for what the other person is providing, you're going to be more willing to recommend that. You're going to be more willing to recommend employees that maybe go work there or clients that they could take on, because the relationship wasn’t broken, it just evolved. But when you lack the transparency, when you keep things in, when it's all behind closed doors, when there is dishonesty, and there's just expectations there are not spoken out loud, then the relationship is going to break anyway, it doesn't survive it. And now, you've lost the potential future customer, other customers that are referred, potential future employees, all of that is lost too.

JC Quintana: Yeah, people kind of push back and they think it's a little touchy feely, to think that way. The whole reason I entitled the book Serious Relationships, is because I've never done sales. I used to manage the Microsoft Business in Latin America for Hewlett Packard, and that's probably the closest he's ever gotten to me having a sales job. But I remember with our teams and efficiently international teams, I used to have this joke. When people will come and say, “Oh, my gosh, so and so wants to do business with us. We're going to do a PowerPoint presentation.” “PowerPoint presentations.” We’re the PowerPoint presentation with this company, because we think that that's how we do business. I would say, “Is it serious? Is it a serious relationship?” And then go, “What?” And I say, “Like interpersonal, right now, you're telling me that you've met somebody. So, tell me where it is? Are you just dating? Are you just getting to know one another? Or is it serious? Because if it's serious, you should know their expectations of value, the outcomes they expect, and all those seven things that we talked about. You should know the terms, the boundaries, the outcome expectations, who they are, centricity, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. You should know that. So, if you don't know any of that, if you know those expectations, then the relationship is not serious. Don't say that we're going to win the business.” Unless you're in a relationship that they don't have a choice. They are relationships like that. We our relationship with our communication vendors, our electric companies, that yes, we don't have a choice. But that's not the norm.

Alex Cullimore: That’s interesting. I love when people throw like a touchy-feely piece like, “Well, it's just a feeling, but I don’t think that could be measured.” Just think about for a second what it's like to be recommended a company that was that transparent, even if it was the point of that company being like, “We can no longer meet your needs or we have financial problems.” If you were recommended that business, how much easier is it to take a call from somebody who you know is going to act with some integrity and be like, “Look, this wasn't a good fit for us, that wasn't a good fit for you. It might work for them.” How much easier is it to have that conversation, than to be like, “Yeah, I mean, we worked for them for a bit, and I guess it did the job for a little while, and we don't use them anymore.” It's a totally different feeling, way easier to get in. It's like getting your resume in front of somebody because you had a recommendation at the job versus just sending out your resume to people you don't know. It's entirely placed in the pile.

JC Quintana: The touchy-feely statement is substantiated by a lot of great research and data, that says that it is our greatest employees, it is those employees that feel emotional attachment to their brand that are the best employees and the best customers. It is psychologically safe workplaces that help people train better, learn better, grow better, treat customers better, grow a business, increase revenue and maintain costs, right? Because they feel accountable to the distance. And the very core of psychology is based on this cost factor. Social exchange theory is the core of how we make decisions says, I need to know how much it's going to cost me to do that before I can tell you whether I am getting the reward or the outcome that I expected.

So, call it touchy feely, I would say if you called the stuff that I did, touchy feely, I'm going to go, “Thank you. Thank you for that. That is awesome. I appreciate it.” That is what we're trying to do. We are trying to be more human and we're trying to – and by the way, isn't it less stress to do things in a way that we naturally – that we do the things that we naturally gravitate towards, than to go counter to that and try to create this business thing and then force it on people? Isn't that the path of least resistance to address the human and give the human what they need in order to get the business outcomes that we expect, right? We should have common sense, but unfortunately, we've got all these bad habits are we going to get rid of.

Cristina Amigoni: It’s like Alex said, what if we work – go ahead, Alex.

Alex Cullimore: Go ahead, sorry.

 Cristina Amigoni: It's like Alex always says, like, “What if we worked with human nature instead of against it?”

JC Quintana: It's true. Brilliant, Alex. That’s exactly right. Why don’t we work with it? I wrote something, and I can't remember which doctor I wrote it in. But I always tell audiences this, I think I may have mentioned it in the presentation that we were at together, that I'm not teaching anything that we didn't know. We all know what it feels like to have a relationship with another human being that has harmony, that has equity. We all know what that feels like. And by the way, I'm going to say, if somebody's going to be upset about this, but you also know when you are in a relationship where you're trying to gain the upper edge, where you're trying to gain the upper hand, where you're being unethical, when you are trying to win at the expense of the other person. You know it in your heart, you know it in your mind, you know, right? So why not go with that. Let's float in that river together and be okay with not being in every relationship with every person. They don’t all match, they all fit. Let's spend more of our time and effort in financial investments in the relationships that can have the greatest chance for quality success. 

Alex Cullimore: I agree.

JC Quintana: By the way, I count the two of you among the ones that I want to invest in.

Cristina Amigoni: Thank you. Same with you. So, we'll probably should sit down and go through the seven elements and make sure that we're meeting expectations on all of them.

JC Quintana: That’s right.

Alex Cullimore: In terms of things that you would love to see baked into, it doesn't have to be into a CRM system, or just baked into how people think about relationships. What are things that you would suggest people think about? Obviously, the seven are a good one, we can talk about some of those, too. What are the things you'd love to see baked into a new reality, a visionary reality?

JC Quintana: Yeah, it would be my dream if people kind of thought the way that I thought in terms of relationships and those seven things. And yes, I would love to see them incorporated into CRM. I think that CRM, the advantage of systems like CRM, and I know that by the way, CRM has gotten a really bad reputation over the years because of reports of bad implementations and people not getting ROI on their investment. I know that is true. But I also know that every single one of those reports was based squarely on the question as of users, and implementers, which was a question, did it meet expectation? That's the heart of that that disconnect.

 I would say that, yes, I think that if you start implementing technology, no matter what it is, no matter what brand it is, if you start by asking about the relationship expectations that people that are going to use it, and how they're building relationships, then yes, you can go in and almost literally say, first step in CRM, defining the relationship. Is it the right relationship for us? Can we provide the value we expect? Those are value proposition aligned with it. Move on to the second one and ask the question. Are we being mindful of the very things that make them who they are? Their culture, their language, their diversity, move on to the next one. Do we have the means to engage with them in the ways they expect? Do we know what we need to do to maintain that relationship? Do we teach them or give them the means to know what it takes for them to do it? Are we accountable to it? Are they accountable to it? Do we have transparency to allow them make decisions of trust? And are we building an environment?

CRM can manage every one of those seven things. I always encourage companies to build CRM systems that are asking questions and maintaining the relationship in those seven perspectives. But if there's one concept from the psychology perspective that I think we all need to be mindful of is the one that I mentioned earlier, that says, and it's called the N3C, and it’s created by University of Toronto that says, “No matter the relationship, new, old, customer, employee, partner, we should always be mindful of the needs, circumstances, characteristics and capacity of people, which are always changing.”

I've had companies that I've done business with 20 years, and they've changed 20 times in the last 20 years. The reason why we're in business today still is because we've all taken time to have dialogue. My companies named DialoguePrime for that reason because dialogue is prime. Dialogue is foundational. Dialogue comes first. If you take time to stop and say, “Okay, can I ask you a question? Am I meeting your needs?” “No.” “How are they changing?” That's all it takes, two seconds, to say has circumstances change? How so? How has that affected the expectations or relationship? How's your capacity, my capacity? Should I be doing more? Catch up with your inability to do now? I'm willing to do that for the sake of the relationship? Those are two things that I will say, Alex, in response to your question is we have to be mindful of the changing dynamics of human beings. And if we know a good framework, like the seven elements, to kind of base our dialogue on, I think we're going to have very successful quality relationships.

Alex Cullimore: I like the idea, that the question of, did I meet expectations, becomes a yes or no, because I've been part of many companies and lots of software products, wherein you get asked that, people say no, and then there's no follow up. There's just, “No, we're not meeting expectations. Let's go build 98 new features now. Because it's probably what the market wants.” You ask your team; you don't know what the expectations were in the first place. You go sell to another customer. You don't define the expectations for it, and then you find out, “Oh, it didn't meet your expectations later.” Don't ask again, go back. Let's go build some more features. Now, you have way more than you can support. You're drowning in the things you can't do. It's a much easier path to some actual value in success, if you just stop, have those dialogues, have the discussion and appreciate that it will change over time.

JC Quintana: Yeah, by the way, statistically, also the number one cause of divorce, right? Where one partner expresses that the other partner is not meeting their expectations, or their needs and they get hurt and they get divorced. Instead of saying, “Okay, I invested in this relationship and I'm willing to make it work, and I'm willing for it to be a quality relationship. So, tell me what that is? Where am I not meeting your needs?” Yes, in the interpersonal world, I highly recommend that people find a good counselor, a good therapist, because it can be very emotionally charging thing. But guess what, many of the clients that bring me in to talk about those things, it does feel like marriage counseling sometimes, and it is as emotionally charged. 

I've had an international company that their number one sales channel is a partner channel, almost 100% of the product, they sell third-partner channel. Being in the room between the partners, and the vendor, almost felt like two marriage partners that have grown to really hate each other and that we're getting ready to get divorce. That's the question we asked in spaces like that. That's the question I asked. I say, “Let's take turns, let's talk about expectations in these seven areas. You go first, let’s put it on the board. Let's tag it as red, yellow, green, and then let's kind of match it. Because guess what? Let’s capitalize on the things where expectations are being met, and then let's address the ones where expectations are not being met, and whether or not we have the ability to equitably meet the expectations both sides.” Equity or zero, that's what we go for. I will go equity or nothing. Beautiful things happen out of that kind of dialogue.

Cristina Amigoni: I can definitely imagine. So, I'm sure that we could take the same route as your workshops and talk for another day or two, about all of these.

JC Quintana: Easily.

Cristina Amigoni: Easily. So, we'll probably have to schedule more conversations. But for now, this is all really insightful, just like your presentations, like more learning, more just human-based understanding and insights, we really appreciate it. So where can people find you?

JC Quintana: So, I don't know if it's hard to see. But that's what we believe in, meaningful dialogue leads to quality relationships, And the book, which I think that you all have a copy of, the new edition of the book just came out. And yes, that would be ready when you go on Amazon, and you type Serious Relationships. You get all sorts of books on marriage, improving your personal relations, but the first one that's going to come up is Serious Relationships. So, either one,, all our stuff is up there, including the work that we're doing in change management. We partner with a company called Relations Research. They are an incredible company based here in Atlanta, and we have the workshops that kind of lead to conversations, and assessment of where the relationship is, and then we also go to companies and do change management to actually make it work. All sorts of resources, training, books, and workshops and change management.

Alex Cullimore: That's great. So, one last question for you. What is your definition of authenticity?

JC Quintana: Oh, that's a good one. So, I'll give you the perspective of an old married man of years and years of marriage, and what I found applicable to business as well. Brené Brown, you all know Brené Brown’s work. I learned a lot from her work and her workshops and her books. I think I may have every one of her books here. Being who you are, despite your faults.

Now, I'm not going to show it to you. But four years ago, I had a stroke and it paralyzed me, half of my body was completely paralyzed. I was in the hospital, they thought I was going to die. I wasn’t going to survive it. I ended up getting a tattoo for the first time in my life. It is an Enso circle, which is kind of being changed to have the birth colors of my five children. And instead of it being a circle, as an Enso circle painting that ends flat, it actually ends in a flow of water. What I tell people is, the cool thing about an Enso circle is that you are to paint the circle continuously, and the result of that circle, regardless of its imperfection, is still a reflection of his Creator, right? And that's authenticity is owning that. Owning that your work, your life's work, who you are as individual is the result of its Creator in its imperfection. If you're willing to tell people that and you're open to learn from it, then you're being truly authentic. If you can reach out to people and allow them to be part of your journey to being a better human being, then you're being authentic. So, we'll define it differently. That's my definition and it comes from my own personal journey.

Cristina Amigoni: I really like that.

Alex Cullimore: That's excellent. Well, thank you so much, JC Quintana for joining us. This has been just a fascinating conversation, and I'm sure we will have many more and I think everybody should go buy your book, Serious Relationships.

Cristina Amigoni: Go buy the book. We'll have them in the show notes, and we hope to see you in person again soon.

JC Quintana: Me too. I'm really looking forward to that and thank you for the wonderful time we spent together.

Cristina Amigoni: Yes. Thank you.

Alex Cullimore: Thank you, JC and thank you all for listening.


Cristina Amigoni: Thank you for listening to Uncover the Human, a Siamo podcast. 

Alex Cullimore: Special thanks to our podcast operations wizard, Jake Lara; and our score creator, Rachel Sherwood. 

Cristina Amigoni: If you have enjoyed this episode, please share, review and subscribe. You can find our episodes wherever you listen to podcasts. 

Alex Cullimore: We would love to hear from you with feedback, topic ideas or questions. You can reach us at podcast, or at our website,, LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook. We Are Siamo is spelled W-E A-R-E S-I-A-M-O.

Cristina Amigoni: Until next time, listen to yourself, listen to others and always uncover the human.



JC QuintanaProfile Photo

JC Quintana

As a passionate storyteller and author, JC's mission is to help companies build meaningful relationships. His combination of heart and humor makes him a popular speaker and workshop leader at events around the world. He has written two books on relationship psychology and the technology that enables quality relationships. He lives in Atlanta, GA.