‘Cuban Guy’ gives unfiltered advice to student leaders

Aman Ali

Anybody who walked late into the workshop yesterday in the Student Multicultural Center might have wondered why a Cuban guy was asking 25 students to do the Macarena and later say “F-U” repeatedly.

Motivational speaker Andres Lara, also known as “The Cuban Guy,” conducted a workshop yesterday titled “Stay Motivated and Have Great Relationships.” Throughout the event, Lara energized his audience through activities centering on his “F-U Principle” of focusing and unity.

“Every time you communicate, you need to focus on a main objective,” Lara said. “It is easy to get sidetracked.

Lara is an internationally known speaker who immigrated to the United States at age 16 without any parents, money or English speaking capabilities to help him.

“I was convinced of this whole American dream where you can get whatever you want if you pay the price,” Lara said.

Now at age 28, he’s the author of several books and travels across the country holding motivational and relationship development workshops.

The workshop was organized by the Student Leadership Development Board and the Center for Student Involvement. Student leaders from organizations such as the Spanish and Latino Student Association and the Centennial Leadership Academy were in attendance.

Lara told the student leaders when people get into arguments, they often tangle themselves with side-tracked objectives – or as he called them, “STDs.” He said ignoring these STDs and communicating effectively can build healthy relationships.

“There are some words that you use that make people feel defensive – like the word ‘but,'” Lara said. “It puts a condition on the next statement that you’re about to say is negative.”

Instead of using words like “but” and “wrong” that he said were defensive, Lara said to use positive words like “agree” and “understand.” He gave an example of an argument he had with his girlfriend while in college.

“Instead of telling her she was wrong, I said ‘I agree with the intensity of how you feel, and if I was in your position, I would feel the same way,'” Lara said. “It’s not so much what you say to people, but it’s more about how you say it.”

Toward the end of the workshop, Lara divided the students into two groups for a team building activity to emphasize the latter part of the “F-U Principle” of unity. Each group had to pick up a bottle of water and pour it into a glass by tugging on a series of ropes tied to a rubber band. He wanted the students to seek help from the other members in the room.

“Sometimes when you need help, all you need to do sometimes is ask,” Lara said. “But what prevents people from asking for help is pride.”

Lara’s workshop yesterday marked the third time he has come to Kent State this year.

“We keep bringing him back because the way he speaks is unbelievable,” said Preston Mitchum, SLDB chair and Undergraduate Student Senator for Student Advancement. “You can tell he speaks from the heart and soul, and he just doesn’t do it for money.”

Contact student affairs reporter Aman Ali at [email protected].