Momentum Podcast: 159

Plan First, Cut Second

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

One of the most consistent ways that entrepreneurs waste time is heading off in a direction without a plan. We have an idea, get excited, and start executing as fast as we can. 

We are eager to see the end result before we are 100% clear on what that results should be. This results in us spending a lot of time that we don't need to getting mediocre results if any. There is a better way When we learn the minimum effective dose planning methods, everything changes. 

Spending just a little bit of time clarifying where we are going ensures that we get there faster and get the result we want. It's amazing how many different places I've seen these entrepreneurial lessons, they appear, even when my daughters are getting a haircut.

Full Audio Transcript

I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum Podcast, made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot-takers, record-breakers, world-makers, and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to.

We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will.

We don't accept our destiny. We define it. We don't understand defeat, because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how.

While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate, "There could be a better future." And instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters.

Clearly, the most important people in the world, because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive evolution and we always will be.

Plan first, cut second. It's amazing the places where I have been able to absorb or observe or see a lesson that affects me and how I run my business. Because after a while you don't just get lessons from business books, you get lessons from just about everything you do, from everything you watch, from paying attention to the world around you.

You can learn what you should be doing and how you can be moving your business forward. And I had that experience last week. In fact, you're not going to believe the intensity of the lesson that I learned from taking my two kids to get their hair cut.

My daughters, Reagan and Kennedy are 11 and 8 and they'd been growing their hair for a long time. They had it way past down their shoulders. Reagan's hair is really curly and long. Kennedy's was more straight and long, but both of them have just thick, beautiful hair.

And they both decided around the same time that they wanted to get their hair cut short. And that was a big deal for me. For me, I'm always interested to see what the kids are going to look like. Cadey was nervous about it. The girls were both nervous about it. They wanted to make a huge change.

And so we took them to see a friend of ours named Jean Barton, who cuts hair here in Austin. She's been doing my hair since 2009.

And Jean is not a normal hair dresser of hair stylist. Jean has been doing this for over 20 years. She's taught for two or three different brands. She's traveled around the world showing people how to cut hair. She is a true expert in her craft.

And there is something that's intense about watching a true expert, someone who has a lifetime of experience, practice their craft. And that can be anything for me.

I've watched a glass blower and learned from it. When Cadey and I got invited to a concert to see Eddy Vedder play by himself, the old lead singer of Pearl Jam, watching him play instrument after instrument. I mean, the guy picked up probably 15 different string instruments during this small concert that we went to and it just blew us away. That level of expertise was just so intense.

And when I go to the track and I get to drive with somebody who's an expert driver, I'm always blown away at how much more speed they can get out of my car than I do.

And then to watch Jean cut hair last week was profound, because we got there and all three of us were getting our hair cut and Jean didn't feel rushed. She didn't seem pressed. In fact, she put Reagan and Kennedy and I waited, standing by and I was blown away because I watched Jean look at Reagan's hair for over five minutes.

She didn't even have scissors in her hand. She looked at it from every angle. She moved it around. She was looking at it and at one point I asked, "Hey Jean, what are you doing?" And she said, "Well, I'm looking for what her hair is telling me. I want to see where natural parts are. I want to see how it flows normally so that we can cut around what's already there and give her the best haircut for her head."

And I watched five minutes later, Jean finally started cutting. And the result was incredible. I mean, she did the same thing with Kennedy. Both of my daughters' hair went from long to short. They both look like their haircuts-- I guess the best way to describe it is this: both of my kids went through this radical change in a haircut and by the time we were walking out of the salon, I was looking at them and thinking, "Ah, it just looks right. It looks so good. They look so great."

And I think that only comes when you go to a hairdresser who has reached the level of experience and expertise that they can see the haircut through the hair. And by watching Jean I learned so much about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

Because, do you know what most entrepreneurs-- the metaphor here is: Jean spent five, maybe ten minutes looking at Reagan's hair before she cut a single strand. Most entrepreneurs come in, they make the first ten cuts and then figure out what happened.

And that's one of those challenges about being an entrepreneur and growing a business. We are full of ideas and we always have a ton of stuff coming to us and we want to just go execute. We want to do it. We want to get that dopamine rush of making it happen, getting out the door, starting something new, having a new idea.

It's like that adrenaline that gets us, going because we get to do something that we're excited about, that's new, that's intense. But here's the challenge for so many entrepreneurs: we don't look first. We don't plan. We don't see which way the hair is falling. We don't spend a little bit of time to figure out, "What would this look like?" Instead, we just start cutting.

And I coach dozens of million-dollar plus entrepreneurs in growing and scaling their business. One of the conversations I have most often is, "Hey why don't we plan this first? Why don't we sit down and look at what this is going to look like? Have you projected forward what this is going to look like, feel like, be like for you in a year, in two years? Do you understand, starting today, what you're trying to actually accomplish? Do we have the metrics, the plan, the milestones that are going to make this work? Do we know who is going to be doing what?"

Because when you first start a business, you might not have all those answers. I get it. Sometimes you just have to wing it. Sometimes you have to cross your fingers and pray. I've been there.

But when you have a team and you're growing a company and there's an infrastructure being built around you, you have to start learning the discipline to plan first, cut second-- to sit down and look at the resources you have.

What is it that's in front of you? What is it that's available to you? What are you actually trying to achieve, so that you don't just start whacking hair away and then trying to fix it later?

Because when it comes to a haircut, I don't think any entrepreneur in world would volunteer to cut someone's hair and just run in and start cutting. I mean, we would want to be experienced or we want to have some instructions. We want to actually have it turn out good for the person that we're talking to or the person whose hair we're cutting.

But the challenge is, we do that every day in our business. I've watched entrepreneurs, sometimes with million-dollar plus companies have an idea in the morning, get their team together to try and execute it mid-day, change everything that everyone is doing by the afternoon, and completely derail their team because they have an idea and the challenge is this: fail forward, fail fast is a good way to get started, but it's not a good way to continue through your life.

That is not a success strategy for an entrepreneurial career. It's a way to get out of the gate. Sooner or later, hopefully sooner especially once you've started building a team, you have to start figuring out how to successfully succeed consistently, how to predict the future, how to show people what's really going to happen-- when you sit down with your team and you create a plan, how you all can go out and consistently execute those plans and achieve.

And I think for so many of us this metaphor of, instead of taking out the scissors and whacking away, taking a minute and seeing what's really going on, surveying the situation, asking our team for input, finding out what everybody else wants to do or what opportunities they see, and then creating a plan that you and your team can execute-- seeing the haircut before you're actually done. Knowing where you're going to end up before you cut a single strand just like Jean did.

There was a deep lesson in watching her, because once she started cutting, it didn't look like she make another decision the entire time. She literally just cut the entire time.

It was like from one set of hairs to another, to another, to another and it was intense how fast she went once she had the plan. And when she was done with both Reagan and Kennedy, the results were absolutely amazing. And I attribute that to the fact that she's one of those people who's achieved a level of expertise in her discipline that she knows that, if she takes the appropriate amount of time to first see what the future is, come up with that plan, and then execute it, that she gets incredible results.

So, are you the entrepreneur who has an idea and is trying to execute it that morning or do you want to become just like Jean? Study, see the future, create the plan, understand what the result will be in advance, and then execute as hard a you can, as fast as you can and get that result in the present.

Because, that's how true entrepreneurship really works. That's how we grow world-changing organizations. You can get to a million. You can get to two or three. You might even get to the mid-single figure, seven-figure mark. Five, six, seven, eight without ever having a forward-looking plan, but the challenge is unless you start planning, unless you start putting the time in up front to create the outcomes, you won't sustain those numbers and you'll have a hard time ever getting to eight figures.

And so many entrepreneurs today have the goal of getting to ten or twenty or a hundred million with no forward-looking plan. I want you to know that if that's you, you're deluding yourself. It can't be done.

My cousin works at Apple Computer. They plan so much that he knows exactly what he'll be working on in 2021. In the average entrepreneurial company they don't know what they'll be working on next week.

So, for you to improve your chances of business success, to change the way your business revolves around you, to start increasing the level of execution and results you get, plan first, cut second.

Start actually sitting down, planning where you're going, seeing what you have available, put together predictable results that you know will happen-- the plan that you put together should be for results that you have 100% confidence you will achieve. Don't ask your team to chase your dreams. Put together a real plan, see the haircut before it happens, and then execute together and you'll see incredible results come out.

For anyone who, like Jean, has spent over 20 years doing something with a passion for it that is really incredible-- I mean, when Jean starts talking about what it means to cut people's hair, she gets emotional. She says, "You put your hands on someone and you give them this new look and you give them a newfound confidence and it's this privilege we have to help people step into who they are by helping them look like what they want to look like."

And when she stars talking like that, I'm absolutely blown away and I always think, "I'm so lucky to live in Austin and have access to Jean so she can cut my hair and it looks the same every time and it's the best haircuts I've ever had every time." I walk I thinking, "I didn't think she could do this better, but somehow each time I feel better about having seen her."

And as an entrepreneur, when we start learning to plan, each time we sit down and plan with our team we execute, we have a predictable result that everyone gets and we show them we can predict the future and win, they feel better about being on your team.

They feel better about being there with you. They feel better about the work that they're doing. So if you want to improve your results as an entrepreneur in every way, plan first, cut second. Thanks for being here.

Hey, if you haven't yet and you're ready to improve your momentum as an entrepreneur, if you want to understand exactly how to plan as an individual entrepreneur, how to create that future, go to and check out our course that will show you exactly how to plan, not in the ways that don't work for people like us, but the first planning system created exclusively for entrepreneurial personality type that creates momentum in the process and will have you achieving more than you ever thought possible. I look forward to seeing you there.

Thank You For Listening!

I am truly grateful that you have chosen to spend your time listening to me and my podcast.

Please feel free to reach out if you have a question or feedback via our Contact Us page.

Please leave me a review on iTunes and share my podcast with your friends and family.

With gratitude,


Scroll to Top

Simply enter your email address below to get instant access to the Free 90-Minute Predictable Business Growth Training.

We hate spam, so we won't send you any...

We are excited to share the Predictable Planning System with you.

Please enter your email address below so we can share more valuable content with you in the future.

I hate spam, so I won't send you any...