Momentum Podcast: 202

Culture Is a Reflection of Leadership

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

You’re one of the most important people in your teams lives. Your team is looking to you to see how they should respond. There are five levels of leadership. What is your level?

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 human evolution, and we always will be.

Culture is a reflection of leadership. Today was one of the most intense and most confirming days of my professional career. It really was. It was amazing. I spent the first day with Matt Olaya, who is our company's new CMO. Matt has been a friend of mine for years. We worked together in the past. We worked together a few years, and we've kept in touch, and in the past few weeks we were able to put a deal together, and bring him on as the person who is really gonna help us take this company to the next level.

And being with Matt today confirmed everything for me. He is brilliant. I absolutely guarantee you he is one of the most brilliant marketing minds on the planet today. I actually took him over to meet Alex and Layla Hormozi, so it was very cool having Matt and Alex in the same room because I think ... Like, top ten marketing minds on the planet, two of them are sitting right there. And it was just amazing to spend time with Matt, to be able to go through our plans, to talk through what we expect to do, and it was so insanely confirming because everything I remembered about Matt ... Everything I remembered about loving working with him, and interacting with him, and collaborating with him was reinforced today, and like I would expect anybody who is as brilliant as he is, in the past few years, he's only gone out and learned, and done more, and become better, and even more intense. Today, was amazing.

And there was an interesting point today. We got back from lunch, and my daughter Reagan has a three pound chihuahua named Lily that believes she is a pit bull. I don't know if she believes she's a pit bull for real, but she barks at everybody coming in the house, and she's always upset, and she's always wired up. She's a very reactive and aggressive dog. And today Matt mentioned something about being able to help Reagan, help Lily stop barking. And this is why I'm like ... One of the reasons I'm so excited that Matt came back because here is a marketing professional who is driven, who wants to get things done, who wants to change the world, but he paused today, and spent about 20 minutes with Reagan showing her how to walk Lily. He took her outside, had all the patience in the world, and I listened, and he explained to Reagan how the dog is looking at her for reaction, and the way that Reagan feels is how the dog is gonna feel. And if Reagan is anxious, the dog will be anxious. And if Reagan is upset, the dog will be upset.

And so she should start really thinking about being okay, being calm, being present, and the dog will be more calm, more present, more in the moment, and it worked. We watched Matt do it, and it was really intense, it worked. And it was such a great break in the middle of the day. And as a father, it means the world to me that Matt paused and spent some time with my daughter, and made her feel significant, and gave her some advice, and just reinforced one million times over the decision to work with Matt again.

But there was also an example there for me as I listened to Matt, what I realized, and what I explained to him afterwards. I'm like, "Matt, you triggered something down there. I want to show you something." I pulled up our chart of the Five Levels of Leadership, and the five levels that we as leaders go through when we're leading our team. And here is what was so confirming in what Matt said, was that we are ... That Lily is responding to Cadey ... Or to Reagan. And Lily the dog is feeling what she's feeling, and Lily is looking at Reagan to see confirmation to see if everything is okay. And I want you to understand something, for your business it's exactly the same with your team.

Now I'm certainly not saying that your team is a dog. Or that your team has anything other in common than Lily ... Than this dynamic... With Lily than this dynamic. But what it is, is that your team is looking to you to see how they should respond. Your team is looking to you to see how they should feel. Your team will always mirror you, but they will never be ahead of you, they will always be behind you. Because here's what happens, when you're the CEO, and you've heard me say this before if you've listened to the podcast, you're one of the most important people in your team's lives, and they look to you to see how they should feel, how they should react, what should they think about things? And not about everything, but the way you show up for your team will dictate the way your team shows up for you, and they will always be mirroring you.

It's a concept called Emotional Contagion, and if you look at our Five Levels of Leadership, what you'll see is that there is five levels. Level one, the one that we all want to be in all of the time is just being present. The next level when you move into some higher pressure and noise is being on alert. The next level is preloaded. The next level is fight or flight. The next level is full overwhelm. But what I want you to understand is that if you're present, your team will most likely be on alert. If you're on alert, your team will most likely be preloaded. If you're walking around in fight or flight, your team will go into full overwhelm.

Now this might seem like an exaggeration, but I'll share with you like that actually happens because I've been in places ... And I'll share very candidly, and very transparently with you that I have absolutely screwed this up in my career. Because I think we all forget that we are a CEO, we all forget the rule, what you say as a CEO will be heard through a megaphone, what you do will be seen through a microscope. Everything about your actions as a CEO is exaggerated. The average person doesn't even know how to act around a CEO. If you're the entrepreneur in charge, you have to realize you've taken on this other persona, this other title in the world called CEO, where you're responsible for people's productivities, for their work output, for what they do most of the time, and for their purpose, for where they derive their drive and purpose in life. You are now responsible for that as a CEO, and there is a major responsibility there. And the key for all of us is to not just understand that we have the responsibility, but to also understand that our team will always mirror us.

I've shared this story before, but I think it really makes sense right now. About ten years ago, maybe eight, or nine years ago, we were running our company here in Austin, and we had an office off Montopolis Drive, and we had probably about 40 people at the time, and about 12 in a Member Services department that were in a backroom in the office, kind of in a room that had previously been a warehouse. It was air conditioned, but they all worked back there. And I remember I was in that backroom one day with the person who was our CTO at the time Travis Brodeen, and I was standing next to the customer service cubes, and I was reading something, or Travis and I were talking about something, and I got upset, I got triggered. I hit that flight or fight button, that flight or fight where you're attacking the present situation. Going nowhere, increasingly susceptible to disease. Just being not present, not in my body.

And in that moment I turned, and I punched a cubicle hard, and I'm a trained fighter. It's not bragging. That's just a fact. I know how to throw a punch. I learned a long time ago how to put weight behind a punch, and I learned how to annihilate the target when I punch. And so when I hit this cubicle, it dented the wall of the cubicle significantly. And thankfully nobody was sitting in the cubicle that, that wall was on, but there was people sitting all around that. And when I punched it, it was a massive noise that went off in the room, and people jumped, and it wasn't funny. But in that moment I had no understanding of the error of the ... Like this is almost criminal. I had no understanding of the grave error in judgment that I had just made. I had no perspective on how dramatic what I had just done was. In fact, I think at the time I chuckled a little because the cube wall was dented, and I remember looking at Travis, and he said something like, "Dude, those things are strong. How did you do that?" And I kind of laughed it off, and we walked away.

But here's what I can tell you about all the Member Services people that were sitting back there, that team didn't think it was funny. That team was a lot of caretaker individuals, a lot of high S's who really liked talking to our customers, who liked helping them, and when somebody in a position of authority punched a wall in front of them, I'm pretty sure most of that team experienced full overwhelm. They were panicked. They were scared. I mean, I had no right to take my emotions out in front of them in a way that effected them. In fact, within the next few months we lost a couple of them, and I don't know that my relationship was ever the same with a couple of the other ones. And I know that I challenged trust. I know that I scared them. I know that for a lot of them, whatever they have been through in their past ... Whatever challenge they had with someone in their lives, where maybe somebody had yelled at them, or had been physical with them, or had put them in an uncomfortable position, I took on that persona in that moment, and I caused my team to see me in that light.

And today as I share this story with you, I'm having trouble getting through it because I realize how unnecessary it was, and how absolutely selfish it was, and how ridiculous it was for me to lose self control to the point where I punched an inanimate object, and scared the crap out of the team that I was coaching, and leading, and growing, and helping with their careers. How could I fill the role of CEO? How could I be in the role of mentor? How could I expect them to see me the same when I lost control and acted like a child in front of them? And the fact is, is that culture is always a reflection of leadership. And most of the leaders that I know, they want their team to be present, they want them to show up, they want them to be consistent, they want them to get their work done on time, they want them to do what they say they're gonna do.

But you know what the challenge with so many CEOs is? We don't show up in the same way. When I talk to CEOs ... And when I talk to entrepreneurs growing businesses, one of the most common complaints is about the team. The team doesn't show up. The team doesn't do what I want them to do. The team ... And I'll just start asking questions. "Well, how often do you meet?" "Oh, I miss a lot of meetings." "How often do you get together with your team?" "Oh, we really haven't scheduled that regularly." "How often are you communicating in how they're doing?" "Well, what do you mean?" It's pretty easy to diagnose why your team isn't showing up like you want them. You haven't had ... You want them to. You haven't set the example of exactly what that looks like.

If you want your team to get their work done, to show up on time, to be there for you, then you have to create the emotional quality in your company where consistency, transparency, and getting things done is how things work, and the consistency, the transparency, the getting things done starts with you. When it comes to meeting with your team, when it comes to your daily huddle, when it comes to planning with your team, when it comes showing up. You have to start realizing that your entire team is going to be a reflection of you. If you're in a place where you have to show up more than one day a week when you're upset, then you need to fix that place.

And one of the reasons that I am so adamant, and so committed to helping CEOs get hydrated, get in shape, move, breathe, meditate, get more present is because that will help you show up in the right way for your team. And if you're not eating the right foods, and treating your body in the right way, and getting enough sleep, I want you to know you're not just effecting your productivity, you're effecting everybody's productivity. Because if you want people to get things done, to show up like you want them to, to be there for you, to back you up, then you must, must, set the example because your company culture will be a reflection of leadership, and that is you.

And so instead of looking at team meetings as a necessary evil, start looking at them as the place where you set the pace for your company. Instead of looking at time with your team as costing you, start creating an environment where time with your team makes you money, feels like momentum. And if you're in a place where you're not getting everything you want out of your team, sit down, and write down exactly how you're not showing up for them, and correct it. Because they will feel it, they will understand it, they will absorb it, and they will show up in a completely different way for you.

Because these days I think that there is an epidemic in the entrepreneurial community, where entrepreneurs are building teams that they don't love. They're building teams that they're not excited about. They're building teams that they go online and make Facebook posts, and Instagram stories about how frustrated they are with them. They're building teams where they don't really want that team to be around. And I want you to understand something, if that's happening to you, you're probably building a team that's a reflection of the way you show up, and that's why it's so frustrating. And I know that this is harsh. I mean it to be.

Because one of the most tragic things that an entrepreneur can do is build a team, show up in a way that is incongruent, and doesn't demonstrate what they want, and then expect the team to be held accountable to anything different than exactly how they are showing up. And so if you have a team, if you've built a company, if you're not happy with where you are right now, if you don't think you're getting as much out of your team as you should be, if everything isn't going the way that it should. I want you to just think about this for me, and meditate a little. Think about how can you show up different for your team? Ask yourself, are you modeling what you want back from them? Ask yourself, are you showing up in a way that they will show up back in a way ... Are you showing up in a way, that if they show up like you do, you're going to be thrilled? Because if anything there isn't how you want it, that's where you need to start.

And to the entrepreneurs who say, "Well, but I became an entrepreneur so I wouldn't have to show up in a certain way," or "I became an entrepreneur so I wouldn't have to go to meetings," or "I became an entrepreneur so I wouldn't have to do anything I didn't want to do." Well, you became an entrepreneur for all the wrong reasons then. Because the choice that we make to be an entrepreneur isn't a selfish choice just for us. If you're gonna succeed as an entrepreneur, you better figure out a population that means something to you, that matters to you, that you care about passionately, that you will put yourself out there for, that you will actually sacrifice to help because that's what it takes to be an entrepreneur. Is finding that population, that goal, that outcome, the people you want to help that actually motivate you to show up everyday, and make things happen. Because if it matters enough to you, here's what happens, the change suddenly isn't so hard anymore, and everything gets easier.

And if it really matters enough to you, you'll modify behavior. You'll change how you need to change. You'll figure out what actually works. You'll show up in a different way for your team. You'll be excited when you get there. Your consistency level will go up. Because here is what I know about entrepreneurs, I've worked with people like us my entire life, and an introvert will become an extrovert if they need to, to get to the right goal. Entrepreneurs, an extrovert will become an introvert if they need to, to get to the right goal. Entrepreneurs will do anything we need to when the goal matters enough to us.

If you don't feel like you need to modify for your team right now, then maybe your goal isn't important enough. Because when it is, people like us will do anything we need to do to get there. And none of us can do it alone, and it's not even any fun to try. If you have a team that you're not satisfied with, if you have a team that isn't showing up how you want it, if you have a team that isn't reflecting the culture you want in your company, start asking yourself what you're reflecting to them? And chances are you're gonna see it's just you being mirrored back to you that you're frustrated with. Culture is always a reflection of leadership.

If you're ready to start building a performance culture in your company, if you're ready to start actually hitting the goals you want, if you're ready to see what it looks like when everyone on the team pulls in the same direction at the same time and helps you achieve your goals, we're ready to help you. Go to, answer a few questions for us, we will send you a complete summary of the Billionaire Code, that will show you where you are as an entrepreneur, what you need next, and exactly where you should be focused to get the absolute biggest results. Let us give you some information. Show you where you are as an entrepreneur, and help you get to the next level. And remember if your team isn't showing up how you want them to, examine what you are mirroring for them first, and you might find exactly why you're not getting what you want.

Thank You For Listening!

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

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With gratitude,


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