Momentum Podcast: 268

Tell Your Kids Everything

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

If you have a business and are a parent (or think you might be), The entrepreneurs that involve their kids and are transparent with them have the most successful kids in the long term. Here are a couple reasons.. There is a massive liability if you don't. Everyone in the world isn't going to be kind to your kids just because you're an entrepreneur.

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.

Tell your kids everything. The sound on today's podcast might be a little weird. I'm actually sitting out in front of WaterStone Salon here in Austin getting ready to go see my hair cutter, Jean, or my stylist I guess I should say it in a more awesome way. Jean, who's actually a really good friend of my wife's and has been since they were in high school. And so I'm excited to be here, get my hair cut. I feel better afterwards. And on the way here, I had this memory and really more of a concept that I wanted to share with you if you are a parent entrepreneur. And if you're a parent and you have a business or you have a business and you think you might ever be a parent, then this episode is crucially important for you. And I want you to know where the information in this episode comes from. It comes from over 25 years of observing entrepreneurs operating at the highest level and then seeing the effect that how they told their kids or how they treat their family, seeing what effect that has.

And here's what I can tell you. The bottom line to be an entrepreneur with children is that those entrepreneurs that share with their kids, tell their kids what's going on, they're transparent with their kids, involve them with the business, the good and the bad, are the ones that overall have the most successful children in the long-term. And I can tell you unequivocally that the entrepreneurs that shelter their children, don't want them to be frustrated, don't tell them what's really on, don't share with them all the frustrations that they're feeling in the business, are not transparent with them, those are the children that struggle, that have a hard time, that can't get out of their way, that fail to launch, that don't move forward. And there are so many reasons that I want you to tell your children everything, but let me define this for you.

Here's what I mean by this. As an entrepreneur, if you have kids, from the youngest age that you can, share with them what's going on in the business. When you're frustrated and they say, "What's wrong, daddy?" say, "I'm frustrated, because this person isn't doing what they're supposed to be doing in the business." When you fire someone and you're upset about it and you go through that whole trauma or having to let someone go and your child says, "Hey, what's wrong, mom?" say, "We had a hard time today. We had to let somebody go in the business. We had to fire them. They're no longer working with us and that upsets me." And let them know what's happening for so many different reasons. Let me help you understand why. So here's ... There's tons of reasons. I'm going to give you some of the biggest, most important ones.

One: There's a massive liability if you don't. Massive liability if your don't. Here's why. Your children, when you're upset, when you're frustrated, when you're irritated, when any of those things are happening to you, your child, regardless of how old they are, is going to believe that in some way, for some reason, part of what is frustrating you, part of what's holding you back, causing you constraint, is them. So when you share openly with them what's going on in your business, when you're transparent with them, it doesn't matter how old they are, when you tell them what's happening and how you're feeling, they know that it's not them. They don't hold themselves responsible for how you're acting. And otherwise, they will. And the last thing you want, especially as an entrepreneur is every time you're irritated in the business, every time you're frustrated, for your children to be judging themselves.

That can cause massive anxiety in kids when they're thinking, "What did I do wrong? How do I make it better? How do I get my parents' attention? How do they come back to me?" But when you say, "Hey, we had to fire someone," you might have to answer a few questions, but then at least your child knows what's going on. Here's another reason. Everybody in the world is not going to be kind to your children, because you're an entrepreneur. And I know that sounds terrible to say, but let's just bottom line it. Sooner or later someone's going to say something to your children, that if you're not open with them, if you're not honest with them, it's going to confuse the heck out of them. I'll share with you a story. A few years ago Cadey and I had a VP of Business Development that worked with us and he was with us, I think it was his second time around. He actually worked with us at one point. He left. He came back.

And it just wasn't working out. It had been about a year. We couldn't really pin him down on any strategic plan. We couldn't get him to tell us what he was going to do. We couldn't really understand where progress was going to come from. And so finally we sat down with him. We gave him an ultimatum. We gave him four weeks. He didn't come to the table. So we let him go. And it was traumatic. It's traumatic every time you let someone go from your business. And it was traumatic for our kids. We had to sit down with them. And we said, "Hey, we let this person go." They actually knew his kids. They knew his family. So we had to talk all the way through it. "This is why we let him go. These are the things he wasn't doing. This is how it felt. This is why it was so hard for me." And at the time, my kids were only five and eight years old.

But, here's why I was triggered to share this you this morning. I was driving downtown to get my hair cut and I passed the art studio where my kids used to go. And about a year ago, they were there and the wife of the person we terminated, her kids, his kids, or actually his kids were there and his wife picked them up. And my girls knew that it was the kids of the person we terminated. And they were hanging out, playing with the kids. In fact, they get along really well with the kids. And when this person's wife walked in, she walked up directly to my daughters and she said, "Hey, I'm so and so. Remember me? Your parents fired my husband." And both of my daughters looked at her and said, "Yeah, we remember you." And they knew he had been fired. There were no surprises for them. They just felt like it was completely awkward and inappropriate for her to say it.

And later on that day when we talked about it, I remember Reagan saying, "Hey, dad," and then she said the name of this person. She explained to me the whole scenario sitting at the table, having her walk up and saying, "Do you remember me? Your parents fired my husband." And Reagan said to me, "Isn't that inappropriate, dad? I'm glad we knew what was going on, because it was really weird." And I said, "How did you feel about that?" She said, "I felt like she was being inappropriate and she was probably upset because her husband got fired." And that's the response I want. I want my kids to know the realities of business. I don't ever want them to live in some dreamland, like everything's happy go lucky and it's always easy. I want them to know that there's conflict and issues and that when somebody steps out of line. This woman completely stepped out of line. There's no need to say that to a five and an eight year old, or even a six and a nine year old. I can't remember exactly how old they were.

But it doesn't make sense to ever say something like that to children. But I'm so glad I was prepared and my children were prepared, because they knew what was going on. We are completely transparent with them. I learned this lesson by watching one of the most devastating situations I've ever seen in my career. About 15 years ago, I worked with a distributor in Miami who had a partner. And the two of them grew a substantial business. So it was probably about a 20 or 30 million dollar distributorship. And the person that I knew was the majority partner in the firm. Owned about 80% of the distributorship. And what we found out, as I worked with them, is that the person that owned 20% of the distributorship had been embezzling money, had embezzled hundreds or thousands of dollars, had stolen from the company. And this was a long time ago in my career. I was more of an observer than an advisor, even though I was consultant, I hadn't been through embezzlement, seen it so many times like I have now.

But I watched it intently, because I wanted to see what was going to happen. And here's what happened. That entrepreneur got his partner out of the business, but he never told his family about it. And that hadn't just been his partner, it had been a life-long friend. They had known each other for most of their adult lives. And the partner was a very close friend with the owner's family and his adult son and his adult daughter. I think his son at the time was about 16 or 17 and his daughter was, I think 18 or 19. And when the partner was removed from the business, it was ugly. It was contentious. It was a lot of fighting and a lot of going back and forth. And even though he had embezzled money, he wanted to claim that he didn't. And the person who owned the business, that found the embezzlement, divided not to press charges, even though I advised him to press charges. That you should bring this out in the open. And then, he made a decision that to this day I still don't understand, he was worried about the embezzlers reputation.

So he didn't tell his family that he had stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars from the business. He didn't want to effect how his kids saw this person that had been like an uncle to them for most of their lives. And instead, he just wanted to get him out of the business and move on and not upset his family and not upset everyone else. Well about three years later, I remember going and sitting down with him in his office. And he was in a place where I could barely access him. He was so frustrated and so upset and there was something on his mind. And I could tell. I'd known him for a long time. And I said, "Hey, what's going on? Why are you so frustrated?" And he said, "You know how I got so and so out of the business three years ago?" And I said, "Yes." He said, "Well, I just talked to my son. He's now 19 or 20 years old and he's partnering with him on a distributorship."

And I remember thinking, "What do you mean he's partnering with him on a distributorship. Didn't he steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from you? How could your son possibly be partnering with him?" And then he explained that his son had actually been really close with this partner and he had never explained to his son about the embezzlement. So behind his back his son had decided to maintain a relationship with the business partner that embezzled because he didn't know he'd done anything wrong. And over the course of the two or three years, that partner had built a strong enough relationship with this guy's son that he decided to partner with him, which put him in a horrible position. Because now, he was in a situation where he had to explain to his son that that partner had stolen money from him. And now he was doing it after the fact instead of saying, "Hey, this is what's happening," he had to say, "This is what happened three years ago."

And in the conversation, his son was livid with him. His son saw it as a lie by omission. He couldn't believe that his father hadn't told him all of these things had happened. And he was indignant and continued forward on the partnership with the embezzler. I've seen things like this happen over and over again. As an entrepreneur, when you're not transparent with your children, what we have to understand is that if they don't have all the information, they're going to deal with and process and work with what they have. And when you don't tell them what somebody has done, what's going on, what's happening, they are subject to being left in the dark and being taken advantage of. And in the wrong situation, and not having the same information you have to make decisions. That was one of the most frustrating and heart wrenching situations I've ever seen as an entrepreneur.

Because when that guy's son came to him and said, "Hey, we're partnering together. I just don't want you be upset. I know you guys didn't get along." What his son didn't know was that this guy had stolen money, had acted completely dishonestly, had broken trust. And he was now partnering with him. And it was one of the most painful situations to watch my friend try and convince his son of what had happened. And then have his son actually turn on him, because he felt like his father should have told him when it had happened. And he felt like after the fact didn't matter. And it was horrible to watch. So when it comes to being an entrepreneur and having kids, I think I look at it different than most. See, in my belief system, your children deserve to know everything. Your children will be better off if they understand what's really going on. Your children will be armed and equipped to deal with the world if you share with them what's really happening.

I'm going to jump out of the car, run in, and get my hair cut. And if you have kids or you plan on having kids as an entrepreneur, I hope this podcast is important to you. And I hope it means something to you, because I think one place that we try to protect is with our children. And one place where we try not to overstep is with our children. And one place where we don't think as much information is needed is with our children. But I can tell you from my experience in both being a father and being a coach to entrepreneurs for decades that the reality is the more you tell your children, the more transparent you are, the more you tell them what's happening, the more they learn from your entrepreneurial experience, the more lessons they get vicariously from you, and the more you build your relationship with your children until it's as strong as it possibly can be.

So when it comes to being an entrepreneur, tell your kids everything. And if you're ready to start growing your business and create more momentum and get more done and do more as an entrepreneur, we're ready to help you. Go to right now, answer a few questions for my team, and we will get your full results of where you are on the Billionaire Code, where you should be focused today, and what you'll need to anticipate and do next to create as much momentum as possible. Go to and we will make sure you get all of the information you need. And if you're not yet, follow me in Instagram. Go to If you're on the platform, check out my stories. I share as much value as I possibly can about being an entrepreneur, a father, and staying in momentum every single day. Thanks for being here.

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