Momentum Podcast: 305

Eat Your Own Dog Food

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

Eat your own dog food, what does that even mean? When this phrase was first shared with me I had no idea! In essence, it means we must do on the inside everything we say on the outside. We have to apply everything we sell to other people. In my company and in my personal life this is something I follow obsessively. I use my programs, my wife uses them, my kids are starting to use them and my whole team uses them at work and in their individual lives. That’s how we know it works and it’s going to have a dramatic effect on you. We want to make sure that we are always an example of our content. If you’re coaching something and you’re not applying it yourself, you’re a liability.

Full Audio Transcript

I remember the day Jim Cockrum walked into my office and said, "Alex, we have to obsessively eat our own dog food." I had no clue what he was talking about.

The concept of eating your own dog food was shared with me by Jim Cockrum when my company was going through a time where we were hiring a ton of people really fast and he came to me and wanted to make sure that everything we coached, everything we shared with people, what I said on the outside, was what the company was doing on the inside. The way he explained it to me was, "Eat your own dog food." I remember asking him, "Jim, why would it be dog food. Like why would we have to eat our own dog food?" He said, "I don't know, but that's what this means. It means that we need to do everything that we say on the outside on the inside. We have to be a congruent company. We have to use what we sell. We have to actually apply everything that we sell to other people." I remember thinking he's absolutely right. We have to be obsessive about this.

In my company, we are. We sell the Momentum Planner my entire team uses a Momentum Planner. Everyone on my team has been through our content. They use our planners. They use our planning systems. They use our forward looking strategic systems to plan their personal lives, to plan the business with us, to plan their productivity within the company. We apply everything that I share to our organization in an obsessive fashion because we want to make sure that we are always the example of our content. It's so challenging when you run into a business where they don't actually use their own product.

I read this really interesting article this week that the American Airlines CEO has recently flown on one of their new Dreamliner planes and for those of you who don't travel much, here's what that plane is like. It is completely new and it looks modern and it has much more overhead space, but the seats are ridiculous. Even first class feels really tight. I'm 6'2" so for me, normally flying first class, which is something that I've done for years, that's enough of an upgrade where I don't feel completely cramped, but on the new American Airlines plane, even first class feels small and coach is just painful. Somehow, the seats look padded but they've done something to them that not matter how you sit, it's almost like you're just getting kidney punched the whole time. When you get up, everything hurts. It's not just me complaining. The whole world's complaining about this product they're putting up, this new plane where they've made the conscious decision to just jam a whole bunch more seats but not with any major change in how you experience the product. So it's just made it tons worse. The complaints have come pouring in.

It's interesting. The article was about the fact that the CEO had finally flown in one of the planes and flown in coach. That surprised me. My first thought was, "You mean there wasn't a mock up that the executive team tried to say, 'Hey is this a good product we're putting out there?' There wasn't a first flight where the executives who run the company came down and actually got hands on the product to understand what was going on?" It just blows me away that the product's been out there. It went through research and development. It was created. It was built. It was put into use and the executive team of the company doesn't use the product. They didn't try it. They didn't do it in advance. They didn't have a statement, a way to defend the product.

When he flew in it, they got a quote from him. I don't remember everything about the quote, but he said something about how it was a similar experience to other airlines. I'm paraphrasing. Similar experience to other airlines. It had great overhead space and the crew was really nice. He used the word nice twice and he did comment on the seats or how uncomfortable it was or how it felt. That just shows you that company ... Well, first it's a terrible comparison because airlines are all so bad, it's like a race to the bottom with airlines. I mean it's not going to affect American Airlines that we found out that he didn't use his product. That's just how all airlines are. It's weird.

If you think about that, doesn't it make sense now when you get into a product and it's terrible that if the CEO never tried once. In the case of American Airlines, I think they're making the conscious decision to be as bad as they can get away with because that's what I mean by airlines. The airlines are really as bad as they can get away with. To their credit, American Airlines, I've flown them for years and they do have some of the nicest flight attendants and they're better than most airlines when it comes to the flight attendants. I used to be American Platinum Preferred. But the new plane is painful and it's just brutal. They're not eating their own dog food.

Here's something for you to think about. If you're a coach, a consultant, a thought leader, a speaker of any kind, are you sharing anything with anyone that you're not actually doing? Because if you are, then I challenge you why? I lost respect for a major speaker immediately one time. We actually spoke together up at an event for EO at MIT. He was the opening speaker and I spoke after him. He got up in front of the room and he said, "I'm going to show you how to build a one year strategic plan." I was instantly interested because I focus a lot on strategic planning. It's something that I've done as a consultant since I was 21. I used to be involved in all different levels of strategic planning. He said, "I'm going to show you a way to build a one year strategic plan." Then kind of almost out of the side of his mouth, he said, "Now, this isn't the way that I run my company. I run my company differently, but I'm going to show you how to run your company."

Immediately, I thought, "I don't really want to hear this," because if he doesn't use it, then it's not battle tested. He may be using it with other clients. He may see tons of people trying to use it. The only way you really know if something's working is if you're putting it in place and doing it yourself. I think there's far too many coaches and consultants that are out there that aren't actually doing what they say they should do, what they tell other people they should do.

I also am challenging by another coach that I know who focused on teaching people team building but doesn't have a team and doesn't really use his own products. Because how can you be all about team building but then not build a team? It's weird to me that someone who understands how to build teams doesn't because that's where your productivity comes from. If you're single entrepreneur and you know how to build a team, then you also know that when you don't have a team, you are the most exposed you can ever be. People sometimes say, "Well, maybe he just doesn't want a big business."

Well, wait a second. If you know how to build teams, then you build a safe business. You build a protected business. You put people in the right places so if something happens to you, you continue to make income, you continue to have revenue. You put a team around you so that you can do more, so that you can create more, so you can contribute more and be more. If you know how to build teams, then you know that it is the easier way to run a business, not the harder way.

Anyone who knows how to build teams and doesn't build a team is suspect to me. I don't think they're eating their own dog food. I think that's where people get in trouble with coaches because coaches, consultants, if they're not using their product, if they're not doing what they recommend other people to do, then I have news for you. They're dangerous. They're dangerous. They're experimenting with you with something that isn't proven enough that they put it in their life. In my business, there's a reason why I coach such a range of things. It's because I've put a range of things in my life that I know make entrepreneurs better. I've observed it. I've used it myself. I've shared it with beta testers. I've had them give me feedback. We've used the feedback to make it an even more improved product or model or effect. That's why we have a dramatic effect with our clients because the products that we share are real. Our entire team uses them. There's a congruency to them and there's a ... That every person who uses them feels because we're using them as a team on a daily basis.

My question to anyone who is putting a product out into the market, especially if you're involved in the brand is, if you don't use your product, why should I? I think every entrepreneur needs to follow Jim Cockrum's advice and eat their own dog food. If you have a product in the market, even if it's a product that you're selling, a retail product, you should be using your product. You should be the example of product use. You should be the person that's never seen without your product. You should be the person who's doing exactly what you talk about that other people should do. When you do all of those things, here's this thing that happens. You energetically align to your avatar and you start attracting those people to you. It's almost magnetic. I can tell you that's exactly how it's happened for me is we use all of our own stuff. I use it. My wife uses it. Our kids are now starting to use it so that we understand what it's like for kids to use our planning systems. Our teams uses it as a team. Our team uses it individually in their lives.

Again, that's how we know that it's going to have a dramatic effect on you. If you're a coach, a consultant, an expert, and you aren't using your stuff, I've got news for you. They know. Eventually they feel it. Eventually that's why they pull away. Eventually that's why you lose the people that you really wanted to keep. That's why you're having trouble getting the effect you want. Start coaching in a way, working in a way where you can coach exactly what you know because you use it yourself and you will see everything that you're doing shift. You will see people who you want to work with show up for you more than you thought they would. You will have the right people in the right place so that you can do exactly what you're meant to do to help them, to coach them, to move them forward. But if you're in a place where you're coaching something you're not applying, you're a liability and a challenge for anybody who's working with you.

If you feel like you're in one of these relationships with a coach and you'd like to have a conversation with us, we have products for entrepreneurs at every level. If you go to, you can fill out a quick survey and if you want to, book a call with a member of my team and we will give you the options we have available. If you're ready to grow, if you're ready to build the team around you or grow the team that you have, if your business is already up and running and you're doing well and you know there's an opportunity there, you know there's more there, you know you could be doing more, delivering more, achieving more, if you just had a team around you that was helping you along the way and you understood how to communicate with them effectively and you knew how to drive forward, then go to Don't wait. Let us help you. At least sign up for a Momentum Session, a quick call with a member of my team. They'll answer questions for you and you'll understand how we can help you move forward.

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