Momentum Podcast: 437

Rule Number One

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

What is the one thing entrepreneurs should do to achieve long term success and happiness? Rule number one, if you're married, put your marriage first. There's so much pressure and noise that builds up when you don't communicate what's going on for you with your partner. 

If you aren't honest with your spouse, it's really hard for them to gain perspective and relate to you and support you. You cannot compartmentalize your success and your marriage. In a lot of ways, your spouse is your superpower. They can see and understand things in you that you may not be able to see yourself. 

The sooner you're willing to admit and appreciate the power your marriage has, the faster you'll start achieving at the level you want. We are going to be releasing the Relationship Cadence very soon. If you want a preview of what it's going to be like you can check out the Communication Cadence in Momentum Masterclass.

Full Audio Transcript

I often speak at conferences and events, and I'm usually speaking on how to grow and scale your business, but one of the questions I get most often is, "What is the most important thing an entrepreneur should do to be successful?" or, "What is the one thing you would tell entrepreneurs to be successful?"

I always answer the same way, "Rule number one is put your marriage first, and rule number two is absolute transparency in your marriage, and proactive transparency in your marriage is how you do that. If you're married, that's it. That's where I start." I'll tell you why in a second.

Alex Charfen: I'm Alex Charfen, and this is the Momentum Podcast, made for empire builders, game changers, trail blazers, 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.

Alex Charfen: 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 their 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.

Alex Charfen: It's Valentine's Day. We're about to go to bed, and I just realized I did not have a podcast uploaded for today, so I'm recording one kind of late. I decided to do one around the theme of what is most important for an entrepreneur in order to achieve long-term success, and really long-term happiness and stability is for people like us, the lower the noise in our lives, the more stability we have in our lives, the better we will do at what we're trying to do.

Alex Charfen: In my career, I've met tons of entrepreneurs, but the happiest, and somehow the most successful, tend to always be in very happy relationships, and it took me a long time to see that, to absorb that, to understand that, that really the number one thing to do in marriage is put the marriage first if you're in a business together. There's been times where I've acted in a way where I didn't do that, and there's been times where I've treated Cadey in a way where I wasn't putting her first, where I actually in a lot of ways was putting the business first.

Alex Charfen: I wasn't communicating with her, I wasn't really telling her what was going on. There was a time where she wasn't really involved in the business and was really hard for me ... I felt like it was hard for me to tell her everything that was going on, but there was also a lot that I just ... I didn't take the time to communicate, and I didn't make things clear to her. I in a lot of ways used the excuse that there was so much going on that she didn't really know what was happening.

Alex Charfen: Here's what I can tell you; when you let your marriage get to the point where your spouse doesn't understand what's going on for you, it gets really difficult for you, but it takes you a while to notice. It took me a while to notice, because I didn't realize how much pressure and how much noise develops in a relationship when there's a separation of what's going on, when there's a separation of what's happening for each other, because when you're not communicating what's going on with you, then the other person doesn't really understand what's happening, they can't have perspective, they don't know what's happening for you, and that makes your relationship that much harder.

Alex Charfen: If you're honest with yourself, when I finally got honest with myself, I realized I could not compartmentalize my success and my marriage. I had to admit to myself that those were one and the same, and if I was going to try and compartmentalize one or the other, there was just no way it was going to work, because you play that forward, and I had to. I played it forward in my head, and realized that I was never going to be happy if Cadey was unhappy.

Alex Charfen: I had to make sure that she understood what was happening for me, or she didn't understand ... so she wouldn't understand how I felt, and what was going on, and when I was exhausted, or when something was happening. I wanted her to come back into our business, and I realized I was going to have to communicate a lot more. There was a time where I finally decided that I would. Alex Charfen: It took a long time of feeling the pain of not having full transparency in our marriage, and it wasn't like I was hiding anything, it just ... I wasn't taking the time to sit down and to communicate to Cadey what was going on in a way that she could understand, which in a lot of ways was why there was some of the stuff that was going on in the business that shouldn't have been going on.

Alex Charfen: Because here's what I know about my marriage, and here's what I bet is true in your marriage, it's that in a lot of ways, your spouse is your super power. They can see things in you, they can understand things in you, that you don't see or understand in yourself. A lot of us, that's what we go out, and that's what we look for, and that's what we find.

Alex Charfen: I realized that Cadey is that for me, and when I'm communicating with her, when she knows what's going on, she can give me input and support, and a level of understanding and empathy that I don't know that I would get if she didn't ... I know that you don't get when she doesn't understand what's going on. She just can't support and be empathetic and understanding at that level, and your spouse is the same.

Alex Charfen: So the first thing to understand is that sitting down and communicating with your spouse, letting them know what's going on, that will keep you honest to your business, and that will keep you honest to yourself. In my career, the times ... well, not my career, in my marriage, in the time that I've been married with Cadey, in the times where I made really dumb decisions in the business, were times when I wasn't really filling her in on what was going on. I wasn't getting her perspective. I wasn't getting her feedback. I was trying to do it all myself, and it was much harder, and as a result, things didn't work out all the time.

Alex Charfen: I can trace back now and admit now that that's a lot of the times, there was this lack of her understanding, lack of her feedback, lack of her full support, because if I'm honest, the most important person, support in the world to me is my wife, and her opinion of me is as important as anything else. My communicating with her is what is going on so that she understands, so that she can give me feedback so that she feels secure with what's happening. That protects our relationship.

Alex Charfen: I think that so many entrepreneurs try and pretend like there's something more important, like their spouse, or maybe even sometimes, especially when things are going on between us, we deny the importance of our spouse. If you admit it to yourself, you will make everything so much easier on you. I've coached, and worked with, and consulted with, and been around entrepreneurs for my entire adult career, and mostly fast growth, startup entrepreneurs, and a lot of ... the entire range, but a lot of really fast growth companies.

Alex Charfen: There's been a consistency in the companies where the entrepreneur's married in a stable relationship, and communicates with their spouse, and has that spousal support. The people I've talked to who feel that way do exponentially better than the people who feel like they're constantly defending, and their spouse doesn't want them at work, and they're frustrated with them, and they don't know why they're putting so much time into work, and they feel like they're cheating on them with the business.

Alex Charfen: I mean, I can tell you firsthand that the latter, the one whose spouse is putting pressure on them and making them feel challenged with the business, is the one who is having challenges growing the business. When I talk to people who have their spouse's support, whether they're working together or not, those are the people who experience massive exponential growth, and that's not a rule. There are definitely entrepreneurs that are talented enough to overcome challenging marriages and still run incredibly successful businesses. I've coached a lot of people in that situation.

Alex Charfen: When their businesses start aligning, when they get the help they need, when they start to move in a direction that they're working together and they're protecting the relationship, and they're practicing proactive transparency, it's amazing what happens in an entrepreneur's business who has already been successful and overcome the noise of the challenge in the relationship. It's some of the fastest growth curves I've ever seen.

Alex Charfen: I think these are patterns that you don't see early in your life, but now that I'm older and I've been through my own marriage, and I've watched so many entrepreneurs go through theirs, and I've heard the inside story from so many friends and so many clients, that it's incredibly clear. If you invest time in creating stability in your marriage, it is the keystone foundational relationship in your life where you derive a lot of your confidence, where you derive a lot of your support, a lot of your stability, a lot of the foundation of who you've decided to be. This is the person you chose.

Alex Charfen: If you're willing to invest time there, if you're willing to sit down with them and let them understand what's really going on in your business, if you're willing to fill them in on what's happening, if you're willing to ... And what our clients do, is they use our Waterfall, they use our Cadence System with their spouse, and they sit down in relationship cadence. Cadey and I are actually working on a product around the relationship cadence we've been testing for I think about three years now, a relationship cadence in different iterations, in different pieces of a relationship cadence that we're going to be rolling out, because we make sure that things works before we ever share them.

Alex Charfen: We've actually shared them with clients, and they're just getting incredible results, because if you're willing to invest the time into a process in your marriage through which you communicate what's going on, through which your spouse understands and can support you, it's like a super charger on anything you try and do anywhere, because here's the math here, here's the simple equation, is that the opposite of that is that you will be constantly getting pressure, and challenges, and it could be exposed to your spouse feeling like you're cheating on them in the business, and that will make everything more difficult, because you will be constantly and consistently trying to compartmentalize and shut out the feelings around that so you can be successful in the business, and then you'll have to go back into them in the marriage, and that is a pattern that takes so much energy, and takes so much and causes us so much pressure and noise that it is robbing you of your success.

Alex Charfen: If you're in a marriage where you're not communicating, that's something you can start, and it's as simple as sitting down for a daily alignment every morning. Cadey and I sit down and we share our Momentum Planners together. This is from our Momentum Masterclass. We each tell each other what our intention is for the day, where we were uncomfortable from the day before, what are our top three things we're going to get done that day, and then we share from the day before what we were grateful for and where did we win today?

Alex Charfen: Just the act of sharing that much information and sitting down and then aligning around what's happening that day and where each other needs support has completely made our marriage so much easier. It's so much easier to communicate when you have a time to check in, and you know what's happening for the other person, and you know that the format you're going to get it in, so it's easy to understand, and it's clear, and it's a fast alignment. It doesn't take us more than 15 minutes, but it has made it so that we really understand what's happening for each other, and we can support each other, and it's that level of process that will change everything in your marriage.

Alex Charfen: The sooner you're willing to admit the importance your marriage has, the faster you will start achieving at the level of success and momentum you have always wanted, because if you can calm the noise there, it will make everything in your business and everything in your life feel easier. If you want a preview of the relationship cadence, we have the personal cadence that is very similar in

Alex Charfen: What a lot of the clients who have taken that course have done is just used the Momentum Planner to align every morning, and the Momentum Planning System to align each other's Waterfall, or each other's personal strategic plans that are built around forward-looking statements of what you want in your life that are created through a framework created specifically for the entrepreneurial personality type.

Alex Charfen: This has been life-changing and game-changing for entrepreneurs who want to get clear on where they're going, communicate with clarity to their spouse, and then build the business in a predictable way so that they feel comfortable continuing to communicate with their spouse. If you want to see some of the personal planning products that Cadey and I use, and also some of the keystone habits that we share with our clients that help lower pressure and noise everywhere in your life, and will make your marriage and your relationship easier, go to and check it out.

Alex Charfen: Happy Valentine's Day everyone. Thanks for listening. I appreciate you, and you probably know an entrepreneur who needs to hear this one. Relationships are difficult, and there's a lot of entrepreneurs struggling, and sometimes this message is a completely different view on what's really going on for them, so please share. I appreciate it if you would.

Thank You For Listening!

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With gratitude,


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