Momentum Podcast: 492

Someone Has to Have Been There

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

One of the fastest ways to create momentum in your business is to find people who have been where you want to go and give them responsibility. 

When no one in your business has grown to the level you are going, everyone is consistently guessing.  You'll feel overwhelmed around hiring.  Imposter syndrome will kick in.  And, when your business grows, you'll feel overrun because you absolutely can't do it yourself.  

Experience matters.  If you want to go fast, reach out to people who have been where you want to go, and massive momentum will occur.   

Having experience on your team allows you to be a mentor and to be mentored by your team members.  Otherwise, you'll be the one making all of the decisions in the business and you will not grow as fast as you want.  

If you want to go fast, someone has to have been there. 

Full Audio Transcript

Because we have coaching programs where there are a ton of people and a ton of different businesses, we get to recognize patterns. We start seeing the same things recurring over and over again, and challenging or helping entrepreneurial businesses. Today I want to share a almost universal challenge we're seeing in the businesses that we're coaching to grow.

Entrepreneurs have a habit of hiring only people who have less experience than them, and less understanding of where they're going. This is one of the most challenging ways to grow a business, because if you want to go fast, I would tell you, someone has to have been there.

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 re-write 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.

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.

Last week we had one of our Billionaire Code Summits. You know, I'm just blown away at all of the information we learn, and understand, and the new insights we gain, and I think this is one of the most important in the entrepreneurial world. I've watched this for over 20 years. In fact, I've watched it, but early on, I wasn't conscious of what was really going on because this was a massive issue in the businesses that I ran. Here's what we watch, or here's what I did, and here's what I've seen tons of entrepreneurs do.

When I was younger, especially when I was in my 20s, and I was terrified of hiring anybody who knew more than me. I was terrified of hiring anyone who had more authority, more understanding, more experience, more knowledge of what we were doing, in part because I was afraid of being shown up. I didn't want somebody to know more than me. I didn't want somebody to understand more than me. As a young entrepreneur, I had a massive intimidation factor towards hiring truly talented, truly gifted, truly experienced people on my team.

As a result, in my early 20s, I didn't struggle, I barely made it. That's just the truth. I had such a hard time, because I kept trying to do things with people who didn't really understand what was going on. Here's what happened to me. I got into a place where I was completely and totally overwhelmed.

Here's what it felt like. So first, I had insecurity, huge insecurity, over just hiring people. I didn't want to hire, I was intimidated by it, I was afraid of it. It felt like too much responsibility. Then I felt like an imposter. How could I at 21, 22, 23, employ people, hire them, pay them, guide them, mentor them? It just felt like I wasn't supposed to be doing it.

And then I felt huge, incredible overwhelm, because the business that I owned blew up, and it was so overwhelming. It very quickly became absolutely 100% crystal clear I wasn't going to be able to do it all myself. It was out of that overwhelm that I started hiring people that I needed to. The pressure was still there, but it was temporarily went away, or it temporarily went away, because I was so intimidated, so overwhelmed, I had to get help.

That overwhelm pushed me past hiring the wrong people, and so I started to reach out to people who had experience, who knew what they were doing, and here's what happened: massive, ridiculous, incredible momentum. I went from overwhelm to being in such massive momentum, it was difficult to comprehend how much better things were when I had the right people on the team, and here's what I found. Rather than intimidating, they were helpful. Rather than making me feel small and vulnerable, they actually built me up, and taught me, and showed me what was going on. Rather than me having to mentor everyone, I was able to be a mentor and be mentored myself by my team members. That's how it continues today.

See, we watch this constant pattern, clear pattern in the companies that we coach. 20-something entrepreneurs tend to hire people that are 20-something or younger. 30-something entrepreneurs tend to hire some people who are 30-something or younger, and 40-something, same thing. Here's what that results in, is that you are hiring people to just do the time in the workplace, don't have a ton of experience if you're going to do it that way.

Now, I'm not saying that every person on a leadership team has to have the experience and been there, what I said was someone has to have been there, and hopefully it's more than just one someone. I want you to just listen to the words of Steve Jobs. He said, "At Apple, we hire the smartest people in the world, and then pay them to tell us what to do." How's that for a coin flip?

We go from hiring people that we can control, hiring people that don't intimidate us, hiring people that we are a step up for, to hiring people and paying them to tell us what to do. I think you should be like Steve Jobs, because here's what happens. This is why this is so important. We watch it all the time in the companies we coach. When there's a team where no one has been there, no one has grown to the level, no one has the experience, everyone on the team is guessing, and it is messy.

Because there's no perspective, there's no experience, there's no former comparison to make, everyone's not only guessing, but they don't really know if they're guessing the right way, or if they're doing the right things. They're just consistently guessing. Two, when you're growing a business, you ready for this? Experience matters.

I know everybody wants to think that we can just wake up one morning and figure this out, but experience matters. Having been there matters. Scar value matters. Having been through growing a business, having been through the pain, made the mistakes somewhere else, here's what you need to know. The first time someone does this, they're going to make a ton of mistakes. You have to ask yourself, "Do you want them to make them with you, or do you want to employ someone who already has made the mistakes, and is going to make a lot less with you?"

Now, on every executive team I've ever had, we have people who have all the experience in the world, and then we also have people that are growing into their positions. That's okay. Someone has to have been there, because the other reason why this is important is if you're coaching every team member from behind, as the person in charge, it is going to exhaust you, because here's what happens. You know how we show people how to grow businesses, it's clear outcome, clear accountability, and then a scoreboard, but if you're working with someone who doesn't have experience, here's what's going to happen as you're coaching them.

They are constantly putting the brakes on, because there's no experience, no perspective, no understanding of how to go forward, and then you have to help them take the brakes off. That's okay for a couple members of your team. In fact, if you have people who have the experience, a couple of inexperienced members might actually balance, or a couple of less experienced members might actually balance, but if you're coaching everyone from behind, that means every coaching interaction you have with somebody is first clearing out the ambiguity for them, and if you're doing this for every one of your team members in different departments, in different disciplines, that is going to exhaust you as an entrepreneur.

I would present that building a business is so difficult. Scaling a business is so tough, that if you're coaching everyone in that way, it's just not going to happen. So here's what you need to know. Find people who have been there, and give them responsibility. If you want people to be responsible, give them responsibility.

Deanna, who runs our coaching and content department, is an incredible example of exactly this. When I sat down with her first and said, "Deanna, I think you can take over our coaching and our content, and I'd like to talk to you about leading those two departments." In the conversation, here's what Deanna said. This was the best thing she could have said to me. I don't know if she knew that, but this was the best thing she could have said to me.

She said, "Alex, if I'm going to take over coaching and content, then I want to own these departments. It can't be just partial ownership, I want to own them, I want to guide them, I want to work with you to build them, and I want to make sure that our clients are successful with what we put out there."

That was exactly what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear someone demand responsibility, and demand to be able to be autonomous, and to grow a department on their own. That's exactly what you want if you're building a business, because here's another reason that this is so important. It's not just finding people who have been there and done that, and giving them responsibility, but if you don't do that, here's what happens. You make all the decisions in the business.

See, Deanna today is making the decisions in content and coaching. I help her with them, I support her on them, I agree with her or I give her my input, but she makes the decisions in coaching and content. I can stand here confidently and tell you I feel like coaching and content is so much better off now that Deanna's in charge of it than from when I was.

I'm running the rest of the business. I'm the face of the company. I'm teaching our courses, I'm on social media, I'm all over the place. I don't have the focus that Deanna does on coaching and content, so our clients are infinitely better off with her in charge than me, because I don't have the time to make all the decisions, and whether you like to hear it or not, decision-making fatigue is real. It's not a phrase, it's not a concept, it is a reality in entrepreneurship. If you're making all the decisions, it will catch up to you, and you will not grow as fast as you possibly can.

As you grow, you as the entrepreneur are your biggest bottleneck, and I would argue you're your biggest liability. As you grow your business, the more you are responsible for, the bigger a liability you are. As you grow your business, the more decisions you make, the bigger a liability you are. As you grow your business, the more your leadership team has to confirm or conclude their decision-making with you, the bigger a liability you are. The faster you can hand off decision-making, put the right people in place, and grow like crazy, the faster your business will grow.

Now, over the last 30 years of working with a team, I've gotten better at this, and I feel like today, I have my team poised, my leadership team, is one of the best leadership teams ... It's the best leadership team I've ever had. I'm not going to hedge. It is the best leadership team I've ever had. Here's why: when I look at the members of my team, they have all been far beyond where we are today.

Dustin, who's working with us in marketing, has actually run an agency successful, and handled dozens of different companies' marketing. Hayley, who is our operations manager and helps us with hiring, has been a general HR person for a business with over 200 people. We only have 13 today, so she's got massive capacity. Deanna, who runs coaching and content has advanced certificates in coaching, degrees in education, she's been the principal of a school with 50 teachers and 500 students. That's harder than anything I've ever done. Deanna actually is one of my advisors.

And Greg, who's our IT person, can't say enough about Greg. I mean, let's be honest. The guy worked in the U.S. military on nuclear submarines as the nuclear propulsion tech, which is one of the most difficult positions anywhere in any part of the military. He also worked at NASA, so he's a nuclear scientist who backs it up with his rocket scientist, and then has worked in the Fortune 500 in corporate America at an incredibly high level.

When I look at my entire team today, not only are they capable of what they're doing right now, we have massive runway forward where every member of the team has been there, and every member of the team is giving massive input and creating incredible clarity, confidence, and commitment. As you grow your business, here's what I want you to know. When you hire experience, and you hire people who have done their things, been there, things will go faster.

If you hire people who you can always know more than, if you hire people who don't have as much experience as you, if you hire people who haven't been around as long as you have, you will constantly be coaching, constantly be pushing, trying to motivate, and wondering why things aren't going fast enough. If you hire people with vision, and experience, and visionaries in their position ... all four people I described to you are actual visionaries in their position.

Hayley is an HR visionary. Dustin is a marketing visionary. Deanna is a coaching and content visionary, and Greg, holy cow, is the guy an IT visionary. In fact, he's already creating solutions for problems we have before I asked him to do it. This is what happens when you bring the right people onto your team, and you bring in experience.

It will change everything for you, so if you haven't yet, review your leadership team. Look at the people that you're growing with. Ask yourself, "How much are they advising you? How much are they helping you? How much are they creating momentum without you having to instigate?" If you're not in the place where you have people who have experience, start considering who you're going to bring onto the team, in what position, who's been there to help you all get there, because not everyone has to have been there, but someone certainly does.

It's night and day how your team will move forward when you have the right experience. Don't be intimidated by it, don't feel like it's a vulnerability. Go out and find people who are smarter than you, and pay them to tell you what to do. If you're ready to start growing faster and assembling the team that can help you take advantage of the opportunity you've created, go to, answer a few questions for my team, and set up a call.

Let us show you how to create a strategy everyone on your team understands, communicate it in a way that not one person has a question as to where you're going, and create massive momentum, and move your business forward. Set up a call today. You don't have to do this on your own. I guarantee you, it may be the best hour you've ever spent on your business.

Thank You For Listening!

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With gratitude,


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