Momentum Podcast: 569

How to Create a System of Winning

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

If you’ve built a team and you’re starting to develop a leadership team, this podcast is one you need to hear. In this episode, I share with you the most productive way to run a business and things you should work towards if you want to create a culture of winning. 

My team and I have had what I’m about to share with you set in place for a while, but this past week we reiterated it…I’m not able to change things in the business, and there’s a good reason why. I can’t change my team’s priorities, projects, deadlines, or outcome in any way – unless it’s a real emergency. And for me to step in at an emergency level, things have to be pretty bad. If that happens, I regroup with my leadership team, and we will shift priorities. But otherwise, I’m hands-off, and that’s the way it should be for a CEO.  

Because in most businesses, the team is fighting with the entrepreneur for their time and focus. The problem is, in entrepreneurial companies, the focus usually shifts so often that no one can keep track of where the business is going or what they should be doing. This leads to the two biggest complaints I hear – there’s a lack of communication, and the team doesn’t know what’s going on. Tune in to hear why our business and the businesses we coach run differently than 99% of companies out there, and how yours can too. 

Full Audio Transcript

This is the Momentum Podcast. This week I affirmed something with my leadership team and then my entire team more than once, and that is that I'm not allowed to change a person's priorities, projects, deadlines, or outcomes in any way. If it surprises you that I wouldn't let my team know that, let me share with you why that is the most productive way to run a business and something you should work towards if you've built a team and are starting to build a leadership team.

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.

Now that I'm not spending as much time as I used to on social media, almost none, I'm going to use this podcast to share more about what's going on in my life and then share with you the lessons or the stuff that we coach around what I'm actually experiencing. I'm in this really unique situation right now where not only are we helping dozens of businesses go from six to seven and seven to eight figures, we just introduced a product that is six to seven figures, which is doing exceptionally well already. So not only are Katie and I building our business, but we're helping all these businesses build their businesses. And there's just these clear revelations and, I call it coaching inception moments where I find myself telling myself what we tell our clients all the time. And this week in our business was no exception.

I actually told everyone that I can't change a deadline or a project or an outcome or shift a priority in any way in our business. I think when most entrepreneurs hear that, they're shocked. They think to themselves immediately like, here's the reflexive reaction from most entrepreneurs who haven't grown multimillion dollar businesses or leadership teams. The reflexive reaction is, I would never do that. It's like immediate, I could never do that. There's just so many times where I have to shift priorities and there's so many times where I have to change things. That is the reflexive, lizard brain entrepreneur saying no, because it sounds frightening to give up that level of control. And it sounds frightening to make such a dramatic change because here's the reality in the majority of businesses, the team is in a tug of war on a daily basis with the entrepreneur for their focus.

I always say, guard your focus as though your life depends on it because it does. And I truly believe that. And here's the challenge in most entrepreneurial businesses, the focus is shifted sometimes day to day, sometimes several times a day. The biggest complaint in entrepreneurial businesses is that the team, there's a lack of communication and the team doesn't know what's going on. It's consistent. So what happens is, in most entrepreneurial businesses, things are being shifted constantly. Even if there's commitments to a project or plan, it's often changed on the fly, on the go over and over where it's a moving target. Let me show you a different way, or let me explain to you how we're running our business and how we coach businesses to run and why I'm so adamant that I don't want anyone changing things because I said something.

Here's why I told my whole team that. I told my whole team that because sometimes I'll have a conversation with somebody and before I'm really conscious I'm doing it, I will shift or change their priorities or they will perceive that I have and things will change and I was just having a conversation a lot of the time. And other times, there's times where I have a conversation and I shift priority and I have to catch myself and say, wait, wait, we can't do this. Let's go through the system. This isn't an emergency. This isn't something that has to happen right now because if there is a real emergency, like a real emergency, then I'll get with my team and I'll work with my leadership team and we will shift priorities. But it has to be such a high bar to qualify for emergency.

Let me explain to you why. See, our business and the businesses that we coach run completely different than 99% of businesses out there. Here's what I mean by that. 99% of businesses out there don't have a strategic plan. Now, everybody tells me I have to stop using the word strategic plan because nobody understands what it means. So here's what it is. A strategic plan, it's a monthly roadmap. It's exactly what you're going to do in any given month, exactly what projects you and your team will achieve. Sometimes strategic plans are written for a month, sometimes they're written for a quarter, sometimes they're written for a year. The way ours works is, we use a yearly framework that renews monthly, and we have a monthly strategic plan. And we call that the waterfall, the end. There's a reason we call it the waterfall.

Our clients understand it. Once they're in the cadence, they always go, Oh, now I get why it's the waterfall, but that's a different podcast. This one's about why I don't change things and here's why. By the time we have that monthly strategic plan in our system, here's what's happened. Our team has gone through evaluation of our entire company after a year and they've looked at what we did in the prior year and they've created outcomes based on what we've done in the prior year and based on what we should do moving forward. And we've asked the right questions at the right time and we thought in the right way about what our future should look like and we've committed to that future. Then in our quarterly targeted interactions, we've gotten together as a team and we've looked at that annual and we committed to the projects that we after analyzing the business in the same way every quarter so that it's consistent.

We're asking the same question. We're looking at the business in the same way. Every quarter, we analyze the business and we say, what should we do this quarter in the next 90 days? Then in the next 30 days, we look at the quarterly projects and we say, what are we going to do in those [inaudible 00:07:14] so we go into our monthly targeted interaction? Every month, we create that plan. It's called the waterfall. Our tire team commits to it. We share it with our entire team. We have an entire system called the cadence through which we communicate to the team.

Everyone on the team understands exactly what it is. They commit to it. It's like as an entrepreneur, every month I have the opportunity to create this plan with my team where we are literally pointing for the fences and then everybody gets out in front of us and goes and does it because they understand where we're going and they don't need to ask us over and over again. How do we get there? Where are we going? What's happening? We don't get God in minutes in our business because we have this strategic plan that everyone understands. So by the time we have that waterfall together, by the time we had that one month where everybody knows what's happening and we've distributed it and we've talked about it and we've committed to it and we're excited about it, there's no way I ever want to either consciously or subconsciously throw that off.

I want my entire team to know they need to push back on me because it really has to be an emergency. Because there's no way that our team is going to maintain the level of productivity we have and the level of output we have and hitting the percentage of milestones that they have. By the way, we take that monthly strategic plan and we break it down into weekly commitments. And right now when you look at our monthly strategic plans, they have over 100 30-day outcomes on them for our team to accomplish and some of them are really serious and pretty major and they're hitting like 80% or 90% of them every single month. We're knocking it out of the park. How many entrepreneurs out there can say, my team's knocking it out of the park, 80%, 90% of what we commit to every month?

Very few because they don't even know what they committed to. But imagine what your life would look like if you had a plan where your team was hitting 80% or 90% every month. You know what that feels like, that feels like you don't let your clients down. That feels like delivery is crazy consistent. That feels like the right clients are coming into the right programs and they're succeeding. That feels like the right people are showing up in your business. It's extraordinary and there's no way that I would ever challenge that system. And when you look at what we do with that waterfall, we get together on our weekly commitments and our every week we in a very specific, like I said, very structured way, we create our weekly commitments where every person on our team knows what they do in their normal job and then what their project commitments are for the week.

When you look at those, our team's hitting like 98% or 97% of them. How many entrepreneurs on the planet can say, my team crushes 98% or 97% of what we commit to in a week? We have for weeks now. We're in the high nineties. In order for a project to rise to the importance of emergency for me to change things, has to be over the top because here's what happens. You throw one sideways project into that system and you go from your team hitting 80% or 90% on that monthly to 60% or 70%. I know I've done it. I've done it in my own business even though I coach this stuff because it's so habitual for entrepreneurs. That's why I have to make rules where my team has to push back on me. You throw a wrench into the works, like one sideways project in a week where normally you're hitting 98, 97 you're going to drop 20, 30, 40 percent depending on how many people get distracted.

There's no way I would ever do that, and here's why this is such a major shift for entrepreneurs. Very few of us have ever sat down and committed to a plan for our business and then actually gone through that plan and without changing it and seeing what happens. Then improved it and done it again and then improved the process and done it again because very few of us have ever been told that's how you really grow a business. Here's why this process is so crucially important. It makes me as a CEO build trust with my team. It allows me to build trust with my team. I've had some really challenging leadership periods as a CEO when Katie and I built the Certified Distressed Property Expert, we got a business up to 13 million in revenue, but it was dependent on the foreclosure crisis.

As we helped to improve the market, our business improved and we had to start laying people off. We had to have reduction in force. We went from a hundred people all the way down to at what we started the business a couple of years ago. So we laid everybody off. That is an incredibly challenging thing to go through as a CEO. There's reviews written out there about me that, some of them are just over the top, but there's others that I read and I think, there was a time period there was such a high level of stress. A lot of the stuff that's written is probably valid. I can actually, at this point, at 46 and going on 47 next month, I can admit I've made massive and major and over the top mistakes and I changed priorities way too often and I didn't let people finish projects and people threw work away and all kinds of stuff.

Now here's what I know, not just in running our business but in coaching other people's businesses, is that when you create a plan with your team and you commit to it and you and your team start going out and hitting 60% on a monthly basis, then 70% then 80% then 90%, here's what happens. You systematically build trust with every member of your team as a CEO. They don't see you as somebody who dreams and tells them to go chase it down. Here's what they see you as. They start seeing you as a person who puts together the system, the structure, the process, who has the vision and allows for the process so that things actually become reality. When you and your team start hitting 60, 70, 80, 90 percent of what happens on a monthly basis or 90% of what you plan on a monthly basis, their confidence levels go through the roof. And here's what happens with confidence.

Confidence is not trivial for a team at all. Confidence is chemical. Confidence changes how people act in the moment. If you have a person on your team that you yell at in the morning, their confidence is knocked out of them and somebody calls and they're trying to sell that person, help that person, work with that person, relate to that person, that confidence, that lack of confidence, how it's knocked out of him, it's going to create drag. If you have a team where you make plans and you don't achieve the plans, that is going to knock the confidence out and that is going to create drag. What happens is, when you don't win, when you don't have outcomes where the team is winning and it's not consistent, you have to teach your team how to lose gracefully. And when you teach your team how to lose gracefully, you create a culture around losing. When there's a culture of losing, losing becomes chemical because everybody has this chemical lack of confidence.

Now, when you create confidence in people, it's amazing how things change. Your entire team looks different. We watch this not just in our team, but we watch it in the teams that we coach. We always tell people, leave open the possibility that even the people you feel challenged with your under team, once they're in our system start looking different. I can't tell you how often people will come to us and say, we weren't going to get rid of this person. Then we started planning it and we gave them clear outcomes and we made it really easy for them to understand how we were measuring their success and we installed the cadence and they trusted the cadence and now they're they're one of the best team members we have. We hear that all the time because when people have the confidence chemically knocked out of them, it's like they're fighting with one hand tied behind their back to do their job well.

When you create a culture of winning where everyone's involved in the winning and everyone can see the numbers and everyone understands the score and everyone understands what's happening, it changes everything for everyone on the team. And it changes everything for how people treat their jobs. Here's what's crazy, it starts changing the rest of their lives, not just how they work with you, because it creates momentum in the rest of their lives. In fact, in my next podcast, I'll explain to you exactly why you will see your team transform into completely new people when you allow for this. When you create this system of winning, when you install a cadence in your business, you will watch every person in your business transform into an entirely new human being. They will evolve or they'll redeploy themselves to go be incredible somewhere else. I will explain to you in the next podcast not just why it happens, but I'll show you through examples in your own life how you can consistently make it happen, not just for you but for your team.

If you're ready to start growing a business consistently where your team is hitting 80% or 90% of outcomes, where you are creating a plan and crushing it with your team, where you're growing consistently, where your clients are getting the right outcomes, where your product delivery is consistent and you're excited to get up and work every day, here's what it really is. Here's really the big shift that happens for us. When we have a plan that we are confident in, we will stand on the accelerator pedal and forget we have breaks. That's how it feels when you have this fully installed with your team. And here's what happens. They'll do the exact same thing.

If you're ready to put a plan like this together where you'd like to understand a little bit more about the coaching products that we have and how we help entrepreneurs grow and scale their businesses predictably, go to and answer a few questions from my team. Then set up a call and talk to a member of my team about what's going on in your business. And let us show you how we're helping entrepreneurs around the world who have created an opportunity consistently grow their business, build teams of true believers, and create not just the outcomes they want, but the impact they've always known they could. Go to, we look forward to hearing from you.

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