Momentum Podcast: 588

The Real Predictability Problem

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

There's an epidemic today that I see over and over again. When I attend events, when I speak to groups of entrepreneurs, when I do Q&As, there's this epidemic of entrepreneurs creating a business, growing it, making a contribution and then, and when the business stumbles or doesn't grow like they want, here's what entrepreneurs do: We all blame ourselves. We ask the question, What's wrong with me? What do I need to improve about myself? What do I need to change about myself? How do I need to change my mindset?

I want you to know I've been there. I've felt those feelings. And you are probably NOT the problem. On today's podcast, I will share how I transformed my business by focusing on some key elements that are usually THE REAL problem for entrepreneurs. These are some simple tactics that will help you grow personally, help you move forward with less pressure, and create predictability in your business. 


Full Audio Transcript

This is the Momentum Podcast. There's an epidemic today that I see over and over again. When I attend events, when I speak to groups of entrepreneurs, when I do Q&As, there's this epidemic of entrepreneurs creating a business, growing it, creating outcomes, making a contribution and then, when the business stumbles or doesn't grow like they want or isn't in the momentum that they want, here's what entrepreneurs do. We all blame ourselves. We ask the question, "What's wrong with me? What do I need to improve about myself? What do I need to change about myself? How do I need to change my mindset?"

In almost every case where I can connect with an entrepreneur and talk them through the issue, we find that it really isn't them. They're missing some of the simple tactics that make business growth much less pressure on the entrepreneur and much more predictable for you and your team. Let me share them with you in just a moment. 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.

It happens to me over and over again. I'll be in an exchange, in a conversation with an entrepreneur, and they'll be talking about how they've grown their business, they're doing what they want, things are going in the right direction, but then they'll share a stumble or a fall or the fact that it's not growing as they want it to, and, immediately, what happens is the entrepreneur blames themself, and I can feel that they feel ashamed that things aren't going in the right direction, and here's the dialogue I often hear from entrepreneurs. "I need to improve my mindset. I need to improve myself. I'm going to another self-improvement seminar. I'm trying to figure out why I'm the problem, why I'm the issue. Why can't I grow this business past where it is today?"

I want you to know I've been there. I've felt those feelings. I was fundamentally and totally stuck growing a business in my 20's when I first started out. I couldn't figure out how to get the people around me to do what I wanted. I couldn't figure out how to get more predictability. It felt like every single day was a panic. In fact, the business that I grew in my 20's was so difficult to run that, when I sold it, it was a fire sale. I just wanted to get out of it. I didn't want to be in it anymore. It was that challenging and, at the beginning, I was completely overwhelmed.

In my early 20's, I had a huge opportunity to start a consultancy. I got some major accounts. The first one was Fuji, then SanDisk Memory, then Fuji Digital Cameras. I had a incredible opportunity, but it was totally and completely overwhelming, and I started building a team, and we executed on some things we did and on others. We started trying to move forward with our clients, and here's what was happening constantly. People were dropping balls. I had to jump in and save things. I was constantly interrupted. I felt like, on a day-to-day basis, I was commanding-controlling the entire business. If something was going to happen, I actually had to make... to initiate that thing happening most of the time. I had an entire business that felt like I had to make everything happen on time and, if I didn't show up, it didn't happen, and it didn't just feel like that. It actually was like that, and here's why.

In my early 20's, I did what a lot of entrepreneurs do. I started a business, and then I blamed myself and I thought I was the problem. I did personal development seminars. I read books. I listened to audio tapes. I did everything I could to improve who I was, and it wasn't until I finally stumbled across the genius of Peter Drucker that the light came on for me in running businesses. Here was this incredible knowledge from a human being, who had been inside major corporations and had cataloged how they run and cataloged what creates success, and here's what I found. It wasn't me. It was me, because I was running the business, but I could have improved myself as much as I possibly could, I could have become the most self-improved person on the planet, but here's what I found. It didn't matter because I didn't have the right elements in my business and I didn't have a clear plan.

What Peter Drucker revealed to me is that planning and data and understanding where you're going and creating predictability changes everything in a business and on a team. It not only changes everything in a business and on a team, it changes how the people on the team see you as their leader, and I started this in my business in my 20's and the shift was amazing. For a long time that business had a lot of challenges. We didn't really break out. We didn't really explode into growth, but after about four or five years, when I was about 26, we started creating forward-looking plans in the business and we started actually predicting what we were going to be doing, and we had done it earlier than that, but we created a system where it wasn't just one time. We created a system where we were creating a plan over and over again, and it's very similar to the system that we teach today, analyze, prioritize, commit, execute and renew. It sounds so simple, but it is so profound for what it does for your business, and here's what I found. I've found that, we had a plan in place, when I showed my team where we were going, when I told them this is our destination, everyone on the team got better.

I want you to know something. If you don't have a plan in place, you don't even know what your team is capable of. If there's not a clear, written plan, and that's something I want to make really clear, this is important because, one, if you have a clear plan, you can start creating predictable results. If there is no plan, if you haven't stated the destination, if you haven't told people where you're going, then everything you do is something that's new and novel. There is no predictability. When you say, "This is what we're going to do," then your team executes it. You increase trust with your team, and you will do more with your team. When you have a clear plan, when there's a plan in the business, when everyone knows the outcome in the business, your team can get out in front of you. They're no longer looking to you to get that transactional management.

Here's what I was doing in the business in my 20's. I was telling people what to do, checking that it got done, then telling them what to do again, and I got pretty good at it, because we built some processes, so I was able to tell them what to do, check that it got done less frequently and then tell them what to do again, but it wasn't until I actually created a plan, until I had a forward-looking roadmap of what we were going to do that my team could get out in front of me and start solving issues before I even knew they were issues, and that happened in my 20's in the most immature business that I ever ran.

In fact, here's what was interesting. That business was very hard for the first five or six years I ran it. I had tremendous conflicts with the people on my team. It was near constant. I felt like I was at war. I felt like I was in a battle. I felt like I was getting up every day and putting on a pair of boxing gloves and blocking as much as I could and then getting a strike in where I could. That's what my business felt like. It was horrible. I don't wish that on any business owner, but here's what happened. When I started creating a plan and sharing it with my team, when they were able to give some input and actually tell me what they thought we should be doing, when I opened up the understanding for the entire team of what was going on in the company and what was happening, I started building trust with my team at a pace that surprised me back then, but, today, I expect.

See, here's what I know today. Back then, as I started to build trust with my team, here's what I realized. When I said, "Hey, guys, here's what we're going to do this month after we had successfully executed a plan a few months at a time," they all said, "Yes, this is what we're going to do," and they agreed on it and, if they had to, they stayed late and they made it work and they made things happen, and, once we started to build a plan, we had a clear idea of what every person on the team was going to do, so all of them day to day actually got more intelligent. They executed at a higher level.

Things got better for us, and I started seeing capabilities and abilities in my team way back then that I didn't know they had. Honestly, there were some people on my team when I was younger I had written off. I'm like, "This person is just never going to really show up like I want them to," but this is what's crazy, and I was working in countries where sometimes it was very difficult to terminate someone, so, in some cases, we had to keep working with someone, and here's what was so interesting. Even the people who really didn't perform well originally, when we created a plan, they performed better, and some of them became real performers like producers, people I was proud to have on my team and excited to have on my team. They were team players. They needed to have a destination. They needed to know what the team was fighting for and, once they did, they pulled together and absolutely crushed it, and so here's what you should understand about a plan.

First, you need a clear process. If you're going to create a plan with your team, create it with your team so that you get their input and you get consensus. We teach a five-step process, and we teach this five-step process to plan your personal life, to plan your relationship outcomes, to plan your business outcomes. I'm even using this five-step process for homeschooling with my 13-year-old daughter, Reagan, and my 10-year-old daughter, Kennedy, and the process that we as an organization teach is, step one, is you analyze where you are.

A lot of plans start with, "Where do we want to go? Let's analyze where you are, analyze what's what's happened in your business, what's happening right now in your life, what's going on, where is the pressure and noise coming from, where do you feel like the opportunities come from. Once we have an analysis, then we can go to the next step, prioritize. When we analyze and look at everything we could do, then we prioritize and look at what we can do, what is predictable, what do we believe we can actually achieve, so we analyze, we prioritize, and then the third step is we commit.

Here's what happens when you commit to a plan, and this is what happens when you commit to a plan. Personally, right now, I have a personal waterfall I'm pursuing with the outcomes that I want for myself. This is what happens when you commit to a plan for homeschooling like we have with the kids and even when you commit to a plan for the business. You commit to the plan and you stop asking, "Where are we going?" You stop asking, "What are we going to do next?" because it's in the plan, and you create an execution period, which is the next step. You commit to the plan. You leave it alone. You go pursue it like crazy. You stop changing it and you execute in an execution period, and when you allow your team this space for an execution period where you stop changing the rules on them, where you stop trying to make things different, where you allow things to be predictable, your team will crush it, and then, once you're in an execution period, the fifth step is to have to renew, to renew your plan in a systematic way with input from your team so that you get consensus, cohesion, and everyone moves forward.

If you do those five steps, it's game-changing, because one plan isn't enough. The process again is to analyze where you are, prioritize what you should do, commit to a plan, execute that plan, and then go through a renewal system. You start right back over and analyze, and the results you will have are... they're like... They're overwhelming. They will change your life. This is what this has done for me, and, now, I want to draw contrast to when I was in my 20's and today being 47 and running the very fast growing business that we're running today. We started it a little over two years ago. We're at a $2-million recurring run rate and growing on a daily basis, and here's the difference running a business when I was younger and running a business today.

Today, we have ultimate clarity on our team. I know on a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly basis what our team is going to execute. I have a high level of confidence it's going to move us forward like we want it to. I know we're going to have some predictable results, and then I also know that, if we consistently move forward creating outcomes, making things happen, we're going to have some unpredictable results where there's some explosive growth, but we can predict the success we're going to have right now, and, as an entrepreneur, let me tell you what it's done for me.

One of the most dramatic changes I can share is I don't have a punishing to-do list anymore. The to-do list that you have as an entrepreneur, that's really a to-die list that lists that there's so much stuff to do, that some of it will be there until you die because you carried it over for that long. Let's just get real. That's how it is for a lot of us. That's how it was for me for probably the first 20 years of my business career.

A lot of what I'm sharing with you, this is recent discoveries that have fundamentally changed everything and have really changed my relationship not just with my business, but my relationship with coaching other entrepreneurs, because here's what happens when you go through this process, and when you create the clarity and when you understand that your team is executing and they have clear outcomes and it's predictable, you don't, I don't feel like I need to punish myself on a daily basis with the to-do list that never gets done. In fact, I set my days up for success. I get input from my team of what they want and need. I make sure that I execute those things, and my days actually feel much more focused, much more productive, much more congruent and much more connected and, on top of that, there's this incredible feeling of amplification of efforts.

I think every entrepreneur on the planet wants amplification of efforts. Here's what I mean by that. We want to feel like what we are doing is amplifying far beyond what our effort actually is. We want that multiplicative, exponential results out there. We want to make a huge outcome, and here's what I can tell you. When you analyze, prioritize, commit, execute, and renew with a team, when they get used to that process, when you do it every 30 days, when it becomes predictable for them, you will feel amplified.

The analogy I like to use is... I love Iron Man. I love the entire series. I think it's funny. I also think it's like this fantasy for every entrepreneur to be able to put on a suit and have every capability we have amplified. Iron Man can hear better. He can see better. He can fly. He can run. He can fight. Everything he potentially does as a human being is amplified. You know what, for us as entrepreneurs, it's the exact same thing. When we congruently and predictably build a team, everything we are capable of is amplified, and, for me, especially in the last five to 10 years, every day, working with a team that knows where they're going, that has a clear plan, that understands their roles, knows how we're keeping score feels ridiculously amplified.

Some days, I'm shocked at how much we're able to get done today with the team that I have that's, probably, a fifth of the size of the team I had in my 20's, and the team today executes and creates far more output than I did with a team five times as big. That is a feeling of being amplified. When you have a clear plan and your team understands where they're going and they know how to keep score, business grows predictably, and you as an entrepreneur will feel the capability and the amplification you've always wanted.

If you're ready to build a plan in your business, communicate it to your team the way they understand and move forward with the momentum that you've always felt like you should have, reach out to us. Go to Answer a few questions from my team. Set up a call with a member of my team. Get on one of our Momentum Sessions, and here's my commitment to you. Our Momentum Sessions will leave you feeling better than when you started. There will never be any high pressure sales and, in that one hour that we spend with you, we will help you understand where your business is, what you need next and how you can move forward the absolute fastest, and if you're a good candidate to work with us, we'll explain to you how we can help you as well. Predictable business Check it out.

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