Momentum Podcast: 663

Chaos Will Destroy Growth in Your Business

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

These days, if you watch most thought leaders in the entrepreneurial space, you will probably think that in order to grow a business and do well, you have to live in a world of chaos. Getting things done at the last minute, pulling all nighter's, making everyone around you work until the very last minute, seems to be the way to create success. Don't get sold on this lie.

The reality is the most successful businesses in the world, eliminate chaos, lower pressure and noise, and create a safe environment for all of their team members. Companies that are working in this level of chaos are successful in spite of it not because of it.

Full Audio Transcript

This is the Momentum Podcast

There's a misconception in the entrepreneurial space and in the market today. If you look at most thought leaders in the entrepreneurial space, you'll probably think that in order to grow your business and do well, you have to live in a world of chaos, getting things done at the last minute, pulling all nighters, making everyone around you work until the very last minute, it seems to be that that's the way to create success. But the reality is, that chaos will destroy growth in your business. In this episode of the Momentum Podcast, Alex is going to share that the reality is that most successful businesses in the world eliminate chaos. They lower pressure and noise, and they create a safe environment for all of their team members. I hope you enjoy.

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.

Hello. I hope you're doing awesome today. I wanted to check in on a concept called creating momentum without chaos, not concept, on a reality of what you can do in business. You can actually create massive momentum without creating chaos. Now, here's why I bring this up. If you look at a lot of thought leaders in the entrepreneurial space today, if you follow them and watch what they're doing and see how they behave, and watch their actual behavior and follow how they say they're doing things, you would think that the only way to create momentum in the entrepreneurial space is to put yourself into massive, overwhelming chaos. That just simply isn't the case.

Now, our company recently experienced this. In fact, last week, we did a pretty big launch for us. We've never really launched, in the last two and a half years, we've sold millions of dollars in product, but we never really tried to launch to get attention, to put stuff out there. And last week we had one. And if I back up to weeks before that launch, I have to make the admission that as a company, we missed in some places. We were working with a contracting team, and we didn't the clarity we normally get around a launch.

And here's what happened as a result. In the last few weeks, my team has had way too much to do. There's been a ton of last minute stuff done. We've had people coming in early, staying late. We've been stretching people thin. And as a result, we created a tremendous amount of chaos and pressure and noise around this launch for our team. I never want to create pressure and noise for my team. The way that I look at the world, as entrepreneurs, when we lower pressure and noise, everything in our lives gets easier. And so as a business, inherently, just by having people work, just by having people accomplish, we're going to ask them to increase the pressure and noise in their lives. They're going to do some work. They're going to have to accomplish things. They're going to have to hit deadlines. And in order to help them with that, I want to make life as easy as I possibly can on them. And we missed doing that in this launch.

In fact, when I look at it, it feels like a lot of the frenetic behavior that you see online and that you see on social media of entrepreneurs staying up all night and doing everything at the last minute, overwhelming their teams. And it feels like, hey, we're doing all this stuff and the energy looks great, and then they share the result and it's big.

But here's what I want you to know about huge results that are born from chaos. They are results that are created in spite of the chaos, not because there was chaos. And I think that's what a lot of confusion in the entrepreneurial world is today. And I see this all the time, and I want you to know, this comes from a place of experience. This last launch for us was a small launch. It didn't do tens of millions of dollars or anything like that, but it was something that we wanted to try and see how we did. We set a deadline, and we missed in our own process, partially because we were working with a contracting company that missed in their process and did not deliver, or not a contracting company, partially because we were working with a company that was helping us with the launch, and they missed in their process, they did not deliver everything they said they were going to.

Our team had to end up delivering it, or doing it. And so it was painful and frustrating, and it caused anxiety and a lot of irritation, and it lowered ... Sorry. It raised the noise for everybody on my team, and that makes interaction difficult, that makes helping each other difficult. And it's just not necessary. In fact, I've been involved in some pretty serious launches. Let me tell you about one way back when, when I was in my twenties. I worked with a guy named Thomas [Chen 00:05:23] and my good friend Scott Burgess, out in Northern California. And Thomas Chen ran a company called CyberHome. It was a consumer electronics company. And CyberHome came out with some incredible DVD products. We had, over the course of time we did a DVD player. We did a home DVD player, or a console DVD player. We did a portable one. We did a DVD recorder, all kinds of stuff.

And at one point, we did a launch with CyberHome where we concurrently launched at Walmart, Radio Shack, and Home Shopping Network. And collectively, that did about a hundred million dollars in business. So our launch was bigger than most of the, not most, our launch was bigger than almost all of the companies in the online marketing space, and a launch like that took massive coordination. We had to make sure that we were coordinated between the major accounts that we were going after. We had to make sure that all the advertising was coordinated, that our pitch was coordinated, that what I said on TV matched what was being said everywhere else, that we aligned everything, that we got the delivery done, that the factories were producing the product that they needed to, and for a launch like that, you do not leave everything till the last minute.

We walked into that launch. When we finally had the day where I was on Home Shopping and where the stuff was at Radio Shack and getting shipped to Walmart, I remember Scott Burgess calling me in the morning and saying, "Gosh, this is the most amazing thing to see. There is a line of Walmart logistics trucks lined up at our warehouse, and they're just taking truck after truck, after truck of DVD players all over the country. This is amazing." And nobody stayed up all night. Nobody had to come in early and stay late. I mean, there might've been some stuff where people had to take care of it, but we did not create massive chaos in the launch. It was a hundred million dollar deal collectively. And so we wanted to make sure that it actually worked. I did in 24 hours at Home Shopping Network over $20 million, just in that 24 hour period. And so this was a massive, incredible accomplishment, but there was very little chaos. In fact, this is kind of embarrassing to say, but that hundred million dollar launch that I was involved in over 20 years ago had less of a chaotic feeling than the little launch that we did last week.

And here's where we missed in our process. Let me share with you exactly where we finished in our process. Sorry, where we missed in our process. If you're doing a launch, if you're going out there, plan the launch clearly, and get clear on everything that you're going to need. Here's some tips on how to do this. So number one, get clear on what you actually need. And we have three categories. We always say this. Get clear on the outcome, all of the outcomes that will make your launch successful. I'll go into detail in just a second. Get clear on transparency. What are you going to measure to create success? What are your scoreboards going to be? And then third, accountability. Who is going to be responsible for what?

Now, here's what I mean by that. So outcome, what are all the outcomes that make your launch successful? What are the details? How much do you want to make? What is everything that is going to make it so that this launch is what you want it to be? The way we ask about projects is we say, if we could flash forward to the end of this project, and we had everything we wanted and everything we wanted to have happen for it to be successful, what would all of those things be? And we define them. We define them in what we call an OTA, the outcome, transparency, and accountability. So first we get all of the outcomes that we want to create success. And we're very, very clear on them.

Second, we create transparency. And here's what that means. What are we going to measure? We measured two different things in a launch or in a project of any kind with a deadline. We measure metrics. And that's the numbers that you're measuring. Like, how many do we want to sell? How many leads do we want to get? How many are we going to convert? What are the measurements? We want to see how we're doing. And then we also measure milestones, and milestones are basically laying out the steps of the launch and checking them off as you go through them, so that upfront, before you've done anything, you understand the plan you have and you understand the measurements you're going to use to see if you're successful.

And then the third part is accountability. That is clearly spelling out all of the steps, all of the requirements for the launch, basically all the outcomes that you put in the outcome, and then who's going to do each one of those, or who's responsible for each one of those, so that you know there's an owner of every single part of that project or launch that has a deadline.

Now, once you create your outcome, transparency, and accountability, and you're clear on your launch, you lay it out on a calendar, figure out when you're going to do everything. And then here's the key. I wrote this down. Eliminate scope creep. And here's what scope creep is. We had a little bit of this in our launch. It's where we've committed to what we're going to do, and then we add another element, or we add something new, or we put something else on there. Now, in an average project, there might be one or two things you need to add. But here's what I see in the entrepreneurial space all the time. Someone will start with a plan of what they're going to execute, and then as they execute the plan and move towards the deadline, they get Shiny Penny Syndrome and Squirrel Syndrome, and start adding every single thing they can to their project or their launch or what they're doing. And they do it indiscriminately.

They add so much that here's what happens. You've created an outcome. Then you move towards your launch. You start adding along the way. You never create perspective as to what your team is truly capable of and what you can actually do. In fact, if you lay things out clearly and you see what you need to do, and you start adding scope creep, you start adding deliverables, you start making it more difficult, what inherently happens is you challenge your ability to do what you initially set out to do. So you might actually create a failure by trying to put too much into your launch, too much into your project, to add too much. It creates chaos.

When you create a project plan and you agree with everything, that's what you're going to do, and then you continue adding to it, it creates massive chaos and it will slow things down like crazy. And so the reason I wanted to do this recording and the reason I wanted to share this is, I think that in the entrepreneurial world, part of the feeling is if you're going to do something significant, then it has to be chaotic and exhausting and wear you down, and you have to stay up all night. And if you didn't do those things, you weren't working hard enough. I totally disagree. And I know that I'm going to have people on the other side of this argument come back and say, "You don't know what you're talking about. That's how things are. That's how you have to do it."

But I've been successfully running and coaching businesses for over 20 years. I've made tens of millions of dollars for my family. And I've helped others make hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, in their businesses. And here's what I can tell you. The most successful businesses out there do things in a state of preparedness, in a state of understanding what's going to happen, in clear project plans, and they create an emotionally safe environment for their team members. I can't express how important that is. And if you just rolled your eyes when I said they create an emotionally safe environment for their team members, here's what I want you to know about that eye roll. I did it, too.

When I was younger, running a business, and somebody said, "Alex," and I remember consultants telling me, "Alex, one of the reasons your business is so challenged, one of the reasons you are so challenged," like the business I grew in my twenties was exhausting. And I used to have friends tell me all the time, "The reason that it's so exhausting is that you don't have an emotionally safe place for your team." And I would internally roll my eyes every time and do everything I could to create a poker [inaudible 00:12:54], because I'm like, emotionally safe space, this is a business. We need to get some things done. I don't need to create an emotionally safe space.

I was so fundamentally, totally, completely wrong. By running a business where people felt unsafe, where there was chaos, where we allowed scope creep, where we didn't really have clear project plans, when we did fire, ready, aim, I mean, it was horrible. And I didn't know any different, so I thought that was the way you had to do it. And then as I grew as a business owner, and as we did more launches, and as I saw other companies succeeding, here's what happened. I realized that the companies around me that I was helping, that were larger than mine, were way less chaotic than my smaller business. They were way better planned than my smaller business. They had a lot more clarity than my smaller business. And they didn't even consider allowing scope creep, because they knew it would blow up the project they were doing and make everyone feel insecure and anxious and frustrated.

And if you want to drive A players, like incredible performer, true believers out of your business, create an environment where they live in chaos and they don't feel safe. That will drive your best team members out of your business. I know I lost some incredible people because of that. And so the key to creating a massive business that is successful, that you're happy with, a business where people feel safe, a business where you can recruit the right people, a business that grows year after year, not spikes and valleys, and that's how a lot of entrepreneurial businesses are these days, create clarity, create consistency, and be clear, and be real upfront about what you're going to do.

And here's a tale of two projects. If you have a project where you get clear outcome, transparency, and accountability, and you stick to it and go through it, you're going to get a pretty amazing result. If you have a project where you have, you start out with outcomes, transparency, and accountability, and then you keep adding to it and you get excited about stuff and you get new things, here's what you will never know. You'll never know what that first project would have looked like. You're just going to end up with the result you get from adding a bunch of stuff and making it feel chaotic and making it feel overwhelming.

And here's what I can tell you the most successful companies do. They go into every project that matters with a deadline, with clear outcomes, measurement, and every single person knows what they're doing. And that is what actually creates real momentum, not the feeling of momentum, not false momentum, not staying up all night and feeling like you're creating momentum, but actually creating massive momentum. You will recruit the right people on your team. You will keep A players. They will feel like they can actually perform and get things done and knock it out of the park. And that's how you're really going to grow your business. And my advice is, don't buy in to the theory that chaos grows businesses. The reality is, having a safe company where people feel like they can achieve, whether there's low anxiety, but high performance, and a lot of lateral pressure where people feel driven to do the best that they can at what they've been assigned, is how you grow a game-changing company and recruit a team that will help you make the change you want to see in the world.

Chaos is not the path to entrepreneurial success. The reduction of chaos and calming the chaos is how businesses actually grow and go out and change the world. Thanks for being here with me today. I appreciate it. And if you want help growing your business, calming the chaos, lowering the pressure and noise, making sure you have clear outcomes, transparency, and accountability in every project, every position, every department, and for the business itself, through a systematic approach that we call the Charfen Cadence, go to We would love to help you. If you go to, you'll be able to download our nine level framework of everything it takes to go from zero to a hundred million dollars in your business. There is a video there of me explaining it, and if you're interested, you can set up a call with a member of my team and see if we can help you calm the chaos and grow the business you've always wanted. Appreciate you being here.

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