Momentum Podcast: 664

How to Avoid Damaging People in Your Business

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

This morning we had an issue with a member of our team. Eddie who works with us missed a couple of the deliverables that he is responsible for each week. He reached out to Hayley our director of operations and she reached out to Cadey and I and the four of us connected. The second we got on a zoom call, I could tell how badly he was beating himself up.
Had this been years ago, I would've reacted. I would've gotten angry, I would've raised my voice, I would've made sure he knew just how angry I was that he had missed deliverables.
This morning I handled it completely differently. It's amazing how experience and perspective can change how you show up.
There has been far too much collateral people damage in my career, I am determined to minimize that in the future.

Full Audio Transcript

This is the Momentum Podcast. 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 all always will be.

This is a recording that I'm really proud to be making. I'm actually excited to record this, which is interesting because if this was just a few years ago, honestly probably six to 10 years ago, the story I'm about to tell would have had a completely and totally different ending, and I think it's crucial to share this. I say this all the time, I think one of the things that we need to do as entrepreneurs with experience, those of us who have run multiple companies, who have helped other companies, who have been through it, who have had issues, I think we have a responsibility to share those issues, those challenges, the problems we've caused, the damage we've caused to help the entrepreneurs who are on their way avoid those same issues.

I think that as entrepreneurs when we try and paint our entire careers in a positive light, it sets a false expectation for other entrepreneurs around us. But not just that. I think it sets a false expectation for our team. It sets a conscious or unconscious, or less than conscious, not unconscious, but conscious or less than conscious false expectation for ourselves that we will create that perfect career in the future. I think by admitting where we've gone wrong, by examining where we've gone wrong, by understanding where we've gone wrong is where we create massive momentum towards the future and stepping forward as entrepreneurs.

The title of this video is avoid collateral people damage, and here's what I mean by that. In my career, the one thing that I have massive regrets over is how often there was a situation where I could have been empathetic or compassionate or understood what was going on with somebody, and I was blinded by the outcomes we had, the goals we had, the objectives that we were trying to achieve, and instead I was angry and frustrated and sometimes violent. I don't mean physically violent. I don't mean coming to blows with people, but in my language, in my tone, in how I approach situations, I now know that I was violent, and what I did in those situations caused people


Let's get real. I caused trauma in one of the most important areas of someone's life, their career. When you look at your career and what you do and what you do on a daily basis, for most people where they show up, where they put most of their effort, where they put most of their time is into their career. And so, in my career, in my life, in my businesses, more than once in that intersection of someone's career and their life, I have absolutely acted in a way that was unacceptable.

And here's how challenging this really is. For years, for most of my career, I've justified it. I've made it okay. I've blamed it on them. I've avoided responsibility. I've created conflict where I should have sought clarity. I've acted in a way that damaged people, and I feel like not only is it my responsibility to share this, but I feel like I'm ... I can't go back and fix what happened, but by sharing these things and by sharing these realizations, maybe I can help other people avoid the same situation and remind myself that I will never put myself in that situation again in my business.

Let me tell you what happened this morning. Cadey and the girls and I got up early. Most days of the week we get up early, and we drive somewhere in Austin, and we go for a hike. It's an amazing way to start the morning. We get out in nature before we've looked at screens, before we've done anything with our jobs or the kids for homeschool, and we go like walks through trees and we walk through nature. We went through for a pretty amazing walk this morning, other than the fact that about 20 minutes into this amazing park that we have nearby, somebody had done a gender reveal and exploded blue confetti and paper all over the place. So, we had to stop and clean that up this morning, but other than that it was amazing walk.

And so we were walking out of the hike, and we threw all the gender reveal stuff away. We got back in the car, and right when we got in the car, Cadey got a text that said, "Hey, can you get on a call with Haley," our director of operations, "and Eddie," who's now our marketing coordinator, started out as our video assistant, or a video person, I guess. And here's what happened this morning. We got on the call, and Eddie said to Cadey, and she was on a Zoom call. I was sitting next to her and I could hear his voice, and the second he started talking, I could hear he was beating himself up. He was in a place where he was destroying himself. I could feel it.

And I know Eddie well. He's one of the most conscientious, serious about the world, and really serious about accomplishing human beings I've ever worked with. He's grown so much working with our organization because he's driven himself to grow and to take on more and to achieve more. He's gone from being the guy who did some videos for me to now one of our key members of the team and coordinates our marketing and has massive responsibilities across the company.

When he got on the call this morning, he let Cadey know that he missed on some deliverables this week. Were they important? Yes, they're important deliverables, but he missed on a couple of deliverables this week, and immediately Cadey and I both started saying, "Hey, Eddie, this is a process issue, not a person issue. We need to figure out what it is that happened here so that we can put some process in place to support you, and you have to stop beating yourself up."

If you go back and listen to the podcast that I had called protect your team from their mistakes, this is exactly what I'm talking about. The second that we could hear that Eddie was beating himself up way worse than we ever would, or way worse than I wanted him to, or way worse than the situation that was caused, we immediately started backing him out of it and talking to him about he's okay. Here's the reality of the situation. Eddie just had his third baby a few weeks ago, so we have to take that into account. He also has been involved with a marketing launch that we did that was last week that was overwhelming. We worked with a contractor who helped us set up the launch. The contractor did not deliver everything they said they were going to. It put my team under a tremendous amount of pressure.

Eddie was kind of in the center of all that. He had incoming from all different angles, tons of reactivity, early mornings, late nights, things that we just don't do in our company. We don't do those things. We don't subject human beings to that type of pressure and noise because we want the best out of people. And when you do, they miss things. Cadey and I are fully conscious now, today, as entrepreneurs that that's what happens when you work in that type of environment.

And so, what we were able to do today was talk Eddie down, and let him know how much we cared about him, and let them know how this is ... One of our core values is correct the process, not the person. I think most of my career was kill the person and ignore the process, and I'm, God, I feel kind of like sick saying that, but if you're watching or hearing this and you used to work with me, you know what I'm talking about. I used to just take people's heads off. I used to get so angry when things didn't go the way that I thought they should go, and I rarely took into consideration the human being that was sitting in front of me.

Probably beating myself up a little bit. I mean, for the first 10 years of my career, and then it started getting much, much better. This morning we were able to talk to Eddy, let him know what was going on. Come up with a plan to create some process to protect him, to protect us, and back him out of this feeling he was having, where when he got on the call with us, I could tell he had been crying. I could tell he was emotional. I could tell this meant a lot to him.

And for us to be able to show up with compassion and empathy and understanding actually created a new point of connection for us in our relationship with Eddie and his career. It created a reinforcement that he's working in the right place. It created a reinforcement that he's in a place that will protect and support him in his efforts, and that we will always take any issue he brings to us and help him build process and structure and routine around it so that it doesn't happen again.

Now let's contrast that with what I would have done earlier in my career. Even if somebody had brought a mistake like this to me, I would have made sure they knew how angry I was. I would have made sure they knew just how frustrated I was with them. I would have made sure they knew how disappointed I was with them. And let's get real, I would have caused trauma in the moment this morning with Eddie. And driving in the car today, coming back from the hike, going through this conversation, I had this clear realization that this is really how it's supposed to be.

This is how you create A players. Actually, with Eddie, this is how you keep A players. When A players have a problem, you protect them from their mistakes. You let them know that they need to stop beating themselves up. You let them know you're going to help them build process and structure and routine so that it won't happen again. Instead of attacking, ask questions and find out what happened. And we asked. We said, "Eddie, what happened here?" And he said, "Honestly, I brought this to you because I realized that I had missed, and I didn't even think about it last week." And we said, "Well, Eddie, if that's the case, then there is clearly a process issue here. We need to put a structure in place, a spreadsheet in place, a checklist in place, something so that you don't have to think about it but you're reminded of it, especially as your responsibility is growing, especially as you do more for us,"

We need to protect human beings as they mature in our organizations. As they do more and take on more and accomplish more and give us more, we should protect them even more. And I think that for a lot of entrepreneurs, it's the opposite. It's like the longer the person's here the more I expect from them, and they're not allowed to make mistakes. I know that's how I was. And it took me at least 10 years to get out of the 100% opinion it was their fault.

And then over the next 17 years of my career, geez, I'm old, 17 or 18 years of my career, I've moved more and more in the direction of understanding that when someone comes to us with an issue and they tell us they've made a mistake, that the most important thing you can do in that moment is help them through that issue, help them through the emotional situation they're in, help them understand it better, and help them build structure around it and protect them from the mistake they have just made. Because in the case of Eddie, and any A-player, anyone who you want on your team, they're going to be beating themselves up more than you are going to. And if you start beating them up, you're just pouring fuel on the fire, and you're going to kill their productivity for that week or even longer, and you may lose them. I know in my career I've lost game changing team members because of my reactions when I was disappointed. I know I've lost game changing team members because of how reactive I got and how angry I got and how I emoted towards them. I made them the problem rather than addressing what was going on and creating a solution.

I'm not going to do that anymore. And it's even more than that. Now I understand that when something like this happens, when somebody brings us a miss, when somebody brings us an issue and says, "Hey, I missed," that is such an opportunity to fix what's going on in the business. It's not just an opportunity to empathize and be compassionate and create a new point of strength in the career. It's actually an opportunity to fix what's going on in the business. Today, when somebody brings us a miss, we do what we need to do to understand it, we put process in place, and then we hold that person accountable to the process that we put in place. And then we reinforce it's the process, not the person. And when we do this, here's what happens every single time, over and over again. The person who we protect from their mistakes, who we help with the process, who we empathize with, who we express compassion with, only gets better and produces at a higher level and achieves at a higher level and shows up in an even more intentional and purposeful way.

I now know this is how you develop people in your business. And it's not just developing them in their position, this is how you develop people in their lives. This is how you create personal development as an employer and as a team, by showing the people who work with you that they can make mistakes. They can share the mistake. We can correct the mistake, and then they can come back and achieve in a way that was better than we ever thought they could when they made that mistake. That is personal development. That is life-changing. That will show people who they really are, and that will show them what they're really capable of.

I'm so glad that that's what I did this morning. I'm so glad that I have this understanding and knowledge now where I don't do these things anymore, and I don't take people's heads off anymore, and I don't make people feel like they're the problem. Because in business, it is always a process problem, always. Even if you have the wrong person on your team who is not filling their position, is not showing up the right way, you hired them. It's a process problem.

And so, the way to avoid collateral people damage is to remember that the person sitting in front of you is a human being, and you're responsible for them being there. I live in a way now, today, where I have this sign outside of my wall, and one of the equations on it is responsibility, with a line, over blame. I want to live above that line. I want to take responsibility when something happens. I want to understand when something happens. I want to be able to create momentum out of the issues that we have. The biggest challenges you have in your business are also the biggest opportunity, and this morning was an opportunity. I share this with you because I think that for so many entrepreneurs, it takes years and sometimes decades, like it did for me, to fully realize and understand how important this is. I want to help you shortcut that process. Here's why. When I look back at my career, I don't have a lot of regrets. I actually look back and I think the decisions I made, where I lost control of my first business and then had to give it back, and the decisions I made where Cadey and I went bankrupt in the real estate crisis, and the decisions I made where I didn't cut hard enough in our last business, and I had all types of challenges with human beings and ... In that decision I'm wrong, but the decision I made where we lost money, those are all decisions where I feel like I've learned from it and it's fortified me and it's made me a better entrepreneur today. The one place I wish I could go back and make corrections, the one place I wish I could go back and change things is in the decisions I made with people, in the reactions I had with people, in the way I treated people, because here's what I know today that just a few years ago I would have never admitted. I acted in a way with people who worked in our organization, who were giving us their energy, their time, their focus, their effort, who were doing the best that they could for us, I acted in a way that caused trauma. I traumatized team members, and you don't have to.

The way to do this correctly is when somebody brings you a miss, understand it, build process around it, hold them accountable to the process, and help them move forward. You will develop team members. You will create loyalty. You will create a game changing, world changing team that pulls together and goes out and does what you really want in your business. I'm so glad that I have this understanding now, and I can share it with you and maybe make up for a little bit of what's happened in the past. I know that I can't go back and correct what's happened, but at least I can help stop this from happening to other people. I appreciate you listening today, and I hope this helps. If you ever encounter a challenge or an issue or a situation like this with someone on your team, that you can protect them from their mistakes, help them see that it's not them, it's the process. Build the process to make sure it doesn't happen again, strengthen the relationship with the person, develop them as a human being, and fortify your company so that you can go out and change the world. If you are interested in getting some help with your business, that's what we do as a company. We help world-changing entrepreneurs grow and scale their businesses through process, structure, and routine, and I think we're the best in the world at it. So, if you'd like to reach out and understand if we can help you, go to At, if you answer a few questions from my team, you will be able to download a full copy of our billionaire code matrix, the nine levels you go through to go from zero to a hundred million dollars as an entrepreneur. You'll also be able to watch a video of me explaining it and sign up for a call with a member of my team if you're interested. So, check it out. And if you've run into issues like this, go to our website,, and do a search for protect your team from their mistakes. It's a great accompanying podcast to this one, and I think it'll give you the information you need to be able to protect your team members and grow the company that you really want to have and that you're proud to be in. Thanks for being here with me today. Look forward to seeing you. Go to, and I look forward to connecting with you again soon.

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