Momentum Podcast: 671

Are You a Visionary Arsonist?

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

As entrepreneurs, we have a hard time when the world around us doesn't go fast enough. This can cause us to challenge the people around us and destroy the plans that we make. Our restlessness can cause us to slow the growth of our business down when what we are trying to do is speed it up.

I am very familiar with this. It's something that I do often and have to go back and repair with my team. I think every visionary does this in some way, and the more aware we are, the less we will do it and the more we allow our team to grow.

Full Audio Transcript

This is the Momentum Podcast.

As entrepreneurs. We have a hard time when the world around us doesn't go fast enough. This can cause us to challenge the people around us and destroy the plans we make. The challenge is that this restlessness can cause us to slow down the growth of our business, when what we're trying to do is speed it up. In this episode of the Momentum Podcast, Alex is going to share this concept of what it means to be a visionary arsonist. And how changing the plans and the outcomes that you set for your team can slow your business down. The good news is that the more we become aware of it the less we'll do it, and the more we'll allow our team to grow.

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.

I want to share with you this concept of being a visionary arsonist. Let me tell you where this comes from and give you the story behind it. So, Jerry, as an entrepreneur, one of the things that I do with my team is we put a lot of time into strategic planning. In fact, that's what we do as a company. We are a strategic planning company. We show other entrepreneurs how to set up strategic plans, because here's what happens for us as entrepreneurs. We get to a point where the momentum we can create on our own is not enough, and we have to bring in a team. And when you bring in a team, things dramatically shift in your life as an entrepreneur.

When you have a team, you want to make sure that your team understands everything that's going on. When you have a team, you want to make sure that you understand that your team knows where they're going. That things are easy to understand, impossible to misunderstand. So, creating a plan to get your team going in a direction changes everything. Well, here's what I found for most entrepreneurs, and also is true for me, is that when we create plans, when we are in planning ... So, first, here's what I know about us as visionaries when we're planning, planning can sometimes make us uncomfortable. And for years, I've been trying to figure this out and doing a ton of research around why is it that just going into planning it makes us uncomfortable?

Does that happen to you? I know for me, it's gotten a lot less now, but just going into a planning period makes me feel reactive. It makes me uncomfortable. And the reason for that, I believe, is that for us as entrepreneurs, when we are evolutionary hunters, we want to know where we're going. We want certainty. We want to know where chasing something down. And so, when we have to make a plan, we're admitting we actually don't know the destination in the planning period because we're creating it. So, I think that makes us uncomfortable.

I also think once we have a plan laid out, here's what happens, it never goes fast enough. We want it to accelerate it. We wanted to speed up. We want it to do more. We want to go faster. And so, not only are we uncomfortable in planning as we execute the plan, we're uncomfortable. And here's what often happens, as entrepreneurs, we set everything up, things get in motion,

and then we come in and burn it down. We change it. I was actually sharing this with a good friend of mine, Brad Martineau, Brad and I were just going back and forth on Voxer. We were leaving each other voicemails. So, we had a conversation. We weren't in the same place, but we had this conversation over time. And he asked me how things were going in my business. And I told him things were going well. But that I'm realizing more and more that one of the biggest challenges we have in our business is that we set up a strategic plan, and then I come in, and modify or change something. And I do it one in three ways: I either introduce a new project. I redirect a project that we have, or I cause scope creep on a project that we have where I make it like it needs to now be more than it was. And Brad started laughing and he said, "Yeah, a friend of mine calls that being a visionary arsonist." And I thought, "What a good term, because that's really what it is."

And this is from my exact perspective. For me, personally, I've been coming in and helping my team set up plans. We get to get all the prioritization together. We build the strategic plan. And then I'll come in and change it at the last minute. And last week I had to have a very introspective conversation with myself about the fact that if I look at the last two years of our business growth, about every two to four months, there's been some project, or some change, or some shift that I've caused that if I'm realistic, and if I'm honest I can't show that the changes I've caused have sped things up. So, the reality is the changes that have caused have really slowed things down. And, again, I do it by introducing new projects, by blowing up the scope on a project that we already have and making it too much. And that we're redirecting the projects that we have.

And here's the reality. Here's the realization that I've had about myself, but also here's how I coach all of our members is that as we mature as entrepreneurs, and what that means is as we mature in our businesses, as our businesses are no longer just us, as we have a team and we're relying on other people, as we are counting on other people to help us get things done there's a maturity to our business in those times. And we have to stop our younger entrepreneurial activities. You don't have to, you can keep doing them. It's just going to continue to cause you pain over, and over, and over again. But when we stop our [inaudible 00:06:05] entrepreneurial activities, and those younger activities are being distracted by every shiny object, thinking that everything's an opportunity, not executing the plan you have and changing it through new project scope creep, or redirection, all of those things are going to cause severe challenges on your team.

Let me tell you the challenges I've caused on my team, and this is just straight up have we been getting a ton of stuff done? Yes. Are we profitable? Very. Is our team doing well? They're incredible. But I've caused major challenges by coming in and introducing a new project it causes confusion. People already, they thought they knew what they had to do, they had a plan. The people on my team are very conscientious. They're very careful about planning their time about making sure they're going to get everything done. They don't want to let each other down. I come in and redirect everything, I blow all of that up. When I come in and introduce a new product, project, or change the scope, or there's redirection it actually challenges trust. Gosh, I hate to even say this. It makes me feel uncomfortable saying that I've significantly challenged trust on my team.

Now, trust is like a bank account in my opinion. I think we look at trust as like an on-off switch and I don't really think it's an on-off switch. In my experience, trust exists on a spectrum. And I know that there's people in my life that trust me absolutely. If I tell them something they're going to believe me. And then, there's other people that I haven't built up enough trust capital, enough trust in the bank account for them to really believe me. And so, the people who are on my leadership team, I have a high level of trust with them. So, if I challenge it by introducing a new project, I still have a high level of trust with them. We're probably going to be able to get through it. We're probably going to have some uncomfortable conversations. But if I change projects for somebody who's new on my team, or somebody who doesn't know me that well, I significantly challenged the trust that we are building.

And trust creates scale. Trust will grow your company. Once you have a team, trust is one of the most important commodities to help your business continue to grow, and to help you move in the right direction. And then, so I know I've caused massive confusion. I know I've caused trust issues. Now, here's the big one, this one really bothers me. It's hard to talk about. It's frustrating that I do this, and that I affect people like this. But here's what I know, when I come in and I change scope, I create massive stress for the members of my team, where I've made changes Because they already know the direction they're going, and now I'm causing them personal stress by making a change, by adding a project, by redirecting, by increasing the scope of a project.

Now, sometimes these things are necessary, sometimes. But, let's be honest, as visionaries we always see it as necessary, whether it's necessary or not. Or I know I always see it as necessary, whether it's really necessary or not. And I'm now starting to catch myself to understand that this is incredibly damaging to the people around me. And it slows things down like crazy, and I can actually see the stress on my team.

When one of my team members get sick, or when one of my team members doesn't come into work, or when they're not productive, or when they don't get their work done I used to think, "What's wrong with that person?" Now, as an entrepreneur, I've been leading teams long enough that when one of those things happens, I now think, "How did I cause that? What's my responsibility here? What did I do here that could be causing them to be sick, to not get things done, to miss on a project?" And when I look at it, this changing of scope, changing projects, this causes massive damage every single time. It causes massive challenges every single time.

So, here's how you stop being a visionary on arsonist. You work with your team to prioritize what you have going on. You take those priorities and build them into a plan. You take that plan and clarify what your scope is. You get a clear outcome for every single thing on that plan, clear transparency on what are you going to measure to see if you're successful? And then accountability, who's going to do what? And the way that you prevent new projects, or scope creep, or redirection of any kind is you get really clear on that first part, outcomes. And you define the outcomes, so that they're clear, so that you know what you want out of the project so that you know what you're doing. And then, you make sure you're measuring success along the way. And you know who's going to do what. And then, let it ride. Let your team execute without coming in and changing things, and redirecting and changing the scope, and adding new projects. And here's what will happen, over time, you'll start to see your team make massive progress.

Now, I know all of us do this. And all of us are probably going to continue to do it. I don't think that we ever get to a point, as an entrepreneur, where we don't want to shift, or change, or redirect, or add something. But the frequency with which we do it can go down a massive amount. And when it does go down, and we allow our team to have clarity, and we allow them to understand what's going on, that is where we start creating massive momentum.

So, here's this lesson we have to learn, and this trust we have to create in ourselves as entrepreneurs. We have to trust that if we set up a plan with our team, and we believe in it, and it's been prioritized and the team believes in it, and everyone's excited about it, that if we let that plan ride, we don't change it, we don't shift it, we don't try to add anything, we don't try and make it different that that is what will create massive momentum. And it's just a little bit of a different cycle. It's us trusting in ourselves, in our team, in our planning, and seeing what comes out of it.

And then, doing it again. Trusting again in our team, in ourselves, in our prioritization, in our planning, and doing it again, and leaving it alone. Because when we come in, as entrepreneurs, and we change everything we are visionary arsonists. And here's the biggest challenge with doing that, when we come in and we change everything, as visionaries, we slow things down in the short-term and in the long run. And when we start to see that when we plan, allow for execution, then come back and do it again, our team starts creating massive momentum. That's when they coalesce. That's when they start moving forward. And that's when they start making things happen.

And so, stop being a visionary arsonist. Trust in your team. And, even more importantly, build trust with your team by allowing them to plan, execute, get results, come back and do it again. And that circular activity, we have the Charfen process of analyze, prioritize, commit to what you're doing, execute like crazy, and then go back and renew. And when you use a framework like that, when you allow for that process to go through, your team gets better at it. They're able to do more every time. You create even more momentum together. And the redirection, new projects, and scope creep, when they're kept to a minimum, you increase trust on your team and that, in and of itself, trust with your team will create scale. If this is something he wants some help on, or if you're growing a team right now, and you would like some support, this is something we help people do. In fact, if you go to, you can check out our Billionaire Code framework. It's what we run our coaching programs on. It's what we run all of our calls on. It's how we actually help entrepreneurs. It's the nine levels to go from 0 to $100 million dollars as an entrepreneur.

If you go to, answer a few questions for my team, you can download the Billionaire Code Matrix, our Billionaire Code Decoded e-book that talks about scaling a business through each level. And you can set up a call with one of my team members to understand how we support entrepreneurs, just like you, in understanding how to grow and scale your businesses. So, go to We look forward to hearing from you. And, remember, it may seem like the right idea to change everything in the short-term, but the more that you actually let your team execute, the more momentum you'll actually have. Thanks for being here this morning.

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