Momentum Podcast: 853

Dear Future CEO

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

This is the letter I wish I had received before I became a CEO over 25 years ago. There is so much about accepting this position that we are not told or warned about. When we accept the position of CEO, we commit to being different than everyone else so that we can make a contribution greater than everyone else. It is the most difficult thing you will ever do, but the rewards are eternal.

It is a position that carries with it so much responsibility that most can't take it. For the few, the committed, the obsessed who can't imagine anything else, this is for you.

This is the advice that you will not receive from anyone else. It is the truth of being the CEO you are called to be.

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Full Audio Transcript

This is the Momentum podcast.

Last week, we held a private mastermind for the businesses in our coaching group that are over $3 million. And I really love these quarterly masterminds because I get together with the highest level businesses in our group and we end up talking about issues that don't come up when you're not in a room with everybody where the business is over 3 million. And we had a range, I think of three up into the tens of millions. And one of our members was sharing that they had been having some anxiety over something that happened in their business. And I want to share it with you today and I want to share with you what I shared with them to help them feel better about where they are and how they can approach entrepreneurship and continue moving forward.

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.

So like I said, in our Grow and Scale group, the high level group in our Mastermind, the conversation is different. You know, if you've never been in a room where everybody is running a multimillion dollar company, it is a totally different conversation that comes up often. It's a personal conversation. It's a conversation oftentimes about self-care and getting more out of life. It's a conversation about relationships. It's also a conversation about how each individual, as the visionary CEO of a company, is feeling. And that is a very different conversation. One of the things that came up was one of our members had recently had some legal issues with a company that they had worked with years ago, and just out of the woodwork came up these legal issues and all of a sudden they had to get an attorney and they were sued in a different country and they had to defend themselves. And it was causing a tremendous amount of stress, but not just stress. It was actually bringing up anxiety. And the members shared with us that they were feeling anxiety. And by the way, I'm using that because I don't want to give away the gender. I never want anybody to feel like I've shared one of their personal stories. So I changed some of the details and I just go with they. This person's not non-binary. I'm purposely not sharing the gender. And they had shared that they had some really strong feelings of anxiety come up and that the feelings of anxiety were feeling. Feelings were triggering, feelings of anxiety that they had felt in childhood. And they had been anxious, they had had some trouble sleeping, they had had some issues come up, they had challenges come up. And one of the things that they said was, you know, I just never want to get into another legal issue again. And the other entrepreneurs in the room, including me, all started laughing because we had been around long enough to know. And we weren't laughing at her. We quickly explained that we'd all been around long enough to know that, hey, legal issues are part of this game and challenging issues are part of this game and that we've all been there. In fact, I wanted her to understand just how relatable what she was feeling is. And so I pulled up this letter that in about ten years ago, I wrote to my 20 year old self because my dream growing up had been to be a CEO.

My license plate when I was in high school was “future CEO”, FUTR CEO in California. People never could figure it out, but I knew what it meant and my whole goal was to run a business someday and I was already running companies back then. I just didn't consider myself a CEO. I had like small little side gig businesses, but I wanted to be a CEO. I wanted to be in this chair. I wanted to run an organization like I do today, and this is what I wish I had heard way back then. This is what I read to her in our meeting as well.

Dear Future CEO, growing a business is one of the most spiritual undertakings we can have in a lifetime, and it also may be the most difficult. You are assuming a position of leadership. Very few will ever accept the day you become a CEO. Everything changes. You may not feel it, but trust me, your world is a different place. The people around you will see you as their CEO first and as a friend and person second. You are no longer speaking just for yourself. You are speaking as the CEO. What you say will now be heard through a megaphone. You no longer show up as yourself. You are the CEO. What you do will be seen through a microscope. You are committing to a life of vulnerability and exposure that normal people just can't handle. You will be made fun of, ridiculed, questioned, talked about, gossiped about, judged unfairly, looked down on, taken advantage of and more. If you don't do well, the people around you will rejoice in your failure because it will make them feel better about themselves. Start winning big and a large segment of the population will dislike you only because you are successful. When the pressure and noise gets unbearable, embrace that part of you that compels you forward. Regardless of what happens, embrace that resolved, obsessive, insanely driven part of you that has always felt broken. Nurture. That part has felt crazy because it told you that everyone else is wrong because it's right that part of you is real and it is correct. Believe the quiet voice that says you can do this, you should do this, you must do this, and you will do this.

Don't be deterred when those nearest to you don't share what is going on in their lives. Most people don't know how to approach a CEO. People will change how they behave around you. Most people don't know how to act around a CEO. When you go to a party, quickly identify another CEO and you will have someone to talk to. People don't relate to CEOs. If things go well and you grow a team, you will feel like you were the last to know, be the last to know, feel threatened, be threatened, get deceived, get caught off guard and be taken advantage of. You'll get stolen from. 90% of us experience embezzlement. You'll be surprised by the behavior of those around you. You'll be exposed by the behavior of those around you. You'll have abrupt transitions in close relationships and be treated in a way that no one would ever treat a friend. Eventually, you will realize how often you are wrong. Admit your many mistakes. Apologize for your many mistakes. Make less of them and admit no matter what. You can't do it all yourself. And if you are willing to increase your level of transparency with those around you and recruit people to achieve your mission, you will grow a team you are excited about, grow your company and make your greatest contribution.

I have only one warning. Before you begin, make sure you have a deep connection to the market you will serve and the difference you will make. Spend time each day increasing that level of connection and make it one of the most important relationships in your life. Just caring about your market is not enough. Be obsessed with those you serve. There is a time for every CEO where the money is no longer enough. This may be inconceivable right now, but it happens to all of us. For most, it comes much faster than expected. Your world will change forever when the money you have been fighting for all of your life is in a bank account and growing. Especially if your team does most of the work. To get it there, you will have to firmly transition what you are fighting for. This is the transition where CEOs without a deep connection to the market check out, self-sabotage, don't get the help they need, and fail to move forward. For those who have that deep connection to their market, this is a transition where anything becomes possible.

As a CEO, you exchange the freedom of being just like everybody else for the freedom to achieve your greatest contribution. I am in no way trying to scare you, just alerting you to the journey you have chosen. I've been in this position for most of my professional career and I wouldn't accept anything else. Every great person in history that matters to be remembered has been on this journey. People like us are the only consistent cause of positive human evolution. And we always will be. It's now your turn. If you are here to change the world, believe in your mission more than anything else and accept you can't turn it off. And why would you ever want to? You are in exactly the right place. Congratulations and welcome. You are part of the most important club in history because entrepreneurs are the only consistent source of positive human evolution. And we always will be.

P.S. If anyone tells you it's going to be easier than I describe above, they are trying to sell you something that isn't going to work. Run.

I can't get through that without being emotional. I remember the day that I sat down and wrote it. I had tears in my eyes and I was crying almost the whole time because every single one of those things has happened to me. And I've seen that happen to friends and I've seen it happen to people around me. And in no way do I share this to dissuade any of you from growing a business. In fact, if you're listening to me and you have the motivation to grow a company and you are growing a company, then you are in exactly the right place. I share this with you to let you know how relatable the difficulties that you will go through are and how every one of us goes through them. None of us can avoid them. I shared this with our member in our mastermind, and it opened the conversation where everyone at the table shared challenges and issues and frustrations and surprises that they had gone through just because they decided to grow a company and try and change the world and the broken relationships that they had had and the people that had deceived them and betrayed them and the issues that had come up for them and the anxiety attacks and the illnesses that they have been through and all of it together. Not one person at that table would have traded any of it to step out of the role of visionary entrepreneur, of growing a business and changing the world.

So if that's where you are. It's probably better said if that's who you are. I want to confirm you're in exactly the right place and I want to honor you. And thank you for letting me help you by listening to this podcast. And if you know a CEO who needs to hear this, do me a favor. Go copy the link to this podcast and send it to them right now, because every one of us gets to a place where it's dark and frustrating and anxiety provoking and we feel like we just can't go on. But we can. Every one of us has been there and so many of us have been in that place of feeling like there's absolutely no options. And we've gone on to change the world. And you can, too. If you want to join a mastermind with high level entrepreneurs that are changing the world. We don't just work with $3 million plus entrepreneurs. We're working with entrepreneurs who are running remote and running virtual teams who feel like they're the biggest bottleneck and want to get out of that space and go out and grow a company and make things happen and have the income and the impact that they've always wanted to have. And I'd love to be able to help you. You can go to right there on the home page. There's a button to set up a call with my team and we would love to connect with you. And remember, this is one of the most challenging paths you can ever choose to go down in your life. But I absolutely believe it's also the most rewarding and it will change you more than anything else you could choose to do. We'd love to hear from you and thank you for being a podcast listener and letting me support you on your entrepreneurial journey. I appreciate you.

Thank You For Listening!

I am truly grateful that you have chosen to spend your time listening to me and my podcast.

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With gratitude,


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