Co-Founder & CEO
From the moment he was born, Alex Charfen found himself instantly at odds with the world. An undiagnosed digestive-tract defect as an infant resulted in losing 50 percent of his body weight and emergency surgery. Further respiratory and development issues soon drove his family to relocate from the pollution of Mexico City to more favorable conditions in the United States.
As a child in America, Alex found social situations challenging, especially school. Unable to adapt and conform to traditional classroom structure and teaching methodologies, he swung between the honor roll and complete failure, alternately considered “gifted and talented” or needing “special education.” Limited support from the school administration did little to limit the physical and emotional abuse Alex received from his peers, which bordered on torture. So instead of thriving, he focused on attracting minimum attention and staying out of harm’s way.
Through this experience, Alex knows that there are more people like him in jail, rehab or early graves than running successful businesses. Unfortunately, some can’t overcome childhood suppression, and look to other means of getting by. Lucky for Alex, the support of his parents and three sisters allowed him to find his haven of acceptance, logic and truth: business.
Alex’s professional career started at eight years-old, when economic factors forced the emergency sale of his family’s business, making it necessary for Alex to start working. While the rest of the world felt overwhelming and confusing, he immediately understood that money could be an equalizer that leveled the playing field of life. The business environment immediately became a safer space than school, playgrounds or anywhere else outside his immediate family.
Alex believed that businesses, side jobs and making money were the only way he could validate his personal value in the world, and so they were a constant throughout his childhood and a distraction to everything else. He sold his first business at sixteen, and then dropped out of college to sell another venture at 21. The sale brought him to Florida, where eight months later, a failed contract found him unemployed and unemployable.
Out of time and money, he started a consultancy leveraging his knowledge of sales and marketing. Through hard-won strategic partnerships and growing a team, Alex gained notoriety for moving brands into category dominance. His company structured deals for organizations like Fuji, Samsung, Cannon, Home Shopping and Walmart that totalled in the billions.
Alex spent nearly all his time working with entrepreneurs at the top of their games, and he was working with them through the most important moments of their careers. These experiences helped him recognize patterns that consistently moved his clients forward and created momentum. He became known for closing impossible deals, reviving failing products and getting results from non-performing or dysfunctional teams.
Having built it from nothing, Alex’s consultancy meant everything to him. But after meeting and getting engaged to his future wife, Cadey, the business became just a distraction keeping the two of them apart. He quickly sold the business and started working with Cadey, creating several multimillion-dollar businesses and an expansive real estate portfolio.
In 2007 the momentum came to a stop. Alex and Cadey’s real estate portfolio was spread across the top-ten fastest depreciating zip codes in the country. Facing dozens of foreclosure lawsuits, a 90 percent reduction in income and plummeting net worth, they were forced to declare bankruptcy. But Alex and Cadey quickly identified the breadth and depth of the foreclosure crisis, understanding the situation was far worse than the experts were predicting. While going through the bankruptcy process, they started working on the issue.
Through their real estate experience and determination to learn from experience, Alex and Cadey created the Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE) designation for real estate agents and brokers, all while living through the challenges of bankruptcy. From humble beginnings, the CDPE earned the endorsement of RE/MAX Chairman Dave Liniger, who declared, “The CDPE Designation is the most effective educational solution we have seen to address this market.”
Liniger’s endorsement created national attention for the designation and its systems, allowing Alex and Cadey to collaborate with every major lender, government institution and investor involved in the foreclosure crisis. Soon after initial success had been proven, Liniger committed to RE/MAX training 10,000 CDPEs within a year; a commitment he over-delivered on.
In total, the more than 46,000 real estate agents, brokers, attorneys, title officers, and loss mitigation representatives earned the CDPE designation to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. By the end of the foreclosure crisis, every major lender and was using a variation of the single package solution pioneered by Alex and Cadey Charfen. They even earned the endorsement of Fannie Mae, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and other major organizations who issued live industry releases from Alex and Cadey’s Austin, TX, studios to tens of thousands of viewers.
In 2013 Laurie Maggiano, the U.S. Treasury’s Director of Policy in the Office of Homeownership Preservation, revealed research showing “the CDPE process pulled forward the recovery of the foreclosure crisis by at least five years, maybe more.” CDPEs are estimated to have helped 6-10 million homeowners facing foreclosure.
CHARFEN, the company behind CDPE, grew quickly and appeared on the Inc. Magazine list of fastest-growing private companies in America three years in a row, reaching as high as #21 in 2011. Through CHARFEN, Alex and Cadey continue to refine the strategies that were the foundation of their careers and used to overcome financial devastation, build one of the most successful companies in the country, solve the foreclosure crisis and become liquid millionaires within 12 months of declaring bankruptcy. Today, the company has emerged as a leading training and business consulting organization for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
As CEO of CHARFEN, Alex has been invited to share his strategies with business owners across the country and around the world. He also has appeared on television and print for major media outlets such as MSNBC, CNBC, FOX News, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and The Huffington Post to provide his unique views and insights.