Momentum Podcast: 11
The Contribution Equation
by Alex Charfen
This is Episode 11 of the Entrepreneurial Personality Type, The Contribution Equation. On this episode, we are going to go back to that magical night at The Titan Summit with Robin and one of the most amazing speaking teams and one of the most amazing audiences I've ever been in front of. The Contribution Equation is what I found studying successful people, watching them, obsessing over them, was that I saw this pattern that they all followed and all drove throughout their lives to their success; and I've dealt almost exclusively with the most successful people in the world: Visionary entrepreneurs, people who are driving industry, driving business.
When you spend enough time with people who operate at that level, you realize that you better find the simplest solutions out there. So throughout the course of my career, I took what I learned, and I simplified, and I made it clearer.
Every great entrepreneur in history was driven by the need to make a contribution. They have called it different things, leaving your mark, making an impact, making things better or even leaving your dent in the universe. These great entrepreneurs followed a simple four step equation that allowed them to overcome any deficit, capitalize on their strengths, and change the world. The good news is, you can too, and once you do you will see your results increase in the pressure and the noise in your life immediately go down. The contribution equation is your path to entrepreneurial success.
Full Audio Transcript
This is Episode 11 of the Entrepreneurial Personality Type, The Contribution Equation. On this episode, we are going to go back to that magical night at The Titan Summit with Robin and one of the most amazing speaking teams and one of the most amazing audiences I've ever been in front of. The Contribution Equation is what I found studying successful people, watching them, obsessing over them, was that I saw this pattern that they all followed and all drove throughout their lives to their success; and I've dealt almost exclusively with the most successful people in the world: Visionary entrepreneurs, people who are driving industry, driving business. When you spend enough time with people who operate at that level, you realize that you better find the simplest solutions out there. So throughout the course of my career, I took what I learned, and I simplified, and I made it clearer.
I looked at it to make it as simple as I possibly could. I remember the day that The Contribution Equation appeared on a paper before me, and I swear I was holding the pen, but I don't know how exactly I came up with it. Because it was advice I needed myself, and this four-step process has changed my life. It's changed the lives of entrepreneurs that I work with, and I'm sure once you hear this, it'll change your life if you allow it, because it really is this simple for people like us to create all the success, influence, and affluence we want. Here's The Contribution Equation.
I want to leave you with this. We call it The Contribution Equation, and if you were going to write anything down, this is it. We kind of call it "The meaning of life for entrepreneurs." See, I know that for us there is an extraordinary amount of pressure and noise, and there's this thing, this argument in the world, it's a real argument still today, "Nature or nurture." How many of you have heard this? Is that the dumbest thing ever? Why are we still having that discussion? What do you mean nature or nurture? It's both.
Genetics, nature, they both conspire to do everything that happens to you until you get out of the womb and then all the way through. For some reason, nature and genetics combined with us equates to a higher level of pressure and noise than for those around us. How many of you would agree? Is that's fair? Here's what we need to do: To lower pressure and noise, people like us need to ask for protection and support. Now here's the challenge: The day you declare yourself an entrepreneur, you become a product, and you become vulnerable. And the day we say, "I am an entrepreneur," is usually the last day we transparently ask anyone for help. Is that fair?
Speaker 2: Yes.
Alex Charfen: Because if we can do these two things, what happens is, strengths and abilities show. You don't have to go develop them, they just come out. Here's why. If you do these things, you can go make your greatest contribution. Let me take you through this again. See, sometimes the first pass-through isn't that clear, so the first step is lowering pressure and noise. Guys, I spent time around people who transitioned from humble means to billionaire, and when you have a B in front of your wealth, I want you all to understand something about these people.
I like statistics. I like to look at numbers. I like to understand what's really happening in the world, and if you look at some of the billion-dollar, multi-billion dollar empires in the world today, they are larger than some ancient empires in population. Does that make sense? What's the difference between a billionaire today, and an ancient empire? The billionaire is an emperor in a 100% benevolent system. It must be, or it'll fall apart. We see those tragedies happen all the time. So they are an emperor who has to lead through contribution.
And I watched it up close. I can tell you something right now. I watched Shark Tank recently and Barbara Corcoran told the girl not to cry, because it wasn't befitting of somebody who was successful, and I have never met a billionaire that wouldn't cry in front of his people and does. 100% of them. Because it means that much to him. At that level, do you know what you're really dealing with? Just people. Like you're looking somebody in the eyes and saying, "Is this going to work or not," because you can't access anything else when you run a billion-dollar organization.
And they relentlessly lower pressure and noise. They, I mean the people who are successful, are fanatic about lowering pressure and noise. The two-massage protocol, that's like a good start for these people. And they look eccentric. How many of you have heard of the stories of billionaire eccentricities, right? "Oh, they're crazy. They ship couches so that they can have the same furniture in meeting rooms. They want all this stuff done for ... "
You know what that all is? Lowering pressure and noise. And why not? You know what eccentric is? Being yourself, because there's only one of you. That's eccentricity at its finest, is just being who we are. And so we say these things about billionaires when we shouldn't be saying them, we should be mimicking them. I have this friend who I used to go visit, and it's an interesting contrast in lowering pressure and noise. Because, and the next step, "Increasing protection and support," guys, delegation is a myth.
It's a joke. If you think you can delegate to a millennial, hah! Good luck. And the next generation, right behind them, there's no way. It doesn't work anymore. The reason so many entrepreneurs can never reach their full potential is because they believe they should delegate, rather than transparently ask for protection and support, in order to lower pressure and noise. Does that make sense?
I'd go out and I'd see my friend. I was running a really successful consultancy, like we got up to 50, 75, 100 million dollars. I'm doing incredibly well, making a ton of money, but he's doing like the really, really well. I'd go out and see him and I remember going in, and early in our careers I'd visit him. He'd have like a secretary, which made sense, but then he'd have like, personal assistants doing things like shopping for him, and doing his laundry — his clothes would show up in bags. I'd always think, "What an extravagance!"
Then I'd go home, do my laundry, grow my little company, right? Then I'd go back and see him the next time and I'd ... He'd say stuff like, "Hey, how's it going?" And there was like seven or eight people around in that time. Somebody was driving for him then. I remember thinking, like, "What an extravagance," as his company exploded. I remember one of the times I went to see him after things had really changed. We were in New York City, and we were in his office in Manhattan, and from his office to the street, to the car, to the helicopter pad, to the private jet, to Boca Raton, there was probably 50 people that helped us.
All worked for him. Like 50 people just to go get somewhere, and I remember, on the plane, turning to him and saying, "Hey, don't you ever feel a little goofy, having all these people do everything for you?" I was like I was out of my mind. I don't know why I was saying that. I think I was just being a jerk because I was jealous. I got exactly the answer I should. He looked me right in the eyes and he said, "Alex, you've known me for a while. You know every single person here has a purpose, and they understand what they do. And a lot of them have hired each other, brought each other on. If I had opened a door today, they all would have panicked. They know they're here to make things easier for me, because we all move forward."
Then I spent the rest of the plane ride sitting there thinking about it. Because that's the easiest thing in the world to think about, the hardest thing in the world to do. What differentiates people at the very top from those who want to be there, is these two steps: Are you willing to relentlessly lower pressure and noise, and tirelessly and transparently ask for protection and support, the way you should, as an entrepreneur, by telling your team what you're scared of, what frustrates you? Tell them tactically. Say, "Hey, I was uncomfortable in the meeting yesterday. I don't know why."
That will lower pressure and noise, because here's something amazing about our personality type. Watch. Look at everyone else in the room. How many of you know for a fact that when you say something out loud, it loses power over you? Right? Tell your teams. That's why they're there. They're there to help you move forward, because if you will lower pressure and noise, transparently ask for protection and support, here's the magical thing that happens: Your strengths and abilities just show. How many of you know this?
How many of you have had times in your life where you overwhelmed yourself, you had people around you, had the right things happening, and you could do things that you did not know you could do, had the answer that you never should have had, had the skill that never was trained for? The problem is, people like us spend most of our time right there, trying to grow our strengths and abilities, which is the hardest thing in the world for us to do. That's called "school." How many of you feel like the system of school served you all the way through? Right?
We don't learn skills and abilities. They develop when we go out to make our greatest contribution. Guys, I want you to understand something. Sometimes, people get confused when they hear me. They're like, "Man, this guy talks about homeschooling, he wears weird shoes, and then he talks about making his greatest contribution. We want to make some cash." I know how to make cash. I've made millions for myself. Don't forget, I'm the developmentally disabled ADHD guy with a lot more diagnoses, so if anybody's in the room, like to compare, I've got about 130. It's more than, that's two decks of cards.
The fact is, I'm a capitalist, and capitalism, in its truest form, is the exchange for contribution, because capital flows to contribution. So if you want wealth and affluence, if you want more money than you can ever imagine, make your greatest contribution with a fair exchange. That's where we explode, because capital flows to contribution. Guys, here's what's important to me about this. The Contribution Equation doesn't just work for me, doesn't just work for you. It works for anyone like us regardless of how much pressure and noise there is, because, see, the Entrepreneurial Personality Type, we're all unique.
Some of us look incredible on the outside and we carry our pressure and noise inside. Some of us, like Sally's child, is now showing pressure and noise on the outside, and some of us can't hide our pressure and noise. When I was a kid, I was so different that, often, adults would change the attenuation of their voice when they saw me coming. You guys know what I'm talking about? For those of you who don't recognize this, it sounds something like, "Oh, look, it's Elaine, Charles, and Alex." You know what I'm talking about? When I was a kid, the only other type of people that they did that with was with handicapped people, right?
When somebody has like cerebral palsy, or Down syndrome, or they're in a wheelchair, they'll often change the attenuation in their voice, so as a child, I believed that that was my tribe. Oftentimes, people feel sorry for me. They say, like, "Oh, it's so sad that he only related to people with Down syndrome, and cerebral palsy, and in wheelchairs." I'll tell you something. For anyone who knows anyone who has one of those conditions, there is such a profound strength of connection with [inaudible 00:13:02] show their pressure and noise. If you're willing to take a few moments, even in an unspoken connection, they will connect you to who you are, and that's contribution.
It wasn't just for me. I went out looking for stories to prove this to people that there are no broken people, and not one of us is irreparably broken. I found a lot of stories, because man, the person with Down syndrome that was supposed to do nothing and now is a stand-up comedian, that exists. The person with cerebral palsy that runs marathons, that exists. The person who's running a business who was fundamentally retarded in school, that exists. You're looking at him. But then I found this special story, because if somebody was like that, then maybe that just was meant to be, but what if somebody was changed to be like that?
I found the story of Dick and Ricky Hoyt. Does anybody know Team Hoyt, familiar with the story? I have two kids, and my first daughter, Reagan, was born at home. I don't do well with institutions. Can you imagine me hugging a vending machine in a hospital? The doctor put Reagan in my arms, and I remember, the midwife, and I remember thinking ... Well, first, you guys, how many are parents? Do you remember that first thought you have, where you're like, "Holy crap, where's the supervisor?" Right? Like, "Are they just going to give me this kid?" It gets very real, right? Then the second thought, you all know what I'm talking about, it's like, "Thank God, she's healthy."
Because in that moment, it's not like my life changed. It's not like perspective changed. It's like my definition of perspective, my definition of life changed. Who knows what I'm talking about? When that happened to Rick Hoyt, his son had been fine five minutes before, and was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. The lack of oxygen caused palsy, caused his body to shrivel up. He was nonverbal. He couldn't really move, couldn't talk, couldn't express himself. What do we do with people like that these days? It's food and water, morphine, until the end. That's a common decision, institutionalize. Dick said, "Not my son."
Took him home, started running with him, and he went and ran one day, and he noticed his son was breathing better and he kind of moved around more, so he ran with him again, and it happened again. That's lowering pressure and noise through simple protection and support. And so he entered in a 5K, and in the first 5K they ran in, Team Hoyt had a group of people crowded around them to run with them. Then they started running marathons, and marathons turned into triathlons, and triathlons is where Dick Hoyt is dragging his son in a raft, putting him on the front of a bike to ride, and then running with him in a wheelchair. People leave testimonials about Team Hoyt that are amazing, but here's what's so amazing. They're not talking about Dick. They're talking about Ricky.
They say things like, "I was running the race, and I saw your child running in the race." "I saw your son running. He wasn't running, he was being pushed in a wheelchair." "I saw your son running and it changed my life." Kids say things like, "We saw your son running in a race, and we realized the autistic kid in class can come play with us, so he does now." That's contribution. Overall, hundreds of thousands of people have come to run with, inspired by, move forward because of Team Hoyt, and the testimonials are for Ricky.
My favorite one is, "I was running in the Boston Marathon," and the guy says something like, "I don't believe in spirituality, or energy, or any of this stuff." You know how people do that right before they tell you they had a spiritual experience? Right? Then he says, "I'm running in the Boston Marathon. I looked over my shoulder, I saw this kid in a wheelchair, and it changed my life. I was going for a personal record, I stopped and ran with them, and now I run with Team Hoyt." Guys, that is lowering pressure and noise through simple protection and support. Even in a fundamentally, visibly broken person, strengths and abilities that are magical are showing, and he's making his contribution. If it works for Dicky Hoyt, it works for any of us.
Here's what I want you all to know. For all of you who felt like you were singularly alone, there is nothing wrong with you. When we lower pressure and noise, and we increase protection and support, and we have our strengths and abilities show, we change the world. We all know there are things in the world today that need changing, and it is our personality type that will, and always has. So it is your moral responsibility to lower pressure and noise, ask for protection and support, build your teams, build your organizations, make them strong. Your skills and abilities will show, and we will go make our contribution, because the world needs changing, and the people who will change it are right here. Thank you, everyone.
That was one of the most intense presentations I've ever given. Robin attracts an amazing crowd of intellectual, studied, powerful entrepreneurs that have all obsessed over something, or multiple things, and they have created new outcomes in the world, are doing incredible things, so to be in front of that room is just, it's a completely different level of energy. If you'd like to see that entire presentation, Robin actually gave it to me so we could let people download it, and take, and watch it. You can go to charfen.com/sharma, S-H-A-R-M-A. It's my last name, C-H-A-R-F-E-N dot com forward slash S-H-A-R-M-A, Sharma, and you can see the keynote that I did.
In Episode 12 of the Entrepreneurial Personality Type, I'm going to be sharing with you the five currencies that people like us invest in our long-term success. So many of us think of investing cash, we think of managing time, but we don't look at the other currencies that actually create our outcomes and that can hold us back when we overspend. I want to help you create unlimited momentum. Once you understand the five currencies, your vision of how you move forward will change, and your ability to create momentum will exponentially increase. I'll see you on the next episode.