Momentum Podcast: 133

Vulnerability with Your Team Creates Momentum

by Alex Charfen

Introduction

This is one of the most difficult lessons for an entrepreneur to learn because when all of us, including me, first go out and hire our team, it's not very pretty. Yes, there are some entrepreneurs that are natural born managers or leaders, and have never had a problem with a team, have never had a problem bringing in leverage. I'm not one of those, and to be honest with you, I haven't met a lot of them either.

Episode Description

Over 90% of entrepreneurs never build a team. There is a reason, asking for help is one of the hardest things for people like us to do. 

We have all been on the team, or tried to do the project with other people that failed because no one would work is hard as we did. Everyone of us has asked for help and then let down. Some of us, myself included, had a hard time understanding how to even access help growing up. All of this leads to difficulty in building a team, and becoming a transformational leader. Once we understand this difficulty, and realized that if we are vulnerable with our team, they can actually help us when we needed the most, everything gets easier.

Full Audio Transcript

I'm Alex Charfen, and this is the Momentum Podcast, made for empire builders, game changers, trail blazers, 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 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, that 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. Vulnerability with your team creates momentum.

This is one of the most difficult lessons for an entrepreneur to learn because when all of us, including me, first go out and hire our team, it's not very pretty. Yes, there are some entrepreneurs that are natural born managers or leaders, and have never had a problem with a team, have never had a problem bringing in leverage. I'm not one of those, and to be honest with you, I haven't met a lot of them either.

Most of my clients have struggled about a hard time, just like I did. I share with people openly. Today, I build teams by accident. I have multiple businesses in multiple industries, and I coach businesses around the world, building dynamic, world-changing teams, but when I first started out, I didn't have any of this.

The first professional position I had, I was an executive vice-president for a company called EnviroTech in Orlando, and in eight months I had nine assistants. Not one of them was fired. A couple of them left at lunch, and never came back. It was embarrassing. I was so difficult to be around, and so hard to work for, that literally people disappeared.

It became kind of a joke. I got tons of stuff done. I was still successful. I overcame it, but it was ridiculously painful, and it hurt. It was hard to be in a situation where I was working with somebody that felt like the situation was so challenging that they just had to disappear, that felt like the situation was so bad that a couple of them left at lunch and didn't come back.

I laugh about it now, but at the time, it was painful, and I can only laugh because I realized or I've learned how to reverse this, and how to make it better because in all reality, any entrepreneur who's ever built a team knows that it isn't funny when your team isn't happy.

It's not funny when you're not creating momentum together. It's not funny when somebody feels like quitting, or doesn't want to give you all of their effort. In fact, all of those things are wildly frustrating. They hold us back. They make us feel defective as leaders, and they make us feel like we're standing in place.

Now, here's the challenge. There's a reason why so many of us have a hard time with our teams, including me when I first started out. It's because we bought into this rhetoric, this crap, this garbage like never let them see you sweat, or don't tell them what's really going on, don't let them see you cry, don't be vulnerable, don't tell them what's really happening, be strong.

There's this saying from Lee Iacocca. "The speed of the boss is the speed of the team." What so many people have interpreted that as is I have to go into the office, and run all day, every day, set the example, and never have any type of a challenge. Well, if you're capable of doing that as an entrepreneur, congratulations because you're the first one I've met.

Every person like us I've ever worked with, regardless of the industry, regardless of the company, regardless of the situation, has experienced challenges, and constraint, and frustration. We are that small population that gets up every morning and says, "What more can I do? What new can I do? How do I make this world a better place?"

We will always experience challenges, and frustration, and setbacks, and things will not go exactly like we want them to. That's exactly when we should share what's going on with our team.

Years ago, I was teaching a course. I think it was 2011, I was teaching a course that we used to have called LEAD, which has now matured into our current products and offerings, but it was one of the business growth courses that we used to teach. I had this brilliant entrepreneur in the room. Her name was Gwen [Dobamiar 00:05:02], or is Gwen Dobamiar. She's still a friend of mine and Cadey's.

She had been beat up. Beat up by her business. Beat up by the market, and she had gone through some serious trauma. In 2007, 2008 timeframe, she had had a large real estate team, and she was doing incredibly well. She was one of the leaders in her marketplace, and it all came crashing down, much like it did for Cadey and I.

Gwen was telling us what had happened, and how she tried to keep the team together, and how she didn't tell them what was going on, and she didn't share with them how she was feeling, and then one day she just had to lay everybody off, and it was incredibly traumatic for her. I remember asking her, "Gwen, what would have happened if you had asked everybody for help?"

It was almost like somebody had asked her a question that she had never considered because the default for entrepreneurs like us is not to share, not to tell people what's going on, not to let people know how we're feeling, and what's happening for us. The default is to deal with it, and stuff it down, and put up a stiff upper lip, and look strong, and all of that other garbage that is nothing but painful operational drag.

In that class, Gwen was talking about how she needed help, how she wanted to grow her business again, but she just didn't want to take on the risk of building a team. I remember we kind of got into like a little bit of an argument in front of the whole room because I was saying, "Gwen, there's only one way you're going to do this is if you go out and get help." She said, "Alex, there's no way I can get help. I don't know how I would afford it. An assistant's $40,000 a year. I can't pay that right now. I'm just recovering. I'm just getting back on my feet."

I said, "Gwen, if you hire a contractor as an assistant, and you pay them $15 an hour, and you need them 20 hours a week, like you said, that's $300 for the first week. Can you afford that?" She said, "Yes." We gave her a way to place an ad, and she went to the hotel room that night. She didn't place it exactly like we told her to, so if you're listening, Gwen, I remember.

She placed it, she took action, and within a day she had some applications from amazing people who wanted to work with her for $15 an hour. One of them submitted her application, along with her resume, along with her executive summary of all of the positions that she had had, and her DiSC profile, and she was amazing.

She had had a baby, and wanted to stay at home and work, and Gwen's position was perfect for her. She was working for, again, $15 an hour. I think it might have been $12, but let's just call it $15. Gwen started to build her team, but she built it differently this time. She was honest, and sincere, and she told people what was going on, and she still does.

She shares vulnerably and transparently with her team, what she wants, and when she wants it, and how she's going to grow. As a result, she didn't just hire that one person, she's now built a team that's thriving again, and out setting records, and making her new levels of income, and growing her business for her.

Why? Because she went from what she did in the first time, see the whole time the market was crashing, the whole time that her business was falling apart, the whole time that numbers were coming down, she wasn't telling her team what was going on. She didn't even give them a chance to help her, to support her, to understand how they could help or support her.

Instead, she did it all by herself. For people like us, when we put on that veneer, that outside shell that says, "Everything's okay," but on the inside it really isn't, it paralyzes us to act in the world. It makes it near impossible for us to do what we really need to do, what we know we need to do.

When we're real, and raw, and vulnerable with our team, when we let them know how we're really feeling, and what's really happening for us, what's really going on, they can respond. They can support us. They grow to understand us better. They grow to understand where we truly need help, where we truly need support.Then, you have a team that actually contributes at the highest level to create constant momentum, and you don't have to do it all yourself.

When it comes to sharing with your team, vulnerability creates momentum. I have news for you. If there's something that's bothering you, if there's something that's frustrating you, if there's something that is unspoken to your team, one, they know something's wrong. They always do. Teams always sense when something's wrong with the leader.

Two, and here's the big problem. If you don't tell them what it is, they always assume it's them. Let that sink in. If you don't share with your team what's bothering you, they will assume that they are. There's this fact about human beings, especially ones that are good, especially ones that really know their stuff, especially ones that will go out and change the world, they won't stay in a place where they don't feel like they're respected or wanted.

It doesn't matter if you ever say anything overtly to your A-players, to the people who really matter, if they, over time, feel like something's wrong, and make the assumption that it's them, it will be harder and harder for them to come into work, and perform at the highest level, and achieve for you. It will be harder and harder for them to create their own momentum in the position that you've provided for them.

It will be harder and harder for them to create the outcomes that you both want, and eventually, even your best team members will become ineffective, and leave, or they'll become ineffective, and you'll redeploy them because when you're not vulnerable with somebody, when you don't tell them what's really happening for you, when you don't share with your team what's going on, you lose momentum.

You hold everyone back. You have everyone on your team operating with less than full information, which means they're operating at less than full capacity. I don't want you to do that. I want you to let your team know what's really happening. Share with them transparently what's happening in the company. Show them your numbers. Quit messing around. Show them how much you're making, what the expenses are, and what your profitability is.

The bottom line, for any of you who are worried about doing this, I just want you to know, whatever your company is grossing, 99% of the people in the world think that's what you're making. When Cadey and I put our company on the INC 500 list, and we were at $12 million, it was printed in the magazine, I can't tell you how many people said to me, "I can't believe you and your wife made $12 million a year," because most people don't understand there's expenses in a business.

Most people don't do the math that we made a fraction of that. Most people assume you're making so much more than you are. Stop hiding what's really going on in a company. The most important scoreboard is how much money is coming in, and how much money is being made in profit, and if you're not sharing that with your team, then you can't hold them accountable to improving that result. Isn't that what this is all about?

The business has one responsibility. Make you as much money as possible, and improve your net worth. If you're willing to share that with your team, they can actually track the scoreboard with you, and make it grow. If you're one of those leaders, one of those entrepreneurs, that maybe hasn't been as vulnerable with your team as you can be, or maybe you haven't shared with them what's really going on.

Maybe you haven't told them what's really happening in the business. Here's my challenge to you. You're one of the few entrepreneurs in the world who's already built a team. 90% of people out there don't ever do this. You've already reached rarefied area. You're already swimming in the deep water. You're already one of the very few who's willing to take the risk, and make the commitment, and make it happen to actually have people working with you, on your dreams, your goals, your desires, your business growth.

Now take it to the next level, and tell them what's really going on because every time you're willing to share with your team, and let them know what's happening, and be vulnerable with them, and be real with them, you give them exactly the information they need to make things better for you. Whenever you don't, whenever you hold something back, whenever the team doesn't really understand what's happening, every single time, you're creating unspoken, unseen, unheard operational drag that everyone does feel.

Vulnerability with your team will create momentum. Every great CEO in the world knows that when your team knows what's going on, when they understand what's happening, and when they understand you, that's when you finally get into full momentum, go out, and change the world.

If you don't own the business you want right now, share with your team. Let them know what's happening. Give them a chance to operate at the same level of understanding you do, and you will see everyone in your organization work at a higher level of efficiency, higher level of effectiveness, and here's what's interesting.

When you are vulnerable with your team, you will feel less vulnerable in the world. When you are willing to tell them what's going on, you'll be way more confident in what you're doing. When you are willing to be transparent, and share with your team what's really happening, down to how much money is being made, you will see your entire organization pull in the direction of exactly the goals you have, which is to create a profitable business that sustains over time, and creates the biggest effect you possibly can.

Vulnerability with your team creates momentum. If you've built a team, or are building a team, and your business has approached or reached $1 million, you should reach out. We have a mastermind of million dollar plus CEOs from around the globe, all that are creating world-changing businesses, and you might qualify.

If you're ready to create more momentum and have the true systems in structure, so that you can build a team without feeling the pain and ambiguity of not knowing what to do next, if you want to know exactly what a focus so that your team moves in the right direction, and the systems and strategies so that you can communicate to them, so that every member of your team is fully optimized, and moving in the same direction you are, you owe it to yourself to call us. A conversation costs you nothing, but it could literally change your entire world.

Thank You For Listening!

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With gratitude,

Alex

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