Momentum Podcast: 260
by Alex Charfen
I was an awkward kid growing up and I didn't know how to make things better. I can recall multiple challenging instances growing up that made things difficult. However, the more I read about successful people, the more I found people who were just as awkward as me.
Full Audio Transcript
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.
Embrace awkward. For most of us, we've spent a lot of our lives trying to be the same as the people around us, trying to blend in, trying to be like others, trying not to stand out, and trying not to get noticed. I know that was the case for me when I was younger. In fact, in school, I was always the awkward kid. I felt so different than everyone else. I didn't even feel like I could access the same systems that my peers did for help. I really didn't understand where to turn for help. I was so fundamentally different. In school, I would get made fun of constantly. I wasn't coordinated. I fell over a lot. I used to stand up and fall down.
I had a condition called Osgood-Schlatter not once, not twice, but four times when I was younger, where I went through periods that my body stopped growing. It would hurt and be full of pain, and my joints would hurt. Then rather than stop growing completely, it would grow incredibly fast, so I would grow inches in months. That would hurt and cause pain and keep me completely awkward and uncoordinated. I remember in school when we did the Presidential Physical Fitness Test. I came in last place out of a class of 32 people with boys and girls in third grade. It made such an impression on me. I remember it today. I remember being ridiculously and uncontrollably awkward. I didn't know how to make things better.
Today, I get called to travel around the world and speak on stages and influence people. I get called by some of the most important entrepreneurs in the world when they need help, when they need to structure their business, when they want to grow a company. I help some of the most talented entrepreneurs on the planet grow six-figure, seven-figure, and even eight-figure and nine-figure businesses. But as a kid, I couldn't find a place to belong. Yeah, I remember in third or fourth grade the name on the roster in my class where they would call roll in the morning. My name's Alexander, but it cut off at Alexa. In that class, the first day of school, my teacher said Alexa Charfen, and from that point forward, that was my name in school.
My name's Alex, but I was called Alexa. For most of my elementary school years, I thought I was gay. I wasn't attracted to men at all, but I was called gay so often and I got made fun of for being gay so often, I actually seriously considered my own feelings of sexuality, because the reflection to me from all of my peers around me was that I was gay. I remember being called gay slurs like homo and fag and all kinds of stuff when I was younger and not really even understanding it.
Now, as an adult, I just know I was different. I didn't have the same sensitivities other kids did. I didn't understand how to exist in the social situations that they did. In fact, I felt so different than the other kids around me, I felt like I was under attack so consistently that rather than spend time with the kids around me, rather than try and relate to the people around me, I read obsessively. If you've listened to my podcast, you know this story. I started reading first personal development that confused me, but then I started obsessing over the lives of successful people. I wanted to go and figure out, what was this thing called success that I so clearly didn't have? Why was it that I was in such a dire condition and not able to create success, not able to connect with the people around me? I didn't understand it.
Here's what I found. The more that I read about successful people, the more that I obsessed around what was this thing that created success, the more I found people that were just as awkward as I was, just as different. Some were even disabled, disordered, had challenges beyond anything I could ever imagine, and they still went on to change the world. I remember when I read the story of Rosa Parks, a young black woman who one day decided, "I'm not going to move to the back of the bus." I remember reading about that act of courage and defiance, and what it took for her in the atmosphere she was in to say no, not only as a woman, but as a black woman in a country that at the time had little or no respect for her. She stood up and said, "I'm going to change things." I remember reading that story and thinking, "Man, maybe I'm different like her."
I remember reading about Helen Keller, a woman who was born in a condition where she's fortunate she wasn't wrapped in a burlap sack and thrown in a lake with rocks in it. I don't say that to be rude, but at the time where she was born, that was actually a practice, because she was deaf and dumb and blind. In fact, how ridiculous is it that back then, we called somebody who couldn't talk dumb? She was mute. In her early years, the assumption was that she would amount to nothing. She would just be dead weight. But Helen Keller, even with all of her challenges, all of her awkwardness, all of the weirdness that she had to deal with, much harder than anything I dealt with, she still went on to change the world.
I remember reading about Oprah Winfrey, who as a child went through such horror and abuses, it's hard to even think or talk about, who was left for dead more than once, and who really had very few people in her life who helped her or supported her or championed who she was. But even though she had that challenging beginning, even though she had everything stacked against her, even though there's no indication in her early years that she should have approached anything appearing to be successful, Oprah has created so much success in the world, her name means something forward and backwards. Oprah is who she is, and Harpo is the studio she owns. She is extraordinary, because she has, on her own, fought back that awkward beginning, those challenges as a child, and gone on to be one of the most famous women in the world and one of the most influential people on the planet.
As I went on and continued in life, it wasn't just reading about successful people. I actually had this incredible opportunity to spend time around successful people more and more, especially in my early career. I remember being around people who were successful and had created massive companies, and who employed hundreds, sometimes thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of people, being around people who moved the world around like puzzle pieces. When I first got close to them, I expected to see this incredible difference between them and the rest of the world, and you know what? I did. They were freaking awkward and eccentric and different and unique. They didn't talk like everyone else or walk like everyone else or show up like everyone else. In fact, they had unique beliefs and processes and systems and ways of looking at the world.
I often share that one of my friends who's a billionaire walks up to conference rooms' doors, holds his hands up so he can read the energy in the room, and then and only then will he go in. But he'll often turn to someone and say, "Eh, not for me," and walk away. That is awkward. What I realized as time went forward, and what I've realized today, is that initial feeling of being different, that awkwardness, that separation I felt, was in actuality the very condition that makes us unique and that allows you and I as evolutionary hunters to go and change the world, because no one who has been average has ever gone out and changed the world. No one who is like everyone else has ever made a difference in this world. No one who played it safe, was like everyone else, who chased trends, who clinged to the status quo, who strives for average has ever left their dent in the universe.
What I found was, by being around massively successful people, was that being awkward may just be what makes us successful. In fact, when you look at the term awkward or eccentric or different or unique, what we're really saying is not like everyone else. While it's difficult, especially when we're younger or as young entrepreneurs, to embrace how different we truly are, I want you to know that it's that difference, that awkwardness, that eccentricity, that makes you exactly who you are in this world. It is those things that will create the success that you've always wanted.
For people like us, even though it's difficult and even though it may not be something we've ever considered before, when we lean in and embrace our awkwardness, when we finally admit who we are, when we declare that we are different than the rest of the world, when we bring the things into our lives that we like, that we want, that support our momentum, it is then, through embracing our awkwardness, that we will create massive momentum. I am living proof, because as a speaker, as an entrepreneur, as a consultant, I've always been successful. I've had success, and I've had companies that I was proud of, and I've created a lot of wealth for my family, for my friends. Other than the bankruptcy Cadey and I suffered in 2007, my life has been one of being able to show successes. Of course, there has been challenges, but I've been able to show progress and success.
My understanding and belief now is that that success has come from me getting closer and closer to who I am, which as I do, I become less and less like everyone else. Because the more we're willing to declare who we are, the less we are a part of the crowd. The more we're willing to say that we are different, the more we ascend to a position of leadership. Here's what's bizarre. Five or six years ago when I was wearing $4,000 handmade tailored suits, I got some keynote opportunities. We created some momentum. When I was working with the government and looking like everyone else and acting like a consultant, we actually helped the United States solve the foreclosure crisis.
But four or five years ago, when I finally felt like I wanted to be who I am, when I started wearing the clothes that I wanted to wear, when I started just making decisions that were logical for me, when I started wearing what made me comfortable, when I started acting like I wanted to act, when I only started taking the speeches I wanted, when I only started talking about what was important to me, when I started sharing who I really am, when I started wearing the Vibram FiveFinger shoes and indoor blue blocking glasses and clothes that make me comfortable, and I refused to do anything other than what I wanted to do, that is when I got on stage with Tony Robbins and Joe Polish and Shaun Stephenson and Robin Sharma and Greg Wells and Peter Diamandis and so many more amazing human beings throughout the world. Here's what I can tell you about each one of them. They are just as different and awkward and as eccentric and as unique as I am. Every one of them embraces it.
I know it's a weird way to look at things, but as an entrepreneur, the more different you are, the more eccentric you are, the more you allow yourself to be who you truly are, the more the world will see you as someone who should be followed, the more the world will listen, and the more people will actually hear you, because the problem for most entrepreneurs that are trying to be heard today is that there is so much noise, your message isn't cutting through. But when you embrace who you are, how different you are, when you start talking about it, when you let people know what really is going on for you, you will attract the people you're supposed to be connected to.
I'm pretty sure that five years ago, if I had told everybody I was going to stop wearing suits, wear casual clothes all the time, buy a closet full of black T-shirts, and start talking about the Entrepreneurial Personality Type, everyone in my life would have told me I was crazy. But it was within a year of doing that that I was on some of the most important stages in the world having dialogues with people I could never get close to before that. I did that through embracing who I am, how awkward I am, how different I am, and how eccentric I am, and you can too.
Embrace who you are. Embrace your awkwardness. Let the world see it. Stop being afraid, and you'll be shocked at how the world around you shifts. It's crazy how many entrepreneurs who are at the end of their careers call back to those at the beginning and say things like, "Show the world who you are. Stop hiding. Stop acting like someone else. Be transparent. Be vulnerable. Be real." The messages are there, because it will help you create the world you really want around you, and it will help you create the success, the momentum, and the impact you've always known you should. Embrace being awkward.
If you haven't yet, I have a quick suggestion for you. I want to help you create more momentum right now than you ever thought possible. I want to give you one of the single most important keystone habits to moving forward as an entrepreneur, hydration. I know it sounds crazy for someone who's known for helping seven-figure business owners grow to eight figures and nine figures and more to be talking about water, but here's what I can tell you about every client I've ever worked with. We start with hydration, because it is a gateway to success. You heard me say that right. Water is a massive gateway to success.
In fact, the reason I start with all of my clients on hydration is, if we can improve their hydration habits, we get leverage everywhere. Their food digests better. Their supplements absorb better. They have more focus and awareness during the day. They're capable of more. They can do more. I want all of that for you right now. Don't avoid this suggestion. In fact, I want you to reveal to yourself and awaken to yourself your natural thirst instinct, maybe for the first time. Thousands of entrepreneurs have taken our 10-day natural thirst challenge. Are you ready? Go to getthirstynow.com, again getthirstynow.com.
Here's what I can commit to you. If you follow the process in the videos, which are absolutely free and only take a few minutes to watch, within 10 days, you will be drinking more water than you ever thought possible, and you may experience some massive changes in your body like a lot of the other participants. In only 10 days, we've had people eliminate joint pain, eliminate migraine headaches, lower their blood sugar, eliminate insomnia, sleep better, wake up more rested, feel better in their workouts, expand their capacity for aerobic exercise, and more. If you haven't yet, go to getthirstynow.com right now, and in 10 days, you'll meet your natural thirst instinct possibly for the first time in a long time.