Momentum Podcast: 30
Dear Future Ceo, What No One Else Will Tell You
by Alex Charfen
Last week, I had massive, overwhelming anxiety. Here's why, I was sick. I was actually sick from before the 1st of July, until about Saturday or Sunday, so over seven days.
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 accepted 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 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.
Full Audio Transcript
I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum Podcast, created exclusively for empire builders, game changers, world makers, shot takers 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 obsess about 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 the only way you lose, is 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 the entrepreneurial personality type is the only source of consistent, positive, human evolution and we always will be.
This is a letter I wrote one weekend, to every entrepreneur who aspires to own a company and grow a team and make their greatest contribution. It's the letter I wish I had received over 25 years ago, when I became a CEO, to tell me just what I was in for.
Dear Future CEO:
Growing a business is one of the most spiritual undertakings we can have in a lifetime. It may also be the most difficult. You are assuming a leadership position very few will accept in their lifetimes. 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 the CEO first, and as a friend and person second. You no longer just speak 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 and even looked down on. There is a large segment of the population that will dislike you only because you are trying to be successful. When you are actually successful there's an even larger percentage of the population who will dislike you for achieving success. 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 the part that has felt crazy, because it told you that everyone else was wrong, because it's right.
Believe the quiet voice that says, "You can do this, you should do this, you must do this, and you will do this." Do not 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, be caught off guard, get taken advantage of, get stolen from, 90% of CEOs 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 and close relationships, but eventually, you will realize how often you were wrong, admit your many mistakes, apologize for your many mistakes, make less of them, and no matter what, you will realize 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 and real 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 things in your life. Be obsessed with those you serve. There's 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 changed 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 their market check out, self-sabotage, don't get the help they need, and fail to move forward. For those who have developed, cultivated and nurtured the connection they have to those they serve, this is the transition where anything becomes possible. As a CEO, you exchange the freedom of being just like everyone else, for the freedom to achieve your greatest contribution. I've been in this position for most of my career, and I wouldn't trade it with anyone. Every great person in history that matters to be remembered, has been on this journey. People like us are the only cause of positive human evolution, and we always will be.
If you choose, it is now your turn. If you know you are here to change the world, and you believe in your mission more than anything else, and you know you can't turn it off, and don't know why anyone would want to, then you are in exactly the right place. Congratulations, and welcome.
P.S. Anyone who ever tells you it's going to be easier than I described above, is trying to sell you something that isn't going to work. Run.
Feel free to share this with a CEO who needs to hear it.
I remember when I first wrote this letter, I had trouble not getting emotional, because I was writing a letter to my younger self, and if you are a CEO or an entrepreneur who aspires to lead a team, grow a company and make your greatest contribution, I want you to know that it is absolutely worth everything we go through, so that we can leave our mark in this world, make the change we want to in the universe and achieve our greatest contribution.
To every one of you who's listening, and is making this commitment, congratulations, there is nothing wrong with you, and you are not alone, and we all go forward faster together.