Momentum Podcast: 443
The Intergrator Visionary Model
by Alex Charfen
This week when I was at two different events, the Visionary Integrator Model came up over and over again. And if this is a model you're following, I want to share with you why I believe it is so broken and why it's going to become your biggest liability.
I beg entrepreneurs not to set up the visionary and integrator system in thier businesses. This dynamic just doesn't work long term. It's a huge liability.
As a CEO you don't want just one single person who's responsible for your entire team. You want to have direct contact with the main functions in your business and the things that are making it grow.Instead, set up a business around who you are, create a cadence so you're communicating with your team within a structure. If you want to see an entireley different way to run your business and help you climb the Billionaire Code, go to billionairecode.com
Full Audio Transcript
Alex Charfen: This week when I was at two different events, the Visionary Integrator Model came up over and over again. And if this is a model you're following, I want to share with you why I believe it is so broken and why it's going to become your biggest liability.
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.
Alex Charfen: 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.
Alex Charfen: If you're not familiar with the Visionary Integrator Model, let me share it with you, the visionary integrator, that language was created by an individual named Gino Wickman who wrote a book called Traction and wrote a subsequent book called Rocket Fuel. Both are really good books, in fact, before Traction and Rocket Fuel, there really wasn't a lot out there showing entrepreneurs how to run their business, how to have a cadence, how to have a system, a systemized way to consistently analyze and run their business. They're good books that a lot of people have read, but they're also books that have some liabilities, have some challenges.
Alex Charfen: In fact, there is a major, major fallacy I believe in these two books, in that what Gino Wickman, the author describes is this relationship between a visionary entrepreneur and an integrator, in that a visionary entrepreneur is somebody who should go and have ideas and have big relationships and kind of be the face of the company, but should really have very little interface or interaction at all with their team. In fact, in Traction, in every org chart that's written in the book, if you imagine a normal org chart where you have the CEO at the top and then there's a line down to the executive team and then there's a line below that to the managers, while in every org chart in the book Traction, there's the CEO visionary at the top, there's a line down to the integrator and then there's a line to the rest of the team. So think about that.
Alex Charfen: On the org chart energetically and factually, the integrator stands in between the visionary entrepreneur and everyone else on the team. And so that's the suggestion, that's actually what the book's Traction and Rocket Fuel say you should do. And I want you to understand just how much of a massive liability that is, in fact, I was in line waiting to go to ... I can't remember what event this was, I don't know if it was Hacken Live this week and I was standing with Annie Grace and Brian Jensen. They own This Naked Mind, the podcast and Annie has written a couple of books on overcoming alcohol and she's just, Annie is amazing. And they had recently read these books and she was telling me, "We're thinking about going back and getting an integrator." And I said, "Gosh I want to slow you down a little bit on that. Did you read these books?"
Alex Charfen: And they said yes. And Brian said, "Something just hasn't felt right about it for me." And I said, "Try this on for a size Brian, and I want you to think about this too. I want you to first imagine yourself as that visionary, entrepreneur, integrator in between you and the whole team. Like at first all we can see as entrepreneurs, it's what's positive about it. Somebody else is going to deal with the team. Somebody else is going to deal with all the headaches. Somebody else is going to do all the stuff I really don't want to do, all the communication, everything else so that I can just go do all this stuff I want to do. This is going to be awesome.
Alex Charfen: Let's look at the other side of that coin. What happens when you build a $5 million a year company and you have one individual that stands in between you and your entire team? You know what I called that visionary CEO at the top? A hostage because you now have your entire business being run through one individual who's this magical person called an integrator. Let's take a step forward as to how magical this person has to be, let's just say you have around $1 million business right now like Andy and Brian, so you need to find someone who is at $1 million business is going to take everything that you communicate and everything that you're thinking and the vision that you have for your company, they're going to be able to integrate it in a way that they can go out and hire a team and build an entire organization that's going to build the company and the outcomes you want just communicating with you and they're going to communicate with everybody else.
Alex Charfen: I want you to understand something, that magical person rarely exists and here's why I say rarely, we have to look at Gino Wickman's biography in order to understand where this thinking comes from. He was born into a large family business. He was never a startup entrepreneur. He never built a company from the ground up. He doesn't really understand all that's entailed there from a personal one on one perspective. By the time he'd written Traction, he hadn't done that other than a business to run Traction, and then he was the son in the visionary integrator relationship. So his father was the visionary. He was the integrator. And the cases where this relationship, I have seen work, or where it's husband and wife or mother and son or the relationship is so tight that that person has a personal obligation to the business.
Alex Charfen: When I look at Alex and Layla Hormoze who run Gym Launch, in every way Alex is the visionary and Layla is the integrator, but let's be honest, what she really is a visionary operator of the highest level and Alex is a visionary marketer and so I just see them as two visionaries that are building an organization around themselves. But in a lot of ways you could say that at the beginning, Layla was really in between Alex and most of the team and really the conduit between Alex and most of the team, but even then, Alex still communicated with the team, because here's what you want as a CEO, you don't want one person that's responsible for your entire team that you have a conduit through which you communicate. You want to be able to communicate with the right people on your team so that they understand what's going on.
Alex Charfen: Yesterday I was sharing this with a group of people at Archangel, I was at Click Funnels earlier in the week, then I flew out to California. I went from national, the California to speak out to Archangels and I did a breakout session yesterday, it was really well attended. And I was sharing this concept of like, don't go looking for this person who's going to run your whole business for you. You can find someone who's going to help offload a lot, but the main functions of the business, the things that are making your business grow, you're going to want to have direct contact with those people and you're going to want to have them in strategic planning meetings and interacting with you and understanding what's happening and seeing with perspective what's going on for them, cause it's gonna make you a much better CEO.
Alex Charfen: And one of the girls who was listening, she actually raised her hand. She said, "Well, I'm here with somebody, I'm not actually an entrepreneur, but I work with a lot of businesses and I've had several CEOs tell me they wanted me to step into this role." She was actually kind of laughing and I said, "Why are you having such a reaction to this?" And she said, "Well, now it makes sense. I didn't know that this book existed, but I keep having CEOs tell me they want to be an integrator, and then they explain to me that I'm going to be the person in between them and the entire team." And she said, "I've been doing this for a while, so I explained to them that won't work. You actually have to have contact with the team too." She said, "Look, here's how it really should work, you should be in this integrator position. So remove the visionary from the top."
Alex Charfen: And she said, "I'll stand next to you and help you build the team. I'll be your executive assistant and help you build the team, but you have to communicate with the teams so that they know what you want." And this was somebody that does this for a living and who would not step into that role because she could see the liability, but here's the problem, not everyone feels this way and not everyone knows that it's a liability, and so there's people every single day trying to create this magic relationship. And the challenge is that rarely does this magic relationship work long term.
Alex Charfen: As a CEO, here's what you really want, you want your business to be a business that you can run not that you can only run through a person. What's unspoken in that whole org chart discussion is that if the integrator is growing the business, here's what happens, the operational culture of the business is the integrators, not yours. The decision making culture of the business is the integrators decision making culture, not yours. When you look at the behavioral culture of the business, is going to be the integrators behavioral culture, not yours. And what will happen is if that person leaves for any reason ... by the way, things happen to people so even if you have the best relationship in history, it's possible that something happens and that person leaves, you're not going to know the culture of your own company.
Alex Charfen: That's what I've watched so many entrepreneurs phase going down this path and here's the problem with business advice, especially at this level, when we talk about business advice at this level, you don't know that you've gotten bad advice for years cause here's what could happen, you go after this visionary, I'm going to be the visionary, I'm going to buy than the person who's going to run my whole business, you're at $1 million, you find the person, you bring them in, you have a great relationship with them at the beginning and everything is going fantastic. You grow the business from a million to three and a half million. And then they come to you for more money because they're frustrated, they've been working really hard, they see that the business is making more so you cut a new deal with them.
Alex Charfen: Then the business continues growing and then you grow and you grow and you get to about seven or 8 million. Then they come to you and they say, You know what? I've been watching you for sure while and I think I can do this, and I realized I don't have to run that big of a business to make as much as I do here. And so I'm going to go do my own thing and I'm going to give you a month's notice, and I just want you to know that I really love you and I appreciate all your help, and this is awesome."
Alex Charfen: And so what happens is a few years down the line, you now realize the liability you've created, because here's what's happened, you've done everything that you should as a CEO, you've hired the person, you've groomed them, you've helped them, you've helped them so much, and now they're going to go pursue their own thing. But you know what's happened is you now have a business that's approaching the $10 million run rate and you're losing the person who runs it. And in order to fix that, you have to go out and find someone who can do what that person does, only at this point, how many people is it going to take to replace what that person does because they've been there from the beginning and their organizational knowledge is crazy and they literally are your conduit to the organization. See, you don't know how bad the business advice you got was until you're out on that cliff.
Alex Charfen: That's why I beg entrepreneurs not to set this up in their company. This dynamic doesn't work. The integrators who have been put in the situation know, the entrepreneurs who have run it for years know, and if you talk to anyone, I can't tell you how often I talk to somebody who's done this and when I bring up the liability of putting somebody in that position, they say, "Oh gosh, you wouldn't believe what happened to us in year three or year six or year four or year two when we did this and our integrator came to us and said they were quitting to go work for a charity or they decided to start their own business or they just didn't want to do it anymore or they were frustrated with us and they were going to go say bad things about us to the team." Or whatever it was.
Alex Charfen: When you have this single person conduit, it's the biggest liability in your business, and I don't want you to go down this path because it will make you lose sleep. So the alternative is you set up a business around who you are, you create an executive team, you create a cadence so that you're communicating with your team within a structure. Here's what we help CEOs do, here's the math, the average entrepreneur is spending somewhere between 50 to 75% of their time just getting their business going the right direction and not even really doing a lot of tactical or strategic work. They're just trying to get the trains to run on time. If you're working 40 hours a week at 50% that's about a thousand hours a week. If you're working 60 hours a week at 75% that's 2000 hours a year, not a week, at 75% and 60 hours a week, that's 2,250 hours a year, that is 250 hours more, almost 200 hours more than a full time job.
Alex Charfen: So if you're wondering why your business isn't growing, it's because you're working more than a full time job just trying to get things to go in the right direction. And the way that we solve this is through a communication structure called the cadence where with one annual meeting that takes a couple hours and four quarterly meetings and 12 monthly meetings and 52 weeklies and plus or minus 200 daily huddles, and about 300 hours a year instead of a thousand to 2,250 or more, CEOs can get their team to understand exactly where they're going, have a written plan to get there, understand with perspective, how fast they are making progress and have their entire team get into momentum. Alex Charfen: This any CEO can do, I know you can do it and you don't have to abdicate running your entire business to someone else. It doesn't work. It's not fair to you. It's not fair to them. And it's not fair to the team. You as a CEO can learn how to run your business, step into the role of leadership and grow the company you've always wanted to have because that's really the only way this works.
Alex Charfen: If you want to see an entirely different way to grow your business, that is going to give you time back, put you into momentum and help you climb the billionaire code, go to billionairecode.com fill out the application, download your copy of the actual billionaire code, Matrix our new ebook, the Billionaire Code Decoded and set up a call with a member of my team, billionairecode.com.