Momentum Podcast: 476
You can't hide your energy
by Alex Charfen
As an entrepreneur, I've had hundreds of direct team members. I've actually had thousands of team members if you count direct employees and contractors throughout my career and now that I'm 46, and I can look back over my career and look at all the people who I've ever worked with, there is a commonality with the ones who caused me the biggest challenges, the biggest heartache, the biggest disappointment.
It was always the people who I had personally had a hard time being around. It took me forever to realize that I needed to like who I was working with and there's just no way to hide your energy.
I feel like one of the most important things I can do for you, is quite simply, share my mistakes. There is no such thing as the perfect career, nobody wins all the time. As an entrepreneur, if you are successful, you are going to make mistakes so give yourself some grace and let yourself off the hook. So many of my challenges over my career have come from dealing with people. I used to hire for skill set and experience only. I didn't look at if I actually liked the person I was hiring and if I actually wanted to be around them. I thought I had to have the person who looked best on paper and that I just had to suck up my feelings. Here's what I can tell you now, you don't have to hire people that you don't like being around. You don't need to make sacrifices and compromises to get the help that you need. The team members who I've struggled with in the past have always been the ones that I never felt comfortable with from the beginning. You can't hide the energy with which you communicate. You can't hide your feelings no matter how hard you try. If you have people on your team who you don't like and don't feel excited about, you're not going to grow with the momentum that you would like. People are going to feel how you feel so surround yourself with people that you feel good about.
If you have a minute you should jump onto Facebook and join our free group – Billionaire Code – We're a community of people supporting each other, growing teams and making a massive impact.
Full Audio Transcript
Alex Charfen: As an entrepreneur, I've had hundreds of direct team members. I've actually had thousands of team members if you count direct employees and contractors throughout my career and now that I'm 46, and I can look back over my career and look at all the people who I've ever worked with, there is a commonality with the ones who caused me the biggest challenges, the biggest heartache, the biggest disappointment. It was always the people who I had personally had a hard time being around. It took me forever to realize that I needed to like who I was working with and there's just no way to hide your energy.
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.
I think one of the most important things that an experienced entrepreneur can do for every entrepreneur out there is quite simply share your mistakes. I think too many of us try and create this career history of perfection or of really kind of manipulation where we make everything look good and everything look pretty and everything look like we won all the time.
And the fact is any successful entrepreneur, there's a guarantee that you've lost a ton because in order to be a successful entrepreneur, you have to swing the bat. And you know the statistic, I am terrible at sports statistics, but one of the ones that I love is that Babe Ruth hit more home runs than anybody else in his era. He also struck out more than anybody else. He swung for the fences every time.
And so as an entrepreneur, if you are successful, you are going to have those strikeouts, those problems, those issues, those challenges, and so many of them for me have come from people. You know, you get to this place as an entrepreneur where the momentum you can create on your own is not enough, and for me that was early. That might be because I'm a really driven entrepreneur. It might also be because I'm really not good at that many things other than driving the business and coming up with the ideas. You know, I have a hard time executing. I have a hard time doing stuff.
So I was, I started out my career as a young entrepreneur, aggressively growing teams and aggressively pushing people to grow. And when I was younger, I made the mistake that so many of our clients make today and so many entrepreneurs make out there and maybe you've made, and you can give yourself some grace and let yourself off the hook here. Maybe you made the mistake like I did of hiring for skill set and experience, but you didn't really look at, did you like the person? Did you want to be around them?
In fact, I remember when I was younger going into interviews and thinking, gosh, I don't like this person. They rub me the wrong way, but man, look at the skillset. Look at the experience. You know, this is the person I need. I need to just suck it up and hire them and figure out how to get along with them. And you know, do what I need to do to be the right type of CEO so that this person will be successful in my business.
And maybe you've done that. I think it's a common thing that entrepreneurs do. I think it's a common thing that leaders do. We feel like we need help. We make sacrifices to get that help and then we make compromises to get that help, and we end up working with people we really don't want to be around.
And here's what I can tell you. At 46 years old, having a career where I've employed people for three decades. Like I started in my teens with team members and when I go back to the very beginning, there wasn't a lot of team members in my teens, but that's when I started. And when I go back to the very beginning to now, here's what I can tell you. If I consolidate the team members that I had the biggest issues with, the biggest challenges with, the ones that gave me the biggest heartache, it was always the ones that I didn't get along with. And here's what I didn't know then that I know now.
You know, and I know at a core level, in fact, I've spent the last year working with entrepreneurial coach and shaman Sheryl Nevsky, who has taught me indelibly that you can't hide the energy with which you communicate. So here's what I mean by that. When you tell somebody something, they're not just hearing what you say, they're feeling the energy behind them. So if somebody says, hey, how are you doing? And the reply is, I'm fine. Well, we all know you're not fine. We can hear the energy. That one's obvious.
But here's where we don't realize that that's happening. Here's where we don't see that happening, is that when we have people on our team that we don't like or make us feel uncomfortable, they are going to cause us massive problems.
Over and over again too, when I look back at my career, the person that I liked, the person that I wanted to be around, cared about, the one that I was excited about has always outperformed anyone with experience and skillset. In fact, they've not just outperformed those people, sometimes they've gotten promoted over those people. And so I'm not saying that experience and skillset is not important. It is, but it is just as important to have people on your team that you like, that you have fun with, that you enjoy time with.
You know, last week I traveled the whole week. In the last half of the week I hung out with Hayley and we were at an event together. We didn't attend a lot of the event, but we spent a lot of time together and it was so refreshing and awesome to be able to hang out with Hayley, who's our operations manager and just have fun and hang out and we enjoy each other's company and we laugh and we joke and we get a ton done.
But it is so incredible to sit across from somebody who I respect, who I like, who I have love for, who I really want to see do well in the world and whom I'm excited about her future. All of those things help me engage at a higher level as a leader and a CEO and they help me see the future working together with Hayley so much brighter than then when those things aren't there.
And so here's why this is important for me. This is what I want to share with you. The biggest complaints I got were always from people I didn't like. Always. In fact, I've had some crazy things from people I didn't like because here's what happens. Every interaction you have with someone that you don't like, that makes you uncomfortable, they're feeling it and it builds up and it gets worse and it gets more and more challenging.
You know, at one point I had a writer on my team who I really was challenged by. She was always trying to change things. She was always trying to make things different. She was always trying to modify what was going on. And I ended up, you know, I didn't like her. I had a hard time with her. Our energies clashed, our personalities clashed. She clearly didn't like me, non verbals, you know everything was there.
And so finally after less than a year, I let her go and she ended up filing a federal complaint with the EOC for sexual discrimination. And I remember getting the complaint and having this lump in my chest and thinking like, you've got to be kidding me. I mean I am so careful about any type of gender discrimination or any type of discrimination in general. Everybody coming into my company hears about our anti-discrimination policy, and we tell everyone it doesn't matter who you are, what sex you are, what sex you choose to sleep with, what gender identity you have, what religion you are, what you've done in your past, what languages you speak, where you were born. We don't care as long as none of it was illegal and going to cause us problems, you are not discriminated against in our company.
And I've even had people send me letters after working with us and tell me how the only place they felt safe or not discriminated against was in our company. So when I got the letter from the, the complaint from the EOC, I was devastated until I started reading it.
And I realized that this writer who we terminated, because she was not a good writer, didn't just file a sexual discrimination complaint. She filed a sexiest discrimination complaint. I'm not joking. We actually used that as part of our rebuttal. But what was even better was once the complaint came in, I shared it with our HR person at the time and he came in into my office a couple of days later and he had a voicemail from a couple of weeks prior from the writer who we had terminated and she forgot to hang up her phone after she had asked, she'd left a message asking for some final paycheck stuff and some other information. And then she thought she hung up her phone and she proceeded to have a conversation with her husband about how she was going to sue us for sexual discrimination. And he could be heard saying, but they didn't do anything. There's nothing that they did wrong. How are you going to file it? There's nothing that you have as a complaint.
And in the complaint, not only was it filed for sexiest discrimination, but where she was supposed to detail how I acted in a discriminatory way, it was very difficult for her because I hired her. So it's weird to discriminate against somebody proactively when hiring and I fired her. So it was hard to make the argument that there was discrimination and the only thing she could come up with was that at one point there was three people walking into my office and two of them were males. They were walking in before her. She came in third and my greeting to everyone was hi guys, and she felt like she was overlooked cause I said, guys.
You know it's funny. Ever since then I'm sensitive when I say, hey guys too, when I get on the phone with a couple of women, but I still do it and then I always think, oh man, I shouldn't do that. But how silly is that?
Of course the complaint was dismissed. We never heard anything about it afterwards. We sent the voicemail of the recording to the EOC and quite frankly I wanted to sue the ex team member for mental distress and making stuff up. But that happens when you're in a situation where you don't like people. In fact people you don't like will not give you discretionary effort.
I can remember another team member that we had hired about seven years ago, left our team about five years ago and it was during a time where we were having some challenges as a company. We had, we were actually winning like crazy and then having challenges. We won the best places to work in Austin three years in a row. We were on the Inc. 500 three years in a row. I won the Austin under 40. We won the fastest player, the fastest growing company in Texas. We won a health award, we won a culture award. We were winning like crazy.
And we were also having some challenges in our organization where some of our business was going down and some was going up. So we had to lay off in one place and hire in another, and it was very difficult. And we had another team member who was always complaining and always making things harder and always making things worse. And he was the type of team member that I have a hard time of being around. He wasn't proactive, he didn't try to get things done. He was one of those like I'm going to do the minimum to just barely nudge something over the finish line. Don't ever look for anything extra from me. And it was brutal.
And I remember when we finally stopped working together, what a massive relief I felt. More recently I received a letter from him that was less than kind and even went as far as to say, Alex, you are a bad person. He put that in there. Alex, you are a bad person. And when I got that letter and my first thought was like, this is crap, I don't need to listen to it. You know, I wanted to deny it.
But then again, I don't know if I really can. To be honest with you, I own part of that. We worked together for two years and every single day I didn't like that guy. I should have made the decision to let him go from my team to bring somebody in who I actually cared about and wanted to work with. And I know, I know now today I can make the admission that energetically I did not treat him well. I might've said kind things. I might've said polite things. I might've been professional and cordial, but energetically, every time he walked into my office, I was repelled. And the letter that I received where he told me I'm a bad person that was two years of him feeling less than. That was two years of him feeling like I didn't care. That was two years of him feeling the negative feelings from me.
And so while I don't agree with everything he put in his letter, I can own that he was in a bad situation and as the CEO, I should've dismissed him. I should have made a change. I should have taken care of that. But it took me forever to understand this, and you know, it's one of those lessons you learn over and over and over again.
Here's another part of it. People you don't like will always be the mutineers. If you're thinking about what I'm saying, go through an exercise for me. Take out your org chart and look at the entire org chart and think to yourself, who are the people that I don't have positive feelings about? Who are the people that rub me the wrong way? Who are the people that I don't trust? Who are the people that I'm not excited about?
Chances are those are your mutineers. Those are the people that are going to cause challenges in your company. Those are the people that are going to cause you issues. Those are the people who are going to push against you. So those are mutineers and there's a reason because energetically they don't feel connected to you or the company because you don't feel connected to them.
So here's what you need to know. This is what I tell you, I think you should apply it. So first interview people you're going to work with. As your business grows, you're not going to be able to interview everyone, but interview people who you're going to work with and then make sure that when your HR person is interviewing, they're finding people, they understand culturally what to find and find an HR person that finds people that you like.
Hayley is amazing. Every time we go out to hire someone, she puts candidates in front of us where I legitimately have a hard time hiring. In fact, we just recently hired a sales rep, Jeremy, I can't wait for him to start. He starts Monday. But it was difficult to hire Jeremy because Hayley put candidates in front of me that were so competitive that it was hard to make the decision and I really, really genuinely liked them. And so look for someone who can put people in front of you that you're excited about, that you want to work with, that get you engaged.
Second, spend time with key players on your team, onboard them. Get to know them. Spend time in person. You know, we recently hired a systems manager, somebody who's running all of our systems. His name's Greg and he's extraordinary, like one of the most plug and play leaders I've ever worked with. He came into our company and day one started having this massive positive effect, creating crazy momentum and clarity. Just an amazing leader, and I'm personally onboarding him.
You know, that means in the first month he was with us, I met with him every single day and I missed a few because of travel, but every day I was in the office, we met every single day and I checked in with him. I made sure he got assimilated into the company, brought into the company, and made sure he understands how he can get help and how I can support him. And I wanted to really help him get up and running in our organization.
So when you're bringing people in, spend time with them. You know, we run a remote team in May. We have an event here in town. We're flying a ton of our team in to spend time with them, to be around us, to meet our clients, to see the event itself, to experience the event. I invest in the people who are important, in the people who are important to me and the people that I like.
And so this is a double edged sword here. You know, it's not just that you shouldn't be around the people that you don't like or who you don't feel comfortable around. Those that you feel comfortable around, those that you do like being around invest, invest heavily. Invest in their education, invest time in them, invest time in helping them duplicate your decision making. Invest time in them helping understand who you are.
Because when your leadership team understands you, that is one of the biggest shortcuts in business you can. You shortcut decision making, you shortcut challenges, you shortcut issues, you shortcut getting projects done. So spend time, invest and spend time with the people who are on your team.
Now, one last thing you should know. Experience and skillset is not immaterial. Experience and skillset is absolutely important. You shouldn't go out and try and hire a CFO who's never had experience with accounting or bookkeeping because you like them and you feel good at them, good about them. You know, experience and skillset matters. But in skilled positions, you need to find experience, skillset and someone who fits your culture and someone you're excited about. And so when you're out hiring and when you're bringing in your team, it is absolutely okay to ask yourself this question.
In fact, you know where I learned this? I learned this from my younger sister, Melissa. I have three younger sisters, Melissa's the middle one. And she in high school got a job as a hostess at a company or at a restaurant called the Yard House. And the Yard House grew into this monolith chain, like insanely huge chain with the highest per square foot profitability of any restaurant chain in the history of restaurant chain sales in the United States. It was, the Yard House is a complete anomaly.
And my sister went from hostess to senior hostess to waitress to lead waitress to working her way up. I don't know how many promotions she got, but she became a senior executive director at Yard House. She was one of I think seven or eight people on an executive team when Yard House was sold to Darden Restaurants for a massive amount of money.
And Melissa that happened years ago, I think five or six years ago. And Melissa, this is my kid sister has essentially retired off of what she made from the Yard House and Melissa's position there was to build the teams at each new Yard House. In fact, they would fly her around when they were opening a new restaurant and she would go in and build the teams.
And I remember asking her, Melissa, how do you consistently, successfully build these teams that absolutely crush like the openings and do so much and get so much done? Like how is it that you can do that over and over again? And she's like, she looked at me as congruently as anybody ever has and she said, oh, it's pretty easy Alex. I just ask myself would I want to have lunch with this person? Would I want to spend time with this person? Would I invest time with this person?
And I'm like, really Melissa that's it? And she's like, oh yeah, that's it. I've been, you know, I've done it hundreds of times and I think by that point she'd done it thousands of times. So when you sit down with somebody to hire them, ask yourself, do I like this person? Do I want to spend time with this person? Do I want to have lunch with this person? And here's the result you will get.
Today I love my team. We get massive results. I'm excited to coach them, to grow with them. They support each other like crazy, and here's the one of the biggest things. I don't have anxiety. I don't have anxiety in my business. I don't have anxiety around my team. I don't walk up to somebody on the team and think, oh man, not again. It's just exciting every day to work with our company and with our team, and I want that for you.
You can't hide your energy. People are going to feel how you feel. So surround yourself with people who you feel good about and your business will be in insane momentum.
If you have a minute, go now and join our group on Facebook. It's called the Billionaire Code, actually just Billionaire Code and it's a free group and it's a community of entrepreneurs who are growing their businesses, growing teams, making a massive impact and getting into momentum. It's Billionaire Code.
And if you go there, there are three questions we ask in order for you to get approved. Here's the requirement. You must answer all three questions and if you do, within about 24 hours, a member of my team will approve you. You can join the conversation, get free information from us, and be part of a growing community on Facebook. Billionaire Code on Facebook.
And when you're hiring, start leaning in, making sure you like the person you're working with, bring them in, invest in them, and you will see everything in your business change.