Momentum Podcast: 535
How to Communicate with a Visionary
by Alex Charfen
In most of my podcasts, I talk directly to the visionary entrepreneur who's growing a business or the entrepreneurial personality type who's growing a business. Well, today, I want to talk to the entrepreneurial personality type who is working for a visionary growing a business.
I was recently at a meeting where one of our client's operators asked me, “Alex, how do I communicate challenges in the company, problems that I'm facing, issues that I'm coming up to a visionary entrepreneur in a way that they will hear me?” This is my answer.
Most of my podcasts are directed towards visionary entrepreneurs, but this one is going to be a little different. In this episode, I want to talk to the EPTs who are working with the visionary entrepreneur. When it comes to visionaries, one of the biggest obstacles you will have is with communication. I want to share with you how to better communicate with a visionary in a way that they actually hear you.
Anytime in a business when we can change communication and comprehension, it improves the company. So for you as the EPT working with the visionary, you need to learn how to communicate with them in a way that they hear and understand you, even when it’s challenging. I know that it’s hard to talk about tough issues with a visionary. But as a visionary myself, I can tell you we need to know what’s going on regardless of how difficult the conversation may be. Because if we don’t know what’s going on we can’t change anything and when we get caught off guard, that’s the worst feeling in the world.
Here are a few strategies to communicate with visionaries: 1.) Stop thinking of information as positive and negative. 2.) Be transparent and direct to the point. 3.) Avoid being emotional at all costs; don’t react to the reaction. 4.) Don’t just communicate the issues, come prepared with a solution or two. 5.) Let us know how the problem is going to affect us as a company internally and externally with our clients.
Follow these strategies, and a visionary will hear you and actually look forward to your interactions. If you want more help with this, go to Billionairecode.com and jump on a call with a member of my team.
Full Audio Transcript
Alex Charfen: In most of my podcasts, I talk directly to the visionary entrepreneur who's growing a business or the entrepreneurial personality type who's growing a business. Well, today, I want to talk to the entrepreneurial personality type who is working for a visionary growing a business. I was recently at a meeting where one of our client's operators asked me, "Alex, how do I communicate challenges in the company, problems that I'm facing, issues that I'm coming up to a visionary entrepreneur in a way that they will hear me?" This is my answer.
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.
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'm actually really excited about this podcast because I think it can be used in two ways. One, if you work with a visionary entrepreneur, I think this is going to give you some insight into ways to communicate with people like us in a way that we will hear and it'll feel good and it won't be as challenging as maybe it feels to communicate with someone who's a visionary.
Two, I'm excited about this podcast because if you are a visionary entrepreneur, maybe you can share this with the people on your team to give them insight and maybe some tactics or strategies to communicate with you in a way that you will hear them better and you'll communicate better. Because 99% of business problems... Let's get real. 99% of all problems are communication problems. Anytime in a business we can improve connection and communication and comprehension and how people exchange information, we're going to incredibly, like hugely, improve the business. Recently, I was in an event. An operator from one of our client's companies was there and we were sitting in a break.
She expressed, you know, she said, "Hey, you know, I feel bad because I have to get on the phone all the time and communicate challenges and issues and problems with the visionary entrepreneur who runs our business, and I know he doesn't like that. I know it frustrates him when I do this. How do I do this well?" Well, I'm excited to share this with you because, one, I know how hard it is to talk to people like me about problems. The second you bring up a problem, I'm trying to avoid what you're saying. I'm actually in my mind avoiding the conversation we are actively in. That is how averse to problems visionaries are. We don't want roadblocks, problems, issues, challenges. Let's be honest, high level visionary entrepreneurs look at every red light as a personal offense to them.
We don't want to be slowed down at all. It is challenging to share challenging information with somebody like me. I'm incredibly fortunate that Haley, who's on my team and an operator... I always call her a natural born operator because she is. She has the personality to run a business. She has the personality to operate a business. She has the personality to communicate with a visionary entrepreneur like me. A lot of what I'm going to share with you today is me thinking about Haley and how she communicates to me in a way that makes me... That allows me to hear her even when it's challenging. If you work with a visionary, I want you to be able to communicate what's happening, and here's something I want you to know this. This may be an epiphany.
It may be an awareness for you. Here's what's interesting, so often people in businesses say, "Well, I didn't tell the visionary, the owner, the person in charge, because of course they know why." Well, I want you to know something. Most of the time the visionary is the last person to know what's going on in a business. In fact, the person in charge is always the most vulnerable. Here's why I say that, and I say it often, the person in charge is always the most vulnerable because if there's any issue in the business, it's their issue. They are in charge, so they created the issue. De facto created the issue. If there's any type of a challenge going on, the person in charge of the business is the one that has to fix it.
If there's anything happening in the business, the person in charge is the one who's going to have to create a solution. Don't ever assume that the visionary running a business knows what's going on. In fact, Katie and I have joked about it in the last decade and a half of running a business that people will come to us and tell us something that's happening, but they'll go, "Of course you already knew that." We'll say, "Nope. News to us." Everybody assumes you know, but so often we are literally the last to know. This is so important because let's get real, it's hard to communicate negative information to a visionary. We're like allergic to it. I don't want to hear negative information. I don't want to hear anything that's going to slow me down.
I don't want you to tell me there's a challenge or an issue or a problem. That's just how it is. The second reason this is so important is as a visionary, whether you know it or not or whether the visionary you work with knows it or not, they are the most vulnerable person in the room. They feel that vulnerability. They feel the weight of the organization, the vulnerability of the people, the vulnerability of the promises you made. The entire group of people that is making money from the business, the clients, like visionaries, entrepreneurs, we feel that weight. We feel that vulnerability. Another reason why this is so important is in a business as entrepreneurs, if we don't know what's going on, we can't change anything.
When we get caught off guard, that is the worst feeling in the world. Here's what I want you to know. If you work for a visionary entrepreneur, it doesn't matter how we are reacting on our face or how we're reacting to information, we need to know. Here's some strategies for you to be able to communicate without having challenges talking to a visionary entrepreneur. Number one, stop thinking of the information that you're sharing as positive and negative information. You are sharing information that just is. Oftentimes, I think the communication with the visionary entrepreneur is challenge because visionaries like me are sensitive. If somebody shows up and I know there's a problem with how they're communicating or it feels like there's a problem, I'm already on guard.
As someone who's communicating with a visionary, I want you to think about this, you are communicating what is going on. In fact, in that conversation that I had with the operator who works with one of our clients, she said, "You know, Alex, often I have to get on and everything I'm telling him is a challenge in the business." I said, "Well, are they real? Yes. Are they things that need be addressed? Absolutely. Does he need to know? Yes. Great, so communicate them.". It just is. When Haley and I talk, there's no emotion to the challenges she communicates. We've been doing it long enough. I mean, sometimes we're both frustrated with something, but she isn't presenting it in a frustrated or in a tentative or in a irritated way or in a way that makes me feel like there's a challenge.
Remember, you're just communicating what is. When you communicate with a visionary, be direct and to the point, transparent and direct and to the point. Don't try and communicate things in a way that makes it better for us. Just tell us exactly what's going on in as few words as possible and tell us what's really happening. Be direct. Be blunt. Be real. One of the biggest challenges for somebody like me is when I know someone's trying to communicate something to me, but I also know they're trying to make it easier on me. I just want you to come out with it, tell me what's going on, and let me know what's happening, and then I can handle it. When you communicate, be transparent and direct, and don't react to the reaction.
If you're communicating to a visionary entrepreneur and you're communicating a vulnerability or an issue and they say, "Oh crap," understand that that's not about you. That's about the vulnerability or the issue. Here's something that's really easy for you to do. If you're in a conversation with a visionary and you communicate negative information and they say, "Oh crap. This sucks. This is horrible," they started getting frustrated and upset. Simply ask, "I just want to make sure, are you frustrated with me or the situation?" Because you know what that'll do with 99% of people like me? It'll calm us down, and we will immediately say, "No, I'm frustrated with the situation. Of course, it's not you," because we need people to tell us when there's challenges in our lives and in our business because we don't see them.
Second, when you're communicating challenges in the business, communicate company vulnerability. This is something that Haley's great at. She'll come to me and she'll say, "We have a challenge. It's an HR issue. This is where the issue is. This is where it can challenge us and our business and our clients.". If I know what the challenge is to us and our business and our clients and she's communicating a vulnerability, I hear it. If she's communicating she's upset about a vulnerability which Haley would never do, I wouldn't hear it. That's an emotion. I need to hear the vulnerability. I need to know what the issue is. The second way to communicate with a visionary is to communicate client vulnerability.
If there's a challenge or an issue, be direct, be transparent, communicate company vulnerability, communicate client vulnerability. Haley will tell me, "Here's the issue. This is the challenge, and this is how I think it might affect our clients." As soon as I hear that it's going to affect our clients, I want to know the solution. When you communicate challenges to a visionary, it's not as hard as it feels, but if you follow these processes, it'll get easier. The last thing to know is come with at least one solution or a couple of solutions or having thought through it. Here's what's incredibly challenging for somebody like me. When somebody comes and they're always communicating issues or challenges, but they never have a solution, then all you are is a reporter.
I don't watch the news. I don't want to watch the news. I don't like reporting. I don't have time for it. If you bring me vulnerabilities or issues or challenges, have at least one or two potential solutions, or it's even better if you already know what the solution should be. I would say most of the time when Haley brings an issue to me, she explains it like this, "Here's the issue we're having. Here's the challenge to the company. This is how it may or may not affect our clients and here's what I think is the best solution and I've reviewed these." If you communicate that way to a visionary, 99% of the time we will hear you, we will understand you, and we will change behavior and make sure that we take action.
Here's what I want you to know, the the most important part of this podcast, if you work with visionary entrepreneur, we need you to communicate with us. I am begging you to communicate with us. Don't assume that we know. Don't think that we know. Don't think that we don't want to hear. If we get emotional, I want you to know something, it's not about you, it's about the thing you're communicating, but we desperately need to hear it because the most vulnerable person in the room that typically knows the least about what's going on is the visionary in charge, but no one sees it that way. I want you to know that it is absolutely that way. I've been in this position for most of my professional career and it's always been like that.
In fact, it took me a long time when I first started as an entrepreneur to realize just how vulnerable I was and how little I knew. But now that I've been doing this for over 30 years, I know that easily I know less than just about anybody else about most issues and challenges that are going on. Because my scope of what I... The scope of what I need to know is so much broader than anyone else in any position in my business. If you take away one thing from this podcast about how to communicate with a visionary, understand it's that we need you to, we desperately need you to communicate. Don't ever think that we don't.
To summarize, communicate transparently directly company vulnerability, client vulnerability with exactly what you've looked at and communicate the solutions you reviewed and what you recommend, and a visionary will not only hear you, but value you and look forward to your interactions. I know I love my interactions with Haley because I know that even though sometimes I might hear about something that's challenging or make me feel vulnerable in our business, we're going to get it solved, move forward. The fact is, in any business, growth creates deficit and success creates complexity. The bigger you grow, the more issues you have. The bigger you are, the more complex things are.
You are going to constantly and always be correcting issues, solving challenges, and moving things forward. You have to have them communicate it to you. If you're ready to start moving your business forward faster and you want to get an operator in your business who can help you with these things and understand what's going on in your company, get clear communication from your team, and move things forward faster than you ever thought possible, do one thing, go to billionairecode.com. Fill out some information for my team. Set up a call with a member of my team and let us show you what we can do to help you.
We will on that call help you understand where your business is now, what you really want to get out of it, and what are the challenges and issues in your way so that we can help you start building a plan to grow and scale greater than you ever thought you could. Go to billionairecode.com. We look forward to hearing from you.