Momentum Podcast: 675
How to Get Your Priorities Straight
by Alex Charfen
One of the most powerful and underutilized tools at an entrepreneur's disposal is prioritization. Prioritization is so powerful for effectively solving problems in your businesses. Tell me if this sounds familiar. Many companies take the concept of a parking lot and they put it in place in their business. They take the ideas that they have, and they put them in this one place, and they make the assumption that they'll be taken care of someday in the future. The challenge with this approach is that a parking lot lacks prioritization. Ideas placed in there could happen in a year, they could happen in a month, they could happen tomorrow, but there's not a method of how to handle them. Let us introduce you to the idea of a priorities list. In this episode, we get another glimpse into the Charfen Summit, and particularly Alex is going to bring in his leadership team to give insight on how we prioritize projects and processes in our business. This step in the Charfen Process is how we maintain momentum, even when things feel broken.
Prioritization is a powerful tool for effectively solving problems in your business.
The problem is that it is also one of the most overlooked.
Many companies take the concept of a parking lot and put it in place in their business. They take the ideas they have and put them in one place with the assumption that they will be taken care of someday in the future. The challenge with this approach is that a parking lot lacks prioritization. Ideas are placed there without a method of how to handle them.
What works better is a priorities list.
In this episode, Alex brings in his leadership team to give insight on how we prioritize projects and processes in our business. This step in the Charfen Process is how we maintain momentum even when things feel broken.
Full Audio Transcript
Speaker 1: This is the Momentum podcast.
Speaker 2: One of the most powerful and underutilized tools at an entrepreneur's disposal is prioritization. Prioritization is so powerful for effectively solving problems in your businesses. Tell me if this sounds familiar. Many companies take the concept of a parking lot and they put it in place in their business. They take the ideas that they have, and they put them in this one place, and they make the assumption that they'll be taken care of someday in the future.
The challenge with this approach is that a parking lot lacks prioritization. Ideas placed in there could happen in a year, they could happen in a month, they could happen tomorrow, but there's not a method of how to handle them. Let us introduce you to the idea of a priorities list. In this episode, we get another glimpse into the Charfen Summit, and particularly Alex is going to bring in his leadership team to give insight on how we prioritize projects and processes in our business. This step in the Charfen Process is how we maintain momentum, even when things feel broken.
Alex Chafen: 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. Let's see, actually, there's a ton of other comments over here, but I want to let you all read these on your own because I want to bring up our leadership panel and I don't want to go too far into lunch. And so here's what I'd like to introduce it, so for anybody who hasn't been in an event before where we've done a leadership panel is, what we do is we bring up our leadership team. I stay out of the interaction and want you to be able to ask them questions. And so we're going to bring up, Greg. Are you here, Greg? Greg, can you say something so you get pulled onto the first page. Greg: Yeah, I'm here. I'm here. Can you hear me?
Alex Chafen: Okay. Sweet. And Deanna is there.
Deanna: I'm here.
Alex Chafen: And then Katie, are you here?
Katie: I'm here.
Alex Chafen: Okay, sweet. Perfect. So, I forgot, we don't have Haley here. So it's only a three person panel this time, which is good because we don't have a ton of time. I think here's where I'm going next. So I'm going to start talking about prioritization next. When we come back from lunch, I'm going to share the priorities presentation that we did and go through it in a different way, because this is accelerator. So for any of the three of you, talk a little bit about, we made a pretty major shift from keeping a random list of stuff to saying, "Wait a second, we need to accept the fact that hardcore prioritization's needed throughout the company." What has that done for the three of you as leaders in this organization? Moving from parking lot to prioritization?
Greg: Well, I can start. So, for me coming in, I inherited a lot of systems and a lot of projects and a lot of things that were, let's just say, not the way I would've done them. And so I ended up with this massive list of just all of these different things that needed to get done. And once we really put a focus and a shift onto priorities, it allowed us to lay out all of these things, determine really what the pecking order was, and start really attacking the major issues and problems that are underlying. And in systems there's usually a lot of little things that are underneath where you're just like, "Oh, I wish we could." Or "Our company needs." Or whatever. And so with discussions with the strategic team, as well as my own team, we were able to figure that out. And now we're starting to attack and knock off a lot of these little things that are underlying. We have this major work that's being done say in marketing or something else, but there's all these little things that are just causing a little bit of a deficit. It's like a bunch of little paper cuts. And priorities has really allowed us to start to target those and knock those off. And it's just making things smoother, and you don't see it each time you knock one down, but like over the months it's adding up and it's adding up and we're feeling it. So that's what the priorities have done for me. Alex Chafen: Yeah. That's big. Greg: Deanna or Katie? Katie: So I feel like prioritization is one of my strengths. And so I can kind of see the priorities and understand what needs to be focused on next, because I do understand time and space, but I think prioritization has helped me understand, like I said, the dependencies from other teams and how we're going to also 675 - How to Get Your Priorities Straight Page 2 of 5 Transcript by Rev.com This transcript was exported on Dec 04, 2020 - view latest version here. manage resources, especially Alex's time. So this quarter, I'll give you a really good example, Deanna really needed strategic direction completely re-shot. That was going to be a really heavy load on Alex. But then I knew that we had this launch coming up, and you will start hearing the podcast come out. But Alex recorded like nearly 40 podcasts, 40 guest podcasts, where he was the guest and they're helping us to promote this launch that we're doing at the beginning of October. And so Deanna and I were able to look at those really heavy things that were going to require a lot of Alex's time and go, "Okay, Deanna, you get Alex in July. We can prioritize strategic direction for delivery. It's going to make the experience better. It's going to help with retention. It's also going to help with my launch. As we're adding new members, they're going to have like really good solid content." And then in August, we were able to prioritize the launch, and that was like, I don't know, I barely saw Alex I feel like in August, and I live with him. He was like in his office recording a lot of the day. And so I think from that standpoint, I really understand when I can look at not only my priorities and understand what needs to come next, I can see from the company priorities and go, "Okay, this is how we're going to be able to better allocate Alex." And then I also think Greg, if anybody is going to be a bottleneck, it's going to be Alex, or it's going to be a system, in my opinion. So that's how priorities have helped us because I just see it visually from everybody's perspective and then we can prioritize as a leadership team and go, "Okay, this actually takes precedence." And this is when mine are usually deadline and time driven, and so I can say, "I need you here because we'll miss the deadline." Alex Chafen: Deanna, do you want to add anything? Deanna: So we had made the shift to departments right before COVID and we'd been using a priorities list and then everything happened with COVID and we went back to having the weekly, and just in complete transparency, and I can remember this specifically, it was the last event where there was something that happened and it wasn't like a fault type of a thing, but there was something that hadn't been done. And what it revealed was we had stopped using the priorities list. And so it was like I felt like all these things were coming at me and it was like, "Okay, well this is broken and this is broken and this is broken. Now I've got like five broken things. Which one am I supposed to focus on first? What's really the priority?" And so when we made that commitment to go back to the priorities list. So if you have not implemented a priorities list, I'm telling you that you need to start it today, because it will lower the pressure and noise for everyone on your team, because then everything stops feeling like an emergency that has to be handled right in this moment. Because we all care about what we do and we don't want to let anybody down, but at the same time, there's only so much time in a day and there's only so many things that can be fixed at once. The priorities list protects you from each other. And then if something comes up and can say, "Okay, I understand this has to be done, but these are the five other priorities. Which one of these is not going to get done because now I have to focus on this other thing?" And so it just creates a much more intentional and purposeful conversation about what is an emergency and really needs to be handled in that moment.
Alex Chafen: Yeah. So
Katie: [crosstalk 00:09:20] oh, sorry. Go ahead.
Alex Chafen: No, no. I was just going to say like what Deanna is indicating with like the, "Oh, you want this done? Here's the other priorities." I hear that all the times, and now it makes you as a CEO stop bugging people, because I'll go to Greg and go, "Hey, Greg, can we do this thing?" And Greg will go, "Great. Here's the list. What do you want me to move?" And I'm like, "Cool. Can you just add the thing I said to the priorities list and we'll figure it out later." Because I never want to mess with what's already set up. So Katie, sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt. Katie: No, I was going to add that. I think that the priorities list is fantastic. It's a fantastic tool for operators and teams to help manage expectation of a visionary entrepreneur, because like as a theme and operator day, it's like, "Oh, the visionary entrepreneur wants everything to happen and they want it all happen yesterday." And I, even as Alex's wife, he'll come to me with like a million ideas in marketing, and I'll be like, "Honey, you've come to me with a million ideas. And so none of it matters. And so really tell me what's important and we'll get it on the priorities list. But I'm just not even hearing at this point anymore because you've had 10 ideas since 9:00 AM and it's like 12:30. And so I love your ideas. I don't want to squash your creativity, but you're kind of driving me crazy. We need to put it on the priorities list. And so I love you." So I think that it's a fantastic tool to manage expectations for the entrepreneur to visually see, "Hey, it's there. It's on the list. It's not on the waterfall right now, but there's going to be a planning cycle that we're going to come into, and then we'll have the opportunity to discuss it. And then we'll be able to focus on it. Because another theme in operator date, operators don't want to let you down. They don't want to let us down as entrepreneurs, anybody on your team doesn't. They care. They want to show up. They want to do a great job. And I think the constant ideation and the constant, "I want it to happen yesterday." is where people get stuck and may start to feel like they cannot win. And so I feel like that is bad. Really, really helps, the prioritization list helps a lot with just managing those expectations and understanding what's going to come first.
Alex Chafen: If you really look at it, the priorities list is a shield that your team can use to defend themselves. And if you allow it to be that, if you really allow it, because there are also times where I'll say, "Hey, there's this thing I really think we need to do." And then we'll look at the priorities and I'll say, "Yeah, no, I still think we really need to do it. There's a fire burning. We need to put this fire out. I'm feeling a fire and I want the team to feel the fire and understand we need to change something." And then we go to the priorities and we'll make an adjustment. We'll say, okay, "Well, it's going to go here." Or, "It's going to get handled ahead of these things because it is something that we really need done." That is few and far between. Far more often, I'm being sent back to my brainstorming room and to leave everybody alone and reminded that I have things on the waterfall that need to get done. That's what normally happens these days. Speaker 2: What an incredible lesson to the power of prioritization. If you're ready to take the next step and get control of the decisions that are happening in your business, we want to help you. If you go to billionairecode.com right now, you'll be able to see where you are on the path to entrepreneurial success and get on a call with a member of our team to figure out which one of our coaching programs best fits your need. Let us teach you how to implement the Charfen Process into everything that you do in your business. We'll teach you how to analyze the problems that are most affecting you right now, prioritize those problems so you know which one is most important and which one you should tackle first, commit to a plan, execute it, and then do it all over again.
Go to billionairecode.com right now to get started. That's billionairecode.com.