Momentum Podcast: 75
Real Dress For Success
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.
Evolutionary hunters are sensitive. Not cry at the drop of a hat sensitive, sensitive like any evolutionary hunter would be. We are hyper-aware of our surroundings. We observe, see and feel more than most people do.
These characteristics have kept us alive for millennia. Our ability to feel what is going on around us can be a superpower. When there is low pressure and noise in our lives, the accuracy of our sensitivity goes, and it will guide us down a path to consistent momentum and success.
When pressure and noise go up, sensitivities can get overwhelming and stop us in our tracks. This is the reason I have a different take on dressing for success than most of the thought leaders out there.
Full Audio Transcript
I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum Podcast, made for empire builders, game-changers, trail-blazers, shot-takers, record-breakers, world-makers, and creators of all kinds, those among us who can't turn 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, and 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're 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.
Dang, I was trying to do that in under a minute and it went a minute five. Thanks for being here with me. This is the Momentum Podcast for the Entrepreneurial Personality Type. Tomorrow that's going to be even faster. This has nothing to do with the topic today that I'm going to share with you, the Real Dress for Success. I want to tell you as an evolutionary hunter how you can actually dress to create momentum to move yourself forward in more ways than you would expect, but I was just going to say, when I was younger, I did some voiceover work. You know, little did I know spending time being paid by the hour standing in a telephone booth and reading local advertising in South Florida would ever come in handy, but I think it is tremendous for doing a podcast because I had to learn how to do intonation, I had to learn how to convey a feeling, and so if you're in the ... give me feedback.
Definitely let me know what you think of the manifesto, and I'd love to get your input, and see if you think it's too long or any of that stuff. Definitely let us know. Just go to Facebook and go my group, the Optimized Entrepreneur, and we take any feedback you want to give us for this podcast in that group, or you can send us message and let us know what you think because we are actively collecting information to understand how we can make the podcast better and what you like to hear.
For tonight, I want to talk about a topic that I think so many people don't talk about because today there's this impression in the world that we all have to create an image of some sort, and the real dress for success, like the title of this podcast is, is what is going to make you comfortable. Here's why. We are evolutionary hunters. We're sensitive. That doesn't mean that you cry, but you're sensitive like a hunter, like an evolutionary hunter would be. You're hyper aware of your surroundings. You feel more than most people do. You see and observe more than most people do. These characteristics have kept us alive.
As evolutionary hunters, the ability to have that sensitivity to be able to see around corners, to know the conversation that was just going on, not the one that's going on now, like when you walk in the room to be able to tell the tone of the room, all of those sensitivities are what create insane levels of success for us. Our ability to feel what's going on around us can be a superpower, and when there is low pressure and noise in our lives, the accuracy of that sensitivity we have goes crazy, and it guides down a path to consistent momentum and consistent success because it's your awareness, it's your sensitivity, it's your ability to be present that guides you towards success, so whatever you can do to lower pressure and noise is going to make you in the right direction because when pressure and noise go up, our sensitivities can get overwhelming and they can stop us.
They can stop us from moving forward. Everything can feel loud. They cut down our ability to be present. For a lot of people like us, we start getting sick. We start feeling physically fatigued. We start feeling exhausted. We have trouble making decisions. We have trouble doing what we should be doing, and so I do everything I can to help entrepreneurs lower pressure and noise, and one of the places I want you to consider is how you dress. This is just for you to consider because it took be forever to figure this out, but we wear clothes most of the time and if your clothes are uncomfortable, there is a base level pressure and noise that is bothering you all the time. You just don't know it because it's never gone away, and I wore suits for most of my career.
In fact, I started in [Brick Lars 00:05:11] high school speech class when I was 13 us old. I wore a tie to school every day in high school, and I wore suits for years. It wasn't until I got into my 30s that I started really feeling how uncomfortable I was. My feet just didn't feel good in dress shoes anymore. My suits always caused inflammation, and I had more awareness of it because I would wear a suit for the whole day and the neck would get tight. The suit didn't shrink over the course of the day. You got bigger, and that inflammation in the suit, like it only got ... when I was wearing a T-shirt, the T-shirt didn't get tight. It was only when I was wearing a suit. You know, I started realizing I didn't want to do that anymore, and there's a lot of things that have pointed to this for me in my career. Let me share a couple of anecdotes about clothes. I just want to share how important this really is.
You know, Reagan, when she was probably six weeks or eight weeks old, we ... maybe she was a little bit older than that. Maybe it was a few months old. Sorry. It was a few months old because I'm thinking we had her in a little like kid Polo dress, and I probably shouldn't have used the brand name, but Cadey's parents had sent us a little purple dress for her. We were leaving the house one day and we were attachment parents, so Reagan was with us all the time, and we were going to Cadey's real estate office. She was buying and selling ... well, we were buying and selling houses, but she was also one of the top agents in South Florida and she was selling a lot of our properties and other people's. We threw Reagan in this dress when she was asleep. She was sleeping when we were leaving. She was exhausted. She was a pretty good sleeper as a baby, so we could change her and she was asleep, and so we left the house in this dress. We drove down to Cadey's real estate office.
Reagan was in a little car carrier, so we took her inside. She was still asleep, and we put her up against a wall in a conference room and we started working. Gosh, it kind of sounds bad that we put our kid up against a wall, but I remember she was up against the wall on the side of the conference room. Let's be honest. If you're a parent, you know what I'm talking about. You just put that car seat out of the way where nobody is going to kick it. Reagan woke up, and within like 20 seconds of waking up started screaming, like crying so loud that you would have thought we had done something, like we had bumped her head or something. Cadey took her out and we checked her diapers. She was in this little dress, so we checked the diaper, we changed the diaper. That didn't stop it. She was screaming.
Cadey tried to nurse her. I tried to walk her. This was really weird because 100% of the time, up until then, if Reagan was really upset and we did the things you were supposed to do, change her, see if she needs to eat, if I was willing to hold her and walk her, it would soothe her enough to stop her crying, but not this time. She just kept screaming, and it was kind of embarrassing. We'd had her up to the office a couple of times before, but people in Cadey's office were walking over and asking if we needed help. We had no idea what it was and we were really getting worried about it, and finally I said, "Cadey, I don't think she's ever worn this dress before. Maybe it's the dress."
We pulled off of her and within 20 seconds she just stopped crying, and she was like looking at both of us like, "What happened?" Then five minutes giggling because she was like the happiest baby ever, but I remember thinking like, "Holy cow. That's a baby who doesn't know whether they should put up with anything or tolerate anything or not." I felt the inside of the dress and it was super uncomfortable. There was big seams on it and it was kind of sandpapery, like I wouldn't have want to wear it, but in my career I can't tell you how many times I've dressed in stuff where like, putting it on the morning was uncomfortable and then I had to let those feelings go away. You know, that just means you reached neuro attenuation where most of your nerves are no longer telling you they're uncomfortable. They just stay uncomfortable, and seeing Reagan like that opened my eyes and I got a lot more committed to wearing stuff that I liked to wear.
There was another time. In the company that Cadey and I own now we used to do a big event every year called Momentum, and we had just a rock star event team, like some of the most talented people ever, and still some of the most talented people I've ever worked with, Jewels, Jordan, Anna, Nicole. They were awesome. We did events better than companies with five times our people because we had them, but there was this challenge. Like, towards the end of the day each day, they'd have like a change of chemistry, like a change of mood. They'd show up excited about the events, and by the end of the day, like they would snap at people or I would snap at people, we'd get complaints from people at the event.
Then I realized one day when I walked in that all of them had pumps on, all of them had really high shoes, and so I passed this rule. I told them all it was for insurance purposes, but I passed this rule that everyone had to wear flats, and I started wearing the most comfortable shoes I could find. That issue went away because anyone knows, even as a guy, if you've worn boots all day or if you've worn constraining shoes all day, your feet start hurting, and can you imagine wearing pumps, being in an event where you're probably walking more than 10 miles? All team was all over the place all the time. They were incredible, and the shoes were totally holding us back. We went to a flats policy, and it got infinitely better.
You know, so many people say that if you don't dress the part, you're going to get left out, or if you don't wear what you want to wear ... sorry, if you don't wear what everyone else is wearing, then you're not going to get the call, you're not going to get the job or whatever it is. I go back to my days as a consultant, and I've had all quality of suit, so I started ... I remember the first person that I ever interviewed with when I was younger. I got an internship, and his name is John Hussey and he used to make fun of me because I was wearing what he called the Danny Partridge suit. It was a very ugly suit, so I started with suits that were off the rack, didn't fit me, where you buy like, small, large, and medium.
I worked all the way to handmade, custom-tailored, made for exactly my measurements, shirts, pants, everything, full custom suits, and still was uncomfortable. Here's what's interesting. I stopped wearing any of that stuff probably five years ago, four or five years ago. I just got up one day. My father-in-law had passed away. I just realized like, there's too much in life that makes you uncomfortable, and I had just worn a suit at his funeral and it had itched all day and bothered me all day. I realized that I just didn't need to do anymore, like nobody even expects it from me anymore, and so I stopped wearing suits completely and I wear pretty much the same shirts and pants pretty much every day. I just have a bunch of different pairs.
Here's what's funny. When I started doing that, that's when people started really noticing me. I had been speaking for a long time, but when I started standing out because I dressed different, everybody started noticing. I think back to my days as a consultant where I used to dress the part, like I had the dark suits and the white shirt and the ties, and I looked like a consultant and my team dressed like consultants. I think like, well, in that world ... you know, I've tried to convince myself before this podcast that in that world you had to dress like everybody else to succeed. That's why I did it, but you know what? There was a guy who had a company that I competed it out of New York. His name was Norman Yohay, Yohay and Associates, and one of the smartest guys I've ever met in my life. We would go to events together. We would see him at industry things or we would be in the same room sometimes consulting with the same company, and he always wore whatever he wanted.
I remember one time we were at a Logitech meeting and it was first thing in the morning, and the invitation had totally business casual, which means you wear what you wear every day as a consultant. That means wear your daily clothes without a tie or wear like nice pants and a shirt, and Norman Yohay showed up in running shorts and a T-shirt. He told, like he excused himself by saying, "Hey, sorry. It's just it's really nice out here. I think I'm going to walk around at the breaks." And nobody said anything, so even when I was a consultant, I wanted to like, find the time in my life where I had to dress uncomfortably and I didn't. I couldn't.
Recently, I have a funny story. We had a contract with a large financial company. They actually did an event called Momentum and they had me be their keynote speaker, and I had a one-year contract with that organization to work with their clients from around the country. We had done the deal and it was already to go, and they sent over the final paperwork and we were on the phone. One of the people who was negotiating the deal said, "Hey, guys, and we just wanted to let you know we know Alex only wears a T-shirt and we know he's spoken with Tony Robbins and Robin Sharma and Peter Diamandis, and this list of really accomplished people and he wears a T-shirt, but we're a financial company, so we've never had anyone in the history of our company on stage at any of our events in a T-shirt." My immediate reply was, "Well, then I guess they'll probably remember me."
They dropped it. They were clearly moving towards, "Hey, you need to wear a suit," but here's why I have completely shifted, and I have found a couple of dress shirts now that I like that are pretty comfortable. I shop like my kids. Reagan actually told me to share with you guys two rules she has. Shop with your hands, then with your eyes, so first feel it and make sure you love it because then you're going to wear it. She's the smartest kid I've ever met. "And if it doesn't stretch, I'm out." That's my daughter. I'm the same way. Everything I wear is stretchy. Everything I wear is comfortable because I don't like constraint of any kind and I don't think you do either. Today, as a consultant to some of the fastest growing companies in the country, I'm working with a few of these that they have a chance of getting in the top 10 of the Inc. 500. Cadey and I were number 21, but some of the guys I'm working with, they're going to beat us by a lot and it's awesome.
You know, I'm a close advisor to them, and I take that really seriously and really personally, and my responsibility is to show up with the highest level of awareness, the highest level of empathy, and the highest level of vulnerability that I can for my clients because if I share with them my frameworks that I've used for years, they'll use them, but if I share with them with vulnerability where I've made mistakes and how these solved those mistakes, they use them passionately. They follow them like crazy. They don't question, but it takes me showing up with very low pressure and noise because the higher the pressure and noise, the lower the vulnerability for people like us, and so my suggestion is you take a really good look at your clothes and think about whether you need to be dressing like you are, and if you're dressing for yourself or if you're dressing to show other people who you are, because you know what's become really common today? People who spend a lot of money on clothes.
That's almost like a social media thought leader requirement is that if you're out there and you're saying you're successful, you need to be showing thousand whatever dollar shoes and $10,000 suits, and you know, I've had a closet full of that crap. It was so hard to wear and so hard to like and so hard to be comfortable in that I know today, when I show up, I'm helping people at a totally different level. I have a whole new level of awareness that I feel like I owe my clients, and so for you, maybe it's time to go through the wardrobe. This is such an useful exercise. You go through it and you hold up everything, feel it, touch it, think about whether you want to wear it, and ask yourself, "Does it spark joy?" It's from this book, the something, something in tiding it up. I keep sharing it because it really is a great book. I should probably learn the title. But when you do that, it allows you to get rid of anything that doesn't bring you joy and anything that isn't giving you momentum because it's taking it away.
Here's how I dress. I will share with you my policy. I dress 100% according to logic. I want pants that are comfortable enough that I can squat in, I want shirts that don't bind or hold me back or make me feel uncomfortable in any way, and I want stuff that looks clean and purposeful, and I want the minimum amount of constraint, so as a result I wear pretty much the same stuff all the time. I've been invited on stage and behind the stage and to parties with and to the homes of some of the most successful people in the world right now, and I went over in a T-shirt and the pants I normally wear and the Vibram FiveFingers that make me feel comfortable, and nobody has ever said a word because I think the reason I'm invited in those places is that I don't just blend in with the crowd. A big part of that is being really who you are and showing up in what you want.
You know, I think there's a reason why Branson's signature is a really loose white cotton T-shirt that's wrinkled because that's easy to wear, and Jobs with the black Moth turtleneck in Northern California where it's cold most of the year is a really logical choice, and Einstein with his jumpsuits and Zuckerberg with the hoodie. Every one of them has completely eliminated the decision-making fatigue of clothing, but more importantly, they completely eliminated the pressure and noise fatigue, the toxicity threshold increase that we give to our systems from the clothes that we wear, so this is one of those tips that could create a tremendous amount of momentum for you. When you get up, when you leave the house, when you're in front of people, make sure you're comfortable, present, and fully aware.
If you haven't yet, download a copy of my book, The Entrepreneurial Personality Type. It'll tell you more about yourself than anyone ever has. If you go to freemomentumbook.com, we have a mobile optimized download that you can read very easily on any phone. It takes about 45 minutes to get through it, but as so many people have told me, if you haven't read it yet, it may be the first time you truly understand exactly who you are. Thank you for being here with me tonight.