Momentum Podcast: 173
Walk Your Talk
by Alex Charfen
One of the coordinates of our company is “we walk our talk” We believe we have the best products in the world, so all of our team members use them. Our team uses our planner, they have all taken our natural thirst challenge, they have been through our materials and they are true believers.
This near guarantees that we are a congruent company that shows up in a way that proves it. For me this is a requirement to coach people. If I'm not walking my talk, I don't feel like I have the right to tell anyone else they should. Unfortunately today there are far too many people who don't see it that way.
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 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 we can bend, 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. Walk your talk. This is actually one of the core tenants, core values, of our company, it's we walk our talk. The way we explain it in writing to our team is, we have the best personal development and business content available in the market today. That's why, as a company, that's why we as a company and our entire team use our frameworks, processes, systems and tools for ourselves, our families and our work.
And it's true, my obsession in business is to make sure that our team and that I walk our talk. This was drilled into me in high school speech class by one of the greatest mentors I've ever had in my life and still have today, Rick [Lara 00:01:45]. He used to say, "If you can't walk the walk, don't talk the talk," and he'd get on you about it. If you said something to somebody else that you weren't doing, he'd let you know that there was an in congruency there.
When I look at the world of coaches and thought leaders and speakers and authors today, what I see is this massive world of crazy incongruency that I do not want to ever be considered a part of. The number of coaches out there that are coaching stuff that they don't do themselves, and the number of coaches and speakers and thought leaders that have information out there for other people that they haven't thoroughly vetted themselves is overwhelming because these days, anybody who can do some marketing and get some attention can sell a promise, but my question is always, how do they deliver that promise? Do they actually follow what they say?
Cadey and I have run into this several times. If you've run into a coach or a consultant or an organization that says one thing and does another, I just want you to know, you're not alone. I'll share a couple of the stories with you, the ones that have really reinforced for me that when we say something as a company, we better actually be doing it as human beings. When we coach our clients in a way, the litmus test for us is, are we coaching our clients in the same way we do things ourselves? Are we coaching our clients in the same methods we're using ourselves, and are we using what we coach?
Cadey and I have talked on podcast before about one of the worst coaching experiences that I had. It was, Cadey and I joined a year-long program with a coaching company up in Canada that's pretty well-known. In fact, we were part of another mastermind that where this coaching company was recommended to everyone. It came up all the time. You had to go up to Canada four times a year, do your trip up there and join this coaching program because it was going to change our business.
And the promise of that company was that if you applied their tools, you would have a self-managing business. I remember thinking, "Man, I've really got to go see this because I've been coaching businesses for over 20 years. I've never been able to have somebody have a self-managing company. I don't even know what that would look like," and I was so excited to see what that would be and what it would look like and how it would feel to have a self-managing company because honestly, as a consultant, I didn't think it was a possibility.
So we flew up to Canada, and we went to the first day-long event because it was a one-day event, and at the end of the day, I had learned a couple of frameworks and I had gotten a few insights from the teacher or from the coach, but it wasn't strategic at all and it felt like a bunch of orphan frameworks that we learned. I didn't understand how what we had learned that day would ever equate to a self-managing company. So I asked several times, "How does this ... Where's the rest of it? Where is the other stuff they we're going to learn. I don't understand how this is going to be put together yet, and I don't understand how this could possibly help me create a self-managing company."
I remember at one point the coach made a joke that he liked slow learners with big checkbooks, and that it would take a year or two before we learned enough where our company would actually be self-managing and it would be rolled out slowly. I remember wanting to pull my hair out. I've been doing this for a long time, just show me what you're going to show us. Tell me what we're going to do. The day did not overwhelm me. In fact, it underwhelmed me.
The first time we went up there, I was shocked at how little content we got and how little progress we made in a day, but I decided to trust the process. It was really well-recommended. I was going to do it anyway. I remember a quarter later flying up to Canada again and going through the next day's class, and it was the exact same as the first class. I was blown away. I remember asking, "Hey, didn't we already do this? When are we going to get to the self-managing company part?"
I didn't get very polite answers, and so I remember asking that company, "Hey, how do we get the rest of the frameworks? How do we understand the rest of this?" Their suggestion was that we go to extra classes because we were in the highest level program with them. We had what they called the Golden ticket so we could go to any class we wanted to at any time, and so we asked them to tell us what classes we should go to get the self-managing company? We got a couple of dates, picked one, bought tickets, made hotel reservations. We're ready to fly out, and at the last minute we called to verify everything and just make sure the address of where we were going, and they told us, "Why are you coming up here? There's no events the dates that you're coming."
So we contacted the person that originally set us up, and they had made a mistake. It was a self-managing company, but they didn't even know the dates of their own event. I let them know, "Hey, we bought plane tickets. We're in your highest level event. We bought plane tickets. This was ... We've already scheduled around this. We have the time cleared on our calendar, and we have nonrefundable plane tickets. We have nonrefundable reservations. What are you guys going to do about it?" And in a self-managing company, the answer was we need to go ask the owners, the coach that was in front of the room or his wife, what they should do about it.
So it was fascinating to me that not only was the company not self-managing, the company had a hard time communicating really clearly in any way. That didn't just happen to us once. We actually rescheduled, went through that entire process again, and had it happen to us a second time, at which point I wanted to know what they were going to do about it. And again, we got the answer, "Well, check with the wife in the couple who runs the company and we'll get back to you." I remember thinking, "This is complete nonsense. Not only is it not a self-managing company, they can't even tell us where to attend an event and we're in their highest level mastermind."
Cadey and I paid $40,000 between the two of us to be part of their group, and we literally couldn't take advantage of it because they couldn't tell us where to go. THe experienced did not improve over the course of the year. In fact, it got worse and more frustrating and more annoying. When I asked questions, I got shut down more often than I got a real answer, and I truly believe it was because the guy standing in front of the room wasn't walking his own talk. He didn't even have a self-managing company. That was marketing, and reality was completely different.
The challenge is, is that that organization had so much collateral, so much social proof, so many testimonials and so many people who had said stuff and said that they'd helped them that a lot of people in the room felt like they were doing it wrong when they couldn't figure out how to create a self-managing company, or felt like they were doing it wrong when they realized the frameworks weren't really giving them momentum. At the end of the day, I think that that just happen sometimes. There is coaching companies out there that get results with the people who would've gotten result anyway. They turn into testimonials, and then the next thing you know, there's a lot of people sitting in room scratching their head and trying to figure out how things work.
It was, needless to say, a very frustrating event. This isn't the only time something like that has happen to me. I was in another mastermind group and I remember there was a day where one of the members got in front of the room and he took everyone through a thinking exercise. It was a three-year vision for your personal life. He had a framework that I didn't complete because when I read through it, it felt like it was an amateur framework. It didn't really look like it had been thought through. There were some things in there that didn't apply to everyone, so if you have a framework and there's anything in it that doesn't apply to 100% of people, then you haven't really thought through the framework.
You're going to have exceptions to your rule, and that frustrated me so instead I just observed the conversation and I observed everybody going through it. That's not the interesting part. The part that blew me away was that in the Q&A afterwards, one of the people who raised his hands was an individual who's very well-known for coaching people around something called the vivid vision, a three-year vivid vision where as an entrepreneur, you sit down and you write out what your company is going to look like three years from now, and you have this vivid vision with all the departments and the people and what you'll be doing and what the team will look like.
You publish that vivid vision and you take it to your team, and you tell them, "This is where we go." Every time I hear that, I get radically uncomfortable because here's the fact. If you sit down today and did a three-year vivid vision, and you wrote the departments and the team, and how many people and exactly what it was going to look like in three years, that's more of a constraint than an actual motivator because now you've put boxes around where you'll be in three years.
In fact, I want you to go back to any period of momentum in your entire life. What was a period of momentum for you? What would you have said your vivid vision was at the beginning of that period, and then look at what actually happened. I go back to when I was in high school and I met Rick [Lara 00:10:47], the speech coach, the guy that I started this podcast with, and I remember getting into his class, it was really by accident. I was never the person who was supposed to be in a speech class.
I had stage fright. I stuttered. I was afraid to be in front of people. I wasn't ... I never would've elected to be in a speech class, but I was put into the class by accident. I remember, at the beginning of that, my vivid vision would have been, "I want to survive this class," but what happened over the course of the next four years while I worked with Rick in high school was, I learned how to be a speaker, I learned how to be a leader, I learned that I could motivate people, I learned that I could stand in front of groups and command attention. I learned so much about myself. I had more self-confidence, more belief in myself.
I understood better who I was, and I wouldn't have written any of that stuff down three years prior to the end of that experience. I think when we go forward and we try and spell out everything we're going to have in three years, it's a huge limitation. I've always wondered why consultants do this.
I also wonder, "Hey, I want to see the vivid vision for the consultant. How are they ... Where is their vivid vision? I want to see the one that they wrote three years ago and see how it worked. Let's look at some actual case studies. Let's figure out who's actually done this and seen it come to fruition," because I've walked hundreds of entrepreneurs out of some ridiculous vivid vision and back onto the ground of actually growing a business with their team because the vivid vision for three years might be exciting for you, but the second you present it to the team, it is an overwhelming outcome with a looming deadline, and it causes panic.
I know because I've been on the other side of the coin. I've worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs and their teams. I've had team members come to me and say, "We don't know what to do with this vivid vision." I've had team members come to me and say, "Do you think we'll get fired if we don't achieve this vivid vision?" I've had them come to me and say, "Hey, it feels like a fantasy, like it's made up. We don't have any of this stuff yet. How are we going to put it all together?" It causes more anxiety on a team than anything else.
Well, here's the kicker. At the end of that personal exercise in the mastermind that I was in, the consultant who is extremely well-known for having businesses do this vivid vision raised his hand and said, "Hey, you know, I just wanted to let you know, I really appreciated going through this for myself. In all the work that I've ever done with companies, I've actually never done this myself," and I thought it was a really interesting exercise.
I almost fell out of my chair. I had to get up and walk out of the room because I wanted to scream across the room at him and say, "Then why do you charge companies to do it if you've never done it yourself? How do you possibly ask someone else to do something that you wouldn't do on your own? How is it that you could ever imagine putting this in front of companies, charging them thousands of dollars, and then crossing your fingers and hoping that your BS actually works?" It drove me crazy.
See, as a consultant or a coach or a thought leader, when you walk your talk, you use your own stuff. You've got to get into it. You've got to understand what you're selling, know exactly what it is. It's weird because in some cases, thought leaders seem to think it's funny that they don't actually follow their own information.
A couple years ago, I was up at MIT speaking to a group of about $50 million plus business owners. It was with Entrepreneurs Organization, and the speaker who went before me, I was actually pretty excited to see him. It was the first time I had met him in person, and I had read his book, which I thought was pretty good. It actually had some decent tactics for business. It wasn't complete or wasn't a manual on how to run a business, but it was a book on a few habits that you could add to your business that would help you. I liked it. It was a good book, a smaller book.
So I was excited to hear him speak in person and see what kind of insights I could get from him, and he killed it with his introduction to the room. He stood up and he said, "Hey everyone. I'm really excited to share with you today. I'm going to show you how I've shown businesses to grow for the last 10 years. Now, I don't use any of this stuff myself. I grow my business differently, but I want to show you how I would coach any one of you to do this."
I remember instantly thinking, "Okay. Now I have 100 questions about why you don't do it yourself and why you run your business differently, and why are you asking everybody else to do it one way and you do it another way, and how is it that the rules apply to everybody else but not to you? If you discovered a better way to run a business, then why in heaven's name are you not using it yourself?" I just, I remained fundamentally confused during his entire presentation, which after about 20 or 30 minutes I decided to get up and walk out because I don't want to be poisoned by somebody fantasies about how things work. I want to hear entrepreneur, I want to hear coaches, consultants, thought leaders who are doing exactly what they teach, who are applying to their lives what they share with anyone else.
In contrast, about a year and a half ago, I had a phone call ... No, maybe not a year and a half ago. Maybe it was about two and a half years ago because it was before I spoke for him. I'm terrible with times. It's actually three and a half years ago I had a phone call with Robin Sharma. I'm thinking like there was two events where I spoke. I didn't speak last year so it's like at least three and a half years I had a call with Robin Sharma.
Robin is, he's just an icon. He's one of those speakers and authors and human beings that can change your life in a conversation. He has insights that are deep, that are real, that change your life. He walks his talk like very few speakers in the world ever attempt to do. He is congruent and real as a person, and he has the highest level integrity of any speaker or anyone that ... He has as high a level of integrity as anybody I've ever worked with.
He and I were on a phone call, and I was helping him with his business and then he helped me with my business. We spent about 45 minutes on his business, and then we came back to mine. I explained to him I was feeling a little stuck and kind of constrained. I didn't know how to get momentum moving forward. I'd had a really hard time connecting with any avatar and moving forward with him, and I just felt flat. I felt like I couldn't generate momentum, but when I got on the call with somebody like Robin, it was really easy for me to.
Robin said, what he said was just so simple, he said, "Alex, I think you just have to do the work." I remember saying, "Okay, great Robin. What work? I want some information here." And he said, "Alex, you coach entrepreneurs to grow on scale businesses better than anybody I've ever heard. I took a half page of notes on the first three things you said. I have six notebook pages filled in here just from the conversations we've had, and this is what you should be doing. You should do the work you gave to me. You should be following your own information at the highest level, and then you will see everything transform."
I remember thinking, "That is probably some of the most genuine and real advice I've ever gotten, because Robin just reflected to me, 'Hey, you've gotta walk your talk.'" And I did. I don't know that it was Robin saying it, or it was just at the right time and the right place. In fact, let's be honest. When Robin Sharma gives you direct advice, it's kind of hard to ignore. The guy has achieved a ridiculous amount in the world, and has sold over 10 million books, and is the second best-selling author in Israel, and has people around the world that follow him.
He puts a post up on Facebook and it gets 2000 likes in 24 hours because Robin is that guy. He's that well-known. He's that important to that many people, so when he said, "Walk your talk," and told me that I just had to apply our own content, it hit me like a ton of bricks and I realized he was right. So from that day, I committed to not just applying our content but to being the example of our content, to making my team the example of our content, to making sure that I used all of our frameworks, that this wasn't just something that I share with other people but this was an integral part of my life so that I could help people grow the same way that I figured out how to grow because it wasn't always easy for me.
From that day forward, it was like be the seas parted and our lives changed, and the storm clouds went away because as soon as I started focusing on doing what I told everybody else, as soon as I started focusing on creating progress through our own systems, and as soon as I started using our content ... I was using it. I was using it at that time.
I just wasn't using it with the passion and application and obsession that I needed to be, because if you're a coach or consultant or someone out there who's helping other people create momentum, my question for you is, are you obsessively following all of your own materials yourself because if you're not, there's an incongruency with how you are living, there's an incongruency with how you're working, there's an incongruency with what you're doing on a day-to-day basis, because it's not until we walk our talk, until we dig into our content, until we actually live what we tell everyone else to live, that we really figure out how things work, how we create momentum, and how we can help those around us at the highest level.
I think there's an epidemic today with coaches and consultants who not only don't walk their talk, but are selling results they've never achieved for themselves using frameworks that they don't even apply themselves. They've learned a few parlor tricks to get people to sign up to their programs, but they don't really have the materials, the frameworks and the background to be delivering the result that they promise. If you're a coach or consultant, or if you're someone who's been affected by one of them, I want to tell you, I apologize on behalf of our industry because it's an epidemic right now.
If you're a coach or consultant, you can help change this. You can be one of the few who actually do what you tell everyone else to. You can help adjust how people see us in the marketplace because here's the real challenge. So many coaches, consultants, thought leaders, authors, speakers have been doing this for so long, audiences have started to expect it. They've started to just think to themselves, "Oh, I bet this guy probably doesn't even do this stuff, and I wonder what he really does, and I wonder what she is really doing in her life, and I wonder if this is even real," because it's become that bad.
So if you're in our industry, I want to give you the same advice Robin gave me. Do the work. Sit down and obsess over what you do for other people. Make sure that you have all of that in your life, and you're using your own systems, your own frameworks, your own programs to create momentum. If you're someone who's been affected by someone who is doing the opposite, then I want you to know, there are good coaches, there are good consultants out there. You just have to make sure you ask them the right questions and you press them to make sure that they are exactly what you want out of a coach or a consultant.
In tomorrow's podcast, I'll share with you some of those questions and how you can interview a coach or a consultant so that you know that you're going to get exactly what you want out of the relationship. If you haven't yet, take a minute and download my book The Entrepreneurial Personality Type. I wrote this book as my manifesto about people like us. We are the few that want to drive forward to create momentum, do new things, make this world a better place, and as a result, we experience conflict, challenges, suppression and we get pushed down by the people around us.
If you've ever felt judged or look down on or made fun of or ridiculed or like you didn't have the support you needed, then this is a book for you to read because it is the new science of entrepreneurial achievement. It will show you exactly who people like us are, how we create momentum, how you can stop limiting behaviors and get exactly what you want out of your life starting right now. You have nothing to lose. It's absolutely free. Go to freemomentumbook.com right now, and download The Entrepreneurial Personality Type, freemomentumbook.com.