Momentum Podcast: 540
Difference Makers Are Different
by Alex Charfen
Average people are always going to be average and those who don’t stand out aren’t going to stand out in any way. The people who cling to average and the status quo aren’t going to come into your company and change things for the better. If you want team members that are going to show up and make a massive difference, they probably aren’t going to look like everyone else.
I hire the highest level of talent and diversity just shows up. When you are looking for talent and incredible people, difference makers are going to be different. If this is what you want, you need to drop the lense of looking for someone who looks a certain way. Some of the most extraordinary people in the world today look extraordinary. When someone shows up, and they are different, maybe bringing that person on your team is just what you need. When you’re hiring and building your team, remember difference makers are different.
If you’re ready to start building a team and have them help you grow a multimillion-dollar company, reach out to us at billionairecode.com.
Full Audio Transcript
So a few days ago, I did a podcast on the top grading lie on recruiting and hiring, and how I don't think that the process of stack ranking all your candidates based on what they've done in their past is the best way to hire. I think you need to find people who are true believers, who have heart, who believe in your mission, who want to be there, and who want the outcome just as much as you do. In order to be able to do that, you should be open to who shows up, because difference makers are different.
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 have a couple motivations in recording this podcast. The first one is that I want to help you maybe understand a little bit about who you should hire and how you should hire, and my perspective on hiring, but really, the bigger motivation is if anyone who's ever thinking about working with us listens to this podcast, I want them to know who we are and what they may be getting into, because we are a different type of company and we expect to be able to employ different types of people. I'll share a story with you from a few years ago.
We've been teaching business growth and business building in some way since about 2011, and I think in 2011 or 2012, one of our early events, we had a team member panel where we put a group of our team members onstage. I think it was four or five of them. I know for sure one of our team members, [Jewels Werzell 00:02:24], was on the panel; an amazing woman who came into our business, hadn't had a lot of other jobs before, took I think a customer service job, but then became an assistant, ended up running our events, ended up really helping drive the growth, massive growth of our company. Just a truly unique human being.
One of our audience members stood up and said, "You know, I want to know how you weed out tattoos, and piercings, and you know, weird counterculture people when you're hiring, because when I look at this panel of everybody you have here, you can tell they're not like that, and I know you're not like that, Alex. So how do you make sure that doesn't show up?"
I can remember my entire body lighting up when this woman said this to my panel, or to the team member panel, because I knew every person on the panel personally. I knew that they all had tattoos, and I knew that Jewels Werzell, the person that the question was directed to, was married to a tattoo artist, and had she not been wearing long sleeves, the entire audience could have been seen ... could have seen that Jewels was covered in tattoos, her chest, her arms, her shoulders, everywhere. I was shocked that our client said this, because it showed just such a massive bias against anybody who shows up looking different.
She looped in piercing, and tattoos, and anything that ... literally anything that was different. And here's what I know about human beings. People who are average, are average, people who don't stand out are really not people who are ever going to stand out in any way. I hate to say that, but that's just true. People who cling to average and worship the status quo aren't going to come into your company and try and blow the doors off of it, and grow something, and make something happen, and change the world, because they want everything to remain the same.
So something that you must know about the people who show up to work in a business that's changing the world is that they may not look like the cookie cutter people you're going to hire all over the place. And you know what? That's the best thing that could happen to you as an entrepreneur. I'll share a quick story from today.
Well, let me finish the story from the employee panel. Oh man. I remember thinking quickly and answering the question for the panel because I certainly didn't want Jewels to answer. I can remember watching the question get asked, and I was looking at Jewel's face, and I could see like it go from neutral, to angry, to furious and ready to charge off the stage. Instead of just letting that happen, I said, "Hang on a second, I'm going to answer this question." I was in the back of the room. I usually let team member panels just kind of run themselves, and I walked up to the front and I said to our client, whose name I won't use, but I said her first name, and let's pretend her name was Mary.
I said, "Mary, I want you to know something. You wouldn't be able to hire any person on this panel given the opinion you just shared. I want you to know furthermore, you wouldn't be able to hire me, because I have tattoos, and I know every person on this panel has tattoos. If you're going to look at something as petty as whether someone has a tattoo or not to whether you're going to hire them or not, I want you to know you're probably going to experience challenges now and for the rest of time and you're in business, because the people who show up and are going to change the world aren't going to look like everybody else, and that's good. That's just how it is. That's how it should be."
I remember some people in the audience kind of agreeing and some other people in the audience clearly did not agree, and we have shifted our business a ton. We've shifted away from the real estate market where a lot of those opinions were very strong and prominent because it's such an image based industry, and today I hire the highest level of talent, and I want you to know something. Diversity just shows up. People who are different just show up.
I remember years ago we were giving a tour to some group here in Austin. I can't remember who it was, but somebody came in for a tour, and in our offices, we're always casual, and we wear a lot of T-shirts, and half the time you might see me walking around with no shoes, so we were never a formal environment, and there was a lot of fun. The group that came in, I remember walking in and seeing them in my office and thinking, "Who sent the auditors?" It was like four people, they were all in business suits. It was two guys and two women. They either looked like they were going to church or to court, and I remember thinking, "Why did they show up like this? We live in Austin, what's going on?"
As I was touring them through the office, they made some weird comments like, "Oh, we've never seen that before." You know, like cartoons on the wall, and a lot of writing on the walls. We had places where our team members could do graffiti. We wanted a fun environment. I remember towards the end of the tour, one of the guys in the group said, "You know, it's interesting ..." Or he said something like, "Ah, you know, I'd love to know what your diversity hiring methods are, because you have such a great amount of diversity here."
I remember thinking, "What does he mean by my diversity hiring methods?" So I asked, "What do you mean by diversity hiring method?" He's like, "How did you end up with ... When we walked through it was a very diverse group." And I'm like, "What do you mean?" And he said, "Well, you know, it was a very diverse group." I wasn't connecting with what he was saying. Then finally, one of the people on my team said, "Alex, he means that there was a lot of minorities and different types of people."
I remember thinking, "What crazy world do we live in that because we have a hundred person company, we're probably 20 or 30% of our population was in minority, was something that someone noticed?" It actually shocked me. I was frustrated by that. I was irritated by it. Like, "You notice diversity because everywhere else you go you don't see it." That's kind of what I took away from it, was he's been walking into companies where everybody looks the same, and in our company, people look different and he actually noticed, which is great that he noticed our company, but it's depressing that it was different, because that's how every company should be.
When you look for talent, when you look for incredible people, difference makers are different. Today, an interesting interaction, one of our company meetings, we run a virtual team now. Everybody's distributed, they're around the world. One of our team members, Carina, was holding her water bottle in front of her mouth, and I had caught a little glimpse. I thought she had gotten a piercing below her lower lip. You know how some people get a piercing right there?
I typed into the Zoom interface, "Move the bottle. I want to see the piercing, or I want to see what's on your face." And she said, "No, not a piercing, it's just an allergic reaction." So here I am trying to see if she got her face pierced and she had an allergic reaction, so I probably embarrassed her. Then she wrote back and said something about how cool I was that I thought it was cool she got a piercing. I wrote back and said, "What do you mean?" And she said, "Well, I don't think I could get a good job where I'm from with as many tattoos and piercings as I have."
Then just to give you a little insight, Carina is our designer and she's incredible. She's one of my favorite people I've ever worked with. She designs at a speed and quality like we've never seen before, and she's just an extraordinary human being. And in fact, one day in our daily huddle, because she lives overseas, her hours are different than ours. And so we told her, "You make as many of our meetings as you can. We'd love to have you in all of them." She's never missed a daily huddle when she's been working with us. In fact, she even checks in on vacation, and one time she was on our daily huddle from a tattoo parlor getting the tattoo on her arm. I thought it was hilarious. The whole team thought it was hilarious.
So when you're hiring, when you go out looking for people, one of the things that we all have to think about is how do we drop this lens of, "I'm looking for someone who looks a certain way?" I've had people on my team that look all different ways, and I honestly have never considered that as part of the hiring process. For employers who do, for people who look at people and judge them, I just want you to know something. Some of the most extraordinary people in the world today show up in a way that looks extraordinary. Some of the people who are going to come into a business and change it, and grow it, and make things happen are going to look different. Hayley, who's our operations manager, showed up to a meeting one day and her hair was purple. Everybody thought it was awesome.
You know what? That's how it is. People who make things happen, people who rise above average, people who step up in the world and actually show themselves are the same people who don't look like everybody else a lot of the time. So if you're hiring, maybe, maybe a way to look at it is when somebody shows up and they don't look like everybody else, and they're different, and they're a minority, or they're different than you are and they have a different background, maybe bringing that person onto the team is exactly the change you need. Maybe having someone who's different will really make a difference for you.
I just want to make it clear, in our company when we're hiring, and if you're ever considering applying with us, we want people who are different. I'm actively looking for people who are different, and in our organization, it doesn't matter what color you are, what gender you are or what gender you identify with, what gender you want to date or sleep with. It doesn't matter what religion, what language, what your opinions about the world are. As long as you're willing to come on our team, and contribute, and make a difference, we want you here.
I wish more companies looked at it that way. It depresses me that when somebody comes into a business that has double digit minority presence, they actually notice there's diversity. That's just how the world should be, and if you're ever considering applying with us, I want you to know that regardless of how you look, and who you are, and what your preferences are, you will get a fair shot at working in our company, because in my entire career, the people who I've been most impressed with, the most extraordinary team members I've had, the people who showed up in a way that changed things were also the people who didn't look like everyone else, talk like everyone else, and sound like everyone else a lot of the time.
If you're hiring people, maybe it's something you can consider when you're building your team. If you're ready to start building a team, growing that team, and showing them how, and having them help you build a multimillion dollar company, reach out to us. Go to billionairecode.com, answer a few questions from my team. You will get a copy of the Billionaire Code Decoded, the nine levels that every entrepreneur has to go through from zero to $100 million, and you can set up a call with a member of my team. Go to billionairecode.com, and when you're hiring, when you're building your team, when you're surrounding yourself with talent, remember, difference makers are different.
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