Momentum Podcast: 621
What Side I Am On
by Alex Charfen
A friend of mine got a message today that said…
I've been following you and Alex Charfen for a while it seems that the two of you are on the opposite sides of the spectrum regarding everything COVID-19. I'm curious if this has affected your professional relationship or friendship?
I was actually surprised that I gave anyone the impression I was on one side or the other of anything COVID-19. Let me set the record straight in this podcast.
Full Audio Transcript
This is The Momentum Podcast.
I had a really interesting experience today. I got a Messenger message from someone who actually took a picture of a Messenger message she got, and it says, "I've been following both you and Alex Charfen for a while. I seem to think that the two of you are on opposite sides of just about everything COVID-19. I'm curious if this has affected your professional relationship or friendship." And I was shocked. I was shocked for two reasons. One, because I was shocked that somebody was following us both that closely. And then two, I was shocked because I'm like, I didn't think I really had shared a really strong opinion about anything COVID-19. And then I went and looked at my Facebook page, and I realized, I tell entrepreneurs all the time, what you say is heard through a megaphone and what you do is seen through a microscope.
And now I went back and looked at my Facebook page, and it looks like I might have been trying to make some type of a political argument about the virus, because I posted stuff like I'm surprised how many of my friends have become scientists recently, or I put, no one has ever grown their business by focusing on conspiracy theories. And there was a couple of other posts that I made that made it sound like maybe I was leaning in one direction or another. And so I wanted to just, I wanted to clear the air and jump on and say like, so now that I've looked at my posts, I understand if someone's leaning in one direction, they would probably think like, what does he believe or what is he thinking? And that I might be trying to make some type of an argument. So I want to make it very clear where I stand in this entire environment in this. With everything that's going on with the crisis, I want to make it clear where I stand.
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.
I've been through a ton of crises in my career and my life. I've studied crisis. I've been in crisis, man. I've literally been in crisis management meetings. I've been part of crisis management teams. So when this crisis hit, my world became very clear, very fast. And here's what's most important to me. So I actually wrote some of this out. So first, in any crisis, the first crisis management 101 is you need to understand what is the scope of the crisis you're dealing with? How big is this? How challenging is this going to be? How much are you going to have to modify or change or shift?
And so quite honestly, I didn't really pay attention to COVID-19 until about eight or nine weeks ago. And then when I looked up, I realized that the military had said that they weren't going to allow military members' families to travel and they put a complete hold on military member travel. And so as soon as I saw that, to me, it was like, wow, this is serious. This is going to be major. I need to figure out what's going on. And so the first thing I wanted to do was understand the scope, and here's what I did. I looked at it and I realized, hey, this is going to be earth changing, because what's already happening in China, what was already happening in Italy, what was already happening in France, we had to expect that something similar was going to happen here.
And so I started preparing for that. And so here's what I want, here's why, and when I say preparing, here's what I mean by that. I started, I looked at my client centric mission, because I'm a coach. I have over a hundred entrepreneurs now, hundreds of entrepreneurs, that rely on us for advice on a monthly basis, that expect us to help them understand what they should do next. And we actually work with people on growing and scaling their business. So my first move in this crisis was what is the scope, and how's it going to affect my clients, my members, my avatar? What is it going to do to them? Because my mission, my entire mission in the world, is to work with visionary entrepreneurs and help them ask for help and get teams and build companies and build empires.
And the change I want to make is that visionary entrepreneurs know how to ask for help and understand how to create momentum with an entire team, and I'll know I'm successful when any visionary that wants to build a team and has realized the momentum they can create on their own is not enough, comes to us. I get up every single day thinking about that. That's the mission of our company. That's how we start every single one of our meetings. That's what I talk to my team about. And my focus in this crisis was, first and foremost, 100% my members. And so I thought about my mission statement and I wanted to understand what is the scope of this crisis for my members. So that's the research I started doing.
And what was clear was that, is there all types of opinions about what's going on? Sure. But I just, all I wanted to know was what was the scope. And so when somebody says that we are on opposite sides of all things to COVID-19, I looked, and this friend of mine has been making an argument in social media that the mainstream media is over projecting this and making it more than it is and making it more than it, like exaggerating it, so that we might lose freedoms and other things might happen like that, or other things might be taken away from us. And so she's making a very strong political argument for that.
Since this crisis hit, I don't know enough to look up and say, hey, can I join that political argument? I don't really know. Because here's what I know about this crisis. When I looked at the scope, it had shut things down in China, it was shutting things down in Italy. Now we know that it's now shut things down here. And so whether there's an opinion as to whether it's been overblown or not overblown, here's what I want to know in a crisis. So first, how does it affect my members? Then the second question we answered was, how hard does my company need to pivot? Here's what I realized very quickly. When the military stopped traveling, that's never happened in my career. When the first week's unemployment numbers hit, in the history of all unemployment numbers, six million plus in a week, I realized this is catastrophic. This is going to be one of the most severe economic events since I've been alive. And I've been through a bunch of severe economic events.
And so I wanted to understand how hard does my company need to pivot. And at first we looked at it, and our clients were affected, and so we added a ton of new deliverables. So what I've been doing since this started is we've been building new deliverables for our clients. We threw the contracts out, and we said, what do our clients need right now? How do we help them succeed? What do they need in the middle of all of this? And we built new parts of our product. I stepped up. My wife and I both are now involved in delivery for a period of time, to make sure our clients are getting everything that they need.
And then the third thing that I did in this crisis ... Oh, not, sorry, wait, let me finish the pivot. We also realized a couple of weeks in that the people who were coming towards us, the entrepreneurs that we were talking to and previous to the crisis, we were working primarily with entrepreneurs that had a business up and running, were doing relatively well, were in momentum and needed to start building a team and getting leverage. And what we realized after the crisis started, my mission statement, you heard me, I want to help visionary entrepreneurs. Well, all the visionaries that were coming towards us weren't in need of a team necessarily. Not all of them, most of them, about eight or nine out of 10, were in need of clarity, were in need to understand what to do next, needed to understand to get a plan together, because this had knocked their business significantly sideways, or because of this change in the world, this crisis, they have now decided they wanted to pivot. They wanted to come to us and maybe start a business or get into something new.
And we were hearing from a ton of them. And so we shifted and created an entirely new product called The Foundation Program, and it helps entrepreneurs who need to pivot understand, well, here's what it helps entrepreneurs do. It helps understand how much you need to pivot, how to build your pivot plan, execute it like crazy, get into momentum, so that you can join our catalyst program, where we show you how to build a team. And so we built the entry level program for our company in the last few weeks, and so that's taken a ton of effort.
And then the third thing that I do in a crisis is I want to understand most likely scenario. So I haven't really paid, like I've actually told all of my clients, don't pay attention to the politics or the conspiracy theories or the arguments or the conjecture, or the social media around this crisis, which now makes me feel kind of like a hypocrite. Because when I go pat down my page, I realize I've actually posted quite a bit. I'm going to stop doing that. I'm going to start posting about the successes we're having, the successes my clients are having, like how I'm really looking at this, and what I want to know. What I'm seeing here is that this is the biggest opportunity for entrepreneurs in history, but man, is it challenging.
And the most likely scenario is that for a long period of time, we don't know what, but a long period of time, there's going to be somewhere this spectrum where some people feel safe, other people don't feel safe at all. And right now in the United States, the spectrum is leaning towards the people who don't feel safe. Most of the population doesn't feel safe. So what I want to know is what is the most likely scenario? Well, here's the most likely scenario, is by doing the research that I've done, is that we are going to have rolling in and rolling out of some types of restriction of movement, most likely for the foreseeable future, where we continue to see numbers go up and down on this virus, that is enough for the news cycle to talk about, that's going to keep people probably more towards uncomfortable.
And so that, for me, being in as many crises as I have, I want to know most likely scenario. What am I gauging my business decisions off of? And today I feel this massive responsibility to the hundreds of entrepreneurs in our programs that I'm understanding how to help them gauge their business decisions. And so when I look at, when somebody says, what side are you on in this crisis? I'm on the side of growing my business. I'm on the side of entrepreneurs who are growing their businesses. I'm on the side of the entrepreneurs who are going to have to figure out how to reopen their businesses in the middle of this mess. I'm on the side of entrepreneurs who are coming up with solutions and figuring out how we're going to fix things here.
And when it comes to a political or a conspiracy theory argument, this is sincerely 100% where I come from. I'm spending my time here. I don't have time to go solve how this started, or where it started, or what the media is doing, or what the politicians are doing, or who's right and who's wrong, and where the conspiracy is. I just don't. And in my career, in my entire career, when something like this has happened, when the Argentine economic crisis hit, man, the amount of conspiracy stuff around that. When 9/11 hit, the .com crisis, the mortgage crisis, all of those, the amount of conspiracy and conjecture and fighting and arguing with the problem that happens, and the focus on the problem that happens, is massive. And I'm not faulting anyone who feels compelled to have those discussions, to have those conversations, to do the research, to get into it. I mean, I get it. I've gone deep on stuff before. I've gone down rabbit holes before. There's been times in my career where I've gone down rabbit holes for stuff that put nothing into my business.
But at the same time, I want everyone to know that where my focus is, is I'm going to grow like crazy during this crisis. And I've grown through every crisis that I've ever been in in my career. And the last one, the mortgage crisis, actually took us apart at the beginning, and we ended up bankrupt and we lost everything in 2007. It was brutal, and Cadey and I launched an information product and went out and sold it. And we went bankrupt, and within a year of our bankruptcy being discharged, we were liquid millionaires. And three years later, in 2011, we won the Inc. 500 award for being the 21st fastest growing company in the country. And we helped thousands of entrepreneurs overcome the foreclosure crisis, thousands. We had 47,000 members.
And so when somebody says, what side are you on, let me make it very clear. I'm on the side of entrepreneurs. I'm on the side of business owners. I'm on the side of people like you and me, who get up every day and declare and go into the future, create a new reality, come back to the present and insist it becomes real. I'm on the side of us. And so I'm not going to join any political arguments or conspiracy theory arguments, because you know what, it just doesn't matter. And I don't have the time to devote to it. And in my entire career, when crisis has hit, this is what I focused on. What is the most likely scenario? How are my clients affected? How hard do I need to pivot, and how do I make it so that I help as many people as I possibly can? Because this is the time where people need us now, more than they ever have.
This is unprecedented. We've never seen anything like this. And so to anyone who felt like I was making some political or any type of an argument, either way, I want you to know, I have 100% clarity around what I'm doing. I'm growing my business and I'm helping my clients to grow theirs. And here's what I know. Someday, the conspiracy theories will get semi worked out. The political arguments never will. There will be a lot of discussion and a lot of energy put into it. And five years from now, there will be documentaries on both sides of every angle of this, and we'll discuss it forever. And I can watch a documentary someday, and I can figure this out someday. But right now, I'm most concerned for me and my family and my clients, and us growing our businesses through this, because this is going to be one of the biggest economic challenges the globe has ever faced. And that's where I'm 100% focused.
And again, I'm not judging anyone who's focused somewhere else, but my message is always this is the place where you focus. And if you put time and effort into your business in a crisis like this, here's why this is so exciting and why I become so myopically focused. And when there's a crisis, it's when I grow businesses. I get goosebumps talking about this. It's when the new upstart business is the obvious choice, not the one that's questioned. When there's a crisis, it's when the new solution is what everybody's looking for. It's when the market leader is replaced by somebody who just had a new idea. When there's a crisis, this is when the world needs entrepreneurs to step up, rise above the noise, identify the opportunity, grab hold of it, get into momentum, and take the world with us. That's what I've done every time there's been a crisis. I've grown as fast as I could, as much as I could. I've helped as many people as I could.
And you know what? I truly believe that any minute I spend on a political argument or conjecture or conspiracy theory is taking me away from that, is taken away from my mission, is taking me away from helping solve the crisis. And so here's what I also want you to know. We started our last company with the mission, solving the foreclosure crisis one homeowner at a time. That felt crazy when we wrote that mission statement, because we were in bankruptcy, living in a little townhouse that we rented in Boca Raton after we had to give up our house, had to give up our cars, give up just about everything. And we declared, we were going to solve the foreclosure crisis one homeowner at a time.
I ignored the conjecture. I ignored the conspiracies. I ignored the politics. I focused on making things better. I focused on helping as many people as I could. In 2013, the U.S. Treasury came to our offices, and on a recorded broadcast video, said that our company and the 46 or 45,000 agents we had trained by that point had helped pull forward the foreclosure crisis recovery by five to seven years. So don't think for a second I'm not focused on helping here, or I'm not focused on making a difference, because here's what I know. Every time we register another client, every time we get another member, every time somebody joins our community, and every time somebody understands the process, structure, and routine it takes to grow a world changing business, we are doing everything we need to do to help the world recover from this. Because what has recovered, what will recover, and what always will recover the world from any crisis is entrepreneurs like you and I getting up in the morning, declaring that we will make the world a better place, and then putting up with the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real.
And so that's where I'm focused throughout this crisis, and that's what side I'm on now. And don't bother checking in, because I'm not changing sides. And if you want more information about what we do, go to charfen.com/foundation. We have a new program I'd love for you to check out. It's all about how to understand how much to pivot, build the plan to get there, execute like crazy. And I don't want you to survive this crisis, I want you to change the world. It's at times like this when the opportunity opens up wider than it ever has.