Momentum Podcast: 631
Drop the Veneer (And Create Your Own Reality)
by Alex Charfen
Any attempt to be anything but yourself will only cause you pressure and noise. This may seem simple, but in the world of entrepreneurship is anything but. Most entrepreneurs feel like they are a commodity and they have to act in a certain way to grow their business. This is exhausting and takes a tremendous amount of effort.
It's difficult to believe, but if you are unapologetically and unabashedly your self, your business will actually grow. The entrepreneurs who are willing to put it all out there, let the world know who they are, and be real, are always those who create the most success.
My friend and client Rachel Rogers is one of these entrepreneurs. She inspires me for many reasons, she's a successful entrepreneur, amazing wife, committed mother, but more than anything else, she is always 100% herself. She may ruffle some feathers and even offend some people, but at the same time, she attracts passionate supporters who love her. She has experienced some recent success that is amazing and I can't wait to get her on a podcast.
Full Audio Transcript
This is the Momentum Podcast.
When we attempt to be anything other than who we truly are, we only increase the pressure and noise around us. This may seem like a simple concept, but in the world of entrepreneurship, it's anything button. Most entrepreneurs feel like they're a commodity. They have to act a certain way in order to grow their business, and it's quite frankly exhausting, it takes a tremendous amount of effort to keep up. In this episode of the Momentum Podcast, Alex is going to tell you the story of an entrepreneur, in our membership, who has dropped the veneer, is speaking their truth and being 100% who they are. I hope you enjoy.
Alex Charfen: 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 often share with entrepreneurs, any attempt to be anything but yourself will only increase the pressure and noise in your life. This seems pretty simple, maybe obvious, maybe logical. If we go around trying to act like someone else, it's going to be more difficult for us, we're going to forget what we said, it's going to be harder. But let's get real., The vast majority of entrepreneurs are doing this. All you have to do is go to any event and talk to people... and here's my experience.
When I think about it, it actually makes me uncomfortable. I've been to more than one event where I meet someone and we start talking and they asked me about my business and I asked them about theirs. And within a few minutes, I can tell that they've gone from reality to telling me what they think I want to hear. They've got this massive veneer up. It's like, "I'm not going to tell you what's really going on. I'm not going to tell you what's really happening". And as a result, when I'm talking to that entrepreneur, I can't really help them, I can't really do anything with them, there's not a lot that I can do with somebody who's not telling me what's going on. And here's what happens to so many entrepreneurs. They go to events, they pretend like they're somebody else. A lot of them in their marketing actually pretend like they're somebody else. And they don't let the real person show through, they don't let who they are really show through.
And as a result, you end up getting clients you don't want, you end up building a business you don't really want, because you're building it around this veneer, not who you are. You end up in a pretty challenging spot. See, there's an entirely different way to do this, and I want to share a recent example of somebody who inspires me like crazy. I think she's absolutely amazing. She's one of our members and her name is Rachel Rodgers. She runs a business called Hello Seven. And Rachel has always inspired me, in fact, I followed her before she was one of our members because I just I'm impressed by her. She always is exactly who she is. If you put her on stage, she's going to be herself. She's polarizing, she uses the language she wants to use, 100% of the time. Some people in the audience might be turned off and might not really want to listen to her but there's a significant percentage of the audience that absolutely falls in love with her, and here's her saying exactly what they need to do. And when she shares, she shares from a place of such raw truth, that people listen.
Well, in the past few weeks, things have gone kind of, I would say nuclear for Rachel. A few weeks ago where there was controversy around George Floyd being murdered in the street. And there was some people in the influencer world that didn't really answer to it, or it didn't come out and say anything. And some people who actually like erase posts and did something that really frustrated Rachel. So rather than hiding behind the veneer, she just went out and talked about it exactly like she wanted to talk about it. And in fact, I was on Facebook Live that made me very emotional because she was talking about her yourself and being black and how difficult it was and how hard it is to be in certain environments and how a lot of people still don't do what they should do for their Black members, for the people that are in their memberships and Rachel inspired me like crazy.
Well that live post, where she was exactly who she is, and by the way, saying some pretty controversial things. She came out and said, "Hey, this influencer needs to step up. This influence their needs to step up, this influencer screwed up., this Influencers got some explaining to do." I'm paraphrasing, but she went out there and put herself out there raw and real, and on a Facebook Live with a phone that wasn't stable and there was no fancy lighting or anything else. And I don't know how many tens of thousands of people have seen that video now, but Rachel went out and she spoke about a very sensitive subject.
She spoke about white privilege and white supremacy in a way that is going to make people uncomfortable. But she did it in a way that was her way. It was authentic, it was real. I think a lot of people needed to hear it, I think most of us needed to hear it. I learned from watching her video and here's what a lot of people would tell an entrepreneur in Rachel's position. They would say, "Rachel, keep politics out of your business. And Rachel, keep your personal opinion to yourself. Rachel, just do the marketing and just put out there what people want to say or want to hear and that other stuff just, it doesn't need to be front of house that needs to be back the house. Maybe once somebody joins your membership, you can tell them those things. But marketing is not a place for controversy and marketing is not a place to be this polarizing."
Well, I completely disagree. See, as an entrepreneur, when you are raw and real and authentic, here's what happens, you attract people to exactly who you are. You attract the membership you want, you attract the business you want, you attract the clients you want, the people around you that you want. Because you are being exactly who you are, they are attracted to you. And I've watched Rachel do this for the past few weeks and here's what's happened. The amount of attention around Rachel has gone through the roof. She is getting contacted by major media outlets. She was in Entrepreneur today. It's been amazing to watch because she spoke her truth, she came out and talked about it.
Not only did she do that video, she set up a town hall around white privilege, white supremacy and racism and being anti-racist. My wife and I were on the town hall. I get a little emotional, it was so inspirational watching her host and watching her share with what she told me was I think 7,000 people signed up and almost 2,000 or 3,000 people showed up in person to watch this this town hall webinar on anti-racism and white privilege. Absolutely game changing in the entrepreneurial world.
Now all of those things are impressive. It's impressive that she was able to be herself. It's impressive that she got tens of thousands of views. It's impressive they shot thousands of people on this town hall. But at the same time, I got a message from Rachel today, not only is she getting a ton of attention, but even though she's been controversial and polarizing and herself, and when I say controversial and polarizing, I know there's a lot of people out there who probably aren't really happy with what she said, but her business is exploding.
Here's my contention. When an entrepreneur is raw and real and vulnerable and exactly who they are and you drop the veneer, you become magnetic. That's how I've always felt about Rachel. If she's in a room, I want to go sit next to Rachel and talk to her. If she walks in someplace, I want to go say hi to her. She always has felt that that magnetic realness, authenticity, that vulnerability, that she's willing to tell you exactly where she is. And as somebody who's investing money in learning, you want to invest money in somebody who tells it exactly like it is, who's upfront with you, who's real with you, who tells you what they're coming from. And that lets you know, you are getting the real human being.
And so Rachel has completely blown me away in the past two weeks and it's reminded me a ton of my early career. See, Rachel is younger than I am. And I wish that I had the intelligence that she does at her age. I wish that I had the commitment that she does at her age. Because in my early business days, I had a huge veneer. I ran a business where the vineyard got into the room before I did, when I didn't let anybody know who I really was. I never let them see it, I never let them see me sweat. In fact, I've been dyslexic my entire life and I didn't tell anybody in any business about it until I was in my early 30s. I pretended like I could read handwriting the entire time. I pretended like that I wasn't uncomfortable and I didn't need help.
It was a completely the wrong way to run a business. And as a result, the business that I built all through my 20s, to a multimillion dollar company responsible for over a quarter billion dollars in sales, as soon as I met my wife in my early 30s, I wanted to get out of it. I fire-saled it, I ran away from it. Why? Because the business was set up for somebody who I'm not. The business was set up for the persona I created, for the veneer that I put out there. The business was set up for, not me, and I didn't want it anymore.
It was a huge lesson. In my subsequent businesses, I've dropped the veneer even more. It's a process. It's not something that I just woke up one morning and said, "I'm just going to be me." I actually had to sit down and get clear on who I was. I sat down and I got clear on what's important to me, what's not important to me, my wife and I did the same thing. I got clear on my values and my beliefs and what I wanted in the world, just like Rachel does. Because here's the opportunity that you and I have as entrepreneurs in business. See, we have the opportunity to create our own reality. I know that sounds crazy, but let me explain what I mean. See, your focus determines your reality, therefore, your reality is yours to create. And these entrepreneurs that are running around with the thick veneer and they don't want to tell people what's really going on and they don't want to be honest and they don't want to be real, and don't want to share their real beliefs of who they are, they're creating a reality that's chaotic and frustrating and confusing and not authentic and not real.
But if you, as an entrepreneur, are willing to sit down and get clear on your values and get clear on who you are and what matters to you as a human being, and you run your business from that perspective and you create core values in your business from that perspective, and you create policies and rules in your business from that perspective, you can create a new reality because that's what a business really is. See when all this George Floyd stuff started, here's what I saw over and over again as were people saying, "Hey, how do I hire someone or check the box so that I can be protected? I need a diversity inclusion specialist. I need to put some core values in place, I need a culture in place. How do I make this happen really fast?"
And I'm willing to answer some of those questions, but here's the reality. Your business is not a tactic. Your business is not a funnel. Your business is not a marketing campaign. Your business is a community and a movement that is supported by the people that work in it and hopefully supported by the people who were involved with it. And that movement will grow like crazy when you become more real about who you are, when you're honest about what you stand, when you tell people what you believe in, when you are real about who you are, you will attract people to you, who either think like you do, or at least respect you for being transparent and real and vulnerable with them and accept you for who you are.
Here's the danger. If you put out a veneer, if you create an attractive character, if you're not telling people who you really are, and then they show up and they get who you really are, you might have an issue. Here's what I can tell you for me, I hope that never happens to anybody. In the past few weeks I've been vocal. I would say some somewhat pretty vocal about my belief that Black Lives Matter and racism absolutely exists and we need to be anti-racist so that we can make it go away and that white privilege exists, and it's something that we all need to understand and address in our businesses and address in our memberships. But here's the reality for me, I've been addressing that for years. This isn't just something I came up with because there was a conflict in the world, and it's not something you should come up with because there's a conflict in the world.
In fact, it's a culture you should grow in your business. So get clear on who you are, get clear on what's important to you. And your values aren't going to be the same as my values, but when they're real, here's what I can tell you in our business. I can go out and say Black Lives Matter and I can say we are an anti-racist company because we've had anti-discrimination and no gossip policies in our business since the very beginning, over 10 years ago. We have a conversation with every new member of our company about racism and gossip and prejudice and how it feels to be the person who is judged and why we have those policies in place and why they're so important, because it's who I am. As a minority, as someone who was born in Mexico, English was my second language when I got to the United States.
I've been judged, I've felt that judgment, I felt prejudice. I don't want anyone in my business to ever feel that. I certainly haven't felt anywhere near the prejudice or the judgment of my friends that are black, but I know. I have a small taste of what it's like, and there is no way that I ever want to allow that in my company. So for me, by dropping the veneer, what it really meant was creating a reality that I want to exist in. See, I love my business, because the members who show up feel like old friends and the conflict is at a very minimum because people know who I am and that's why they're following me. And for you, if your business isn't growing, like you want it, or if you're getting returns or if you're not getting the traction you want, or if you're not getting the members you want, if you're not getting the connection you want, if you don't feel like you're magnetic enough, I have one question for you. How thick is the veneer and how fast can you drop it, shave it down, get rid of it and start being exactly who you are.
If you take a minute and you look at some of the most influential people in the world today, a lot of them are there because we feel like they're authentic and they're real and they are honest with us and that is what makes you magnetic. And so for you, ask yourself, are you showing people who you really are? Are you polarizing by just being real? Are you letting people know your beliefs? Are you building a business, not around a tactic not around a system, not around a funnel, not even around a product, but around a culture that is important to you and that you want to see change the world.
See, the way I look at it is, the culture inside of our business becomes the culture outside of our business as we grow and we take on our members and we help people grow and you can too. So when it comes to being an entrepreneur, cast aside that, never let them see you sweat stuff, get rid of the veneer, tell people what's really going on, be honest about your feelings. And if you're in the middle of an emotional event and you feel like you need to go Facebook live just like Rachel did, and with the raw, real, true feelings, you're having, Go for it.
Because at the end of the day, the more real we are, the more we let other people in, the more we share how we're really feeling, the more we're going to attract the people to us that we want around us. And just quick finish the story on Rachel. She just let me know recently that she's going to have the largest month in the history of her business and she has it because she went out and talked about controversial subjects that a lot of people don't even want to hear about, but enough heard her, saw her, felt her to join her membership.
If you want to check out Rachel's membership, you can go to helloseven.co/club. And if you'd like to join our membership or see some of the information we have on how to grow your business and create systems and structure and process and routines so that you can go out and be authentic and be real, go to predictablebusinesssystems.com, we'd love to connect with you, predictablebusinesssystems.com. And keep listening to the podcast because I've already confirmed with Rachel, she's going to come on, we're going to do an interview about what's recently happened in her business, her explosive growth, and just what it means to be authentic and real and what can come out of it. I look forward to seeing you on that podcast, and if you're interested in connecting with us again, it's predictablebusinesssolutions.com.