One of the first things that a company needs to envision is how they can price properly their product or service. The other is having a culture that doesn’t necessarily involve top players in the team. As long as every employee is aligned with the CEO’s vision, the rest will fall in. These are the lessons that Cameron Herold learned as he went on his entrepreneurial journey. He explains how PR can really help on boosting a company, especially when you get media involved in it. He built a successful company using this, also using culture a key to keep everyone moving to the same direction. Cameron shares how business can get proper financial oversight from their startup stage.
Vision And Culture Will Double Your Revenue with Cameron Herold
My guest is known as the CEO Whisperer. He’s been known to double profits by working with his clients. Having built two $100 million companies, he shares his wisdom from stage regularly and has been called the best speaker ever by the publisher of Forbes magazine. The author of Double Double and three more books, I’d like to introduce Mr. Cameron Herold. Cameron, welcome to the show.
Thanks for having me.
I’m very impressed with your bio and your background, but what it comes down to for me is that you obviously know how to help entrepreneurs.
My core purpose is I love helping entrepreneurs make their dreams happen. I’ve been like that pretty much my whole life. I’ve always seen the shortcuts. It drives me crazy when I see people working so hard when I know there’s an easier way.
What I would like to know is if we go back to the beginning of your career, what was the spark that made you move forward as an entrepreneur and how did you proceed?
My beginning probably starts a lot earlier than most people. I was groomed as an entrepreneur. My earliest recollection of my entrepreneurial activities, I was seven years old. My father groomed my brother and sister and I to all be entrepreneurs. He taught us at a very early age that having a job was a bad idea and that if we could control our time, that’s where our real wealth would come in. By being an entrepreneur, we had full control over our time. I had probably fifteen or sixteen little businesses by the time I was fifteen or sixteen years old. I even did a TED Talk that’s on the main TED.com website about raising kids as entrepreneurs. My story starts a lot earlier than most people.
We have that in common as well. My dad had candy stores all over New York City. Since we were kids, on weekends, we would be in the store. We’d be working the register at five, six, seven years old. We would be out there on the streets selling baskets. If your parents bring you in and raise you as entrepreneurs, guess what happens.
You’re going to learn those great skills. My core business training though came when I was around twenty years old. I purchased a franchise of a company called College Pro Painters. I know a lot of our audience will know College Pro. It’s the world’s largest residential house painting company. Every year, we would go out and get 800 franchisees and they would go out and get 8,000 students to paint houses. Between May 1st and August 30th, we’d produced $64 million in revenue. Then September 1st, 8,800 kids would quit and go back to school. After I ran a franchise for three years while I was in university, I had twelve full-time employees when I was 21. After fourth year university, I went full-time with the company and started coaching and mentoring franchisees. That was when I started to help grow entrepreneurs was I was 22 years old. I’ve been doing this for a long time.
I’m familiar with College Pro. They’re all over the neighborhood in spring. It’s an interesting business model. There are many like it today. To compare it to my own background, for me, what was my very first business venture was a rock band. I started a rock band in high school and we grew to be the highest grossing rock band in all of our area in that part of Brooklyn. You get that education early and you move forward, and you make money and you learn. Did you stay on with College Pro for a long time?
I was there for a total of seven years. After College Pro Painters, I left, and I joined as a partner in a chain of collision repair shops, auto body locations. In Canada, we were known as Boyd Autobody. In the US, we became known as Gerber Auto Collision. We helped build that up. I left right as we were taking the company public. It’s now the largest collision repair chain in the world. We did that for about four and a half years. I headed up all the franchising and buying programs and a lot of the acquisitions to help that company grow. I left there, and I was president of a private currency company, something that today would be similar to Bitcoin. We had Starwood Hotels and Avis Rent-A-Car and Hard Rock Café all using our currency instead of using the US dollar. We had a huge barter company with 30,000 companies buying and selling using our electronic debit and credit system. We did that and then we sold that company. In October of 2000, I joined my best friend at the time who was running a company called the Rubbish Boys. We changed the name over to 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and we built that up. I joined as the fourteenth person at the head office. When I left six and a half years later, we had 3,100 employees system wide and we were operating in 330 cities in 46 states in 4 countries. I was the chief operating officer and built that brand from $2 million to$106 million in six years. I left there ten years ago and I started coaching and mentoring entrepreneurs and CEOs all over the world. I coach high-growth companies, typically with 50 to 500 employees who want to go to 500 to 5,000 employees. I’ve done paid speaking events in 28 countries on five continents, written four books and I coach and mentor CEOs and their second in commands all over the world.
I’d like to dig in if I could to 1-800-GOT-JUNK? I’d like to understand the issues that you dealt with when you first got there. You have this ability to see things that others don’t. What did you see when you got involved in that business?
One of the very first things I saw was that the company wasn’t ever going to make money because they weren’t charging enough. They were working hard, but there wasn’t enough margin in the business for anybody to be successful. People love the brand and they love the idea. They like the concept. We liked delivering great customer service, but they just simply weren’t pricing enough. I got them to raise their fees by 50%. I remember everyone at the head office thinking I was crazy and thinking that all our competitors would be so much cheaper. I said, “None of our competitors can be making money either. Once we raise our fees, they probably will too.” We can afford to give away better service when we’re pricing. I said, “We need to be like Starbucks.” Starbucks was charging at the time $3.40 for a latte and everybody else was charging $1.50. We needed to be more like Starbucks. We did. We priced ourselves at a premium. We went from $338 for a full load to $458 for a full load. Our competitors followed suit. Sooner or later, they were charging right around where we were, but we literally out-marketed them and out-serviced them. That was the first thing I saw.
The second thing was that we hadn’t envisioned out how fast we were going to be growing and what our company would look like. Myself and the CEO had pretty big visions for where we could take the company, but we needed to reverse-engineer that. I created a model showing everyone what the company was going to look like and we had to hire ahead of the curve, hiring great, true A-talent, A-players to work for the company. We obsessed about culture. This was way before culture was a buzzword and before people were thinking about it. I knew that we had to build our company to be slightly more than a business and slightly less than a religion. We had to build that cult-like environment to attract people in like a magnet. We went after that and PR-ed. I saw the big missing opportunities was hiring the team, driving hard on culture, leveraging PR and getting our pricing in place so we could offer the premium product.
Those are all incredibly powerful ways of building a business. When you stack them one on top of the other the way you did, you’re bound to grow, and you’re bound to make progress. My favorite of all the things you talked about is culture. My second is PR. The reason I like PR so much is because I build my own business on PR, but I didn’t have a vision that PR was important. I had an economic problem. PR was free.
PR was free for us too. We didn’t spend any money on advertising for the first three years. We had our big trucks driving around and then we leveraged the press. One thing I know about the media is every day they wake up wondering what the heck they’re going to talk about. If you give them some good content, they’ll write about you or they’ll cover you or they’ll interview you and it scales. The other thing is no one believes advertising. They didn’t believe that sixteen years ago. They’re not believing it today. They still honor what the traditional press is covering. All this talk about fake news, the reality is news is news and PR is free.
We were forced into a situation where we blew our entire budget on some stupid ads that didn’t work. From there, all we had left was PR. We doubled down and went all in. For us, that turned out to be the magic that brought us to life, particularly in the minds of our ideal clients. It was a great strategy then as it is now. The other thing that I loved about what you said is culture. I bet I have a different viewpoint of culture than you. Can you tell me yours and how deliberately did you create culture in that environment?
I want to underscore something that’s critical. If a company’s not making enough money, culture and PR won’t help them. So many businesses don’t get the proper financial oversight in the early days when they’re set. You don’t have to have a full-time CFO, but have someone run your numbers and run your models and poke holes in it and show you what you need to be charging. If you can’t charge it or if you’re opening up a muffin store and you realize you need to sell 7,000 muffins a month to make money, you’ve got to wonder whether it’s going to happen or not. A lot of people just fall in love with their business and fall in love with the culture and brand and the press will talk about you, but if you’re not making any money, you’re never going to make money. I’ve seen so many businesses fail that way.
Culture for me starts with alignment with the CEO’s vision. As long as every employee understands where we’re going and what we’re building together and can make a lot of the same decisions based on the same gut level intuition the CEO has, that’s where it starts. Secondly, culture is about having the true A-players on the bus and getting rid of the bad people, getting the cultural cancers out of your company. Almost like you would get a cancerous tumor out of your body. You can only have the good people in your company driving the business forward. Then you don’t have to hold people accountable and manage them. You hire people that manage themselves and they’re aligned with that shared vision, that vivid vision. The third thing is you have to have strong communication protocols in place so that people are communicating clearly and respectfully and quickly internally. That’s lateral communication, also top-down communication and bottom-up communication. Also, communication out to your clients and suppliers and your outward market. The fourth is the space and giving people an environment and the technology tools to be able to grow and scale the company. Culture is not the free perks. It’s not the free stuff. It’s not the massage and the free lunch and the Wii room. It’s all about the vision, the people, communication protocols, and the space and technology tools to do the job. You have to be able to live and obsess about your core values and fire people who break them.
What I do when I install culture into the companies that I work with, when I build certification programs is what we call the code of ethics. The code of ethics you might think of as restrictive, but it’s not. It basically says exactly what you can and cannot do and be right or wrong. For example, you cannot take the company’s intellectual property and sell it to somebody else or put it on your website. When you create this group of boundaries, it’s where real freedom exists. When the CEO’s ‘why’ is fully understood and can be translated down to everybody in the organization from the lowest to the highest person and they understand their boundaries and it’s a great place that communication is encouraged, we would encourage to make mistakes. When you do, also make solutions. That helped the culture evolve into a place where no one was afraid of making mistakes as long as they weren’t going to crash the company.
I call it a no-blame environment. We also have the Michael Gerber idea of, “People don’t fail, systems fail.” You’re always looking for the broken system or the missing system to fix, not blaming a person. People don’t show up in the morning wanting to mess things up. They’re trying to do the right thing, but they make mistakes. Maybe it’s because they’re carrying too many balls. Maybe it’s because the system wasn’t in place for them to follow, but no one is intentionally making a mistake. Find the system that’s broken or needs to be fixed. Then create that no-blame environment so people are okay with putting their hands up saying, “Something’s broken,” because they know no one’s going to get in trouble for it.
If you’d like to hear more from Michael Gerber, you can look up his show on YourFirstThousandClients.com and listen to his amazing diatribe. We had a beautiful discussion about business and growing businesses. Cameron, as an electrical engineer, I’m interested in systems. I’d love to understand what systems you had when you got there and how did they evolve as you grew?
At 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, we had very few systems. We had a strong code of ethics. We had strong quality focus areas and what we wanted to obsess about, but I wouldn’t say we have a lot of systems. That was one of the things that we put in place. We wrote a 330-page operations manual with 24 chapters that codified every aspect of running the business right down to what color the key chains would be and what garbage pails you would buy with the SKU number from Office Depot. That was right in the manual. We put systems in place for how to hang up a pole sign and exactly where to put the actual nail. We tried to codify it. What we realized was that we had a market where we had a very early stage franchisee, when he was in Buffalo, Buffalo was a tough market and it was a cold market. They got more snow than any city should ever get in a lifetime for five months of the year. What we tried to do is put in place systems. We called it Bob proofing, systems that Bob could use in Buffalo to run his business, one of the bad markets or tougher markets. It wasn’t a rich market like San Francisco. In the middle of February, how could we run the business for Bob? That allowed us to simplify and put in place systems that anybody could use. We had that viewpoint towards something. Because we were franchising, we systemized everything. If you’re running a normal business that’s not being franchised, pretend that you are going to franchise, pretend that you’re going to put a system in place for every aspect of your business: how to onboard a client, how to find a client, how to interview an employee. Because I’d built two franchise companies already, I saw that. I already understood that view towards a business.
The tool that I use is called the Learning Management System. Whenever we build a company either myself or with a client, what we do is we create a course for virtually every single position inside the company. The person who is running that position builds the course. It’s like they’re building a manual for their job. They get paid extra, a bonus for doing it. It works for everybody. They’re thrilled that it’s done and they’re proud of it. It allows someone to step in and get started working side by side with them without them spending a lot of time training. Have you ever done anything like that?
We had to do that because we were scaling so quickly. When you go from 14 people to 3,100 people in six years, you have to codify everything. You mentioned the certification models. That’s exactly what we called our skills training at College Pro Painters was the skill certifications. We put in place a competency model for every skill. We train people on situational leadership, conflict management, delegation, coaching, problem solving, interviewing, meetings, etc. All of that became a model that we would teach people on. If they were certified, they could then certify other people in the organization on that same skill. A receptionist could be certifying the CEO. If the receptionist was good at problem solving and the CEO wasn’t, she could certify him if she was certified at the level of gold. We did systemize every aspect of the business. I knew intuitively that we had to if we were going to scale. We had 100% revenue growth six consecutive years in a row. We did that without giving up any equity or taking on any debt. You can’t scale that quickly without it. You can’t make stuff up on the fly. If you’re going to go from one field advisor to two to four to eight, and we went sixteen, you have to have the systems in place. You can’t afford to go back and train everyone the way you trained the first person.
It’s best to get that first person to evolve in their position and become the person who helps bring the rest on board.
We call it Hiring Ahead of the Curve. I would get people who could do the job two or three years from now and tell them to roll up their sleeves and get dirty and do a job way beneath them now. We set expectations that, “I know you’re normally a VP of marketing. Right now, I need you to act as the marketing manager, but in three years, you’ll have a big team so grow it. Don’t come in pretending that you need an assistant right away. Roll up your sleeves and get dirty.” We would hire people whose skills were bigger than what they needed, but we would show them what the company would look like three years from now, showing them that vivid vision and they would grow into that.
Tell us about how and why and when you left the business.
I left in May of 2007, almost ten and a half years ago. It was the right time for me to go. I’d taken the company from $2 million to $106 million. We were on $126 million run rate. We were operating in four countries in 46 states, 330 cities. We had 248 people at the head office. It was a big company. I wasn’t going to be able to take them from the $100 million mark to the $1 billion. I left and started coaching entrepreneurs and CEOs and doing all of my speaking around the world. Thirteen months later, they found my replacement. They brought in the former president of Starbucks to replace me. She walked in and said, “What a cute little company this is.” She came in and saw a very different thing than I was seeing. I was like, “This thing is huge.” She’s like, “This is cute. Let’s grow it.”
I love the perspective because she’s already done it and when she sees what you have, in her mind, three dimensionally, the whole thing starts to appear, which is what experience gives you.
It was like what I saw when I joined. I walked in and said, “What a cute little company. Let’s grow this thing.” Meanwhile, the team was like, “It’s big. We have fourteen people now.” It’s perspective.
When you left, how did you feel? What was your mindset like knowing that you were about to leave a job, which was not a job, but a home and a family after all these years?
It was brutally tough. Brian was my best friend. The company was everything that I’d ever put my heart and soul into and making a decision with Brian that it was the right time for me to go on and do something else and for them to look for a replacement was tough. It was probably the same as me leaving College Pro Painters ten years before that. I knew that at some point, you have to go from the Cub Scouts to Scouts. You have to go from high school to college. You have to evolve. It was tough to leave it behind. The funny thing is I still talk about it using the expression ‘we’. It’s still a huge part of who I am today and what I’ve built for sure.
A lot of us have had success in our lives and then have stepped off the plateau at some level and find ourselves at another place. Sometimes it’s a good place. Sometimes it was a great decision. Sometimes it’s a hard decision and you don’t end up where you think you’re going to. What was your experience months or weeks after you left? Were you thinking like, “That was so great. I’m glad I did it,” or, “What did I do?”
I decided to take three months off and not work. I didn’t answer any emails for three months. I had no business discussions for three months. I didn’t go for lunch with anyone in the business world for three months. I literally took half of May, June, July and August completely off. September 1st, I looked, and I had 64 different deals in front of me that I was able to look at. In that time period, I journaled every day for twenty minutes a day. I wrote notes. I did lifelines and mind maps and made lists and journaled about my experiences in my life and my skills. At the end of three and a half months, I was clear on what I wanted to do. I loved doing speaking events and I was good at it. I also liked coaching entrepreneurs and I was good at it. There was a lot of other business stuff that I was good at, but I didn’t love doing. I decided to create a business for myself where I could work in my unique ability and not work in the other stuff. I don’t want to go into a company every day. I don’t like it. It sucks the life out of me. It’s too draining. Now, I get to coach and mentor amazing people. I’ve worked with a monarchy in the Middle East. I coached the second in command at Sprint. I’ve coached technology companies. I’ve worked with some great businesses all over the world and I just get to be me.
In this world, this is where we want to be, where you are and certainly where I am as well. Do you still journal every day?
Not every day, but probably two or three days a week. I’ve used a couple of daily habits. I co-authored the book, The Miracle Morning for Entrepreneurs with Hal Elrod. Part of the six SAVERS is scribing or writing. I journaled and I also used something called The Five Minute Journal. I wouldn’t say I do the full two pages of journaling every day, probably two or three days a week though.
Do you meditate every day?
I do meditation and I do visualizations. I have cold showers in the morning. I smudge myself with this smudge stick. I read The Daily Stoic. Probably exercising five to six days a week doing yoga and running. I’ve gotten some pretty good daily habits in place now. They’re not easy. It’s hard to build them, but I have a couple of things that I use. I have an app called CommitTo3. I have a daily business accountability partner. I set my daily business goals with a guy named Joe Polish and he sets his with me. I have a daily personal accountability partner who’s an IRONMAN triathlete. I set my daily top three personal goals with him and he sets his daily top three with me. I have habits in place and accountability partners that help focus me.
Accountability is my next big thing. Assuming that you took the time to build this momentum, you realize that it’s now almost impossible to stop because you put this in place and it’s been there for so long.
Once you build those habits, they start becoming momentum. You start waking up in the morning and doing those things. It becomes normal. I’ve layered a few on. Every month or so, I add a new one to my list.
I want you to tell me what you do in an engagement with a brand new small business owner. Give me an idea of what questions you’d ask and what you might find and how you might fix.
I don’t tend to work with companies that are broken. I work with companies that are doing great and want to accelerate their growth. I teach them how to grow faster. The first thing we do is we start off with clarifying what we call their vivid vision. That’s an exercise where over the period of a month or so, they literally draft a four or a five-page written description of what their company looks like three years in the future. They lean out to December 31st three years from now and they write down every aspect of their company. They put a bunch of bullet points down around marketing. They describe IT. They describe engineering and finance and operations, marketing and sales, three or four bullet points about every functional area of their business. They describe what the customers are saying about the company and what the media is writing about the company. They describe what the employees are saying. They write about the culture. They literally describe it as if they’re standing in the middle of their business walking around and looking at it. I’m not quite sure how they got there, so they don’t say how it happened but they describe it in the finished state. Where we start is clarifying what the company looks like.
Then we move back to today and we do a SWOT analysis on where the company is right now. What are the current strengths? What are the current weaknesses? What are the current opportunities? What are the current threats facing the business today? Then we reverse-engineer the delta. We look at where we’re going and we look at where we are, we reverse-engineer that three years and build it like we build a house. You build the foundational parts first, then you put up the walls and you put in the plumbing and electrical. You build a business the same way. You start with the foundational aspects of the business, core purpose, your BHAG, your core values, your vivid vision. Then you put in place the planning systems, strategic thinking systems, all of the people systems from recruiting, interviewing, selection, hiring, onboarding, training and culture. Then you put in place all the meeting rhythms to support the team and then your financial systems to make sure the whole business is running like a clock.
If you meet somebody who has a business doing $2 million to $5 million, things are going well, they have a pretty good system in place, they have a CFO or a part-time CFO, and you walk in and you see all of this stuff and it’s looking like it’s working pretty well. Where are going to be the biggest gains that you feel that you can help a client get?
It depends on where they’re going first. The biggest gains are first understanding where they want to go because to try to fix what you see doesn’t necessarily point them in the direction. They might want to sell the company, which gives you a whole different list of fixes. They might want to build the company into a business that runs without them. It gives you a whole different list of fixes. They may want you to build a business that allows them to do acquisitions or have a better brand or to maximize cashflow, a whole different list of fixes. If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. It starts with, “Where are we going first?”
Let’s assume I know where they’re going. The traditional fixes that I see, the first one is people aren’t focused and businesses aren’t focused, and their employees aren’t focused. They don’t have goals for the year. They don’t have goals for the quarter. They’re not sure what everybody’s working on. They don’t have metrics or KPIs attached to each person. They’re not sure how people’s results are being measured or how to hold themselves accountable. They don’t have good meeting rhythms in place. The reason I even wrote my second book, Meetings Suck, was for all employees of all companies to finally understand how to attend meetings, how to participate at meetings, how to run meetings, and what meetings to have. Giving them those meeting rhythms is powerful. Making sure that they have the right financial systems in place, that they know how to read a P&L, they know how to leverage their balance sheet, they know how to operate and maximize cashflow, making sure that they have that financial oversight in place. Then the people systems. So often, people are trying to build a business with a bunch of B or C-players, and it’s too hard to do. Helping them get the right people in place to outsource using freelancers, that’s where I see a lot of the initial ones.
You talk about freelancers. My book, The Invisible Organization, is basically how to take a brick and mortar company and turn it into a completely virtual company. While it’s rare that someone will do exactly that, what does happen is people look at their company after reading my book and go, “I can send my telephone salespeople home. I can send my marketing department home. I can send even my accounting division home.” There’s where the systems you mentioned are even more important. The mistake people make is they go, “It’s working here at the office. Everybody, just go home, log in from your house.” That’s chaos. Without having the systems you’re talking about, it makes it almost impossible to scale a company. It’s true that most people are not focused. If you don’t have KPIs and you don’t have goals, it’s going to be much harder to grow and you will attract the wrong people because you don’t know who to attract.
You’re also busy being busy. It’s so exhausting, “How are you doing?” “I’m busy.” “Doing what? What exactly are you so busy doing? Are you busy driving your business forward?” I set three goals for myself every day of three things I’m going to knock out of the park. They have to be three big things that will move my business forward. The rest of the work is busy work that will get taken care of at some point, even if it’s email. To wake up first thing in the morning and start working on your email means you get sucked into the busyness of the world, instead of sitting down and saying, “What can I do today that will move my business forward? What are the big three things I can do that will move the business forward today?” and then starting on those and get the busy work done later.
Another thing people are often trying to do is they’re trying to outsource and delegate. Before you outsource and delegate a task or a project, stop for one second and think of this, “Do I even need to do it? Or can we delete it? Do we need to keep doing this task or this process or this thing or can we just stop it completely?” Secondly, “Can we automate it?” Because if you can delegate it to someone, what if you could automate it? What if it could run without a person? The steps are delete it, automate it, outsource it, and then delegate it. Lastly, do it yourself. Too often, the entrepreneur is doing it, busy being busy instead of stopping and going, “Does it even need to be done or can I automate it or can I outsource it? Or can I give it to one of my employees?”
It takes slowing down to think about things. Ask yourself like, “Why does a car need a person to drive it? What if it could drive itself?” That’s automating it. You can hire a driver. I can hire a driver to drive my car around like an Uber driver, but any Uber driver that’s complaining about paying 30% to Uber, you’re out of the job in three years. You’re being automated. That saves the company 30% all of a sudden.
It’s obvious that all car companies are going in that direction anyway, so the whole Uber model in that regard is temporary. It’s so obvious too. We don’t even get to see this in many business models. We know where this is going. In many cases, we don’t.
In many cases, we’ve got our heads so far into the sand that we’re oblivious to it. I was talking to the CEO of a company in the auto space and talking about auto repairs. I’m saying, “Your business in the auto repair space is going to change. Cars aren’t going to have the same amount of accidents. They’re not going to need to be fixed.” Like my Tesla, there’s nothing to fix. There’s no annual checkup. Like, “What do I do? I just fill the windshield wiper fluid. There’s nothing to check the battery.” That whole business is changing. Auto body is going to be gone. Parking lots are going to be gone. Insurance companies are going to be gone. Driving training is going to be gone. You need to slow down and think and that’s the strategic thinking part of a business that often businesses don’t. Even if you’re a five-person company, take the time to stop doing your email and think about what your business looks like in the future and then create that ideal business. Don’t wait for it to happen.
It’s great advice, but it’s hard to do. It’s not easy to see the future for many people. It’s the forest and trees. You’re in it. It’s hard to see. What advice do you have?
Talk to smart people around you. You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, so go and talk to people who aren’t sitting and talking about the football game all day. Ask them about where they see the business going, where they see your environment. Join masterminds, go to events, go online and listen to people that are talking about the future. Watch some of the TED Talks about futurists and what they’re thinking. If you wake up in the morning and you start checking your email, you’re not giving yourself time to think about the future. Imagine if you gave yourself 30 minutes a day to watch even one TED Talk a day about the future, you would have a lot more insights as to where we’re going.
I do something similar to that. I get up in the morning and I make a cup of my Bulletproof coffee. I then sit in a quiet place with The Dow or with Art of War. I read and extract nuggets of brilliance and I journal them every morning. Then I go to the gym and I spend 30, 40 minutes on treadmill and then weights. I come home, and I’m showered. At about 10:30 is when I start my day. Having that foundation to my day makes me far more productive than the old way. In the case of someone who’s getting started, all this stuff you mentioned is for companies that are already going. How would you recommend someone view a startup? They have an idea, they are developing a product, they understand their market, they know who the customer is, they’re cobbling together some basic systems so that they could launch. Where do you see them focusing? What should they focus on as their next steps?
I even start before the next steps. I learned this from an entrepreneur in India. He said, “Entrepreneurs in North America have it backwards. They invent a product and try to sell it to people.” I said, “What do you do?” He goes, “We go and talk to the people and find out what they need and then we invent a product to serve their need.” I thought that was profound that we have it backwards in North America. Why invent something that you fall in love with? Why don’t you go find out what your customers need and invent something that they already want instead of trying to make them fall in love with something they’re not asking for. If you do that, if you understand your market and what they’re looking for and understand their pain points, then it’s easy.
The reason I created the COO Alliance was I started talking to all these entrepreneurs. They were going crazy because they were learning how to run the company, but they needed their second in command to learn how to run the company. Their second in command would go to all these entrepreneur events. They’d go to EO or YPO or Vistage or Genius Network, but they weren’t learning how to run the company and they were ostracized because they knew they weren’t the entrepreneur. I created something and it fills up. With the book, Meetings Suck, everyone was complaining about meetings. The reality is they don’t know how to run meetings. Meetings don’t suck. We suck at running them.
If anybody wanted to find out about the COO Alliance, how would they do that?
You just go to COOAlliance.com. It has all the information there. It’s basically a place for companies that have minimum of 30 employees, minimum of $3 million in revenue, and it’s only for the second in command. Entrepreneurs are not allowed to go. It’s a good space for them because they’re learning from each other and with each other. They all of a sudden realize that they have these shared pain points and shared opportunities. They have these resources they can share with each other. They finally feel like the cool kids because they’re all there with their peer group instead of being the only second in command in a room filled with entrepreneurs.
Who, in all of space and time, would you like to have one hour to enjoy a walk in the park, a quick lunch or an intense conversation with?
I’d like to have another hour with my mom. My mom passed away fifteen years ago and she never saw any of my family. She only knew my one son when he was under a year old. She never met my wife and her girls. She never met my second son. She never saw any of my success in business. She never saw anything from 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, anything in the last sixteen years. I’d like to have more time with her to talk about our growing up and her lessons. We were lucky that she was sick for two years, so I had a lot of time then, but I feel like she got robbed. She passed away at 60 years old and I was only 35.
I believe that she has been there with you for the last sixteen years and she’s seen everything you’ve done, and she is beaming.
Thank you. I know that to be true. I have a friend of mine who five years ago said, “Your mom is watching you. She’s behind you and she said she’s giving you hugs. She said she leaves dimes for you when she’s thinking about you. She said you’ll find dimes at the times when you’re missing her and thinking about her.” I find dimes all the time. I never find quarters. I never find pennies. I never find nickels. I certainly don’t find paper bills. I find dimes all over the place. In fact, two days before I ran my first marathon, I was standing and talking to my training partner about it and talking about my mom and we filled up our water bottles eight miles into our day’s run. We walked out into the parking lot to do our next eight miles and there were two dimes sitting in front of me. He picked them up and handed them to me and he said, “Your mom’s thinking about you.” I carried those with the on the marathon. Thank you for that. I do believe that she is there watching, but I’d still like to have another hour.
The next question is the grand finale. This is the change the world question. What is it that you’re doing or would like to do that truly has the potential to literally change the world?
This one’s easy and it’s my BHAG. My Big Hairy Audacious Goal is to replace vision statements or mission statements with vivid visions worldwide. I just know that companies that craft their four or five-page vivid vision, I cover it in Double Double and also in The Miracle Morning for Entrepreneurs, if they write a vivid vision, their business will scale, their profits will scale, their fund running the company will scale, their employees will understand what’s going on, and their customers will be aligned. Everyone will literally be on the same page finally. We all know intuitively that that one sentence mission statement doesn’t work, and everyone thinks it’s hokey and silly anyway. What will change the world, and it will happen because I’m on a mission to do it and they’re now being used in 28 countries, is having every company write a four or five-page vivid vision for their company and share it with their customers, suppliers and employees.
I understand that you have a gift for our audience. What is that?
I will give them Double Double, which is where I first codified the concept of the vivid vision. We cover in chapter one how to actually draft one and roll it out with your employees. We can give them a copy of that and inspire them as well to do their own.
Thank you, Cameron. Where would they get that?
We can give them the link and they can download it. They can also download some samples of the vivid visions as well of other companies.
Cameron, you have been an incredible guest. I want to say thank you and I really appreciate you.
Thanks, Mitch. I appreciate the time. I hope everyone out there actually does it as well. The last thing I’d like to leave everyone with is remember that we’re all just walking each other home. None of us are getting out of this alive, so let’s have fun along the way. None of us should be taking all this too seriously.
Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
- Double Double
- Cameron Herold
- TED Talk
- College Pro Painters
- Boyd Autobody
- Gerber Auto Collision
- Starwood Hotels
- Avis Rent-A-Car
- Hard Rock Café
- Michael Gerber
- Learning Management System
- The Miracle Morning for Entrepreneurs
- The Five Minute Journal
- The Daily Stoic
- Joe Polish
- Meetings Suck
- Art of War
- COO Alliance
- Genius Network
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