🚀 Breathe.



“In the absence of facts, we make up our own facts. There's an art and a science to communicating internally with our employees and externally with our customers. There's an art to listening, there's an art to asking questions, and there's an art to remembering that there are two sides and filters."

In this episode

In episode #35, Cameron Herold shares what is really important to leaders.

Cameron is the best selling author of the books Double Double and Meetings Suck, as well as the founder of COO Alliance.

Prior to COO Alliance, Cameron was the Chief Operating Officer of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? where he led operations and helped the company soar from two million in revenue growth to 150 million in just seven years. 

In today’s episode, we talk about the upside-down leadership pyramid, which places CEO’s at the bottom, not the top… and why an “old-school” leader wouldn’t survive in today’s business world. 

We also look closely at written communication… for example, how the messages we deliver and the messages that are received can become two different things. 

Tune in to hear how Cameron shares his approach to coaching and how so much of it is centered on teaching the soft skills of leadership.

Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the podcast with your colleagues.


Van Halen and the importance of details


Can you follow these instructions?


Working from home and written communication


I didn’t say you were beautiful


Cameron Herold, The CEO Whisperer


Training for leadership at College Pro Painters


An old school leader can’t survive in 2021


Teaching the operations for success


Visualization is not just for Olympians


What if Steve Jobs included a keyboard on the iPhone?


Cameron’s decision filter for ideas


Meetings suck.


1-800-GOT-JUNK’s Daily Huddles


More than a business, less than a religion



Aydin Mirzaee  1:07  

Cameron, welcome to the show.

Cameron Herold  2:36  

Hey, thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

Aydin Mirzaee  2:38  

Yeah, this is something I’ve been looking forward to. I know we met a long, long time ago, maybe close to 10 years ago. And it’s funny, I just wanted to start out. I think I remember this story from you. I’m not sure, tell me if  it wasn’t you. But I think you were speaking to a group that I was a part of. And you told us about this m&m story. I think it was like a band that you know, had this particular requests about m&ms was that you? Or am I remembering this wrong?

Cameron Herold  3:06  

It was me. I have to look up. I think it was Van Halen, but it might have been shoot, who was it, I gotta remember the story. It was David Lee Roth, it was Van Halen. What happened was they went to an event one time, and everything at the event was perfect. And then they showed up and all the details were taken care of. And they just looked at this woman, like, how did you take care of her and she’s like, I just look at every single line of your rider. And I made sure that I highlight it and I get it done. And, and they’re like, Wow, that’s amazing. And then they went to another event and it was a disaster and stuff wasn’t taken care of. So what they decided to do was in their writer on page 12, in the middle of page 12 had this random bullet point of a thing that they needed. And it was, you know, in their dressing room a bowl of m&ms, and it was like no yellow ones, and extra brown or something like that. And they put that into the writer and then they laughed, and then they would show up for the event like months later. And they would walk into the dressing room. And if the m&ms were there, they would leave for the day party like rock stars show backup, like 10 minutes before going live and they knew everything was taken care of. But if they showed up in the m&ms weren’t there, they would go through the entire contract line by line to make sure their event was set up for the night. So they use that one little screening. So I’ve used that for years now in my interview screening, I embed something halfway down through the actual job posting, and I won’t read any resumes unless they actually follow that one specific instruction in the middle of job posting.

Aydin Mirzaee  4:39  

Do tell more. What is that one line? what’s an example?

Cameron Herold  4:43  

So it says they get an auto reply right away that says thanks very much for your resume. Please read this vivid vision of our company if this sounds like the kind of company you want to fly to the moon to reply now and put ‘interview me’ in all caps in the subject line and we’ll bring you in for a group interview. So that’s the first one that they have To drop in, and then later and it says, Please give me an example of your favorite food,  example, chili fries. So what I’m looking for is someone who’s detail oriented enough and somebody who’s fun enough to actually just be able to follow that instruction. Because if you’re at the initial stage of an interview, and you can’t follow instructions, you’re going to be terrible when you’re working with me.

Aydin Mirzaee  5:19  

Yeah, no, that’s, that’s so interesting. You know, I remember that, that was that story. And then you know that kind of stuck with me, it’s so interesting that you also use this and other parts, I know, you had something similar for when you were coming to speak to our group. So I love that you’re implementing that, you know, it’s so funny, I have all these questions. And now that I kind of see you face to face, it reminds me of some of the things that you talked about Back then, I think you also told me about this story. And it’s kind of related because it’s in a sense, you’re looking to validate something, but you’re looking to validate it in other ways. Do I remember this correctly, that you had this method where you would actually go out and look at an interviewee’s car?

Cameron Herold  6:02  

Their car and their house, I’ll walk you through both of those. So the car example is one that I used years ago, when I was looking for someone who is detail oriented. And so I was looking for a high degree of precision. Usually, on a scale of one through five, I wanted someone who’s a four or a five and precision. And one of the things I recognized was that people that are detail oriented, their cars are clean, people that are not detail oriented, their cars tend to be a disaster, and their desk tends to be a disaster, which is fine. But it also for me, it sends a signal that they won’t handle multiple projects, they won’t handle mass communication, they won’t handle small details in terms of, you know, contracts or whatever. So I would go out to somebody’s car and just take a quick look at it. And this was, you know, in days when it was easy just to pop out and take a look. My sister, when I taught her that lesson would send one of her employees out and they would check the person’s car even while the interview was when they come back in and go like, you know, two thumbs up four out of five. And they would kind of rate the person just saw. There’s no law that says you can’t do it. On the driving past someone’s home. years ago, we were hiring a Chief Financial Officer at 1-800 GOT JUNK. And we were already about 240 people at the head office, about 3000 system wide. We needed somebody who was a very polished seasoned solid strategic CFO, but we wanted somebody who has a really good cultural fit with us, you know, because we’ve been there since day one, and our culture was so strong. So we had narrowed it down to these two final candidates that either one of them would have had the great skills and either one of them seemed like a good culture fit. I’m like, I just don’t know them. I need to know them. And both of them lived in my neighborhood. Like they were right in my postal code as I was driving home. So I’m just gonna drive by their home. There’s no law that says I can’t drive past your house. I mean, it’s a little creepy, maybe. But I drove past one house, it was just very beige. It was just kind of like, I bought the house. I live in the house, I leave the house, nothing has changed. Like there was just nothing there that describes this guy. And then I drove by this woman’s house, and it was this really super cute, very nicely painted, nicely landscaped little bungalow for her and her children, her living windows open. So you can see into our living room dining room, and it just felt like my home, it felt like Brian’s home, it just felt comfortable. I was like, I could hang there. And it turned out she was a fantastic hire. And we did get each other and we didn’t like each other. And again, there’s no law that says you can’t know, it’s like going around on so now we have social media. Back then we didn’t have Facebook yet. Right? It was just launching when I was leaving the company. So now if you hop on social media, you go on their Instagram, you go on their Twitter feed, you on their Facebook profile, you go on their LinkedIn, you know them. But we didn’t have that as an interviewing tool.

Aydin Mirzaee  8:45  

Yeah, you know, it’s so funny that you talked about, you know, what people post on social media and things I saw on Twitter that there is now software that will, like you can kind of do a background check, but a social background check. And you know, someone posted one of these that a company had done for them. And like you liked this tweet from this group, and like, and it starts flagging these sorts of things. And I’m like, this is very scary.

Cameron Herold  9:12  

That’s interesting. Yeah, like the social bubbles, right? So the filter bubbles, I was at the main TED conference I’ve done in the main TED conference for nine years, 10 years now. And that I think, is the 2011 main TED one of the talks was about filter bubbles. And they were talking about how you know if you searched something, let’s say you searched you know, fun activities, your search thread and your city and my search results from where I am would be very different. Even if we lived in the same city that would be very different based on all of our past searches. It’s kind of crazy to think that there’s a tool out there that pulls that together and shows the flags but it’s another level of filter bubbles. I don’t know if I love

Aydin Mirzaee  9:51  

Yeah, the world is drastically changing and you know, so obviously now a large portion of the world is, at least in the knowledge workers, are working from home looks like this might be somewhat of a new normal, or at least like, there will be a larger portion of people doing this. And one of the things that I know you’ve said in the past is that just you know, communication is obviously very hard. And it seems like because of what’s happening is we’re actually moving more towards written communication, and less towards, I guess, just like face to face conversation or like voice conversation. And you have this really cool example in your book that says, like how hard this is, and it’s about the phrase, I didn’t say you were beautiful.

Cameron Herold  10:38  

Yeah, so anybody listening, write down the phrase, I didn’t say, you were beautiful. Right. And then if you read that sentence out loud, and you put the emphasis on the first word, I didn’t say you are beautiful. And you read it again, put the emphasis on the second word, I didn’t say you were beautiful. Or you put on the third word, I didn’t say you are beautiful. Or I didn’t say you were beautiful, right? That sentence means six different things, depending on which of the six words you put the emphasis on. And that’s where written communication causes more frustration than actual video or face to face communication. So often, we think we’re actually handling something really quickly because we’re sending a text or a message. But the reality is, we were causing a butterfly effect because of people scanning information or reading too quickly, or misunderstanding or the fact that we don’t use proper punctuation, etc. It’s funny, I just had a call an hour ago with one of my team, who last night sent me like three emails and three texts and three slacks about something he was frustrated with. I’m like, dude, get on a call with me. Tomorrow morning, we’ll walk through this over video. It’s way easier. And over video, we’re both laughing, we’re talking through it, it’s easier. But it’s amazing how stuff can just get heated or misinformed because we’re going too fast. So I think there’s a huge opportunity for people to, especially when you’re dealing with conflicts, just hop on a quick video call with somebody or you know, if you can’t do a face to face.

Aydin Mirzaee  12:07  

Yeah, that’s a habit people need to get into more just because you can’t tap them on the shoulder doesn’t mean that you can’t do a quick video call. Yeah, that’s super important. And you know, people use even punctuation in different ways, people use capital letters in different ways. Some people are tourists by by default, and other people may interpret that as being you know,

Cameron Herold  12:28  

I send a friend of mine a message when when I’m very acerbic when I come over because I come over really fast and to the point and so I’ve had to learn to drop in emojis and little smiley faces and but years ago, I sent a good friend of mine a message on his birthday, it just said Happy birthday. And in his mind, it just said Happy Birthday didn’t say anything else. So he’s like, Dude, what’s wrong? I’m like, nothing. I just said Happy birthday. He goes, I know you didn’t even say anything else. I’m like, dude, I’m fucking busy goes. Yeah, it was my birthday. That’s all you said was happy birthday. I’m like, how about Happy Birthday asshole? Like, what? What are we good? like, yeah, and he was my best friend like. So yeah, I think people have got to learn that. Unfortunately, we haven’t really migrated from the old style of written communication or verbal communication to a new method yet, and we think we have because we’re going so quickly. Not everybody is operating with that same kind of computer to decode the message, right? There’s a message delivered in a message received. And it’s almost interesting when you deal with somebody, I have a friend who is very, very, very autistic savant. He, the fourth highest IQ in history. Supposedly, his name is Walter O’Brian. He’s got a TV show about him called scorpion. He hacked into the NASA Space Station. When he was 13 and stole the blueprints for the space shuttle. Key. He doesn’t understand innuendo or humor. So for Walter, if you type something, he reads it, like a computer would read it. You know, he doesn’t understand it. If he said, Dude, you’re such an asshole. He’d be like, No, I’m not enough. I’m a really nice person. Like, he wouldn’t even understand that I was kidding. And I think in written communication, unfortunately, we don’t really understand that often that intent isn’t getting delivered.

Aydin Mirzaee  14:14  

Yeah, God save us all.

Cameron Herold  14:17  

Screw, right. Yeah. And then, and then you go, God, save us all. I’m like, I don’t believe in God. Like, why are you even saying that? Like, are you like, and I’m not saying that really. But like, you know what I mean? Like, holy.

Aydin Mirzaee  14:28  

Yeah, it’s gonna be you know, it’s very interesting, cuz we all harped on the, this is going to be so efficient. We’re not going to commute. We’re not going to do all these things. You know, some of it is some of the things and miscommunications. I mean, they take time to kind of become problems. So we are introducing a lot of things that I mean, I’m not saying they’re not solvable, we can solve them, but we do need to change some things.

Cameron Herold  14:51  

Well, and also, you know, I think we also all create our own stories, you know, so I’ll give you an example. I’m holding up a book right now, What color is this book?

Aydin Mirzaee  15:00  

Looks black.

Cameron Herold  15:01  

Are you sure?

Aydin Mirzaee  15:02  

Ah, I think so. 

Cameron Herold 15:04

What color is this? 

Aydin Mirzaee 15:05

Now, it’s white. 

Cameron Herold  15:06  

You just told me it’s black? It’s the same item, I just flipped it over you. Is it white or black?

Aydin Mirzaee  15:12  

It’s both

Cameron Herold  15:13  

Correct. It’s both, there’s two sides. And the reality is in every form of communication, there’s that message delivered and message received. But we ended up anchoring ourselves to what we see or what we filtered or what we know, to be true. And you could have, you could have bet everything that this is black. And I could have bet everything that this is white, and we both would have been correct. And unfortunately, with written communication and verbal communication, we end up reading something and then creating our own story from it. And then in the absence of facts, we make up our own facts, right. So that’s where there’s an art and a science to communicate internally, with our, with our employees, externally with our customers. There’s an art to listening, there’s an art to asking questions, there’s an art to remembering that there’s two sides and filters.

Aydin Mirzaee  16:04  

Yeah, no, it’s, I mean, it’s super interesting. And you know, one of the things that I really enjoy about, you know, all the books you’ve written, you know, obviously the talks, your startup advisor, entrepreneur, Forbes called you the CEO whisperer, which by the way, is a really, really cool title. I wanted to ask you about, you know, how you learn the things that you do, so that you can then teach it to others. You know, one of the questions I had, for example, was, you know, going back in your career, have you had a favorite or most memorable boss that that you learned a lot from or a mentor? Wow.

Cameron Herold  16:43  

Yeah, and Forbes, it was the CEO, sorry, it was the publisher of Forbes magazine, in print in the actual print edition, called me the CEO whisperer. So I’ve kind of run with that moniker. I like it. It’s fun. I was groomed as an entrepreneur, by my father who groomed my brother and my sister and myself all to be entrepreneurs. And to this day, for the last 15 to 25 years, all three of us have run our own companies. So that was really pretty foundational mentoring from my dad. And then both my grandfather’s were entrepreneurs as well. But I got a lot of my real training at a group called college pro painters. And college pros was the world’s largest residential house painting company, every year, we would have to hire 8800, painters and franchisees, so we became operationally world class at, you know, recruiting, interviewing, selection, onboarding, training, and then operations. So I would say it was probably less of a person or a boss, and it was more of that experience of being a franchisee for three years with college Pro. And then in my mid 20s, coaching, 120 franchisees for them over four years, is where I really, really gained all of my insights on running companies, you know, when you have to train, I think I was 28 years old, 29 years old, and I had finished training 120 franchisees, and that was recruiting them, interviewing them, training them, coaching them. And doing that for four years. That’s really where I got all my training.

Aydin Mirzaee  18:20  

Yeah, and when you were doing that stuff, I mean, were you learning from just doing things, making mistakes, figuring it out?

Cameron Herold  18:27  

No. So there’s a model that we were taught at College Pro Painters, there’s four different parts of this kind of cycle of learning that you always go through. The first is called abstract conceptualization. So you’re learning the concepts. So that could be you know, reading something, or being in a classroom or watching a video. So we had a lot of abstract concepts, you know, around Situational Leadership, time management, meetings, interviewing, selection, coaching, delegation, all these skills of leadership that we were taught. And then we had the act of experimentation, which was role playing, practicing, sometimes in classrooms, sometimes with our boss, sometimes with peers, but we were really pushed into that active experimentation part, to try out using the concepts. And then we had the concrete experience where we were doing so we were learning all of these skills. So as an example, every year for four years, I got more training on interviewing right before the interviewing cycle that we were in for 13 weeks. So during that interviewing, I would be videoing myself getting in or doing interviews, I would get feedback on those interviews, I would practice doing more interviews. And then we had the reflective observation, which was how did you do what can you do better? What can you do differently? What can you continue doing? And then you went back to learn more about interviewing again. So we always had that cycle for every skill that we were working on. So it was never kind of a one and done. It was always you know, what are the core kind of 10 to 12 soft skills leaders need and keep working on those.

Aydin Mirzaee  19:57  

It sounds like they do a really good job training. Have you ever come across another company that kind of applies like that level of, I guess, purposefulness on training folks. 

Cameron Herold  20:11  

What do you mean? 

Aydin Mirzaee  20:12  

It seems like they have like this, this model that works, you know, you talked about the four steps, and it happens every year. And it’s just such a focus on training. I feel like in most places, like you said, it’s probably like one and done. Okay, get everybody manager training, get everybody sales training. 

Cameron Herold  20:29  

Well, that was a belief that we were given by the founder, Greg Clark, that a leader’s job is to grow people. Right. So the leader, if I think of a company is upside down org chart, the CEO is at the bottom, supporting the VPS, who support the managers who support the employees who support the customers. So my job if I’m supporting leaders, is to give them skills and confidence, the more I give them skills, the more confidence they get, the more I give them confidence, the more skills they’ll acquire. So my job is to grow them because I can now get more results through people than from myself. So at College Pro Painters, we had to become very good. See if there were 60 people at the head office, right? And then every year I was in the top 30. Every year in that company of 60 people, we would go out and recruit, hire and train 800 franchisees and we would do it over about eight to 12 weeks. And then those 800 franchisees would recruit, hire and train 8000 painters, and then from May 1 until August 31, we would paint $64 million in houses. And then September 1, 1800, kids would quit and go back to university and September 2, we would do it again. So when you have to recruit, hire and train 1800 people, you become operationally world class at that part of the business. So I’ve just always extracted that and taken it into every business when I built 1-800-GOT- JUNK, when we go Boyd Auto Body private currency. And in all the clients that I coach globally, for the last 13 years, it’s all about building the soft skills of leadership. And yeah, I think most companies don’t do any of that. They probably train you on what you do, but not how you do. Whereas I obsess about training people on how to do you know the jobs of leaders, not how to do marketing? Or how to do Finance? Or how to do IT? Or how to run a machine? Those are skills that people can learn once.

Aydin Mirzaee  22:16  

Is that concept like the upside down leadership pyramid? Is that ever not true? In the sense of like, if you’re a team of you know, four or five people, and everybody has to do things, and you know, it’s a startup world? Like, is there a point where you think that starts to become more important, or is it always important?

Cameron Herold  22:36  

Well, the reality is that the area of business that we’re in does not accept the whole autocratic, dictatorial, you know, do your job, do this, do only this, the private office, the corner office, like we hate all that shit, right? So any, any kind of an old school leader would never survive in today’s you know, world. In the very early stage, it’s more of a divide and conquer, can you do this, I’ll do this, you do this, I’ll do this. But if it’s too top down, you don’t, you don’t engage people. So what I find is always better is to show people where we’re going, and then get the smart people to help figure out the plan and get the smart people to help figure out who does what, and then you kind of get going. But that’s less of it’s more of me leading them. And growing them. Because now I’ve got four people who can actually project plan, I’ve got four people who can divide and conquer. And then those four can get us to 40. You know, so I’m always looking at, again, on this call I had with one of the members of my team today. I refuse to take the problem, and I have to solve it. I pushed the problem back to him. And he’s now coming back to me at the end of the day with his solutions to the problem. I said, even if they’re bad solutions, you got to come in with a couple solutions to every problem. And then we’ll figure it out. Because I want to grow his skills.

Aydin Mirzaee  23:55  

Yeah. And so I mean, you must have had an answer this whole time, but you just refuse to express it. Right?

Cameron Herold  24:00  

Well, like with my kids, my kids are 19 and 17. When my youngest was 15. He came to me, he said, Hey, Dad, can you find me an egg? I said, Sure. So I go to the kitchen, I go grab the eggs out of the fridge. He goes, Okay, I said grab two eggs. He goes, No, I just want one. I said yeah, no, I’m gonna make you an egg. You’re gonna make me an egg. And he started laughing. I said, Get the frying pan out. They put about this much butter in the frying pan. Turn it on to the medium swirl of butter. Okay, here’s how you crack an egg. Can you crack that one? Alright, see, watch what’s happening. Okay, here’s how you flip it. Can you flip the other one? Right, turn it off. Okay, put the eggs out. Okay. Now you watch the frying pan. I walk in two days later, the kids making an omelet. I’m like, how did you learn how to make an omelet? He goes, I looked it up on YouTube. I’m like, right? But my job isn’t to just make his eggs. My job is to grow his skill set. So at some point he can leave the house and be a happy healthy independent kid or adult.

Aydin Mirzaee  24:58  

Yeah, the whole teach a man to fish. [AD BREAK] Hey there, before moving to the next part of the interview, quick interjection to tell you about one of the internet’s best kept secrets, the manager TLDR newsletter. So every two weeks, we read the best content out there, the greatest articles, the advice, the case studies, whatever the latest and greatest is, we summarize it, and we send it to your inbox. We know you don’t have the time to read everything, but because we’re doing the work will summarize it and send it to your inbox once every two weeks. And the best news, it’s completely free. So go on over to fellow dot app slash newsletter and sign up today. And with that said, let’s go back to the interview. [ AD BREAK ENDS]

Cameron Herold  25:44  

Right now with my role, what I’ve done with companies, so the world is kind of littered with coaches, right? There’s all these business coaches, they’ve been around, I started coaching 31 years ago, before coaching was even a thing. My method of coaching isn’t to build a reliance on me. It’s to teach people how to actually operate and grow highly successful, fast growing companies that become like magnets for talent. Once I’ve done that, I should be out of a job.

Aydin Mirzaee  26:12  

Yeah, no, that makes a lot of sense. You know, it just because it’s, it’s very relevant. You have this new book called Vivid Vision, and it but it is a concept that you’ve talked about in the past and, and so now you’ve just gone all in and, and did a deep dive on this topic. And it kind of relates to what you’re saying, which is, you know, what the role of the leader is, and, and that for you to tell people what his Vivid Vision is all about?

Cameron Herold  26:37  

Sure. And it’s funny, because three of the chapters have double, double. Double double is my first book that came out 11 years ago, three of the chapters from that have now become full books, I did one called Meetings suck. And there was a chapter on meetings, I did one called Free PR, and there was a small chapter on PR. And then I did one chapter on vision, or vivid vision, there’s now a fulll book there. So the concept of the vivid vision is this is one that we learned from an Olympic Coach 32 years ago. And in Vancouver, this coach, sorry, 22 years ago, this Olympic coach had invited about 120 entrepreneurs in Vancouver to have lunch, and 16 of us showed up. And he was talking about how high performance athletes used visualization in sport, and how if we could harness visualization in the business world, we talked about how the owner, the entrepreneur often has a vision for what their company looks like. Now they can see their company in the future. They know what they want the meetings to be like, they know what they want the culture to be like, they know how they want employees to treat each other. They know what they want the physical space to look like, but they don’t necessarily explain it. So everybody else around them, in the absence of facts is making up their own ideas of what the future looks like. So the concept of the vivid vision is for the owner to go travel almost in a time machine to December 31 2023, right travel three years out and describe your company in its finished state. So you end up with a four or five page written description of your company that describes every aspect of your business without saying how it came true. Right? It’s like, I don’t know how this home got built. But I can describe the home and its finished state. If you’re building a home, the homeowner knows what they want the home to look like. But unless they explain it in a way for the contractor to draw blueprints, their vision would never come true. You know, I can say here’s 2 million bucks, build my dream home. It could be a modern one, it could be four stories, it could be one story, it could be like craftsman, it could be like, I haven’t given you anywhere near enough details to build my dream home. But if I start giving you descriptions and drawings and sketches, and we talk through it all you as a contractor understand my vision enough to create the plan to make my vision come true. I then sign off on your plan, you’ve signed off on my vision. And now we hand the plan to the employees and the vision to the employees. And they can build my home without ever talking to me as a homeowner, because they can read the plans that interpret the vision. So the vivid vision in the business world is a four or five page document describing the future of your company three years out, so that the team can put the plans in place to make every sentence come true.

Aydin Mirzaee  29:15  

Do you also involve the team in coming up with a vision? Or is that a founder activity?

Cameron Herold  29:21  

Would you ever involve the electrician and the plumber and the guy who makes cabinets on designing your dream home?

Aydin Mirzaee  29:25  


Cameron Herold  29:26  

So you don’t involve the team in coming up with your vision. The owner’s role is to articulate the vision and then find the people that are most excited and inspired and have the skills to make that vision come true. But if you try to get everybody involved learning down the vision, because now it becomes everybody’s vision, so now nobody really cares. 

Aydin Mirzaee 29:49

Yeah, but you do start to involve them though – in the planning stage 

Cameron Herold 29:52

Yeah, the owner’s job is not to figure out how, right so remember when when the iPhone came out 13 years ago. What was missing on the iPhone?

Aydin Mirzaee  30:02  

The app store was missing.

Cameron Herold  30:04  

Before the app store? You’re right. I have a crazy funny story that cost me $108 million. But no App Store. There was no keyboard. Right? Right. And we all thought he was crazy. Back then we thought Steve Jobs was crazy for coming up with a phone without a keyboard. And then we tried it the first time and we were addicted. But if he’d listened to everybody, or listened to anybody, there would have been a keyboard. And now I don’t even know if they make phones with keyboards of any kind. But vision is to be something that inspires and then the plan to figure out how to make that come true is from the smart people that are excited about making it happen.

Aydin Mirzaee  30:34  

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

Cameron Herold  30:36  

Want to know my 100 and $8 million law.

Aydin Mirzaee  30:38  

Yeah, yeah, I was gonna ask you about that. 

Cameron Herold  30:40  

I have an email to prove this. So August of 2008. I’m going to my second time at Burning Man. And I get Tim Ferriss who’s who and I were good friends at the time, sends me a note, he wants to come and he’s gonna come to my camp at Burning Man, but we’re gonna keep it a surprise rockin telling him, but he has no one knew who Jim was back then. So we’re gonna introduce him as Tom, which is his brother’s name. And then two days before the burn, he sends me a note, he goes, Hey, I’ve got this friend of mine. He wants to come. You know, he’s an entrepreneur. I’m like, Yeah, that’s great. Bring your friend like it’s Burning Man, whatever, doesn’t matter. You know, he’s gonna be really cool. He’s gonna bring like a freezer with fudgesicles. I’m like, dude, it doesn’t matter, whatever. And then he tells me what his friend’s first business was. And it was like, some stupid little business. You know, it’s sold for a bit, but it wasn’t really super successful. So I hadn’t given this guy a lot of credit. And, and we were partying and Tim and his friend didn’t really merge that well with my group. And I was frustrated. So I never spend enough time with them. Two o’clock in the morning, his friend is pitching four of us. And Tim, so five of us in total on this new business idea. And he’s explaining, you’ll go from your phone to the App Store. So like, is that like at a 711 is at a mall, if you go to the mall to go to this store? He goes, No, the stores on your phone. We’re like, Well, where’s the app store? He’s like, it’s on your phone. And it’s like, it’s like a website with other websites. I’m like, okay, so we understand what a website will be like we’re following. So he’s explaining like, you press on the icon of this new app, and it’ll open up and then you’ll be able to book a taxi or a limo will come to you. We’re like, this is the stupidest thing we’ve ever heard like, you just phone taxis and there’s not enough limos out there to even dumb idea. So normally, my investments in those days were $25,000. In in startups. I did like 15, five and tiny pulse nurses next door and four of us said it was the dumbest idea we’ve ever heard. Tim put 25 grand in. The guy who was pitching us was Garrett camp, who was the original founder of Uber. And this was six months before Garrett had hired Travis Zelnick to be CEO. So we had a chance to get in on the founders round at Uber at 25 grand, the day of the IPO two years ago, it was $108 million and was a $25 million investment.

Aydin Mirzaee  32:46  

So a very expensive lesson, but I’m sure he learned a few things. 

Cameron Herold  32:51  

So my lessons were to remove my own bias to truly understand the businesses. And not to not to judge Garett’s first business was called stumble upon. And I thought it was a stupid idea, because who has time to just stumble onto all these other websites and just see what’s out there. But that was in the day when people didn’t understand the internet. And they didn’t know what was there. And they didn’t know what to search for to find stuff. So stumble upon helped you just see what was possible. And it sold for like 20 million or something. So it wasn’t a bad idea. But I judged it. And then because my friends weren’t liking him. I I judged it. You know,

Aydin Mirzaee  33:33  

I wonder if there’s a lesson to that in the sense of like when say, employees come to you with ideas? And immediately you say no, has that changed the way that you kind of look to people who come to you with suggestions on how to improve your company?

Cameron Herold  33:49  

Yeah, so what we have now is what I call a decision filter. So I take the idea, and then I run it through a one pager, which is, you know, what’s the best the best that will happen? If we execute on this? What’s the worst that will happen on this? How much money are we going to have to invest? And what’s the ROI of that? How much time will we have to invest? What’s the ROI of that? Will it drive profit? Will it drive revenue? Will it drive employee engagement? Will it drive customer engagement? And then what are the five kinds of core points of how it will look when it’s completed? And then based on that, we make a decision to green yellow or red light green meaning Yes, we’re gonna do it, we’ll put it into the plan this quarter yellow meaning Yeah, we’re gonna do it, but not yet. So we’ll just keep that stack with the rest of the ideas. Read meaning after we looked at it all. We’re gonna kill it. It’s not that great of an idea anymore. But we forced the ideas to go through a model that then we can give it more weight and we can understand it more.

Aydin Mirzaee  34:44  

Yeah, that makes sense. Very this way, it’s emotionally detached. Like you said.

Cameron Herold  34:50  

It’s also a really good system to force the entrepreneur to put their ideas into a model so that the team can then understand it more because often, the entrepreneur has been rolling the around in their head for months, and then they blurt out the idea really quickly and expect people to get excited, and people don’t understand at all. And then secondly, you’re tending to take an idea that you see all the parts for and you’re handing it to people that now want to ask you questions, but not to debate you. They’re asking you questions to understand it more. But the entrepreneur often feels like they’re arguing, instead of the person asking questions just to understand it, so they can frame what they see it looking like, so the decision filter can be really good for them, too.

Aydin Mirzaee  35:32  

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I would be remiss if we didn’t talk about meetings and Meetings Suck the book, what I really like about it is that it’s not just a book about meetings, it’s also I kind of view it as like a framework also to run your company, because it’s all these different types of meetings, what they’re useful for what they actually accomplish, and you go through a lot of different ones. So I think like, it’s, it’s a really cool book, it almost, you could use it as, as this like reference that that you can keep going back to and thinking about, Hey, I have this problem. Maybe this type of meeting should actually work like this, or I need one of these, and they don’t have them. I was gonna ask you, what is your favorite meeting type?

Cameron Herold  36:16  

Well, let me walk you through why  the book Meetings Suck even exists. And then I’ll explain my favorite meeting type. So one of my clients that I was coaching, I helped them go from about 40 employees up to 700 employees, I coached them for four years, I’m still coaching Today, I’d like your seven, they raised $250 million from Warburg Pincus about two years ago. But when they were approaching 400 employees, I was talking to the CEO, and he said, you know, our meetings suck. I’m like, What do you mean, he goes, all the employees are complaining about meetings, they go too long. We don’t solve stuff, you know, meeting we need to eliminate all the meetings or eliminate more than meetings. I said, Wait, why are you saying meetings suck? Like, have you trained your managers on how to run meetings? He said, No, I said, Have you trained your employees on how to show up with them? Or how to participate in them? Or how to, you know, collaborate in meetings, said no, I said, well, then maybe meetings don’t suck at all, maybe we suck at running meetings. So what we did in the book meeting sucked was we codified it in a way that 30% of the book is how to run meetings. 30% of the book is how to show up at them and participate in them and attend meetings. And then 30% of the book is what meetings you need to run a highly successful company. So it’s written in a way that every employee of every company should be reading it. And that’s what kind of fast forwards to me. I’d say my favorite meeting is either the one on one coaching, because there’s real art and science. Or, or as your company gets past 20 employees and you go in the 2200 employees zone, the daily huddle would be my two.

Aydin Mirzaee  37:48  

You know, there’s this, and we’ll link to it in the show notes. But the daily huddle is a really cool meeting and you have this this awesome video, we’ll link to it on YouTube where I guess it’s a, it happened at one 800 got junk. And what I really like about it is just like the energy level, that it kind of creates, and it’s almost hard not to, you know, basically cheer on for everybody while that’s happening. It this a thing that you recommend to all the people that you coach today, like all the entrepreneurs?

Cameron Herold  38:22  

The daily huddle is a concept we learned from Vern Harnish, whose first book was called Rockefeller Habits. The second book is called Scaling Up, he was the founder of the entrepreneurs organization. When we learned about the concept, we just decided to try it. And we put it in place. We had about 40 employees at the time. And that was 19 years ago, 1-800-GOT-JUNK started running daily huddles, they’ve not missed a day in 19 years, they still run it today. So very, very powerful seven minute all companies stand up meeting every day. And  the the basic idea with that meeting is to share good news, share the key numbers, have one business area, do an update, and then cover any missing systems. The energy level that you saw was a part of two things one we taught taught people to bring good energy to huddle. So that happened more and more over time. But the second part is we were already a cult at that point. You know, our culture was so strong. When you saw that video happening that I think you saw more than just the energy of a daily huddle. You also saw the energy of really, really hiring some pretty spectacular people who just vibrated with that same resonance. And it was impossible for that not to kind of geek out through the organization. We ended up as the number two company in Canada to work for. So it was it was a pretty strong culture that you were seeing as well as a daily huddle.

Aydin Mirzaee  39:42  

How did you end up building a culture like that?

Cameron Herold  39:45  

Well,  I believe that to build an amazing company had to be a little bit more than a business, a little bit less than a religion. And it had to be in that zone of a cult. So you build off things like you attract people that vibrate, you get rid of the negative energy. you attract people that believe in the cause and you get rid of the people that don’t believe in the cause. You brand everything, you name everything, you codify everything so that people that are inside the group, understand that all people from the outside of the group, want in. And then we got a lot of good press coverage about us. So that all we had all the social proof about how great our company was, more and more people wanted, it was all done by design.

Aydin Mirzaee  40:21  

Yeah, no, that sounds fantastic. 

Cameron Herold  40:23  

It’s interesting, because I’m actually watching a TV show right now about a cult called The Vow. And it’s about the entrepreneurial success program. And it’s a crazy 16,000 people got indoctrinated into this thing. But I’m fascinated by some of their recruiting and some of their systems they use to build such a strong culture, where people didn’t even recognize that it was negative. And I think if you can take the power of what they did well, and apply it to a good business where you do care about people, and it isn’t really a cult. There’s some good lessons there.

Aydin Mirzaee  40:55  

Yeah, I actually finished watching that as well, and was equally fascinated by how they could pull something like this off. And and have nobody know, like you said,

Cameron Herold  41:05  

Right. I’m talking with Sarah right now behind the scenes, who’s the kind of the face of it as well. And then I’m also trying to connect with Mark, who was the other main character, and I actually want to talk to them about understanding some of the business systems that could be used in a good way. You know, what are the things that they did in a good way that businesses can use because there’s a lot of really good companies out there that could be spectacular and could be doing things for good. There’s a lot of really good causes out there that could be doing things for good, but they don’t know how to, to attract in a way that they were doing it for negative unfortunately,

Aydin Mirzaee  41:39  

I mean, that makes a lot of sense. And if you ever end up writing a blockbuster book, please do do share. We’d love to read it and also share with our audience. Cameron, there’s been a lot of really great things. We talked about lots of insights, one of the questions that we we always end with is basically, what advice would you have for managers and leaders for everybody trying to get better at their craft, if you were to delete them with resources, obviously, all your books, we’re gonna link to them in the show notes, anything else that they should do? Check on words of wins, wisdom, parting words, anything else that you might have?

Cameron Herold  42:11  

I guess two things. One is God gave us two ears and one mouth, and we need to use them more in that ratio, we need to listen twice as often as we speak. I think leaders tend to speak too quickly, we tend to try to contribute our ideas to quickly instead of listening to what our team has got. And if we spend more time listening to others, we’re going to increase their confidence and increase their skills. And we’ll often realize they’ve got the same ideas we had anyway. Or maybe they have better ones. That’d be the first The second one is to remember that none of this actually matters, that at the end of the day, we’re all going to die. This is just what we’re doing to make money while we’re on this earth. And then then we’re done. And maybe we can have fun and hold hands and have they have a great experience along the way. But maybe we don’t have to take ourselves so seriously all the time.

Aydin Mirzaee  42:58  

That’s a great place to end it, Cameron. Thank you for doing this.

Cameron Herold  43:01  

And you’re welcome was fun time. Appreciate it!

Latest episodes