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Everyone knows about the hustle and grit entrepreneurs need to make it to the top, but what about the experience?
What about the knowledge?
How much could you and your business benefit from a learning session with someone who’s led multimillion dollar companies, directly consulted for one of the four largest wireless carriers in the United States, and helped a monarch manage their wealth?
If your answer is anything other than “a LOT,” you’re lying to yourself.
And that’s why today on Making Bank, we’re excited to welcome best-selling author, and business growth guru Cameron Herold to the program.
Cameron is the entrepreneurs’ entrepreneur. A man who earned his MBA, not in the classroom, but in the real-world, by transforming College Pro Painters into a semi-casual operation into a multi-million-dollar, nation-wide juggernaut.
Though most famous for his work as COO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and his best-selling books Double, Double and Meetings Suck, Cameron is neither an executive nor author at heart—he is a teacher.
Someone who wants to help aspiring entrepreneurs and struggling business owners learn how to tighten up their businesses every year so they can move forward by driving long-term exponential growth.
Tune-in to today’s episode as Josh and Cameron converse on some amazing subjects, including:
- How to cultivate a winning company culture
- Why rapid growth and fiscal strength do not ensure invincibility
- Why understanding the balance sheet cannot be under-appreciated
- How to identify what’s driving the flywheel so those driving factors can be nurtured and grown
- Why you can’t build every aspect of your business
- When it pays to be the dumbest person in the room
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Josh Felber: Welcome back to Making Bank. I am Josh Felber and I’m excited today. We have a phenomenal guest on our show. His name is Cameron Herold. He is known around the world as a business growth guru. He’s a mastermind behind hundreds of different companies’ exponential growth. Cameron has built a dynamic consultancy. His current clients include everybody from one of the big four wireless carriers and a monarchy. What [it was 00:01:08] clients say that they like most about him, he is not a theory guy. Guys, that means we’re going to get some action steps today and Cameron is going to give you different ideas to move your business forward.
Not only does Cameron know how to grow a business but his delivery from on stage is second-to-none. The current publisher Forbes Magazine Rich Karlgaard stated that Cameron is the world’s best speaker that he’s ever heard and he hits grand slams. When Cameron steps off stage, he does not stop teaching. He’s the author of the global best-selling business book Double Double, that I’ve read multiple times, in its seventh printing and in multiple translations around the world. He’s spoken 26 different countries. He’s also the top-rated lecture at EO and MIT’s Entrepreneurial Masters Program and a powerful and effective speaker at Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer leadership events around the world. Cameron has multiple new business books coming out this year in 2016. One of his books Meetings Suck, we’re going to talk about a little bit later in today’s episode.
Cameron, welcome to Making Bank.
Cameron Herold: Hey, Josh. Thanks for having me. Looking forward to it.
Josh Felber: Cool. One of the parts I left out talking about your bio is a little about your background and how you got started as an entrepreneur and one of the top companies that you built. I’d like to dive in and it’s more fun to hear from your perspective than just Josh reading it. Tell us a little about how you got started.
Cameron Herold: Sure. I’m actually probably most well known for building a company called 1-800-GOT-JUNK? but prior to that had built three other companies that I got well known for, one that a lot of your listeners may know of. It’s called the College Pro Painters and I was on the leadership team of that company where we would have to literally build a 9,000-person company from scratch every year. College Pro is the largest house painting company in the world. Then I went on did a private currency company which we built and sold, and then Gerber Auto Collision and Floyd Auto Body which is the largest collision repair chain.
I’d done those companies prior to starting as the chief operating officer at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and we took that company from, I guess when I joined there were 14 people at the head office and then when I left we had 3,100 employees system-wide. We went from 12 cities to 330 cities and we were in 46 states, nine provinces in four countries. Big thick growth, we gave up no equity. We’re very profitable for every year in the six and a half years I was COO and just became one of the best companies actually worked for. We went number two to work for in Canada so a really strong, fun brand to grow.
Josh Felber: Awesome. You have multiple businesses since you were 21. We have College Pro Painters, I remember. I always see their signs everywhere and even made it seem like it was a local business as well. Is that how you guys …
Cameron Herold: Yeah. That’s really where I learned how to grow companies. That was what I would call my real world MBA because we were literally … The way it worked [where there were 00:04:14] 60 people at the head office and every year we’d have to go out and recruit 800 franchisees and then they would have to recruit 8,000 painters. Then between May 1st and September 30th, we’d produced, sorry, August 30th we’d produce 64 million in revenue. Then 9,000 people would quit and go back to school and we would do it again.
Actually, one of one of the franchisees that I had back in 1993 with Kimbal Musk, who’s Elon’s younger brother, so I trained Kimbal on his his first business and that’s how they actually got funded for their first company, Zip2, is they backed College Pro Painters’ experience with Kimbal, not Elon’s vision.
Josh Felber: That’s amazing. I mean you have basically three months roughly to crush that business.
Cameron Herold: Yeah and so we really couldn’t make a mistake. We had 17 weeks, four months in total. We would literally have to crush it during that period and so we would reverse engineer all of our goals. We became really operationally excellent at recruiting, interviewing, selection, business planning, execution, operations, culture. That’s all the stuff that I now coach on is because they’ve built companies following almost like College Pro Painters methodology.
Josh Felber: Then as you guys were building this and figuring it out and obviously wasn’t an overnight thing, how long did it take you guys to really come up and figure out these systems in the processes so it was just turn key after that?
Cameron Herold: I joined College Pro Painters in its seventeenth year. When I left, I’ve been there for seven years, so I left at year 24. They’ve been going now for another 20 since. They’re 44 years in business so a very, very strong operational brand and they haven’t changed much over the years. They don’t need to. They really perfected that model. Probably because every year they had to do it again, that you iterate and you just tighten it up every year that you’re doing it.
Josh Felber: Since you started, that’s where you started when you were 21?
Cameron Herold: That’s right.
Josh Felber: Okay. What made that entrepreneur bug hit you? I mean did you have plans before that or is that always in you do you think?
Cameron Herold: Yeah. I was always groomed to be an entrepreneur. My father raised all of the three kids to be entrepreneurs. He was an entrepreneur as was both of our grandfathers. I even married into an entrepreneurial family. It’s all I’ve ever known with how to be an entrepreneur. In fact, I actually did a talk that’s on TED.com. It’s been on the main TED site for about five years now about raising entrepreneurial kids. That was how I was groomed.
Josh Felber: Awesome. I remember your talk. I remember reading that and I’ve read a bunch of other books trying to figure out, “Okay, how can I grew my kids in that same perspective to be entrepreneurs?” My wife is an entrepreneur as well and myself so I definitely, definitely a good one to get out and listen to if you guys haven’t heard that yet.
Cameron Herold: That was where I learned a lot of my early, kind of a nurturing towards being entrepreneurial and not seeing it as a risk, seeing that you have more predictability, control of your own cash flow, control of your own time. Again, I think the real business lessons came from College Pro but then I was able to perfect them over time. Now building 1-800-GOT-JUNK? really gave us a good foundation but I left there are nine years ago now as well.
Josh Felber: Tell me along the way here as an entrepreneur, what was your largest mistake or business failure that you’ve encountered?
Cameron Herold: It probably would have been one of the times that 1-800-GOT-JUNK? around the fifth year that I was there. We were very strong as a company. We were growing very rapidly. We were doing about 60 million at the time and we were opening up corporate locations, opening up in Australia and the UK, opening in Quebec, in Manhattan, moving into new office space. Our VP of Finance that, you know, “Be careful. You’re spending too much cash. You’re going through too quickly.” We’re like, “No, no. Everything’s fine.” We didn’t understand the balance sheet. We didn’t understand how to leverage the balance sheet and go to the bank for financing so we spend cash for everything.
With the way you build a very small businesses as you work with the cash that you have. As you grow, you need to start leveraging a little bit and we never leveraged. When we all of a sudden needed money, we went to the bank and they said, “Well, you don’t have any cash.” Were like, “Yeah but, that’s because we just spent it on this and this and this and this.” They said, “Well, that was stupid. You should’ve come to us for a loan.” We’re like, “We didn’t need the loan.”
We just didn’t understand and we didn’t listen to the head of Finance. He was very quiet, very amiable, very analytical. Our styles didn’t accommodate for him and we didn’t listen to him and we should have. That was a big lesson for me is that we really have to use our two ears and one mouth in that ratio. We have to listen twice as often as we speak.
Josh Felber: For sure. As a lot of our listeners have small to midsize businesses, how do you know when that right time is to utilize that leverage in your business?
Cameron Herold: You’re getting some good financial advice along the way. I think you have to actually recognize that unless you have strong financial acumen as the CEO that you really have to look for outside advisors to give you some mentoring along the way, whether it’s from your board or mentoring or a casual person that you turn to monthly to get some financial advice. You really can’t and should not build every area of your business as the expert. At some point, you need to surround yourself with people that are smarter than you.
Josh Felber: That makes sense. I think a lot of times in small and midsize businesses with even the coaching I’ve done in the past is they don’t have, that’s one piece they leave a lot out of is that CFO or that person has that financial experience from what I’ve seen.
Cameron Herold: Yeah. A lot of entrepreneurs can’t afford that level of person. They can’t afford the $250,000 CFO so they end up having a controller that they give a big title to. Maybe what they should do is hire a controller and call them a controller and pay them 100,000 a year and then get an interim CFO who can spend four hours a week looking at your financials, looking at your numbers, maybe coaching your controller for you so that you get the financial advice but you don’t need it full-time. That’s even the role that I play and a lot of the CEOs that I coach is that they can’t really afford to have a person like me or do they necessarily need someone full-time but they almost can’t afford not to leverage that when they get to a certain size.
Josh Felber: It makes sense for sure. I know we’ve just picked up probably about two months ago like an interim type CFO to help manage our financial side of things and figure out just the ins and outs of it because you get so focused on building, building, and building and growing and you don’t have that experience on that side of it as well. Awesome.
Cameron Herold: Just the recognition that it’s good to have the advice that doesn’t always have to be yours.
Josh Felber: Yeah and yours isn’t always the best.
Cameron Herold: Yeah.
Josh Felber: Cool. Can you stick around for a minute? We just got to take a quick break.
Cameron Herold: Absolutely, for sure.
Josh Felber: I am Josh Felber and you’ve been watching Making Bank. We’ll be right back.
Josh Felber: I’m Josh Felber. Welcome back to Making Bank. We’ve been speaking with Cameron Herold on where his background has come from as an entrepreneur, moving forward [us 00:12:06] with from College Pro Painters to 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and be able to grow that business from 14 people to over 3,000 people in the seven years he was there.
Cameron, welcome back to Making Bank.
Cameron Herold: Hey, Josh. Looking forward to the rest of the segment.
Josh Felber: Cool. We left off talking a little bit about knowing the numbers, making sure you have some key component, key people in place at your business. As you moved in and you guys broke through kind of that fifth year where was your biggest failure you said, tell us how, I guess 1-800-GOT-JUNK? became one of your largest successes.
Cameron Herold: Sure. We really focused on a couple of things that would drive the flywheel effect for us and it was culture and PR were probably the two big ones. Culture was just all about attracting the right people into the company, getting rid of the assholes, getting rid of the jerks, really, really looking to attract and build this amazing A level team and then also aligning them with our vision and where we’re going, giving them the environment to work. Culture is very much by design and we figured out how to actually set up an amazing workplace culture. It became like a cult. Business should be slightly more than a business, slightly less than a religion. It should be in that zone of cults and that’s what we really worked hard towards.
The second one was PR. We worked very, very hard to find a way to have the press chasing us down for stories and for the press to open up to us when we called them and said, “Hey, we have a good story for you.” We landed 5,200 stories in the media about our company over six years. In fact, I’ve got one of my videos that people can download off my website. It teaches them how to actually land PR. That was a big focus for us as well.
Josh Felber: When you’re talking about building culture and creating culture within a company, what are maybe like two to three key pieces that small business owners, midsize business owner should look for or implement to really attract that.
Cameron Herold: Sure. The first one is what I talk about in my book Double Double. In chapter one of Double Double, I give them the concept of a vivid vision. We used to call it a painted picture. That vivid vision is a three or four-page written document that describes your company’s three years in the future in such a vivid detail that everyone, the employees, potential employees, suppliers, customers, everyone can see what the entrepreneur can see and then they can figure out how to reverse engineer that make it happen. That’s the number one thing is making sure everyone is literally on the same page.
Number two is really trying to build out that A level team of a full-time, part-time, and contract employees and even outsourced people that are going to help make that vision come true. It’s looking to get that A level team towards it. Then it would be reverse engineering your goals, really coming up with a solid plan that you can then brief, execute, and debrief on and just going back to that mantra constantly of plan, brief, execute, debrief. You’re always thinking about the future, putting the right people in place, and then reverse engineering and executing.
Josh Felber: Awesome. I remember from your book, in Double Double, you guys talked a lot about all the employees, people that you contracted, everybody was sharing in that vision. They were sharing and creating. That’s what helps cultivate that culture there.
Cameron Herold: Yeah. The CEO actually writes and drafts the vivid vision and then we do what we call the Can You Imagine wall where we get employees to come up with the ideas that they can imagine and we put those up on a big wall. As each idea gets accomplished, we check them off. The vivid vision is really the role of the entrepreneur to create and then it’s their job to make sure that the only people in the company are the ones that are excited about making that vision come true. You one-by-one get rid of the people that aren’t aligned and one-by-one bring people in that are excited about making that vivid vision come true.
Josh Felber: Really cool. I know you mentioned PR as well and if I recall from the PR, you got a lot of free PR that you’re able to cultivate for 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. Tell us a little bit about how you did that and what some different strategies there.
Cameron Herold: Sure. I covered that again in one of the chapters in Double Double. Then I had a video on my website that people can download that gives them a lot of detail. In brief, I’ll give you the three easy steps to free PR. The first step is to really know your angle and to think about a couple of key story ideas that you might want to transfer that the audience will care about.
The second one is to know your audience and to really understand the target journal or blog or podcast or a radio or TV show or magazine, newspaper. You really understand who’s viewing or consuming that content and why are they going to care about your story. You can position it in a way that they’ll receive it well. Then the third is picking up the phone. People are literally overloaded with email and press releases and newswires and all we did is pick up the phone and say, “Hey, do you have two minutes,” and people are invariably going to say, “Sure,” because nobody’s phoning them. You cut right through the decision maker and you say, “I think I have a good story for you. Do you have two minutes.” They’re always going to give you the two minutes and then you literally just deliver the angle and a way to help them because every journalist needs new content every day.
Josh Felber: Awesome. That’s, I think, you hit a key point is people don’t pick up the phone. I know on some affiliate we are working with some people teaching about some affiliate stuff and, “Oh, we can’t we email, can’t we email them?” Pick up the phone. They’re the ones, if you connect with them and talk with them, spend a couple minutes, they’re going to love you ten times more.
Cameron Herold: Yeah. That’s not just what works all the time people won’t do it. They’ll go down the other path but then they also won’t land the five thousand stories. I’ve taught so many companies how to land the press, TINYpulse, Grasshopper.com, Achievers, I Love Rewards, Media Temple. I could go on and on about the number of companies that I’ve taught how to land free PR to and it’s really powerful. In fact, one of my former PR people is now the head of PR worldwide for Sprint. The stuff really works.
Josh Felber: That’s really cool. Excellent. I know you sent me a book, your new book that just came out.
Cameron Herold: Meeting Sucks.
Josh Felber: Meeting Sucks.
Cameron Herold: That came out about three weeks ago.
Josh Felber: Cool. I know. It’s like I remember it was on pre-order I remember and then we talked and it came over. I would like to really dive into this. I just started reading it last week and would really like to start to explore it and really understand, “Hey, you know, is this really the title? Is what you’re talking about or this is just our hook to get us in?”
Cameron Herold: The reality is that everyone walks around saying, “Meetings suck.” The reality is meetings don’t suck. We suck at running meetings. We’re just not good at running meetings. If you run meetings properly, meetings are absolutely amazing. The problem is we just don’t train all of our employees how to attend them or how to participate in them or how to even lead or run meetings so then we walk around saying, “Meetings suck.” I tried to put together a book that was really tight, very concise, really power packed with actionable tips so that people can literally take the ideas and put them in place.
The basic ideas are this: Every meeting has to have a clear purpose, just the one sentence why are we here? Second part is every meeting has to have a maximum of three outcomes. What are the three things that you’re going to get done in the meeting? The third part is no agenda, no attenda. What you want to do is put in place the process that when you’re booking a meeting, it has to have an agenda in writing. You put it down, just bullet point it out. What our we covering, in what order, and how many minutes are we going to spend on each agenda item?
Every meeting has to start on time. The only reason that people end up showing up late for meetings is we all stack all of our meetings and phone calls together. What we try to do is finish every meeting five minutes early, finish every phone call five minutes early, and that gives you time to actually walk down the hall, talk to your assistant, get your cup of coffee, and sit down and be on time for a meeting. It’s just that regular pulse of starting on time, stopping five minutes early, and then booking every meeting for half the time that you first think about booking it for. You’re literally compressing time. Those are the basic tips and I can go into a lot more detail of the types of meetings to how to participate, how to lead them, communication styles. It’s really kind of the bible that all employees and all companies should be reading for sure.
Josh Felber: I know when I was looking through the book and I don’t think there’s roughly seven or eight different types of meetings that I saw in there at least.
Cameron Herold: Yeah, that’s about right.
Josh Felber: Because I know for a small business owners, reading this is like, “Man, I, I’ll be in meetings all day every day all week.” How do you suggest going about really dialing that in?
Cameron Herold: If meetings were amazing and if meetings actually got you results, people would want to spend time in meetings all day.
Josh Felber: Sure.
Cameron Herold: It’s a bit of a paradigm that if you’re actually getting shit done with more people faster and meetings is the way that you do that, sign me up because right now …
Josh Felber: Definitely that makes sense.
Cameron Herold: Right now, everyone’s just being busy working on busy work and they’re really not getting the most impactful stuff done. The reality is, yes, there’s meetings but they aren’t actually as frequent as you think. The strategy meetings are only once a quarter. The strategic planning or strategic thinking meetings are only once a quarter. The financial meetings are a one-hour meeting every month and then it’s really your daily huddle which is a seven-minute meeting and your one-on-one coaching meeting. There’s really not that much. It just seems like more.
Josh Felber: Awesome. I know what was interesting is hanging out with Gary Vaynerchuk a little while and he [allocates his 00:21:34] schedules all the stuff. He had a lot of five-minute meetings with his employees.
Cameron Herold: You don’t need to schedule things for a half hour or an hour. If you cut to the chase and you stay focused on the purpose and outcomes, then you can actually get stuff done a little less time. It’s like a quickie. You can get it done if you need to.
Josh Felber: Get it done quick. You know what’s really cool is with some of this information here and my wife was just talking about it the other day and she was talking about the meetings and how they run two or three hours and everything else. I was like, “You gotta go read Double Double and Meetings Suck. I got a copy for you.”
Cameron Herold: I think it’s why I really wrote the book because I’m so tired of people complaining about them when they just don’t know how to run them. If you think about has your wife ever had any training on running meetings? Probably no. Have your employees? We would never send our kids off to Little League Baseball without teaching them how to hold a bat and catch a ball and throw ball. We’d give them the basics because we wouldn’t want them to be embarrassed, and yet we let our employees go into meetings or run meetings without any training. It’s ludicrous.
Josh Felber: That makes sense. I guess that ends up being the last part of what people ever really think about if they do think about it. Let’s see here. What does the typical meeting, say for an entrepreneur and their employees look like from a time frame perspective to … I know you talked about having the purpose, the outcomes, the agenda, and everything else in that meeting. I guess from a time frame standpoint and then as well as what typical results do you expect from those meetings?
Cameron Herold: It’s really meeting specific. You have a certain type of meeting for certain things if you don’t have an employee meeting or staff meeting. Your planning meeting, your annual planning meeting is really to come up with the core goals for the year or the quarter and come up with the plans or the projects that you’re going to put in place and get everybody to sign off on those projects so that now we agree on this is what we’re going to do to make this happen. Your quarterly and annual planning meetings, you come up with your revenue goal, your profit goal, your customer and employee engagement goals and strategic initiatives, and then the projects to make them happen. Those meetings are just to do that.
Then you have a meeting that’s only about your financial statements. Once a month, for one hour, you review your financial statements with all your employees or your management team. You go through every line [then out of 00:23:59] PnL and the balance sheet and you talk about what you’re going to change next month. That’s just financial statements. Then you have a meeting once a month just to talk about blue sky strategy, just stuff that might be coming down the pipe, no decisions but just lots of brainstorming around where you might be a year from now. It’s talking about stuff on the calendar at least the year out. That’s just strategy.
Then you have your daily huddle. Your daily huddle is an all company seven-minute stand-up meeting and that’s really where your employees are actually sharing good news, going through the key sales funnel numbers, having one business area do an update, and then coming up with any missing systems or frustrations that you need to fix. It’s just that daily pulse, seven minutes. It’s usually held at 11 o’clock or two o’clock, which are times in the day where the energy level drops. Again, it’s purely for that purpose of getting the energy going and getting alignment.
Then your last meeting is really your your one-on-one meetings where you’re actually coaching your employees. You’re coaching your VPs, they’re coaching the frontline staff, and that’s just a balance of direction, development, and support. You can see that each meeting has a completely different purpose and outcomes.
Josh Felber: Definitely. I know one of the meetings you mentioned with the financial and I remember reading that I think in your book, too, as well. You actually bring the employees into the financial meeting and hold them accountable for their department and their areas.
Cameron Herold: I don’t hold them accountable. I hire accountable people but what I want to do is I want to give them visibility to the numbers so they really actually know where we are as a company. They know why decisions are being made the way they are. They know how to make decisions aligned with the numbers. They understand. It’s like if you’re playing a sport like hockey or soccer. If you can’t see the goal, how are you ever going to get the puck or the ball in the goal? If employees can’t see the financials, they all think you’re making more money than you are because they don’t understand all the expenses.
Josh Felber: That’s the truth.
Cameron Herold: The reality is you might as well show them where you really are so that then they can help you figure out how to do better.
Josh Felber: Awesome. I think that’s a great way to end. Tell me one thing. What was one technology device that you can’t live without these days?
Cameron Herold: Something that is probably like the iPhone. I mean clearly, right? Let’s see. My Tesla, I just love it. One technology device? I’m using an app right now called CommitTo3. This is very powerful. I set my daily business goals everyday with Joe Polish and he gives me his top three and I gave him my top three. We [commit 00:26:35] our top three goals to each other every day. Then I commit my top three personal goals to a guy named [Gordie Bufton 00:26:41] he commits his top three personal to me. That very simple app that integrates with nothing, it’s purely commitments of goals to someone else and them to you. You can do it with your groups externally. Just a really powerful tool that’s really helping me propel my business.
Josh Felber: That’s awesome. I think that’s amazing too is you have a different people that are holding you accountable for different areas of your goals.
Cameron Herold: They’re not even so much holding me accountable because we don’t check in but I feel the guilt of having committed it to them.
Josh Felber: It’s just making that commitment to him.
Cameron Herold: Yeah. When you share your goal with somebody else, there’s a bit more buy in to that because you realize like you have to make it happen because I put it in writing.
Josh Felber: Cool. That’s awesome. It’s an honor to have you on Making Bank today and I really think we got some really awesome information, some really golden nuggets for our audience out there. I really appreciate your time coming on today. You’re welcome, Josh. Thanks very much for having me. I appreciate it.
Cameron Herold: Not a problem. I am Josh Felber and you were watching Making Bank. Get out and be extraordinary.