In fact, Brandon raved so much about the book that we knew we had to have the author on the show to provide our listeners a firsthand education on why creating a vision is important and how we should be doing it. And that’s what we’re doing today…
And for those of you who like to think about things from an analytical perspective, make sure to listen for Cameron’s mathematical formula for success.
Check him out, and subscribe to the BiggerPockets Business Podcast so you won’t miss our next show!
J: Let’s welcome Cameron Herold to the show. How are you doing today Cameron?
Cameron: I’m great. Thanks Jay. Hi Carol.
Carol: Hi. Thanks so much for coming on with us today. We’re huge fans and we can’t wait to dig into some great tips that you have to offer.
Cameron: Thank you. Yeah, looking forward to it.
J: Yeah. So for our audience that doesn’t know you, doesn’t know your background and they probably know a little at this point, but you’ve written a number of books, you’ve grown a number of companies to tremendous value. You’re a coach, you’re a speaker. You’ve done a whole bunch of things. Can you take us back and tell us a little bit about how you got started and where your entrepreneurial career came about and how kind of you’ve gotten to where you are today?
Cameron: Sure. Yeah, so I was groomed as an entrepreneur. My father and both my grandfathers, a couple of my aunts and uncles, they all own their own companies. So all we ever really knew growing up was entrepreneurship. And I grew up in an era when entrepreneurship was not cool. So really entrepreneurship has only been cool since about 1998. Prior to that, when I was a kid growing up, entrepreneurship, we were vilified. We were called greedy and materialistic and even people within our family that weren’t the entrepreneurs thought that we were different and stood out. So it was hard growing up as an entrepreneur, being groomed as an entrepreneur. But I had probably about 16 different entrepreneurial ventures by the time I was 18 years old.
Cameron: I actually chronicled all of those on a talk. It’s on the main ted.com sites. If you go to Ted and look up my name, you’ll find my Ted talk, Raising Kids As Entrepreneurs from 10 years ago. And then when I was 21 years old, I had 12 full time employees and my first company that I really built and ran. I had a company for three years while I was in university and we painted houses and I at one point had 106 houses being painted. I had six simultaneous job sites and so I was taking business and law at university and realized that I had more experience than my professors had. They had the theory and I had the experience side and then when I could couple that together, it was starting to kind of supercharge my growth as an entrepreneur.
Cameron: So I got involved in a group called College Pro Painters, which ended up being the largest residential house painting company on the planet. I recruited, trained and coached 120 of their franchisees by the time I was 28 years old. Two of which one was Elon Musk’s brother, Kimbal Musk. I hired him back in 1993 and then his cousin Peter Reeve, who built Solar City, he also worked for me back in 1993. So I had coached 120 entrepreneurs before coaching was a thing. And then from there went on and cofounded a franchising group for an auto body chain, which in the US is called Gerber Auto Collision, in Canada it’s called Boyd Autobody. It’s the largest collision repair chain in North America. Left there in ’98 when we took the company public and I was hired as president of a private currency company. Kind of similar to what Bitcoin is doing today.
Cameron: We did it 20 years ago where we had Starwood hotels, Avis Rent A Car, Hard Rock Cafe, Bose Stereo, all accepting our digital currency instead of the US dollar. We built that company up and sold it. And I left there in October of 2000, right at the craft of the dot com era and I joined a garbage company. Much to my parents’ [inaudible 00:05:23], my mum was a little disappointed in me and I told her I was joining a company called The Rubbish Boys. They were changing their name over to 1-800-GOT-JUNK and I joined them as the 14th employee and came in as their chief operating officer. And when I left six and a half years later, we had 3,100 employees system wide.
Cameron: We’d gone from 12 cities to 330 cities and from 2 million to 106 million operating in four countries and I ran everything except IT and finance. Left there 13 years ago and started coaching real companies. So I typically coach companies with 50 to 500 employees that really want to scale to the 500 to 5,000 range. And I’ve coached companies now in 28 countries. I’ve done paid speaking events on six continents and I’ve written five books that are all on Amazon, Audible and iTunes. That’s the bio.
Carol: That’s all. So you’ve just been kind of hanging out and things have just been magically coming your way and all that, your whole life, right? They just land in your lap. Something like that.
J: I love. So you talk about growing 1-800-GOT-JUNK. You grew several other companies as the COO, and I know a lot of our listeners, they’re growing companies themselves. And I think a lot of us as entrepreneurs when we’re starting out, we tend to think, okay, the COO is responsible for growing our company. So the COO is responsible for everything and he’s the guy that makes the decisions and he’s the guy that decides if we’re going to be successful or not. And some people think about the CFO, the chief financial officer. So the guy who’s responsible for all the money stuff and the, well not just the accounting obviously, but from a high level, all the money stuff. A lot of people don’t think about this role as COO and don’t recognize the value in a growing company, of a COO, a chief operating officer role. Can you talk just a little bit about like you as a COO, what your specific role in a company is. How does your role relate to what a CEO does, to what a CFO does, to what other parts of the company do?
Cameron: Yeah, if you go back over the last number of years, 30, 40 years, and look at some of the best companies that have scaled that have really grown, there’s often almost always been a two in the box kind of model where there was a CEO and a COO. And one of the best examples today is Sheryl Sandberg. Sheryl Sandberg is the COO for Facebook. So she is the second in command to Mark Zuckerberg. And it’s the true yin and yang approach where you have Mark’s creative and geek and kind of tech and kind of vision. And then you have Sheryl’s operational and execution and people and culture side. And they mesh those two together and they’re like nitroglycerin, they’re on steroids. So the COO, Harvard actually wrote an article about 15 years ago called the Misunderstood Role Of The COO, and they identified seven distinct types of chief operating officers.
Cameron: So the COO is very different, but they tend to be the person who does everything that the CEO sucks at and everything that the COO doesn’t want to do versus the CFO or the CMO or the CTO that tend to stay in their lane on running an area. So sometimes the COO has finance report to them, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes the COO has marketing report to them, sometimes they don’t. They just tend to operate and run everything that the CEO doesn’t love or isn’t good at. And a very, very high trust factor between the COO and CEO. In fact, we actually started an organization three years ago called The COO Alliance as a place to give second and commands a place for them to come and share information with each other.
J: And so you run COO Alliance. Can you talk to us a little bit more about that organization?
Cameron: Yeah, there’s just so many groups for entrepreneurs. There’s groups for real estate people, there’s groups for marketers, there’s really great groups for lawyers and engineers and accountants. But there was never a group or a mastermind or a community for the second in command. A place for them to go and share with each other, grow themselves, grow their company, learn how to operate with tighter relationships with their CEO. So we created that organization over three years ago. We have five events per year and the members pick three of the five events to go to. Minimum criteria for membership is 5 million in revenue and 30 employees.
J: That’s awesome. Okay, so the reason that I was really excited to get you on and I’ve been familiar with your work for a while, but it kind of came top of mind a couple of months ago, we had a guest on Brandon Turner, which most of our listeners know as VP of growth at Bigger Pockets or I guess former VP of growth at Bigger Pockets and hosted the Bigger Pockets Real Estate podcast. And Brandon was telling a story about how a couple of years ago he had laid out a vision for creating a real estate empire. And over the last 18 months, much of that vision has come to fruition. He has grown a tremendous business. He’s acquired nearly a thousand mobile home units and he credits much of his success to a work that you did, a book that you wrote called Vivid Vision.
J: And I know you’ve written several books and I’d love to talk a little bit about the books you’ve written and just kind of get your expertise in various areas. But I’d love to focus a little bit more for the time being on this book, Vivid Vision and how it has the ability to take entrepreneurs or wannabe entrepreneurs and really focus them and focus their goals and focus their vision on achieving tremendous success. Can you talk to us a little bit about the book Vivid Vision and how it came about?
Cameron: Sure. Yeah. So the concept of the Vivid Vision is something that I learned about 20 years ago from an olympic coach. And I was working with a high performance sports psychologist who coached olympians. And one of the things that he focused with them on was vision. And he got the athlete to visualize themselves performing their event. And he would get them to close their eyes and see themselves and feel themselves performing. So if they were a gymnast, like Mary Lou Retton, they would be walking the floor and doing their gymnastic routine. Or if they were Kobe Bryant shooting hoops, he would be standing with his eyes closed visualizing shooting the shots, or Roger Federer who would be hitting the final shot in tennis and walking up to the net and shaking Nadal’s hand to say, “Great match, but sorry I kicked your a$$.” They would literally visualize themselves in every aspect of the game.
Cameron: So we understood how athletes did it and we looked for an analogy that worked in the business world and it was home builders. And we found out that home builders use the vision that the homeowner had and the homeowner would explain the vision of what the home had to look like and the home builder would create blueprints or plans to make that vision come true. And then the homeowner would sign off on the plans. The contractor would sign off on the vision, they would hand the blueprints to the workers and the workers would build the house without ever having to talk to the homeowner. That was a perfect handoff execution of vision, to plan, to execution. Well that never existed in the business world. In the business world, we were told to have a vision statement or a mission statement, that one sentence that was supposed to align everybody.
Cameron: But that sentence didn’t explain the culture. It didn’t explain the meeting rhythms. It didn’t explain how IT would operate or what the customers were saying or how the employees were relating with each other. It didn’t talk about your office environment or the leadership team. So the idea of the vivid vision was the entrepreneur leaning out three years into the future and describing every aspect of their company as if it was already built three years from today. So leaning out to December 31st three years out and describing every aspect of your company as if you were walking around your company, almost like back to the future. You know when they hopped into the DeLorean time machine and they blasted off into the future? They were never really sure how it happened, but they could describe what they saw. That’s the role of the entrepreneurs to describe the future and then let the team figure out how to make that come true.
Carol: Very cool. Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you. I apologize. Go ahead.
Cameron: The final part is so the vivid vision becomes a four or five page written document describing your company in its finished state and then you get a writer to polish it and make it pop off the page so that people can figure out how to make every sentence come true.
Carol: Very cool. And I love how you’re very specific in not only the pieces of this in the process to get there, but I keep hearing over and over just this leap from the olympic athletes, to the home builders, to the organizations and companies and how that one specific word vision is prevalent throughout it. So it’s not just like you said, it’s not just a mission statement, it’s not just a nebulous thing that doesn’t necessarily mean anything in particular. It’s a crystal clear picture. It’s something tangible, something you can really look to and have people jump on board and relate, all relate with together to execute that vision, right? So would you say that this vivid vision is important for just individuals or for small businesses starting out, for businesses that have already been successful in business? Who is a vivid vision important for?
Cameron: Yes, yes and yes. So it’s very important for businesses that already exist because they have all these employees, customers and suppliers that need to be aligned with that common purpose of where we’re going. So I think of a jigsaw puzzle but the four corners of the jigsaw puzzle are the vivid vision, the core purpose, the core values, and the Beehag, you need all four. And more often than not, companies have been operating without the vivid vision. A small entrepreneurial company needs a vivid vision to align people, to inspire people, to attract new employees to join you, to attract customers to trust you, to get people excited with what you’re building. You know you started your podcast off 35 ish episodes ago, you had to explain to people what you were building to get the first few guests to say yes. And then after you got the first few guests, it was easier for the others to buy into the vision. Right?
Cameron: When I started my Second In Command podcast two years ago, same thing, I had to explain the vision of what we had and that gets people excited. So it’s really important for the startup entrepreneur to have a vivid vision. And then lastly for the individual, why would you wake up every morning and just go through the routine of life instead of having a vision for what you’re going to become as a human? What are you going to … what are your family relationships going to be like? What are your relationships as a spouse or a partner? What will your relationship to your friends be like? What will your relationship to health or fitness or finance or food, what do you do for fun? And really describing yourself as a human, maybe two or three page description of you so that you share that with your friends and family and they can start holding you accountable.
Cameron: You know, one of my friends who’s going to be in town, I live in Scottsdale Arizona in Vancouver Canada, and I’m a friend of mine is coming out to Vancouver next weekend and he sent me a note and said, hey, are you going to be in town? And I said, “Yeah.” And he said, “Do you want to go do yoga while you’re in town. I saw that you like doing yoga in your vivid vision. Maybe we can do yoga together.” I’m like, “That’s awesome. It’s better than going for a beer. Let’s go to yoga and have coffee afterwards.”
Carol: That’s great.
Cameron: But he would have never seen that had he not read my vivid vision of me doing yoga and connecting with friends doing those things.
Carol: I love that and I love how you’re talking about this accountability where you’re putting it out there, you’re getting everybody else on board and they are holding you accountable to it and getting creative and clever on maximizing your time so that you are really doing those things that lead to that vivid vision and what you truly are about as a person.
Cameron: Yeah. There’s two things with that. One is there some accountability where they’re holding me accountable to it. But secondly, and probably more powerful is they’re helping me make it come true. They’re the ones who are saying, “Hey, I saw that you wanted …” Like I talked to a friend of mine the other day. I went to a friend’s 50th birthday party and this friend of mine, Mike, came up to me and he’s like, “Hey, how’s it going?” I’m like, “Oh my God, I haven’t seen you in like eight years.” And he said, “How is your bucket list coming? How’s your vivid vision coming?” He read on my vivid vision. This was 10 years ago that I wanted to fly in a private jet. He hooked me up to go for a flight in his private jet. That one sentence was crossed off. Well, now I’ve flown in a ton of private jets, but that kind of began the process of thinking bigger and and connecting with bigger clients, et cetera.
Carol: Love that.
Cameron: So yeah, sometimes they just help make stuff come true.
J: Here’s one of the things I love about the idea of the vivid vision and you talk a lot about this in the book, but I think something that jumped out at us when Brandon was on the show and talking about his vivid vision. Typically when we talk about a mission statement or a business plan for a business, we talk about a formal document. We talk about here’s the right format. This is what an angel investor or an investor or a VC or a partner is going to be looking for. Here are the different pieces of it. But when it comes to a vivid vision, there’s no correct format. There’s no prescribed way of creating it.
J: Brandon talked about, he had written a newspaper article. And it was basically a four page newspaper article that basically was describing the history of a company that didn’t yet exist in the future, and basically looking back on the history of this company that he was going to build. And so the nice thing about a vivid vision is you can make it anything you want. You can design it any way you want. Can you talk to us a little bit about some of the different ways people have designed their vivid visions and and espouse their view of their future companies and their future selves?
Cameron: Yeah. Most people don’t have the creative idea to take it to the next level. So I give them a framework or a format for it to come out where it becomes a design elemented professionally written, four to five page description of your company. Some people have done like the newspaper articles, others have done press releases that they’ve written about their future company. Others have written speeches where they’ve delivered a speech. I had someone who walked into a conference room with 500 of their employees and said, “Close your eyes. Today is 2012. I want you to lean out into the future and imagine and we’re wall walking around Hawaii ..” And he started describing his company and they’re like, “What the hell are you talking about? This is 2009.” But he literally got 500 people to move themselves into the future. I’ve had other people have done draw shot videos of their vivid vision where they’ve created a draw shot.
Cameron: You know you have the hand drawing, you know. I’ve had people do it to music where they’ve done design elements and videos to music. So there’s lots of ways to do it. And then I’ve also had people roll out ,a vivid vision to their employees or if they do a personal one and then they get their employees to do a vision board of what the vivid vision means to them. So they might have a different idea of what a group activity means or we hang out together as a group. So they put some pictures on their vision board that represent that thing that excited them and they’re working towards that thing, right? So sometimes vision boards are the next level afterwards to keep anchoring it. And then lastly, I find that a lot of people are starting to do audio recordings of their vivid vision and they listen to the audio recording on their drive to work or during a morning meditation or when they’re doing their Peloton bike ride, whatever. They’re listening to their vivid vision three or four or five times a week.
Carol: That’s really cool. So it sounds like the principles in crafting and creating one are all the same within the framework that you’ve laid out, but then everybody can really customize it to what resonates the most with them personally. And then like you said, drive it down through the organization by having other people customize what it means and what’s most impactful for them and how that relates to the overall bigger vision. Right.
Cameron: Yeah. I think we’re seeing overlap with sports there as well, where a lot of athletes that have used the visualization process, we take what they’ve used in visualization and taking that into the business or personal use now as well. Like the process of a vision board is something athletes have used or the process of visualization and listening to themselves over and over again is an athletic principal.
Carol: Excellent. So when you’re talking about somebody developing this vivid vision from the beginning, who do you recommend we work with? Do we do it as an individual or do we partner up with a partner or a spouse or with other people on your team? Or do you recommend, right off the bat, people get input from other business associates or mentors or other people that they’re working with in other companies? Who is that person who should be or people who should be putting that together from the get go?
Cameron: Yeah, so the entrepreneur is the person to write the first draft, version one of their vivid vision and then they would pass that to a copywriter to make it pop off the page. But it’s really up to the entrepreneur to decide where the company’s going, what the company looks like, and then get a whole bunch of other employees to say, “Hell yeah, I’m with you. Or you know what? I think I should change buses and go work for another company.” But when the entrepreneur tries to get a whole bunch of other people to help craft the vivid vision, it’s kind of like a homeowner who says, “I’ll go get a bunch of my neighbors and some of my friends and family to help me design what my house should look like.” No, no, this is your home. Like get the pictures out of magazines, get sketches, do drawings, think about what your home should look and feel like and get the contractor to figure out the plans to make that come true. But if you get too many people to do it, it’ll be nice, but like we have different tastes. Right.
Carol: That’s a beautiful clarification. Go ahead Jay.
J: Yeah, I was just going to say it’s much like a corporate culture and we like to think of corporate culture as being defined by the people that work in the business and the managers in the business. But at the end of the day, corporate culture is driven from the top and it’s often driven from that single person at the top. Maybe the single couple people at the top who are often, they’re drilling down the things that they care about and their beliefs and their mentality and what’s important to them and they expect everybody below them ultimately either has to buy in or leave. And so it’s the same thing with the vivid vision. If you’re looking for your employees to build your corporate culture, to build your vision for your company, it’s not going to work. It has to come down from the top.
Cameron: Yeah. I have a a great example of when this happened was about 15 years ago. I was teaching a company, I coach big companies all over the world and one of the clients I was coaching had 80 employees and we were getting ready to roll out his vivid vision to all 80 of his employees. We took the whole company off site. Every single employee, locked the doors for the day, took everybody off site for the day, and at the end of running this training session and doing presentations to them, the CEO stood up and started to read out the vivid vision to all the employees. And at the end he said, “You know about 15% of you hate what you just heard.” And he said, “That’s okay. Today’s the right time for you to quit because this is exactly what we’re building.” He went to the next slide and said, “Tomorrow when you go to work, please go to this office address because today when we were offsite, a moving company came and has packed up our entire company and moved us to the new location.” People were like, “What the f$#k-”
Carol: Mind blown.
Cameron: About six weeks later, 15% of his company had quit. Two years later, Dean’s company, City Max ranked as the number two company in British Columbia, Canada to work for. The number one company to work for was another client of mine Nurse Next Door. But you have to be prepared to roll out something that polarizes because then it attracts and it repels, right? It has to like even your podcast, there’s a certain demographic that loves it. There’s a certain demographic they’re like, “This isn’t for me.” They want a finance podcast or they want an art podcast. Well that’s, you can’t be all things to all people. Right?
Carol: Exactly. And that like you said, when when you’re not doing it to please everybody else, when you’re almost, it’s almost like you make, you almost … it sounds like you should almost make it a challenge to yourself when you’re developing this vivid vision to say, “How crystal clear can I be so that it truly will polarize a lot of people? It will make a lot of people not want to be part of this anymore. So that I really can focus on moving forward with the vision that I’ve set out for my company.” Right?
Cameron: Exactly right.
J: That’s awesome. So are you saying that if I have a company and I’m literally interviewing an employee for my company, should I be sharing my vivid vision with that employee that I’m interviewing and basically saying, “Here’s how we expect our company to grow. Here’s what we value at this company.” And so they can make an informed decision?
Cameron: I would not share it with them during the interview. No, I would share it with them before you decide to interview them. Because I only want to spend time with employees who are already resonating and vibrating and excited about the vision. I want to push potential employees away before I waste any time with them. So what we do is anytime a resume comes in, we hit them with an email right away saying, thanks for your resume, please read our vivid vision of what our company looks like three years from now. Read this recent article of us in the media and then reply now and put interview me in the subject line and we’ll bring you in for a group interview. The people who reply are the ones that are excited. I’ve already pushed away the ones that don’t like the future.
Carol: That’s a really great tip. You’re not even wasting time with people that aren’t on board from the get go. So we’ve created this … oh, go on.
Cameron: Oh and the vivid vision becomes a magnet for those who are excited because they’ve never seen anything like this.
Carol: Because it’s so unique. That’s really cool. So you create it, you are putting it out there to people who even send resumes to make sure that everybody is on board and then some. And so what’s next? How do you stay accountable with it on a daily basis and stay on track and really implement it into every facet of your business each and every day? What are those things we need to do?
Cameron: Yeah, so the first process is making sure that every employee has read the vivid vision. They have a copy of the vivid vision that they can actually refer back to. I like pulling out the vivid vision every quarter and having every employee, every customer and even suppliers read the vivid vision every quarter. I bring the vivid vision into every quarterly planning meeting so that we look at what the vision of the company is in the future and then we start talking about how to reverse engineer that. And then I have a word document copy of it so that as each sentence of it starts to become true, I highlight the sentence in green and then I have other sections that we’re working on that are in red.
Cameron: So you start seeing it every quarter it becomes more and more green. The last thing that we do is we take any specific sections, any specific sentences that are like project based things that we can work on. We create a spreadsheet kind of by paragraph so that you can actually see which things can become goals, that you can have specific projects that will make those come true and you start to plan those out using a sauna or a base camp. Very similar to building a house. If you’re building a home, you’ve got the foundation, you put up the walls, you out in electrical and the plumbing. You build a business or you build your life the same way.
J: That’s awesome. Okay, so we could talk about vivid vision all day and I think anybody that’s listening to this should go out and get the book. But this isn’t your only book. You have a number of books, you have, well your first book I believe was Double Double, which talked about how to double your revenue and your profit in your business in three years. And I think that was the first book where you actually mentioned vivid vision. So this has kind of been a theme throughout all your books. One of the books you’re best known for is you coauthored The Miracle Morning For Entrepreneurs with Hal Elrod, correct?
Cameron: Yeah. That was when we wrote together about three years ago.
J: Yeah. And I absolutely love that book. Could you talk to us a little bit about, for anybody that hasn’t read The Miracle Morning and it hasn’t read The Miracle Morning For Entrepreneurs, can you talk to us a little bit about what that book was about and some of the tips for us as entrepreneurs?
Cameron: Sure. So Hal Elrod and I were both members of an organization called The Genius Network. And when we were talking at one of the Genius Network events, we agreed to coauthor The Miracle Morning For Entrepreneurs together. Hal had created something called the morning savers. And the morning savers was a six letter acronym for the habits that he used to start his day. And they started off with silence. The S was silence. One minute of just waking up, lying in bed, not picking up your phone, just kind of easing into the morning listening to the day, listening to the birds, listening to just whatever sounds of your neighborhood you hear, and then doing A, which is your affirmation. And it’s usually just a one sentence affirmation. So the one I’m using right now is I’m very confident and gaining confidence each day. It’s something because I went through a really, really hard divorce two years ago and it really shook me at every single level.
Cameron: It shook my confidence completely and so that’s been my affirmation for about the last year and a half. Then you go into visualization where you might read part of your vivid vision or you might listen to your vivid vision or you might do some kind of a visualization statement for the day of something you’re working on to get yourself ready for something. Often if I’m doing speaking events, I’ve done speaking events now in 26 countries. Whenever I show up to do a speaking event, I’ll walk out on stage the night before or the morning before the event starts to open the doors so I can stand on stage and see the room empty, but visualize people there so that when I’m called out on stage, I’m already in that zone. And then E is your exercise, whether it’s like a quick seven minute workout or some burpees or some pushups or sit-ups. I find this one tough.
Cameron: I actually rather do exercise towards the end of the day as a bit of a decompression, but there is some data behind some of the most highly successful people doing something first thing in the morning to kickstart their body. And then reading, whether it’s just listening to an audio book or listening to a podcast or grabbing some book that you’re reading right now and just kind of diving into it for 10, 15 minutes in the morning. And then the final S is scribing, which is just your five minute journal or any kind of journaling or writing. So I’ve got a friend of mine, Yanik Silver, who just wrote The Cosmic Journal. I’ve got another one that I use, the five minute journal, both of those are great little kind of tools to prompt you in your thinking in the morning.
Cameron: So those were Hal’s morning savers. And then when I brought into the book was kind of the rest of the day. So it was areas around visualization, areas around leveraging a second in command and then just a lot of personal principles related to focus and how to get stuff done with less people faster. Because I’ve struggled with so much ADD, I have 17 of the 18 signs of attention deficit disorder. I’ve had to put systems in place to allow me to be hyper productive while the ADD can actually be very distracting. So I talk about a lot of those success habits that anybody can use in business.
Carol: That’s really cool. And I think it’s very noteworthy that when you’re talking about the parts of that book that you were an expert in, that you really brought to the table. There are a lot of those things, like you said, around systems processes that are more of the traditional like COO role, right? So it’s just, it’s fascinating how it’s just interwoven through all facets of what you do. You’re partnering with Hal for example, on that book and he brings more, the more high level visioning type of stuff and you are like more systems, processes, CRO type of guy. So I think that’s fascinating how you’ve made that work for you on so many levels.
Cameron: Thank you.
J: That’s awesome. So Cameron, can you give some of our listeners, a lot of our listeners are wannabe entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs. They basically, maybe some of them have just launched their businesses. What are some of the best tips that you can give our listeners on how they can really start to get their businesses off the ground, how they can start to scale and grow their businesses?
Cameron: Sure. So I’m going to give you what I call the secret formula. So the secret formula to success is F times F times E. The first F is focus. So if you think about yourself as an entrepreneur or your employees, how focused are you on a daily basis, on a weekly basis? Are you focused on your goals? Are you focused on a market? Are you focused on a product or are you distracted by social media? Are you distracted by the busy work? Are you distracted by all the things you could do instead of focusing on the things you know you need to do? Are you working on the critical few things versus the important many? Are you working on things that you know will help you launch a rocket that will stay in orbit so you can launch it again and stay in orbit or are you just working on stuff that you always have to be busy?
Cameron: And I think a lot of entrepreneurs get distracted by the busy work. They get distracted by social media, but they don’t necessarily work on the highest ROI activities. And we only have three inputs. We have people, we have time and we have money. With those three inputs, what’s the highest return on those investments that you’re going to get? So that’s the first one is focus. And what I would ask yourself, and you can do this right now for yourself with your own business, what percent focused are you? On a scale of one to a hundred percent, put down what percent focused you are. The second F. So F times F times E, is faith. That’s how much faith do you have in yourself, in your market, in your business, in the model, in your community? How much faith do you have in your team?
Cameron: Or are you getting shaky? Are you worried? Because when you start losing confidence, when you start losing faith, that really shakes everything. It shakes your marketing, it shakes your message, it shakes your inputs, it shakes the effort you’re going to put in. So it’s really about protecting your confidence, protecting your faith in those things. So again, I would ask yourself to rate yourself as a percentage, how much faith do you have in all of those things? And give yourself a rating of somewhere between one and a hundred percent on faith. And you can do this on a daily basis, weekly basis, monthly, quarterly, right? You can rate yourself. And then the E is effort. How much effort are you putting in? You know, a lot of people think that well, being an employee is the same as being an entrepreneur, right?
Cameron: When you’re an entrepreneur, you should be able to work 9:00 to 5:00. No, not at all. Being an entrepreneur is more like a 5:00 to 9:00 job. You’re always thinking about it. You’re always writing notes about it, you’re always worrying about it, you’re always obsessing about it. And people think that it’s so easy to start a company and make a lot of money and because they waste time in a corporate world or in a normal job. Well that’s not true. Like if you want to be in the top 0.1% of all individuals in terms of money and free time, it’s a lot of work. So rate yourself as how much effort are you putting in, right? Are you wasting time? Are you working really hard or are you just kind of possibly working on stuff? Which is fine, but your success comes from the multiplication of those three.
Cameron: So let’s say that you gave yourself 50% focused times 50% faith times 50% effort. That gives you a 12.5% chance of success, if you multiply them out. So you think, okay, well let’s get to 80% focus times 80% faith times 80% effort, right? That sounds pretty good. That multiplies up to 51.2% chance of success. It’s 50 50 you may as well go to Vegas and put all your money on red or black and roll the dice once because you got about the same chance of success. Even if you get to 90% focus times 90% faith times 90% effort, that’s a 72.8% chance of success. Still 25% chance that you’re not going to be successful. So truly being successful as an entrepreneur in the startup arena or in the medium enterprise arena and even more when you get into the enterprise level is around getting yourself to 98% focus times 98% faith times 98% effort and working to get those levels always up because that multiplies up to a 94% chance of success. I’m okay with 6% failure odds.
J: I absolutely love that and I think this just reinforces that COO mentality that you have. It’s all about efficiency and it’s all about optimization and it’s all about eking out every last percent because when you multiply out the percentages, one or two or 3%-
Cameron: They matter.
J: Drop multiplied by one or two or 3% multiplied by one or two or 3%. I mean if you dropped 3% on each of those three times, three times three-
Cameron: It’s huge.
J: It multiplies out quickly. It’s exponential, not linear. I absolutely love that. So fantastic. Okay, this is the part of the show that we want to jump into called four more where we’re going to ask you four rapid fire questions that we ask all our guests and then when we’re done with those questions, we’re going to jump to the more, which is where we’re going to have you tell us a little bit more about where our listeners can connect with you and find out more about what you’ve done.
Cameron: Sounds great.
J: Excellent. Okay, I’m going to take the first question. So you mentioned the job that you had or the company that you started when you were 21 but it sounds to me like you probably were doing stuff before you were 20, 21 years old. So what was the very first job you ever had and what lessons did you take from it?
Cameron: The first job or the first little business venture?
J: I’m going to let you tell me which one did you learn more from?
Cameron: I probably learned more from having a newspaper route when I was around 10, 10 or 11 because I was in grade five so I was around 11 years old and I learned about customer service. I learned about handling rejection, I learned that I made all my money in tips, which was based on customer service and blowing people away. I learned that I could hire someone to deliver papers to a whole bunch of houses and I could collect the money at the end of the week and I made the money on tips and I could pay them a wage, but I got in trouble for it because it was my brother. I’d hire him [inaudible 00:41:07] half my work and my dad praised me at the same time. I think I learned a lot from that. But my first business venture, I was collecting coat hangers door to door and selling them to dry cleaners because they paid a recycling fee.
J: I love that.
Carol: No kidding.
Cameron: I was seven years old. They used to give you 2 cents per coat hanger. And my mom caught me phoning everyone in the yellow pages. And I was, I had someone who wanted to pay me 3 cents and I asked for four and I finally said, “How about we do three and a half cents?” And he started laughing and he said, “How old are you?” And I said, “I’m seven.” And he said, “Fine.” He goes, “I’ll give you three and a half cents a coat hanger.” And then my mom was standing there and she’s looking and she’s like, “But where are you going to get them?” And I opened up my closet and they were filled with coat hangers because I’d be going door to door in the neighborhood collecting them from all the neighbors. That was just me spotting an opportunity and recognizing my mom was bringing coat hangers in and getting paid. I could do that too. And then negotiating, you just had to hustle and phone everybody like [inaudible 00:42:07].
Carol: Like a seven year old does.
J: Arbitrage at seven.
Cameron: Yeah. So I was seven years old. I was in grade two.
Carol: That’s amazing. In second grade. I love it. Okay, so you had so many entrepreneurial ventures along the way. I would love to know, is there some opportunity at some point that you decided, no, I’m not going to do that. It’s an opportunity that you said no to. And in retrospect you think it was the right decision.
Cameron: Well, I’ve got one that I said no to that in retrospect was a horrible decision. The summer of 2008, Tim Ferriss was a good friend of mine. He’d been to my home a couple of times in Vancouver. We’d hung out together and I was taking Tim to his first Burning Man. And he called me the night before and said, he asked if a friend could come with him and I said for sure. So this friend was going to come as well, and at about 2:00, o’clock in the morning, this friend was pitching us on this business idea and he was explaining that you would go to an app store and we didn’t know what the app store was. We thought it was like, is it like a 7-Eleven? Do you have to go to the mall to go to this app store?
Cameron: He’s like, “No, it’s like a website on your phone. You’ll go to a website and you’ll download another website.” I’m like, “Okay. So we’ll go to … we’ll download an app, right? And then what do you do when you’re on this app?””Well, you’ll press a button and like limousines and taxis will come to you.” That is the stupidest idea we’d ever heard. And it was Garrett Camp, who was the founder of Uber six months before he hired Travis. Garrett was pitching us on Uber and four of us told him it was the stupidest idea we’d ever heard of.
J: Wow, that’s crazy. And probably one of the more complicated COO positions on the planet.
Cameron: Yeah. Oh yeah. For sure.
J: That’s awesome. What is … so in every industry there’s a lot of bad advice that floats around. In your industry, whether it be as a COO, whether it be as a mentor, a coach, a business owner. What is some of the worst advice you tend to hear and how would you flip that around and turn that into good advice for our listeners?
Cameron: Well, yeah, opinions are like a#$)les, we all have one. And I think a lot of the advice that we get is based on opinion or based on experience, without having enough data to understand if that advice is applicable. So somebody saying, “You should be advertising on …” Really? Do you know what my client is? Do you know what the demographic is? Do you know what my lifetime value is? Do you know what my cost per acquisition is? Do you know what my business model is? Do you know where my customers spend their time? Oh, then maybe I should not be advertising on that medium. Maybe I should be advertising them on this medium. So there’s a lot of opinions on you should be on Facebook, LinkedIn, marketing, Google radio, TV, billboard, outdoor, print newspaper. Maybe.
Cameron: So I think we have to be very careful with listening to the advice until the people giving it have enough data. So I frequently will get asked, “Who should I get as a coach?” I’m like, “That’s a stupid question. Like there’s a million, the world’s littered with coaches. What do you want to learn? What do you need to improve on? What kind of a coach are you thinking of looking for? What have you had in the past as coaching, that might tell you what kind of a coach you need.” But you know, Marshall Goldsmith is a great coach, but he’s 250,000 a year. Oh, you don’t have that budget. Okay. And you want to learn about running a small business, not working on mindset. So yeah, Marshall’s a terrible coach. And Tiger Woods has a coach. Oh, that’s a golf coach. You want to … So I think people are very, very quick to give opinions on you and they’re just usually trying to help. But opinions are like a#$#@les. We all have one.
Carol: Excellent. Okay, here is my favorite question at the end of our four more, which is what is something along the way in either your personal or professional life that you’ve splurged on that was totally worth it?
Cameron: Well my Tesla model S P90D was ridiculous and awesome and it’s a $130,000 vehicle, but it was spectacular. But years ago, I went by helicopter from Katmandu to Everest base camp for champagne breakfast and that was a big splurge. So it was totally worth it at the time.
Carol: Awesome experience.
Cameron: Yeah, just it was cool.
J: Awesome. Cool. Well this is the more part of the four more. Can you tell our listeners a little bit more about where they can find out about you, maybe connect with you and tell us a little bit about your books and where they can pick up your great five books.
Cameron: Sure. Well they can … So one of the things they should look at is my Second In Command podcast. Anywhere that you listen to podcasts, go check out the Second In Command podcast where we only interview the COO. All of my books, my five books are available on Amazon, Audible and et cetera. Those are Double Double, Meetings Suck, Vivid Vision, Free PR and The Miracle Morning For Entrepreneurs. All five of those are available. And then my main website would be thecameronherolds.com and it’s H-E-R-O-L-D. And then I guess lastly, check out that Ted talk about raising kids as entrepreneurs.
J: Fantastic. I’m going to ask you one more question before we go. Best tip for raising kids as entrepreneurs.
Cameron: I think it’s to recognize that some kids have the entrepreneurial traits. They have ADD, they’re bipolar, they spot opportunities, they have hustle and grit and they’re meant to be entrepreneurial and then others are not. And just because entrepreneurship is cool, there’s some people that don’t have the traits to be that. If they have the traits to be that, I think it’s around encouraging them to just think entrepreneurial and try it and not try to turn it into some 10 year business for them. Like let them do and let them do it on their own. Like let them run the darn lemonade stand out at the end of the street by themselves. Go sit in your own home and get a hobby as a parent. Like you don’t have to be out there waving at cars. Let the kid do that. You don’t need to be out there selling the neighbor on buying lemonade, let the kid do that. The kid’s not going to learn, go run your own lemonade stand. So I think the parents, it’s like, let them do it for a day or for a week or whatever and don’t over involve yourself.
J: Awesome. Thank you. That was more for me than our listeners. I’ve been wanting to ask that question since you mentioned the Ted talk at the beginning. So thank you so much. Cameron, this has been absolutely awesome. Thank you for all the tremendous advice you offer to us and our to our listeners. Thank you for talking about vivid vision and talking about your other books and talking about your experience. We really appreciate it and we look forward to having you back again soon.
Cameron: You’re welcome. Thanks, Jay. Thanks, Carol. I appreciate your time.
Carol: Thank you Cameron. Have a good one.
Cameron: Bye guys.
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