Cameron Herold coaches me on hiring (so I don’t collapse at my desk)

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Hiring has been a huge issue for me. And in a past interview with Cameron Herold, I brought it up because he’s the founder of the COO Alliance, the world’s leading network for the second in command.

I don’t get embarrassed by a lot of stuff. If you heard my interviews, you hear me get pretty frank about my flaws, my mistakes. But this issue is something I was embarrassed about. I think if I don’t hire somebody to be the second in command at Mixergy, I am probably going to collapse.

So, that’s what today is about. It’s not so much an interview as it is a coaching call with the guy who knows hiring better than anyone else. You’ll get to hear what I learned and my hope is that you benefit from it too.


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Cameron Herold

Cameron Herold

COO Alliance

Cameron Herold is the founder of the COO Alliance, the world’s leading network for the second in command.


Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey, there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I’ve interviewed some of the world’s best entrepreneurs over the last what, eight, nine, years now. And I did it because I want to learn from them and thought the audience could learn along with me. Here’s something that I still have not learned from them and I’ve been struggling with, how do I hire people to come help me out. So much of what I do is instinctively me doing it and taking it on or me doing it because I don’t know how to hire somebody else to do it. And hiring has been a huge issue for me. And in a past interview with Cameron Herold, I brought it up. And I intentionally at the time interviewed Cameron Herold because he is the COO guy. He is the founder of the COO Alliance, the world’s leading network for the second in command. He is someone that many people told me I should go study and talk to him. And I said, “All right. Let’s bring him in for an interview and talk to him.” I did it and in the interview he was really generous, he said, “Andrew, if you want I can come back and I can actually walk you through this. I can do a coaching session. We could do it recorded if you want on Mixergy.” And I said, “Yes, that’s a great idea.” And you know what, damn it, I didn’t follow up. And here’s why I didn’t follow up, I’m embarrassed. I don’t know why I am so embarrassed by this. I don’t get embarrassed by a lot of stuff. If you heard my interviews, you hear me get pretty frank about my flaws, my mistakes. I don’t usually trumpet my successes nearly enough as I do talk openly about my vulnerabilities. And still this is something I was embarrassed about. But I think if I don’t hire somebody to help out, somebody to be the second in command at Mixergy, I am probably going to collapse. And if I don’t collapse, I don’t think my kids will see me enough.

So, that’s what this interview is about. It’s not so much an interview as like a coaching call with the guy who knows this better than anyone else. He was formally the COO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, he’s trained so many other COOs. And so, I’ve invited him here to talk about to help me, to teach me, to guide me. And along the way you’ll get to hear what I learned and to benefit from it. This whole conversation, I’ll call it a conversation, not an interview, is sponsored by two great companies. The first will organize your financials right so you know much money you’re making or losing, and spending, and bringing in every month that’s called Bench. And the second is a company that will help you hire your next phenomenal developer, it’s called Toptal. But I’ll tell everyone about those later. First, Cameron, good to have you on here.

Cameron: Hey, Andrew, thanks for having me. I appreciate it. Looking forward to this.

Andrew: Yeah. Thanks for following up with me. I really just… It was weighing on me that I didn’t follow up with you and at the same time I said I can’t bring myself to do it. I can’t bring myself to ask you for it. I think also partially because it’s like free help. There’s something that… I had this block against being helped.

Cameron: You know, it’s interesting. I think that’s probably a bit of a human nature thing as well as we… Especially when you’re in an expert space you’re always trying to be the expert and it’s hard to say, “I don’t know what I’m doing in a certain area.” But if you think about the top athletes in the world in any sport, they all have a coach. You know, every single top athlete has a coach and the coach isn’t even as good as they are in some areas. But they can kind of see things from a different perspective or they can ask the right questions or they can make them look in the mirror. So, try not to look at it that way. It’s also not a reflection on you as a human being. It’s just we all need to work on stuff, you know. Ray Kroc from McDonald’s said, “When your green, you’re growing. When you’re ripe, you’re dying.” And it’s good to be growing. So, I don’t see it as a negative at all and every top CEO on the planet or COO on planet that I’ve worked with is always working on themselves. So in some way I am, for sure.

Andrew: All right.

Cameron: So, tell me what’s going on and maybe frame this situation that we’re talking about in terms of hiring a COO, what you’ve been struggling with. Give me maybe two or three minutes around it so I understand the issue a little bit and we can dive in.

Andrew: Sure. All right. Don’t be afraid to interrupt me because that’s what I do with my guests. So, if you need to redirect me, do it.

Cameron: Okay.

Andrew: A few weeks ago I got this e-mail from someone who said, “Andrew, I could take some of your past interviews and pull out sections of it and use them as core answers to help promote Mixergy. And I know you want to get some of the ideas out of Mixergy interviews where they’re kind of buried in the middle of an hour long program, help you get it out to the world.” I said, “Great.” I got on a call with him, I tested him, I looked at his stuff, I loved it. And I signed up with him and then I said, “You know what, just immediately after we got off the phone and I said, ‘Yeah, let’s go ahead with it…'” I said, “I never do this, but I have to say I can’t… I have to… even though we agreed we’re going to do it I have to tell you I can’t do it because I won’t be able to follow through with you. You’re going to take my interview questions and answers, turn into them core posts and I’m going to have to look at them. I don’t have the time to look at that.” I said, “This is a really big let down.” And I thought this is because everything is on me and I won’t be able to do it. I’ll either let someone down or I will just not be able to do it. I mean, I’ll either let them down or I’ll exhaust myself doing the work myself. And so, there are a bunch of different opportunities like that that came up. We’re still on. Like, you told me before we started that you had a new mic. You bought that yourself, right?

Cameron: No. My assistant bought it for me.

Andrew: Oh, your assistant. Okay. That’s actually a good distinction. One of things that I’ve said for a while now is I want to buy a mic for every guest. If you want that mic, that’s the exact mic we were looking at, I want to just buy it for the guest. It’s not that expensive. What is it going to be, $60 to $70 bucks, I priced it on Amazon and people will appreciate it and the audience will appreciate it. And still it’s like a process that will take us a year to implement because it’s all on me to follow up. And someone on the team had a good idea, she said, “I’m the pre-interviewer. I’ll check with every guest and say at the end of the pre-interview, ‘Can I buy you a mic?'” I said, “That’s a good idea.” But there’s no feedback loop for me to come back and say, “Hey, you know what, it’s been a month and no one’s on with a mic that we bought them because it takes a while after the pre-interview for them to schedule and appear with me. I think we should do it faster, we should adjust it.” So, there’s lots of lots of things like that, opportunities like that that we miss.

I’d also like to up the level of guests that we have. It bothers me that I was one of the first interview, the first maybe in the start up world that so many entrepreneurs in San Francisco who have now, like they’ve sold their companies, they’ve made it, they’ve become recognized successes here, they grew up listening to me, I mean grew up as entrepreneurs listening to me. They’ll talk about it and then I think, “But you’re not listening to me now, right?” And they’re listening to Kara Swisher, for example. And it’s because we’re not leveling up the guest, it’s more of whoever comes to us now and that’s us being lazy. And if we put a little bit of effort into it, we could do the basics thing which is go into Amazon, see what books are about to be published about or by entrepreneurs. And we know that those people are going to hit the road, try to get publicity, they’ll be dying for it. We should just message them as soon as they hit that coming soon section and ask them to be on.

I know that Tim Ferriss if I e-mailed him and said… When he has Tony Robbins on, “Can you introduce me to Tony also so that I could get Tony?” I know he’d do it. I think. I can’t speak for him, who knows. But I know the people like him would do it and still I don’t have the bandwidth to follow up. And so, not getting great guests because I can’t do it all myself. We don’t have good systems in place for it. Can’t follow up on ideas from good writers like this guy who can take our stuff and put on Core and other places, can’t follow up with guests. This is a huge set of issues and this is what I’d love one person to come in and do. And to not just do it by winging it, but to do it… Sorry to go on a rant here, but to do it my way, the way that works for me. The way it works for me is… My way, I don’t mean like, I don’t want to give you step by step how to do it. I mean, systemize it. I don’t want someone who can say, “Hey, I got Tony Robbins. Don’t you love me?” Well, great for you, you got Tony Robbins. How are we going to get the next person who we want on here? I want you to create a process. Not just do it because you did it. I want to make the organization great by creating a process for the organization, not to keep making you great so we keep patting you on the back for doing it. I want to pat your process on the back on a regular basis and go, “Look at this, I would never have thought to do it this way.”

Cameron: How many full-time employees do you have right now?

Andrew: Full-time employees, I would say three.

Cameron: And then kind of contracts doing stuff?

Andrew: Maybe another seven or so.

Cameron: And then, and you’re profitable right now?

Andrew: We are.

Cameron: Yeah. Like very profitable?

Andrew: I wouldn’t say very. What I did last year was I started something called Bot Academy. I got excited about chatbots as a way of reaching people. And so, I started investing a lot of my time, a lot of my money in that. And that’s partially what distracted me from Mixergy. And Mixergy has been so well systemized that it works on its own. And that also made us a little bit lazy. So, when I said I like to hire a second in command, it would be for Mixergy. The Bot Academy thing has got more of the team, more of the infrastructure. It’s doing well as a new thing. Mixergy was doing well and so, it’s just kind of stagnating and I can’t let that happen.

Cameron: So there’s a few different missing or a few different components to your business now. And you’ve got an assistant?

Andrew: I do. Yes.

Cameron: And she’s full-time?

Andrew: You know what, she’s part-time and the only reason she’s part-time is because she’s so freaking efficient that if she operated like a regular person, I would hire her full-time and I would need her full-time. But she’s so efficient and fast that I can’t even take up the time that she gives me now.

Cameron: Okay, cool. So, the reason I started with the assistant part is if you don’t have an assistant, you are one. And I often get CEOs will talk about wanting to hire a second in command and the first thing they need to do is hire a really kick-ass executive assistant to get a lot of the stuff off their plate to free them up for their unique ability. Do you still manage your own e-mail?

Andrew: No. She goes into my inbox and she goes through everything. And then I will respond to some e-mails on my own. But basically, I am like a baby with her. She’ll do screen share with me and we’ll go through e-mail together. And then if there’s an issue that takes me more than two minutes, then she’ll follow up on it as I move onto the next e-mail.

Cameron: Right. So, she’ll triage a lot of it for you then as well?

Andrew: Yeah.

Cameron: I’ll give you another system called Inbox Zero that I use as well that’ll help you and her to even get a little bit more that off your plate. So, when it comes down to hiring a second in command, the first area that I would actually start is you writing a vivid vision for your company. So, it’s really you leaning out three years and describing your entire company in its finished state. It’s what we covered in Chapter 1 of “Double Double” and my new book coming out on Amazon soon is called “Vivid Vision.” But it codifies the idea of taking the vision you have in your mind for your company, writing out a four or five page description of what your company looks like three years from now so that then you can hand it to your team and to your COO that we’re going to help you hire who can then help reverse engineer that. But they need to really see the entire picture of what your company looks like, acts like, and feels like three years from now. You know what the customers are saying about you, what your guests are saying about you, what your sponsors and suppliers say about you. You have to describe your marketing, and your IT, and your systems, and processes, all as if it’s completed, and then they can figure out how to reverse engineer that.

When you’re looking to hire a second in command, it really has to be a true yin and yang relationship for you. So, you’ve got to take a look at the stuff that’s on your plate that you love to do, that you get energized from, that you’re really really good at. The stuff that you don’t want to give up, you know, the stuff that you would do for free except your kids have to eat, you keep that. And then everything else you’re going to delegate. When you come up with a list of all that other stuff, that’s going to start to describe what that COO looks and feels like for your company. But it’s very different for every company. You know, I interviewed a COO this morning for my podcast, “The Chief Behind The Chief,” and this COO actually runs finance, and IT, and engineering. And I interviewed another COO recently, Harley Finkelstein from Shopify and Harley doesn’t run finance at all. He’s doesn’t run engineering. That is under Tobias, but Harley is very sales and marketing, and culture, and operations, and biz dev. So, your COO is going to be the perfect complement to the stuff you love and he’ll be able to take or she’ll be able to take the stuff you suck at and the stuff that you don’t love. So, that’s the first area is figuring out what you want to get off your plate. What were your grades like in school? You were a really good student, I’m guessing?

Andrew: If you hear me banging away it’s because I take notes a lot and I’m trying to hit mute on it. I was a good student in some places and not in other. So anything that had to do with chemistry, science, I didn’t do well and anything that was math related or later on business related in college, I just excelled at and loved it.

Cameron: So, straight As or solid Bs?

Andrew: In those areas straight As, in those… And I would have been disappointed if I had a B+ in the areas like chemistry.

Cameron: Right. No, that’s all I need.

Andrew: Sorry?

Cameron: So that, “I would have been disappointed had I not gotten a straight A,” is part of what makes you really good, but it’s also a bit of your Achilles’ heel.

Andrew: Why?

Cameron: And I heard it earlier is like, “I want them to do it my way. No, what I really mean is I want them to have systems.” You’re looking an awful lot for perfection. So, as an example, if you could just get your executive assistant to get all of your guests a microphone, she knows the part, she sends it out, it goes off Amazon, they plug it in and 65%, 70% percent of them use it, for me that’s a straight A. But for you that would be an abysmal failure because you’re only going to be satisfied if 100% of your guests use it 100% of the time.

Andrew: You know what, you’re absolutely right. I wouldn’t…when you first said it I disagreed with you and then when you actually put a number to it, I said , “65, this is just… It would be awful, I’m buying 100% and 65 are using it.”

Cameron: Sixty-five for me would be one of the most kick-ass… I don’t know if you can see my university transcript. But it’s bad. It’s B, F, C-, C-, C, D-, D- and that just continues all the way to fourth year.

Andrew: I would think of you is an A, like, more of an A+ student than I am.

Cameron: No, not at all. I was always a C. I was 62% in high school, 62% in college. But I realized that no one was ever going to look at my transcript so it didn’t matter. So, I became the president of my fraternity. I was on the university ski team, I was doing student government, I was running a business. I had 12 employees when I was in second year university. So, I was very active and engaged in everything else. And then school was kind of yeah, I’ll get that. And I think if you can bring a bit of that into your company, you win. I was coaching a CEO the other day, he’ll six million in revenue this year out of his dorm room at Cambridge. He’s in third year school at Cambridge, made two million in profit and he was wanting to quit. I’m like, “You can’t quit.” If you’re at Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, and Yale, you stay in school, you finish. But I want you to not go after a 4.0. Be okay with getting a 2.8 for the first time in your life. Call Mom and Dad and say, “Look, I’m going to get a 70% average and I’m going to make three million in profit in my last year.” They’ll be happy. And I think for you it’s a bit of the same thing. If you can move towards momentum creating momentum and not perfection creating momentum, you know, no one ever said perfect creates momentum. So, just getting microphones out the door to the guests will wow them, it’ll impress them, it’ll be better sound quality. And if 70% of your podcast are better, that’s better. Right? And then…

Andrew: You know what, you’re right. So, that I buy into, but let me ask you this then, if my assistant just starts pinging people willy-nilly and e-mailing them and saying, “Hey, can I buy you a microphone?” To me that would bother me. What I would want is a clear system where, here’s when we do it. So it’s after the pre-interview and a week before they do the interview, here’s what we say to them. So it’s something like, “Andrew, would like to buy you a gift of a microphone so you sound better on Mixergy interviews and in general.” And I would like…

Cameron: So, I’ve got a system for that.

Andrew: Is that too much?

Cameron: No.

Andrew: Is that for me to ask first? It doesn’t have to be that system, but it needs to be systemized. Am I being too anal there?

Cameron: No. I actually have a system I’m going to send to you and we can link at the show notes, it’s called the decision filter. And the decision filter is a one pager that has you outline what the project looks like at perfect or at complete. It shows the five success criteria, it shows the ROI, it shows whether you’re going to make money or make people happier. It’s a great way to hand off a project to somebody because they understand why we’re doing it and how it should look in the finished state. Almost like a creative brief for a TV ad is going to look. So, if you delegate that project, she’ll understand it and she’s competent enough to pull together, so, again something that’s good enough. She’ll write an e-mail that’s good enough. She’ll handle it good enough. You’ll see a few of them go and then you can take good enough and make it a little more perfect later.

Andrew: And can I ask to see that process instead of…

Cameron: You can, but if you just release a little bit from it and surrender to it, and let her run with it a little bit, she’ll work through it enough that it will be pretty darn good and it will allow you to work in your unique ability. Your time would be better spent contacting Tim, building a relationship or re-relationship with Tim, you know building a relationship with Joe, and getting the introduction to Tony, right? And instead of worrying about a system that…let her do it 10 times, she’ll tweak it twice during that process and then view it later.

Andrew: But at that point I feel like they have such ownership of it that they don’t want me to come in and say, “Okay. Turn it into a checklist.” You’re okay with that?

Cameron: I’m okay with that. Now, you can also get all of your team starting to use either SweetProcess or Process Street and both of those are really good systems to use. SweetProcess is…

Andrew: And just insist that she… Whatever she does she puts into one of those two pieces of software. I know that software really well, especially SweetProcess.

Cameron: Yeah. I would use SweetProcess.

Andrew: So just say, do it anyway you want, just make sure it’s a checklist in SweetProcess?

Cameron: Exactly.

Andrew: Okay. All right. So, that actually is a better way of saying it than show me your system. And you know what else, Cameron, I don’t want to eventually be the person to even go through it. I just want to know that whoever the COO is, he or she knows we need to get better… Not even we need to get better mics, we need to get better audio. How do we get it right? Someone said better mics. Let’s test it for two months and we know that whoever does it needs to have a process put together for it. And Andrew at any time could come in and say, “Can I see this process to figure out what’s going on?”

Cameron: Okay. So, we’re going to go in the COO part, but I want to go back to something you just said. Because I don’t think you really meant let’s test mics for two months. I think what you really meant is let’s go with a pretty darn good mic that gives us way better quality that we’re getting today.

Andrew: Right. And then… Or will mics actually do that because it’s possible that the microphone is not our weak point, that we send out so many mics. At one point we’re sending out I think iPads to people to record and it turns out that wasn’t the problem. The problem was their internet connection that caused the issue and by sending them a new iPad, we were exacerbating the problem because then we had to use LTE for connection. So, I mean, test to see if mics are really the solution and if they work, expand and keep improving it. And if they don’t, be okay with killing the whole mic program even if we spent money on mics for some people who are just not going to have to use it.

Cameron: So, I could go to the systems part in a second. We’re going to go back to what I call, “Bob proofing something.” But I’m going to start with the how do we find a COO who’s really focused on systems. I’d like you to do your Kolbe profile. Have you ever done a personality profile called Kolbe?

Andrew: I do and you know what, there’s something about the personality profile and I’ll dig it up. I’m pretty sure I did it. It just doesn’t stick with me. I think there’s like a voice in my head that goes, “This won’t work,” and just ignores the answer.

Cameron: Right. So, the only thing that you’re ever going to learn from a Kolbe profile is how you like to start projects. It’s how you initiate things. The rest of it, you don’t worry about. But I’m guessing that your Kolbe profile is a very high third number which is a high quick start. What you’re looking for in a COO is someone who is a very high second and first number. Their second number should be the highest, their first number should be second highest. So, you want someone who’s a high follow through which is putting systems in place before they start something. Even if that system is a really good checklist, it doesn’t have to be perfect, but you’d be happy to see a checklist system before anyone starts on anything you ask them to do. The second thing is, and this will help you, someone who asks enough questions to get the information out of your head so they don’t have to come back to you three times while they’re doing it because then they won’t drive you crazy. But you don’t want someone who asks you so many questions that you’re like, “God, can’t you figure this out on your own?” So, it’s got to be like a seven fact finder and probably an eight or nine follow through, and then maybe like a four or a five quick start. So, someone who’s going to move pretty quickly, but they’re actually going to put a system in place before they move. Does that sound like somebody you’re looking for?

Andrew: It does. And you know what else, 10 minutes into the interview I was sweating. I actually found myself feeling… Not stressed about it, but it was kind of tough for me to open up about this stuff. And then 15 minutes into it I felt like, “Wow, this is such a helpful conversation.” Even just talking it through and understanding this jumble of ideas that’s in my head in frustration is helping.

Cameron: And let me give you another part that I want everyone who’s watching us to remember. When you ask someone for help, you’re kind of putting your arm out saying, “Help me, come help me.” Right? That allows me to come and give you a hug and help you. One of my areas of unique ability is coaching entrepreneurs and COOs. Like, I’m really good at it, I really love it. When it’s the area of the COO, like you said I’m one of the best in the world at it. So had you not asked me for help, you’re almost robbing the of the ability for me to use my gift. When you said, “Can I interview you about this? Can I ask for help?” I’m like, “Oh, my God. Yes.” Like, this is what I charge people for and I love doing this. I do it for free right now. Right? So, you’re actually making my day because I get to do this. That’s really cool.

Andrew: I appreciate you saying it and still in my head I think, “Oh, no. How do I show appreciation later on? How do I…” It’s just…

Cameron: Well, you’re going to help me because I’m starting my podcast. We launch in about two weeks time called, “The Chief Behind The Chief,” where all we interview is second in commands. I don’t have a fucking clue what they’re doing. I got no idea. I’m like… So, that’s why I got my new mic, but [crosstalk 00:22:17] a few tips.

Andrew: You know what, I do actually… I love it when people ask me about that stuff. We mentioned Tim Ferriss. When Tim Ferriss started this podcast he reached out to me and he’s the kind of person who gets so curious that he asked to see my processes. He asked to see the software.

Cameron: Oh, Tim is anal. By the way, I met Tim 10 years ago. He was sitting at my house and he asked me if I knew a guy named Yanik Silver and I’m like, “Who’s Yanik?” I got to show you something, this is really cool. So I’m like, “Who is Yanik?” I go running back into my office and I go, “Wait a second.” There was an article, this was June 21st, 2008. So, I’ve known Tim almost for 10 years now. This was the article in “The Globe and Mail” about Yanik and I. I got the photo, but the article was about Yanik Silver running events for CEOs and Cameron Herold running events for CEOs. So that’s how I met Yanik which is how I met Joe Polish, which is how I met everybody that I know in the world today including yourself was because Tim was sitting at my house.

Andrew: And he is good at making… at asking these questions and I feel flattered about doing it, and feel… I’ve heard many people say that they enjoyed telling him how they do things because they feel so good. All right. Let me take a moment to talk about my first sponsor, then we’ll come back and say, “Now, that we’ve done this what’s next?”

All right. So, the first sponsor is a company called Bench. I use it actually, Cameron, because one my favorite subjects in school was accounting. I used to do the books myself. I used to sit down and think this is the only way to get discipline to be a good business owner, to sit down every Sunday night and do the books so you’re prepared for the next week. And it got overwhelming. And it became a big distraction because I was like looking and hunting down each penny. I can’t allow a penny to be off when it comes to doing my books. And so, I many times was actually falling behind and wouldn’t have enough data about where our expenses were. I many times was falling behind and going for months with bad data as I was trying to get to perfection and regardless, even when it was right, it was taking up hours of my time. And then I started looking for bookkeepers and my friends would refer people to me. And that never sat right with me because if a bookkeeper is busy around tax time, I don’t want to beg them for time. If a bookkeeper is sick, I don’t want to have to say, “Put aside your illness and take care of me.”

Then I discovered that there are these companies out there that actually have software that does most of the work, meaning grab data from all your payment processors, from your bank, your credit card, organize it. They do 99%, 90 maybe percent of the work already. And then a human being or team of human beings can come in and organize even further. And that’s when I discovered that is the future. And so, if you’re out there, guys, and you’re listening to me and you’re still doing the books yourself or you’re not happy with your individual bookkeeper who does it, you owe it to your business to go check out it. You don’t have to commit to them forever, but go check out because they’ll do your books in an automated way, they’ll organize it right, then they’ll have a human being…they actually have a several human beings so that if one person is out taking care of their kids or sick or whatever, there’s someone else to back them up. And they’ll make sure that the numbers look right not just in general, not just to anyone else, but to your specification. And then they give it to you and you have enough knowledge about your business to run it right. It’s incredibly inexpensive, less expensive than hiring a good bookkeeper. And I’ve found more dependable and better overall proposition for running a business. If you want to check them out, go use this special URL where you’re going to get a free trial right now, and you’re going to get 20% off your first 6 months. It’s a not .com, to get all that. And keep letting me know what you think about them and all my sponsors. My e-mail address is I’m intentionally only doing sponsored messages for companies that I love and highly recommend and would love for you to give me feedback on.

I’ve got to interrupt this interview. It’s Andrew recording this ad for Toptal after the interview is done and Ari on our team is going to edit it into the interview. I’m disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to talk about Toptal with Cameron because he said he discovered Toptal as the place to hire phenomenal developers from the interview that I did with him before. And he said after hearing me talk about Toptal, he started paying attention and noticing that other people had said really positive things about Toptal, and it was starting to raise his awareness of that company. So I’m going to hope to do the same…not going to hope, but I know I’m going to do the same thing with you. If you’re listening to me and you’re looking to hire your next great developer, I’ve had phenomenal luck over the years hiring great developers. Probably the one place where I’ve had really good results.

If you’re looking to hire great developer, go to They are a company that’s obsessed with this. Well, one of things that they decided to do was recognize that their people who are Google level, Facebook level, that quality of developer, but they just don’t want to live here in San Francisco. They don’t want to have the hour-long commute or two hour commute that many of my friends have. They want to do excellent work, but live in whatever home city or home country they’re from. And so, Toptal said, “We’re going to make it our mission to get all those people in our database.” And when a company like Andrew’s or yours if you’re listening to me wants to hire great developer, they talk to someone at Toptal, Toptal will understand our needs, our quirks, the way we work and then they go to their network. And they find a developer that fits with that.

If you’re looking hire a great developer, don’t just take my word for it, go to They’re going to schedule a call for you with someone on their team and tell them what you’re looking for. They will talk it through with you, they’ll help you think it through, and if it’s a good fit, they will find someone for you to talk to you. And then at that point you could decide, “I’m going to work with them and start hiring them.” And often you could start within a day or two or, you know what, it’s not a good fit, and you can move on. But either way there’s nothing to lose. And if you go to the special URL, you’re going to get 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours and that URL is Top, top as in top of your head, Tal, as in talent. T-O-P-T-A-L, All right. Ari, thanks for editing this into the interview. Everyone, lets get back into the conversation.

All right. We are… I’m making lists here on my screen. I keep trying to hit mute, but I think at times the keyboard must be banging and making a lot of noise. You’re telling me, be clear about my three-year vision, make a list of the stuff that I love to do like, having these conversations I love to do. I love to have people over to my office for scotch night to dive into their business for hours. I don’t get to do that anymore. I love to do all that. The stuff that I don’t love to do is stay in touch with the team members, make sure that every little detail is taken care of. All right. And you’re saying, do the Kolbe profile and get a sense of who I am to understand what I need, what’s going to be the yin to my yang.

Cameron: Yeah.

Andrew: What else do I need to do?

Cameron: So, when you’re starting to then do a job profile, you’re going to actually create a job description. I also want you to think what are the 5 core projects this individual needs to get done in their first 12 months that they’re with you. And if they got those five things done, you’d have been thrilled at your decision hire them today. So, that’s going to create the foundation for the scorecard that you’re going to then use to create a job description that you’re going to hire against. When you get the job description…

Andrew: Could we talk that through here?

Cameron: Yeah. So, I want something very measurable. So. again when I went into start 1800-GOT-JUNK?, or to grow it, they had 14 employees. When I left six and a half years later we had 3,100 employees system wide. So when I came in, they needed someone to write an operations manual for franchisees, build a franchise training program, help build the franchise recruiting program, build out the marketing team, they didn’t have anyone in marketing, build out a PR team, they had no one in PR. Literally, build the whole franchise operations support program. I’d already done that twice. I did that with College ProPainters and I did that with Gerber Auto Collision and Boyd Autobody. So, I walked in the door to 1-800-GOT-JUNK? going, “Oh, I’ve done this before, it’s cool,” When I left six and a half years later, the company was huge. You know, we were in 330 cities, 46 states, 4 countries. I’m like, “Oh my God, this is big.” Well, they took 12 months to find my replacement and they brought in the former president of Starbucks. So, she walks in the door, she’d run all of the North American operations for Starbucks. And she went and looked around and went, “What a cute little company, I’ve grown companies like this before.” So, they hired people who had already done it before. So, for you, what do you need done this next 12 months?

Andrew: I’ve been thinking about this and it’s different from what I initially expected. It’s things like, up the level of guests and I don’t know how to measure that.

Cameron: That’s fine. So, up the level of guests. What’s next? Something to do with chatbots?

Andrew: Growing the audience is an easy one, but that’s not something they do directly. That’s a product of other stuff they do.

Cameron: That’s fine.

Andrew: Work with guests to promote their interviews in a more organized way. So, I’ll have guests at the end of the interview and say, “I’ve got to pass this on to other people.” We’re not good at following up and working with them to do it.

Cameron: Yup. Helping them to amplify that. Great.

Andrew: Get the content that’s in these interviews out to other places and experiment with that.

Cameron: Awesome.

Andrew: So, the core idea is an easy one, but…or it’s one idea. What else is there and how do we do it?

Cameron: Right. Courses, booklets, e-zines, books.

Andrew: Right. What else can we… What else should we be doing? What else should we put this stuff?

Cameron: And you’ve got to know that when Tim just wrote… What was his book about tribes, “Tools of Tribes,” like, that’s all he did. He sat and talked all these individuals, had all these podcasts, all of these interviews, he just pulled them together. There you go, there’s another book, right?

Andrew: I had an idea for different type of episode here, different…that we’d need to work with an editor and producer for. And I found someone last year who could do it, but I couldn’t work with him. That’s the kind of thing that I would want. We need more things to sell to sponsors and I’d like something that’s super polished that I could never create when I was getting started.

Cameron: More like an NPR, right? Like, a how I built this kind of podcast that sounds a little bit more professional?

Andrew: Let’s say something like that as in… Not in the content, but in the polish, that they do a lot of editing. Yes. That there’s an idea that I’ve had for doing that. So, let’s say produce…

Cameron: So if those were the five things and maybe another is like to build out and manage your team, right? To double the size of your revenue. You’re going to create those five or six things and now I want you to look to hire someone who’s done as many of them before as possible.

Andrew: And you know what, recreate the weekly e-mail. So, we’ve got people on our mailing list and we just don’t have a good e-mail to send out to them.

Cameron: Right.

Andrew: So, how do I find someone who is both…

Cameron: Okay. So, here’s the $50,000 question though. Based on what you need this person to do, what do you think you’re paying for 12 months all in, total comp?

Andrew: I don’t know. One hundred, 150. I don’t know. That’s a big range.

Cameron: Right. So, if you’re 100 to 150, yeah. A, it’s a big range. So, let’s tighten that up right away.

Andrew: I don’t know. I could just come up with a number, but…

Cameron: Come up with a number, go ahead.

Andrew: I’m just…

Cameron: There’s a reason for this.

Andrew: Okay. Let’s just say that I do 10 a month. So, 120.

Cameron: Okay. So, if…

Andrew: But I’m pulling that number out of nowhere.

Cameron: Right. Well, that’s okay though because for 120,000 you’re not hiring the chief operating officer. You’re hiring a director of operations or a VP of operations. And here’s what’s really important to understand, this is… And I did a Facebook Live about this the other day and I’m going to continue to rant about this. Twenty years ago, to get a C-level title you had to be a major player at a major company. And about 10 years ago, we started giving away titles as well as equity, as well as compensation to Gen Y who are asking for big titles and we’ve had title creep in a big way. So now, instead of hiring a director of marketing or a marketing manager or a VP of marketing, we’re giving out CMO titles. Instead of hiring a director of sales or a VP of sales or a sales manager, we’ve got a chief revenue officer. Instead of a controller or a VP of finance, we’ve got a CFO. Instead of a general manager, director of ops, VP of ops, COO. The problem with giving out a big title, people want a lot more money and they also think that their role is much more senior than it truly is. So, you want a second in command, but not necessarily a COO. And even the COO Alliance is for the second in command, they all have different titles. But here’s what’s important for you, the job posting for you should be director of operations. That’s more commensurate with actually what’s on the list of stuff to get done as well. Right? They’re not dealing with bank financing, they’re not running finance for you, they’re not doing engineering. It’s a very operational role. So, probably, director of operations, still awesome, 100,000 to 120,000 a year, perfect fit on the salary and comp level for it. But a true COO, you’re usually 300,000 to 400,000 a year.

Andrew: Okay.

Cameron: You know, I was 320 10 years ago at GOT-JUNK.

Andrew: Okay.

Cameron: To be in that zone of a real COO… So, that’s an important distinction.

Andrew: Should I be making this number though out of thin air or should I be…

Cameron: No. Yeah. Because it’s all…it’s tied in your mind to what you’re doing.

Andrew: Or shouldn’t I be seeing what other people are charged, what other people are paying for this role or what…

Cameron: If you look at the tasks not the title. So, yeah, you want to do a compensation review against what’s being done, not against the title. But if you’re going to look…

Andrew: So, how do we do that? If I were to say, I don’t know if I could find someone who does all this and much of this is is like content creation. So, is it more a content manager?

Cameron: Well, it could be content manager and that’s where we’re going is instead of saying, “I need to hire a COO,” no. You need to hire someone to get a bunch of stuff done and here’s the stuff that I need to get done that I’m bundling into a role. What do we call that? It might be content manager, it might be director of content, it might be a product manager, it might be a promotions manager. So, start with that. We may not solve it right now, but you are asking the right questions, what do I call it. So, here are the next steps. Once you know what you’re calling it and you know what the compensation will be, you put the compensation in the job posting itself. Because I want you to turn some people away who go, “Oh, I want to make 300… Oh, this isn’t the $300,000 role,” delete. You don’t want to waste your time talking to people that want three times what you’re paying. You’re also…

Andrew: Am I hiring for what I do now in the next six months or where I’d like them to be? Because…

Cameron: You’re hiring someone who’s done it before and who’s going…who’s already done the stuff that needs to get done in the next 12 months.

Andrew: See, that’s a mindset shift that you’ve instilled in me that took me a while to get from you, that you’re hiring someone who’s done it before. I keep looking to hire people for potential and you keep saying the reason that I hire so well is that I hire for experience.

Cameron: Yeah. If you hire for attitude and train them for skill, you get 7% growth. But if you hire for attitude and proven skill set, that’s where you get the incremental growth. A true A player has done the job before. You’d never find a pro athlete who like, is going to work hard to learn the sport of basketball. They hire somebody who’s good at basketball or good at one position, right? To move… Well, it’s the same in a company, hire someone who’s…

Andrew: Would there be someone who has done all this? Who’s found guests and worked with content creators to promote it, and come up with a weekly e-mail? It seems like that’s a pretty niche.

Cameron: Let me ask you a leading question. There are lots of people like that, are they unemployed looking for a job or are they working somewhere?

Andrew: I wonder if they even exist. I guess I can’t picture it. I’m trying to think of other podcasts out there, do they do this.

Cameron: Let’s say if they exist. We know that they exist in some way. Maybe they work for radio, maybe they work for TV.

Andrew: I see. So, then yes, I would say that they’re probably working somewhere else if they’re doing this.

Cameron: Correct. And you don’t really want to hire people that are unemployed anyway. So, most often you need a great job posting and you get a copywriter to take your job posting and make it pop off the page. You take your job posting, get a copywriter to rewrite it so it really sounds awesome, then you post it on all your social feeds. Maybe you put a recruiting bonus in place and you may also get a contingency-based recruiting firm to go and try to poach somebody. Because A players are usually working for a really good company and you have to poach them away from that.

Andrew: So, this is the kind of role that I would want to hire a recruiting company for?

Cameron: Absolutely. Well, in often cases you want to use a recruiting company because we don’t necessarily know where the people are, but they’re usually working somewhere and they don’t want to leave. So, we have to entice them away.

Andrew: Okay. And the other thing that stuck with me that you said was they… I forget how you said it, but you will… If somebody doesn’t know why their people are working for them and what they want out of like, what their personal goal is, that you will steal them away and that’s what you do. And it was something like, “I eat that for breakfast.”

Cameron: Yeah. So, I always try to find out what are the one or two things that really matter to an employee in their life and how do I show them that my company can give them that. So that now, they’re going to love working for me, they like the company culture, they love their role, and see how it matters. And they want to work on their executive MBA and have time with their kids, and I structure a role to make that happen, I’ve got them for five years.

Andrew: How do I clarify this job description a little bit further? And you know what, so that it’s… Or actually, is that the next step or is there something else I should be doing? And you know what, I’m just going to grab a tissue here for a second.

Cameron: Exactly right. Yeah. So, you’re actually going to take the job description you’ve got starting with the five core points that they need to get done in their job and you’re going to take the behavioral traits, the way that you want them to act in their role day-to-day. So, you’re going to take the behavioral traits of how you want them to act and the stuff they need to get done, and you just kind of build out to about a two pager. You don’t want the job description to be much more than one or two pages and it has to be written very similar to a landing page that you’d use to attract a client. It’s like, you are this, you are this, you are this, you do this, you do this so the person reading is going, “Yeah. That’s me.” And I want the job description to scare away half the people that look at it. Because I don’t want to hear from them. I want them to know that you’re a bit of a hard ass, that you demand perfection, that you’re really, you know, you interrupt people. Like, you should even say, “I’ll interrupt you at times. In fact, I’ll interrupt you often.” Right? Put a bit of you and your personality in there. So, you’ve heard me swear a couple of times. I don’t love swearing, but years ago I was doing a job posting for an executive assistant and I thought, “You know what, I’m going to put in the job posting a fairly manic, pretty bipolar CEO coach looking for a less manic, less bipolar executive assistant who blah-blah-blah-blah-blah.” And it says, “And I’m a little bit fucking scattered and you have to love to be able to fucking handle me like that.”

And I had people going, “I can’t believe you swore in a job posting,” delete. Like, “I would never work for you,” delete. “I love that you swore on your job posting.” “Oh, interesting. I wonder who you are.” Right? So, write it like an ad that pushes some people away and magnetizes people towards you, scare the crap out of them in the role, have the compensation to help you filter. And then make sure the you interview people that you want to hang out with, that you want to do scotch nights with, but they want to work on all the parts of the business that you don’t love. They have to also want to make you iconic. The true power COO wants to make the CEO iconic. And this is where Brian and I were almost the two in a box where I could help make Brian shine as the CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? because he was. So, I would deliver all the bad news to franchisees, I would deliver the bad news to employees and let him deliver the goods.

Andrew: How can you check for that? I’ve seen people who will make me iconic, but that doesn’t come out right away. It comes out afterwards.

Cameron: Well…

Andrew: After they’ve gotten to know me a little bit.

Cameron: Yes. But it also comes out if you really, probably if you really do reference checks, if you really do what I call torque which is the threat of reference check. And you really, really, really dig in on the interview process. So, if you do your proper job on a group interview or first interview and the reference check process, you know everything about the person before they start. If you’re still…

Andrew: And that will come out, that they’ve tried to make the COO iconic or other people at their company iconic?

Cameron: Yeah. Just ask them, “When have you… Tell me, give me an example of something you’ve done in your past where you really help someone that you reported to shine. Tell me some time in your past that you, you know, were the bearer of bad news when it could have been your boss delivering it, or tell me time when you let your boss to live in the good news when you really wanted to.” So, you’re not asking situational things like, “What would you do in this situation?” That’s theory. I want to know when they’ve done stuff and then what I’ll do is I’ll say, “Look, I know you mentioned Andrew in our first interview that you and Andrew are friends. If I called Andrew and asked Andrew if you were going to really want to be in the spotlight, if you’re going to help him be in the spotlight, what would he tell me that you’ve screwed up in the past?” Like, I’m going to ask the hard questions.

Andrew: Okay. I could see that and then…

Cameron: You’ve done it, you’ve done it on interviews before with guests where you’ve probed and make guests a little squirm. Do that in the interview with candidates too.

Andrew: Okay.

Cameron: You should know everything about them before they start the job, everything.

Andrew: What do you mean, like what’s in everything that I might not get?

Cameron: I want to know a time that they lied in their career because everyone has or we’ve embellished or we have stretched. I want to know it. I want them to tell it. I want them to tell me they regret and how they were pained about, and why they did it, and why they thought it was okay at the time. I want to know something they failed at and it’s not that they’re too detail oriented, I want to know when they really screwed something up and cost the company money. I want to know where they stretched or embellished on their resume. I want them to show me the point. I’ll say, “Look, everybody does, show me one spot on here where you’re kind of exaggerating.”

Andrew: Why do we want to know all that? Like, how are we using it?

Cameron: Because I want to know their soul. I want to know who they are. I want to see… I want to just, I want to be able to then know I can trust them. And if…a real A player will be like, “All right. This, this part here.” And they’ll be like, “Okay. Cool. Let’s talk about it.” But a B will try to work around it and they’ll be like, “You know what, you’re full of shit.” And I can sense it and my spider senses are saying something’s wrong.

Andrew: All right. That kind of conversation I get excited about.

Cameron: Right. That’s an interview. That actually is a job interview, but most people fluff interviews because they’ve never had any training.

Andrew: Where is a good place to get training for doing the right interview?

Cameron: Find somebody local who’s a really strong HR person who can teach you how to do interview skills, how can you do probing questions, open and close questions. One of the chapters in my book, I think it’s either two or four, talks about interviewing, my book, “Double Double,” talks about how to do proper interviews, has good interview questions. But it’s a skill, interviewing is a skill.

Andrew: And we don’t get to practice it much because…

Cameron: Well, we do, but we never choose to. We choose to become good at podcasting not hiring people. We choose to be good at podcasting and not running meetings like…

Andrew: You know, what I end up doing is I end up waiting till there’s a crisis and I need to bring someone on. And at that point I bring in whoever I can just to relieve the pain and then deal with the issue with them either by accepting that they’re not a good fit or let them go because it’s not a good fit.

Cameron: And by the way, this isn’t just your problem. Like, the reason I wrote my book “Meetings Suck,” I was tired of people saying “meetings suck” when they’ve never had any training on how to show up or participate or go to a meeting. No one’s ever had training on how to run meetings. So of course they suck, you don’t know how to do them. So, it’s the same with a lot of our leadership skills is we don’t get training, not just at a 10 person company, but 500 person companies don’t give their management team training on how to do what we do. We all give training on what we do, but we don’t give enough training on why we do it, our core values, our core purpose, our BHAG and our vision. And we don’t do enough training on situational leadership, conflict management, leadership, interviewing, meetings, problem solving, conflict management, we don’t do enough training on the soft skills management. We train people on what we do as a company and that’s where we fall flat. I’ve got about three minutes. I always start…finish everything in five minutes early and I got a call at the top of the hour.

Andrew: Okay. Where do I put this out? I won’t do the Toptal ad live with you. Where do I put all this? Where do I get people to… How do… I get I’m going to have to search for a recruiter.

Cameron: Well, no, I’ve got…

Andrew: And I’m imagining I put this out to my audience and mailing list. What else?

Cameron: I vetted some great recruiters. If you want an interview, drop me an e-mail or if anybody is listening and wants some recruiters I’ve got four fantastic ones. One that only does sales roles, one that only does $400,000 plus roles. And then two, one that really focuses on culture and one that is on a contingency basis, and they’ll do recruiting for you and they’ll only get paid if they find the person. So…

Andrew: And they could do this, the kind of role that I’m describing here?

Cameron: Exactly. Yup.

Andrew: All right. I’ll follow up and ask you. What about… My audience is a good place to go. I’m imagining…

Cameron: Yeah. Your audience, your social feeds, your e-mail list, and just push… Once you have a really killer job posting that covers what we want it to cover, has the compensation, and has gone through a copywriter, share it with the world and go, “I really need this person that’s going to help a scale. Who can help us?”

Andrew: Okay. And from what you’re seeing, do you think that director of operations is the right word or is it more like content creator or something else?

Cameron: I think it’s director of operations because you actually want them taking stuff off your plate that is operational as well.

Andrew: I do and so, I need to start thinking about… Let me add that. What take off my plate…

Cameron: And I want you to switch your mindset a little bit. And it’s not, “How do I get all this stuff done,” but it’s who can we delegate it to our who can do this. You’re getting…

Andrew: That’s a part that I’m not good at. Even when there’s somebody around, I just think how do I get it done fast instead if who I’m going to tell can do it.

Cameron: Yeah. You’re getting stuck in how pies. You’ve got to stop getting stuck in how pies and start thinking about who.

Andrew: Okay. All right. Why don’t we end it here so that you can head out. I know you’ve got another call. If people want to follow up with you, what’s a good place for them to go?

Cameron: So, the is where everything on the COO Alliance is. All of my books are on Amazon and Audible. And then is all the information of everything else we do.

Andrew: All right. And I’ll probably get to see you at a conference or something because you do a lot of speaking engagements. The two sponsors that I have for this interview are the company that will do your books right, it’s called and a company that will help you hire your next great developers, it’s called Thanks so much for doing this.

Cameron: Yeah. You’re welcome, Andrew. Reach out any time, man.

Andrew: I will. Thanks.

Cameron: Send me the job description when it’s done. Okay?

Andrew: Okay. I appreciate that.

Cameron: Great. See you.

Andrew: Thanks.

Cameron: Bye.

Andrew: Bye.

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