When does a startup founder need a COO?

A topic we don’t talk about on Mixergy is how to actually manage a company. I remember when I was in NYU as an undergrad I loved all my business classes, but management just didn’t feel like me.

I always thought of the guys in Dilbert but entrepreneurs were the ones who were creating, the ones who were doing. Mixergy’s grown and I’ve been running it, but I have to be honest, I’m not doing a great job of running it.

So earlier in the year, the Mixergy team said, “Andrew, go get a COO.” They kept challenging me. One of things that they told me to do was to talk to Cameron Herold.

Cameron Herold was Chief Operating Officer at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? He is also the founder of the COO Alliance, the world’s only organization for those who are second in command.

Cameron Herold

Cameron Herold

COO Alliance

Cameron Herold was Chief Operating Officer at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? He is also the founder of the COO Alliance, the world’s only organization for those who are second in command.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey, everyone, my name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses, and I’m struggling with something. This interview is not like usual interviews that I do. Usually, you guys know, I interview entrepreneurs about the step by step, where they got their ideas, about the challenges that they had finding their first customers, and later on it’s about hiring.

What we don’t talk about is some of the specifics of actually managing a company. I remember even frankly, when I was in NYU as an undergrad studying business classes, I loved them all, but management just didn’t feel like me. I always thought of the management part of business as like the guys in Dilbert that you laughed at. And entrepreneurs were the ones who were creating, the ones who were doing, and then there were other doers in the organization, but running a company felt like something for bigger businesses that I wouldn’t ever need to be a part of. Mixergy’s grown and I’ve got to run it, but I have to be honest, I’m not doing a great job of running it.

In my last company, you guys might have heard, that we did over $30 million in sales. I talk a lot about that. What I don’t talk about is how I didn’t know how to lead. It was all coming straight to me unless it had something to do tech, and then it would go to my brother because he ran the tech part of the business. I don’t know. That’s where I’m stuck.

So earlier in the year, the Mixergy team said, “Andrew, go get a COO,” and I said, “Okay.” I kept going and finding other people to hire. People who would like do the stuff that I needed them to do, take my specific instructions, and go do the exact same thing that I’m asking them for. The team would keep seeing that and saying, “Go look for a COO. Go look for someone who could do more than just what you tell them.” They kept challenging me. One of things that they told me to do was they said, “Find a way to talk to Cameron Herold.” And I thought, “Okay, I guess maybe we’ll run into each other.”

The more I struggled with it, the more I thought, “You know what, I should open it up. I should talk about it publicly, and instead of finding a way to talk to Cameron in private, let’s see if I could have him come on to Mixergy and talk about it.” So that’s what we’re doing here. What I want to understand from him is frankly, what is a COO? How does an entrepreneur who just wants to do stuff also create an organization that can get stuff done?

The reason that I’m confident when I come to him is frankly because so many people have told me how much this guy gets it, and also, because he was a COO. He was a COO, chief operating officer at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? He is the founder of the COO Alliance. It’s the world’s only organization for those who are second in command. He’s also the author of “Double Double” and “Meetings Suck,” and I invited him here to talk about what he’s learned as he’s guided businesses through working with COOs, and what he’s learned by mentoring and coaching and teaching COOs.

This whole thing is sponsored by two sponsors that you might have heard me talk about in the past — HostGator for hosting your website, and Toptal for hiring developers, designers and finance people. Cameron, welcome.

Cameron: Hey, Andrew, thanks for having me. I think you may have stumbled onto a really new podcast format where the podcasters who are all running businesses actually turn to experts to learn how to grow their company. And we just [inaudible 00:03:34] and go for it, so I think it’s pretty cool you’re doing this.

Andrew: I always wanted to do that. I don’t know why I didn’t do it. I think that other podcasters, and maybe I shouldn’t do it because you’re supposed to be the expert as a podcaster. That’s why people buy . . . like why would they trust a guy who’s having trouble of trying to lead his organization when he tells them, “Go sign up for Toptal.” Only a person who’s got it all together has the credibility to tell you what’s . . . anyway, that’s the way people think. So why don’t we start with the basics. What is a chief operating officer? What does that person actually do?

Cameron: So the chief operating officer, and it’s interesting, Harvard wrote an article about the misunderstood role of the COO. It came out about 12 years ago. Amazing article, and it talked about the seven distinct roles of chief operating officers. So I’ll give you an example in my wording when it’s a little different from their article. But a COO could be very outward facing, talking to the market. It can be very inward facing, focused internally on the organization. Could be sales and marketing focused, engineering and process focused. It could be very operational, very finance focused.

Essentially, the second-in-command is almost the yin and yang for the entrepreneur. So whatever you love to do, whatever your core strengths are, whatever your unique ability is, you want to hire a second-in-command who really loves and is great at all the stuff you suck at, and they actually love working on it. So if you hate finance, they love it. If you hate engineering, they get off on it. If you don’t like sales and marketing, that’s what makes their boat float. So you’re really looking for that true partner. Then secondly, you’re looking for a huge amount of trust where you literally, almost on day one, can give them your bank account information, your credit cards, your access.

Andrew: Day one.

Cameron: Absolutely. I had someone recently, a client who I’ve coached for four years, they just raise $250 million from [inaudible 00:05:20], and said, “You know, it takes about 90 days to know if you’ve hired the right person.” And I said, “Bullshit. That means you’ve done the interview process wrong. If you do it right, you know on day one you’ve hired the right person because you did all the work beforehand.” So if you do the proper amount of recruiting and interviewing and selection and top rating and reference checks, you know day one that you can trust them because you’ve already done all that ground work, otherwise, why the heck are you hiring them?

Andrew: Can you give an example of one . . . I’m looking by the way at the article, and I can see the different kinds of COOs. It seems like one of them is the executer, like get stuff done. Am I right?

Cameron: Yep.

Andrew: I feel like that’s the kind that I relate to most. That’s what I’ve seen. Visionary entrepreneurs can come up with great ideas, but they don’t even know like how to get an Uber or . . . maybe an Uber they know how to get, but the basics of how to make stuff happen, they’re not strong on. So do you have an example of an executer COO who you’ve worked with or how that would work out in an organization?

Cameron: Yeah, they’re often the people that see things in reverse. So when the entrepreneur is really great at the vision, and can see where we’re going, and is great at talking big picture and where we’re headed, the second-in-command will see that, and they understand the delta between where we’re going and where we are. So they almost see all the steps in between that naturally. So they logically can ask the right questions and can put the systems and processes in place. One, to save the entrepreneur from themselves, but two to kind of organize a little bit of the chaos and also allow the entrepreneur to stay in their unique ability.

You don’t want a second-in-command who short circuits the entrepreneur. You really have to almost honor the fact that they are ADD and bipolar, and have Tourette’s, and think out loud. That’s their unique ability. That’s exactly who they’re supposed to be it. In fact, we use some profiles, at the COO Alliance, where we profile all the CEOs and the COOs that are members. And everyone’s Kolbe profile but is the entrepreneur high quick starts. All the COOs are rated high fact finders and follow throughs. They’re just totally different make-ups.

Andrew: So you’re saying, regardless of what their focus is, whether it’s finance or any other role you’re saying, they are the follow through people.

Cameron: Yeah, they’re the ones that will put the systems in place or will ask enough questions of you to get inside of your mind. See, the entrepreneurs often, they think that they’re thinking quickly but really, they’ve been rolling the idea around for nine months or six months or three months, and then delegate it to somebody in four minutes, and expect them to catch up.

The really good second-in-command will be able to read your mind and ask you the questions in a way that won’t drive you crazy, to be able to get it and put it in place [inaudible 00:07:56] almost understand the creative brief, to then put the plan and the people in place to execute, so that they can then catch up with you. Then also they allow you to stay in your creative genius, and they can grab all your ideas and not start them right away but they kind of organize them, and maybe once a quarter they vote on the ideas and which ones to green light.

Andrew: Sounds like heaven. I could see why Rachel, for example, wouldn’t give up until I fully understood this. Actually, does it start with a good interview, or does it start with a good job description, a good role layout?

Cameron: It’s even before the job description. I actually R&D everything. I call it rip up and duplicate. So the best interviewing processes are by guys Brad and Geoff Smart who wrote the book “Topgrading” and their second book “Who.” So really what you want to do is think, over the next 12 months, what are the five core projects or big initiatives the COO needs to get done for you? And really outline what those are. So now you know the five big things they need to get done, and then you describe the five behavioral traits that you want them to live with, that they kind of exhibit. So if you’re not detail oriented, you want someone who is. You’re just going to describe their make-up, and then from that you build the job description.

So it’s really starting with the outputs and behavior traits, you build job description. Then in the interview process, you’re looking to hire people that have done it before, not people that have the theory. So you know for the classic MBA who might know how to do something, you’re looking to hire and poach someone who’s actually done as many of those things on that score card as possible.

Andrew: So I read “Who” because so many people who I interviewed here said that’s the best book on hiring. What I found about their interview process is that they say, start, I think, with where the person is now. Then about their last job, then the job before that. I forget. You go, I think, in reverse chronological order or in chronological order to understand what they did up until now. But that only leads to people who are good at this role right now, who’ve done the role before. It sounds like you’re saying, eliminate the people who’ve never done it before. Am I right? I think I just lost you.

The question I was asking before I lost you was, the book “Who” says is to look at their past work, and see if their past work would lead them to do this today. So are we eliminating people who’ve never done this? Someone who’s maybe really organized, who’s a go-getter, who is eager to prove themselves. Are we then saying that person is not a good fit? And it sounds like maybe that is what you’re saying because this is such a top role, we want someone with experience, right?

Cameron: I actually hire those kinds of people for every role. Like I take business really seriously. For me, business is a full contact sport. So the example I always use is this. If we wanted a swimmer to join our team, like their job was to be a swimmer. Do you want someone who knows how to swim all four strokes, and knows how to win world records or someone who has broken world records in all four strokes? Do you want someone who has gone to the Olympics or someone who knows how to go to the Olympics?

Andrew: I see.

Cameron: And if I’m building a company, I want somebody who is the people I like to hang with, the right cultural fit but have done what I need them to do, and in more cases, they’re actually working somewhere, which means I need to go poach them. But the days of hiring people for attitude and training for skill, the days of hiring the kind of jack of all trades, master of none, that gets you 7% to 10% growth but it doesn’t get you the hyper growth.

Andrew: So you want someone who’s done this before? Who when I have a list of five things that I’m looking for in the next six months, I want someone who’s done those five things.

Cameron: Yeah. Well there’s an example. When I built 1-800-GOT-JUNK? I took them from 14 employees when I joined at the head office to 3100 when I left. But that was the third franchise company I had built. I had already built out College Pro Painters. I opened up the West Coast United States for the largest painting company on the planet. Then I was a partner in the largest collision repair chain Gerber Auto Collision and Boyd Auto Body, so I had already been around franchising for 11 years. So for me to come in and start building a franchise, it was like, “It was easy for the first five years.” Only when we got to 300 franchises was I going, “This is big.”

Andrew: I see, I see. I’m then wondering, how did you get into like . . . what’s the start? It looks like you are COO of 800-GOT-JUNK? But before that you were you at the VP level. So you were still in the franchise space but at a non-COO lower level. I see, is that right?

Cameron: Correct. In most cases, even the VP role, it was very much a COO, like a second-in-command role where I often . . . well, as an example I hired Kimbal Musk to be a franchisee for mine. I hired his cousin . . .

Andrew: Elon Musk’s cousin?

Cameron: No, Elon’s brother.

Andrew: Brother, okay.

Cameron: And I also hired his cousin Peter Rive who built Solar City. They both were franchisees for me in 1993. In fact, when Kimbal was at business school he said, they taught him that he was going to be a middle manager for a corporation. He said, “No, I want to be an entrepreneur.” So back in those days, in training people to run franchises, to run businesses, and opening Washington and Oregon, I was effectively handed a territory and said, “Go build it.” So there wasn’t really any reporting structure. It was me building something and an operating system.

Andrew: What will Kimbal Musk want with the franchise? Which franchise was this?

Cameron: College Pro Painters.

Andrew: Okay, so was he a college student who wanted to like paint people’s houses?

Cameron: Yep.

Andrew: I see. And so instead of doing it as a job, he had as a franchise.

Cameron: That’s right. I taught him how to . . . he went out in his first summer he got 10 employees, and he painted houses and did sales and marketing and operations and finance and production. Two years later, I was a reference. He and Elon in their very first round of funding for Zip2, they had one employee, and I had to explain why to back Kimbal Musk because no one wanted to back Elon because he was unbackable. He dropped out of aeronautical engineering and had no experience, but Kimbal had actually run a business.

Andrew: I see.

Cameron: Based on the experience, right? They backed him based on the fact that he’d done something. He’d hired people, he trained people, he’d done sales, he’d done marketing. That’s backable experience versus someone who knows how to do it and is really smart. It’s a bit of a risk although that was a good risk with Elon.

Andrew: You know what, I was talking with this guy [inaudible 00:14:16], past interviewee who owns a bunch of different software companies all around the WordPress community. And I thought, considering all the different software companies running, the content and everything else that he’s got going on that he would have a COO but it doesn’t seem like he did. What he had instead was an operations manager, and he was very proud that the operations manager was documenting everything, was making sure that people knew what they needed to do and that the how-to guides for doing that work were always updated.

I wonder if maybe it’s a different approach, and maybe it’s the right approach for me and for other people like me, where instead of a COO who makes the decisions, it’s an operations manager who codifies a COO’s instructions. What do you think of that? Is that a cop-out?

Cameron: No, it’s not a cop-out at all. In fact. I think you’re touching on something in a slightly different way. Twenty years ago, to have a COO title meant you had to be a major player at a major company. Nowadays, we’ve had title creep where like to have a CMO or a CRO or a CT. God, those were titles reserved for the Fortune 100 or the Fortune 500s. We’ve had a lot of title creep down into these entrepreneurial companies where you’ve got 40 employees, and you have a chief revenue officer and a chief marketing officer. Really what you have is a director of marketing and a director of sales and a director of operations.

Andrew: And what’s the difference then?

Cameron: How much money you have to pay them.

Andrew: That’s it?

Cameron: Yeah. So I have people that are in the COO Alliance, it’s for second-in-commands. Some of them have a general manager title, some have a president title, some have a COO title, some have a VP ops title. The key is that they are the defacto second-in-command. If the entrepreneur got sick and had to go to the hospital for six months, they’d really be the one running the company.

Andrew: Wouldn’t the operations manager run it? Because it feels like a COO is someone who would be able to make decisions, be able to say, “No, we’re not going to do this thing because it doesn’t fit with the vision that we’ve laid out as a company. We are going to go in that direction,” but the operations manager would just be . . . tell me if I’m wrong.

Cameron: It depends because, again, in some companies when I was building 1-800-GOT-JUNK? I had no directional control over vision. That was Brian, the founder’s job, but I was the one to figure out how. I didn’t like IT and finance, so he ran those two areas, but I ran sales and franchising and marketing and advertising and operations and the call center and PR because that was just in my skill set.

Andrew: Okay.

Cameron: But he decided where, and I decided how.

Andrew: I feel like that’s the big distinction. One person decides where to go, the other decides how to get there.

Cameron: A visionary and integrator.

Andrew: Right.

Cameron: So I think what we have to be careful with is applying a title to a role instead of saying, “I need to get these things done, what title should I give it and how much money do I want to pay for it?”

Andrew: So the difference I’m wondering is, let’s say we get someone to run Mixergy, the interview and everything else that goes along with running Mixergy. As opposed to like the bigger business which has a few other things that we do. One type of second-in-command would take my instructions, and go find these 20 guests. The other type of second-in-command would take my instructions and say, “Actually, your direction is what you want is to level up the guest and to go for people who are better recognized names so you could get more traffic and more reputation which then translates into more sales and more growth everywhere else.” So one would do exactly what I say, the other would go exactly where I want to go.

Cameron: Right, and that’s the difference between hiring a really good swimmer who can swim all strokes and a really good swimmer who wins in the Olympics. You know, a really good COO who can be strategic, a really good COO who can say, “No, Andrew. I disagree, not with you because you’re a bad person, but with your idea because I think your idea is wrong. And you’re not a bad person.” But you want to raise the bar with all the people we bring into our company.

So I think what you’re clueing in on, or keying in on is, everyone we hire has to raise the bar. If you can hire someone that can help you with strategy, that’s better than someone who can just implement. That’s true in marketing or in sales or in any other area of the business. The key though is to hire people that have done it before so that their ideas on strategy aren’t based on opinion, they’re based on experience and fact.

Andrew: I see. So in every role, and especially in this one, I want the strategy person. I’m not looking for the person who’s going to just take the action.

Cameron: Right. Then you’re going to propel your growth. So what I call it, is hiring ahead of the curve. Lean out three years and look at what you need three years from now. Look at what you need two years from now, and try to hire those people earlier than you might need them today but tell them to roll up their sleeves and get dirty because they’re going to be doing a little bit more than they need to do.

Andrew: All right. Let me talk about my first sponsor, and then I think it kind of relates to this. So the sponsors a company called Toptal. In the past, I’ve said that the reason people hire developers from Toptal is because Toptal’s developers aren’t just listening to what they should be doing, but understand the problem that they need to solve.

The example I gave that’s kind of away from tech is about how my kid’s nanny came home one day and said she couldn’t watch a video, and I said I can help, and she said, “Well, I think I can handle it.” I said, “No, I can help. I know it.” I asked her to bring her laptop in or at least tell me what was going on. When I saw the laptop, what I saw was she had tons of Chrome plugins from all these different sites that she went to to try to watch this one video, and each one of them installed the plugin on her browser which made it harder for her to view.

She had these other video players that she downloaded that were all slowing down her system because each one of them had some kind of spyware or something. She was desperately trying to watch videos online. I get what she was doing. She might have even been going to sites where you get the illegal stuff, and didn’t know that the ads are intentionally misleading and trying to get you to install plugins.

Anyway, so what I did was I just removed all the plugins, removed all the software that wasn’t necessary, and then I installed the right software for her to watch any videos that she downloads. The difference that I’m saying is, someone who would have understood her problem, and just said, “You need a new video player, go download VLC,” would have not solved the problem really, would have just given her what she was looking for, which is a video player. Someone who really loves technology, and wants to go above and beyond would understand the deep problem that she had, which is watching videos, and see all the other issues that she never would identify and say, “I need help with that.” She could never say, “I need help getting rid of a Chrome plugin.” I don’t even know that she knew what a Chrome plugin was.

And so the same thing we found when we work with developers from Toptal. Other freelance sites, they want you to tell them exactly what to do. It’s all about how you document and how you request, and then they do it. Whether they hit the milestones of getting it done by the dates you set or not is what determines whether they get paid or not. With Toptal, what they have is people who can think through the problem and come up with a solution that you never could have. That’s Toptal.

If you guys are looking for the best developers, go check them out at top . . . well, not toptal.com but toptal.com/mixergy, because when you go there, number one, I get credit. I’ll be honest with you. That’s how they know to keep sponsoring Mixergy. But number two, when you go to that URL you are you going to get 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours, and that’s an addition to a no risk trial period of up to two weeks. I’ve used them, I love them. Go check them out at toptal.com/mixergy.

So coming back to us in our discussion, Cameron, away from that ad. That is essentially what we’re talking about here too. That I keep wanting someone who’s going to do exactly what I say, when I should be thinking of, “How do I find someone who can help me implement the strategy that I need?” Am I right?

Cameron: Yeah, and if you show them what I call the vivid vision. What’s your company look like three years from now? If you can show them exactly what your company looks like, feels like and act acts like three years from today, they can say, “That’s awesome, move out of the way and let me build it for you.” So the key is to make sure that they’re as clear as you are as to what the company looks like, so they can reverse engineer that for you.

Andrew: You know what, that sounds almost too good to be true. Step out of the way, let me do that for you. And I could not only trust them with all my banking information but also let them go and do that. That’s possible. Have you seen that done? First of all, you’re nodding and smiling as I say that like, “Yeah, of course that’s possible.” I want to acknowledge that.

Cameron: Yeah, it’s not easy to do but it’s much easier to do than we think. If you really are clear on what you’re looking for, and if you spend the time on the front end to make sure that you’re hiring the person who has those traits . . . I had drinks last night with a friend who I hired 16 years ago, and we were laughing about the fact that I did 12 reference checks before I hired him, 7 business and 5 personal. And the final business reference check I did was to his boss, a guy named Mark Hamilton.

I phoned his boss while Christopher was standing right beside me at my desk. Christopher knew that if I called his boss, he’d lose his job, but he also knew if I called his boss, his boss would tell the truth and he would get the job at 1-800-GUT-JUNK? And he was like, “No one would have ever gone to that depth.” And I said, “I had to.” It was a big decision for me to hire him, and I wanted to do my groundwork.

Well, I actually had a VP and a director tell me not to hire him, and I’m like, “No, you know what, everything I’ve done has checked out. I know you two are wrong.” Turns out those two were gone within six months, and Christopher Bennett went on to become an icon at 1-800-GUT-JUNK?

Andrew: Why? What was it that you were looking for in those calls that allowed you to know this is the guy who I can work with?

Cameron: I knew he had the skills. That was actually kind of non-debatable on the skills, but on the culture side he was such a renaissance man, he was such a high gloss individual that he’d done so much at 23. I was worried he would piss people off. I was worried that he was going to be so strong when people wouldn’t like working with him, and culturally he would be a disconnect.

So when I called his boss I said, “I’m calling about Christopher Ian Bennet,” and said, “You’ve got my best guy.” And I said, I just have one question, do people like working with him? He said that, “Do they like it? They love him.” So then I knew. But you have to do the groundwork. I don’t want to wait 90 days to find out if I was right or wrong because the ripples that that can cause can be really damaging. Slow to hire, quick to fire.

Andrew: I’m looking him up. He was the PR person. Is that right, at 1-800-GUT-JUNK?

Cameron: [inaudible 00:24:40] Best Buy candidate, the head of PR for Guitar Center, head of Communications for Sprint Communications worldwide, and he now runs Vancouver Film School. He’s like a rock star. He’s amazing.

Andrew: I think of all the calls that you made for the person you ended up with, and in my mind, I then go to all the calls that you must have made to people who you didn’t end up going with.

Cameron: No, I don’t make the calls until the very final stage. So what I do in the process is I do a group interview first. One candidate against seven other candidates at the same time.

Andrew: In the same room?

Cameron: In the same room. It’s awesome. It’s kind of like “The Bachelor” where you get like 12 girls in front of you and you can pick the final two that you want to go on dates with. You do a group interview with eight good candidates that look good on paper and across the phone screen. Then in person or over video, you can interview them for 90 minutes, you know who culturally is vibrating.

From there, you bring them in and do the [inaudible 00:25:30] interview, the very in-depth one and two interviews to find out if they have the skills to do the job. And then in that time period, you find out people they know, and you ask them about those people and what those people would say about them. It’s called TORC, the threat of reference check.

Andrew: Yeah, the way that they phrased it was, “When I ask your boss about what you did there, what will she say?” I see. That’s essentially the point.

Cameron: Exactly. So if I if I call some person about you, what would they say about you? And then, if I call this person about you, what would they say. If I call this person about this core value, what would they say? But most companies won’t do that groundwork, and they’ll say, “Well, it’s hard to know. You don’t know for 90 days.” Well, then go ahead and take that risk, but if it’s my company or if I’m COO, I’ll do the risk on the front end and then I’ll know for sure. Then you’ve got like 98% predictability on your employees. It’s very rare that you’re wrong.

Andrew: What do you do to set them up for success so early on?

Cameron: So let me let me back that data point up as well. The reason I know that the data point works, at College Pro Painters, we had to recruit and hire 800 franchisees every summer. And then we only had four months to make sure that they were trained and successful, and then September 1st they quit and went back to school. So we didn’t have 90 days, when we only had 120-day business. We had no time to screw this thing up.
Andrew: I want to know what you did but once you started out with them, but let me put a pin in that for a minute, and go back a little bit. Where do you find so many potential COOs? How do you find all those people?

Cameron: PR is one and social media is the second. Leveraging your network. Recruiting firms, the really good search firms. And just knowing that eight players are never out looking for jobs.

Andrew: Yeah, that’s the other thing that “Who” talks about. That you’re not looking on job boards, you’re constantly asking people, constantly putting together this Rolodex or I guess, I think actually the book was written after the Rolodex, but you’re constantly putting together this list of potential hires for every position.

Cameron: If you don’t have your A players handcuffed, guys like me come and poach them, and I do it for fun. Like when I meet a great employee, if it’s at a restaurant or a bar or a business or wherever, I’m constantly . . . I’m like, “Wow, culturally you’re perfect.” Like who could you work for? If they’re working for you or for anybody else and you haven’t got them handcuffed to your company, they’ll be mine within six weeks.

Andrew: What do you mean by handcuffs?

Cameron: You’ve got to find one or two things about that person that matters so much to them that your company can deliver that.

Andrew: Like what?

Cameron: It could be visibility with the press. It could be that they get to work on their executive MBA, it could be flex time, it could be vacation time, it could be more time with their family, it could be more responsibility, it could be they want you to buy a company and let them run it or spin off the division and let them run it. You just have to know that person and go, “What is it about that person that floats their boat that I can lock them up for three to five years.”

Andrew: I see. Otherwise, you have a conversation, you want to hire them.

Cameron: If I know what really turns that person on, I can get them. Because you haven’t decided how to keep them so I can now use that . . . it’s like I just show them what I can do and they get all excited about that.

Andrew: So I get that. I guess I’m still wondering, where do you even find those people? Like if you said to me, “Andrew, you need to find someone to do your Facebook ad buys.” I’m constantly at conferences where there are people who do that. I constantly talk to friends who have good Facebook ad teams and references. I could find that person but if I’m not in the COO world. It’s just not my world. There’s not a COO conference I attend.

Cameron: So you have to describe in detail what a COO looks like to you. What are they going to do? What do they need to get done over the next year? Facebook ad buy is fairly descriptive, they’re going to be buying Facebook ads. So now I want to know is that I get the level of an [inaudible 00:29:25] or is it at a more junior level, like a [inaudible 00:29:27]. Where in between are they going to be fitting, and how much is my spend going to be, and what do I need them to monitor? Do they need to do the creative?

So you start describing it. I don’t think we spend enough time thinking about, not just the COO, but a head of sales or a head of marketing or a call center person. What do they need to do? What do they need to be like, and then how do I describe that role so that everybody goes, “Oh, I know the person that’s done those things.” I know a person that has done those things and acts like that. Here’s who they are. You kind of describe it in a way where it’s not a job description, it’s a person description. When you describe the person that fits the role that well, anyone who reads it, whether it’s executive search firm, social, friends, postings, they’ll be like, “I know exactly who that is because it sounds like that person.”

Andrew: I see. But it’s constant. You’re constantly looking, you’re constantly talking, you’re constantly asking. And then I would need to think about not the role I need today but the one I might need a year from now or six months.

Cameron: No, two to three years out. So you’re always looking at least two years out because you want to hire ahead of that curve.

Andrew: Two years out?

Cameron: Yeah. I’m actually rolling out the vivid vision for the COO Alliance city farms right now which is what we look like in 2020. So I’m describing the 100 locations 1000 members and operating in the top 30 markets, and what the actual agendas look like, and what the days flow like, and what the media saying. We don’t even have the first one open yet, but I already know what the whole business looks like three years from now, so I know what the team looks like. I know what the needs are like.

And then if I know that I need to a VP of ops for that in three years, and I spot them in six months, I’m going to hire them in six months and say, “Roll up your sleeves and get dirty because I know I’m hiring you to do a more junior job but this is what we look like in three years.” And they’re so excited about where we’re going that they’ll join. No one’s going to be excited about where we are but they will be excited about where we’re headed.

Andrew: If you’re not starting that role yet though, what are they doing until you’re ready for them?

Cameron: They might do sales, they might do operations. They’re so excited to build something that they’ll build into the roles as long as they can do aspects of it. When I joined 1-800-GOT-JUNK? I had seven hats. I did PR, I did sales, I did franchise operations, I coached franchisees, I built training programs. Even though I had a COO title, I was doing a lot of stuff. I was working in the business.

Andrew: Building towards that COO title?

Cameron: Right. In fact, I even had time on my calendar four hours a week just to do PR. Six hours a week to do franchise coaching, so I knew I was playing different roles. Then eventually I hired a coach, I hired a PR person, I hired a marketing person. You know, you scale it out.

Andrew: What did you do to train franchisees back then?

Cameron: First one was we built a manual. So we kind of codified exactly what the business looked like, and we really step by stepped every aspect of it. We got them to set big goals and big visions for their locations so we knew where they were going, and then we helped them back into those goals, help them set budgets and plans. When we looked at a lot of situational leadership. We looked at what they were working on and what there are their competency was and their commitment level was on each situation and coached them appropriately.

Andrew: I see. Almost like being their COO or training them to be the COOs of their business.

Cameron: Yeah, we were more like a coach. We were really a coach and a mentor to them. Most franchise companies don’t have that but it was something that I brought to the program from College Pro Painters, was the fact that if we could coach franchisees and train them to grow companies then they could be unstoppable.

Andrew: When you talk about I could see where my business is going to be two years from now, I can see what I need. I wonder how is that possible for a startup? I keep thinking about Jason Calacanis who I interviewed recently, who said, “On social media, I figured it out. This is the answer.” And it was like the Google killer. It was going to be Mahalo. Then it turned out he wasn’t killing Google.

That didn’t really work out so he comes out and says, “Actually, question and answer sites, that’s the future. Yahoo doesn’t do question and answer sites right but people keep going to it. There’s a hunger there, I’m going to do it right.” And then he gets like this is committed, this is where he’s going. Then it turns out that doesn’t work out. So then he becomes the education site and so on. I admire how he always believes fully in what he’s saying, but I also wonder he has to keep adjusting when he’s wrong. If you say to someone you’re hiring, “This is what we’re going to be in two years.” How can you even make that prediction? How could you get there?

Cameron: Because I don’t work in a startup space. I work in the space where companies have, kind of, 50 to 500 employees and want to go 500 to 5000. I work for companies that have a proof of concept and want to scale it versus . . . in fact, I told the founder of Uber, Garrett Camp, years ago when we were [inaudible 00:34:11] together that it was a stupid idea because I just didn’t understand Uber. So I don’t work well in the startup space but I work really well when they have a concept that’s working, and now they’re like, “How the heck do I grow this?”

Andrew: But you are a startup. This group of locations that you’re talking about, right? That’s a startup.

Cameron: I know it well enough because I know the market well enough so I already have a COO Alliance that people come to Scottsdale, and now I’m just deploying it in the city. So I’m ripping off the EOYPO [inaudible 00:34:42] forum model, applying it to the Genius Network model from Joe Polish and kind of merging it together. And I’ve built franchise companies and organizations and I know the marketplace. So I’ve already done enough that I have . . . I’ve got 42 full members of the national program, so I know it well enough to scale it now.

Andrew: I see. I know EO is the entrepreneurial organization where entrepreneurs will get together in a boardroom, they’ll talk through their issues, and then they’ll do events together. What is the Genius’ Network connection to this? I don’t know the Genius Network.

Cameron: Yeah, so Genius Network is Joe Polish’s model where they come eight times a year and they select three of the eight events to go to, and it’s very much masterminding. So it’s the masterminding concept with the EO forum concept without the events. So the city forums will be six times a year. It’ll be 10 to 14 second-in-commands meeting in a city.

They will meet all day from 9:00 till 5:00 at one of the member’s companies, and they’ll work on problem solving with each other, doing updates with each other, presenting to each other and being moderated by a chair but they won’t do the special events, there won’t be the outside speakers. Very much working on the business as a, kind of a, shared board of directors.

Andrew: I see, I see. This is a model that’s existed that you’re bringing here that’s not like a wacky twist on it.

Cameron: Correct. And it’s never been done for a second-in-command. So it’s been done thousands of times for entrepreneurs, and there’s lots of groups for entrepreneurs but there’s never been that group for the COOs. So that’s why I know it works is its already working.

Andrew: Yeah, I feel like we don’t talk so much about the COO. We talk about the CTO, we talk about the head of HR being like a C level role but the COO is still fuzzy, and people don’t spend much time on it.

Cameron: Yeah, we’re starting to get some traction around it. You think Sheryl Sandberg’s getting a lot of press. She’s the second-in-command at Facebook, right? So you think about who are the true seconds? So I’m actually starting to interview the COOs from all the entrepreneurs that we hear about.

You hear about all the ones being interviewed on NPR’s “How I Built This”. Well, Kendra Scott, I’ve known Kendra since she was a million in revenue, running Kendra Scott Jewelry. She’s got Lon who is her second-in-command. I want to know from Lon what’s it like [inaudible 00:36:46] Kendra’s company. I want to talk to Eric who’s the new COO at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? I want to talk to Harley who’s the COO at Shopify. Like, “Harley, tell me what it’s like to build Shopify.”

Andrew: Harley’s the COO now?

Cameron: He’s always been COO.

Andrew: I thought he was Biz Dev for a long time. I didn’t realize.

Cameron: Yeah.

Andrew: Okay, all right. Maybe that’s what you’re talking about where he was like growing into that role.

Cameron: Exactly. So he’s had a title but we always think of him . . . so that’s where some COOs are very inward facing and we don’t know who they are, others are very outward facing like Harley, and we don’t know the name of the CEO. No one knows the name of the CEO of Shopify.

Andrew: Developers know the name of the CEO at Shopify and they love him, and he’s probably done a favor for them. But you’re right, other than that, the entrepreneurs talk about Harley.

Cameron: So that’s what’s interesting, is that’s a very outward facing COO role, and then Kendra Scott is very inward facing. Sheryl Sandberg, very outward facing. So I want to interview those people to find out what’s it really like growing the entrepreneurs dream? What’s it like being the second-in-command or what’s it like making the entrepreneur iconic? What’s it like being the in the shadow when you know you could build a company but it’s not yours?

Andrew: Yeah, I wonder about that. Why would someone do that? If they could really run the company, why not run their own company?

Cameron: I think some of it is the make-up. They’re just wired differently. It’s interesting, my core makeup is entrepreneur. I was really a bit of a weird COO where I was actually running a company but inside of someone else’s business. But most COOs don’t have that entrepreneurial make up. They’re either risk averse or they believe that their idea needs to be different or they don’t have an idea. I don’t think I’ve ever really had ideas, I just know how to reverse engineer others.

Andrew: I feel like also they don’t have that craziness. When I talked to Jason Calacanis and I said, “Here’s the first idea, then the second, and the third, and with each one, you say it with such confidence like you are cock sure. You know it’s going there. Do you really believe this bullshit?” And he gave me this smile that told me in a in a second, “Yes, of course I believe it and I know I’m crazy for believing it every time.” It was like this micro movement in his face that told me that, and I feel like the COO person doesn’t have that.

Cameron: You know it’s funny. I did a TED talk eight years ago. It’s on the main ted.com website about raising kids as entrepreneurs. I was asked whether it was nurture or nature, and I said that it’s both. But entrepreneurs have to be born with the entrepreneurial traits and then they can be nurtured, but I don’t think you can take a person and make them an entrepreneur. You’re either entrepreneurial or you’re not. And some of that is the craziness. It is the ADD, the bipolar, the Tourette’s, the thinking out loud. We’re wired differently and the COO isn’t wired that way.

Andrew: All right. I’m going to talk about one more sponsor and then come back to the story. The second sponsors a company called HostGator. They host websites, they do it super cheaply. Is it kind of a cheapening the conversation that I interrupt what you’re saying. We’re talking high level and then I suddenly come back to this.

Cameron: I’ll have a sip of wine.

Andrew: Where are you in the world that you’re sipping wine?

Cameron: I’m at 3 in the afternoon in Vancouver, and I feel like it.

Andrew: Sweet.

Cameron: It’s because don’t have to [inaudible 00:39:59] and I’m going to meet with a friend for dinner and I don’t have kids today, so I’m like you know what, I’m going to have a glass of wine right now.

Andrew: I’d love to do these interviews over a glass of wine, or some people have suggested over Scotch because I do Scotch night. To just sit and quietly talk. But there’s something about holding that glass of wine, and being open that opens you up more. Not that we’re getting like . . . I haven’t asked you a personal question yet but it does open us.

All right, here’s the company. It’s called HostGator. HostGator is like an infrastructure company. Nobody gets excited about it but we should. Here’s why. If you get the right hosting company, it’ll kind of be invisible. You won’t know about it because it’s working but there is one thing that I want you to look for. Even if you don’t end up with HostGator, even if you end up going with one of their competitors, especially if you’re at the stage where you’re experimenting, I’d like you to think about a hosting package that gives you unlimited domains. Yeah, it my costs a little bit extra with others to sign up and maybe an extra couple of bucks for another domain. It’s not that much but there’s something about unlimited, and here’s the difference.

When you sign up for HostGator’s baby plan, you get unlimited domains. That means you have an idea in the shower. Like, “Hey you know what, I should be doing some speaking roles. how about I just put up a website for myself with my picture, my bio and anyone who asks me if they want me to speak can just go there and maybe I submit it to a couple of speaking sites.” Boom.

You have that idea in the shower, you go in to your unlimited plan, you press one button to get WordPress started again. You pick a theme, spend like an hour on it. Maybe even in the evening while you’re having a glass of wine and boom, you have it up and running. Anyone asks you about speaking, you send them to the speaking site. Other people are looking for speakers, they go from the speaker search sites to your site and they get to work with you. You have an idea for a new blog, a new podcast. When you have unlimited domains, you could just keep going off on these ideas and experimenting with them.

And again, other services might charge an extra buck or two or five or ten to do it. And what’s a buck or two or five or ten? It’s not that much but there’s something about unlimited. If you’ve ever gone to a buffet where it’s all you can eat, you know what I’m talking about, it’s not like food’s expensive for us but when they give you all you can eat, you end up eating more. When they give you unlimited domains, you end up creating many more sites, many more ideas come to life.

I want you go check out hostgator.com/mixergy. When you do go to that site, you’re going to get 50% off, you’re going to get tagged as a Mixergy customer and they’re going to take really good care of you. If they don’t, they have a 45-day money back guarantee, and of course you’ll always be tagged as a Mixergy customer so come back and let me know whether you have a good or bad experience with them. Hostgator.com/mixergy.

I feel like you have a bunch of different sites speaking of, the COO Alliance is now your thing but you’ve got a couple of books, you’ve got a speaking, I don’t know if I’d call it a speaking business but there’s a speaking part of your business. Am I right?

Cameron: Oh yeah, I’ve done 465 paid events events in 28 countries so I’d say that’s a business.

Andrew: Wow.

Cameron: I left 1-800-GOT-JUNK? ten and a half years ago, decided that what I loved doing was helping entrepreneurs make their dreams happen and the way that I would do that would be speaking to them, coaching them, writing some books. Then for me I just kind of figured out my sales funnel was, the more that I spoke, the more people would learn about me, the more that I could get them buying my content and hiring me as a coach. Then I started realizing as I was coaching all these really successful companies, I ended up always coaching their second-in-command and that just spun off into the COO Alliance.

Andrew: I feel like this is your thing. You’ve found your legacy, right?

Cameron: Yeah, for sure. It’s getting really great results. We’ve got a positive 82% net promoter score. Like some really, really successful companies are putting their COOs into the COO Alliance, so it’s starting to scale nicely.

Andrew: And it’s speaking that gets people into the Alliance?

Cameron: One of the areas sure. Like I do a lot of speaking events to IPO and to EO, I was the highest rated speaker in history for Vistage for their big All-City events. I do paid events to groups of entrepreneurs. Rich Karlgaard, the publisher of Forbes, said I’m the number one business speaker he’s seen in 19 years.

Andrew: I see that on your home site.

Cameron: Yeah, so I guess happen to be good, and I deliver that content and it helps. What I’m trying to move away from is the one-to-one coaching just because it doesn’t scale. You know, I’m good but I’m now $80,000 a year just to coach somebody, and that’s three hours a month. You get to a point where I can’t take that many more clients and I can’t really charge that much more, and it doesn’t scale. And the COO Alliance just scales plus it’s really needed. I was the second-in-command and we get the COOs and they go to these entrepreneur events and they feel like the odd man out. They don’t feel like the cool kid. They want their tribe. By the way, no entrepreneurs are allowed to join the COO Alliance. It’s only for the second-in-commands.

Andrew: I think that’s a good rule actually. So how do you set the person up? As an entrepreneur, how do you set the COO up for success when they’re starting out?

Cameron: Great question. The first part is really, truly making sure that you have interviewed for the trust side of the business so that day one you can implicitly give them the passwords, entrust everything because that just locks you together. The second part is making sure you have date nights. So you have a weekly meeting with the second man, one-on-one for an hour where you can get in sync. The next part is making sure that you realize that they’re going to be okay. You’ve hired someone that can do this, what you want to do is watch for the ripple effects.

So think of them like a big boulder that you’re going to drop into a pond, they’re going to create ripples. They’ll create good ripples, they’ll create bad ripples. But your job in the first 90 days is to watch the ripples. As they’re getting up to speed, you have to watch for all the ripple effects that they cause. Most people miss that. They’re so worried about getting the COO up to speed, they miss all the things that are happening to the current team and customers and suppliers. And then it’s just alignment. It’s really making sure that you give them the opportunity to run the areas that you don’t love to do, that they’re excited about.

Andrew: The ripples can sometimes be off. I would freak out at that point because the person has so much responsibility.

Cameron: Yeah, you’re not going to give them the pure responsibility in the first 90 days. They’re going to start integrating and getting to know the business. they’re not going to make decisions without checking in with you on a lot of stuff. But the ripples will be jealousy, or it will be a comment that’s made in a team meeting that pisses someone off or an email that’s sent out that gets taken the wrong way or opinions that are shared that are different from . . .

Andrew: This is the COO rubbing the other person the wrong way.

Cameron: Yeah. Or the COO making friends that now they’ve got a clique starting, and someone’s feeling left out. It’s just the natural stuff that happens, but we often don’t spend time watching for that. You know, we’re so worried about making sure they’re okay, because it’s such a key role and caring about them. They’re going to be fine.

Andrew: I see. When you say watch for the ripple effects, I thought you meant look at how everything and immediately changes for the better. That’s not what you meant. You meant, look for those problems your job is to go smooth those ripples.

Cameron: Right. Let’s say that someone gets divorced and they get remarried. Now, the new spouse is going to create ripples that the kids are going to feel. Often, you’re so concerned about integrating with the new spouse, you miss the ripple effects with the children.

Andrew: Yeah, I see.

Cameron: [inaudible 00:47:12] and the spouse will be fine but look for the kid. And then what about your friends and what about your family that are all swirling around you trying to make sense of it all. You don’t spend time thinking about them, you miss it.

Andrew: Let’s talk about different types of titles for this because I do feel at smaller companies, having a COO, a company with 20 people, COO feels a little heavy. You know, it’s like saying, “He’s a COO and he’s the chairman.” It almost reminds me of when people started companies and their second move after starting a company was getting a business card with their title CEO. What other titles are there?

Cameron: General Manager, Director of Operations, Vice President of Operations, COO, President. You know, if you’re CEO, you can have president. Those are probably the five.

Andrew: Is Sheryl Sandberg the president of . . . I know she’s COO but I thought she was also President.

Cameron: She’s president and COO.

Andrew: Of Facebook, yeah. Where else can we find out more about what it means to be a COO, how to work with them. I don’t see that.

Cameron: Yeah, there’s not a lot out there. In fact, I’m working on a book right now. I’m an advisor to Tucker Max’s company Book in a Box. I’m working on another book with them. Yeah, there’s not a lot of information on the COO role right now.

Andrew: Did you write “Double Double” through them?

Cameron: No, I wrote “Double Double” six years ago through Greenleaf Books. I wrote “Meetings Suck” with Book in a Box. Then I have another book on vivid vision coming out in January with them as well. And then I coauthored “The Miracle Morning for Entrepreneurs” with Hal Elrod. That was a whole separate publisher.

Andrew: I had no idea that you were on there until just now when I clicked on your name on Amazon. The book’s doing really well. That wasn’t a Book in a Box book, was it?

Cameron: No, that was using Hal’s publisher. It was a really great success. A lot of fun to do as well.

Andrew: I don’t know why I wouldn’t have thought it was like, “Here’s how to start your morning right,” which I get. But I wouldn’t have thought there’d be such demand for it. I keep seeing it on lists.

Cameron: Oh yeah, The Miracle Morning, the core book is doing crazy well, like ridiculously well.

Andrew: Yeah, I know.

Cameron: When I see the royalties off it, it’s unbelievable.

Andrew: Why? Why is it doing so well? What is it about The Miracle Morning . . . come on, he’s taught The Miracle Morning here. It’s about what to do to start your day right.

Cameron: I’ll tell you, the book is good. The book is really good but he’s created a tribe and he’s created a group and interaction where people go to the Facebook page and share with each other, and he’s really created a movement.

Andrew: Of people who are starting their days right.

Cameron: Yeah, and they’re sharing it, and excited about it and then that’s getting other people to be excited and sharing about it as well. He’s done a really good job with that.

Andrew: I feel like what he tapped into there is there’s a group of people who don’t have to show up at 9:00 and leave at 5:00, and it’s really fun but it’s also hard to like get yourself going when you don’t have that hard start.

Cameron: Yeah, well you know what, I’ll tell you if you were a nine to fiver and started your day with the morning savers, you’d be way ahead of the rest of the world as well. You know, starting up with silence and affirmations and visualization and exercise and reflections is like [inaudible 00:50:12]. It works man. I’ve taken mine to the next level. I do cold showers and I smudge myself in the morning with a stick and I drink lemon water. I use the five minute journal. I’m in a point where it’s making a huge difference in my life.

Andrew: I was watching you . . . I saw the wand but I also saw the beads. On one hand you have the Apple watch, on the other hand you have the beads, the meditation beads. What’s the meditation beads?

Cameron: So they are just to remind me to be present and to slow down and to kind of finish my conversations. To not exit the conversations right away. I noticed yours on your microphone.

Andrew: Yeah, my mic.

Cameron: Yeah, and I’m sitting holding rose quartz which is to soften me and bring out my feminine side. I’ve got a Palo Santo on the ground that I use in the morning to smudge with. Dude, if you’d told me a year ago I’d be doing any of this, I would have said, “You are crazy. There’s no fucking way.” I was a small town kid from northern Canada, but damn, this stuff works.

Andrew: You were running a garbage business essentially, garbage collection business, right? If that doesn’t sound to me like someone who’s going to smudge himself in the morning, that sounds like someone who’s going to end up owning a football team like Wayne Huizenga did. I feel like maybe did you have an issue? Was there a break up? That’s what leads to people who find this stuff usually.

Cameron: Well, no. It was actually garbage, house painting, and auto body like three very [inaudible 00:51:34].

Andrew: Yeah, I didn’t think of that.

Cameron: So I had a dinner nine years ago with a guy named Eben Pagan. We were talking about investing and investing relationships versus investing in the stock market. so I started getting into some Masterminds and I got involved in Mastermind talks and in Maverick and in Genius Network and Strategic Coach, and starting to meet with these highly successful people, and finally just realizing that maybe they weren’t that crazy after all. Like maybe this stuff that I pooh poohed, maybe I just didn’t understand it.

I ran my first marathon a year ago. I mean yeah, life is stressful. So you go through raising kids and living in two countries and there’s stress, but Nelo’s just a . . . yeah, it was just a combination of everything. And I just started getting it. Like I started yoga six months ago and now I’m like excited to go out and do stuff. I think when I realized that I can just slow down and breathe and connect, it makes a bigger impact.

Andrew: You know what, I thought that was maybe a San Francisco thing. What I’m noticing is that because I’m in San Francisco, I get to see more entrepreneurs in a more personal way and so I pick up on some of these things that they wouldn’t talk about publicly. They’re not writing a lot of blog posts about it. Drugs are another heavy part of it but that’s not something . . .

Cameron: Yeah, I microdosed yesterday.

Andrew: What is microdosing? I’m hearing people talk to me about in private. Apparently, it’s like a little bit of LSD. What does it mean?

Cameron: Yeah, it means you take one tenth of a tab of LSD or one tenth of a hit of mushrooms, relaxes you and connects you and opens everything up, and it’s a really beautiful, relaxing thing. Like it’s very imperceptible. It’s almost like you walk through 12 hours a day and it’s just like sunset the whole time.

Andrew: That’s another thing I’m hearing people talk about privately. All right, I’m glad that you mentioned it.

Cameron: Well, it’s interesting like I’m starting to hear more people talk about it privately, but also I think people are so exhausted with talking about it privately, they’re all just saying, “Fuck it. I’m just going to be open with it.”

Andrew: I’m not going to hide it. Yeah, I guess I saw that with weed. At some point, some people started to talk about how they were smoking and then they realized, you know what, the world’s not coming to an end and there are other people who do it.

Cameron: Like I go into Baby Bath Water and like we’re passing joints around at 3 in the afternoon. I’m like, “Maybe it’s actually normal. Maybe everyone’s actually doing it,” and if we just admit it that we were all scared and we’re all going to die.

Andrew: You go to Baby Bath Water. You know what they’re going to sponsor? I have no idea what Baby Bath Water is.

Cameron: Right, a really strong mastermind, no ego whatsoever, really cool people. Michael Lovitch and Hollis Carter are doing . . . in fact I’m doing a call with Hollis later this afternoon, I think, or tomorrow. No, I’m going to call him in half an hour. They’re just a really good network, really strong people, very open, vulnerable. They start their morning meetings with a Bloody Mary. And everyone just hangs out and tells it like it is, and really strong companies sharing with each other.

Andrew: Just a bunch of entrepreneurs getting together in a room.

Cameron: Yeah, and we meet in Eden, Utah at Powder Mountain and it’s beautiful. It’s just a beautiful, amazing. You should come. It’s a great . . .

Andrew: I’m going. I’m going on the next one.

Cameron: In March?

Andrew: Yeah, yeah. Actually, I’m going, people ask me, why are you going? I said, “I don’t know. I just keep hearing people glow afterwards.” I want to see what this is.

Cameron: Yeah, it’s really good. I was surprised. I went for my first time because I was really skeptical. I’m like, “Why everyone’s walking around in a bath robe and people in hot tubs. I don’t know.” Damn. Really, really nice to just chill out and no ego. People there were talking about their friends, their family, raising kids, reconnecting with their spouse. And everyone’s running real businesses. There’s no pretension. I’m just tired of the conferences and the hotels.

Andrew: Me too. I feel like more and more what I want is either a room where we sit down and do work, whatever the work is, let’s get really actionable, let’s get specific, let’s plan. Whatever it is I want to do it or let’s do no work. Put our phones aside and just go and talk and bond because the rest of the stuff, the presentations I could get online really well.

All right, coming back to the COO, if I wanted to start looking right now, you’re telling me, have this list of things that I need to get to get done and start talking to my friends. Start asking around who would be the right person to get to do all this.

Cameron: Yeah, think of it like if you were looking for your perfect spouse. You describe what she looks like, what she feels like, what she acts like, what she’s into, what she’s good at. You describe her in such detail to your friends, and they’ll be like, “Oh, I know exactly who you need to meet.” You don’t say I need a girlfriend because if you go I need a girlfriend they go, “Well yes, it’s everybody.” But when you describe her in detail, then they get it. The same with the COO, you describe what they’re good at, you describe what their skills are, you describe the way they act and people are like, “I know who you need.”

Andrew: What about when you don’t know what you need? When you don’t realize that this is possible. When you think within like this narrow vision of what you understand of the COO role and it turns out there’s a whole other thing that’s bigger, broader or maybe completely different.

Cameron: Right, so read chapter one of my book “Double Double” and I’m not trying to sell my book. Or read “The Vivid Vision” or I cover it in “The Miracle Morning for Entrepreneurs.” That will blow up your business in a huge way. It gets you the lean out into the future and describe your business three years from now, and then you can reverse engineer that. If you don’t know where you’re going, anywhere will take you there. So this starts giving you clarity on what you’re building.

Andrew: But it’s clarity on what I’m building and what I could get in help getting there.

Cameron: Once you know what you’re building then you know what you need.

Andrew: I don’t know how I didn’t read your book before. I mean, I didn’t read “Double Double.” Other entrepreneurs on Mixergy have recommended it. You have zero one-star rating, zero two-star ratings. You have like two or three people gave you four or three stars. Ninety two percent five star ratings out of 195 posts on Amazon.

Cameron: Yeah, it’s good. I had to do marketing, but my book is really, really . . . like I build real companies. I’ve mentored a monarchy in the Middle East. I coached the second-in-command at Sprint. I’m not a normal coach, I actually grow companies.

Andrew: All right, I feel like this is the beginning of something. I’m looking forward to the podcast I could learn a lot from that, and I want to just keep working on this. Not just this COO issue but also the hiring process. I appreciate you coming here.

Cameron: Again, I think we can create a reverse podcast where you talk about some of the things you’re struggling with instead of you paying for a coach, I just do some interviews with you. Have some fun with it.

Andrew: You mean you would be open to doing one where it’s the two of us doing that, just talking through.

Cameron: Totally. Yeah, why not.

Andrew: I’d be up for it. We should make a list . . .

Cameron: It’s not an interview, right? It’s just actually let’s talk about the real stuff and it’s what I do normally.

Andrew: I feel so selfish doing that, saying, “Cameron, here are the issues I’m wrestling with.” Or you know what, I’m just telling you where my head goes. Number one, it feel so selfish. Number two, what if it doesn’t work out? What if we just talk and I don’t end up getting results fast enough to show people in the podcast that it makes sense. Then third, what if my issues are too small?

Cameron: Well, they’ll figure out what works and I’ll tell you if it’s the wrong area. Like if you ask me to coach you on your balance sheet I’m going to be like, “No, it doesn’t work.” But if you talk about how do you leverage PR or how do we grow the brand or how do we do a vivid vision? There’s lot of . . .

Andrew: Hiring and structuring in the company is the big challenge. Hiring and structuring.

Cameron: When we built College Pro Painters, we had to hire 8000 people every year. Eight hundred franchisees, 8000 painters. I’m one of the best in the world at recruiting, interviewing, selecting and hiring and training. One of the best in the world.

Andrew: All right, I’m up for it. We’ll put together a schedule and we’ll look . . . now see look, I’m even reaching for my back as I talk about this issue.

Cameron: By the way, do you ever get a metallic taste in the back your neck, like it tastes like you’re chewing on tinfoil or aluminum foil?

Andrew: No, why what would that be?

Cameron: It’s a chemical secretion caused by stress. I talked to Tim Ferriss about it years ago and he wrote about it on his blog, about the rollercoaster of entrepreneurship, but it’s actually a chemical secretion caused by stress.

Andrew: You know what I get, I get the sense that there’s like a cable in my back. I don’t have it much, but I do have it right now. That’s why I’m wearing this patch.

Cameron: But you don’t get the taste?

Andrew: Not the taste.

Cameron: Good, okay so you’re [inaudible 00:59:30].

Andrew: All right, then I’m not that far off. All right, I’ll follow up with you and you’re going to talk to Hollis today. I’m going to talk to Hollis I think tomorrow. Yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s tomorrow and maybe I’ll see you at Baby Bath Water.

Cameron: Sounds good, and bring your skis.

Andrew: Cool. And the website for anyone who wants to go check you out. It’s just cameronherold.com. For anyone who wants to check out my two sponsors, go check them out at hostgator.com/mixergy or toptal.com/mixergy. Thanks.

Cameron: Sounds Great. Thanks, Andrew.

Andrew: Bye.


  • Hollis Carter

    Love this stoked to see you both on the Mountain in March, great interview!

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