January 12

Cameron Herold The CEO Whisperer


Cameron Herold is known around the world as The CEO Whisperer. Companies are purchasing his books in bulk for employees to learn from, and his COO Alliance is helping hundreds of CEOs grow their businesses by growing their 2nds in Command.

We’ve invited Cameron as our speaker today so he can share with us his 25 years of mind shifting experience as a Business Growth Guru, having helped build TWO $100 Million Dollar companies by the time he was 42. We he did was so impressive; it became a case study at the Harvard Business School. He is now a coach to a monarchy & a “Big 4” wireless carrier as well as dozens of CEOs & COOs. His successes (and yes, the occasional failures) have given him insights into tried-and-true systems that work. His work has helped his companies be featured in the Associated Press, Bloomberg, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fortune, as well as TV shows like Oprah.

The Publisher of Forbes Magazine said “Cameron Herold is THE BEST SPEAKER I’ve ever heard.” Let’s give him a huge welcome to the stage…

[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]

Umar Hameed 0:06
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone. This is Umar Hameed, your host and welcome to the No Limits Selling Podcast, where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how to make you better, stronger, faster. Get ready for another episode.

Umar Hameed 0:35
Hello everyone. Today I have the privilege of having a fellow Canadian Cameron Herold here with me today. He's the founder of COO Alliance and an author and all around good guy, Cameron, welcome to the program.

Cameron Herold 0:46
Hey Umar, thanks for having me.

Umar Hameed 0:48
That is excellent. So excited to be talking to you today. Because your latest book free PR is, I think, an essential guide to people because you know, if you get an authority magazine, a newspaper or radio show to talk about what you do, it has more value than you advertising, even if you spend 100 times more.

Cameron Herold 1:07
Way more. It's funny because I actually had the manuscript for free PR was completely written. And I sent it off to a CEO that I used to coach who was also from Canada from Ottawa. And he was the founder of Canvas pop, and I send it off to Adrian, Adrian Solomon image. And Adrian read through it. He goes, dude, he goes, you've covered everything. But he goes, there's a whole area of of digital PR that you never covered. That is really since you left your God chunk days. And I'm like, Yeah, you're right. He goes, I could add to it. So he and I decided to co author together. And he really took the book to the next level, because I had all of the ways that you know, at one 800 got junk. We landed 5200 individual unique stories about the company. But a lot of that was print, you know, the print magazines, print newspapers, Oprah, TV, radio, etc. He was able to really help me understand the whole digital landscape and PR really helped take the book to the next level.

Umar Hameed 2:00
Brilliant. I can't wait to dig deeper into it. So you brought up got junk. And so tell me about how you got connected with the company and how you went from where it was when you join to being a household name.

Cameron Herold 2:13
Sure. Yeah, it did. It took a long time to get to the night before we became the overnight success story for sure. So Brian, who is the founder of 100 Got Junk. He and I were in an organization called the entrepreneurs, organization, EO. And I've...

Umar Hameed 2:27

Cameron Herold 2:28
...already opted in joining masterminds, and join, you know, getting involved in coaching to grow myself, while I was in a forum group with Brian and eo for four years. And he watched me grow two companies, he watched me grow an auto body chain, which in Canada is called Boyd auto body, and now in the US is called Gerber auto collision, we took that to a very big level took that company public. And then he watched me do it again with a private currency company that we built up and sold the private currency company similar to what Bitcoin is doing today. But we did it 20 years ago. And we sold that to another US public company. And then he asked me if I'd come on and coach him on growing his rubbish boys business and help help build it up. So they changed the name over to one 800 Got Junk. When I walked into the office, I was the 14th employee at the head office...

Umar Hameed 3:14

Cameron Herold 3:15
...having just left a company with 900 people, I was walking into a 414 person one. And when I left, left, six and a half years later, we had 3100 employees system wide, we've gone from 12 locations to 330, and from 2 million in revenue to 100, and 6 million in revenue, we ranked as the number two company in all of Canada to work for. So just had some you know, a really good success. Great company, we obsessed about culture, obsessed about landing free our free PR to talk about our company, and then just really pushed it kind of a minimum viable. Everything, just just get it out the door momentum would create momentum.

Umar Hameed 3:53
So tell me Cameron, we're going to break this interview up into two parts, first one culture because I think that's the human element in any company. And that is, you know, where the greatest challenge for a lot of leaders lies. And then we'll go into the, the free PR. So when you came into the company with employee number 14, what was the culture like at that point? And when did you guys sit down and actually define the culture you wanted?

Cameron Herold 4:19
The culture when I walked in, was very young, like, you know, everyone was 2021 and 22 years old. It was a lot of people that had a lot of determination and excitement, but no skill. There wasn't any skill. And I say this with respect, but no one there had done anything before. You know, the best job that anybody had had before would have been working at Subway, you know, or working at a coffee shop. So...

Umar Hameed 4:46

Cameron Herold 4:47
...no one there had led teams had built companies, no one had been in franchising. So I recognized that we had to harness the raw energy of those people. And no one was making any money. They weren't paying the employees very well. The owner wasn't making any money, the franchisees weren't making any money. And they weren't charging enough. So I raised the prices by 40%. In one day, across the board, all 12 cities raised the prices 40%. And I said, we're gonna go out swinging, like we're gonna, we're gonna try, but we're going to be the FedEx of junk removal or the Starbucks of junk removal, we have to charge accordingly so that we can then hire better people and pay better people and have better branding and marketing, etc. So that was the first part.

Umar Hameed 5:26
Okay, pause right there for a minute, a minute, if you could. So you've got this great idea that obviously word but when you came up with it, they probably had to be some selling internally, because the initial thought would have been Cameron, Are you nuts? This is junk. What are you talking about? So what was that conversation like? And how did you get them to go? We should do this?

Cameron Herold 5:44
Well, I had to recognize that the idea of junk removal wasn't anything unique. There were 17,000 independent junk removal companies. When we started one 800 Got Junk. So it wasn't like we had something new. We were just another coffee shop. And then I kind of walked them through the analogy of a Starbucks, I said, Look, you could go make coffee at home 50 cents, you can go to the gas station and get a coffee for a buck, you can go to you know the corner store and get a coffee for a buck 50 you can go to Starbucks and pay 350. Or you can go to some new, you know, the hipster coffee places hadn't even started. But you know, now we're up to what, seven bucks for a coffee?

Umar Hameed 6:19
If your lucky, Yeah?

Cameron Herold 6:21
Right. And still just a darn coffee, right. But now we have the privilege of paying for the oat milk and the syrup. So what I got them to wrap their head around was we can charge whatever we want to charge, we just have to provide a service that matches that. And I said, What's the point of building a company if no one's going to make money, we won't grow you No one's going to be happy, we'll have crappy employees crappy customers. So we need to charge more. So we positioned ourselves as the FedEx of junk removal and as the Starbucks of junk removal. And people started to get excited about it. And we rolled out what we called at the time a painted picture, which I call a vivid vision, which at the time was only a two page document, but it described the company three years in the future. And we tried to describe what the culture would look like and feel like and how we would be operating in 30 markets. We tried to give them a vision that they could see what the entrepreneur could see. And that's what began the excitement.

Umar Hameed 7:16
So tell me about the culture that you envision three years from now and how you went about actually building that culture?

Cameron Herold 7:23
Yeah, so what what most entrepreneurs do is they try to forecast where they're going to be based on the past, right? They look at what they've done, and they try to forecast where they're gonna be. What I do instead is I lean out into the future, and I decide where we're going to go. And when I know what we're what we're going to do, where we're going to go what it's going to look like in the future, then I can look at our current state of where we are. And you can kind of reverse engineer that delta, you reverse engineer where you're going to go from where you are, and then you just build it like you're building a home. So we looked at the best ways to build the business, we're first and foremost to make sure that we establish that premium price. And soon enough, all of our competitors started charging more. So then everybody calmed down. And then it was like how do we how do we hire really great culture, people who are really good at what they do, so that we can start building up that cult. So we taught everyone how to do interviews and recruiting. And then it was get the media to talk about what a great company we are and how fast we're growing, how good our culture is, which will attract more people to us. And we didn't have any money for marketing, there was no social media back then there was no Facebook or twitter or anywhere, you had to grind it out. And so we just kept everyone hyper-focused and executed.

Umar Hameed 8:33
So knowing what your culture what you'd like it to be, and actually getting people to embrace it in their hearts. Because you know, here in Baltimore, I can go to pick random 100 companies walk in there and take a look at what they have written on the wall. Our culture is ABCDE, then you talk to the employees, and they're like, that's not frickin here.

Cameron Herold 8:53

Umar Hameed 8:53
So how did you actually get that in the hearts and minds of people so your customers felt it as well?

Cameron Herold 8:59
I think it goes back to the whole, getting the employees to wrap their head around what is now a four or five page document describing the company and every sentence of that document as a future state that they can figure out how to make that sentence come true. So it was looking at the foundational building blocks. If I think of every business like a jigsaw puzzle, the four corners of the jigsaw puzzle are the vivid vision, the core values, the core purpose, and the B hag, but it's making sure that those four things are deeply ingrained in the organization. You know, a lot of companies have core values, but they don't live them. Well. What we did was we fired people who didn't live them. We hired people based on the fact that they already lived them. We made a big deal out of praising people who were living the core values thanking people for like giving them awards based on the core values...

Umar Hameed 9:51

Cameron Herold 9:51
...like we really deeply ingrained those and then we made it so obviously clear in the job postings that you better not apply unless you already Live this stuff because you're going to get ostracized and kicked out on your butt within three days if you don't like we just we polarized and and because we polarized It was like a magnet pulling the right people towards us and pushing the wrong people away. Like we had nobody, no one working for us who was a smoker or sitting at home watching reality TV, because our office was filled with athletes. So if you weren't an athlete, you hated the place camera.

Umar Hameed 10:25
Can you give me an example if one comes up one of your employees in the early days that lived up to your culture where that was one of the stories you told this is an example of us doing this?

Cameron Herold 10:36
Well, there's one guy who in the job interview was just larger than life, just a huge energy and he had, you know, sport for spoke four languages fluently played professional soccer had been a pro surfer, and written speeches for two Canadian Prime Ministers had managed a bar played cello and a symphony orchestra, like just a total renaissance...

Umar Hameed 10:59
In his spare time he cure cancer. Now that's pretty awesome!

Cameron Herold 11:02
...he ended up being Yeah, he ended up being the head of the Green Party in Western Canada, like just to use a real right now. But at 23 years old, I thought, you know, people must hate you because you're too good. So I did seven personal reference checks on him and five business reference checks on them one where he was standing over my shoulder, and I called his current boss at the time, because I just needed to do a gut check. But I had two of my current employees, a VP and a director saying not to hire this guy, because he was, you know, to wild or to tuber Gary. I'm like, No, you're just threatened by him. And because the reference checks came out so strong, and culturally, he was so strong. We hired him, I actually gave him his nickname. In the interview, I gave him the nickname high gloss, because he was like higher gloss than a shiny paint. A nice, high gloss became iconic at one 800 Got Junk, his name 20 years later, still rings in the halls, there is probably the reason we ranked as the number two company in Canada to work for, cuz he got some big press coverage about ourselves. And he was an iconic figure who ended up in the wrong seat, ended up in a seat that really wasn't a good fit for him. But we ended up realizing the best seat for him was putting him into PR and he just took off.

Umar Hameed 12:16
brilliant. And you know, you can take the college painter out of the company, so to speak. I like the high gloss title.

Cameron Herold 12:23
Using this iconic figure that to this day, he's done extraordinarily well, he went on to become the head of PR for Best Buy, and the head of PR for Guitar Center in the US. And he was the head of communication and PR worldwide for sprint. And he's now back here as the CEO of a company in Vancouver.

Umar Hameed 12:40
Brilliant. So they will great day. So how did you? When did you decide to kind of leave Got John Cam, what did you go?

Cameron Herold 12:48
I left the day that I got fired. My best friend was the CEO. I don't even talk about this much. I don't hide it. But we were having breakfast One morning, six and a half years after the whole leadership team by this point had been replaced. So the six people that run the leadership team when I started, we're now gone, I was the last one standing and I was having breakfast with Brian the CEO. And he we had our leadership team meeting starting an hour later. And he said I think we're done. I told his assistant the night before he was firing me. And it was just that I was the wrong person to take us from 100 million to the billion right guy to get us from a million to 100 million, but the wrong guy to go to the next level. And I couldn't adapt, I couldn't continue to adapt, you know the company, when you're an entrepreneurial organization with 12 employees or 100 employees or 300 employees or 1000 employees. You know, it's different than when you get to 3000. And it just become a very big business. So they took 12 months to find my replacement. They brought in the former president of Starbucks US. And she came in and said, Wow! what a cute little business. Meanwhile, I'm...

Umar Hameed 13:51

Cameron Herold 13:51
I'm pulling my hair out. So that was 13...15 and a half years ago. Brian and I are still friends to this day.

Umar Hameed 13:58
It takes a lot for....so a kudos for you. And kudos for him too because oftentimes we hold on to the familiar but we need to realize I think there's a quote from Dirty Harry "A man's got to know his limitations." And so a good for both you guys. And I suspect the new person that came in probably got super jazzed growing a company from 100 million on up and now wherever she came from was like a much larger company. So a lot of times company owners think that we won't be able to attract talent, but there's lots of people out there that have done it that miss those days of taking the company from x to y that come with so much more experience and are happy to kind of downgrade because that's where the passion is.

Cameron Herold 14:38
Well, it's also that you can take a company from X to Y but you need somebody else you can take it from Y to Zed?

Umar Hameed 14:44
Oh, absolutely.

Cameron Herold 14:45
This. Unfortunately, she didn't work out but she ended up getting fired a year later because she was the wrong cultural fit. But then the next CEO who I've known for 30 years, he and I started a fraternity together in Ottawa and I'd recruited him into college pro Eric Church has been their CEO and our CEO now for about eight years. And they're now at about 400 and 50 million in revenue. So he's been a spectacular fit. He was the right culture fit. And he had the right skill set, he would have been terrible for my first six, nine years there, he would have been the wrong guy. But Wow, is he over the right guy? after me.

Umar Hameed 15:18
Brilliant. So let's switch over to your latest book free PR.

Cameron Herold 15:22
Mm hmm. The only is...

Umar Hameed 15:24
So what advice would you give folks that have a small company a startup to start getting noticed and get some attention?

Cameron Herold 15:31
So the first part is to understand how the media makes their money. So all of the media outlets make their money from advertising. So they need to have really good viewers or listeners or readers. And the more of those that they get, the more they can charge out for their advertising, whether it's a podcast or a blog, or you know, magazine, whatever, they need good readers or people devouring the content. So you're actually doing them a favor by giving them a story, because it's really expensive for them to go out and find stories they can't afford of the investigative journalism, those days are long gone. So what you're doing is calling the up I'll only phone the writer or the journalists or the podcaster. directly, I won't deal with a media team or the, you know, a news desk or the city desk, you contact the journalist directly and you say, hey, do you have two minutes? I think I have a good story for you. And they're all gonna say yes to that, because they want the next story. And they want something dropped on their plate that inspires them. If they're busy, they'll say no, I'm on a deadline, just a great demand, if I call you Monday or Wednesday, next week, and they're probably going to say yes. So that's, that's really the approach. The second part is to understand that every business already has three or four angles already. So let's say that you're, you know, a small 10 person company, I'll give you three or four stories right away that everyone has. The first one is, you know, it's how you started the company, it's, you quit your shitty job, and you had that entrepreneurial seizure, and he started off your business. So you have...

Umar Hameed 16:58

Cameron Herold 16:57
...that success story. And there's lessons in there, and there's there's inspiration in there, and there's hope in there. So they love those stories. The second one is that the hero's journey, right? It's the overcoming adversity story, it's when you almost lost the business, or you almost crashed or you went through depression or, you know, it's the big stresses and business crises that you've gone through. And when you're open and vulnerable, the media, they love those stories, because it it shares with others. The third one is the story about your customer, right? It's how your product or your service has really helped a customer in your space, and kind of how you were the ladder to the roof, right? And how you kind of took them up that level. And they love again, love those stories. And you can have that same story market by market by market. So that's a really powerful one. And then...

Umar Hameed 16:58

Cameron Herold 17:05
...you know, then the other ones are, you know, how you're leveraging technology or how you're leveraging culture, etc, to grow your brand. So everybody has at least five angles, and you can pitch those same five angles for the next three years.

Umar Hameed 17:59
Cameron, when you do get coverage, which is, you know, really great to get how do you maximize it, other than just sticking it on your website? Are there any strategies to take that coverage and really leverage it into something more?

Cameron Herold 18:12
Yeah. So this is where the real magic happens. And this is what 99% of companies have no idea. So if you think of a story like a log, okay, like a big chunk of wood,

Umar Hameed 18:24

Cameron Herold 18:25
...when you land a story, well, that log just sits there, right? Whether it's Oprah, or fortune, or Forbes, like I've been in every major magazine, every major newspaper, front page of New York Times, Wall Street, Journal, etc. None of that matters. It's just a log sitting there. So you have to pour some gas, you have to to light those logs on fire. So I get let's say, I get five stories, those are five logs, just all sitting together, they're not doing anything. So how do I light them on fire? Well, I put them on my website, I share them on my social media profiles. I have a website page, that's a media page. So now I have all the links back to my page, which drives SEO. When other media, let's take a look, they see that I've been on a few media outlets, so it makes it more apt for them to cover me. So that kind of leads to a little bit more stories. You share it with your employees, you share them, share them with your customers and your suppliers. And those are all good things. That's how you kind of light it and kind of get the spark going. But then how do you you know, if you pour gas on that fire, then it really lights up. So that's when you start driving ad traffic towards it. You share the story, every story five times on LinkedIn five times on Facebook and five times on Twitter over the next year and a half. Right? You purchase traffic towards that you drive your customers towards it. So there's there's whole ways that you can actually be strategic with your marketing and your sales and your PR all working together. That's what we call the digital trifecta in the book.

Umar Hameed 19:49
Brilliant. Cameron, I looked at your website, by the way, whoever designed it did a phenomenal job. I'm super jealous.

Cameron Herold 19:56
Thank you which one the Cameron Herold or the COO Alliance?

Umar Hameed 20:00
It is the Cameron Herold website.

Cameron Herold 20:03
Yeah, it's a group called influence. They're a great, great group.

Umar Hameed 20:05
One of the things on there is your speaking career, how are you managing that in the time of pandemic?

Cameron Herold 20:12
Um, that's actually been an interesting shift. So I haven't done paid speaking events in 26 countries on six continents. So I've done a lot of speaking events globally and all through the US and Canada. I've been speaking for about 15 years, around eight years ago, maybe longer, maybe 10 years ago, I actually did my first speaking event via Skype. And it went fine. The audience was fine. We did live q&a, I had some slides we talked, you know, it wasn't necessarily the same as being live, but it was okay. So when all of a sudden we got hit with this in March, I thought, there's an opportunity for me to speak to some audiences about how to grow during an economic downturn, because I went through the 87 2001 and the 2009 downturns quite...

Umar Hameed 20:58

Cameron Herold 20:59
...so I've been through them. So I started sharing some ideas with different groups like yo and YPO chapters. And they were paying me to speak over zoom. So now I've been speaking all over the world via zoom. I'm speaking to a chapter in India next week in Chennai, I was spoken to one in Pakistan recently, I spoke to one in Saudi Arabia, I've spoken to two in Australia. So it's been great for me because I actually, you know, wake up, I can grab my coffee, I can sit down and 15 minutes later, if you live on stage, and can do my hour and a half a speaking event to a group and then I'm done. I don't have to go to the airport and have to stay in a copy hotel, I don't have to travel. The pricings worked out good for them. So instead of me charging 30,000 for speaking event, I charge five. It seems like it's going great. Now, I've also like to be honest, I've lost some big stages to write I was supposed to speak at traffic and conversion this year. I was supposed to speak at war room this year. I was supposed to attend the main TED conference for the ninth time, like so I had some big stages that kind of got ripped underneath me or out for me that but I've been fine. And good.

Umar Hameed 22:06
That is brilliant. Cameron, before we part company, to our listeners who are salespeople, small business owners, what three pieces of advice would you give them to keep going on and how to grow their companies?

Cameron Herold 22:20
Yeah, I'm gonna wrap it in a formula for success. And they'll give you one kind of final closing tip as well. But the formula that they can all write down is F a letter F times f times E equals success. And the first F is how focused? Are you? How focused? Are you? Or how focused? Are you or your customer? Or your team? How focused is you know, the marketing team, etc. So you give yourself a percentage rating of somewhere between one and 100%? Are you focused on the right customer? The right demographic, the right market? Are you? Or do you wake up in the morning getting, you know, sucked into email and sucked into social media? Are you really focused on your goals and an executing on your plans? So you give yourself a rating on focus? Because most people in most companies are nowhere near focused enough. So maybe you end up at 50% focus.

Umar Hameed 23:10

Cameron Herold 23:10
And then the second half is faith, as how much faith do you have in yourself and your team? In your plan? In the skill sets of your people? And are you what are you doing to protect your confidence and to protect your faith in that stuff? Right? Are you getting coaching? Are you in mastermind groups? Are you getting coaching for your team? Are you are you working on? You know, staying staying grounded, staying grateful? And are you are you not getting sucked into the vortex of social media? So are you keeping your faith high and your confidence high? And you give yourself a percentage score there of somewhere between one and 100? So let's say you're 50% on faith, and then the E is for effort? That's just how much effort Are you actually putting into the business? Like, are you really working hard, are you hardly working, and it doesn't working hard doesn't mean 16 hours a day. It just means like very, very focused, hard work while you're working. And then when you're not working, disconnect and recharge your batteries. But give yourself a rating for how much effort you and your team are putting in. And again, let's say you're at 50% effort. Well, if you multiply 50% times 50% times 50%, you end up with 12.5% chance of success. Those are terrible odds, right? 88% you're going to go bankrupt. 12% says you'll succeed. Even if you get to 80% focus times 80% faith times 80% effort that gets you 51.2% chance of success 5050 you might as well go to Vegas and throw it all on red. So to really be successful. You know if you get to 90% focus times 90% faith comes 90% effort that gets you 72.8% chance of success

Umar Hameed 24:46
Now talking.

Cameron Herold 24:47
Well better write better, but still a 20 28% chance of failure. So what made one 800 Got Junk successful what made all the clients that I coach successful, it's what made me successful has been to get The focus part to 98% focus, the faith to 98% faith you allow yourself the way and then effort at 98% and that comes out to 94% chance of success. It's just as simple as those three things. No one is ever going to give you an A grade. You don't need perfect, it's Minimum Viable everything. It's just get it done and get it out the door because that momentum will create momentum.

Umar Hameed 25:24
Brilliant. Words to live by. Cameron, thank you so much for spending time with us today. Really enjoyed it took a lot of notes, and I'm gonna once this is recorded, I'll have to listen to it again.

Cameron Herold 25:35
Good man. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Send me the link when it goes live.

Umar Hameed 25:37
Brilliant. Thank you.

Umar Hameed 25:39
You can take a guy out of college painters, but you can't take college painters out of the guy and that commenter naming him high gloss.

Umar Hameed 25:51
If you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave a five-star rating. And if you're looking for more tools, go to my website at nolimitsselling.com. I've got a free mind training course there, that's going to teach you some insights from the world of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and that is the fastest way to get better results.


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