What is the role of a Chief Operating Officer? (and Why your Company needs a COO)
In this episode of the Process Breakdown Podcast Cameron Herold, talked about the misunderstood role of a Chief Operating Officer (COO) in a company. He revealed how the relationship between the CEO and COO in a company should be, how a company should run, and how employee-employer relationship can be made better.
He talked about the perks of being a COO, and how a proper COO can make work much more fun for everyone in the company.
Listen to this audio interview:
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Key Resource List:
0:07 – Introduction
1:00 – Dr. Weisz shares the best solution for documenting standard operating procedures, highlighting a 14-day free trial with SweetProcess.
1:50 – Jeremy introduces his guest on the show, Cameron Herold.
3:26 – Mr. Herold talks about his encounter with the CEO of SweetProcess.
4:38 – Mr. Herold talks about what the COO Alliance is and how it was founded.
10:45 – Mr. Herold explains the role of the COO, and how there should be good communication between the CEO and COO.
13:26 – He talks about how COOs should be able to learn from people outside of their organization.
16:42 – The guest speaker talks about how to treat and grow employees.
17:50 – Mr. Herold talks about two books he’s working on and a group that he’s in.
19:14 – Mr. Herold talks about the three steps he took to boost a company he was working at.
21:33 – Mr. Herold discusses an effective way to recruit and hire people who actually want to take part in your vision.
27:16 – Mr. Herold talks about how to determine whether or not a possible hiring candidate has had proper leadership training.
31:23 – The guest talks about how to trust your gut and experience.
31:43 – Mr. Herold talks about his favorite stories from his Second in Command podcast.
35:46 – The guest speaker gives information on where his books and podcasts are available for download.
39:14 – Outro
Cameron Herold is the founder of the COO Alliance, a group for COOs of companies that helps enlighten and train them further on their roles in their various companies.
Cameron has extensive experience in business growth mechanisms. He has helped multiple companies with their company’s growth and management.
He’s also the author of five business books on Amazon.
Transcript of this Interview:
Intro/Outro: Welcome to the Process Breakdown Podcast, where we talk about streamlining and scaling operations of your company, getting rid of bottlenecks, and giving your employees all the information they need to be successful at their jobs. Now let’s get started with the show.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Dr. Jeremy Weisz here, host of the Process Breakdown Podcast, where we talk about streamlining and scaling operations of your company, getting rid of bottlenecks, giving your staff everything they need to be successful at their job. There’s no better person to talk about this than Cameron Herold, by the way. Talk about the COO Alliance. I’m going to introduce Cameron in a second, but past guests include … Check out past episodes. David Allen of Getting Things Done, Michael Gerber of the E-Myth, and many more. The episode is brought to you by SweetProcess.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Cameron, this is what I hear from people. If you’ve had team members and they ask you the same questions over and over, it’s the tenth time you’ve spent explaining it, there probably is some solution that you’re missing. Maybe you need a COO, or maybe you need a better COO. But SweetProcess is a software that makes it drop-dead easy to train and onboard new staff, save time with existing staff.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: From talking to the founder, Owen, I realized I’m figuring, "Okay, software companies use it. Banks use it." But he told me first responder government agencies use it in life and death situations to run their operations, which I thought was pretty cool. So they help you document all repetitive tasks that eat up your precious time so you focus on growing your team. You can sign up for a 14-day trial. There’s no credit card required. SweetProcess, sweet like candy, sweetprocess.com.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: I’m excited. I’ve been following and reading, and you should consume this person’s content whenever you get a chance, Cameron Herold, seriously. I say that because I have personally listened to all of his books. He’s founded the COO Alliance. He realized that there was no peer groups for one of the most crucial roles in the company, the COO, the second in command. So he created it, the COO Alliance. His background, if you don’t know, include six years as COO at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? Helped them grow from 2 million to over 106 million, probably more than that. They are operating in four countries, 330 cities, named as the number two company in Canada to work for.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: He believes culture is everything, and he’s written numerous books, which I have to mention Double Double: How to Double Your Revenue and Profit in Three Years. Why would someone not read that, Cameron, after that title? I mean, so Meetings Suck: Turning Your Most Loathed Elements of Business into One of the Most Valuable. Vivid Vision: A Remarkable Tool for Aligning Your Business. Free PR: How to Get Chased by the Press. He’s done it himself. You co-authored that with Adrian, right?
Cameron Herold: Yeah, one of my former clients.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: And The Miracle Morning for Entrepreneurs that he co-authored with Hal Elrod. Cameron, thank you for joining me.
Cameron Herold: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me, Jeremy. By the way, I’m also a client of SweetProcess and have been for a few years.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Okay. Tell me. I know you have a funny story. We’ll talk about in a second with the COO Alliance, but yeah, you have a funny story.
Cameron Herold: I have a really funny story. So years ago, I’m going to say that it was six years ago, I was speaking at an event in Washington, DC. CADRE was the event. It was a CADRE event by Derek Coburn, and Derek and Mel were holding the event. There was about 200 CEOs in the audience from the Washington, DC, Baltimore area. I was doing a presentation on some of the top content from the book Double Double, and one of the sections I was talking about was technology tools to scale your company.
Cameron Herold: I mentioned a tool called SweetProcess for documenting processes, and the entire audience, and I’m not saying a few people, but the entire group of 200, started to laugh. I’m like, "What’s so funny? It’s a really good tool." This guy stands up, and he puts his hands up and he goes, "My name’s Owen. I’m the CEO of SweetProcess." I’m like, "Fuck. I had no idea." I had never met the guy. I didn’t know the guy, and I had just been a raving fan of his company already. Had been telling my clients to use it, had been talking about it from stages, and there was the guy sitting in the audience.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: I love that.
Cameron Herold: So [crosstalk 00:04:29] fan ever since.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: I love it. What is the COO Alliance, for people that don’t know?
Cameron Herold: Yeah. So I was a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization for years, and I would show up at these EO events, where it was filled with entrepreneurs, filled with CEOs. Great learning, great masterminding, great speakers. When I left 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, where I’d been the COO for years, I continued to attend events. So I was a member of EO and then went on to become the COO for 1-800-GOT-JUNK?
Cameron Herold: So I was attending these events, and I didn’t really fit in. If people were talking about interviewing, the entrepreneurs wanted to talk about it for five minutes. I wanted to talk about it for a day and a half. They were talking about metrics or processes. I wanted to dig in and look at them, and I wanted to open up SweetProcess and look at them all together. They’re like, "Yeah, yeah, we need to do SweetProcess." Then they’d go to the next topic.
Cameron Herold: So I realized that there was a huge gap in the market. That was part one, and then the second part was I was coaching these real companies. I’ve been coaching companies globally now for 13 years, typically 50 to 500 employees, and a few of my clients started talking behind the scenes with each other. Their COOs asked me if I’d get a group of them together, and it was a COO from Acceleration Partners, the COO from Tenuity, which used to be a lead SEM, and the COO from Book in a Box were all talking to each other. They said, "Well, if we could all get together and talk," and we did. I pulled ten of our members together, and they wanted to keep meeting. So that was kind of the genesis of the COO Alliance.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: So what does it look like now? How do people engage as a member?
Cameron Herold: So we created the only network of its kind in the world for the second in command. You need at least five million in revenue to be a member. Typically, they’ve got 30 to 3000 employees. We don’t allow entrepreneurs at all. It’s only the second in command. We’re title-agnostics, so you could be VP of operations, president, COO, whatever, as long as you’re truly the second in command to the CEO of a roughly five … We’ve got members from six countries. We have five events per year, and members pick three of the five events to come to. Each of the events has a theme. In fact, Owen from SweetProcess spoke to the COO Alliance about two years ago.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: How else do people engage in between the five events? Because I know you have a lot of content and other things, too.
Cameron Herold: We have the Second in Command Podcast. The Second in Command Podcast, we’ve interviewed Shopify, the Cleveland Indians, Bumbles, Zendesk, Bulletproof Coffee, Khan Academy, all kinds of great companies, Poshmark, Orangetheory. We’ve have their second in commands on. We have a closed, private Slack channel for our members, where they can contribute and share information and resources and learn from each other during events or in between events. We have a quarterly group call, where members get on a group call with each other and share information and resources and talk through issues. We have a closed, private Facebook group. Then we have all of our prior speakers. So we have one keynote speaker at every event, and then our members present at all the events. We have all of those saved in a database for them to watch as well.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: I love hearing, Cameron, what happens behind closed doors, and I know you were saying one of the events, someone brought up feeling like a fraud. I want to talk about how that conversation went, because a lot of people … Not just COOS, but a lot of people in general. So talk about that.
Cameron Herold: Yeah. So what happened was we were sitting and talking at a lunch, and one of the newer members of the COO Alliance, who was running I’m going to guess it was around a $50 million company, I was asking, "How’s it going?" He goes, "Good." He goes, "But I really feel like a bit of a fraud in this room." He goes, "Everybody’s so strong." I’m like, "What do you mean?" To me, he felt like he totally fit in. He goes, "Oh." He goes, "I feel like I’ve been faking it. I’ve been running second in command here for five years. This is the biggest thing we’ve ever done, and I don’t really feel like I know what I’m doing. Everybody here is so smart." I was like, "Oh, that’s interesting."
Cameron Herold: So I went back into the room, and I said, "Do you mind if I tell that story?" He goes, "No, not at all." So I said, "I just have a story to tell. But before I do, who in the room feels like a bit of a fraud in their role as the COO? Who feels like they’re winging it and trying to figure it out every day?" Every single hand went up in the room. Brian’s face, he just started to smile, and, all of a sudden, he didn’t feel like a fraud anymore. Within a second, he no longer felt like a fraud.
Cameron Herold: But you think about the impact that has now on him and his employees and his customers and the revenue and the profit, what he can now bring to the table because of that one shift in his mindset is huge. Now we’ve got him into an accountability group with other members. They’re sharing resources with each other. At our last meeting, he showed up all filled with confidence and sharing ideas, and you could just see the game change that happened. This was the COO of probably a 100 person, %50 million-
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: It’s amazing. Yeah, and it basically just shows to him, "You’re not alone in this. Everyone is experiencing that." Right?
Cameron Herold: That’s one of the big comments we’ve had, is "I finally found my tribe." Right? Because they tend to end up going to events that are filled with entrepreneurs, and they really don’t fit in. They have different personality profiles. They have different behavioral traits, and they’re trying to learn, but they know they don’t fit with that group that’s there. So they finally kind of feel like they fit.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah, and I suggest people do check out your podcast. You can go to cooalliance.com and the podcast, but you got some really good questions, and one of them is, at least the interview I listened to, Cameron, is Navigating the Waters with CEO. Right? So talk a little bit about maybe suggestions for people, what you’ve experienced.
Cameron Herold: Sure. So I’ve been lucky enough to play the second in command role a few times, right? I was the second in command for 1-800-GUT-JUNK? I came into the company as the 14th employee. My best friend was the CEO. He was my best man at my wedding two months before I started working for him. We were in a forum. So we knew each other. We were in a business forum together for four years, but we really trusted each other right away. So we knew how to work through the conflict. We knew how to work through the trust issues. But we had them. But because the trust was so strong, we could almost have like a marriage discussion with each other on a daily, weekly basis.
Cameron Herold: I learned at that point the things that I didn’t really recognize as much in prior second in command roles, because I’d had a couple. Then in coaching CEOs, I noticed they were all kind of screwing things up as well. So the COO’s job is to make the CEO iconic, right? The COO’s job is to make the CEO look good. The CEO’s job is to roll out all the good decisions. The COO’s job is to roll out all the tough ones. The CEO’s job is to shine the spotlight on the COO and go, "Yeah, he’s playing hard-ass, but he needs to. He’s the good guy. He’s helping us out." So their job is to take care of each other. Their job is to [crosstalk 00:11:06]-
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Kind of like a superhero.
Cameron Herold: It’s kind of like a mom and dad in a traditional family, where mom and dad can fight and argue, but they do it behind the scenes, not around the kids. In front of the kids, they have to be a force, right? I remember, growing up, my mom would say, "You just wait until your father gets home." I’m like, "Oh, shit. I’m in trouble." Good cop, bad cop, right? There were blue jobs and pink jobs. There were his jobs and hers. So very much a yin and yang relationship, the trust, the communication.
Cameron Herold: So we work with them on telling the CEO the hard facts, telling the CEO the things that nobody else will tell them, but doing it privately, right? I was coaching a second in command yesterday, and I said, "You need to go to the CEO and tell him he’s fucking up. You need to tell him he’s doing this wrong. He’s communicating and scaring people. He’s coming in too bipolar and too manic, and he’s creating all these shock waves and ripples. But don’t do it in front of anybody. Take him out for coffee. Say, ‘Hey, Chris, I just want to tell you the bad stuff, but trust me. It’s hard for me to tell you this.’ They’ll really appreciate hearing you."
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: That’s a scary thing to do, Cameron. Yeah, yeah.
Cameron Herold: So then I ran behind the scenes and called the CEO and said, "Hey, by the way, I’ve got the COO coming to tell you all this stuff. Be open for it, because it’s going to be really good." He’s like, "Thank you for telling me. I’ve always wanted to know if he could do that." So I’m helping them build up that core relationship, and once they have it, it’ll be there, right? It’s strong.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: So you come in. You work with the full executive team, part one role that you do.
Cameron Herold: Yeah, I’m kind of the CEO whisperer. The publisher of Forbes magazine, when I was working with the CEO of Sprint, called me the CEO whisperer, that I’m kind of sitting in their back pocket and whispering in their ear. I was sitting in Marcello’s boardroom at Sprint, walking through firing some of the key people on his team and topgrading some of his employees. Here he is, the 82nd largest company in the United States. I’ve got no business working inside of an organization like that. But I can kind of see the forest for the trees at times.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Coaching and being around groups is so critical, and you’ve always been a huge proponent, from EO to Genius Network. What’s the importance to someone of joining a group? The personality of a COO in general, what do you find? Are they totally gung-ho on joining group? Are they avoiding group? What do you find, generally, with the COO personality?
Cameron Herold: Yeah. I wouldn’t say that they’re gung-ho in joining the group, but the ones that get into the group I think recognize that they no longer have to be the smart person in the room, right? If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room, and I think there’s something that’s very kind of powerful and eyeopening about that, where they can come in and learn.
Cameron Herold: Then the other one is where they can learn and mastermind from people outside of their industry. We often get so, "Oh, I go to my industry events. I go to my industry associations." Yeah, but that’s all the same people, doing all the same stuff. How about if you’re a dental organization and you’re learning from a shoe company and a manufacturer and an online book publisher, right? Then you’re an online business, but you’re learning from offline businesses. There’s so much … I call it ideas having sex. You take one idea, plus an idea, and it spawns into something else.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: I don’t know who said it, but I remember someone saying it who was originally … They said innovation comes from outside industry. That’s probably why.
Cameron Herold: Yeah, innovation should be from outside industry, for sure.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah. So talk about working through conflict. What are some suggestions for the COO? Because sometimes they have to make really hard decisions and be honest with people. Are there any factors you see or any tips on that?
Cameron Herold: Yeah. I have a model that I teach people on conflict management, and it’s a series of four statements that you make to start the discussion. It starts with when you, I feel, I need, how do you feel? So the when you is when you did this, right? When you said what you said in the meeting or when you showed up late or when you yelled at your employee or when you didn’t deliver your project on time, right? This is how it made me feel. I felt frustrated. I was pissed off. I felt angry, and it’s really getting the feelings out about what the specific situation was, so keeping the conflict very situational. What I need from you is, right, I need for you to be honest. I need for you to show up on time. I need for you to blah, blah, blah. I need for you to live our core values. Then how do you feel about it?
Cameron Herold: When you address it that way, the other person has nothing to do other than admit it and own it, because you’re not saying, "You’re always late." They’re not always late. Sometimes they’re actually on time. But when you say, "At this meeting, when you showed up seven minutes late, it pissed me off. It felt like you were disrespectful. It felt like you thought your time was more important than ours." But if you go, "You’re always late. You don’t care," they go, "No, I do care."
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: It becomes defensive.
Cameron Herold: Right. But when you hit the one specific thing … and so I treat conflict management like raising children, right? Do have kids?
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Two kids.
Cameron Herold: Yeah. So how old are your kids?
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Six and eight.
Cameron Herold: Right. So you do a quarterly performance review with your kids?
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: No.
Cameron Herold: Of course not. That’s fucking stupid, right? If your eight-year-old does something wrong, when do you tell them?
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Immediately.
Cameron Herold: Right away.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah.
Cameron Herold: What do you say? "You did this wrong. This is how it’s making me feel. This is how you do it properly. What do you think, Bobby?" Right?
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah.
Cameron Herold: If they do something right, what do you do? You praise them right away. That’s how you grow employees. That’s how you deal with conflict. You [inaudible 00:16:45] conflict. You deal with it. Now, you don’t go into Bobby and go, "You’re always sloppy. You’re the worst." If Bobby pores juice all over the floor, "You’re the most useless human being in the world. You’re always spilling stuff." "I’m not always filling stuff." Right? You say, "Bobby, fuck, I’ve shown you before how to pour the juice. This is what you did wrong." Right?
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah.
Cameron Herold: "This is how you do it." So that’s how you deal with-
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: I love it. Cameron, it seems so obvious when you put it like that, right?
Cameron Herold: I’m the dumb kid who really struggled with university and with high school, and I had to find the cheat sheets. So I’ve always seen all entrepreneurs like a fly trying to get out of a window. We’re going to work harder until we get out that window, but there’s a door that’s open. Just go out the door. So I always take the easy systems. I found that conflict system years ago. It’s worked for me for forever.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: So is that going to be your next book? Tell me about it.
Cameron Herold: No, but I write about conflict management in Double Double.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah.
Cameron Herold: One of the chapters of Double Double is about conflict management.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: I would love to see it as a separate book. So just saying. Just saying, if you want something else to do.
Cameron Herold: I’ve got two other books I’m working on.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Okay.
Cameron Herold: One is the CEO-COO relationship, kind of the two in the box model. Then the second is around the emotional rollercoaster of entrepreneurs, the highs and lows of entrepreneurs.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: How hard is it for you to write a book?
Cameron Herold: It’s easy now. I’ve got a relationship with a group called Scribe. Used to be Book in a Box.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yep.
Cameron Herold: I actually met their cofounders, Zach and Tucker, at a Mastermind group that I’m in. They helped me do Meetings Suck, Vivid Vision, and Free PR.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah.
Cameron Herold: It’s really easy to get the books out now and to do it in your voice, with all my content.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah, they do a great job. I know Tucker’s work, too. He’s been prolific in authoring things and working with authors, too. So culture is bigm key aspects of culture. You have some amazing stories from 1-800-GOT-JUNK? I don’t know. What would be the best stories about key aspects of culture?
Cameron Herold: So I’ll walk you through … So I’ll start with the end, and then I’ll go back to the beginning. The end is in my last year at the company, or the year before I left, we ranked as the number two company in all of Canada to work for. So there was 1.46 million companies in Canada. We ranked number two. We are pissed off. This back company called the Back Doctor or something beat us, right?
Cameron Herold: But where it started was when I got there in October of 2000, six and a half years before, I said to Brian, the CEO, "There’s three things that we have to do to scale the company. Number one, we have to turn the company into a cult. It has to be a little bit more than a business, a little bit less than a religion. It has to be in this zone of a cult. So we’ve got to hire culture people. They’ve got to want to put" … We had people permanently tattooing the logo on their body. We had two permanent tattoos of logos. So there’s systems around the cult.
Cameron Herold: The second thing was we had to raise our prices 40 to 50% so that we can make a lot of money and our franchisees can make a lot of money and we can deliver the service that we want to promise. Then, three, we have to leverage free publicity, because we have no money for advertising. But if we can get a lot of free press about the company, we can fuel that. We can really, really kind of get the flywheel going.
Cameron Herold: So culture is not the free lunches and the free bicycles and the vacation time and the massages. That’s not what culture is. Those are perks. Culture starts with alignment with vision. I always tell the story about the three guys out making bricks. They asked the first guy, "What are you doing?" He said, "I’m making bricks." They asked the second guy, "What are you doing?" He said, "Well, I’m building a wall, and I get to make the bricks to build a wall." They ask the third guy, "What are you doing?" He said, "Well, I’m building a cathedral to worship God, and we get to build the left wall of the cathedral. I’m making the bricks." So who has more meaning in their work? Well, it’s the person making bricks, right?
Cameron Herold: So what we have alignment with, this vivid vision concept, is number one. The second is alignment with core values and core purpose, right? It gives people meaning in their work, and they know that they’re not working with assholes. So culture starts there, and then culture is all about the people. Jim Collins talked about getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, everyone in the right seats. It’s an obsession around recruiting, interviewing, selection, training, hiring, onboarding, and getting rid of the wrong people as well.
Cameron Herold: That’s where culture really starts with, and then it’s flipping the org chart upside down so the CEO is at the bottom, supporting the VPs, supporting the frontline staff, supporting the clients. You remove their obstacles, and you coach them and grow them and cheer them on. Then you give them perks. So culture can be easily codified.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah. Cameron, for some reason, I think in book titles. So I think my vote for next title of your book, Flip the Org Chart or something, which has to do all with culture. Hiring, talk about hiring. So the base of that, the foundation of that is the recruiting and the hiring. What are some things that you have found works in recruiting? It’s tough, too, to sift through all these people.
Cameron Herold: It’s not tough. So I’m really lucky, because I worked years ago with a company called College Pro Painters, and College Pro is the largest residential house painting company in the world. When I was on the senior executive team, there were 60 of us at the head office. I was in the top 30 people. We had to go out and recruit and hire 800 franchisees every year, and then we had to teach those 800 franchisees how to go out and recruit and hire and train 8000 painters.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: No pressure.
Cameron Herold: So imagine if your company had to hire 8800 people every single year. You become operationally world-class at recruiting, interviewing, selection, training, and onboarding. So, for me, I actually understand the simple systems to do it properly and quickly every time.
Cameron Herold: So what most people do wrong, I’ll give you some basics, is they have the hiring manager write the job posting, right? The head of IT is hiring an IT person. Head of IT writes the job posting, or an HR person writes the job posting, or the head of sales writes the job posting. But none of them have been trained in copywriting. So the job postings read like shit. They don’t attract anybody, right?
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Right.
Cameron Herold: So your job posting should be like a marketing piece. It should turn people away. I have a job posting up right now, because I’m hiring for sales, and I got to got a candidate who said back to me in an email, he said, "Fuck you" in all caps. I’m like, "Awesome. I’ve totally pissed some people off with my job posting."
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: What was it that he said that to? What was it in the-
Cameron Herold: It was, "Your next step with me is don’t send me a resume. Your next step is send me a one to three minute video on why you want to work with this company. Please read my vivid vision first and put ‘Hire Me’ in the subject line, or we won’t even talk to you." He’s like, "Fuck you." I’m like, "Awesome. I’ll miss you. Bye." Then I had another guy who’s like, "I love this job posting. This is amazing. This is so great." The people that like it … So I polarize with the job-
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: It’s culture, right?
Cameron Herold: Right. I only want the people who really want to be in our culture, who really want to work in that kind of crazy environment. So I talk about being ADD and bipolar in my job posting, and they get to work with me. Now, if that terrifies you, right? It sounds kind of cool, and then what I do is I won’t read the resumes. I put them through a hoop. So right now, I’ve got about 96 applications for the role, but I’m not going to actually look at the resumes right now until they go through the first hoop of sending me the video. So I have 132 active candidates. Of those active candidates, eight have sent me a video. Well, most companies have read through 132 resumes. That’s a lot of fucking time to waste when you don’t even know if these people just spammed you.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yep.
Cameron Herold: Now what I’m doing is reading the resumes of the eight people I got videos from, and the video allows me to screen them and go, "Yeah, no." In three minutes, you know. Your gut knows if somebody’s the right culture fit or not, right?
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yep, yep.
Cameron Herold: But on paper, they can look really good. But the problem is if I set up a one hour or a half hour screening interview and I’m six minutes in and I go, "Oh, this is terrible," I’m not going to tell the person who’s booked off a half hour that it’s terrible at the six-minute mark. So I wait until 24 minutes or 25 minutes. Ugh, those are 25 minutes I’ll never get back in my life, multiplied by all those people. You see what I’m saying?
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Totally.
Cameron Herold: Then you start with the core behavior traits you’re going to look for for every role. So every role has a set of behavioral traits that are specific to the role. As an example, there’s no salesperson who would ever make it through an HR screening process.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Why do you say?
Cameron Herold: Well, because HR people are about policies and procedures and rules and dot the I’s and cross the T’s and be methodical and be thoughtful and be analytical, right? Very HR process. Salespeople, they make it up on the go. They’re winning it. They shoot from the hip. They’re high-energy. They don’t follow any of the rules. If somebody says no, at least you know where they are so you can call them back when they’re going to say maybe or yes, right? HR people hate salespeople. So if HR is ever involved in recruiting salespeople, you miss all the good sales candidates.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Totally, totally. Yeah.
Cameron Herold: So what it starts with is what are the behavioral traits I’m looking for? Then what are the skills that you need to have, and have you done the work before? There used to be an adage years ago of hire for attitude, train for skill. That’s awesome if you want to get 7% growth. But what I’m used to is the 26 to 100% growth per year. 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, we grew six consecutive years of 100% revenue growth, six years in a row. You have to hire for attitude and skillset.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yep.
Cameron Herold: So even when I came in as the COO, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? was the third franchise company that I helped build. Everything I needed to do at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, I’d already done twice before. So it wasn’t like I knew how to do it. I’d done it before. Most companies will hire people like, "What kind of a leader are you?" They describe a good leader. "Oh, he’s a good leader." No, fuck, he’s read a textbook on leadership. He’s never led anybody in his life, right? "What kind of a project manager are you?" They’ve read books on project management, or "How do you manage time?" and they talk about time management. They don’t manage their time that way. So I’m very big on the-
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Being in the trenches and doing it.
Cameron Herold: Well, and interviewing them to find proof that they’ve actually done it before, not that they know how to do it, but they’ve done it. Then the last layer is torque, which is the threat of reference check and us really getting in to find out more about them before you even really need to do a reference check.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Thank you for breaking that down. I’m going to have to listen to that a couple more timesm just to get it all, Cameron, but how do you choose your next book that you’re going to be working on?
Cameron Herold: Well, it’ll probably be the CEO-COO relationship, just because it’s more closely tied to what I’m building at the CEO Alliance. I also have another one, and I’m calling it Grandmotherisms. It’ll be an easier one to pull out. It’s all of the statements that our grandmothers used to tell us that are just so true. I should actually get a bunch from the Jewish community, because you guys have all got them, and you hold onto those stories for so long that, like the lore, right? Like the don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Cameron Herold: Anybody right now who was a pure play offline business with people coming to a location got fucked because of COVID-19, but they had all their eggs in one basket, right? So I’m going to have a book of these little grandmotherisms with the saying and then the lesson all on one page and then [crosstalk 00:28:16].
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Love it. Love it. We mentioned SweetProcess as a tool. I know there’s other software and tools you like. Talk about the importance of Kolbe.
Cameron Herold: I love Kolbe. The Kolbe profile tests one core thing. It’s how do you start or initiate projects? So when you hand a project to someone, they start it in one of four core ways. They either ask a lot of questions to start it or they put systems or processes in to start it, like using SweetProcess, or they start it, or they put a model or get all the tools and implements together to start.
Cameron Herold: So if you’re looking for someone to run SweetProcess inside of a company, you want somebody who has a high second number, which is called follow-through. They need the high follow0-through number in their Kolbe profile. Mine happens to be quite low. I’m a 4393. So I start things and plan later. But I also counter that with a high degree of OCD, and having built franchise companies, I think logically in optimization. So I can counter it a little bit, but most don’t.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Is there a typical profile? What would you say stereotypically, being a COO, what’s a typical Kolbe profile?
Cameron Herold: High first two numbers. So we have all of our COOs in the COO Alliance, we’ve done a Kolbe profile on them.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah.
Cameron Herold: They all have a very high first two numbers. They’re like 8732 or 76 whatever. They’re high first two numbers. They’re usually a low third, and then almost none of them tend to be a high modeler number. The implementer, the high fourth number, like engineers, contractors, construction people, architects. Entrepreneurs tend to be a high, third number. They tend to start now, plan later.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: So is that interesting that you’re such a high third number?
Cameron Herold: Well, it is, and my entrepreneurship started by being a franchisee, when I was a franchisee for three years and I was so scared of screwing up. So I was 20 years old, and I had 12 employees. I was so nervous that I was going to screw up that I’d just follow the systems, and the systems worked. The second year, I learned more systems, and I just did those. The third year, I did more systems. So because I learned entrepreneurship by following systems, I believe in those, but my profile is bang-on. I’ve done my Kolbe three times, and it’s always come out.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: So would you say you think you’ve adapted so much over the year?
Cameron Herold: No, I don’t. I will break my own systems. I’ll break my own rules. I call it the diamond in the rough, right? I’m very much outcome over process, that if I see the outcome, I’m going to go for it. If I had all my stuff documented in SweetProcess, but I knew that this was the right hire, I’m going to hire the person. I’m not going to just force it, because I’d be so worried somebody else is going to hire them before me that I’ll break the system to go after the diamond in the rough.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Got it.
Cameron Herold: But you have to be able to trust your gut and your experience to know that that’s there. But I’ll default to putting a system in place and following a system.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: What’s, Cameron, for you, a podcast that’s a must listen to? When you think back, what’s one of your favorite stories from one of the podcast episodes that you remember?
Cameron Herold: One of my favorite stories?
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: You’ve had some really, really interesting people and companies featured.
Cameron Herold: From my Second in Command Podcast?
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah, yeah.
Cameron Herold: There’s a couple. I really liked one of my very first ones that I did with Harley Finkelstein, who was the COO for Shopify. I interviewed Harley two years ago. I’ve known their company since they were only 50 employees, and now I don’t know what they’re at, 15,000. So I knew them very early on.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Publicly traded, yeah.
Cameron Herold: Oh, yeah. I’ve made a ton of money off that company. They’re like a $780 stock right now.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Wow.
Cameron Herold: Yeah, I was in by 36. I sold out at 100. I bought back in at 200.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Wow. They’re a Canadian company, right?
Cameron Herold: Yeah, they’re from Ottawa.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah.
Cameron Herold: In fact, my coauthor of my book, Free PR, Adrian, Adrian was a client that I coached 12 years ago called CanvasPop. Adrian is from Ottawa and is really good friends with Harley from Shopify. So I was in town, coaching CanvasPop, And Adrian asked me if I would do a speaking event at the Shopify office. So I went in and spoke there, and there was 50 people. We did a little speaking event.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: We’ll just say the growth was due to that one talk that you gave. I’m just kidding. So, Harley, what’s another guest that you were remember that people should check out?
Cameron Herold: Bumble. I really enjoyed the CEO of Bumble, the dating app, and what I was really intrigued with what she told me was they were actually exploring a different side of the business. It was BFF. It was the Bumble Friend Finder, I think, is what they call it, and it was basically looking for friends, not for dating, not for romantic relationships.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Interesting.
Cameron Herold: But people are lonely, and people don’t want to just be friends with all the people they work with. Then where are they going to meet other people? So Bumble has this friend component, where it’s a friend app, where you can just go for hikes and hang out with friends, to be friends. It’s huge in India right now. Huge, huge in India, and I thought that was just a really intriguing idea. I said to her on the podcast, "I think that will be bigger than Bumble itself when it catches."
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Oh, I can see, too, as people get older and they’re savvy with technology, older people, they want someone to talk to.
Cameron Herold: Well, so when you have kids, you start meeting other adults that are parents. You’re standing at soccer practice, watching your kid play. But where do you meet friends that actually like to do your activities, like "I want to go hiking this weekend" or "I want to go geocache" or "I want to go play tennis" or "I want to go watch a movie"? I started a movie club online just to hang out with people and talk about movies.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Totally.
Cameron Herold: Yeah.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Cameron, what about … I love people … What’s that? Go ahead.
Cameron Herold: Here’s what I really like about the Second in Command Podcast that’s so different. Everyone interviews the entrepreneur, and it’d be like calling my dad or my mom and saying, "How did you raise your kids?" They would have a very true story. My mom would have a very true story. But if you ask my dad, "How did you raise the kids?", and even though they were together their whole lives, my dad’s story would be very different from my mom’s story.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Totally.
Cameron Herold: But so when we interviewed the COO, I get the rest of the story, right? Everyone interviewed Brian at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, and if you hear my story of how we built the company, it’s different from Brian’s. They’re both very true.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah. Who do you want to have on that you haven’t had on, or company-wise?
Cameron Herold: I just actually reached out to a couple of PR firms that focus on the technology sector. So I would love to have Sheryl Sandberg. That would be my kind of … because she’s kind of the queen bee or the king of the second in command. She’s the COO for Facebook.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yep.
Cameron Herold: That’d be the one I would like right now. Adam Grant, who I know from Ted, has just introduced me to her. But that’s one I’m hoping for.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah. Well, if anyone can get someone, you can, so I’ve no doubt you will. Last question, Cameron, and before I ask it, where should we point people towards? Obviously, cooalliance.com. Anywhere else we should point people towards online?
Cameron Herold: Sure. All of my books are available on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. The one big book that we didn’t cover, but everyone should buy the book Meetings Suck, but not just for them, but every employee and every company should read Meetings Suck. When Elon Musk came out a year ago and said something to the effect of, "If you’re in a shitty meeting, stand up and leave the meeting," I was a reference for Elon in his first round of funding in January of ’95. So I sent him a text, and I said, "Don’t tell your employees to leave shitty meetings. Fix the meetings." But if you’ve never trained your employees on how to run a meeting or you’ve never trained them how to attend them … So that’s a core one.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah. Nice. I love it. I’ve listened to it. Fantastic. So check out the podcast. Check out COO Alliance. I figured people like the sexy topics, even though the fundamental topics, like hiring, interviewing, recruiting, running the meeting, those things are the non-sexy things. So I figure we’d end with a sexy thing, like the free PR, very sexy, a favorite free PR story.
Cameron Herold: Wow. Favorite free PR? Well, there’s the Oprah story, for sure, right, how we got on Oprah.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: You can talk about that.
Cameron Herold: Yeah. I’d say the favorite, though, is Tyler walked into my office one day, and he said, "The Vancouver Canucks, just got into the playoffs for the hockey, for the NHL hockey. Why don’t we wear blue wigs and stand out on the street and wave at traffic and cheer on the Vancouver Canucks? Let’s get our whole city supporting the Canucks, and we’ll challenge other companies to do the same." I’m like, "That’s dumb." He’s like, "No." He goes, "I can make it happen." So we’re like, "Fine, whatever."
Cameron Herold: So Tyler starts calling the media, and about four hours later, he comes in and he goes, "This TV station is coming to film us tomorrow morning at noon." I’m like, "About what?" He goes, "The blue wig thing." So we went out to these shops, and we bought some blue wigs. We brought them in. We’re all wearing blue wigs. We get into one of our trucks. They’re wearing blue, and then Tyler, in the interview, says that we’re going to give out 1000 blue wigs on the first game day. "Okay. So where are we going to fucking get a thousand blue weeks?" He goes, "No, you’re the how guy."
Cameron Herold: So we had 1000 blue wigs brought in from Toronto and Philly. We gave away 1000 blue wigs. We put them on people and said, "You promise to wear this the whole game?" "Yep." "Blue wig power." We put it on their head, and we ended up with 1000 people wearing them. We got four live TV station remotes at the same time. Ended up in the newspaper. It continued to happen over the whole series. We got 67 media articles about our company. Then they lost in the first round.
Cameron Herold: But we ended up buying more wigs that we were selling and giving away the profits to charity, so we had ten cases of blue wigs, 2500 wigs left. We shipped them all to Toronto, because the Toronto Maple Leafs had made it into the second round, and we recreated it in Toronto and got another 43 stories in Toronto [crosstalk 00:38:34].
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Wow.
Cameron Herold: So yeah, 110 stories in a one-month period, all about stuff that we had no rights to be attached to. That was pretty cool.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Be creative. That just means to figure out how they did that, some of the processes, you have to get the book.
Cameron Herold: Yeah. I give it all away in the book, too.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah.
Cameron Herold: I really give the step-by-step instructions.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah, it’s very not only you see the whole vision behind it, but you see the tactical thing. So check out Free PR book. Cameron, it’s always a pleasure. Thank you. Check out everything he has, from the books to the podcast to the website, COO Alliance. Thanks again, Cameron.
Cameron Herold: Thanks Jeremy. Great seeing you. Appreciate it.
Intro/Outro: Thanks for listening to the Process Breakdown Podcast. Before you go, quick question: Do you want a tool that makes it easy to document processes, procedures, and/or policies for your company so that your employees have all the information they need to be successful at their job? If yes, sign up for a free 14-day trial of SweetProcess. No credit card is required to sign up. Go to sweetprocess.com, sweet like candy and process like process.com. Go now to sweetprocess.com and sign up for your risk-free 14-day trial.
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