You're not going to be able to change the person. But if you can understand them more then you can build a better relationship, you can empathize more, you can meet them in their space, you can support them more. And then you can learn to communicate yourself to them and teach them about you.
In this episode
What exactly is the role of Chief Operations Officer?
In episode #131, Cameron Herold explains the often misunderstood executive position of COO and why CEOs need one.
Cameron Herold is the founder of COO Alliance and Second In Command Podcast. He’s known to be The CEO Whisperer and engineered 1-800-GOT-JUNK?’s growth from $2 Million to $106 Million in revenue, and 3100 employees in just six years. He’s also the author of six books.
Cameron dives into hiring internally versus recruiting external COO candidates and the process for both. He also explains communicating and building relationships between CEOs and COOs and how to find the perfect balance.
Tune in to hear all about Cameron’s leadership journey and the lessons learned along the way!
Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the podcast with your colleagues.
Second in Command
The role of a COO
Promote from within vs externally
CEO/COO dynamic best practices
Food for thought from Cameron’s new book
When to hire a COO?
- Listen to Second In Command Podcast
- Order his book The Second In Command
- Learn more about Invest In Your Leaders course
- Visit COO Alliance
- Read Angel: How to Invest in Technology Startups by Jason Calacanis
- Read The Misunderstood Role of the Chief Operating Officer
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 04:04
Cameron, welcome back to the show.
Cameron Herold 04:05
Aydin Good to see you, Thanks for having me.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 04:06
Yeah, this is really awesome. I’m very excited about this. For those that don’t know, this is your second time on the show. I was just looking at our notes. So basically the first time we chatted, it was episode number 34. We are now episode 132. So we’ve been doing this for a while. excited to have you back. So just a quick reminder, anyone who hasn’t listened to the last episode, they should 100% Go and do that. We talked about a lot of super interesting things the upside down primitive written communication, why old school leaders wouldn’t survive in today’s business world. And for those that don’t know you are the CEO whisperer. You founded the COO Alliance second in command podcast. And you helped 100 got junk go from 2,000,200 6 million in revenue, your best selling author of three books and now you have number four, number five, six now, six books. That’s yeah, this is Anyway, so this is awesome. But before we dig into it, you also travel the world a lot. And today, you’re in Israel, but you are in a different country all the time. Tell us how that works.
Cameron Herold 05:11
We, my wife, and I just decided about a year and a half ago, two years ago to sell everything and decide to start living globally. So about 18 months ago, we were kind of homeless, got rid of the home in Arizona, to the home in Vancouver, Canada, and sold our cars sold all the furniture. We’ve got some art in that little storage locker up in Vancouver. And we’ve got a small little storage locker of some of my wife’s personal stuff that she wants to keep but very small, like a five by 10. And that’s it. We’re down to nothing. We traveled with a backpack and a daypack. And we’re full nomads. So I think we’ve been to about 36 countries together in the last few years. And we’ve been to probably 20 countries this year.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 05:50
Wow. That’s quite the lifestyle. I know day is the same. How does it feel? Like do you feel like every day is, you know, just a brand new day more learnings, you’re just more free mentally what is like the biggest, I guess takeaway so far?
Cameron Herold 06:05
One is you definitely have to bob and weave a little bit, you know, you can’t expect to have things the way that you always have things because they’re different, right? So every two weeks, you’re finding a new gym, a new yoga studio and a new place to buy food. And we’re just getting back to our Airbnb or an amazing Airbnb here in Tel Aviv. But we couldn’t get in the door, we tried probably 1617 times to use the code and the code was clicking, but we couldn’t turn the handle to open the door. So you know, whatever. And then there’s other places where things break. And electrician had to come to a place in Dubai three times over a two week period. But that happens if you own a home, right? So it’s just bobbing and weaving through the unknown is part of the problems, right? But then I think the upside is you get to have all these experiences meet all these amazing people see the world from a completely different perspective. You hear the news in a very different perspective as well, like you hear about current evidence, but from, you know, a French perspective or a Seychelles perspective or a Kenyan perspective or an Emirates disparate. So you’re hearing about world politics from a very different lens than you would if you were sitting in Vancouver or sitting in Arizona day to day.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 07:09
Yeah, no, that’s awesome. That’s super cool. Very, very interesting. And we were just chatting before we got on that that’s a thing that I do need to try at some point. But today, we’re here to talk about your newest book, your sixth book, and it’s called the second in command, unleash the power of your CEO. Oh, I’m super excited about this. This is kind of like your area of expertise. You have the podcast, you have the community. And now you have the book. I’m super excited about it. Why did you write this book?
Cameron Herold 07:38
I think it’s almost what you just said, it’s become my area of expertise. And I almost stumbled into it. I think what’s interesting about a career is as you progress, you start to develop this niche for yourself. And you develop these expertise areas. And as you get better and better, you can start delegating everything except genius. And I’ve really fallen into this niche over the last six years of really being that clo whisper where, like you mentioned, I have the CEO Alliance, I’ve got the second command podcast I coached. I don’t even know how many CEOs around the world, I coached the CEO from Sprint, you know, the major telecom company, I coached him for 18 months. So I’ve begun this niche and then recognize that so many entrepreneurs in so many mid sized companies really struggled with knowing who to bring on as their second command, whether it was a VP of Operations, or a president or a CEO, they really had no idea how to find them, how to interview them how to actually bring them into the organization without causing massive ripple effects, and then how to build this really strong trusting relationship with them. So I’ve just decided to codify everything that I’ve been doing over the years, both in my own world where I had been the CFO a couple of times. And then it also working behind the scenes and working with so many, you know, I’ve interviewed, I think 240 co hosts on the second command podcast. So I’ve got a pretty interesting perspective and a global lens. And then I have 170 members in the CLO Alliance from 17 countries. So I have a global perspective on the second command role as well. I just wanted to get that information out loud. Now that
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 09:07
I mean, it sounds awesome. Definitely get the sense that you know, a thing or two about SEO. So why don’t we start from a very basic perspective, in your view? Is the CEO role, something that is relatively similar from company to company? Or how should people think about a second command as a concept?
Cameron Herold 09:27
Yeah, great question. So it’s interesting. Harvard wrote an article and I talked about this in my book, Harvard wrote an article 15 years ago called The misunderstood role of the CEO. And there’s seven distinct types of chief operating officers. And then what I’ve noticed from interviewing all these CEOs on the second command podcast is no two are alike. So in some cases, finance reports to the CFO. When I was the CFO, one 800 got junk. It did not report to me. In other cases, engineering reporting to the CFO didn’t report it to me. You In some cases, the ceiling was really inward facing like the current CEO from one 800 got junk and never talks to the media. And we’ve done speaking events. When I was the CMO, I was very outward facing, I was about culture and recruiting and building the cult, and I would talk to the media, I would did speaking events all over North America. So even though we were in the same role, we were at a different stage of the company. So sometimes it’s it’s just a stage of the company that changes the CEO. Sometimes it’s a company by company perspective, as well, you know, you look at Harley Finkelstein from Shopify, a very outward facing CEO, and a CEO, Tobias Lukey, who stays very focused on engineering and product and rarely speaks to the media, right? In most cases, the CEO speaks to the media and the CEO is very inward facing. So it’s almost a yin and yang relationship that you’re looking for is how do you find the real balance between the CEO and the CFO? So they become stronger than one?
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 10:55
Yeah, no, that’s it. I think that’s a great explanation. And we did have Harley on the podcast as well, just I think he was actually episode number 50. So do you remember that? And so that is awesome. So it sounds like it’s almost like a counterbalance to what the CEO is. And the thing that I want to point out is that and I don’t know if you would agree with this. But that concept doesn’t only have to live within the CEO CEO relationship, it can also maybe exist between like a CTO and a VP avenge or, like, there’s this concept of a second command, not only in the the one role, right?
Cameron Herold 11:30
Yeah, I mean, I, what I focused on is really the second in command as it pertains to the CEO. So I focused on the truest sense of a CEO. But yeah, in every case, a leader usually has some what I used to call it, someone talking my parachute, right? If I was going to be jumping out of the plane, the parachute or never packs their own, they’ve always got somebody that they really trust, who’s got a lot of skill to do something that maybe they don’t have the patience to do. So they can be the one jumping out of the plane. When I was the CEO of one 800 got junk. I had a VP of Operations Tresa, who was literally my second in command within my part of the organization. But you know, when I talked about in the book is really that true CEO, CEO relationship more than anything? So rather than talking about what apply if you’re hiring a key person within your business area as well,
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 12:16
yeah. Okay, so we’ve talked about the different types of CEOs that exists, no two are the same. But are there any common attributes, you know, if you are thinking about, hey, I want to go hire a CEO? Are there things that you should be looking for?
Cameron Herold 12:31
Well, so Okay, so there’s two parts that are the common attributes? And then what should you be looking for? So let’s talk about both of those separately. The first one is we’ve really identified that most CEOs have very similar personality profiles to each other. And most CEOs, especially the entrepreneurial CEOs have very strong personality profiles that are similar to themselves. So most entrepreneurial CEO is a quick stones, right they kind of act now plan later, the winging or the shooting from the hip, they’ve got a million ideas coming at them all the time, sometimes very add, and often very bipolar ce o ‘s are often very methodical, they think more about systems, they think more of a process. They think about asking a lot of questions before they start a project, they can kind of see the whole picture. And they started organizing it normal Wednesday, entrepreneurialism, often just the perpetual motion machine. And both of those are very necessary. So what we identified within our CNN Alliance members as an example, we did a personality profile of them using a Colby profile. And all of them had very high first two numbers, they either asked a lot of questions before they initiated projects, or they put a playbook or a process or a system in place before they would start the process or before they started the project. And those to the entrepreneurial, and I’m talking about kind of the 10 person to 500 person companies, most of those entrepreneurs tend to just start projects and plan later, as you get into the real corporate world, they tend to be a very different style of, you know, a CEO. The second thing then is what are you looking for. So if I was a CEO of a company or an entrepreneurial company, I’m looking for someone who is really, really good at the stuff that I suck at. I’m looking for someone who really loves to work on the areas that drain me of energy. And I’m looking for someone who doesn’t want to work on the areas that I like, or that I’m going to be, you know, following through and so you’re looking for, again, that divide and conquer. Second thing you’re looking forward as someone who you can really trust like complete implicit trust on day one, where you would literally give them the passwords to everything, you know, access to your banking, because the reality is they’re gonna have access to all that if there was literally your second in command, they’re running the company with you and at times for you. So you better have done your research you’ve ever done your reference checks, you better grilled the hell out of them had multiple layers of interviews, so that you know everything about them the day that they actually start.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 14:58
Sure, this makes a lot of sense. One question I have on the CEO, I mean, the profiles that you described, especially the entrepreneurial CEO versus the corporate one, do you feel that? Is it because people start with that personality? Or is it do you think to some extent the job does it to them?
Cameron Herold 15:16
I think they start with it. The reality is, most entrepreneurs, so Attention Deficit Disorder is not a weakness. It’s actually a superpower for entrepreneurs. So when you have attention deficit disorder, it means you see everything, you’re aware of the time the market, your customers, you’re aware of the suppliers, your employees, the policies, the energy in the business, you see, stuff that’s happening with the website, you notice trends, you see numbers on the website that just don’t make sense, you have to ask about them, you see problems. But because you’re seeing everything all the time, it’s so overwhelming, and you’re having all these new ideas coming in from everything you’re seeing. You need to delegate stuff, to get it going and get it out of your head. That’s what starts the company. So if someone was so focused, like a doctor or an engineer or a lawyer, they would be horrible as entrepreneurs because they’d be so myopic on the one thing, they’ve missed the bigger picture. So it’s, I don’t think it’s something that is because you’re an entrepreneur, I think there’s a type one and type two, there’s an there’s an entrepreneurial DNA, and then there’s entrepreneurial skills. And those are very different. You can develop the skills to be an entrepreneur to run a company. But I think you’re either hardwired to be one or you’re not like we have a mutual friend of ours, Adrian cell Minimates. Adrian is hardwired and entrepreneur, man. He is bipolar. He is scattered, he’s ADV, he’s high energy. And then he flips a switch, and he burns out and he’s stressed, right? But the energy is why people will quit the job and go and work for him know why that’s why they’ll write an article about his company and then figure it out later. That’s why they’ll invest in his business. Right? Yeah. Yeah. So those aren’t weaknesses.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 16:54
So we’ll get Adrian to I’ll send them the link afterwards. Adrian, this is true. You do have infectious energy. And it does get people to do crazy things when they talk to you. So this is No, I totally get it. And I’ve never heard of add being phrase as a superpower in that way. But I think the way that you explained it makes, I mean, it just makes it very, very clear why why.
Cameron Herold 17:19
I also grew up in an entrepreneurial family. So I had a father who was an entrepreneur, my sister has run her own company for 25 years, my brother’s run his own company for 20 plus years, both sets of grandparents were entrepreneurs. So it’s all I ever knew. So we didn’t see the world from the same perspective that most people saw it serving, I was growing up. And my father saw that I had this entrepreneurial traits. He groomed me, he gave me the skills that were living on top of the DNA.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 17:46
So this is the question I have for you. And maybe this is getting very personal about you, but you’re this entrepreneur or person. And yet, you’re the you were the CEO, and now you’re the expert CEO. So bridge that gap. So this is why I asked like is it that you have or just a job do it to you. And so this is what I
Cameron Herold 18:05
saw when I was seven years old, I’d started my first little business venture when I was 20 years old, I had 12 full time employees. So I’ve always been an entrepreneur, I actually did a talk that was on the main Ted website, about let’s raise kids to be entrepreneurs. So I had probably 15 Different entrepreneurial ventures. When I was 20. I got involved in a company called College pro painters. And college pro went on to become the world’s largest residential house painting company. And it was a franchise. And because it was a franchise, they trained us in all of these systems that were very simple to execute systems to scale a company very quickly. So I learned the shortcuts and the systems to actually scale businesses. And at a very young age, I learned that systems would lay on top of my natural energy, that without the systems, I wouldn’t be failing all over the place. So because of college Pro, I was given all of these skills to actually become kind of a CEO inside of a an entrepreneurial organization. And then I started coaching entrepreneurs from 1989 until 1993. Before coaching was even a thing. I’d coached 120 entrepreneurs, right in that four year period, I coached 120 real companies. So I was giving them the shortcut. So I started to learn these clo systems. But I would be a horrible CFO for a company north of 100 million, because I can’t slow down. I am very entrepreneurial. I can’t work with a multi, you know, the matrix decision making in that company silos and politics. So I would have been a horrible CEO from the 100 million to 500 million that got junk is that today, and another church, you know, I went to school together in Ottawa, we started the first fraternity everything together 35 years ago. Eric has been the CEO for 10 years now. He would have been a horrible cmo for the first six years. He was the right guy in the more corporate CEO role. I was To record the more entrepreneurial CEO role, so I’ve learned the CLO skills. I’ve been around it. And then because I’m more entrepreneurial, there’s an organization for them. But I’m not teaching them. I’m giving them the platform to learn from each other and share with each other. So I’m kind of the COO expert without having to be the expert, if that makes sense.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 20:21
Yeah, yeah, I think the way that you put it makes sense. And it’s really cool how you have this awareness of what areas knowing you know, what you’re good at, and what you’re interested in what area and stage of a company, you’d be most excited to work in, and also understanding when you’re coaching people, how to coach them into putting them in the right spot to?
Cameron Herold 20:42
Well, that’s even why the book, the second command was written on how to recruit and hire and onboard and build a relationship with the CFO. It’s not about how to be a CMO. Like the book isn’t how to be a CFO is how to find the one. So I’m teaching the entrepreneurs how to get their camera, and I’m teaching the visionaries how to find their integrators.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 21:02
Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, it’s very interesting. There’s this great book on Angel investing, you probably know Jason Calacanis, who wrote that book Angel, and it’s about how to Angel invest. But I feel like all entrepreneurs should still read it, because it’s worth knowing both sides. So I think there’s wisdom in this book for CEOs as well. But for sure, I get that the audience when contemplated when you were writing the book was the people who are going to find them.
Cameron Herold 21:31
I think the real benefit for the CEOs with this book is understanding what people are going to be looking for and finding them out of the process of finding a great car. So for them how the process is finding a good CEO, right, like the CEO was looking for them, they should be looking for the perfect match for them samples, CEOs have to find a show Sandberg was the perfect match for Mark Zuckerberg. And Mark Zuckerberg was a perfect match for show. So yeah. And then there had to work together. Like she had the one thing about him, she had to understand how to stay in sync with him how to build the relationship and trust with him how to support his craziness. So I talk a lot about that in the book for sure.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 22:09
Yeah. So one of the I guess questions that that people will have is how to think about, you know, promoting one from within our hiring from outside. So how should someone think about that? If you have someone in kinda like a director level of person who’s an operations or a VP of Operations? Like how do you make that call? Is it about the state of the company.
Cameron Herold 22:32
So I talked about that a little bit in a couple of areas of the book, one areas, if you have that MVP, right, the most valuable player who is performing at such a high level, and you know, they can take on more responsibility, and they can move into that room, that’s a natural fit for sure. That’s probably the only time you know where you’re trying to handcuff somebody to the company, a company, you don’t want to lose them. But the only time you really need to have the deep industry experience is if you’re in that kind of tech sector, or engineering kind of sector, or in a professional services sector, it would be hard for me as a COO of one 800 got junk, to be the COO, firm, or to be the COO of an engineering manufacturing firm, you probably need to have the manufacturing experience. But if you have manufacturing experience, you could go be a CIO for any company in manufacturing. So it’s sometimes you’re gonna go laterally within an industry, or you can be more of an operational generalist, I was approached years ago to coach a group of restaurants and I said, I’ve coached lots of franchise chains. But I know nothing about the food service space. And so it declined. But if it was in the home services industry, I could pretty much coach any franchise organization that did anything, business to consumer, on a home, I don’t need to know about air conditioning or house painting. But restaurants, it seemed to me that there was a lot more complexity that was an industry niche. So that’s the determination that I think it’s better to promote from within if you’re in an industry, or be very specific on who you’re hiring from outside from industry industry into that role.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 24:09
Hey, everyone, just a quick pause on today’s episode to tell you about something new that we’re doing and 2023 New Year, and we thought we’d do something very special. So lately, we’ve had a lot of guests on the discipline of engineering management. And so we put our heads together. And we said, What if we created an all out amazing Engineering Leadership Summit. And so we’ve decided to do exactly that. It happens on January 27. And if you want to register for it, you can go to fellow dot app slash live slash Summit. To register of course, we’re going to put the link in the show notes. It’s going to be amazing. We have reached out to a lot of the previous guests who have been on the Supermanagers podcast and we wanted to bring a lot of them together to have panel style discussion. his interactions with the audience. And we’ve created a series of these sorts of panels with some of the most popular guests on the podcast where, you know, 140 or so episodes in now, so we have a lot of guests to choose from. But also, we’re going to do something really cool. We’re going to have a great keynote with the former CTO of GitHub, Jason Warner, Jason helped GitHub scale to, I don’t know, over 7 million daily active users. He’s an awesome leader, really looking forward to my discussion with him. We’re going to talk about scaling teams and the business and all the lessons he’s learned today. He’s at Redpoint Ventures. So lots of stuff to talk about there. We’re gonna have leaders from Netflix, Hashi Corp, oyster whoop, and so many more companies all attending, both in the panel format. And as an attendee, I mean, this is also a great opportunity to meet other people who are interested in all these topics. So if you’re an engineering or product builder, aspiring to be a great leader, this is the summit for you. It is of course free to register, if you know people on your team that you think should attend, please send them the link. This is an experiment for us. But even for our experiments, we go all out. So it is going to be amazing. And we haven’t done a live event like this before. So it’s going to be a really great time lots of surprises baked in, you can register at fellow dot app slash live slash Summit. And I hope to see you all there. And with that said, let’s go back to the interview. One of the things that you have a really good view onto because you’ve coached CEOs and CEOs, what are some best practices in terms of how they should sync up and work together? When people do it? Well, how do they go about it?
Cameron Herold 26:53
It’s interesting, the whole COO Alliance even started because I was coaching a company called elite SEM, it’s now called Genuity. It’s a large 1500, employee digital marketing company. And it was coaching their CEO, then their seat, I was confirmed their directors and I coached them for four years, coached him from about 40 people to about 400. And Zach at one point turned to me and he said, Hey, can we get a group of the CEOs together from the companies that you coach, and let’s just meet up for a weekend? And I was like, Well, I don’t really know that many. And he goes, Well, you could go and get not well, from acceleration partners. And you could get Zach from booking the box. I’m like, How the hell do you know these guys? He goes, Well, because you were talking about their companies. So my CEO reached out to them, and they introduced us. So we already know each other, I’m gonna guess. So I pulled I put up a landing page and 25 hours later, 10 people that paid $6,700 to come for a weekend. And that was where that started nine of the 10 wanted to continue meeting and that was the impetus. So it was understanding the needs. One of the core needs that came out of that first event was how do we build a better relationship with the CEO that we work with. And what we started to identify was, the traits of the CEO was very different from the CEO. So the first thing about building a relationship is understanding them. Right? It’s kind of like men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, you’re not going to be able to change the person. But if you can understand them more than you can build a better relationship, you can empathize more, you can meet them at their space, you can support them more. And then you can learn to communicate yourself to them and teach them about you. So that mutual understanding, secondly, is about building that space of vulnerability and trust, where you’re truly open with each other, where you’re truly sharing with each other, or you’re truly explaining your weaknesses. And you’re okay with saying that to the other person in that safe zone, where it’s just the two of you. Another thing we talked a lot about in the book, the second command is something called date night. It’s just like getting out of the office together on a regular basis to spend time together and have fun, whether it’s going for a run or playing squash or going skiing or having a beer, playing golf or doing something to go and hang out. As well as having a number of like the meals together where you go for coffee, go for breakfast, you have lunches together. So you’re just regular basis during the week connecting. Now if it’s over zoom with a more hybrid environment. Now, you got to be able to do that over zoom as well. You got to be able to sit down with the other person over zoom and have dinner and have a beer and laugh and get to know each other or fly into a city once a quarter or once every six months and spend a week together where you actually get to know each other. And what I would suggest is you don’t rent hotel rooms. You rent but these guys Airbnb is like we’re staying in. And you each have rooms in these Airbnb ease and you’re hanging out together in the morning having breakfast and working together on the couches and you know, hanging out and having a drink at that.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 29:42
Yeah, I think that makes sense. And in terms of communication, communication should be frequent, right? Like this is not once a week, we’ll meet for an hour.
Cameron Herold 29:51
Yeah, well, you definitely need to have the once a week meet for the hour though as well. So it’s interesting years ago, and it was the second command for another bloody chain and we were Everything was called Breathing Your Body in Canada. In the USA, it became called global auto collision. It’s now the largest collision or chain in the world publicly traded, but 900 million. And I remember talking to Tammy the CEO and saying I wanted to set up a one hour meeting every week for he and I think it was I don’t need that meeting. I’m like, No, it’s not for you. It’s for me, like, I know you don’t he’s, he’s like, I don’t need to manage. I’m like, no, no, it’s not for you to manage me, I need to bounce ideas off you, I need to hear your ideas, I need to brainstorm, I need to stay connected, I need to get your excitement. So it’s for me, and he’s like, Oh, I’ve never even thought of that before. So you definitely still need to have that one hour. But yes, you need to have frequent communication, you also need to have time to be able to sync up, I call it kind of the parents having time together without the kids around. Because you need to have time to have good conflict and arguments with each other. You need to have time to debate each other, but not in front of the board, not in front of the leadership team and not in front of the employees. So you need to be able to have good time to have to debate and conflict. And the CEO needs to be able to tell the COO where they’re screwing up, what’s not going well, where you think the CEO is making some mistakes and vice versa. And then in front of the employees, you need to shine the spotlight on each other. The CEO needs to shine the spotlight on the CEO because they’re always rolling out the tough decisions and the hard decisions. And the CEO needs to make the CEO look great. We need to make them look iconic.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 31:22
Yeah. So is there would you say like the good cop, bad cop dynamic there?
Cameron Herold 31:26
There is in many ways. Yeah. Ideally, you never want the CEO to have to run at the tough decisions, because you really, really need them to be the deacon. Right? It’s really hard for the CEO of a company to be the hardest, though, I think one of the only ones that we even maybe there’s two that I can even think of, can you think of who they would
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 31:46
tend to be just one did one just by a social media company?
Cameron Herold 31:51
For sure, I think we were the second one day he’s passed away about 10 years ago.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 31:55
And Jack Welch, new jobs, Steve Jobs, right?
Cameron Herold 32:00
I’m not sure if it’s been 10 years, it feels like maybe shorter, but I think it’s been 10 years. It’s crazy. Steve Jobs was notorious for being that hard ass and making the tough decisions and coming in and saying just scrap everything. And some of that was his complete drive and obsession for perfection. And Elon is very similar that way. They’re both very, very misunderstood. They’re not assholes. They’re just completely obsessed with making the shift work. And they end up doing it.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 32:27
Yeah, sure. Why is it I guess this is an important point. Why is it important for the CEO to be that be can and to be liked in that way, versus the CEO who’s going to actually make more things happen,
Cameron Herold 32:42
while the CEO has to be able to the one to attract press to attract money, you know, investment, to attract other a level players to join the organization. They’re kind of the chief energizing officer, right? It’s funny, I have my youngest son who’s going to school at Concordia in Montreal, and he’s in second year, and he just had them watch the movie The Secret the other day, and I said, it’s a little bit cheesy and a little bit materialistic. And he came back to him and he goes, Daddy goes, I really understand something. Now he goes, I really understand what you’ve always talked to us about that our job is to control our energy and to shiver energy and to spread that energy and to find ways to stay in that positive mindset. Because because that’s gonna set everything up for success. The CEO if the rolling out the tough decisions, they end up permeating the organization with this toughness and energy that isn’t necessarily positive. So it’s, I think better if the CFO rolls up the tough decisions. And then the seat like,
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 33:36
yeah, yeah. So it’s very interesting. And regardless of, I guess, like the, you know, whether it’s in a family situation work situation like that, it seems like that dual dynamic can be useful to help make change happen as part of this.
Cameron Herold 33:51
That’s why we have that analogy, the good cop, bad cop, or what’s why we have the analogy that one plus one equals three, right? It’s almost like two in the box is better than one.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 33:59
Yeah, yeah, this makes sense. And yes, analogy is useful. It’s useful for so many things. One thing that I did want to chat about is this quote from the book, which is, being a startup or scaling CEO is not about doing stuff. It’s about getting stuff done. It sounds very appealing, like this quote, maybe you can just explain what you mean by that.
Cameron Herold 34:20
Well, it’s interesting. I’ve heard a bunch of analogies. One is that the CEOs job is to be the gas and the CEOs job is to be the brakes. Another one is that, you know, vision without execution is hallucination. So the CEOs job is to have vision, the CEOs job is to have execution, right? That quote is by Thomas Edison, vision without execution is hallucination. So you need to have somebody who’s focused on getting it done to just have more ideas and more ideas and more ideas can be very overwhelming for a lot of the team can be very overwhelming for a lot of the employees. I mean, I used to coach Adrian and his former partner Naz and it was it was hilarious trying to coach the two of those guys like Adrian was this perpetual motion machine with energy and often Isn’t that ideas and that was like, Dude, we got to get this shit done. And they had this ability to work together. And to do that, right? Say I think the CEO whose job is to stay connected with the CEO, very similar to a homeowner building a home, and the contractor who’s actually building it, the homeowner can have all the great ideas and the contracts, like I love all those ideas. Let me show you how it starts to work and what it starts to cost. And you’re like, Oh, I didn’t realize that glass winding stairway, up to a hot tub on the floor store that he was going to cost so much. Let’s scrap the hot tub.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 35:33
Right? Yeah, but it sounds like
Cameron Herold 35:36
contracts like I can better bid but you know, it is like 400 grand more than your budget.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 35:40
So on this, there’s another quote from the book, which is bringing in an external hire, if you are going external, is like an advanced chess move, and you need to think three to four moves ahead. Yeah.
Cameron Herold 35:55
It’s amazing how it is like such an advanced chess move. Because if you understand the implications of a move, and what it’s going to do, you might not do it, or you might do it in a different way, almost like dropping a boulder into a pond. If you drop a boulder into a pond, and the Boulder is going to sink, which is exactly what you want it to do, right, you’re gonna throw it in, you want to sink to the bottom of the pond, but it also causes all these ripples for the next half hour on the pond. So you need to think about those are the chess moves? If I’m bringing somebody in for the outside? Who is it going to piss off? Who’s it going to make happy? Who’s going to quit? Who is this person going to bring in with them? What changes? Are they going to want to make? How can I slow down some of the changes? How can I get my team to adopt some of the changes? How can I get some of my current employees to be excited that they’re gonna get to work for this new person instead of half to? So there’s a lot of things you have to socialize and get them to think about. And if you’re not thinking of all those moves in advance, then you’re constantly reacting to it. Yeah. And more often than not, when the CEO is hiring a CFO, there are a whole bunch of people inside that either wanted that job, or now, you know, get to or have to work for that person.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 37:05
Yeah, this is I mean, this is I think, also true with generally, anytime you bring on a senior hire, it just so happens, the CEO will have a lot of reporting relationships, and, and especially a lot of leaders, that will also then, you know, report to this person. So it’s definitely even more difficult and even more, you have to think about a lot more moves ahead. But all the same dynamics exist for any senior leader, I think, true. And I
Cameron Herold 37:33
actually love to get the rest of the team that are going to be reporting to him or her to actually do a lot of the interviews. I want them to interview and hire their boss, I want them to be as excited as it I don’t want to just go, Hey, I just hired the person you’re gonna report to Donald sock, right? So you really have to kind of get them involved in the process. And then they also understand, wow, they’ve really got a lot of skill. So I’m excited because they’re smart. I like them. Right?
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 38:00
Yeah, I mean, I think that’s the right way to do it. It’s when you go out. And it’s almost like you’re finding your own coach and mentor and someone that you’re going to work with versus you know, parachuting in a boss that can cause ripples, like you said, and very often this is when people leave, right, the organization where they’re like, they just brought in this new person, things were so great. And now there’s this new person, and we don’t know where they came from. But yeah, it brings uncertainty. So you really have to plan and make the team part of the process.
Cameron Herold 38:30
And more often than not, the entrepreneur or the CEO won’t think of that. They’re so focused on finding the right person. And they’re so excited and relieved, they finally found them that they kind of bring them in, and they often indicate and dump a bunch of stuff on their lap and go. So glad that’s over, dude, it’s not even close. It’s not even started, you know?
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 38:50
Yeah, the benefits don’t start on day one. So you have to do some very serious onboarding. Ideally, you would have planned this onboarding. But what does it look like? I mean, it’s probably pretty extensive. It’s not, like you said, just an email with a long list of responsibility areas.
Cameron Herold 39:07
Yeah. So in terms of the onboarding that I like to do with these people, I like to really think in the first kind of in the first 90 days, right in the first month, the CEOs job is to come in and really understand the culture of the company, the core values of the company, the history of the organization, the core purpose, the be hag or vivid vision, they really need to understand the culture that kind of permeates from the inside out. Okay, so that’s the core. And then in the first month, is spending time with all the direct reports all the business areas, sitting in on training, listening in on customer calls, riding shotgun in the field, and just writing notes and observing and doing nothing in the first 30 days is to listen and to learn and to ask questions to write down notes. In the second month, you go back in and you test all your hypotheses. Like I saw this out in the field. I wonder if it’s true. I saw that is happening the call center, I want to ask more and look into this a little bit more I look at the reports and some of the data, again, not making any decisions in month two, but you’re really deepening your understanding and testing your hypotheses on each of the things that you saw. Or were thinking about, right. I think I have to fire Bob, let me check to see if I have to fire Bob ask a bunch of Oh, shit, they were like, oh, shit bombs actually getting results, I didn’t understand, oh, shit, Bob’s mom just passed away. And I didn’t know that. And that’s why he was late for four days, right? So you start to understand things. And then in month three, you’ve met all the people, you’ve got deep understanding, you can sit down with the leadership team with what your plan is. And you can start executing on that plan, which might include getting rid of people, it might include bringing in people, where it’s really hard for to do that is when a company is in a massive turnaround stage, or they’re in a stage where they need to hire somebody quickly, or they’re crisis, kind of a wartime situation, then it’s hard because often the CFO can’t slow down, they need to get running. Yeah, so
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 41:00
this is all I mean, I think there’s a lot to learn. I like the way that you detailed it, because at some point, you’re learning things. And you may have this bias to action, but you’re almost holding back because you don’t necessarily have all the contacts yet. So you can kind of register that, but then maybe go back to it. So I think that’s a really good way to go about it, Cameron. So we’ve talked about a bunch of different concepts, and a lot of really great understanding on how to hire a CEO, how to onboard them, you know, what the actual job of this person is the dynamic between the CEO, the one thing that maybe we haven’t necessarily touched on is, how do you know that you need one, not every company has a CEO, you know, what stage you have to be what kind of problems you need to solve.
Cameron Herold 41:53
So you get to a stage where the, the CEO just starts to feel a little bit overwhelmed and a little bit stretched, and they know that they can’t oversee all of the areas, and Gramado the people in those areas. So to oversee areas is one thing, but to actually give them the time and give them the support and give them the growth and really help them remove obstacles and really help be strategic with them. That takes time. So when the entrepreneur or the CEO realizes they, they can oversee it, but they can’t grow stuff. That’s the time that’s when you need the CFO to come in and help you scale it got the first hire that you should have, instead of your second command is an executive assistant. Right? If you don’t have an executive assistant, you are one. So you need to get all the admin work off your plate. And then you can bring in that second command. The second part is don’t put a C O title on the person right away. Right? It might not be a CEO role that you’re looking for. Maybe it’s a Director of Operations, maybe it’s a VP of Operations, maybe it’s a CNN and the President or executive VP. So you need to think about the roles and responsibilities of the person. What do they need to get done? What’s the compensation you’re willing to pay? And based on the roles and responsibilities in the compensation put a title in place, that makes sense. But if you give away a huge title to a junior person, they’re going to think that they’re worth more than the otter, they’re going to end up on indeed and Glassdoor and seeing salary comparisons and you’re allowed only making 350 grand, right? When I was the CEO, one 800 got junk I left there 15 years ago, I was making 306,000, a year 15 years ago. So you can kind of double that every seven years, right? This probably equivalent to about a million dollars a year today. I was a true CEO. So but if somebody has like a director of arms, they should be paid 120 grand a year and got that compensation. So those are some things to think about as well.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 43:43
Yeah, I think the title part makes an especially if you haven’t had a CEO before, and you’re just dipping your toes in the water, it makes sense. And it’s also maybe different expectations. So you know, putting out a posting for a CEO. Maybe that person has an expectation that they’re going to hire a large set of VPS. And maybe that makes sense if you’re 1000 person company, but if you’re 100 people maybe that that might be too early.
Cameron Herold 44:09
Yeah, I had to help one company retitle everyone in the company, because they were when I started coaching them. They’re about 40 employees, they’re up to about 700. In the four years. I coached them. And there’s a company called bluegrace logistics. And they realized that some of the early stage employees had big titles. In the early days, you know, they were VPS by now that there was a 700 person company. They weren’t VP level really. They were more like director level even though they’d been there for 10 years. So we had to rip off their title. And then they all of a sudden realized they shouldn’t be getting paid, but they’re getting paid was very painful reorg for the company, because they were bringing in all these outside people that truly were VPS right. And you can see the difference. It was glaring in the meetings.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 44:51
Yeah. Hopefully most can avoid such painful. Changing titles like that can be very difficult. So
Cameron Herold 44:58
yeah, we retired About 140 Out of the 700 people on a single day. Wow, that, and it’s still ranked as the number two company to work for number one company to work for in the state of Florida.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 45:09
Wow, that’s awesome. So it was executed? Well, it was a very difficult challenge. That sounds like definitely you were definitely thinking many moves ahead before executing on that.
Cameron Herold 45:19
That’s exactly that’s a great example of the multiple chess moves ahead. Because you really had to, like I talked to a couple of the people before we’ve been told them and, you know, yeah, it’s it’s hard to do.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 45:29
So Cameron, this has been really great. So everybody should go out and get the book, the second in command, unleash the power of your SEO, we’ve scratched the surface here. There’s a lot more there. And obviously, you have this COO Alliance. You also have the second in command podcast. So lots of great resources. If people want to find you, how can they do that and tracked with you?
Cameron Herold 45:53
Sure. So all 345 and six of my books are available on Amazon, audible and iTunes. They can check out the CRM Alliance website, and then also even check out the investing your leaders course as well. We didn’t talk about that. I think we did on the first time, potentially. But that’s something they should take a look at as well. And for sure, subscribe to the second clan podcast. We have some amazing guests on there as well.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 46:13
Cool. Awesome. Well, Cameron, thanks so much for doing this again. It’s always great to see you. And whenever the next book comes out, we’ll be sure to connect again.
Cameron Herold 46:22
Awesome, thanks, Aydin appreciate it.