Cameron Herold | Best Practices for Hiring and Integrating the Second in Command
Smart Business Revolution

Cameron Herold is a business coach and keynote speaker best known for his work as the business growth guru and Founder of the COO Alliance. He has over 20 years of experience as a COO for several companies including 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, which he took from $2 million to over $100 million in revenue in just six years. Cameron is the author of six books including Double Double, Meetings Suck, and his latest, The Second in Command: Unleash the Power of Your COO. He also hosts the Second-in-Command Podcast.

In this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, John Corcoran interviews Cameron Herold, a business coach and the Founder of the COO Alliance, about best practices for hiring and integrating the second in command. They also discuss tips for nurturing a great CEO-COO relationship, when to hire and let go of a temporary COO, and Cameron’s influential books.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • Cameron Herold’s experience hosting a podcast
  • What inspired Cameron to write his latest book?
  • How to hire a second in command and successfully integrate them into an existing team
  • Cameron shares his thoughts on Elon Musk’s management style at Twitter
  • Why a CEO should not be the bad guy in a company
  • What is the “date night” concept?
  • How a new COO can build trust with employees
  • When to hire and let go of a temporary COO
  • The peers Cameron acknowledges for their support

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Sponsor: Rise25

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Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90xAtariEinstein BagelsMattelRx BarsYPO, EO, Lending Tree, Freshdesk,  and many more.  

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Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:14

Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution, John Corcoran.

John Corcoran 0:40

All right, welcome, everyone. John Corcoran here. I am the host of this show. And for those of you who’ve never heard this program before, you can check out our archives we’ve got all kinds of great interviews with smart CEOs, founders, entrepreneurs, all kinds of companies ranging from Netflix to Kinkos, Redfin, YPO, EO Activision Blizzard, LendingTree, and many more. And I’m also the Co-founder of Rise25, where we help connect b2b business owners to their ideal prospects. My guest here today is someone who I’ve known had the privilege of knowing for a number of years I’ve interviewed him before. His name is Cameron Herold. He’s a business coach and speaker best known for his work as the business growth gara guru and founder of the CEO Alliance, he has 20 years experience as a COO for several different companies, including 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, which we talked about, in my previous interview, took that company from 2 million to over 100 million in revenue, just six years. But he’s also the author of many different books, including Double Double, Meetings Suck, and his latest one is The Second Command: Unleash the Power of Your CEO. So we’re going to be really focusing in on that book. He’s also the host of the Second-in-Command Podcast, which I’ve been listening to over the last few days. So check that out. Definitely a good podcast, and one for you to check out. 

And of course, this episode is brought to you by Rise25, where we help b2b businesses get clients referrals and strategic partnerships with done-for-you podcasts and content marketing. And if you’re listening to this, and you’ve ever thought about starting podcasts, like Cameron, or like I have, I know that Cameron, you would probably say the same thing. One of the just absolute blessing to your life, you get to meet amazing people. Tell me about some of the benefits you’ve got from doing your podcasts over the years.

Cameron Herold 2:13

Yeah, well, there’s that for sure. I mean, I’ve now interviewed 245 CEOs of companies, which are they’re often very behind the scenes and getting to know them. Second part is I tend to show up as the student on every podcast, I end up learning from every podcast I’m on. And then third, and I really didn’t anticipate this as much was almost every new member of the CEO o alliance is telling us what influenced them to join was they became listeners of the second command podcast. So that’s been really good, too. Because it’s, you know, driving the car business.

John Corcoran 2:44

Yeah, it’s an amazing way for Pete, for you to be in people’s ears. And for them to consume, you hear how you think, kind of get some of your ideas. So let’s talk about the new book. This is your sixth book. So you’re up to a half dozen. Excellent, excellent. It just came out a couple of days ago as we record this. So you’ve done all these other books before in some ways, it kind of feels like, this is your life’s work. All those other books are amazingly amazing. They’re they’re acclaimed people cite them in I’ve been in so many different meetings where people talk about those different books. But this is like the book you were meant to write.

Cameron Herold 3:22

Yeah, it’s, it’s funny, because and you’re right. My first book, I will double I wrote, because a couple of speakers bureau said that if I had a book, I could raise my speaking fees. And I wanted to show the world that I was not just the one 800 got junk story that I you know, I also built three businesses. Before that I had to EO qualifying companies before joining Brian at one 800 got junk, but I wanted to show a lot of my ideas and that’s what double double was for. Then three of my other books, meeting socked vivid vision and free PR, were chapters of double double that I just didn’t give them enough. And I really wanted to really blow open those those content areas. And then the Miracle Morning for entrepreneurs was just opportunistic. I was at a mastermind event called the Genius Network, walking through the hallway. And Hal Elrod grabbed me and said, Hey, do you want to co author a book with me? And I went, Yeah, you’ve got a huge brand. Let’s do it. This one, as you said, really is kind of my life’s work and I didn’t know it. I started getting a lot of people over the last probably two years coming to me constantly, like every two or three days without exaggerating, either either over email or text or social media. Can you help me hire a CFO? Can you help me interview a CEO of what should I look for in a CFO? Wait like all of these questions, and I realized I was becoming almost the dartboard for that second command question. And Gino Wickman had done an amazing job with identifying what the integrator was in a smaller company with the visionary integrator, but there was a lot more to that story. And and then I started to interview all of these members to the second command pod. There you go and traction. You know, I started doing to interview all these second commands in my podcast, the second command, and I had, you know, members of the CEO Alliance from 17 countries. So I started to get all their ideas together. And I realized I had a lot of content there. So yeah, I started to work on it. And about, I think about halfway through working on the book, something trigged kind of triggered in me that I realized that this is what I should really put the effort into. Whereas a few of my others, I was opportunistic enough that I could get them done and out the door, and they were great. I thought I could really make this one like really, really, really good. And so I just put everything into it. And it’s strong.

John Corcoran 5:37

Yeah. So let’s, let’s break it down a little bit. So let’s start at the beginning. I’m a company that doesn’t have a CEO in place right now. Or maybe we had one who’s left. I’m advising you, you’re giving me advice on how to hire, how to bring them in, we’ll go through all the different steps of it. But where do you start with a company that is evaluating if they even need a CEO? And if so how did they slot one in?

Cameron Herold 6:06

Yeah, so what you notice as the entrepreneur who does not yet have that second command, and I call it the second command intentionally, because your first second in command could have very different titles than CEO, it could be a VP of Operations, it could be a director of operations, it could be a general manager or project manager, it could be a president, but it’s really somebody who’s going to take a lot of stuff off your plate, to either free up your time to work and your unique ability, or free up your time to give you a life, or to help you get a whole bunch more done. Because there’s too much to do. Or they might free up your time, so that you can grow some of the people that are reporting to you that currently you can manage them, but you’re not really growing them. Right. And I think the leaders job is really to grow people. So the first thing you have to think about as that CEO or founder is what are the parts of the business that feed you with energy? What are the things in the business that you’re really, really good at? And what are the parts of the business that, you know, if you spent more time on, you could really create a bit of a flywheel effect. And then identify at the same time, all the stuff that you suck at that drain you of energy, that are either beneath you or you’re not great at or somebody else could just do a better job at if they would really put their energy into it. And that becomes the basket of things that your second command will end up doing. Based on that basket of things, you’ll know what the title should be, and you’ll know what to pay them. And the bigger the title, the more you’re going to end up paying. So be careful, you don’t give out titles too early, that are too big. The next part of that is in this last part that will let you can ask questions is, the higher the title, the more strategic value that person should bring into the company, they should be able to understand the strategy and to think their answer to every problem should not be hire more people, right? They should be thinking about automation and optimization and saying no and, and they should bring a level of strategic insight into the company that you probably don’t have today. Those reasons, it’s an

John Corcoran 8:08

interesting way of describing it a basket of things that you don’t want to do. To be devil’s advocate here, does that make it really difficult to find that perfect match when it’s kind of cobbling together all these different things that you don’t like doing to find that perfect match to find someone that’s really good and all those areas,

Cameron Herold 8:26

it actually makes it easy once you’re really really as Alice in Wonderland, you know, in the book, Alice in Wonderland, I think the Cheshire Cat said if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. But once you’re very clear on what you’re looking for, it’s very easy to find that person. So as an example, I really don’t like accounting and finance. And I really don’t like engineering and it I’m not good at them. i They drain me of energy and and I suck at it. But there’s people who actually went to school for it. Like they they like it so much they went to school for it. Whereas I was in second year managerial accounting, and I was paying somebody to do my assignments, because I hated it. So I learned how to hire an accountant, and they went to school to be one. So when you find so if I wanted to, as a CEO, have a second command, I would find somebody who loved it and loves finance. And they could run those areas for me, in addition to some other stuff, because I like the strategy and the networking and bizdev and PR and kind of the outward facing side of the business.

John Corcoran 9:26

She identified the areas in which you might want to hire for are there skills assessments or personality assessments or anything like that, that you recommend? There are and

Cameron Herold 9:35

it’s also something to be mindful of is that you’re going to bring a second command into your company for a reason, or a season, but not necessarily a lifetime. And it’s funny, I actually didn’t even include this in the book. It’s something that concept that started to occur to me more and more in the last few months as I’ve been talking about the book. Often we bring in a second command and I cover this part to do something in the business like a reorg or to lead We’re adjusts or to get deeper into an area or to do change management or to free us up for the season component is, they’re not going to be with us forever. Because as the company goes through 2x and 4x and 10x, that CEO probably doesn’t have the skill set to run a company 10 times bigger than they do today. Right? So the key is to think about that component as well, is what are we looking for? What’s the size of the person? What are we willing to pay them? And then to figure out where do we go find them? Right, engaging a search firm, leveraging your social media, writing Fantastic job postings and having a copywriter polish it so it really pops in resonates? And kind of really attacking it that way?

John Corcoran 10:40

Yeah. Now, what about the team? So you’ve got an existing team? How do you hire someone where this person is going to come in and some of them are going to report to this newbies coming from the outside without angering the entire existing team?

Cameron Herold 10:54

Great question. I don’t know if you’ve ever Have you ever seen in Star Trek? They played three dimensional chess?

John Corcoran 11:00

Right? That’s you combine those boards on Amazon?

Cameron Herold 11:03

I know Dimitri retreat and who I’m friends with is, is you might saw that

John Corcoran 11:07

he posted up Facebook. That’s where I first learned about him like, yeah, heck is that thing

Cameron Herold 11:11

he and his son Vitalik, who started the theory and play 3d chess together. So that’s this is like a 3d chess game. How do you understand how to sell some of the current employees that they’re going to get to report to this new person? How do you keep your current people but let them know they’re not seasoned enough to take the company to the next level? How do you bring somebody from the outside in without upsetting the applecart? So there’s I talk a lot about that, in that in that kind of first 90 day period, and also hiring the CFO who’s very strong on the people side of the business, who will work hard at building the relationships and building trust and almost following Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to establish that current safety and foundation are the people so that then they’ll decide to follow. Another thing you can do is get your current employees to be part of the interviewing and hiring process of their new boss. So they realize, wow, these people are operating at a different level than I am, I am really impressed with them. And I really liked this person, you know, above the other three, maybe. So you get down to your part of the process.