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

John Corcoran 12:14

What about so you, you’ve chosen someone, you decide you’re going to hire them. And it considerations around how you bring them in after they’ve been hired, assuming your team has been involved in the hiring process?

Cameron Herold 12:27

Yeah, it’s really following I’m calling it the kind of first 90 day model and the first 30 days, the second command should show up with a notebook and a pen. And they should walk around the company for 30 days, sitting in on every meeting in person or virtual meeting with every direct report meeting with all the other directors and VPS. listening in on sales calls, listening in on customer service calls, getting blind CC that as many emails as possible, reading up on the SOPs and processes in the company, really watching and observing and making notes of all the stuff they want to change, fire Bob, integrate this tie in that bringing this software but don’t do any of it. Just make notes of all the things. And maybe at the end of the 30 days, you’ve got 60 Things you want to do. in month two, you go back and revisit, revisit all of those 60 things and you stress test them all, you know asking some questions like and you learn Oh, Bob really isn’t as bad as I thought he was or Oh, Kelly is worse, we should really should get rid of her. But you don’t act on them still, you just figure out which ones you should really be acting on. And then at the end of the month, you put them all in the order of operations, kind of the highest impact. And the easiest to put in place. Things First, month three is all about doing some of the stuff that are the easy wins that don’t require a lot of people time or money so that the people around you go, Oh, easy win. Oh, easy win, Oh, easy win. And they start seeing some momentum from some of these things, which builds their trust builds their confidence, the momentum creates some momentum and in second quarter, you can start putting in place some of the bigger projects, some of the hairier projects, some of the integrations,

John Corcoran 14:10

I’m curious if you would change that timeline if the house is burning, in other words, if the company has got a cancer within it or something.

Cameron Herold 14:18

Yeah, I mean, that’s that’s a completely different scenario where the person is coming in. And there’s something Ben Horowitz did a really good job with his book, The hard thing about hard things, talking about the wartime CEO versus the peacetime CEO. And in that kind of a situation when you’re coming in and the company is cratering or something’s really going wrong. You need to come in and act and you’re not really worried about whether people like you or not, because the reality is, if they all like you and the business goes bankrupt, what’s the point? That’s just a very different type and and hopefully you can come out the other end of that. You will lose some people along the way, but that’s okay. The point is save the company.

John Corcoran 14:53

We are recording this into January 2023. We’ve all observed this and especially the entrepreneurial World with Elon Musk and Twitter in the last two months very publicly, he came in and a lot of things you were talking about there. He did immediately he let let them know that the company was losing money. Had to let people go. Any thoughts on on that as that’s been an unveiling?

Cameron Herold 15:18

Yeah, he’s doing absolutely the right things. I think he might be doing it in slightly the wrong way in terms of the communication behind it, right. You can be a wartime CEO and still keep people calm. You can be a wartime CEO and still not be a dick about it, I think. And I’ve known Elon for 28 years, he couldn’t be approaching some of this on a communications and a public facing side a little bit different. But he’s doing the right things. Like I just spoke to a CEO this morning of a company that six months ago had 120 full time employees. Today she has 11. Wow, she was doing high end recruiting and high end hiring of people for the tech sector. And literally her entire disappeared, voted. Yeah. So she’ll be fine. Like she’s gonna, you’re gonna turn and pivot. But in those kinds of situations, CEOs need to be ruthless, right? You can’t try to be liked by everybody. Well, oh, I’m worried about them. We don’t have their job. And we’re like, fuck, if I worry about the 110, all 110 are going to be out of a job.

John Corcoran 16:18

Yeah. Now in a situation where the house isn’t on fire normal situation. I believe I heard you say in an interview that the CEO shouldn’t have to be the bad guy. Talk a little bit about that.

Cameron Herold 16:29

Yeah, ideally, the CEO needs to be the iconic beacon, right, the chief energizing officer, and we need to be able to come in with that good positive energy for people to follow. And the CEOs job is to be behind the scenes, making all the tough decisions, and shining the spotlight on the CEO to make them look good. The CEO internally needs to shine the spotlight on the CEO to say, hey, you know, Cameron needs to make the tough decisions, I need somebody to be doing the tough stuff. Cameron has to be the hardest, because it frees me up to just be able to think and be, you know, good culture. So you’re both shining the spotlight on each other. And that’s a really tough role for the CEO, the CEO to play, but most of them will happily play it. Yeah. Cheryl’s Sheryl Sandberg as an example, for the first 10 or 12 years, she was at Facebook as CFO was a very much an unknown CEO. It was only in the last two or three years at Facebook that people even finally get to know who she was. But she was there as Mark COO for 15 years.

John Corcoran 17:29

Yeah, quietly behind the scenes, talking about the date night concept,

Cameron Herold 17:35

a lot of what I started to learn about the CEO CEO relationship, part of it came from experiential from Brian and I building one 800 got junk. And a lot of it is coming from talking to the other CEOs of our CFO Alliance. And then even the second command, podcast guests. The CEO and CFO are very much the business spouses. Right, it’s like your husband and wife, you know, couple that has happened to be running a business together. And all of the same rules of engagement apply. You need to be able to argue and fight but not in front of the kids, right. So you need to be able to have your space for the two of you to argue and debate but not in front of the rest of the team, not in front of the board, not in front of the employees, because they need to see a kind of a joint yin and yang force, right? You need to be able to have time to spend time with each other and decompress, like getting out of the office together and don’t going and having fun having date night, going away on vacations, going skiing going in, right you know, riding bikes together or whatever. But just doing some stuff to have fun so that you can settle into it and breathe and know that you’re each on the same page. And each driving the company forward. I think you also need time to just get away and kind of work on the house together, right? So Brian, and I would get off site once a week and just sit at the tennis club and do work and not sit and having fun. We were just sitting beside each other or near each other in the same room doing work. But it allowed us to get off site and to just banter back and forth without the rest of the team necessarily being around and without the interruptions to the day to day. But lots of little systems like that are really powerful and foundational. in that relationship.

John Corcoran 19:09

How does the bill the CEOs, especially in New or CO whether they’re promoted within, but especially if they come from the outside, build trust when they really have to be the bad guy in many cases, and they’re when they’re evaluating systems and making changes.

Cameron Herold 19:27

So there’s two sides to that. One is how does the CEO build trust with the CEO? And then the second is, how does the CEO build trust with their team? They’re both coincidentally the same. It’s speaking honestly, it’s speaking with candor. It’s obsessing about the core values. It’s owning up to the areas that you suck at. And really, you know, being being like, I’m not good at this. And realizing we’re all not good at stuff. It’s being vulnerable and saying, You know what I’m struggling at home right now is something you but not letting it affect your work. So it’s letting people connect with us, but also realizing we have our shit together, you know? So when you realize that every single one of us, you, me, you know, all of your guests, my guests, we’re all struggling with something today, right? There’s something that each of us as humans are struggling with. It’s part of the human condition. So when we can own that, whether we sit down with a CD and we go, Dude, I had a shit weekend, man, my wife and I had a fight or my kids struggling with this, or my dad’s got cancer, I’m worried about whatever. How’s your weekend? He goes, Oh, dude, I fucking had blah, blah, blah. And then you go, shit. All right, ready to dig in? Yeah, let’s get our shit. And you just kind of own the fact that, hey, we’re struggling, hey, we’re here for each other. Okay, now let’s get back to work. Those are powerful things. Another thing that builds trust is just making sure that our team is no us. You know, doing lifelines with them at our, you know, your quarterly retreats, taking some of the exercises that we do in an EO forum, or Wyatt YPO forum or Vistage group. And those exercises work with your teams and your and your CEO as well. That kind of stuff.

John Corcoran 21:08

Yeah. Are you one of the challenges I know for me, and for my visit bar, Jeremy and I, as we build this company has been figuring out when to hire at the right time, who you know, the proverbial who in the right seat? The Right, right seats on the bus. You mentioned earlier that, you know, sometimes you’re hiring temporarily for a season and there may be a point where you out outgrow that person. How do you know when you’ve reached that point when you need a new person in that CEO role? Yeah,

Cameron Herold 21:40

so it’s the season right when that when that season is over. So I was Brian CEO from 2 million to 106 million. I was a very entrepreneurial CEO who had already built two other franchise companies. And by the time we got to like the fifth year, the business was finally getting big. For the first four years, I was a play box, I’d done it before I could easily do it. I could wing it, I could make it up the wazoo and it was good. It started to get big at year five. And then it was it was really big at year six. Brian recognized and spoke first on it. I knew it internally that it was time to get going. And then he pulled me aside when Thursday morning and he said I think we’re done. And I broke down crying and he broke down crying and he made me drop me or take a taxi home because I couldn’t drive my car. And he was right. I was the last of the five people on the leadership team, I was the last of the five to finally need to be replaced. Because the company that I came in to start running at 2 million was substantially different at 100 million. When I came in, I was the 14th employee. That morning that we talked there were 3100 employees system wide. Well, you know, 12 months later, they brought my replacement in. She was the former president of Starbucks us. And she walked in and said, What a cute little company. Right? And I’m going she ended up being the wrong person culturally. So she only lasted a year. And then Brian then brought in another CEO who’s now been there for nine years, 10 years. And Eric has been amazing taking the company to 450 million. But he would have been horrible in the first six years. I actually Eric and I have been friends for 35 years, we started a fraternity together in Ottawa, Canada in 1987. I was president year one, he was president year two, strangely now, COO. But he didn’t have any of the skills that I had for the first six years that were necessary. Just like I didn’t have any of the skills that was necessary to take it to the 450 million.

John Corcoran 23:37

So it kind of brings us full circle. So it gets back to being really clear on what are the skill sets that you need from this level to that level?

Cameron Herold 23:45

Yeah. And have you done it before? Right? Have you proven that you’ve done it before, it’s very key to remember that you need to hire people that have done what you need them to do? Not that they’ve read a book on it, or they have the theory behind them. You know, if you ask me, Do you know how to win an Olympic gold? Yeah, of course, you know, be better be better than everybody. Do you know how to swim all four strokes? Yeah, I can do back crawl Front crawl, butterfly. I’ll drown doing butterfly bag and do it for like 12 feet. But if you wanted someone who has broken in the Olympic record at butterfly has competed in all four strokes, has done individual and team events in the Olympics. That’s a very different person than me that knows, right? So. But companies get so sloppy with their interviewing where we get all enamored in this person and their culture fit, and they know how to do something, but they’ve never done it before. You need to hire. So that’s what you have to look for. And it’s hard. Sometimes you need to engage a search firm to go and poach those people because they’re often not looking for a job they’re already working.

John Corcoran 24:46

Yeah, or the flip side of that coin is you hire the former president of Starbucks, who right knows how to do it but aren’t a good fit for other reasons.

Cameron Herold 24:55

Brack so you need to hire both for culture fit and proven skill set and the needs to be for the right stage of the company. You can’t bring in somebody who’s too big and are gonna roll up their sleeves if it’s entrepreneurial, nor can you put an entrepreneurial person into a big corporate environment.

John Corcoran 25:09

Yeah. Cameron. This has been awesome. I want to wrap up with a question I was asked, which is I’m a big fan of gratitude. I’m a big fan of expressing gratitude, especially to those who’ve helped you along the way. I’m sure there’s a long list. Just looking at the back of your book. We’ve got a lot of, you know, impressive names, many of which I’ve had as a guest on this show. You’ve also mentioned some other names. So I’ll throw up Ben Horowitz, Sean McGinnis, Verne Harnish, Joe Polish Jason Kennard, Gina Whitman, all amazing people, individuals and entrepreneurs and founders, but who would in your words, who would you acknowledge? Who would you want to thank?

Cameron Herold 25:44

I gotta do, I’ll do do it fast. But I want to name three. Greg Clark, who founded college pro painters was my first mentor really created a world a real world MBA, taught me the art of running a company, and then I was able to learn coaching 120 of their franchisees. So Greg was foundational. We still talk today. The second is Jack Daly, Jack and I he’s known around the world for being this professional sales coach, amazing sales leader has spent a lot of time one on one over wine and steaks, talking and Jack gave me some very foundational formative ideas for my business 10 or 12 years ago, you know, selling my videos and how to structure my coaching and how to create teams of people that were all paid on on commissions, and just some really good foundational stuff for my business. He was really powerful with it. I’ve never said thank you to Jack. So that would have been a big one. Yeah, I had a third and oh, and then Greg Johnson. Greg was my mentor for about 18 months when I was the CFO at one 800 got junk. Greg was the former being trained as CFO at Starbucks. And we did, he did an hour call with me every month for about two years. And then one quarter, he would come up to Vancouver for a full day, next quarter, I go down to Seattle head office of theirs for a full day. We did that back and forth for two years. And that was really huge for me to grow as a leader and as a husband. And yeah, Greg was really and he did it for free. So that was pretty powerful, too.

John Corcoran 27:10

Wow. Cameron. Isn’t that great? Where can people go to check out the book and learn more about COO Alliance?

Cameron Herold 27:15

For sure. Yeah, all of my books are available on Amazon, audible and iTunes. And then definitely just check out the if you’re doing at least five million in revenue or greater, you need that to qualify. And also check out my course we didn’t talk about but it’s called, is really got some huge tools on growing your people.

John Corcoran 27:33

And Second in-Command Podcast also.

Cameron Herold 27:35

Bingo. Yeah, for sure. 

John Corcoran 27:37

Thank you, Cameron. Thanks so much. 

Cameron Herold 27:39

Thanks, John.

Outro 27:40

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