Cameron Herold, The CEO Whisperer

Hiring Process Cameron Herold, The CEO Whisperer

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The Hire Talents podcast, Optimizing The Hiring Process, for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs is excited to host Cameron Herold, a true serial entrepreneurial genius known around the world . He is the mastermind behind hundreds of companies’ exponential growth. Join us as we get in depth with THE CEO WHISPERER

To learn more visit Cameron Herold.

In today’s episode of The Hire Talent’s podcast,
Optimizing the Hiring Process, we speak
with Cameron Herold

Official Websites:

Invest In Your Leaders

COO Alliance

Cameron Herold

Social Media:
LinkedIn | Instagram | Facebook


Fletcher: So, welcome to The Hire Talents podcast, optimizing the hiring process for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs. And I’m really excited today, because I’ve got Cameron Herold, a true entrepreneurial genius with us. I was shocked when he showed up on our schedule that he’d be willing to spend so much time with us, but no, it’s really a blessing. So, if you guys don’t know who Cameron is, well, first off, he’s a serial entrepreneur ever since he was a kid, probably like many of us, and small businesses galore. He met the 1-800-GOT-JUNK guy in an EO forum. So those of you who are in EO or IPO or Vistage, I mean, you know this experience. And he was recruited to become the COO and took the business from 2 or 3 million to 106 million. I mean, like blew it up.

Cameron Herold: Yeah, that was me. It was fun.

Fletcher: Yeah. And I mean, I think we all know that name brand. And so it’s really amazing. Subsequently, he’s a big name on the speaking circuit, see him all over the place. And so many of us entrepreneurs probably seen him as a headliner and other breakout sessions. And more importantly, and I think it’s really cool what he’s done here is he started the COO Alliance, which is kind of an EO IPO Vistage type of forum group for COO’s who a lot of times are the ones making it happen. No offense to all the entrepreneurs out there with these great visions, but the COOs are the ones doing the heavy lifting and having to do the execution part, right?

Cameron Herold: Yeah. It’s funny Fletcher, I’ve never understood why we’re teaching guys like you and I, or Brian even, on how to run their company. What we should be doing is teaching the CEO what needs to happen, but teaching the COO and then also investing in our leaders and teaching them how to make it happen. So yeah, the COO Alliance, there’s no entrepreneurs allowed to join. It’s only for the second command.

Fletcher: No, I think it’s really great. So for all the COOs listening to this, I definitely would check it out. I’m a huge fan. So Cameron and I got a chance to kind of noodle around last week before this. I was griping about how nobody teaches entrepreneurs or business leaders, let alone just entrepreneur, but the COOs or even worse, the middle managers or mid-level leaders to be, really because that’s what they are, not managers they’re leaders, to be great at hiring. And even worse, nobody teaches them how to interview or select or to assess talent. There’s minimal opportunities in business school and even within organizations to learn these things. And so I wanted to frame that problem up a little bit. I think Cameron you’d appreciate this. I think of it as a multimillion dollar problem.

Cameron Herold: Oh, billion dollar problem.

Fletcher: Yeah. For any one organization, it might be tens to hundreds of millions of dollars just for that one company, right?

Cameron Herold: Yeah. It was actually a data point that I saw recently that says the cost of the wrong hire is one times the salary, but the cost of having that person in the role can be 15 times their salary. So it costs you one times a salary just to do it again, to restart the recruiting process rehiring. But if you have the wrong person in the role it’s actually costing you 15 times their salary because of the problems, the opportunity costs, the negativity, the mistakes. It’s a really, really expensive problem.

Fletcher: And I spent a lot of time thinking about this. I’ve spent literally my entire life. I mean, since I was a teenager thinking about hiring and building great teams and getting the right people on the bus and many years ago when I started this business, I took over this business from my father about eight years ago, I was going through that and I understood this concept of it costs a lot, but certainly breaking it down, start to think about it logically like, well, [inaudible] computer and I spend all this money on ads and interviewing and training and I’m like, adding it all up and it’s like, I’ve got 5 grand or 10 grand invested into this thing. It’s like, okay, well it’s not that much, it’s the opportunity cost.

Cameron Herold: It’s the opportunity cost. And then it’s also, if you actually took your effective hourly rates that you were actually spending on doing interviews, scanning through the resumes, setting up the interviews, following up on interviews, thinking about the candidates, the effective hourly rate that we actually waste multiplied by those hours, we often don’t think about that. We think about the hard cost, but we don’t think about our time and there’s a huge cost in there as well.

Fletcher: Yeah, if you’re not getting the job done. I think about salespeople. I mean, this is the easiest equation, but you can use this equation for any role. Sales person work with a handful of in-home sales type folks and I mean, 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, in home sales or B to C type of environment. I mean, what’s a sales quota for a good salesperson at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? What are they producing in revenue annually for you guys?

Cameron Herold: Well, our franchise partners at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? do a million dollars plus. The guys that are in the truck are earning $40,000 a year. So you get the wrong guy out in the truck and they’re not landing all the additional jobs. They’re not stopping to hustle and knock on doors. They’re not upselling a customer. They’re not wowing the customer on site so there’s all spinoff problems. It can cost the franchisee a half a million bucks because the guy in the truck isn’t doing the job or isn’t wowing the customers. And then if you flip it, if you have the right people, they’re wowing the customers, they’re amazing when they talk to the media, because we get a lot of media coverage, they attract other employees to come and work there. They’re driving to the dump, but they spot junk on the side of some business they stop and they do a quick cold call. You multiply one job a day times 200 [crosstalk].

Fletcher: There’s 5 grand generated or lost.

Cameron Herold: It’s huge. It’s [inaudible] over the course of a year.

Fletcher: I wanted to really continue to unpack this issue. It’s a loaded question, but is hiring the most important thing that we do as leaders in businesses or is it something else?

Cameron Herold: I think there’s two. I think the most important job for a leader is to grow people. So once you have the right people, our job is to grow their skills and their confidence skills and competence. But yes, if you can get ahead of the curve and hire the solid A’s and B players, it’s easier to grow. Even the best athletes have a coach, right? So even if you hire a bunch of A’s, you’re still going to grow their skills and confidence. But yeah, I think the two are intertwined. The thing that’s always blown me away and you and I were talking about this a couple of weeks ago is I can’t imagine being a company today who has a manager that has to do job interviews that hasn’t had at least 20 or 30 hours of training on how to do job interviews.

You consider the cost of that wrong person, why would you ever allow a manager, a leader… If they don’t know how to screen a resume, if they don’t know how to set up the actual interview itself, if they don’t know how to open the interview. If they don’t know how to do the probing, if they don’t know how to do the follow-up questions, if they don’t know how to sell without you selling. If they don’t know how to use the pregnant pauses and open closed questions and closed questions and [inaudible], they have no business doing an interview, let alone if they’re not sure what behavioral traits to look for and what skills to look for and how to analyze the personality profiles being used. How can you possibly say you have a solid team?

Fletcher: And you just listed like 15 different skills and strategies and techniques that you ultimately have to master to become good at interviewing. We’re not going to teach you on this podcast and all of a sudden you’re going to be great at it.

Cameron Herold: Well, that was why I said at least 20 hours of training was you probably need about an hour of training at minimum, just to become competent. Let’s say you had a bronze, silver or gold-

Fletcher: To become aware.

Cameron Herold: Right, yeah exactly. Is anybody even aware that you should have a system for analyzing or for reviewing a resume before you set up an interview? Probably not. Then do they know how to review a resume? Is everyone in your company reviewing it the same way? Do you know how to look at the gaps in the resume? Do you know how to call bullshit? Do you know how to look for precision? They don’t even what to look for.

Fletcher: How do you match the resume to the ideal candidate profile? Who is your ideal candidate? I think a lot of people can barely answer that question.

Cameron Herold: Yeah. I’m lucky because at a very, very early age, I was a part of an organization called College Pro Painters, which a lot of people know of, but College Pro went on to become the largest residential house painting company on the planet. And every year there were 60 of us at the head office that had to go out and recruit, hire, and train 800 franchisees. And then in one month we had the train those 800 franchisees how to go out and recruit, interview, hire and train 8,000 painters. So imagine being a company that had to recruit, interview, hire and train 8,800 people every year, you become operationally world-class at interviewing.

Fletcher: So, we put systems into our businesses for all different types of activities that we do, whether it’s sales or operations or service. And so we’re constantly thinking about implementing those, but we neglect to implement or… Well, if you just implement and then let alone execute an amazing hiring system. So what did you learn at College Pro Painters back then? What were they teaching you that taught you how to be a better at recruiting and hiring?

Cameron Herold: So I’ll give you a few that kind of ring, or that still I guess are part of my system to this day. The first one is as Stephen Covey used to say from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is you begin with the end in mind. So the first part is what are you looking for in a successful hire? What are the behavioral traits that they have to exhibit? What are the core values in your company that they already have to live? And what are the skills or the roles that they’re going to have to do and have they done it before? I don’t want to hire someone that knows how to do something, I want to hire someone that has done it.

A good example would be, I know how to break a world record, but I’ve never done it. So would you rather hire someone who’s broken a world record or someone who knows how to break a world record. Well, I know how to manage teams, have I ever managed teams? Right. So that’s the starting point. The next one is to define in layman’s terms, in very simple English, a definition for each of the skills or traits that you’re looking for. And then if everyone has the same definition in your company, then start it off with a list of questions to at least start with, to start the interview to see if you can rate people. It kind of goes on from there, but it’s really start with what you’re looking for.

Fletcher: Yeah. And I find myself talking to clients day in and day out, and it always begins there. So I consider that candidate profile, what qualities, experiences do they have and do they align with what I need, but what I need starts with the job description, and job description, ideally, and we see this very often has not been thought through. We haven’t really, truly figured out what are the key measurable activities or outcomes that I’m hoping this person will achieve?

Cameron Herold: The measurable ones.

Fletcher: Measurable is the key.

Cameron Herold: And here’s something that I just stumbled on about a year or so ago with job postings that now has blown me away. For the most part, there’s not a single hiring manager or a VP of a business area, the people that are typically writing the job posting, or even the people in HR, most of those people have zero training at copywriting. Most of them aren’t good writers. So think of your job posting as a sales letter or as a marketing tool-

Fletcher: It’s an advertisement.

Cameron Herold: You got to get your job posting rewritten by a copywriter to make it pop off the page to attract the right people. And I was like, I never even thought of that before.

Fletcher: Well, so here’s how it all comes together for me. I mean, you nailed it. Let’s have the ideal candidate profile, let’s have a scorecard and let’s define those. So it starts with the job descriptions, and I’m okay with a job description being boring, as long as it is smart. Specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time bound in the key things that I want them to achieve. I’m going to hire a salesperson, there’s a certain revenue. I don’t care so much about the paper. Sure, it’s on there, you need to be good at paperwork, but I’ll deal with that. So I’ve got a smart, let’s specifically generate a million dollars in revenue. Okay, great. Now you create your profile. Well, who’s likely to be able to do that? Following your recipe, what kind of behavioral qualities and past experiences that they have that will match or prove that they can do it?

Now, then you create your scorecard. So now that’s a way to assess them. We haven’t even begun advertising for a job yet. We’ve done all these things first and we’ve clearly thought through it. Now you create a job advertisement. So there’s really these four PT pieces that are the foundation of your hiring system that you really have to think through and that advertising being the last piece. Differentiating the difference between the job description and a job advertisement are huge. And so I challenge anybody who’s listening to this, go on Indeed and just look up whatever job you’re hiring for and look at all your competitors ads. And my guess is what, 7 to 9 out of 10 of them will look like a boring old job description.

Cameron Herold: Which is what you’re going to end up recruiting as well. You’re going to end up getting boring, old job candidates.

Fletcher: Exactly. And a handful of them will be these remarkable copywritten pieces that are inspiring and really generate interest. You think A players like boring?

Cameron Herold: No. And the other thing for me about job postings is I actually want to push some people away. I want to make it very polarizing so that everyone who reads it thinks this is absolutely for me, or there’s no way I’d ever want to work there, but I really don’t want to leave anything up for interpretation. They have to know this is going to be the hardest job they’ve ever had, but they’re going to love doing it. They’re going to work with an extremely bipolar manic ADD CEO, but they’re also going to know I’ll go through brick walls for them. When you write stuff and what’s weird is most companies A, don’t do this, and we’re not even yet talking about reviewing a resume or doing the interview.

Fletcher: I mean, we could sit here and talk for an hour just about getting this part right. So they taught you how to really properly identify the ideal candidate and really got you the fundamentals of hiring ingrained in your systems then. So how did you master hiring? You must have been pretty good at it then, but I imagine this didn’t just happen overnight for you.

Cameron Herold: No, so back in the day we had a couple of different trainers who came in to train us on doing interviews. So we were trained on using the pregnant pause and open ended questions and closed questions and we called it the reverse cell and setting up the interview. We were trained on all aspects of the job interview. We videoed ourselves interviewing candidates using, we had a big VHS camera and a tripod. I remember when I was getting certified in the interviewing, I was interviewing Kimbal Musk, who was Elon’s brother. And I had a video camera set up of me interviewing Kimbal on interview. And I sent that VHS tape to my VP and he went through the resume and the scorecard and my questions and watched the interview and gave me feedback on the entire process. And then I went back and I practiced it again. What was I doing well, what wasn’t I doing well?

And that kind of constant coaching and feedback loop allowed me to get better. And then we would debrief. We would also debrief. If I ended up with a shitty candidate, I’m not going to say the guy’s name, but six months later I had this candidate who was like, how did this guy ever get hired? And my VP pulled me aside and he goes, how did this guy ever get hired? Let’s go back and look at your notes. Let’s look at your prep. Because we had to keep them all. And I went through, I’m like, Oh wow. I knew when I interviewed him that he wasn’t good. So you work at that.

Fletcher: Yeah, it’s that practice. My father always taught me when you want to teach somebody how to do something it’s a, see one, do one, teach one, is a basic rule of thumb. You observe somebody doing it well. You do it yourself. You practice and you fail and you digest. And the teach one part is kind of interesting. Regurgitating the information that you have mastered or that you’ve learned and having to then if you can actually take what you’ve learned and then teach somebody how to do it, that’s where mastery occurs.

Cameron Herold: We called it [inaudible]. It was demonstrate. So you would demonstrate the task. Let’s say I was going to demonstrate how to do closed questions. And then I would observe during a role practice. And then I would re-demonstrate. So you show them again so they could use reflective observation. And then I would give them a task. And then I would demonstrate, observe, re-demonstrate, assign a goal, give them a task and then inspect. So then I would inspect how they get and then we would cycle it back again.

Fletcher: Over and over again. No, I love that. And I think we miss that so often. I mean, I think this is applicable to anything we do in our businesses like when you’re onboarding and teaching them the tasks, but I think in interviewing, that’s a big part-

Cameron Herold: Let’s forget about managers and leaders for a second. How many entrepreneurs have ever been trained? The square root of nothing. Most entrepreneurs have had no training in this.

Fletcher: We just wing it. It’s all a gut feeling and we’re just fumbling around trying to figure it out.

Cameron Herold: I like them. I like that guy, I like that one.

Fletcher: Yeah. But why do you like them? Well, I don’t know.

Cameron Herold: Yeah. And too often the entrepreneurs or the leaders are doing all the talking in the interview. The candidates should be speaking 90% to 95% of the time.

Fletcher: You know what I love about mastering interviewing is it teaches you how to be A, a better manager because the same thing applies when you’re managing, put that aside, it teaches you to be a better salesperson.

Cameron Herold: I’ve learned what we called the reverse cell. And we use this very well at College Pro Painters and at 1-800-GOT-JUNK. So the reverse cell was asking the candidate questions that get them to sell themselves on the job and they get them selling you on why they’d be good for the job. Instead of me telling them how good a company is, I’ll say to them, “So what was it about our vivid vision that has you excited? What is it from our company from your research that has you really wanting to work here?” And it reinforces for them, but if I sell them on it, especially as a franchisee, they tend to run away because they feel like I’m trying to sell them a franchise. So it’s the art of selling without selling.

Fletcher: Yeah. It’s the same thing you do when you sell anything else though. You’re asking questions, you’re uncovering what their personal and professional goals are. And once you better understand that, I can’t sell you anything until I understand what problem I’m trying to help solve.

Cameron Herold: Yeah, we were trained in that as well it was called the personal selling model. Once you understand the person’s goals and their career goals, you pretend that that’s the roof and they’re trying to get up on the roof. And then your company is the ladder to get up on the roof. But if you don’t know what the roof looks like, the ladder can go anywhere.

Fletcher: Yeah. You can go on and on with this. I mean, I think it’s really amazing.

Cameron Herold: That’s why we’re talking.

Fletcher: Yeah. Well, one of the areas that as I’ve been lucky enough to build two growing companies and I’m still relatively in my infant stages here. Well, one of the things, when we started these companies, I didn’t want a job. I wasn’t creating a business in order to have a job. I mean, most entrepreneurs, that’s our goal is not to have a job but we find ourselves having it, but to allow them to stand on their own so that I could do the things that I want.

And what that’s opened up for us because one, we do professional search and the other side of this is talent assessment is I found these opportunities to do consulting and so we’ve increasingly been doing more and more of these, everything we’re talking about and the things that we talk about with folks. So the exact [inaudible] teach one approach or that you were talking about here. I think it’s just amazing and I think we need to spend more time on it. But let’s say we’re we’re an entrepreneur, this is becoming increasingly a bigger part of our world, you don’t have time to hire a coach necessarily. What would you start doing today differently? What are three things that you would begin with to start improving your ability to hire?

Cameron Herold: So what’s interesting is, in the school system, I think the school system messed us up because the school system taught us that we were supposed to be good at every subject. And if we weren’t good at every subject, we were supposed to get a coach or a tutor to help us get better at that subject and we were supposed to work harder at that subject. The reality is most of us still suck at those subjects that we were bad at. So instead of trying to get good at something you suck at, try to find some people in your organization who already have some excitement around it and have some competency and let’s get them better at it.

So I think for the entrepreneur is to be aware of the parts of the interviewing and recruiting system that exist and then define some people that can help your managers and leaders get better at those. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the blind leading the blind. The entrepreneur doesn’t have to get good at interviewing to then teach. So I would have all of your employees read the book Who by Geoff Smart. His dad Brad Smart wrote the book Topgrading, which is used by the best companies on the planet, but it’s 800 pages. It was more digestible. I would have all of your managers and leaders read chapter two from my book, Double Double because it talks about the interviewing process that we use at 1-800-GOT-JUNK and College Pro.

I would maybe find two or three videos on YouTube that are free on the interviewing side of the business and have your people look at that. I have a course coming out called Invest In Your leaders and one of 12 modules is the interviewing module where people can actually learn how to interview. But that would be the starting point I think would be to get a consultant to come in and teach you over Zoom or in person, read the book Who that kind of stuff. That gives you some competency that gives you a base level of maybe bronze.

Fletcher: And that’s the awareness part. So read the book. Topgrading, we integrate that into the things we teach all the time. We love it. We’re huge topgrading people, we’re huge fans of Lou Adler who’s been on this show. So we love him as well. So, read the books. So Cameron, we’ll make sure that your links are here on the web page so that people can find that and they can either read your book or they can get your e-learning course there. And I definitely encourage people to just consume as much of it as possible. I mean, that’s how I learned. I read all these books and practice all these things. And I read that stupid Topgrading book. I mean, 2000 pages, which is remarkable, but yeah, Who is so much better.

Cameron Herold: What’s interesting about adult learning is there’s four stages of the adult learning cycle. The first one is what’s called abstract conceptualization. So that’s when you’re learning a concept, that’s by listening to us talk or reading the book, you’re getting the abstract. And then there’s the active experimentation, which is practicing. So maybe you have three or four of your managers read the book or read my chapter from Double Double, and then practice it and role play it with each other. Do pretend interviews with each other. So now you’re getting the active experimentation, and then actually do the concrete experience. So do some interviews, maybe record them using your iPhone or record on video, tell the candidate you’re doing for training purposes. They’re all okay with it because they want the job anyway. And then watch what you’ve done and that’s the reflective observation. And then after you’ve done it two or three interviews, go back and read the book a second time. And then it’s going to start… Oh shit, I didn’t do [inaudible].

Fletcher: I missed that part or I could enhance it this way or that way.

Cameron Herold: You don’t read the book once and think you’re at a goal. Tiger Woods has been practicing the same shots for 30 years.

Fletcher: I’m a Malcolm Gladwell guy, 10,000 hours of excellence.

Cameron Herold: Right. So read the book Who three times over the next 12 months. Read it once a quarter and then practice it and then watch the videos over. And that’s where that reinforcement of that learning will start to stick in.

Fletcher: I re-read the book First, Break All The Rules. Are you familiar with that one? As an early manager, I was like 26 or something and I took over sort of managing a pretty large operation and I kept rereading it and the different chapters and the 12 things that you got to do to be an effective leader. And I read it the first time and then I’d go back and I’d read it again and again. And so with interviewing, I recommend people do exactly what you said and it’s the practice part. And I guess one of the things that always gets me is that leaders often complain they don’t have the time to do it.

Cameron Herold: I think you don’t have the time not to. I had someone the other day and they were saying, “Well, what if I train all my employees and they quit?” And I said, “Well, what if you don’t train them and they stay?”

Fletcher: Yeah, it’s absurd.

Cameron Herold: The leader doesn’t have time to learn how to interview, but he has time to then manage C players, hold them accountable. I’d rather do it right. I’d rather work hard and do it right than not work hard and do it six times.

Fletcher: We put together like this compilation of all these best practices, we call it the power interview guide and you can practice mastering interview in 30 minutes. Now, it’s not the full deal. It’s not the whole top grading career history thing, but you need to do, but you can practice each of the steps effectively in a short 30 minute interview. And I always think about it this way, if I interview 10 people this week, that’s five hours of my working life I mean, that’s palatable. I can manage that and I just got 10 reps. I’m going to be that much stronger when I get my next 10 reps. It doesn’t take that much time and energy to really practice this stuff.

Cameron Herold: Well, what really takes the time and energy is to manage and hold accountable and deal with the crap of all the ones that you mis-hire.

Fletcher: Or not achieve your goals.

Cameron Herold: The cost of all that for sure.

Fletcher: Yeah. I mean, I always think about that. Especially in the sales side. I got a million dollar producer. If I misfire on that, I just literally lost a million dollars. I have to reset. It’s another three to six months before I get someone hired to get them trained, get them back on track if I’m lucky for them to maybe not make their goals again. Well, hey Cameron, this has been absolutely amazing. What you’ve done and the focus that you put on this, I mean, I talk to coaches all the time and I just love that you are so hyper focused on this and you’ve really practiced the ultimate techniques here and are sharing that with folks. So really appreciate having you on, where can we find you?

Cameron Herold: All five of my books are available on Amazon, Audible and iTunes. And then my COO Alliance website for any companies doing 5 million or greater in revenue, they should definitely take a look at that. And then my Second-in-Command podcast is a really good one where we only interview the COO of really great brands as well.

Fletcher: Nice. And learn from other executors.

Cameron Herold: Just because we’re launching it, we’re launching March 1st, but the Invest In Your Leaders course is a great way for all companies to get their managers and leaders up to speed and skilled up in 12 core areas that every manager needs to get skilled in that most companies, if you’re less than 500 employees, you don’t have the HR and learning department to grow your people and this course can really help people.

Fletcher: That gives you that foundational piece. And then from there you can tweak it and make it your own I imagine. Yeah, I’d love if you can get us a link, I don’t know if there’s a pre-registration for that and we can put that in there and make sure that we’re promoting it along with this, and I’d definitely encourage people to digest this information, dig into it. Whatever piece is interesting to you, get after it. Cameron’s definitely the ultimate executer here and that’s a big piece of this, so that’s awesome. So So we’ll share that in our social posts and on the page here. So thank you again, Cameron. We’ll end it here.

Cameron Herold: Fletcher, you’re welcome.

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