We all want to have effective meetings. We want to be needed and have our ideas heard in our meetings. Effective meetings are essential to growth. Our meetings are a big part of our communication rhythm. My guest today is Cameron Herold who is the author of “Meetings Suck.” Running effective meetings is not hard, but takes intention. We talk about it today on the podcast. Discover you can run effective meetings so you can lead impact for your company.
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Target Audience: Cameron Herold is known around the world as THE CEO Whisperer. Founder of the COO Alliance. Cameron’s built a dynamic consultancy- his current clients include a ‘Big 4’ wireless carrier and a monarchy. What do his clients say they like most about him? He isn’t a theory guy- they like that Cameron speaks only from experience. He earned his reputation as the business growth guru by guiding his clients to double their profit and double their revenue in just three years or less.
Run Effective Meetings: The Transcript
Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
Leaders in the trenches and your host today is Gene Hammett.
Gene Hammett: Hi, my name is Gene Hammett. I am the host of leaders in the trenches. And our question today is this, how do you make your meetings not suck? I know that’s pretty strong, but you’ve all sat in a meeting. I know I’ve sat in those meetings before where you wonder to yourself, why am I here? Why are we going over this again? Why are we even having a meeting? We could have handled this in a, you know, two emails now I say all this because I know meetings have a tendency to suck because people don’t know how to run them. So I wanted to help you out with your meetings. So I went straight to the source. The best person I know to handle this is Cameron Herold. Cameron is an advisor to growth companies like I am, but he has such insight around this aspect of the way businesses are run because of all of the experience he had when he was growing his company.
Gene Hammett: He was the coo of a one 800, got junk and it really was an amazing growth ride that they had, but I want to tell you, one of the things that I really love about this is we talk about some of the core principles of having good meetings. People are really not able to handle some of the things that we talk about in here. So that’s just a little tease. We talked about some of the things that you are probably scared to do yourself, but they make it possible for you to run your meetings productively. Alright, so here’s the interview with Cameron where we talk about your meetings, how to make them better and make them not suck.
Gene Hammett: Cameron, how are you?
Cameron Herold: Good. Gene, how you doing? Thanks for having me.
Gene Hammett: Well, it’s good to have your leaders in the trenches. I want to go ahead and let you know. I’ve already told her audience a lot about you and my opening aspects of the show, but I’d love for them to hear about you and about who you serve.
Cameron Herold: Sure. About me. Well, I was groomed as an entrepreneur, so over the course of around 15 years growing up, my father really groomed me as an entrepreneur and then by the time I was 21 I had 12 full time employees that started my own company, a second year university. I had 12 full time employees and really since then I’ve never looked back. I started coaching entrepreneurs, real companies in 1993. In fact, kimball, Musky loans, brother used to work for me and his cousin who built solar city worked for me. I coached both of them 25 years ago, so I’ve been coaching real world ceos, have the highest level. I’ve coached the CEO of sprint, the second in command of sprint. I coached a monarchy in the Middle East. A lot of technology companies like I context media, temple, grasshopper, but I worked behind the scenes coaching the CEO and leadership teams of companies that are already doing well that want to scale quickly. Typically most of my clients have about 50 to 250 employees and they want to get to 500 to 2,500 employees, so I work with them on operations, execution, culture, meeting rhythms, essentially how to get more done with less people faster. And then lastly, I’ve done paid speaking events now in 28 countries on five continents and I’m adding my sixth continent in November. I’m going to be down speaking in Peru, so I’m kind of excited about just being able to spread my lessons globally. Well,
Gene Hammett: You have a specific focus in a heart for the coo. Tell us a little bit about that.
Cameron Herold: Yeah, it’s interesting. I’ve been the second in command a number of times and I was, I guess most notably I was the second in command or the chief operating officer for a brand called one 800 got junk. Those are the big blue trucks that you see driving around everywhere and I took them from 14 employees at the head office when I joined and then six years later we had 3,100 employees system wide. We’re operating in 46 states, four countries, 330 cities. I think we were in and we went from 2 million to 106 million in six years and in that time as being the second in command, I had a different focus than the CEO who is my best friend. Brian had he focused on, you know, operations, but from a culture and vision perspective where I was focusing on the people and execution and leadership and growing teams and growing people and putting the systems and processes in place.
Cameron Herold: So I would always go to these entrepreneur events to learn. And when I was there I felt like I was a bit of a duck out of water. You know, I didn’t quite fit with the prototypical entrepreneur or CEO in the room. I kind of identified more with the second in commands. So recently about two years ago, I started a group called the coo alliance, which is the only network of its kind in the world for the second in command. And it’s to give them a place where three to five times a year they come together in Scottsdale, Arizona, and they mastermind with other ceos to learn how to grow companies instead of just talking about the big visions and dreams.
Gene Hammett: Well, one of the reasons I want to have you here too is because you’ve written a great book. You’ve written multiple books, but one of them they had a lot of people talk about as meeting suck. I love to ask Arthur this one question. Why did this book have to be written?
Cameron Herold: Yeah, it’s interesting. I have a client in Florida, Tampa, Florida. My company is called Blue Grace Logistics and I’ve been coaching them for four and a half years. And around two years ago they were at about 70 employees when I started coaching them there at about 700 employees. Now about a year and a half ago, they raised $255,000,000 from Warburg pincus. So there are real fast growth, fantastic company, best company to work for in Florida, entrepreneur of the year in Florida. And they complained about meetings constantly and I was talking to the CEO one day and he’s like, meeting sock. I’m like, no, meetings are amazing. You guys suck at running them. And he’s like, what do you mean? I said, well, if you think about sending your kid off to little league baseball, if you didn’t teach them how to hold a bat or how to catch the ball or how to throw the ball, just giving them the basics.
Cameron Herold: That kid would come home from little league the first night and he’d say, you know, dad, or you know, baseball socks, baseball doesn’t suck. That kid sucks at playing baseball. And our employees, most of them have never been trained on how to show up at a meeting, how to participate in meetings. They’ve never been trained on how to run meetings and they don’t even know what meetings to run. So at the best we have kind of the blind leading the blind. So really meetings don’t suck. We suck at running meetings. So I wrote this book so that every employee at every company would read it so that we would actually unsuck meetings. This is not meant for just for people on the leadership team to read it’s written so that a third of the book is how to run meetings. A third is how to show up and participate in meetings and the third is best meetings to run to scale a high performance company.
Cameron Herold: So it’s really written so that people will stop complaining about it. In fact, sorry, last point in this, Elan Musk sent a note out about six months ago publicly and he said, you know, if you’re in a shitty meeting, stand up and walk out. So I sent him a text. I’m like, dude, you’re not fixing the root problem. You don’t tell people to walk out of the meeting. You fix the meetings. If you go to the root cause analysis, having them walk out doesn’t solve anything at all. So the way to get. So I send them a case of books for space x and a case for it, for Tesla is the way that you get people to not have to walk out at meetings is to fix them in the first place so they’re run properly and show people who are showing up at meetings how to attend and how to participate, how to actually engage, how to say no to the attend the meetings they don’t want to come to.
Gene Hammett: I’m curious. Did he respond to your, to your message?
Cameron Herold: He did not respond to that one. No, I’ve known Ilan since I first met him in January of 1995 and I was a reference for Ilan and his first round of funding for his first company, Zip two when he had one employee. So I’ve known him for an awfully long time.
Gene Hammett: Well I want to dive into this book because we want to get something out of this. What is the one piece of meeting advice that when you hear this over and over that you know that it’s bad. What do you think that piece of vices?
Cameron Herold: No agenda. No, attend to know why would I show up for a meeting request that I don’t know what we’re covering in what order and how many minutes were spending on each item. Just those basics, right?
Cameron Herold: What are we covering in what order are we going to cover them and how many minutes are we going to spend on each agenda item so I know for how long of that meeting to say yes, I’m coming to or to opt out completely and I think that’s the core or one of the core concepts that I’ve tried to get people to understand is just don’t book a meeting until you know that because then you can say, oh, we need a 12 minute meeting. What people tend to do is they book a half hour meeting and they fill it versus saying, I need to cover these things. Oh, three minutes here for minutes. They’re seven minutes there. That’s the only seven. Fourteen minutes. Shit. We’re good with a 15 minute meeting.
Gene Hammett: Yeah, that, you know, I never saw a 15 minute meeting back in the corporate world.
Cameron Herold: Oh, I did. We did. Because I built that fast. Growing companies, you know, when we built out college pro painters, we had to hire 8,800 people every year for seven years that I was on that leadership team. We didn’t have time to screw around because you know, one week was actually seven percent of our year. We did all of our operations in four months, so we operated in dog time.
Gene Hammett: Awesome. When you think about, you know, all the different types of meetings, you know, the one thing I hear over and over is how do we make sure it doesn’t get hijacked with some other kind of idea or something like that. What are your best advice with that?
Cameron Herold: Yeah, so you insure it. Meeting doesn’t get hijacked first by having the agenda in order, so everyone opts into that agenda. Then you have a moderator at the meeting who makes sure that he’s making sure we stay on topic and if we have something that’s off topic, they add it to the parking lot. So it goes offline. It can be discussed offline or in a separate meeting, but you just stay with the time keeper in the parking lot and you stay on that pace.
Gene Hammett: So it’s having that moderator that that’s got a strong personality that can call us on. We’re getting off track.
Cameron Herold: Well, and even like when we started, we knew exactly when we were starting, when we knew when we were stopping the new, the topics we’re going to be covering in the content. So if I all of a sudden decide to start talking about vision, you’re probably gonna go, Hey Cameron, let’s come back to meetings. And that’ll be like, oh yeah, you’re right. We can talk.
Gene Hammett: I lived on that too.
Cameron Herold: Basics and by the way, a meeting is any phone call or video call or in person or video meeting. The two or more people have. So if you think that your employees are in probably one to two hours of meetings a day, the average employee has spending 12 to 25 percent of their time in meetings. Having no idea how to show up with them or run them. It’s kind of like for 15 bucks you can pretty much invest in every employee’s future, like it’s irresponsible not to have them read it.
Gene Hammett: Now I want to stay on topic of meetings, but I want to. I don’t know if there’s a curve ball or not, but we talked offline how much time you’re spending going to two and three day meetings. That could be masterminds or retreats or things like that. What are some of the things you see there that would make those reading meetings run more efficiently?
Cameron Herold: Well, so yeah, I go to about five different masterminds per year and for me I wanted to be. I don’t want to be the smartest guy in the room all the time, so I try to show up in a rooms where I’m able to learn, able to sponge off of other people, able to r and d, I think research and development, your r and d should stand for rip off and duplicate. So I take the best ideas from all these smart people and I pass them back to mike clients or to my own companies to scale. If so, if I think about mastermind groups or conferences, so I go to the genius network, Maverick mastermind talks. I was just at baby bathwater. I go to the main Ted conference every year, more time open discussion time for attendees to talk. So baby bathwater is amazing. We had time to just hang out on couches at the top of a mountain, you know, lunch wasn’t an hour, it was 90 minutes or two hours.
Cameron Herold: They had hot tubs outside so we were like hanging out and hot tubs and just chilling. They serve Bloody Marys at [10:00] in the morning. So all the attendees are walking around with a bloody Mary and, and you just realized that it just relaxes people and gives them lots of time to engage and talk. And I think they also do a really good job of making sure that they try to get you to think about who do you want to meet while you’re there. So not only do you believe in the synchronicity of just stuff will happen, but you’re going in with a little bit of a purpose. You know, I, I kinda think of the Cheshire cat that if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. So I go into these meetings wanting to learn three things, wanting to meet three people, and then the rest of it just happens by accident.
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Gene Hammett: Well, I appreciate you telling us this because we didn’t plan this in advance. The whole thing about meetings are to move agendas forward, so where can we, you know, beyond the agenda, how do we actually make sure that when we take what we take from a meeting actually happened,
Cameron Herold: so you finished every single meeting with who’s doing what by when, so whether it’s finishing a phone call or finishing a a one on one coaching meeting or finishing your financial review meeting or your leadership team meeting, whatever you finish that meeting, going around the group with each person committing to what they’re doing and when they’re doing it, not when it’s going to be done by, but when they’re doing it and that way you’ll two things will happen. A projects we’ll get started and be some of the stuff that was merely a discussion item. You can stop before they go off and actually start working on something that was merely just something being talked about. That’s a really good kind of process or system to bring in.
Gene Hammett: There’s something very specific that you sat in there and I think you’re some genius to what you have to say. It’s not when they will do it by because that’s fairly common, right? We’ll do that by next week.
Cameron Herold: My deadlines, deadlines don’t work. Don’t tell me what you’re going to do it by. Tell me when you’re going to do it. See what happens is when people say, I ran out of time. No you didn’t. You didn’t think about the project. You didn’t break the project down into chunks and you didn’t look at when each chunk would get done in your calendar to plan out the project so you effectively over committed. In fact, we don’t even need to do lists. What we need to do is take our to do’s. Think about how many minutes they will do. Do we need to do it? Can we delegate it? Can we optimize it? Can we outsource that, and if not, do we put it into our calendar and when will it get done? If you start putting your actual to do is color code them and purple into your calendar, you’ll realize you don’t have enough time to do all of that stuff. So delegate it, outsource or say no more often. And I think that’s what’s really happens in a lot of the corporate world is you talk about holding people accountable. I don’t hold people accountable. I hire accountable people, right? I don’t motivate someone. I hire motivated people. So the key is if you can hire those people that think that way, that operate, that way they don’t operate with deadlines they operate with better project planning and better time management skills.
Gene Hammett: Herold, you know, some of my research because I worked with hypergrowth companies too and, and those companies scaling really fast. One key thing that came out of that was leadership that inspires people to feel like owners. What does that mean to you in the context of the plants you have?
Cameron Herold: Yeah, so I guess I would take it as a. I always flip the org chart upside down. So the CEO’s job is to support the vps who support the managers who support the employees who support the customers. So if I’m going to try to make someone feel like it’s their own or or inspire them by showing them the vision of where we’re going and supporting them, helping to remove obstacles, helping to mentor them if they need it, helping to coach them and cheer them on if they need that, but to get the hell out of their way. It’s not to hold them accountable and delegate, it’s to set the goals as a group, brainstorm on the core initiatives that are going to happen to make those goals happen. And then support the people using situational leadership to make it scale. Our job as leaders is to grow people.
Gene Hammett: Yeah. Right.
Cameron Herold: So the more we. Their skills and their confidence and their skills and their confidence and their skills and their confidence, the more that whole thing works. And when you’re doing that, employees feel like it’s theirs and they feel like they’re really supported in that. It’s Kinda like a four year old who gets to pour their own cereal and pour their own milk. Right? Oh God, I know it’s coming. Right? But you give them that chance and they do it and then they’re like, oh, I get it. Yeah. And then they can make cereal the rest of their lives. Right. But if we over parent that kids 16 and you’re still making cereal for them, I think it was the same with employees.
Gene Hammett: We don’t want that to happen in our our employees and leadership. When I think about one of the critical things that happens with leaders, and I had to learn to do this, this, this wasn’t something that came natural, but having a one on one meeting with someone. What are the core elements that you think are so important in one on one meetings?
Cameron Herold: Yeah. I’m glad you brought it up. We didn’t prep on this either, but the one on one meetings is, I believe the core meeting in an organization, so it’s the CEO coaching the vps or having that one on one to support them, mentor them, remove obstacles on a weekly basis. The CEO will be like, oh, I don’t need it. It’s not for you. It’s for them. Right. And then the vps having one on ones with their managers to support them. So three things happen in one on one meeting direction development and support direction is making sure that that person’s working on the right stuff. Development is giving them the skills or finding people or or resources to give them the skills on specific projects if they need them. So the situational leadership and the support is the emotional support, removing obstacles, cheering them on words of affirmation, praise, anything like that that in their lives and in their business lives, right? Even caring about them as humans and and really connecting with them as people and understanding the personal shit they’re going through that pays off in massive dividends. So for me, that’s coaching. You don’t do any task follow up. That’s all done with one project management tool, like a sauna or base camp that you might use. Trello
Gene Hammett: that’s so beautiful that you talked about the way, the way they feel. Right, the emotional side to coaching an employee. Such an important thing. I mean there’s so many studies out there around this.
Cameron Herold: Yeah, all of us, all of us are just walking each other home, right? Like none of us are getting out of this alive. Right, and that’s not a fatalist view of this is just this true, we’re going to die. This is just what we do to make money and every single person, I believe the human, everyone is struggling with something today so every employee has a spouse issue or a marriage issue or a parent who’s sick or a dog who died or a kid who’s struggling in school are like, everyone is struggling with something and if we can really connect with them on that human condition and they go, wow, you care about me, they’ll then care about the company, but if all we care about is goals, they’re going to start to tune out
Gene Hammett: and doing. A lot of my research right now on a performance culture versus a growth culture and what you’re talking about now is performance is important. We like, we both want Roi for our clients, for our own businesses, but growth is such a core element of that. Watching those people grow in skills and confidence is nothing like it
Cameron Herold: and it is. It’s those two things, right? It’s like if you think about a kid, right? If you teach your kid how to bike, you give them a little bit of skill and then you raise his confidence that he can do it and then you give a little bit more skill and raises confidence. It’s confidence, competence, confidence, competence, and they ladder up off of each other. And I think if we as leaders would recognize that we probably don’t praise anywhere near enough. We probably don’t, you know, help remove obstacles. We probably don’t. We don’t do enough to raise their skills or raise their confidence. So what we end up doing is spending time managing people who are frustrated with us because we’re screwing the whole thing up
Gene Hammett: are we spent a lot of time managing tasks when we should not be managing tasks as leaders. Which leads me to one of my last questions here, Cameron, is one of the things I found with the companies I’m working with is they get a lot better performance when they don’t try to tell their employees how to do something like they don’t schedule meetings go, here’s how we do it here. They actually are letting them do it themselves. Figuring out the how and they showed them the goal or the direction and what are you seeing in that.
Cameron Herold: I teach every, all the clients that I work with and in the COO alliance we do a lot of work around stuff. Situational leadership and I’ve worked with the behavioral therapist is to simplify the model so that what we do is look at on a project by project basis, what’s the person’s skill level two, they have no skill, some skill or high skill. I give them zero, one or two points and then their confidence to. They have no confidence, medium confidence or high confidence, so like they’re not into it kind of into it are really into a zero, one or two points. Then I add up the points if they have a total of zero, give it to somebody else. If they have a total of one, tell them what to do, how to do it step by step. If they have a total of two, tell them what to do, how to do it step by step and tell them why they’re going to be doing it.
Cameron Herold: That way, if they have a total of three points, ask them to go away, figure out the plan and come back and show you what it is and if they need help, you can give it to them and cheer them on along the way. If they have a total of four points, they don’t check in, don’t get involved. It’s kind of like telling your 16 year old, hey, you’re walking. Great. Like Dad had been walking for 14, 15 years, but I got this.
Gene Hammett: Yeah,
Cameron Herold: So that’s what I do is teach that very simple version of situational leadership and then really force it to become the unconscious competence of our leadership.
Gene Hammett: So I want to wrap this up with. We’ve got a book that we’ve been starting talking about meeting suck and tomorrow morning listeners listening in this, they go, you know, we want to revamp meetings other than get the book. What would you tell them to do to revamp meetings inside their company?
Cameron Herold: Well, first is I would have every employee honestly read it, like if somebody had 500 employees read the book and that they didn’t get value, I’ll give them their money back like you’re going to spend, what is it going to be? 12 bucks. You’re going to spend six grand on 500 employees. If they don’t get value, I’ll give you your money back. I’ll tell you what, six grand, you’re probably get $6 million dollars in value, but here’s. Here’s a tip that I’ll give you every meeting and every phone call. The only reason we show up late for meetings is we stop on time. If you can stop every meeting five minutes prior to the scheduled ending time, it gives people time to walk down the hall, talk to the assistant, go to the bathroom, get a cup of coffee, and sit down and start everything on time. That starts show massive respect and that you live your core values. That’s a little tip I leave them with.
Gene Hammett: That’s very similar to this. I had a meeting with clients in a day. They’re like back to back to back and I’m like, well, why are they have to be 30 minutes?
Cameron Herold: Right? So how long do you want to book it for it? Then finish every phone call and meeting five minutes early.
Gene Hammett: Yeah, because he didn’t have time to actually take notes and actually put things into his project management because of that. And at the end of the day he’s like, I forget things. And so we changed that one simple thing. Cameron
Cameron Herold: simple, right?
Gene Hammett: Well, how can our audience get in touch with you if they want to keep following you and buy more books? Because I know you have vivid vision and you have meetings suck
Cameron Herold: And yeah, I’ve got. So I have four books and they’re all on Amazon and audible and itunes and then my four books are double double meetings, suck, vivid vision and then the miracle morning for entrepreneurs. So those are the four and my main website is cameron harold a.com and then the coo alliance.com as well. We also have the second in command podcast and that’s interesting for people to listen to because we tell the rest of the story. Everyone interviewed the CEO of these companies. I only interviewed the second in command, effectively the chief behind the chief so they can get some great kind of operational insights from the brands that they’re hearing about.
Gene Hammett: Did you get spanx?
Cameron Herold: Uh, not yet, but I’m actually meeting with Jesse itzler on Thursday or Friday. I’m going to be at a conference with him at thrive again, we’ve spoken to times together, so I’ll talk to him again about Sarah, but we just interviewed the CEO of shopify. I’m interviewing the CEO from bumble interview. Yeah, I’ve got some really good ones on there.
Gene Hammett: Awesome. Well, I’ll wrap this up. Uh, Cameron,
Cameron Herold: you do you know Sarah?
Gene Hammett: I’m interviewing Jessie last week.
Cameron Herold: Okay. Well if you, if I’d love to interview the second in command for Spanx, I’d also love to interview the second in command of Jesse’s all just business as well. So if you want to ping me on that, I’d love to hear because Jesse story is real, but imagine if we heard his second in command inside of the same coin.
Gene Hammett: Is that Mark? Yeah. Okay. I can connect your mark. That’d be awesome. All right, so check out the books. If you’re meeting suck. This is what you want because it’s not about having bad meetings, about making your meetings run more efficiently. We talked about some great things. Cameron and glad to share this with our audience. Thanks for being here.
Cameron Herold: Appreciate it. Thanks Gene.
Gene Hammett: All right, great interview. I love what I’m doing here. Being able to talk to Cameron about this. He wrote the book on it. We talked about that inside there. You can always go to Amazon and get it. I will put the links on the page. I also want to make sure you are being very supportive to the people on your team. If you can improve the meetings, the communication rhythm that your team has a really will help. One of the things that I work with my clients is the importance of a daily huddle and that huddle is something where you are able to not only get the messages out here, what’s going on within the team, everyone’s able to come up and see what they’re doing, what they’re working on, but also they’re able to support each other.
Gene Hammett: We have a lot of virtual teams this day and age, and so you want to make sure you have the right kind of communication, the right kind of meeting structure and the rhythm in those meetings to help you grow your business. All right, that’s my take today. As always, lead with courage and I’ll see you.
Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
In this episode we’ll cover:
- Different Types of meetings
- Principles of Having good Meetings
- Leadership Teams
- Mastermind Talks
- Done your Calendar to Plan
- Operational Insight
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