BluShark Digital 0:00
Welcome to the SEO insider with your host, Seth Price founder of BluShark, taking you inside the world of legal marketing and all things digital.
Seth Price 0:10
Welcome, everyone. We’re thrilled to have Cameron Herold here. Somebody I’ve followed for many years, a legend in space. Welcome, Cameron.
Cameron Herold 0:17
Hey Seth, thanks for having me.
Seth Price 0:18
You know, one of the things that we’ve talked about offline has been, you know, there are a ton of people in the CEO space, talking about how to, you know, get yourself better. But you seem to have found in the COO space, sort of a whole blue ocean where nobody really was taking the lead in sort of making this a thing.
Cameron Herold 0:38
Yeah, it actually wasn’t even a strategic move so much is just me listening to my clients, I was coaching a few different clients, about seven years ago, they had about 50, to 300 employees, three different companies. And they all wanted me to get their COO together just to brainstorm and so I pulled together 10 COOs together for two and a half days. And at the end of two and a half days, 9 of the 10 wanted to keep meeting and that was literally the start of the COO Alliance. And then we kind of realized over time, pretty much in that first year that there were, you know, YPO, and EO and Vistage Genius Network and so many groups for entrepreneurs. But there really wasn’t anything for that second in command, and so that we just kind of doubled down and went hard on it.
Seth Price 1:19
You know, one of the things I could say, as somebody who’s, you know, running a team, you know, there are a lot of people in the legal space, for example, I know you have a lot of legendary clients in the legal space, but there’s always a pull and tug, when you go to a mastermind, some people bring their team with them, and some don’t. And there’s a lot of benefits to doing it. But there’s also some negatives in that, you know, you want people rowing in the same direction. And like things as much as like, oh, so and so is making much more than another. Now, that could happen in a group setting. No, you know, no matter what, but I feel that, you know, the entrepreneurs want to be able to share and talk about all the stuff that you know, is dirty laundry, ideally, in a safe space. So that having an independent place for the second command, seems like, you know, why don’t we just slice the bread? It seems like, well, of course there should be. And frankly, the similar thing for the CFO and for the CMO are, are things that are, you know, so in demand and really don’t exist.
Cameron Herold 2:18
Well, they’re also just very different DNAs, it’s almost like an accountant showing up at a legal, you know, mastermind or a lawyer showing up at a medical mastermind, or a guy showing up at a bridal shower. We don’t fit, we’re not supposed to be there. And we kind of need to have our own drive. And we you know, we just, we just left MIT last week, we had a whole huge group of second in commands from a number of different countries. One flew in from Amsterdam, spent two and a half days together completely masterminding. And a lot of the discussions were how do we support this crazy entrepreneurial, bipolar, you know, manic, idea, perpetual motion machine of an entrepreneur, that they all love, but they realize they need to figure out how do they support that person. And then they want to get deep into the weeds on certain discussions that most entrepreneurs don’t want to spend, you know, hours and hours talking about playbooks, and systems, and processes and dashboards and, you know, they want to stay at that 30,000 foot level.
Seth Price 3:14
No, it is amazing. I speak up for us. I mean, I know a handful of your clients and past clients and your, your, your, your and they’re good friends of mine. They’re, your descriptions are apropo. And I can speak to our person in the COO Alliance who is so steady and so, so, so, like that she, that the fact that she could be around other people, and say yeah, this is normal. This is the DNA that it takes to be in that position. I assume to a certain extent, those, those COOs very often are in a vacuum because they generally don’t have access to any other best practices, they are going straight to that bipolar person who may or may not be able to support them with what they need.
Cameron Herold 3:54
It’s interesting. We had, we started profiling all of our COO Alliance members about six years ago, and then we also started profiling their CEO. So we use a Colby profile. And Colby, the Colby profile talks about how a person initiates or starts projects. And most entrepreneurs start by just starting. Like they kind of start now, they plan later right shooting from the hip, winging it. And they need to be that way. Because if they overthink it, they’ll paralyze. Most of the COO’s tend to ask a lot of questions before they initiate a project. Or they like putting a system, or a checklist, or a playbook in place before they start the project. And now we have to teach those two people almost like men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, we have to teach them how to speak to each other. The COO needs to be able to speak to the entrepreneurial CEO in sound bites, you know, in executive summaries, and let them know we have all the information but we’re not going to give it to you because we know your hard drive is full. And then the CEO needs to say hey, I know you want to ask me more questions. So let’s just go for a quick walk and you can ask me seven questions just to catch up to speed and and that’s been really kind of an elegant dance over the last few years as well is really starting to learn the personality profiles of both.
Seth Price 5:06
It’s really interesting, you know, I live between two worlds, right? The law firm world where everybody’s aspiring to find the COO, it’s the elusive. In the digital space, most people have it at some level, it’s, it seems like it’s a more finite, you know, a more finite task to run, running lawyers is not for the faint of heart, and practically, probably in most places, if you look at big law is a two prong job, a non-lawyer and a lawyer person, yes, they report to one COO, but for very different skill sets, what are some of the things that you have seen over time, that generally leads to somebody being a great COO, versus if you look, in hindsight, when a, when a client, or a member falls out and says, yeah, that didn’t work here, are there’s any truisms?
Cameron Herold 5:53
It’s very similar to a husband and wife getting married. You know, you could have an amazing wife, who’s a perfect match for her husband, but she’d be a terrible wife for 12 other husbands, right, because she’s a good match for that person’s DNA, that person’s, you know, personality, That person’s hobbies, maybe the stage of life that they’re at, the age that they’re at. So very similar to a CEO who’s looking to hire a second in command, we need to understand the growth trajectory of your firm right now, right, where you’re going to be over the next few years, we need to understand the DNA and the style of leader that you are, whether you’re going to be kind of removing yourself from the day to day, or really deep in it. And then we really need to understand the strengths of that entrepreneur. So I’ve coached a number of people in the law space, I’ll give you a couple examples. You know, you’ve got a George Sink who’s you know, 85 years old, he’s very stuck in kind of the 1970s and 80s methodologies of running a business. And then you’ve got, you know, a John Barry from Barry law, who’s, you know, type triple A, former military, you know, he’s looking for a very, and then you got, you know, William Mattar from Rochester, who’s like a YPOer, a little bit more refined, softer spoken, all three of them are CEOs, all are very, very different in terms of the DNA that they’re looking for, as their exact match, as is their second in command. So it’s all in understanding yourself as the entrepreneur first.
Seth Price 7:15
Well, let me ask a question, how much of that is personality? Meaning whether or not you can take the fast pace of John Barry? Or are able to crack the shell of, of somebody of one of these other lawyers? Versus Are there any sort of like, regardless of whether or not you can match up personality wise, going back to your?
Cameron Herold 7:36
Are there any skills that match across all?
Seth Price 7:39
Like are there any things that make you a good wife that, or
Cameron Herold 7:42
Seth Price 7:42
Or spouse that are not personality driven? But like that, you, if you don’t have this regardless of personality? You can’t
Cameron Herold 7:50
You’re dead? Yeah exactly. Okay, so every second in command, and by the way, it doesn’t have to be a COO, it could be a Vice President, Operations, Director of Operations, depending on the size of your company. But every good second in command or COO needs to be very good at the soft side of business, very good at the people issues, very good at communication, very good at collaboration, very good at, you know, getting good, healthy debate, very good at managing conflict, they’ve got to be good at situational leadership, and coaching and delegation, and project management, kind of all of the good solid executive functioning skills, and then they just need to be good at the stuff their CEO sucks at. So if the CEO is good at finance, and marketing, maybe they don’t have to be good at finance and marketing. But if their CEO is really good at, you know, legal and ops, maybe they have to be good at marketing and finance, but all the people stuff, they have to be great at for sure.
Seth Price 8:39
You know, and that’s, that is sort of, so it’s, it’s a combination of, I guess, you know, the skill set. And then situational, when you look at, you know, within the COO, Alliance, what are some of the things that the CEO can do, assuming you have somebody with good bones, that you see CEOs doing that help propel COO to success or, or corollary, what are the things that you see COOs do that are destructive?
Cameron Herold 9:05
Strangely, it’s very similar again, to it to a normal personal marriage. It’s, it’s about date night, it’s about listening. It’s about seeking to understand the other person and spending time with the other person, right? So the CEO needs to spend time with the COO away from the rest of the kids, away from the rest of the leadership team. They need to spend time listening to the COO when the COO is struggling or frustrated. They need to be there to mentor and coach them and, and really have strong trust and communication. So that’s just very, very similar to this this kind of strange dynamic that we have in a marriage.
Seth Price 9:42
No, I love it. I use the dating analogy for much of life, from sales through, through, through clients to hiring etc. So this is, I love it my team is going to love this interview. So from the point of view you’ve seen when things, let’s talk about the negative, when stuff doesn’t work, you know, you could say it’s a corollary, they don’t take date nights, they don’t do these things. Are there elements that, or things, like things that you see over and over again, where you wish you could just yell from the mountaintops to the CEOs? You know, because you had, you spent so much time with limited time with the CEOs, unless you’re coaching somebody specifically, are there things that you wish you like, could have a broadcasts thing where there’s a weekly reminder to them about different elements?
Cameron Herold 10:29
Yeah, a couple of really good ones. Number one, I’ve actually engaged a very high powered Wall Street marriage counselor to work with CEOs and COOs on their communication and trust and collaboration. Because sometimes the frustration gets so overwhelming the CEO is like, “fuck it,” well, guess what? The next person is going to drive you crazy too. So try your hardest to make that thing work until you just know for sure it never will. So that’s one is kind of engaged in that kind of marriage counseling, really solid communication, collaboration. The other one is CEOs rarely, rarely praise people and show gratitude and thank people anywhere near as often as they should, you know, we tell our spouse, that we love them multiple times a day. And yet we don’t tell our leadership team members that we love them, or thank you, or, you know, maybe we tell them once every six weeks, “oh, they know.” But then we’re piling on business, you know, more projects, and more tasks, and more problems, and more work. Oh, but they know we love them. No, they kind of forget. And I think that entrepreneurial CEOs need to really engage at a lot more gratitude, you know, almost like God gave us two ears and one mouth, we need to use those in that ratio. We also need to praise people and say thank you and celebrate core values and celebrate goals twice as often as we, you know, shove them all the stuff we need to work on.
Seth Price 11:52
Still funny, as you say these things, I’m thinking about all these missed opportunities for myself. So it’s one of the things I think, humorous, we spend a lot of time with AI and chat GPT is sort of one of the early, you know, tools. One of the things I love about it is when you ask it to respond to an email, for example, and I’m not talking about to- but it would, the analogy would work for what you’re talking about, it is an angry client, and it fills in all the pleasantries of like, I’m so sorry, I’m experiencing this, you know, we’ll do our very- and all the stuff that you should be doing.
Cameron Herold 12:22
And you don’t take the time to do.
Seth Price 12:24
I almost feel like I need to have Chat GPT prep me for some of these meetings, not because I don’t know what the substance is to speak about, but like reminding me of what are those things? Because, you know, you jump right into it as somebody who’s a quickstart. You know, I’m like dumping stuff in, you know, and I probably, you know, if anything, what I’m calling formality is not formality. It’s really the, some of those important building blocks. And if you ignore it too long, you will you will be in trouble.
Cameron Herold 12:50
Yep, you know, I’m glad you mentioned Chat GPT and AI, there’s a fantastic database called “There’s an AI for That.” I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but it’s got 7900 different AI tools that exist for about 3000 different AI tasks. And everybody’s talking about Chat GPT. That’s one of the 7900 other tools that are out there. I’ve been telling all my employees and all our COO alliance members, that the only employee who’s a danger of being replaced by AI, are the employees that don’t proactively engage and start leveraging AI. And I want people to spend two hours a week, which is only 5% of their week, but spend two hours a week playing with all these different AI tools, and then report back on Monday in like a five minute book report. Hey, here’s a thing that I use Chat GPT for, here’s how I use PSD script. Here’s how I use B human, here’s how I use Midjourney, and show us what you did with playing around with this little tool. And if all of our employees spent five minutes of their time, looking for ways to automate or optimize their life or the business, wow, we would really supercharge our growth.
Seth Price 13:55
No, it is true. And it’s funny because it’s a tale of two cities, I see it from the digital side where, the Gen Zers they may not want to work past six o’clock, but they’re all in.
Cameron Herold 14:03
They’re all in.
Seth Price 14:04
And I come to the law firm. And it’s like, unless I tell somebody what to do and how to do it. It’s not happening. And it’s one of the reasons the law firms are going to get their asses kicked as money comes in from Wall Street, ands people figure these things out.
Cameron Herold 14:18
Well, and you’re one of the very rare, you know, well, that, I shouldn’t say the very rare. It’s been really interesting seeing a fair number of lawyers or law firms that are really embracing digital marketing. And I think you’re on the kind of forefront of that in educating people and showing it to them. But it used to be that that was an industry that just didn’t understand marketing, didn’t understand operations. And I think of all of the kind of professional services that are out there. Whether you go medicine and you know, chiropractic and dental, and architecture, I think law firms, especially the ones that are in the personal injury space, I’ve really started to figure out digital marketing, which is kind of cool.
Seth Price 14:52
No it is, but it’s also a tale of two cities because you know, your, most of your touch points and the people who are willing to engage with you are in that space o rare exceptions. So when you leave that, it’s like the tale of two cities, you have the PI space, and the non-PI space. And you go back, you know, we’re, you know, presenting at a, at a DUI conference coming up, and it’s like, these are, you know, it’s back to the dinosaurs and people that have not scaled and have their modest practice, with a few people that they, you know, that they deal with or yell at, or what have you. But it’s, it’s rather dysfunctional. And it’s, I think that’s one of the things that’s nice that I’ve seen in the PI space is that, yes, there’s a lot of dysfunction, but there’s enough bandwidth within the organization generally, that somebody can take a look at it and say, okay, either I’m going to do this or to we’re hire somebody to actually get their hands dirty and understanding, rather than just write checks and hope things work.
Cameron Herold 15:49
Totally. Yep. I get it.
Seth Price 15:51
So you’ve also worked a lot with people on the digital side, I want to get some of your thoughts and takeaways, you know, of what are some of the things that you see from you know, from your perspective, from the operations perspective, that would be really beneficial, or what are the things that people mess up on there?
Cameron Herold 16:09
I’ll go back to two of the founding members of the COO Alliance, one is now the CEO of a company called Tinuiti, they’ve got 1800 employees. So Zach Morrison was the founding member, he was the guy who gave me the idea for the COO Alliance, it used to be called Elite SEM, and I coached them from 40 people up to about 300. And when I first started coaching Zach, one of their big goals was to get to 100 employees. And I said, If I ever hear you give me the number of employees as a goal, I will fucking quit. Like, I’m not going to coach you, if you don’t understand the pain in the ass factor of people, is not a goal to have more of. So we really worked very, very hard to build a culture where their employee net promoter score was very high, that we could also then almost overload people with more work. And the reason we could give them more and get so much more productivity out of them was they were so happy working with us. So that was case study one. The second one is called Acceleration Partners. And Matt Wool is now the CEO, he was their COO, they’re at about 300 employees again, coached them from about 40, up to about 120. They were always a distributed company, they never had a single office space, they never had two people working out of the same place. And they worked very, very hard. 8-10 years ago, understanding how to actually build a strong company culture, in the absence of a physical, you know, four walled office space. And I thought it was really interesting to watch a company way before COVID Really obsessing about how do we make this amazing company culture. And they understood that it had nothing to do with physical space. It had to do with collaboration, alignment with vision, really caring about the people, putting systems in place to grow the people, you know, making sure that they covered Maslow’s hierarchy, and that they had all five layers of Maslow’s hierarchy being met within the company. But those were a couple of interesting case studies, just really, really caring about people. And then watching this massive growth of both of those companies, from the people side, and also from the revenue side.
Seth Price 18:08
You know, it’s funny, because during COVID, BluShark went from fully in office, to zero office, to Now a clubhouse where people come in once or twice a week, if they’re in the city, and less and less people are in town now around the country, and around the world. What are some of those things? Because you talked, you touched on culture several times, obviously key to building and growing a company. Is there different skill sets needed? Like what what are your thoughts on when you don’t have people in front of you every day? You know, how the challenges of creating that culture so that you can overload people and they won’t leave? You know that that’s a whole nother?
Cameron Herold 18:48
Yeah. Leaders, how, so you know, obviously, there’s the alignment with a vivid vision, and there’s alignment with core values, and there’s alignment with purpose. And there’s clarity around roles and responsibilities, and org-chart, communication protocols. That’s all kind of normal. You know, that’s kind of the meat and potatoes, I think where companies have to get very good is being present, being very mindful of the other people they’re working with observing body language, you know, you don’t need to meet with somebody for an hour, you can meet with them for seven minutes. But in that seven minutes, be completely focused and paying attention to the other. So you can read the body language, and you can read the intonation. And then I think it’s also just about slowing down a little bit to kind of have that connection that we can’t run all of our zoom meetings, you know, boom, boom, in the absence of actually having that human connection, because the reality is, if that’s the only time in the week that we chat with that employee, that means the other 39 or 49 hours next week, they have no interaction with us at all. They don’t see us in the hallway, they don’t see us in the lunchroom. So just being mindful about that human connection. And then lastly, it’s about really caring about the people, you know, not just their birthday and their dog’s name, but actually really knowing what’s going on in their life. What are their dreams? What are their desires? What’s on their bucket list? Like? How can you really care about them as a person, more than anyone else cares about them. And then if you’re caring about their humanity that much, they’re gonna go through brick walls for you to build your company. And that’s a very new skill. It’s a very kind of millennial, like that post 2000 skill, because prior to that, it was like, you know, we didn’t blend, right. It was like, this is my office, it’s my company, get your job done. You know, we didn’t, we didn’t blend that at all. But I think we have to blend that now. And post COVID absolutely, have to blend it.
Seth Price 21:03
Since a lot of entrepreneurs who say hey, where do I spend money to fix these things? Like, are there things that you like? I mean, things we experimented with. 15Five, we’ve liked, other friends use DreamManager, what are some of the hacks that you love? That sort of like, not hacks, but fundamental tools that you would put to the next
Cameron Herald 21: 18
I love that you just mentioned, I’ve been an advisor and an investor in 15Five since the month they launched, David Hassell and I have been friends for, since 2007. And the Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly, I’ve had dinner with Matthew, he and I had dinner just the two of us with my son in Vancouver years ago, I’ve been telling people to read the Dream Manager again, since 2007. It’s a very, very strong kind of mindset and methodology about actually caring about people. So much so I was in a mastermind one time, and I mentioned the Dream Manager and everybody started laughing. And I kind of turned and this woman goes, “I’m married, the books written about me,” I’m like, No way like you actually exist. And it was Mary Miller just sitting on the other side of the room, and it was about her and her husband’s company. So that was a bit of an ADD moment for you, but it’s just caring about people. You know, it’s just really caring about them.
Seth Price 21:44
It’s great. Well, how do people get it like, like, I’ve jumped down the video rabbit hole and tried to learn as much about you, but somebody who’s like, “Hey, I love this. I want more.” How do they how do they learn more?
Cameron Herold 22:01
Sure, we’ve got a couple of good YouTube channels. So the COO Alliance and th Second in Command Podcast YouTube channels, definitely check out our Second in Command Podcast. My invest in your leaders course is really worthwhile people signing up a few of their managers to go through that content. It’s all the content around growing leadership skills and people that’s called invest inyourleaders.com. And then check out the COO Alliance. If your company does at least 5 million or greater. It’s pretty irresponsible to not get your second command engaged in that.
Seth Price 22:30
Cameron, thank you very much for taking the time halfway around the world to, to meet with us. But I wish you well and thank you for all that you’re producing.
Cameron Herold 22:38
Thanks, Seth. Appreciate the time.
BluShark Digital 22:40
Thank you for tuning in to the SEO Insider with Seth Price. Be sure to check back next week for fresh insights into building your brand’s online presence. Episodes are available to stream directly on BluShark Digital’s website.