Communication & Alignment

Cameron Herold’s Leadership Letters to My Younger Self

In a recent Fridays With Vistage webinar, entitled “Leadership Letters to My Younger Self,” Cameron Herold shared 58 hardcore leadership lessons that he learned in 20 years of building four fast-growth companies. Cameron Herold is the author of Double Double, the founder of BackPocket COO, and mentor to high-growth entrepreneurs and CEOs. He’s been featured on Oprah, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Fast Company, Fortune, and more.

Cameron Herold's Leadership Letters to My Younger SelfCameron began his webinar by pondering the question, what if I could travel back in time and teach the most important business lessons I’ve ever learned to the 16 year old version of myself?

He thought of all the lessons he learned “the hard way” and realized he could have saved so much time, money and frustration, if only he could have learned the following principles for success sooner.

1.     Balance is the key to life. Run your business, but make sure you take time to reconnect to everything else you’re passionate about. If you’re going to parties and the only thing you can talk about is your business, then you may be on your way to burnout.

2.     De-stress. Back in January of 2000, Cameron noticed a metallic taste in the back of his throat. Soon after, he collapsed in an elevator and had a near-nervous breakdown. Your body tells you when it’s stressed—listen to it and take care.

3.     Learn how to set boundaries. It’s nice to have an open-door policy, but in the long-run, it doesn’t serve you. When you say No, and stop working on weekends and through vacations, people learn to answer their own questions and develop more respect for you.

4.     Use the Top 5 exercise for increased productivity. Write the 5 most impactful things that you need to get done today on a sticky note. Place it by your desk, and let it nag you with its visibility all day long.

5.     Use the 80% rule to get projects done faster. Do 80% of a project, then hand it off to someone else to complete the remaining 20% to perfect it. A series of quick hand-offs will get a project done faster and the momentum will grow your business.

6.     Make a Stop Doing list. Make a list of activities that nobody needs to do anymore. Trivial, not impactful, or outdated busywork that doesn’t move the company forward should be eliminated from the daily To Do’s.

7.     Cut deep and cut once. It’s better to fire 300 people once than to fire 150 people twice. Workers experience stress and lack of trust if they see people being let go every week.

8.     Ask the right questions. The CEO shouldn’t ask why a problem occurred. The CEO should ask, “What systems do we have in place to make sure that these types of problems do not occur?” People don’t fail, systems fail.

Cameron touched upon many more lessons for life and business, in topics ranging from leverage, to trust, from new hires to communication. He wrapped things up with “Rule #6,” which is “Don’t take yourself so seriously!” He reminded participants that business doesn’t have to be stressful. It doesn’t have to be intense. Even CEOs are allowed to have fun. When you can just breathe, relax and enjoy your work, everything else gets simple.

Cameron Herold will be speaking at the Vistage Executive Summit in San Diego, Calif., on February 25. This one-day conference is dedicated to the topic of innovation and will kick off 20 such events across the country in 2014.

Category: Communication & Alignment Leadership


About the Author: Rebecca McCarthy

Rebecca L. McCarthy is the owner of the The Written Coach in San Diego, California where she gives business professionals the tools they need to write and publish their books. She has published more than 40 books—some se

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