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Cameron Herold | The COO Whisperer

Exclusive Interview with The COO Whisperer: Cameron Herold’s Eye Opening Advice to Gym Owners

Cameron Herold | The COO Whisperer

Exclusive Interview with The COO Whisperer: Cameron Herold’s Eye Opening Advice to Gym Owners

Cameron Herold | The COO Whisperer



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Show Notes

In this episode of the GSD Show, host Mike Arce sits down with Cameron Herold – the “COO Whisperer”, where they discuss how a gym owner and their second in command can work together to grow their business.

Cameron is a business coach and author of six books, including “Second in Command,” and is also the founder of COO Alliance, where he helps COO’s become more effective at their jobs. 

The Second in Command

Herold’s book, “The Second in Command: Unleash the Power of Your COOfocuses on the importance of having a second-in-command and the advantages it can bring to a company. It also teaches CEO’s how to seamlessly integrate a COO into your organization and avoid potential issues before they arise. 

He explains that there is not much content out there about the role of the second-in-command, and everything is usually written for the entrepreneur.

Role of a COO

Herold’s experience as the former COO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? shows that the right person for the role depends on the company’s current situation, growth stage, and strategic goals. For example, Cameron was able to excel as a second in command from $2 million to $106 million in revenue but would have been a poor fit to lead the company from $100 million to a billion. It has to be the right person, in the right seat, at the right time.

In general, the higher the title, the higher the level of strategy the person should be able to bring into the organization. If someone is given the COO title, they need to be able to think about strategy and work with the CEO at a high level and then come down into the execution. Conversely, a director of operations or an operations manager is more of a master of the Jack of all trades, who is good at executing tasks but may not have enough strategic vision to lead others.

In this episode we sat down with the co-founder of SOLDIERFIT who is acting as the COO of the franchise. He’s more of the operations side and gives helpful tips on working with the visionary of the company!

As one moves up into the VP and C-level positions, they tend to be very good at the people side of the business, building strong functional areas, and leading people with deep domain expertise. A true C-level executive is capable of leading leaders and building cohesive teams.

Cameron notes that it is important to understand your strengths and weaknesses as a second in command. Just like in track and field, where some athletes excel in short sprints while others in long-distance running, it is essential to know where one’s strengths lie to perform at their best.

Quirks about each other to understand 

As a second in command, working with a visionary CEO or entrepreneur can be challenging. Visionaries tend to have quirks that can be difficult to handle, such as constantly dumping crazy ideas on their team, being approximate with facts, and shooting from the hip. 

However, it’s important for the second in command to embrace these quirks and allow the visionary to be themselves. The divide and conquer approach is one of the strengths of having a visionary CEO or entrepreneur on your side. They may be great at coming up with big ideas, but may not be as skilled at executing them. This is where the second in command comes in, with their ability to follow through and put systems in place.

One important aspect of working with a visionary CEO or entrepreneur is the ability to debate and argue in a respectful manner. While it’s not ideal to fight in front of employees, it’s important for the team to see the CEO and second in command work through their differences and come to a resolution. This can demonstrate the strength of their partnership and create a positive example for the team.

[WATCH: The 5 Dysfunctions of Team, that dives deeper on this topic]

Vise-versa, the CEO or entrepreneur, hates that COOs can be slower paces or take their time on certain projects. The CEO is naturally faster pace, however that can come with little attention to detail. This is where the COO thrives and pays close attention to detail and hardly ever misses or makes mistakes.

Knowing and understand each other’s quirks is what can make a successful relationship and lead to a thriving business.

Leader vs Manager

The difference between a manager and a leader can be summed up by a story of two guys cutting down trees in the forest. While both are tasked with getting the job done, one is focused on efficiency and getting the trees cut down perfectly. The other climbs the tallest tree to gain perspective and sees they are in the wrong forest. The first guy is a manager, while the second is a leader. Management is about knowing how to get the job done, while leadership is about knowing where to go.

To become a great leader, the focus should be on growing people and flipping the organizational chart upside down. Leaders must grow the skills and confidence of their employees so that they can climb up two ladders – the skills ladder and the confidence ladder – simultaneously. Additionally, leaders should say “no” more often than they say “yes”, to keep people focused.

Being a Good Manager

When it comes to having manager roles, like a studio manager at your gym, Cameron explains the requirements of being successful. Being a good manager requires a combination of emotional intelligence and firmness. 

It’s important to continuously learn and grow, and to be a self-driven learner. Don’t wait for your boss to give you training, seek it out yourself. Be introspective and take responsibility for problems and work to fix them.

Also, ask your boss for more responsibilities to free them up and make yourself more indispensable. To become a second-in-command, start thinking about the changes you need to make in your approach to business. 

The Invest in Your Leaders course covers the core modules every manager needs to become a leader or CEO in a company, including delegation, time management, conflict resolution, and more. [This is a course we offer in our 360+ program. To learn more about that program, click here!]

Most people have never been trained in these skills, so seek out training and best practices to continually improve.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

In today’s world, businesses need to keep up with the rapid pace of technological advancement, and artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the key technologies that can help them do so.

[WATCH: How gyms can use AI]

One of the most impressive AI tools that I recently learned about is This tool can do almost anything on a computer that you need it to do, without you having to know how to do it. You just need to know what it’s capable of doing, and then tell it what you need it to do. One of the most exciting things about is the way it can automate complex spreadsheet tasks, making it an invaluable tool for businesses of all sizes.

The use of AI is not just limited to businesses. It is also making its way into our daily lives. For example, Tesla’s autopilot feature is already capable of handling most driving scenarios, and it’s only a matter of time before self-driving cars become the norm.

As business leaders, it is crucial to stay up to date with the latest technological advancements and understand how they can benefit our businesses. CEOs and COOs must ensure that the rate of change inside their businesses is greater than the rate of change outside, or they risk becoming obsolete. To do this, it’s important to keep an eye on competitors and learn from other industries to spark new ideas and innovations.

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