Book Review: Double Double by Cameron Herold

April 2, 2011

Double Double by Cameron HeroldThis book shows you “How to double your revenue and profit, in 3 years or less“and I think its a must-read for any ambitious, high-growth entrepreneurial business leader.

Growing a business is not easy, but it doesn’t have to be complicated and this book is refreshingly full of practical and actionable advice for success, which Cameron has learned over years of running hyper-growth businesses. Throughout the book you’ll find out not just what you need to do, but why to do it and instructions on how to do it, along with tons of real-life examples from Cameron’s companies and his coaching clients.

Double Double is an essential manual for CEOs and entrepreneurs.

Whether you are already a large and long-established business with ambitious plans to double in size every three years, or a high-tech startup enjoying massive user traction and doubling every 3 months, the challenges of building fast-growth companies are the same. Cameron has condensed his knowledge gained from running high-growth businesses such as 1-800-GOT-JUNK? where in his six year tenure as COO, the company roughly doubled in size every year, growing from $2MM to over $106MM in sales.

What’s inside the book?

Part 1 is all about preparing for fast growth by sowing the seeds for your success. Skip this and you end up operating tactically with no strategic objectives in mind; a disaster. The three opening chapters focus on:

Vision: Cameron describes how it’s essential to excite and align everyone in your company with a detailed “painted picture” which describes how your company will look three years in the future. This is an incredibly powerful tool and if you only implement one thing out of the whole book, this should be it. Critically this painted picture is shared with everyone the company touches or employs.

Reverse Engineering goals. Once you have a clear vision of where you want to get to, you work backwards and reverse engineer it, so you know what you need to do quarterly and yearly to make your 3 year painted picture a reality. Cameron explains how you can identify the projects that will get you there, and crucially get employees buying in at every step of the way.

Culture: How do you grow super-fast and achieve your vision and goals? Your people will make it happen, and your company culture will keep them motivated, engaged and loyal. Companies are more than just a collection of disciplines and skills but a collection of people and how they interact with each other and feel about the company will massively affect the success of your business.

The eight chapters in part 2 go in depth on “focused actions for fast growth” and it covers three main themes in detail:

People: How to excel at recruiting the best employees, how to improve your communication skills and how to run better meetings. The right meeting structures and rhythms really contribute to building a successful business and he goes into detail on the types of meetings you should be holding,  the purpose of these, when and how to run them effectively as possible.

Promotion and marketing: The chapter on PR in particular is great. It’s an often overlooked and misunderstood element of promoting your business and Cameron is a master at it.

Techniques and tools: Working with and choosing the right metrics and KPIs as well making using of the right technology.

A final bonus theme in part two addresses the recession and some ideas to help exploit and make the most of the opportunities presented.

The book ends with part 3, a focus on leadership and is really all about managing your emotions, your productivity and your work-life balance. It kicks off with a detailed chapter on the rollercoaster ride of emotional highs and lows you get when living life as an entrepreneur. This chapter and its explanation of the transition curve, along with specific activities you should do, or avoid at each stage, is essential reading. (For a preview click here).

Within the leadership section a chapter on advisory boards explains how the right group of people are there to support and help you grow as a CEO, and Cameron is strong in his belief of the importance of them, and says they are an often overlooked tool for success.

Cameron HeroldI’m lucky enough to have Cameron as the first person on my board of advisors at Teamly, and can say that Cameron is every bit as good a mentor and coach as you would expect from reading this book. I’m also delighted that he recommends Teamly on a number of occasions throughout the book as a great way for people to stay focused, and an essential management tool. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank him for his help and support in the last year since I started up. I’m extremely lucky to have him there for me, but you can access 20 years of distilled knowledge, experience and advice by reading his book; go buy a copy!!

More info:
Double Double book website
Cameron’s BackPocketCOO website

My second year experience at SXSW

April 1, 2011

Photo by melmediasauce1 on flickr

I’m writing this a few days after returning back to the UK after attending “South by South-West” (SXSW) Interactive, Austin, Texas. It’s an enormous conference or festival of all things digital and web related. In Silicon Valley it’s known as “spring break for geeks”, an apt description which describes the attendees and the atmosphere just a little too well.

It’s spread over 5 days, with talks, discussions, panels and keynotes running all through the day with parties running all through the night. There is simply no other conference like it. You won’t see people in suits, instead, flip flops, shorts and a T-shirt branded with your company logo is fairly typical.

It was my second time at “South By”, but this year thing’s have changed, not only is attendance up a whopping 40% but this time round I have a business to promote!

Last year I came when Teamly was at the idea stage and I didn’t know anyone. All the networking I’ve done in the last year in London – helped in no small part by being a member of TechHub – meant that this time round I kept bumping into familiar faces; the world’s web industry was in attendance.

But crucially Teamly was also taking part in the official UKTI Mission, a group of 40 British digital and web businesses. It’s well worth taking part as through the mission events and support from UKTI and organisers, Chinwag, you will definitely get more out of SXSW, and crucially maximise the ROI on your trip.

Meetings with the UKTI team and other mission companies take place in the UK ahead of departure so they understand what you are looking for and this helps them ensure you get the most out of the experience.

Photo of Mission Masterclass, by Chinwag, on flickrOnce in Austin there’s specific events for the mission companies, including a morning seminar on doing business in the US, a hands-on breakfast with key industry players to provide advice and intros, a general open-to-all networking breakfast, and finally another open-to-all networking event over beer and BBQ.

Combine these with the hundreds of talks, discussions, keynotes and seminars in the official programme – not to mention all the parties! – and SXSW will be one of the most crammed 5 days of your life!

Separately, Teamly was lucky enough to be shortlisted for the finals of the prestigious Microsoft Bizspark Accelerator startup competition! Both that and the UK Mission helped us to raise our profile amongst the thousands of businesses in attendance; SXSW is a noisy place, so don’t expect any attention as you’ll have to work really hard for it. Instead focus on meeting people that will help your business, and go for making quality connections. Seth Godin offers two excellent pieces of advice on SXSW strategy, here and here.

Last year I spent much of the daytimes in the fantastic sessions, choosing between them all is impossibly hard; frequently you find there are 3 things on at the same time, but you can only go to one!

However, this year I spent less time doing the official panels and more time just meeting and talking to people, making new friends and meeting other entrepreneurs, bloggers and investors. Even when pitching a VC, the laid back party atmosphere means a pitch at “south-by” is not like a pitch elsewhere.

My main goal for SXSW was to connect with potential investors as we close our seed round for Teamly. There were lots in attendance, but with so many people around, finding them is going to be the big challenge. I seemed to hit it very lucky, having checked in at SFO for my flight to Austin I turned around and found myself face-to-face with a VC!

A rather craply delivered elevator pitch then followed, but it was enough to secure a 30 minute slot later on. Other opportunities to meet with VCs came about simply because I knew who I was targeting, and was following their activity on Twitter, Foursquare, Gowalla, (a.k.a. stalking), or had found some of the unofficial VC pitch events listed on Plancast or Eventbrite. (This is also how you will find out about the cool, unofficial parties, so don’t dismiss them, use these channels to your advantage!)

In total I did 3 formal pitches, and had chats or catch ups with another 7 investors. As VC Mark Suster – one of the ones I bumped into, over a glass of wine – says, investors invest in lines and not dots; the point being the more times you meet and connect with people in different ways, the better.

Oh, and if you need one final reason to come to South-By, it’s March and it’s mid 20s and sunny; you can’t beat getting off the plane from London and finding yourself in the middle of summer!

See you next year!

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This blog originally appeared on the Chinwag blog, the organisers of the UK’s mission to SXSW