Cameron Herold is considered one of the most innovative business leaders in the U.S. He became well known for his successful business venture, 1-800-GOT-JUNK where he made money from other people’s “junk”. But what makes Herold an even better role model in business is his willingness to share his experiences and steps he took to get where he is today.
In Dec 1985, I was admitted to what I now call my “real world MBA.” Almost 40 years later, College Pro Painters is still, in my opinion, the single biggest reason I am where I am today in business.
That December I was awarded the Sudbury franchise of College Pro Painters. And I was scared to death. I remember my father telling me, go ahead, sign the 62 page franchise agreement. Worst case scenario is you’ll go bankrupt, but what do you have to lose at 21. You’ll learn a ton. And wow, he underestimated what I learned. And what I made.
I ran my franchise for 3 summers. Over the three summers with College Pro Painters, I earned approximately $60,000 in profit. I paid 100% of my own way through University. And at 23 years old I invested the remaining money I had in my first house. Yes, I was debt free, owned a house, and had paid my entire way through school.
In addition to making great money, and being able to take university girls to the top restaurants in Ottawa on dates, I learned a ton. I had 12 full time employees at 21 years old. I ran sales, marketing, advertising, operations, production, hiring, etc. I learned how to interview, lead people, and even deal with lawyers. I ran my own accounting system. I literally learned how to run a business, and not from Professors who I quickly learned were all theory, I learned from brilliant leaders like Steve Rogers, James Jones, Mary Mowbray, Kevin Carter, Ron Martin, Paul Hayman, Don Darby and the list goes on. It’s funny really. I can’t tell you the name of a single professor I had, nor what I learned in University.
I’m so lucky I had what it took to get awarded a franchise, and to succeed at running it: early signs of Leadership, Attainment, Tenacity, Introspection, Precision etc. However, what I really had were the systems of an awesome company, and the passion and skills of those people who taught me. Everything I learned 25 years ago, I still use in building companies and coaching CEOs today.
Funny, my brother and sister both ran franchises with College Pro Painters too. And we all own and run our own companies today. Sure glad I didn’t go get that high paying $15/Hr job at GM.
Learn more about Herold’s background and his advice for future entrepreneurs on his TED talks video.