Thinking of Early Retirement? Here’s What You Need to Know

Cameron Herold
Cameron Herold March 9, 2016

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Considering early retirement? At first the idea of this may sound very appealing. But is retiring at a young age possible or even a good idea in your situation?

Today’s show provides three points to consider when determining the ideal retirement age.

The second half of the show looks at planning the future of the younger generation. Cameron Herold, founder of 1-800-GOT-JUNK and author of Double Double: How to Double Your Revenue and Profit in 3 Years or Less, explains why children should be trained to become entrepreneurs when they are very young.

He also shares the Vivid Vision business model that you can adapt to build your own financial future.

Read more about Cameron Herold and his work at:

Watch his TED talk here and follow him on Twitter at: @CameronHerold.

Watch Double Double on YouTube.

Read the Transcript

Interview with Cameron Herold

Cameron Herold, successful founder of 1-800-GOT-JUNK, and author of Double Double, shares new challenging ideas about entrepreneurship? Are entrepreneurial skills acquired or innate?

Douglas Goldstein: Cameron Herold has a TED Talk called, “Teaching Kids Financial Literacy through Entrepreneurship.” He is one of the most successful entrepreneurs, having started what you probably heard of which is 1-800-GOT-JUNK. He also wrote a book called Double Double.

You are encouraging people to encourage their kids to be entrepreneurs instead of, as a lot of people say, getting a real job. Why is that?

Cameron Herold: I just noticed, when I was growing up, that being an entrepreneur was not actually a job that a lot of parents would push in front of their children. In the last 15 or 20 years, exposure to the internet and a lot of publicity have become more of a cool education experience. That means a lot of kids in the education system who had entrepreneurial traits weren’t necessarily pushed towards entrepreneurship. Instead, they were pushed towards medication to become more like the norm. I think you can actually spot a lot of entrepreneurial traits in kids that could be nurtured rather than saying there’s something wrong with them. That was really the impetus for the TED talk.

Douglas Goldstein: I want to know why you didn’t challenge me on my referring to either being an entrepreneur or getting a real job. Is that because you agree with that distinction?

Cameron Herold: I think in a lot of ways, that entrepreneurship is a real job. Entrepreneurship is adding jobs to the economy. Entrepreneurship is really just as good as being a lawyer, a doctor, a dentist, or an electrician, or a movie star and athlete, but society doesn’t necessarily push kids along that path. But I think we should hold it up in that same scheme. I’m not saying that everyone should be an entrepreneur, but I think there’s an awful lot of kids out there that show those entrepreneurial traits. We can actually nurture some entrepreneurial skills in kids to help them become more entrepreneurial, either in their careers, or, in fact, as entrepreneurs themselves.

Douglas Goldstein: So in other words you’re saying that in a person’s career, one could be a dentist or a lawyer, but also be an entrepreneur in the way that he or she runs the practice?

Cameron Herold: Exactly, yeah. I actually have a client that I coach. I coach CEOs all over the world, and one of my clients owns a chain of dental locations. He has about 18 or 19 dental offices that he owns and operates. He’s a dentist by trade, that was what he went to school for, but he was much more entrepreneurial. I used to laugh about the fact that he really struggled with dentistry. He came out as a pretty good dentist, but never at the top of his class, and that was because he was much more of an entrepreneur. So he was able to leverage that, and I think a lot of people get stuck not knowing that they have those entrepreneurial skills and that they can do something beyond just what they trained in.

Can You Train Someone to be an Entrepreneur?

Douglas Goldstein: Do you think you could actually train someone to be an entrepreneur? Are there classes kids should be taking, or is it just go out and give it a shot?

Cameron Herold: It could be both. I think it’s nurture and nature. Sometimes you’re born with a lot of those entrepreneurial traits, and I think that’s what parents need to keep an eye open for. But then, yes. You can actually train the skills, the classic skills that you need to be entrepreneurial, and there are more and more courses being added to the curriculums both in high schools, grade schools, and universities now that teach entrepreneurship. I also think you can learn a lot of the entrepreneurial skills - almost like an apprentice and like being around other businesses. So kids go off and work for small, young entrepreneurial start-ups and they gain a lot of the entrepreneurial skills just from being in that environment, as opposed to sitting in the classroom. Kids can learn all kinds of ways: online, books, courses, or by practical experience.

Douglas Goldstein: One of the fears that people have is that if you follow the entrepreneurial route, you will go broke. Is it riskier to be an entrepreneur or to work for a company?

Cameron Herold: I think it’s riskier to work for a company because at the end of the day somebody can walk up to you and say, “Oh by the way, you know we are reducing our company size,” or “We are changing direction,” or “We don’t like you anymore,” or what have you, whereas when you are an entrepreneur you are in complete control. You are in control of you own destiny. I think a lot of people from the other side can look at an entrepreneur and think it’s risky, but it’s because they don’t really understand that the entrepreneur has already done enough. We figured out how to make it work. We understand our model. We understand where to make money along the way, so it’s more of a calculated risk. It’s much like jumping out of an airplane with a parachute. You should calculate the risk or somebody who is very, very fearful might think it’s crazy. Yet, there’s thousands and thousands and thousands of people parachuting every day.

Are Entrepreneurs Better at Handling Money?

Douglas Goldstein: Why do you think that someone who focuses on entrepreneurship might just be better at handling money?

Cameron Herold: A lot of kids are not actually good at handling the money side of things. In fact, I’m probably average at the financial side of things, but I recognized early on that I could focus on my strengths and I could actually hire a good accountant. We don’t need to be great and hilarious. Unlike the school system, in which the kid got to be good and creative in every subject and was competitive against everyone else in his ability to memorize every subject, entrepreneurship is all about surrounding yourself with the best people and hiring experts so that you could focus on your areas of genius. I always say you can delegate everything except genius. So if a kid is really strong in sales, marketing, and leadership, that’s what he should focus on, and he should hire or outsource people to run all the other aspects of his job - the IT, finance, and operational sides. You might have somebody who’s very strong on the financial side of the business, and maybe he hires somebody to run the sales and marketing because he’s more inward focused. So it’s not actually true. You don’t need to be good in the finance side. Those people are readily available.

How Can You Teach Your Kids About Money?

Douglas Goldstein: So let’s say you wanted to teach your kids some basics about money. A lot of people say, “Okay, I’ll give you an allowance once a week and you can handle it in a certain way.” What’s your take on allowance?

Cameron Herold: I don’t like allowances as much as giving kids the opportunity to spot opportunities around their home or city to make money and then helping them with that and negotiating with them. I think a regular weekly allowance is teaching the kids to expect a regular weekly paycheck, and then we end up managing them like managing employees, trying to hold them accountable to do those tasks, and they end up trying to do the minimal amount of work to get that regular paycheck. What I’d rather do is suggest a whole bunch of chores that need to get done around the house, get the kids to recognize there’s always 20 or 30 things that need to get done, and they can actually go and do those things and negotiate a fee for that. So maybe it’s doing the laundry, or raking the leaves, or shovelling the snow, or picking up around the kitchen, or doing whatever. Those chores can all be worth something, and then if they compete against each other you might have two or three siblings where one of them is hungrier in spotting opportunities. They get the opportunity to make money. So you are teaching them to just follow opportunities, to negotiate, hustle, work hard, and to fill some of their time with opportunities to make that money, versus earning a regular pay check. I also like to get to the financial side of things, that when they make money, they really have to save about half of their amount of money for housing and for their future rather than just going off and spending it all on the next video game. So I teach kids to save half of the money they get within their own account, and half the money can be spent on the things that they like.

Douglas Goldstein: I know that you have this concept - you referred to it as “vivid vision.” Can you tell us what’s that about, and whether that’s also something that could be applied in personal finance, or is it only for CEOs?

Vivid Vision

Cameron Herold: Vivid vision can be applied to really any part of your life. It can be applied to your personal finances, to your personal life itself, to your business. The idea is essentially this: you lean out into the future as an individual or a business owner and pretend that you are standing three years out from today. So let’s say it’s December 31st, three years from now, and you describe every aspect of your business as if you are standing in a finished state three years from now. You describe what the company looks like, what the culture is like, describe how people are living their core values, describe every business area as if you are standing in that business department talking to the employees. Describe marketing and IT, talk about what the customers are saying about you, what the employees are saying about you, what the media is writing about you. I cover it in pretty broad detail in my book Double, Double in chapter one, but the idea is to describe in three or four pages in vivid detail what your company or personal life looks like three years in the future so that when you share that document with everyone else, they can see what you are building as well. Then they can help you reverse engineer it, and then really each sentence of that vivid vision is a finished state, so that you could figure out one or two projects to make that sentence come true. So if you are thinking about your financial literacy or your financial tradition, you’d be describing that finished state and reverse engineering that.

Douglas Goldstein: It sounds a lot like a financial plan we do for people. We normally look further. In other words, we’ll talk to someone about doing a retirement plan that could only come into effect 10, 15, 20 years or more down the line. Yet they still have to really have a vision of what they want - rather than someone coming in and just saying “Yeah, I want to have a billion dollars” - because that seems a little bit too amorphous.

Cameron Herold: I think that’s where a lot of people lose track is they often put the big 20-year plan in place. Even for their company they have that huge vision of the big 20-year push of holding a big operation and being able to sell it, whatever it’s going to be. But they forget that it’s really hard for everyone else to attach themselves to a goal that is so far out there and that it’s much easier to get people to attach themselves to a goal that is a little bit more proximal. Three years tends to be enough of a stretch that it gets people excited, but it’s not so far out that it’s too far out there. Five years tends to be a little bit too far of a push. I like to use the big 20-year retirement plan push in addition to the three-year push. It gives them a big stretch they’re working towards and then the more finite goals that they are breaking down.

Douglas Goldstein: How can people learn more about these ideas and the other ideas that you’ve come up with?

Cameron Herold: They can go to the main TED website and they can see the TED talk, and just look up under my name Cameron Herold or my main website, which is It has all the tools that I talked about, and my book Double Double is also available online.

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