By: Kristen Penczek, M.A.
Cameron Herold is this year’s Pinnacle Award Recipient. The Pinnacle Award was created to recognize an individual with dyslexia who has publicly acknowledged his dyslexia, made significant achievements in his field of interest, is leading a successful life, and is a role model for others with dyslexia. The Pinnacle Award, which is given annually, will be presented to Cameron at the IDA’s Annual Reading, Literacy & Learning Conference in San Diego on November 12, 2014.
Cameron is one of the most sought-after business minds in North America. He has built several million-dollar companies from the ground up, as well as being a mentor to top-rated CEOs in the business world. Throughout his career, Cameron has been instrumental in the successful sale, branding, and integration of a remarkable 500 business locations with three major companies. He may be best known for being the driving force behind 1-800-GOT-JUNK?’s spectacular growth from $2 million to $106 million in just six years. However, this dynamic leader has been an entrepreneurial innovator since launching his first company at the age of 21.
We recently caught up with Cameron to chat about his experiences and what we can look forward to in hearing his presentation in November.
Q: What were some of the challenges you overcame as a child?
A: As a child I had really bad ADD. Still do as an adult. I also have a form of dyslexia called dyscalculia—where I flip my numbers around when I write them down—that I learned about as a young adult. So processing was an issue, and I’d tune in and out of class. Got bored if the teacher wasn’t either a) moving really fast to stimulate me and keep me focused or b) working closely with me. I was scattered, didn’t prioritize, and struggled with organizing things.
Q: In what way has having dyslexia helped you?
A: What I struggled with was numbers. I’m strangely good with math now—but I still can’t remember numbers or seem to write them down correctly, so I delegate to people who can. I learned that being close was fine—and perfect never mattered anyway. When I give my phone number or leave a message, I repeat it slowly twice. Not sure how it’s helped me though.
Q: With all of your challenges and successes in life, what is one thing you would go back and tell yourself during those stages of childhood struggles?
A: I wish I had known at a much younger age that B’s and C’s were perfectly fine—that no one really cares about straight A’s when you get older.
I wish I had known that what I did intuitively—finding shortcuts, not obsessing about perfect, etc.—was OK.
Q: Can you give us a teaser of what we can look forward to in your presentation at the conference in November?
A: I’ll be referring to the content from my TED Talk, “Raising Kids as Entrepreneurs,” and also to a tool I teach CEO’s all over the world to use. This tool can be used by anyone in business, or with family, to clarify and communicate a vision—so everyone can see it, understand it, and make it happen.
Kristen Penczek is the Interim Executive Director for IDA and also serves as the Managing Editor for The Examiner.
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