Cameron Johnson features testimonials from T. Harv Eker and Donald Trump on the dust jacket for his new book, You Call the Shots. The book also includes a foreword by David Bach. However, this book outshines in many ways what I am used to seeing (over and over) from the typical financial gurus like Trump and Bach. Like the others, this book promises something unique: the 19 essential secrets of entrepreneurship. Unlike other books I’ve read, Cameron approaches the book through sharing personal stories about growing up, dealing with expectations, learning about the world of entrepreneurship, and building a wide variety of businesses.
I won’t summarize Cameron’s complete entrepreneurial résumé, but it’s interesting to see his development from an eight-year-old fan of Donald Trump, unafraid to put himself “out there” and get the attention of an individual who likely had better things to do than go out of his way to make a random kid happy, to a savvy business owner. Donald Trump was only one of Cameron’s inspirations, however.
Cameron’s family was in the Ford dealership business for several generations, and seeing his father run the business influenced the way the young entrepreneur thought about operations, customer service, networking and advertising. He started small, printing greeting cards from his family’s PC and branching out into sales of Beanie Babies. He jumped onto the Internet bandwagon early on and founded several web-based businesses which he later sold.
I thoroughly enjoyed the various stories within You Call the Shots. While the cover of the book promises 19 secrets of entrepreneurship, Cameron does not feed the reader overplayed generic ideas and abstract themes. Cameron related every thought to pieces of his experience despite the fact he’s barely 21 years old, and weaved the “secrets” through a narrative which for the most part followed his life chronologically.
Much of Cameron’s experience relates directly to online businesses, specifically his ability to grow the businesses through their initial stages and in many cases sell the assets for a significant (but always undisclosed) profit. Even though there are some exceptions, even the Internet-based activities provide lessons that can be useful when managing any kind of business.
This book should be required reading for any young adult showing an interest in entrepreneurship, but those with significantly more experience may find the stories within the book a bit quaint. These stories of Cameron’s specific and entertaining experiences allow this book to go above and beyond the call of duty.
Here are the 19 straightforward “essential secrets of entrepreneurship” presented in You Call the Shots. While I can share this overview with you, to truly understand Cameron’s point of view you must read his stories within the book.
- Put yourself out there
- Start small
- Make your money work for you
- Look close to home for great ideas
- Balance work with life
- Surround yourself with great people
- Make yourself your brand
- Don’t be afraid to negotiate
- Make your own tough decisions
- Adapt or die
- Find great mentors
- Seek out knowledge every day
- Use the power of the press
- Stick to your guns
- Get experience on the ground
- Never underestimate the value of your customers
- Creatively build on your experience
- Remember what it’s really all about
- Be the entrepreneur you want to be
As I’ve said above, the power of this book is in the extensive details surrounding Cameron’s experiences, whether he is working a lemonade stand putting his preteen peers out of business, managing sales for his father’s dealership, traveling to Japan to give speeches, or consulting. Cameron has his own blog, naturally, and he has agreed to be a guest blogger on Consumerism Commentary in the near future. His publisher also agreed, at my request, to provide several extra copies of You Call the Shots, which I highly recommend if you haven’t gathered that, to be given away.
Updated January 13, 2009 and originally published February 6, 2007.