You Call the Shots

Succeed Your Way — and Live the Life You Want — with the 19 Essential Secrets of Entrepreneurship

  • Taiwan’s Golden Book Award for Innovation

In 2004, the days when I was working as editor in chief of Networking Times, we published an interview I had with an amazing young entrepreneur named Cameron Johnson. Here’s what I said about Cameron in my introduction to that piece:

Here’s what I really wanted to put as the subtitle of this article: “An Exceptionally Sensible, Articulate, Savvy Nineteen-Year-Old Who Is Also a Delight to Talk With and Is Someone Most Forty- and Fifty-Year-Olds Could Well Afford to Listen To.” But that wouldn’t have fit in the space. What is especially striking about Cameron Johnson is not his outstanding business success, nor the fact that he began achieving it at such an early age. Yes, both of those are impressive—but even more so is the depth of his maturity and common sense.

Cameron and I hit it off and stayed in touch. In 2005 we decided to work on a book project together. By early 2006 we had a manuscript, which my indescribably wonderful agent Margret McBride took to Simon & Schuster. The resulting book hit the bookstores in January 2007—my first actual, New York–published book.

Foreign Language Editions

You Call the Shots is also available in Chinese (complex).

You Call the Shots Reviews

“One of the best books I’ve read in a long time on the subject of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit … extremely well written and chock full of interesting advice. The book is intended to inspire those who want to start their own business, but it’s useful reading for corporate executives who want insights into entrepreneurial thinking…. Johnson’s opinions on how companies should be run are exactly the kind of information senior executives need to make sure their companies are not inadvertently stifling the very innovations they seek.”
— Jill Rose, Editor in Chief, American Executive

“Cameron’s story is compelling enough on its own, but he’s taken it further. The principles he lays out aren’t just good advice for those on the younger side, they’re great resources for entrepreneurs of any age. Starting your own business can be a great way to find your true calling and build a financially rewarding future. If that’s your dream, then Cameron Johnson’s story will be an inspiring source of a great deal of first-rate advice.”
— David Bach, from the Foreword

“Cameron Johnson wrote me a letter when he was eight years old. I didn’t write back to him, but I responded with a surprise for him when he visited New York City. Thirteen years later, he’s given me a surprise — he’s written a terrific book! No matter what your age, you will enjoy and learn from Cameron’s book about his accomplishments.”
— Donald J. Trump

You Call the Shots is for everyone committed to following their dreams … essential reading for anyone with a passion for life.”
— T. Harv Eker, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind

“If you want to be an enlightened moneymaker, read Cameron Johnson’s brilliant book now — and apply it.”
— Mark Victor Hansen, Chicken Soup for the Soul

“Cameron Johnson shares his personal secrets in a warm and friendly way that’s sure to motivate people of all ages.”
— Jennifer Kushell, Secrets of the Young & Successful

Excerpt from You Call the Shots

I started my first business at the age of nine with $50 and a home computer, and ran it from my room at home as a one-kid operation. By the time I was nineteen I had started nearly a dozen profitable businesses, and for my latest venture I had received a very attractive offer of $10 million in venture capital. I turned that offer down and walked away, because I didn’t feel good about the conditions that would have been imposed on me if I’d taken the money. The venture capital firm would have called the shots, told me how to run my company and paid me a salary that would’ve been less than I’d made on my own since I was twelve.

It was a lucrative offer, and who knows, maybe with their backing and expertise I would have come out way ahead. But I didn’t think it was the right deal for me. I made that decision without regret, and I’ve never looked back.

I knew this was not a now-or-never choice. There would be plenty of other opportunities to create even more successful businesses—because I’d learned the skills it takes to do so. Once you learn these skills, you never have to be tied to any one particular enterprise. I could have taken someone else’s $10 million investment, but I realized that I’d rather invest in myself.

I’ve been fortunate enough to make my first million before graduating from high school and buy my own house at twenty. At twenty-one, I’ve now put away enough in savings and other investments that I could practically retire today . . . if I wanted to. But of course, that’s the last thing on Earth I’d want to do. I just enjoy it all too much. Not to say the money isn’t important, but frankly, it’s not why I do what I do. I do it because I love it.

I’ve always loved starting new businesses. I take pleasure in every aspect of it, from coming up with a new concept or unique twist on an existing concept, to finding a name that perfectly captures the nature of the business, to building the team, launching the enterprise and watching it take off and grow. Of the more than a dozen successful businesses I’ve launched over the past twelve years, every one of them has been a unique experience, and I’ve loved the process every time.

That’s what I want to share with you in this book. How to build successful businesses, what it’s like to do it, and why I love it so much—and hope you will too.

Starting your own business is a great path for creating success on your own terms. It’s an excellent way to build a financial base for yourself, but it’s more than that, too. It’s about finding ways to exercise your creativity, to challenge yourself and rise to new levels of ability and experience. It’s about the satisfaction of creating something that makes a contribution to other people’s lives. And perhaps more than anything else, it’s about the freedom: the freedom to set your own hours, to do things your own way, to try out new ideas and put your talents to the test.

I wouldn’t exchange the thrill of that freedom for anything in the world.

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