Aug 31, 2020

208: Talent Whisperer – How Cameron Smith Brought the Best and Brightest to NWA

Hey everyone! Welcome back to another episode of the Startup Junkies Podcast. This week, Caleb Talley has a special chat with Cameron Smith of Cameron Smith & Associates. Cameron Smith & Associates is one of the nation’s leading recruiting firms that is devoted to finding and placing the best talent. In this episode, you will get to hear about the impact Cameron Smith & Associates has made in Northwest Arkansas, the game-changing moment for Mr. Smith, and the transformation of fastpitch softball in Arkansas. Check out this fun, insightful episode!


(00:34) Intro

(2:21) Cameron Smith and Associates origin story

(7:39) Cameron shares game changing moments from his career

(10:21) Cameron and his wife Monica’s meeting story

(15:32) How Cameron changed the Arkansas sports landscape

(21:41) COVID’s effects on Cameron Smith and Associates

(23:14) What’s next for the company?

(24:40) Best advice Cameron has received 


Caleb Talley

Cameron Smith

Cameron Smith and Associates


“I was busier than all get out, and I really couldn’t hire recruiters quick enough to manage the business.  So fast forward 25 years later.  There are 1,600 plus Walmart vendors here.  And I believe we are responsible for bringing more than 500 of those teams here, and help facilitating close to 5,000 jobs.  It’s been a great run, and we’re very grateful” (5:13)

“When you’re first starting out, you have this vision for this business.  You’ve got to ask a lot of questions.  You have to do your due diligence.  You’ve got to run the numbers and make a plan.”  (25:31)

Game Changers with Cameron Smith

In this episode, Caleb Talley had the opportunity to speak with Cameron Smith, founder and CFO of Cameron Smith and Associates. Cameron has a work ethic and a drive to succeed that are hard to find elsewhere. This hunger for success led Cameron to found one of the most successful talent recruiting firms in America, fall in love with a woman who lives halfway across the country, and change the Arkansas sports landscape.

Cameron Smith and Associates

In 1994, Cameron was living in Ft. Smith, Arkansas, operating on his own as a recruiter in a variety of industries. After continually coming across a job ad for Huffy Bicycle Company, Cameron reached out to Huffy, who was thrilled to find someone in Walmart’s home turf to help find someone to fill the position. This move started Cameron on his way to recruiting for Walmart vendors. Twenty-five years later, Cameron Smith and Associates have helped bring more than 500 Walmart vendors to the area, creating roughly 5,000 jobs for the community.  

While Cameron’s assent seems smooth and straight-forward, he admits that it was anything but easy. In 1992, Cameron had recently relocated to Northwest Arkansas, and he was struggling to get his bills paid. When he was at the point of hosting garage sales to make ends meet, he stumbled upon Tony Robbins on his television. Cameron bought Tony’s video series and found himself determined to find his way in his career.

A Meet Cute Gone Wrong….Gone Right

Cameron found himself in Vegas with a friend for a big Holifield fight. He was getting breakfast at his hotel before his morning tee time when he saw the most beautiful girl he had ever seen in his life. Too embarrassed to talk to her that morning, he headed to the golf course for his morning activities. He got back to his hotel that afternoon, motivated to find a way to connect with his new crush. He rang the operator to see if the woman was staying at the hotel, and to Cameron’s displeasure, he was put on the line with her. Without a plan, he pretended to be the hotel clerk and got the woman’s phone address and number. To his chagrin, Monica lived in Russellville, Arkansas.

Six weeks later, Cameron finds the note he left with Monica’s name and number, so he calls her. The conversation goes about as one would expect in this situation: horribly. Cameron inadvertently comes off as creepy, and Monica is afraid she has a stalker from Vegas. Cameron calls back, apologizes for coming off as he did, and tells Monica to drop a line if she’s ever in LA. Sure enough, Monica calls three months later to say that she’ll be in Vegas in three weeks. They talk on the phone every day for the next three weeks, and Cameron plans a grandiose date for the two of them while she is in Vegas. The only thing left to do was decide if she would be moving to Southern California, or if he would be joining her in Arkansas. The rest is history.

Fastpitch Softball, a Sport for Arkansans

At age 21, Cameron joined a fast-pitch softball team with a friend and his friend’s father. Enamored by the sport, Cameron soon started his own team and learned to pitch. He had raw talent, but no training, and it showed – his team lost their first game 21-1. Cameron practiced his pitching every day that week, and he quickly improved. Within five years, Cameron was playing professionally for celebrity teams.

When he moved to Arkansas, Cameron could not believe that no one was playing fast-pitch softball. Every youth and high school league was playing slowpitch. After many arduous meetings, Cameron convinced both youth and high school leagues to switch from slowpitch to fast-pitch. This decision came with one caveat, Cameron would teach girls across the state how to pitch fast-pitch. He spent every weekend getting up at 4 am to drive across the state and hold fast-pitch clinics, changing the Arkansas women’s sports landscape forever.

While a talent recruitment agency, a love story, and fast-pitch softball would not seem to be connected in any way, they are bound by a strong tie: Cameron’s undying commitment to success. Whether it was persevering through bad times in business, finding a way to spark a love connection with the most beautiful girl he had ever seen, or convincing Arkansas sports to host fast-pitch softball leagues, Cameron Smith’s work ethic and drive for success led him to reach his goals.