It was almost impossible to miss when SEOmoz became Moz. Special thanks to Rand Fishkin of Moz for taking the time to participate in the Mentor Stories series!
How did you get into this industry?
I started in the world of web design and development – building sites primarily for small businesses locally in the Seattle area. When those clients started needing traffic to their sites, but couldn’t afford advertising, SEO became the obvious option. I learned on early forums like Cre8asite, SEOChat and SEWatch, then started the SEOmoz blogand went to my first SES conference in 2004 (back when Danny Sullivan still ran them). That’s when I became much more involved in the industry, and started calling myself an “SEO,” since that was my primary .
Who has had the single most impact on your career to date?
Probably my wife, Geraldine. Without her support from 2003-2007, I couldn’t have afforded to pursue entrepreneurship without any real takehome pay. Those 4, formative years, are a direct result of her help, encouragement, and lack of criticism with my lack of a paycheck. There are a lot of other big contributors, too, of course – my Mom, Gillian, who was my co-founder, Sarah Bird, our COO and my partner in Moz since 2008, Michelle Goldberg, our first investor from Ignition, and tons more.
What do you read offline? Is there an author or series of books that have really made an impact?
I’m a big fan of behavioral psychology books. Stuff like Cialdini’s Influence, Thaler & Sunstein’s Nudge, and all of Dan Ariely’s works. But, probably the single biggest book that’s had an impact on me is Steve Krug’s seminal Don’t Make Me Think. There’s still never been a better book on building great sites for the web, IMO. I have a list of the ones I really like at the bottom of this page: http://moz.com/rand/
8:30-9:30am - Wake Up
Wakeup -10:30am – Email, social media
10:30am-11:00am - Walk to work (~30 minutes from our apartment)
11:00am-6:00pm - Meetings, 1:1s, collaborative discussions, film WB Fridays, etc.
6:00pm-6:30pm - Walk home
6:30pm-10:00pm - Time with Geraldine
10:00pm-2:00am - Email, blogging, tweeting, etc.
My email and my calendar run my entire life. If it’s not in one of those two places, it basically doesn’t exist
Don’t become a startup CEO
Seriously, I wrote a bit more about this here: http://moz.com/rand/
I hope that it’s helped others not to feel so alone in their own journeys, and that it’s let some people to feel like they’re part of the Moz journey too. It’s helped us recruit people who share our values and goals, helped us find customers, helped keep us honest, and helped solicit a lot of feedback and build an amazing community. There have certainly been downsides, too (things like certain investors not being keen to work with us, and plenty of people in the marketing world giving us harsh feedback/criticism), but I think these are largely mitigated by the upside. I certainly wouldn’t change our values for the world, despite the immense challenges of maintaining them as we scale.
Want to share your mentor story? Let me know and thanks for reading.