Lessons Learned From Rand Fishkin

I look up to a lot of people in my life for personal and/or professional guidance (yes, even you JP Smith). Allison, Andrew, Laura, Mitch, Molly, Tucker, I don’t know who I would be without you, but two other important role models in my life whom I’ve never had the good fortune of meeting are Rand Fishkin and Nicholas Kristof. I imagine these are two seemingly very random names, but Rand is the CEO and co-founder of SEOmoz (a company that offers a wide range of tools for online marketers) and Nicholas is a columnist for the New York Times.

Today I would like to share a video Rand posted this past Friday that details some of the professional lessons he’s learned while scaling his company to 100 employees. I really liked Rand in this video for his open honesty about the way he leads SEOmoz and the challenges they have faced, as well as the lessons themselves and how they might apply to Go Overseas and my life. The video is 13 minutes long, but worth definitely worth watching.

It’s crazy to think that Go Overseas could someday staff 100 Overseers (boom, just came up with that nickname and I like it), but the possibility certainly exists within our market. We would have to evolve as a company and offer many new products and services, but change and new challenges excite me. The real question is whether or not I want to see Go Overseas grow into a company of that size and what role I see myself fulfilling, and I don’t really have an answer for this right now.

Anyway, in the video Rand brings up four major talking points, but I liked his first one the most:

Productivity and features can win in the short-term, but culture and people win in the long-term.

I like this statement because in principal I totally agree with it, while at the same time recognize that we don’t necessarily practice it. Don’t get me wrong, I think we now have a great team, but one problem we’ve repeatedly faced is having a great idea (feature), but not always the right person to see it through to success (and I very much include myself in this category). More to the point, I want us to focus on avoiding this trap of spending too much energy on new features for short-term gains at the cost of investing in people and building an even better team. When times are tough we’ll always need great people, but not necessarily great features.

That’s it for Rand. Maybe next time I’ll tell you why I think Nicholas Kristof is such an awesome person. You people don’t seem to enjoy leaving comments, but I am genuinely curious to learn from you and what impact your role models have had on your life.