If you enter the phrase “top digital marketers in the world” in a google search, chances are you will get a list with 10 names, and among those names, you will find Rand Fishkin, our guest for today. Rand is an entrepreneur and author. Currently he is CEO of SparkToro, an organization that helps entrepreneurs, marketers, and product folks of all stripes uncover the publications and people that influence their target audience. In this episode, Rand talks about the importance of building organizations with strong core values and best practices for being a conscientious, thoughtful and empathetic leader. Rand presents a vision of the tech start-up world very different from what you hear in the predominant discourse. And in sharing the origin story of his latest startup, SparkToro, he details how his vision has informed the strategic choices he made in the process and how his definition of success has evolved throughout his career. 

Key Takeaways:

01:12 – Introducing today’s guest, Rand Fishkin, who shares his thoughts on authenticity and seminal moments from his career where he discovered who he was as a leader

08:06 – Rand reflects on what he learned throughout the journey of building his software company, Moz

09:23 – The importance Rand placed on building out company values at Moz

11:47 – Rand talks his struggles with Imposter Syndrome

14:16 – Rand provides advice to those who are considering entrepreneurship or launching startups

18:14 – How Rand’s personal definition of success has evolved throughout his career

23:45 – Rand speaks to the evolution of content, SEO and building brands through digital marketing tactics

28:03 – Rand tells the origin story of his latest startup, SparkToro

32:18 – How Rand built SparkToro and the key decisions that were instrumental to the success of his company

34:07 – Rand talks about the importance of being a conscientious, thoughtful and empathetic leader and founder

36:18 – Rand talks about some of his passions and how they impact how he shows up at work

37:42 – The business phrases that drive Rand absolutely crazy

41:07 – Rand shares some food for your body and food for your soul

47:28 – Dino leaves the audience with ‘Outsider,’ a song written and performed by Honest Mechanic, a band featuring Dino’s wife, Susan Cattaneo

Tweetable Quotes:

“I think it’s really terrible to have a set of stated values – of expressed values that you put on the wall or the website – that are not lived up to internally.” (11:20)

“I suspect that some of it is biology and some of it is culture and some of it is upbringing. Those are generally the forces that shape us as human beings.” (12:22)

“I would urge folks that if you want to focus on the financial side, I would focus on profits over sales and revenue. If you want to focus on happiness, I would worry much less about size. Most entrepreneurs I know who have businesses between five and fifty employees are much happier than those that have five hundred to five thousand.” (16:23)

“I love proving people wrong. Oh man. When someone tells me ‘You can’t do this. No way that’s gonna work,’ oh my God, there’s nothing more I like more than proving them wrong.” (23:37)

“What does it mean to be a conscientious and thoughtful and empathetic leader and founder and company? And what is the way we want to participate in the world around us. Those are big picture conversations.” (35:29)

“I think it’s pretty darn obvious to anyone and everyone that if all you’re after is Google rankings: A.) That might not be the best thing in the world, you might want to diversify your marketing and B.) Links are not all there is to Google.” (39:23)

Links Mentioned:

SparkToro’s Website

Rand’s LinkedIn

Rand’s Book

Whiteboard Friday

Good to Great Book

Lead from the Outside Book

Zebras Unite Movement

Good Design

Spaghetti with Carbonara Sauce Recipe