Rand Fishkin

Category Archives: Personal

The Long, Painful Journey to Better Self-Awareness

Date / / Category / Personal, Psychology

Erica and I are sitting on a small bus with 8 other fellow Mozcationers, in transit from Cape Town to a kloof on the Northeastern side of the Cedarburg Mountains. It’s 90°+ outside, and the air conditioning in the bus can’t keep up. It’s a little too uncomfortable to read, and while the scenery is amazing, so is the company. We strike up a conversation about books that moves into comics, games, and random geeky hobbies of all sorts. As the conversation winds down and we turn back to look out the windows, I think for a minute, then tell Erica how amazed and impressed I am at both her passion for these pursuits as well as her complete lack of self-consciousness about them. She doesn’t bat an eyelash about explaining the plot of a super-niche science fiction comic. I’m amazed. And I’m jealous.

I’ve always been ashamed of the enjoyment I get from geekier pursuits. I try to hide the fact that I worked as Wizards of the Coast in college, that I tried to play role playing games in middle school (but couldn’t find anyone to play with me, except my little sister, who was too young at the time to really understand), that I still love computer games (though I almost never play them). It’s so bad that I still feel anxiety, get sweaty, and feel my pulse pound if I’m playing a game on the weekend and Geraldine comes back from a shopping trip. Honestly, what the @#%! does it matter if I play a computer game in my spare time? No one cares.

I’m just afraid they will.

Figuring out why is a quest I’ve been on lately, and it’s one that’s taking much longer and proving vastly more mysterious than I ever suspected.

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The Mathematics of Core Values

Date / / Category / Personal, Psychology

Over the holiday weekend, Geraldine took me to see Lincoln. I’d watched a clip aired during the Daily Show last week that had me excited to see the film, and Fred Wilson’s post sealed the deal.

That clip contained the following quote:

Euclid’s first common notion is this:  ‘Things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other.’   That’s a rule of mathematical reasoning.  It’s true because it works.  Has done and always will do.  In his book, Euclid says this is self-evident.  You see, there it is.  Even in that 2,000 year old book of mechanical law, it is a self-evident truth that things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other.

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Where Does Creativity Come From?

Date / / Category / Personal, Product, Psychology

I love discovering that long-held wisdom or cultural beliefs are mythology. Ideas are so often what hold people back from achieving greater potential – and freedom from the prison of those ideas can create revolutions that make us all better, stronger, and wiser.

This weekend I watched some videos on the site Everything Is A Remix that changed my preconceptions about what it means to be creative, what an inventor is, and how brilliant new ideas come to be. Much like Simon Sinek’s talk on Getting to Why, this video has the potential to be a touchstone for many of us who operate in the fields of marketing and technology.

Some of my big takeaways after watching include:

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24 Things I Know Now That I Wish I Knew Then

Date / / Category / Personal, Psychology

I really liked Rae Hoffman’s post from last month, Entrepreneurial Lessons: 48 Things I Know Now That I Wish I Knew Then. And, while I don’t agree with everything on her list (at least as it applies to the experiences I’ve had), I felt compelled to take up the format she’d presented and do something similar.


(via waltërcin on Flickr)

Unfortunately, I don’t have 48 lessons to share, but I can pitch in half that – 24.

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There is No Work/Life Balance

Date / / Category / Personal, Psychology

I recently started getting some CEO coaching help from Jerry Colonna, at Brad & Amy‘s recommendation. The first session was introductory. The second one was revelatory.

We talked about the Ireland trip (which Geraldine wrote about here). It was a really tough one, and it shook our marital relationship more than I thought was possible. When Jerry and I talked about it, he brought up his blog post on the work/life balance problem, which I finally read tonight.

It was good timing. Maybe even life-changing timing.

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Yellow Shoes and Personal vs. Company Branding

Date / / Category / Marketing, Personal, SEOmoz, Startups

For the first few years that I spoke at conferences in the search marketing field, I consistently wore a single pair of yellow shoes. Initially, it was so I could be recognized by the many people I’d formed friendships with on the forums and blog comments of the SEO world. In time, it grew to become a personal branding piece, and over the past half decade, I’ve been asked by many conference organizers to wear the shoes specifically.


(my trademark yellow Pumas on display at Mozcon 2012; incidentally the same ones I wore to my first SES conference in 2005)

Starting in ~2007, I got less and less comfortable in yellow shoes (at least at industry events). I felt like I was going down a path of personal branding that would compete with the SEOmoz company brand. As an entrepreneur, personal brands are certainly helpful for all kinds of startup-related marketing efforts, but it’s generally a terrible idea to cannibalize the company brand with your own.

But lately, I’ve been questioning that assumption and thinking I might make yellow a more consistent part of my wardrobe again (and it’s definitely not because they’re easy to match – they’re not).

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Just Because I’m Terrible at It Doesn’t Mean I’m Going to Stop

Date / / Category / Personal, Psychology

I think I might have some masochistic tendencies.

Usually, when people are terrible at something, they find alternatives, or they stop entirely. I do that sometimes, but I’m also weirdly persistent when faced with an obvious lack of acumen for a skill or pursuit.

In college, I was captain of the only flag football team not associated with a fraternity. We lost every game we played, and recruiting enough teammates to show up and get pounded into the grass (flag football is less pain-free than it sounds) on a weekly basis was almost as hard as recovering from all the scrapes and bruises. Even after 12 weeks of regular practice and 8 games, I never got any good, and thus relegated myself to playing defensive/offensive line roles.

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Taking a week off of blogging

Date / / Category / Personal

I’m heading to Ireland – Belfast & Dublin – for the next 9 days, so I’m going to take some time off blogging. It’s been a huge challenge writing every night again (haven’t done it in a few years), but it definitely takes a toll. Hopefully the week off will help.

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I Love You Geraldine. Happy Birthday.

Date / / Category / Personal

Dear Geraldine,

For the last 10 years and 9 months, you’ve been the best thing in my life. We’ve been through a bunch of tough times together and some amazingly good ones, too. And for the past 3 and a half years, you’ve been writing a love letter to me (that’s turned into much more than that). Today, I wanted to write one to you.


(on our wedding day, 4 years ago next Friday)

Since I’m nowhere near the writer you are, I’m going to try an alternate take on the process and try to answer a question you often ask me: “Rand, why do you love me?”

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I Hated My Blog Post From Last Night

Date / / Category / Personal

This morning I woke up with a lot of regret. I really don’t like my blog post from last night. To use a common SEOmoz saying, it was “TA” but not “GFEE.” I shared my thoughts transparently and I authentically don’t like the “growth hacker” terminology, but why am I writing about that? It doesn’t help anyone and it tears down people who’ve adopted the title that I might like and respect. And why bother being defensive about inbound marketing? That phrase has already achieved widespread adoption – I don’t need to be re-hashing my emotional conflicts around supporting some terminology while disliking others. That’s not who I want to be.

I’m leaving the post up as  a reminder to myself, but I don’t want to do that anymore. Blog posts here should be about sharing things that will help, not jumping on bandwagons of criticism. If the terminology of growth hacking takes off, so be it. If your title includes “growth hacker” or you want to hire someone to do “growth hacking,” go for it.

My apologies to the readers here. I’m going to use this as a lesson for the future, and get better about the topics I cover.

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