Rules of the Road – CEO Swap with “Fish” Rand Fishkin

So, just like that TV show WifeSwap, I figured I should write my “rules” for SEER and give you an idea of what you should expect when you arrive at SEER HQ. It’s just a guide, as we like to have as few rules as possible…



Rule #1 – Take out the garbage.

You want my job, Rand? You gotta take out the garbage. I used to answer the phone regularly until we started getting tons of calls from sales guys. The surprise in someone’s voice that I (the “CEO”) would pick up the phone spoke volumes about the company. It breaks my heart that I can’t do it, but we just can’t anymore, grrrr. Why do you need to take out the garbage? It’s symbolic if you (me) aren’t above doing anything to help us succeed, then no one else should be either.

Rule #2 – Client work first.

It’s been a fundamental belief of mine that if we do great for our clients, they will become our sales force, and so far it has worked. When your schedule gets hectic, and it will, use that as your compass – sit in on a meeting about finance or about improving client work, opt for the latter.

Rule #3 - You will work at the Search Church and the Search Perch.

I am usually in the church, but I like being in both offices. I’d say I’m 80% at the church and 20% at the perch, so expect to get exposure to both teams. Rule #3b no IM’ing people in San Diego. We all have laptops because all laptops have webcams for just that reason (our wifi sucks though) so, hangouts, get to know those guys. They are amazing. Friday I have appointment slots for everyone in the company to take as they see fit, you’ll probably get a ton of requests; put the SD team as the priority if you have conflicts, as the Philly team can grab me all throughout the week.

Rule #4 – Talk to clients as often as you can.

They pay for this lifestyle we have, and where you can talk to them, see the kinds of things they have to say about us, areas where we can improve client service. After reading Setting the Table, I have become even more inspired to continue to double down on creating amazing client experiences in addition to doing great work for clients.

Rule #5 – support F Yeah Friday – labeled #FYF.

The spirit of the kind of company I want to build is one that is thankful. You’ll see your inbox start blowing up with FYFs – it’s our way of thanking one another for the things each other has done. I got the idea from Carl Smith.

Rule #6 – Find out somewhere someone is volunteering that week and go with them.

I have missed my time with the Covenant House having been in SD for so long, and now the swap is taking me away again. Check in with Kristen on that and see if you can make that meeting. It will not only get you a chance to meet a team member or two, but a chance to give back. It looks like we’ve already got you booked with the Ronald McDonald house, to make meals for families with sick kids.

Rule #7 – Have fun.

Every day I feel really great to work with the team I work with and the clients I work with; it’s like my job is just to match great clients with great people.

Note: Rand, if you get any requests for speaking gigs, check with my wife and see if I can get out and back the same day. I am trying really hard to curtail that. I would say most gigs for the rest of the year are a NO GO unless Nora can make it or if it is super quick out and back.

Areas where I see us needing help:

We have young leaders – I expect that you’ll see opportunities to mentor the leaders in my one-on-ones, helping them as they navigate management has been very fun for me. It’s been great to see them grow and take on new challenges head on, but I feel I could be a much better mentor to them.

I’d like a more concise version of this, one that is like TAGFEE. For a long time I’ve admired the concise, repeatable, and oft stated nature of TAGFEE.

Help people feel like they can fail. I say this over and over again, and so few people take me up on it. I want to create an environment where people feel safe to make mistakes and I feel I have not been successful in that yet to the level I’d like to.

I have 3-4 side projects going on (it’s one of my ways to work with cross functional, multi-disciplinary teams). We are looking to completely revamp our reporting, and there is a team on that. I’d love you to give some guidance there.  We have a Pinterest task force to help our company become more knowledgeable as we have a few clients who make serious $$ from that channel and I want to see SEER as an innovator there. Lastly, I have my next version of the How Do they Make Money tool we built, there are 4-5 people on it. I think there’s opportunity for you to help.

Our Analytics team is stacked with ambitious team members who want to create something GREAT at SEER for our clients. I see analytics as a big bet on the future. I’d love for you to see our plans and goals and let me know your thoughts. I think we could go bigger, and I’d love your perspective on how we can do it.

There is another group of folks working on better integrating our SEO, PPC, and Analytics teams. They have taken this on their own and have some great plans. I would love to see you get an update on this too and offer your assistance.

What is one thing you would give up if you were me?

After a week in my shoes, what is the one thing you feel I could let go that would run well or better without me that would give me time back? I LIKE being in the weeds and will never get away from it, but there are things I should be letting go.

So that's it, buddy. Good luck and take care of my dog.

Moz Team, thank you for being willing to have me. I would say Fish and I are both people who care deeply about people, growth, and making an impact on our industry. It manifests itself differently so bear with me as I figure out your way for a day or two. If you don’t see me talking a lot, it’s because I am practicing listening (something I am not great at) before I speak and I feel that there is no better way to do that then to go somewhere where I know nothing.  Don’t take my silence as a lack of interest.

I’m here to listen and learn. I don’t know squat about running a company and I’m learning as I go. It’s my hope that this impacts more than just SEER and Moz, but gets us as marketing professionals innovating, testing, and trying new things.

#CEOSwap – this is gonna be fun!


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Wil Reynolds
Wil Reynolds
CEO & Vice President