“Success” is the root of “Succession”

17 Jan

Success is the root of succession

On occasion I get asked to take part in a media event, or in an ongoing series of posts like Barry Schwartz SEO Roundtable Series “Honor an SEO / SEM” for which I have to provide interview-like responses to a series of questions.

What I love about these opportunities is they cause me to reflect. Often, because I’m rushed to respond, I find myself responding with an, almost, stream of consciousness honesty.

Below is one of the questions I got in the preparation for a radio show I recorded yesterday with Peter Ricchiuti for his radio show Out to Lunch.

If you’re wondering, the show ill air next Thursday, January 25th at 1 PM Central and again on Friday the 26th at 6:30 PM Central.

The question asked was:

What is your preferred title? Owner & CEO?

And my answer:

I’d love to get to owner, but today I’m still the CEO. The distinction for me is if my main role is owner then I’ve advance someone else to the CEO role. It’s an aspiration of mine to grow our team to the level that they don’t need Angie and me except for moral support.

So what does that mean? I think our top job as executives and business leaders is to assure the effective succession of our teams. Let’s look at the root of “succession” – it’s success.


Search Influence layoffs make March 28th the worst day of the year

28 Mar


Search Influence laid off 5 full-time employees today and eliminated 2 part-time jobs.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint” they say. Except they don’t tell you it’s a marathon through a battlefield. That at mile 12 you might get shot. And at mile 19 the bridge might be out and at mile 25 — I don’t know. I’ll tell you when we get there.

Don’t get me wrong, there are great days too — when you see the business you helped your clients build, when you see your teammates grow, professionally and personally, and when you have the opportunity to give back to the community.

It’s not the easy days that test a business, it’s the hard days.

This is one of those days.

Today is one of the hardest days since Angie and I started of Search Influence. For the first time, ever, the loss of a client — really the change of a client relationship in which they’ve decided to take our work in house (see “SEO/SMO strategy team” note) — is causing us to eliminate jobs. Lay people off. Let people go.

In other words, today we say goodbye to some teammates who had little, if anything, to do with the cause of their exit.

Could we have made different choices along the way? Yes.

Could we have had put fewer eggs in more baskets? Maybe.

But we didn’t. And today that means we’ve got to let some people go.

And it sucks.

And I’m sorry.

And we’ll do everything we can to avoid having it happen again.

For tomorrow, though, we’re going to be rebuilding and re-engineering as we go. We’ve learned a lot as a leadership team and we’re continuing to learn.

As a company we feel great about the results we’ve delivered, the jobs we’ve created and the careers we’ve launched.

We intend to keep doing all of those things. We intend to do them better.

And most importantly, we intend to control our own destiny by being among the best at finding opportunities and developing strategies and optimizing the potential of our customers and our team.

If you see chatter about Search Influence layoffs, please be charitable in your assessment of both those who were laid off and the managers who had to make the hard decisions. If you’ve never had to contemplate such a thing count yourself lucky.

And to the team at Search Influence who helps, every day, to grow the businesses of our customers — still greater than 65 strong — thank you!

We don’t take our responsibility to you lightly and we couldn’t do it without you.

And now I’m Inbound Sales Certified, too

8 Jan

I figured since I was here I might as well do the sales certification, too.

That’s right, sucker – I’m Inbound Certified

8 Jan

We recently signed up with HubSpot to use their marketing automation and sales tools so I thought it would be a good idea to go through their certification process.
This is really great educational stuff and at the end they give you a cool badge 🙂

Paula Keller and Brent French are getting Married!

21 May

I’m really excited to be able to mention that my friend and colleague, Paula Keller is getting married this summer to Brent French.

Paula Built a spiffy website for their friends to find all of their relevant info.

This picture is from that website. Brent’s family runs a shop which restores old motorcycles: French & Sons.


The date is Saturday, July 16th and I’m expecting awesome.

I love you all and thanks!

16 Oct

I’ve been struggling with how to start this.

So I’ll start it with “I love you all and thanks”!

Two years ago today I was in the hospital having open heart surgery.

At the tender age of 44 years old I had allowed myself to become sedentary stressed out overweight and it caught up with me all of a sudden. At this point I know that had I seen a doctor anywhere in my 30s they would have prescribed me statin drugs which would have prevented the worst of it.

Some of you may recall my post about it when I had to miss Pubcon. Great news, I made it to Pubcon this year.


Thanks for the great pictures, Mat!

In the time since I’ve made a number of changes. But the fact is, drugs or no drugs, I was not living the life I should have been.

As I was coming to the realization that I had a problem, I started reading Dean Ornish. Dr. Ornish talks in his work about the importance of anger, And particularly chronic anger as it exacerbates her of heart disease.


I came to realize in my reading that, throughout my life, my first response to negative stimulus is anger. Interestingly as I think back about my father, this seems to have been his first response as well. No wonder that I followed in his footsteps toward early heart disease.

I’ve made a number of changes over the last two years. I no longer smoke, even occasionally. I now exercise 4 to 6 times a week. And when I can, I ride my bike to work. In New Orleans this can be a particularly sweaty pastime.

Most of all, however, I’ve been working hard to reframe my responses around the lesson from my old boss, Bill Hammack. When Bill and I worked together I was responsible for some of our most frustrating partner relationships. As a person with a tendency toward anger, my response to that frustration was sometimes excessive outbursts.

Hammack, Himself a heart patient, would tell me “don’t get mad, get what you need”. He’s a pretty smart guy who I wish I saw more of today.

So really, what does this all mean?

The short story is that I’ve been doing all the right things and I’m feeling great. My cardiologist is even impressed.

What’s different?

First, I’m much more present for my family. I’m working hard to keep anger from being my first response. I’m also trying to get both of my sons to focus on exercise as an integral part of their lives.

I’m working on Anger at work, too. Don’t get me wrong, I still take it really personally — you have to as a bootstrapped founder who’s got it all on the line. I’m unapologetic about my defense of the company, but I’m working on seeing others’ perspectives much more.

We’re working more on employee development and trying to assure our team are set up for great careers, even if they don’t stay with us forever.

I exercise — a lot! I’ve done one triathlon and plan to do more.

But most of all, I’m grateful for every day, every person, and the fact that I get to continue giving all I’ve got.

Like I said at the opener, I love you all and thanks! Most especially, Angie, Caleb, Joseph, our family and friends and our great team at Search Influence.

P. S. A couple pics of the old Will. If you see that pudgy bastard again, tell him to get his shit together.

SMX East - Mike Blumenthal, Will Scott, David Mihm

With Mike Blumenthal and David Mihm at SMX East 2013.

Will Scott speaks at SEMpdx SearchFest 2010

At SEMPDX SearchFest.

Pay no attention to this post.

7 Jan

Testing something 🙂

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