When I was in my twenties and feeling like I was SO put-upon by my job, as I think most twenty-somethings feel they are, I thought about this extreme homes show I was watching on the HGTV channel. You know, one of those, “I only have five million dollars can you make my house pretty” shows. One of the episodes I recall was focused on a big CEO type. I don’t even remember if it was a man or a woman now, but I remember them talking about how their job was so stressful, and when they came home they, I don’t know. I guess they wanted to look out their wall-length window and see dolphins jumping at the horizon line. But I thought, OK, but if your job is so stressful and you’re never home, what’s the point?
This question has stuck with me my whole working life. It’s true that the more stressful your job, (probably) at least in the business world you’ll make more money. You won’t have any time to enjoy what your money buys, but hey!
These thought have only become more solicited in my brain after listening to the audiobook version of Rand Fishkin’s brutally touching, honest, and smart Lost and Founder.
The Experience: Usually I vote for reading words yourself as being better than listening to a book, but in some cases, hearing the author voice their own thoughts makes a difference, and this is one of those cases. Beyond that, into the content, I found myself amazed at how much was going on behind the scenes as I just followed SEOMoz back in the day. I liked the white board sessions and thought it was a super smart company led by a super smart guy. How would I know all of the stress and tension and struggle? It makes you realize how much startups can be like ducks. You just see them floating, but they’re paddling like mad underneath the surface of the water.
Key Takeaways: Oh boy. How do I narrow this down yet not just list the Table of Contents? Here are some key ideas that are sticking in my head.
- Diversity makes a team stronger because you encounter different experiences, different perspectives, and maybe some challenges to your own beliefs.
- Instead of rushing products out the door and settling for possible quantity over quality, focus on the quality. If you don’t you’ll be haunted by the reputation for being a low-quality company.
- The biggest takeaway Rand talks about is focus. Focus on what’s really going on with your company and your employees. What’s going on with your customers and your market? It’s a focus that has to be “on” all the time.
Who Should Read (or listen to) This Book: You might think the answer to this one is obvious. Entrepreneurs should read this book. Well, that’s true. It’s like a friendly textbook for those who want to start their own businesses. But it’s also for business leaders who struggle with or against their feelings of vulnerability. It’s for people who struggle against impostor syndrome. It’s for people who have to own up to short-sightedness or other mistakes that were costly. It’s for people who are working on regaining mental balance, or work-life balance, or any kind of balance. It’s also, of course, for people who have followed SEOMoz and then MOZ and then suddenly noticed Rand was the head of a new company. <blink blink> In the words of Thomas Jefferson in Hamilton, “What did I miss?”
Before reading this book I had seen a video clip from a documentary Rand had filmed about his experience toward the end and post-Moz, so I kind of knew the spoiler ending. This made the whole book more touching, really. You get a feel for how much blood, sweat, and tears a founder puts into a business only to leave or be ousted.
To read that “last chapter” go and read Rand’s blog post.
Yes, I definitely think this book is worth investing time in. I can’t wait to continue to learn from this guy as I have pretty much my whole career. Enjoy.