Rand Fishkin, Founder of Moz on Ethics, Public Policy, and The Future of SEO

Rand Fishkin, Founder of Moz on Ethics, Public Policy, and The Future of SEO

Rand Fishkin is the founder and former CEO of Moz, a SaaS company based in Seattle and the world’s most popular community and content resource for search marketers. During his 7 year tenure as CEO of Moz, Rand scaled grew the company to almost $30 million in annual revenue.

Rand’s distinctions extend far beyond his experience at Moz. He has been published and mentioned in numerous publications include Business Week, Newsweek, Inc 500, and many other mainstream media publications. Rand has co-authored two books: the Art of SEO, and Inbound Marketing & SEO. He is currently working on his third book, Lost and Founder, scheduled for publication in 2018.

Here are some of the topics discussed in this episode.

Niche Search Engines Have a Place in SEO

Although Google is the dominant search engine, there is still a place for niche search platforms in specific consumer use cases.

“Once you decide, ‘Hey, I’m going to buy a house,’ where do you do all your searching? It’s probably the Redfin app or maybe the Zillow app or your real estate agent’s app… Same with flight searches. So a lot of flight and travel searching happens on an Expedia or an Orbitz or a Travelocity or now Google Flights as well, right? Google bought the data aggregator a couple of years ago and so now they’ve been able to display flight prices and times and all that stuff… There’s certainly a niche portion of it and Google will remain, I suspect, very dominant for a long time to come in the ‘I don’t know where to start to get this answer’. Like, ‘I don’t already have a place where I go for this, so I need Google.’

However, with the Google Flights and some of the other relatively new additions to the Google platform, it’s not inconceivable that Google will continue diversifying into more niche search experiences within their platform.

The Political Implications on Search Marketing and Ethics

A tremendous amount of the conversation on internet privacy, and other marketing ethics falls on public policy and regulatory systems established in government legislatures.

“There’s ethics almost at a political belief level.

And that is one that says, ‘I recognize that I may be uncomfortable with some of the consequences of voting for people who will take more heavy-handed government action against corporations, but I believe that on the whole, that regulation is better than a fully free market approach.

And right now, that political will does not exist.

It doesn’t exist on the left; it doesn’t really exist on the right. I shouldn’t say, ‘doesn’t exist on the left…’ There is a small minority of the left for whom it exists. It’s a vocal minority, but enough. But the majority of us really are not comfortable.

The only place where you see that, like I said, is the EU. And there you have some greater comfort. I think that they have experienced a lot of success and happiness and, sort of, positive changes in society through more government control exerted in their societies, you know, both economically and financially and personally. And so they’re more comfortable with it. But the United States, we are staunch believers in free market across the board.

And so I don’t know when you see that, sort of, moral shift. That feels like it’s a long ways off.

It’s possible that the opportunity for malicious marketing will not be addressed in the immediate future by elected officials. As a result, we have as marketers have a responsibility to engage in our work responsibility.

Marketing Skills Will Not Be Commoditized

Many professionals consider the rise of AI and machine learning to be a threat to their career. Beyond new technologies, there is also the fear that certain digital marketing skillsets with existing platforms will become commoditized. Rand does not think this is the case.

“Facebook is a nice example. It’s broad enough that almost everyone in the web marketing world understands the very basics of it. But you want to get to mastery with Facebook marketing? Well, guess what? Every week you’d better be learning something new because every week Facebook is releasing new things!”

Rand is right. New technologies and features are appearing within the platforms we as marketers use every day, and it’s likely to be almost impossible to develop expertise in one feature before another is released.

Transcript

Note: this transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
Ander: This is quite interesting and exciting because I’ve never interviewed a wizard before! Haha.

And I am here today with the Wizard of Moz, Rand Fishkin, in the Moz offices in Seattle.

Rand, thank you so much for joining us.

Rand: Oh my god, Ander, pleasure to be here.

Ander: Yeah, you gave a great talk yesterday at the Seattle Interactive Conference. Fantastic content there on SEO in 2018 and beyond. And I definitely want to talk about some of the ideas that you got into during your talk, but I think that the best place for us to start is with you.

Rand: Ok.

Ander: Who you are, how you became who you are, and what is the nutshell of your professional journey? And the journey of Moz?

Rand: Sure. Well, let’s see… I dropped out of college and started working with my mom, Gillian, on the company that eventually became Moz. Initially it was a consulting business. I was doing web-design and development and then we moved into SEO and our customers started needing that service. And I was very frustrated about learning the practice of SEO. It was a very dark, secretive world and many of the practitioners felt that their secret sauce, right, the unique value that they brought was the knowledge that they had and so they were very unwilling to share openly how SEO worked and what was and wasn’t working. And the search engines were equally secretive. They were all in the, sort of, early days of the war between Google and Microsoft and Yahoo! for market share.

So they were hyper-secretive. You know, Matt Cutts wasn’t even out of the closet. He was just ‘googleguy’ posting on WebmasterWorld.

Ander: Really?

Rand: Yep.

Ander: So this is a little while ago?

Rand: Yeah. It was the wild west days. And I started a blog called SEO Moz. I took the name ‘Moz’ from the Mozilla foundation and DMOZ and Chef Moz, all these open-source movements around, ‘Hey, you know what? I want to do that same thing. I want to make SEO open. I want to make it available and transparent to everyone.’ And that is where it got its name.

And then, you know, years later as we grew, we pivoted into software sort of, kind of accidentally, and that took off. We raised some venture capital and for the next seven years, Moz kind of grew like a rocket. We managed to secure the moz.com domain name and changed our name there.

Then in 2014, after a tough battle with depression and some frustrating launches that happened at the company as well, I actually stepped down as CEO. And so for the last few years I have been an individual contributor – I do Whiteboard Friday, I contribute to a bunch of our product and engineering teams, which you guys can’t see but they are here behind us in the Moz offices.

And then I also do a lot of conferences and events and I’m the Chairperson of our Board of Directors. So, still sort of involved in the company at the very high level and then in the tactics and the marketing and the product.

Ander: Well, I think that many of us listening would agree that ‘Wizard’ might be a cooler job title than CEO anyway. Haha.

Rand: I mean, I like puns! What can I say?

Ander: Yeah, yeah!

Rand: The title of my book next year is ‘Lost and Founder,’ right? So, you know…

Ander: Oh! Cool.

Rand: It’s just a punny world for me.

Ander: Awesome.

Rand, what would you say is your marketing philosophy? And how do you think that that has evolved throughout everything that you’ve learned in the course of your career?

Rand: So I think the philosophy that I stick by is a hopeful one.

Ander: Hmm.

Rand: More so than it is a true one, it’s a hopeful one. And that is, I believe, that the best way to do marketing is to help people and do wonderful work and let them find you rather than aggressively working to sell them. I’m very much a branding and content sort of marketer rather than a funnel and sales sort of marketer.

Ander: Sure. And how has that evolved? How has that, changed at some point, if at all?

Rand: Well, for one thing, I used to believe that it was the only and best way. And now I believe it is a wonderful way that fits with my ethics and my ideals and my strengths and weaknesses, but it’s certainly not the only way. I think that’s a big evolution.

Another one is I apply the caveat that it is not the best way to go for everyone. So it works for me and the types of things that I do and in many of the companies that I help but it is not the way that even I would give everyone advice. Probably one out of ten companies that I advise or end up working with or helping out, I sort of walk through the process with them and say, ‘Yeah, you know what? I think you do have to invest in more aggressive sales tactics in order to accomplish what you want to accomplish.’

Ander: Love that.

You gave a talk yesterday about SEO in 2018. It’s wild that we’re already approaching 2018.

Rand: Yeah. Two and a half months.

Ander: At the time of this recording, that’s right. And there have been quite a few interesting updates to what Google has done this year.

What would you say in your talk yesterday – there were so many different things that we can get into – what was your favorite part of it? What’s the favorite piece of information or little nugget that you got to talk about?

Rand: I actually loved the little bit at the end, just before Q&A, where we got to dive into actual search results and diagnose a few things: why particular sites are ranking and what might be causing that. So I mentioned savetheinternet.org still ranking off the back of a bunch of rapidly received anchor text-rich links from a wide variety of domains which is a very classic SEO ranking, versus some of the other ones that I showed that were much more user growth and usage-driven signals.

Some of the other ones I showed were around the featured snippet and how that was coming from a lower result than you might expect and how you don’t need to be #1 anymore in order to be #0.

Ander: Yeah, very interesting.

Rand: So that kind of stuff, that’s fun for me, right? I like that diagnostic process and the digging into the weeds. I think that the search results themselves give you – if you’ve been studying SEO for a long time – give you this feeling that you almost have a sixth sense, right?

The sixth sense is not ESP. I can’t move things with my mind. But I can diagnose why a website ranks in a position. Haha.

Ander: Right, right. Haha.

Rand: And that’s fun. I really enjoy that.

Ander: You said something that blew my mind. And, when I think about my behavior when I’m searching for something, it’s totally applicable to me as well. It’s that 49% of searches aren’t actually generating any clicks.

Rand: That’s right!

Ander: No one’s clicking on the results.

Rand: Yeah.

Ander: How did you discover that and what do you think the implications of that are?

Rand: Well, I think we’ve known for a long time that there must be a significant portion because Google’s doing such a good job or providing answers in the search results before you ever need to click. So it’s sort of an intuitive knowledge. But we really discovered the number – through working with Jumpshot. We basically said to them, ‘Hey, can you tell us what percent of browser visits result in a hit on a search result and then don’t go any further; no result gets clicked from there?’ And they said, ‘It’s 49%.’ So that discovery and a bunch of other data that I showed around click-through rates and around what types of features you might see earning clicks, around where searches happen – on Amazon or Facebook or Google or Google Images, which was huge. All those things are really interesting data points that you can only get if you have that, sort of, click stream level access.

Ander: Do you think that we’re going to see that number continue to increase?

Rand: Interesting…

Ander: Because one of the things that you also said which I found fascinating is that Google is becoming a ‘suggestion engine.’

Rand: Yeah. Yeah.

Ander: That was something that really, really made me think. And I’m wondering if people, when they have a question or when they need some sort of information, if they’re just getting that without actually clicking on the link, if that’s something that’s going to become something more prevalent?

Rand: I mean, you see that with voice answers for sure, right?

Ander: Right.

Rand: Because Google is basically with voice answers saying, ‘Look, we can’t return a set of results that you can click on. We have to just speak back to you what’s going to be there.’ The alternative is that they visually display it but visually display is basically what search results are.

So I think that yes, it will rise but it will be hard for us to see because search will keep growing at such a rate that the number of clicks that Google sends out continues to rise for years to come and thus we as marketers won’t really feel like we’re losing. It’s just that Google is growing in this other way. That’s my guess.

Ander: And the other thing which you just mentioned is searching all these different platforms. Obviously Google is the go-to when you’re looking for some general information on the web. But I’m wondering if there might be a future where people are searching more within niche sites? More within specific contexts, maybe. Amazon is a great example.

Rand: Well, sure. You know, I think that one that a lot of people do know is that homebuyers don’t do their searches on Google.

Ander: Right.

Rand: Once you decide, ‘Hey, I’m going to buy a house,’ where do you do all your searching? It’s probably the Redfin app or maybe the Zillow app or your real estate agent’s app. It’s not Google proper, right? You might do searches around home prices or, you know, where to get a loan or those types of things but most home-buyers – at least the ones I’ve talked to – they do dozens of searches a day trying to uncover results and see what’s up, and they set up alerts and that kind of stuff. And that happens differently.

Same with flight searches. So a lot of flight and travel searching happens on an Expedia or an Orbitz or a Travelocity or… now Google Flights as well, right? Google bought the data aggregator a couple of years ago and so now they’ve been able to display flight prices and times and all that stuff.

So yeah, I think you’re right. There’s certainly a niche portion of it and Google will remain, I suspect, very dominant for a long time to come in the ‘I don’t know where to start to get this answer’. Like, ‘I don’t already have a place where I go for this, so I need Google.’

Ander: Totally.

One thing that I find very interesting when looking at SEO are all the implications that it has on the rest of your marketing channels. And, one thing we talk a lot about at Instapage is advertising. Obviously AdWords is a very, very big part of the search experience.

Rand: Yeah.

This is, I think, going to continue to be the case for a long time to come. You know, the internet giants have found that web advertising when personalized, when hyper-personalized, and localized, and driven by data, can be extraordinarily effective. And I think in most of the countries where they operate – especially outside of the EU, which does have maybe more of a regulatory environment that they have to watch out for – but everywhere else that they operate, they can do so with relative impunity and, I think, continue to be very aggressive along those fronts even though they’ve gotten more and more subtle with indicating what an ad is. I mean, you remember searching Google five years ago, right? The ad boxes were highlighted in orange.

Ander: Oh yeah, yeah.

Rand: It was very, very clear what was ads and not. Now they look exactly like the organic results except for the tiniest 9-point font that says two letters: ‘A-D’ next to it. And that is all.

So I don’t know how they reduced the subtlety from here but man… Yeah, I think it’s going to continue to be effective for them. I think they’re going to keep being aggressive with it. I think Facebook will keep being aggressive with it. Other players will keep trying to enter that market. But I think it’s frustrating as a marketer to feel like your advertising dollars are flowing to these giant companies rather than the publishers who make the content, right?

I would feel much better about spending a ton on money on the internet if I knew that it were flowing to the people who created the content that I’m advertising against instead of to Google, who just happens to be the behemoth that dominates the system of advertising.

Ander: Sure. So how do we fix that, then?

Rand: Haha.

Ander: I mean, I might have a billion dollars if I had the answer to that question in my pocket.

Rand: No, what you would have is an angry mob of billionaires trying to kill you.

Ander: This is true as well. Haha.

Rand: Yeah.

Ander: So without that problem, and avoiding that problem of a mob of billionaires, how do we fix this?

Rand: It’s hard for me to imagine, how about that? It’s hard for me to imagine that it can be fixed through individual action or through technology. I think that the way you fix discrepancies of this sort is through regulation and that would first have to mean a significant upheaval in how we think about politics as it relates to control and influence of companies in the United States.

Ander: Yeah, I can see that.

Rand: Right now, it seems like we’re in pretty much the opposite boat. Maybe there will be a horrific backlash at some point and the pendulum will swing all the way the other way. You can see that coming from some corners, right? I’ve seen a bunch of articles about how, you know, the perception of tech as this savior, and as this engine of economic growth, and as this wonderful thing in the American economy, has really migrated, right? Really 180’d around and now it’s perceived by all sorts of folks across political aisles that Google and Facebook and Twitter and Microsoft and Apple and these kinds of folks, maybe they’re not so good for us after all.

Ander: One of the most fascinating discussions that I continually have on this podcast is about the ethics of marketing, and that’s exactly what this is touching on – especially when you start getting into the public policy components of this conversation.

Rand: Yeah. Well, I would say I think there’s ethics at two different levels. So there’s ethics in terms of our individual responsibility as marketers to make a commitment not to put lipstick on a pig and then sell it to people, right?

Ander: Right, right.

Rand: That sort of an individual, ‘I’m not going to market in evil ways and I’m not going to market evil things.’

Ander: Yeah.

Rand: Alright. So that’s one commitment. I think that the overwhelming majority of marketers do that. They generally don’t do evil things. And then there’s a small minority that does and they sometimes make the rest of us look bad and that sucks.

But then there’s ethics at a… almost at a political belief level.

And that is one that says, ‘I recognize that I may be uncomfortable with some of the consequences of voting for people who will take more heavy-handed government action against corporations, but I believe that on the whole, that regulation is better than a fully free market approach.

And right now, that political will does not exist.

Ander: Right.

Rand: It doesn’t exist on the left; it doesn’t really exist on the right. I shouldn’t say, ‘doesn’t exist on the left…’ There is a small minority of the left for whom it exists. It’s a vocal minority, but enough. But the majority of us really are not comfortable.

The only place where you see that, like I said, is the EU. And there you have some greater comfort. I think that they have experienced a lot of success and happiness and, sort of, positive changes in society through more government control exerted in their societies, you know, both economically and financially and personally. And so they’re more comfortable with it. But the United States, we are staunch believers in free market across the board.

Ander: Yes, we are.

Rand: And so I don’t know when you see that, sort of, moral shift. That feels like it’s a long ways off.

Ander: Yeah. So it sounds to me that what it really comes down to is the personal responsibility that we have as marketers to do genuine and good work.

Rand: Yeah, yeah. And that I feel across the industry. I feel it so strongly. I love this industry because of that, especially web marketers, you know, with the possible exception of this, kind of, affiliate marketing world where it gets a little more gray hat, or a higher percentage of gray hat and black hat kinds of things.

But I really do feel – and I’ve met tens of thousands of marketers over my career – and, you know, 99% of them are just great people who do have those great ethics. And one of the great things about the marketing world is that you’re so in-demand as a talented web marketer that if you don’t like what the company you’re working with is doing, you can walk away. If you’re running an agency, you can fire them as a client because demand is so high.

Ander: Right.

Rand: So that’s sort of a great thing, right? We’re not trapped in our jobs or trapped with our clients. It’s at that level of, ‘Hey, wait. I also want to see broader change happen.’ And I don’t think we’re willing yet to face that reality and then say, ‘I’m willing to vote for people or parties who represent that sort of a viewpoint.’

Ander: Right. I like what you said about the fact that as marketers we are in demand. It means that we have a little bit of job security, especially with all the AI and different technologies that are coming out now.

I’m wondering if, at some point, a lot of these marketing skills that you have are going to become commoditized… Back, you know, even just a few years ago, Facebook was kind of a specialized skill. And now pretty much everyone knows how to do it – and when I say that, I say it in the broadest way possible. I’m wondering if marketing will maybe become like that or if there are going to continue being all these new things that people just don’t have the time to master themselves?

Rand: Yeah, it feels a little bit more like the latter than the former to me. So, for example, if we were having this conversation in 2007 and you and I had both been in the field for five, six years at that time, I might have said, ‘Yeah, maybe that’s coming.’ But now it’s been another ten years and, if anything, it’s accelerating faster. It is more difficult to master anything in the web marketing world today than it was ten years ago because there’s more of it and it’s changing more quickly.

Ander: What is it… There are, like, 3,000 marketing technology companies now if not 10,000?

Rand: Oh, yeah… right? And understanding the platform and knowing how to use it well. Facebook is a nice example. It’s broad enough that almost everyone in the web marketing world understands the very basics of it. But you want to get to mastery with Facebook marketing? Well, guess what? Every week you’d better be learning something new because every week Facebook is releasing new things!

And every week people, on average, are changing their behavior around Facebook. And there are new industries that are popping up. And, you know, the number of angles and vectors that come in and go out of the marketing practice is so extraordinary that I think even a very sophisticated AI will have a tough time keeping up because the inputs change. So what AI is really good for is, sort of, fixed inputs, fluctuating variables, and then definitive outputs that you desire from it. What it’s really bad at is fluctuation on all three, right? Haha.

Ander: Haha. Yeah.

Rand: Like, ‘What I want is different, what’s going on inside is different, and what goes into it is different.’ Well, you kind of have to re-write the AI script every week.

Ander: Right. And that kind of defeats the whole purpose of AI to begin with.

Rand: Maybe write a great AI script that can write AI to account for it… but…

Ander: That’s also a slippery slope as well.

Rand: That feels like it’s a ways away.

Ander: Yeah.

Rand: I don’t think that marketing in the next decade is going to become a commoditized skill. I think it will continue to be this combination of deeply technical and highly creative, very specialized, hard-to-learn and hard-to-keep-up-with that will mean those of us who are talented will continue to have a lot of control over our careers.

Ander: One of the speakers yesterday – I don’t remember who it was – used the term ‘CMTO’ – Chief Marketing Technical Officer, and how that’s actually now a thing.

Rand: Yeah. I mean, I think that was predicated by the shift of all the dollars from, you know, these CTO’s organization at major companies to the CMO’s organization. And that is a trend that we’ve seen over the last decade and that keeps ramping up.

Ander: Very cool.

Now, we’ve talked quite a bit about this and where marketing is headed in the future, you know, however far away that that might be. What can we as marketers do to prepare ourselves for what’s coming?

Rand: I think you have two options: I think if you want to have a great career, long-term in web marketing, you either need to be deeply strategic or deeply specialized. What I mean by ‘deeply strategic’ is that you can easily diagnose and provide solutions to how a company or an organization should structure its marketing efforts and what channels and tactics might need to be looked at or investigated, even though you yourself might not be an expert at many of them. And then you need to have a deep network of people that you can rely on for the specialized knowledge that you might need to compete well in any given field or any given platform.

Or you could be those deeply specialized marketers. So you can be the, ‘I am absolutely phenomenal at book marketing,’ right? ‘I understand how to sell books…’ Maybe even more specialized than that. ‘I understand how to sell B2B books – business books specifically designed for people inside of companies and organizations – and I know what they buy, and I know when they buy, and I know how they buy and where, and what channels to reach them on, and who their influencers are, and all those kinds of things.’ Or, you know, ‘I’m a hyper-specialized influencer marketing person and I know the ins and outs of that field and I stay up on it.’

But doing both? That’s pretty tough. It may be, may be, possible. Add a third or fourth one in there and you’re not going to be as good as the person who only does one or two.

Ander: Right.

And another important question about the future of marketing is the future of Moz!

Rand: Hmm!

Ander: What do we have to look forward to from you guys? And from you?

Rand: Yeah, so Moz is doing something that I am very happy about which is refocusing on SEO. For a number of years it was trying to be something much bigger and broader to get into all these other fields and now has shut down a lot of those other product efforts and a lot of the, sort of, ancillary functions inside the software and is re-tooling to just be a great SEO software company again.

So I think that is what you can expect, you know? If there’s features and functionality that you’re frustrated that Moz doesn’t have today, if that’s in the SEO realm it’s probably coming in the future.

Ander: Awesome

Rand: My hope is that they can do that in a way that is accessible to a large number of marketers so rather than saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to serve the most hardcore, data-heavy, hyper-technical SEOs – which I think is probably a good 2-5% of the SEO world – rather than cater exclusively or specifically to them, which I think some SEO tools have done and have done successfully, my hope is that Moz finds a way to make that user experience very accessible for lots of folks.

Ander: Awesome. And, you have a book coming out.

Rand: I do, yeah! That’s the Moz world. For me, I’m going to be leaving Moz in February. And will be starting a new company.

Ander: Do you know what that company is yet or are you waiting for the idea?

Rand: Yeah. I will take my own advice and stay specialized. I think I know the world of marketing very well and so it will be in the marketing world. And I know software really well.

Ander: Sure.

Rand: So it’ll be at the intersection of those. I’m not going to start a lemonade stand or…

Ander: The Rand Fishkin Lemonade Stand. Haha.

Rand: Yeah. I’m not getting into hardware, not, like, trying to become a trading platform or anything like that. No initial coin offerings for me.

Ander: Gotcha. Haha.

Rand: But I do hope to be able to build something that’s smaller, actually.

Ander: Interesting.

Rand: I’ve found that really beyond 60-70 people, I don’t love the complexities and, you know, the requirements of… not even the negative aspects but even just the requirements of political aspects that come as you scale up a corporation. That’s not something I’m passionate about, not something I care to do. And I like small. I don’t like big. I like to buy, my coffee from not Starbucks. I like to shop at not Amazon. And so I think I’m going to carry that philosophy into what I do next.

Yeah, the book is coming out next year, probably end of Q1, beginning of Q2, somewhere around there.

Ander: ‘Lost and Founder’.

Rand: Lost and Founder.

Ander: What’s the focus of the book?

Rand: It essentially tries to attack a lot of the most common myths and misconceptions that Silicon Valley startup wisdom has given the startup world. So for example, I am not a fan of minimum viable products.

Ander: Interesting.

Rand: They have their uses, and I talk about it a little bit in the book. But that’s an example. I’m also not a fan of growth hacking, which I think every start-up thinks is absolutely essential. I don’t like the pivot! I think the pivot actually has significant drawbacks that people should be aware of. I’m not a fan of raising venture. And I’ve raised $30 million!

Ander: Wow. Haha.

Rand: So all of these kinds of things I sort of present the, ‘Hey, we did this at Moz. We invested in it deeply. I can tell you the story of how this is. Here’s the common wisdom. We followed that path. Here’s what it led us to.’ And then I try and be a little more expository and open up with other companies experiences and try and share some statistics around these things.

I think one of the biggest challenges in the start-up world is that we are all biased by the mythological stories of a handful of hyper-successful companies.

Ander: That makes a lot of sense.

Rand: Yeah. And it’s very frustrating to find that if you are not Facebook or Google or Airbnb, yeah. Or a couple others, right? That, in fact, the advice that you get and the takeaways that you have from those companies’ stories is probably not right for you.

And so, Lost and Founder tries to explain this from a founder’s perspective, told through the story of Moz and other companies’ stories as well. And hopefully will let people at least see a little bit more of the ugly side of how the sausage is made and how you might want to consider some alternatives to making it.

Ander: I love content like that that challenges the status quo and I am incredibly excited to read this book.

Rand: Oh! Thanks.

Ander: Q1 you said, right?

Rand: Yeah, yeah. Probably end of Q1, beginning of Q2. I got a really nice note in my inbox yesterday from one of the early readers. I think he said, ‘This is effing great!’ That was, like, the subject line to the email. And I was like, ‘Oh, man! Maybe I wrote a good book!’ Haha.

Ander: Awesome!

Rand: This is exciting!

Ander: That feels really good, yeah.

Rand: When you’re writing something, you know, you spend so much time with it you can’t tell if it’s good anymore.

Ander: Totally.

Rand: And with a book… you know, I’m used to blogging. Blogging is like, you do a little bit of work, you put it out there, you see how people like it, and then the next day you do the same thing, the next day you do the same thing.

I’m used to super instant feedback. This podcast, right? You’re used to super instant feedback. You’re going to produce this. You’ll put it up in the next few weeks. You’ll see how people like it, how they react to it, how they respond, you’ll see how it gets shared, and then you’ll know, ‘Oh, ok. I can improve.’

Ander: Exactly.

Rand: This is like a two-year podcast.

Ander: Wow. That’s a lot of talking. Haha.

Rand: Yeah, you know, for literally two years I’ve been writing and editing and working on this and then I don’t know what people will think of it when it gets out there.

Ander: That’s kind of a fun thing to be afraid of, though.

Rand: It is. It is. It’s a new experience but one I really like. My editor kept saying, ‘You know, writing a book is torturous. It’s really hard.’ And I would say… my editor’s name is Nicky.. I would say, ‘Nicky, I cannot tell you how much better than creating software this is.’

Ander: Haha.

Rand: Like, so, so much better! There’s no amount of feedback and problems and changes that you could make that will ever convince me that this is anywhere close to as hard or as bad as making software.

Ander: Well, needless to say, we’re all really looking forward to that. It’s going to be a lot of fun to read. Looking forward to elaborating on some of the ideas in there with future podcast guests as well.

Rand: Oh yeah, please. By all means.

Ander: Definitely will do. Rand, thank you so much for taking the time to chat on this Wednesday – typically, as expected – rainy afternoon here in Seattle. Great talk yesterday at Seattle Interactive.

Rand: Thanks, man.

Ander: Cannot wait to see what you’ve got coming up in the future and whatever this new company is that you’re going to start. We’re all going to have our eyes open.

Rand: Alright! Well, I’ll let you know as soon as it has a name and a place.

Ander: Great. Thank you once again. Really appreciate it.

Rand: Yeah, my pleasure. Thanks.