The Crossing is Closing

Hello Readers – at least any of you who might still be around.

I have to admit, I’ve let The Crossing languish over the past year. This is mostly due to other priorities that have come up in my work and personal lives. These are good things, but they have crowded out my ability to keep this space going.

Over the next couple of months I’m going to shut this site down in favor of a relaunched There I will still write about digital marketing and leadership, but also add some personal thoughts on other topics.

Stay tuned!

Barry Schwartz Gets It – Leadership In Action

Barry Schwartz is certainly a leader in the digital marketing world. Not only is he the CEO of Rusty Brick, he is also the person behind Search Engine Roundtable and the news editor of Search Engine Land. Barry is often the first person to share important news in the world of search, making him an important person to follow online.

Given his prominence and fame online, some might find it surprising that he is most often the one who takes out the trash at the Rusty Brick offices. If you’re one of those who is surprised at this, you shouldn’t be. Barry is demonstrating real servant leadership in action. When his team is busy doing more productive work, Barry is taking care of business by making sure menial tasks don’t get in the way.

Granted, he admits that taking out the trash is a great way to get away from his desk, get in a quick walk and clear his head. The motivation isn’t as important as the net result of Rusty Brick people getting things done, practical things being accomplished, and establishing a culture of real teamwork in the organization.

Well done, Barry! I hope other “bosses” take a lesson here.

Doing Business Right With Alan Bleiweiss

Alan Bleiweiss is an SEO professional in the San Diego area who specializes in auditing client websites in order to help them address issues that hamper their performance in organic search. He’s gotten so adept at his process that he generates a fairly significant income for himself and his part-time assistant.

The secret of his success is really no secret. He recently shared some insights from his journey in an article on his website. There are several great pieces of wisdom in there:

  • Do amazing work and provide value to your customers
    Alan’s process for relating to his customers is simple, yet very effective. He does great work, he takes care of his clients, he gives value beyond what was promised. Even when he has to fire a client, he works hard to refer them to someone else who can help.
  • Be generous
    Alan mentions that he shares a lot in online groups, forums and through speaking at conferences. I can personally attest to his generous sharing from interacting with him both online and off. Few are the people who would pack up their household and move in order to help a friend over the course of several months; but, Alan is the kind of person who would do it. I know many generous people, but precious few can even come close to the things this man does for individuals and the digital marketing community.
  • Be grateful
    Thankfulness is closely related to generosity. Alan often points out people he is grateful to in public forums. He has also put in a great deal of effort in sharing his gratitude with groups both large and small. He has gone through great pains to bring people together in the spirit of community and cooperation. That gratitude also spills into his client work.

By now, some of you may be thinking those “soft skills” don’t matter much in the realm of “real business.” I disagree. Beyond technical knowledge, beyond mere competence, beyond business savvy, the things that differentiate businesses are those soft skills. Success is more than just the bottom line, it also consists of those intangibles that bring more value to each interaction beyond just a transaction.

Alan will be sharing some of his audit knowledge at Pubcon Vegas 2017 in November. He will be sharing the stage with Bill Hartzer on Tuesday, November 7th at 10:10am. If you’re interesting in attending Pubcon, register today and use coupon code rc-3856015 to save 15% (good until October 20, 2017).

SEO Audits with Alan Bleiweiss and Bill Hartzer - Pubcon Vegas 2017

“Be Like Amazon – Even A Lemonade Stand Can Do It” by Jeffrey and Bryan Eisenberg

Cover shot of "Be Like Amazon - Even a Lemonade Stand Can Do It" by Jeffrey and Bryan EisenburgIt’s not often that I get to interact with an author as they are planning a book. In the case of Be Like Amazon: Even a Lemonade Stand Can Do It by Jeffrey and Bryan Eisenburg, I got a small preview of the topic via a Facebook post by Jeffrey. I don’t remember the original post, but it was something along the lines of a question asking his friends there if they thought a book that boiled down the principles of how Amazon does business and how it applies to any other business would appeal to them. I responded, playing “Devil’s Advocate” wondering if that hadn’t already been done. Jeffrey’s response was that it was not.

I didn’t totally understand his response at the time, but after reading the book, I have to agree. It’s far more than just another “Amazon” book. It shares very simple, yet profound truths that are also shared in other works in a very entertaining and thoughtful way.

Some of the lessons shared could have come from Good to Great, others from Thou Shall Prosper, still others from various authors and speakers I’ve shared about in this space. What makes this book different is the way the lessons are presented and how quickly.

The book’s story line is about a young man starting out on a road trip with a wiser, older man. The young man laments that his business is not doing as well as he would like, which leads the older man to start sharing lessons about great businesses and the people who led them to greatness. It also shares how some of those businesses ceased being great when their leaders passed on and their successors did not adhere to the ideals that shaped the greatness that had been built.

The fundamental lesson in the work is the concept of the “4 Stone Pillars of Amazon:”

  • Customer Centricity
  • Continuous Optimization
  • Culture of Innovation
  • Corporate Agility

As the older man shares lessons, he refers back to these 4 Stone Pillars as a guide the younger man should use as his “North Star,” having everyone in his organization make all decisions based on one or more of the pillars. It’s really a great idea.

The best thing about this work is that it can be read in an afternoon. Yet, even in its short format, the lessons are clear and extremely valuable.

I highly recommend Be Like Amazon to anyone who seeks to make a business better, or to do better as a team member. It’s well worth the time.

A New Chapter

It’s been just a little over 4 years since I joined Rockfish and moved to Austin, Texas. To say that it’s been an adventure would be an understatement! During this time I’ve gotten to work with several great clients, refine my search optimization skills and bring them to a new level, and help start and lead a brand new online reputation management practice. I am very, very grateful to all the wonderful people at Rockfish with whom I’ve had the privilege to work over the past few years.

Rockfish LogoI realize that this sounds like I’m leaving Rockfish. In a way I am, but not really. I have accepted an opportunity to be assigned to our WPP sister company GTB. While I will still be a “Rockfisher,” I will be working with GTB in their Dearborn, Michigan, office as Director, Organic Search (SEO). This is another tremendous opportunity for me, not only professionally but personally, too.

GTB Logo

As many readers of The Crossing know, I am originally from the Detroit area. If you go look at my Google+ profile, you can see a picture of me standing on a mountainside in Germany wearing a WRIF t-shirt; WRIF being the radio station I listened to in my youth. Even though I’ve lived in Texas most of my life now, in my heart I’ve always been a Michigander. I still follow the Tigers, root for the Red Wings and cheer for Michigan and Michigan State. Having the opportunity to move back to my home town is fantastic.

So, as I pack up my home in Austin and get ready for this new chapter, I look forward to reconnecting with family and old friends, make new friends, and take on new challenges.