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

In-House Team Building & Training – Pubcon NOLA 2014

During Pubcon NOLA 2014 I was, once again, privileged to do a presentation during the In-House Team Building & Training session. While I was up first, Brian McDowell and Dave Rohrer followed up with some excellent information. Here are some notes I took during their presentations …

During Pubcon NOLA 2014 I was, once again, privileged to do a presentation during the In-House Team Building & Training session. While I was up first, Brian McDowell and Dave Rohrer followed up with some excellent information. Here are some notes I took during their presentations:

Brian McDowell – In-House Team Building and Training

  • SEO Function scales horizontally instead of vertically
    • Starts in Marketing or IT
    • Eventually moves across the whole organization
  • Find the proper fit for what you need
    • What talent do you need?
    • Where can you find that talent
    • Look at the maturity of your organization in order to see where you need to fill in skill sets
  • Understand the needs of your business
    • Education – Why
    • Advisors – How
    • Evangelism – Who
    • Analysis – What
  • Look for people who intersect Technology, Marketing and Sales
    • You’re director of SEO will fit right in the middle
    • Other roles will have skills that skew in one direction or the other
  • It’s difficult to train someone right out of school who doesn’t understand SEO
    • Someone from PPC can really understand SEO, that’s a good place to find talent
    • It’s sometimes valuable to hire someone right out of school and put them into PPC and then migrate them to SEO if they are good
  • There are over 1 million people who claim to have experience in SEO
    • Create pressure
    • Do a group interview
    • Have the interviewee do some code on the whiteboard – how comfortable are they in figuring out a problem?
  • Don’t forget about training, consultants, coaching, conferences and dedicated time to do research when figuring out how much a person will cost to hire
  • Don’t forget digital resources when estimating costs of everything. You have to make sure the person has the right tools to get the job done
  • SEO is really more about web presence management – remember this!
  • Be a coach –
    • Build your playbook
    • Identify your position needs
    • Attack free agency
    • Call the plays

Dave Rohrer – In-House Team Building and Training

  • Don’t skimp on CPU and RAM in computers for your team members – there’s not much worse than a huge Excel file crashing in the middle of something
  • Align your goals
    • Company Goals
    • Marketing Goals stem from company goals
    • SEO Goals stem from Marketing goals
    • This way everyone is supporting the next level up
    • Break your goals down into strategic initiatives and tactics
  • Consider hiring a journalism temp or intern to interview people during content creation
  • Keep meetings short and to the point – pay attention , make an agenda and follow the agenda
  • Agencies use task and time management to track projects – in-house should use them, too. Tools can help get you more time, people, budget or other help

Leadership Unplugged – A Google Hangout Event

Last week at the Pubcon Austin Regional, I had an opportunity chat with Rebecca Murtagh, author of Million Dollar Websites, before the final keynote. Rebecca has been hosting Google Hangouts after several recent Pubcon events, and I asked if she was going to do that again. In our pursuing conversation, she asked if I’d like share some of the ideas about leadership I talked about during the “In-House SEO” session earlier in the day. I thought that was a great idea, so we will be having a Google Hangout called “Leadership – Unplugged: What Every Leader Should Know” on Thursday, February 13, 2014, 2pm to 3pm Central …

Last week at the Pubcon Austin Regional, I had an opportunity chat with Rebecca Murtagh, author of Million Dollar Websites, before the final keynote. Rebecca has been hosting Google Hangouts after several recent Pubcon events, and I asked if she was going to do that again.

In our pursuing conversation, she asked if I’d like share some of the ideas about leadership I talked about during my “Elmer’s Leadership Lesson 2.8” presentation I did in the “In-House SEO” session earlier in the day. I thought that was a great idea … so we will be having a Google Hangout called “Leadership – Unplugged: What Every Leader Should Know” on Thursday, February 13, 2014, 2pm to 3pm Central.

Leadership Unlugged Google Event

This is listed as a private event. When you click the link above, please click the “Request Invitation” button. Of course, you’ll need a Google account to join in. Accounts are free … just sign up for one.

I am always pleasantly surprised how well my leadership talks are received at Pubcon events. Certainly, the main reason why people attend Pubcon and other industry events is to help hone their technical skills. While this is certainly a critical aspect of working in a technical field, those of us who lead people are sometimes not as dedicated to honing our non-technical, people-related skills. That’s not to say we are neglectful or bad – not at all. It’s just that we sometimes are so heads-down and focused on work, that we don’t think about those other skills needed to build a great team. That’s where I come in.

During the hangout, I’ll highlight some points from last week’s presentation, then have some time for Rebecca and I to do some Q&A, then we’ll open up the discussion to anyone for questions, discussion or whatever.

Sign up and join me and Rebecca. I’m sure you’ll learn something you can take back to help you be a better team leader.

An Example of Perseverance – Hiroo Onoda

If you’re looking for an example of perseverance under difficult circumstances, you would be hard pressed to find a better example than Hiroo Onoda. Onoda was the Japanese soldier who hid in the jungles of Lubang Island in the Philippines from 1944 until 1974, when he finally surrendered to Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. As a young lieutenant in the Japanese Army towards the end of World War 2, as the Americans were clearing out resistance to General McArthur’s return to the Philippines …

If you’re looking for an example of perseverance under difficult circumstances, you would be hard pressed to find a better example than Hiroo Onoda. Onoda was a Japanese soldier who hid in the jungles of Lubang Island in the Philippines from 1944 until 1974, when he finally surrendered to Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos.

As a young lieutenant in the Japanese Army towards the end of World War 2, the Americans were clearing out resistance to General McArthur’s return to the Philippines, Onoda was ordered to stay behind and run guerrilla operations to impede U.S. and Philippine forces, to never surrender and not take his own life. He and three others took to the hills and continued their part of the war. Over time, the others were killed or gave up the fight. But not Lieutenant Onoda, he continued living off the land (and the occasional stolen livestock) until March 9, 1974 when his former commanding officer was flown to the Philippines to finally convince Onoda that the war was really over.

Some might be tempted to think this man was simply crazy. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. In Onoda we find a man who was dedicated to duty and had the perseverance to see his mission through until the end – even though that end was not in sight and lasted 30 years.

I read his autobiography several years ago. In it, he describes the measures he took to survive all those years. He also talks about the extreme loneliness, the desire to go home and be with his family and the fatigue he sometimes felt in carrying out his duty. This is a man who was far from crazy, and someone from whom we can learn some very valuable lessons about perseverance and follow-through.

Hiroo Onoda passed away on January 16, 2014.

I recommend reading Onoda’s autobiography. No Surrender: My Thirty-Year War (Amazon Affiliate Link).