How Sarah Bird is stepping into Rand Fishkin’s shoes as Moz’s new CEO – with Sarah Bird

Some of you guys may know that I had a business earlier on in my life that did fairly well, but what you don’t know is that I had a challenge growing it.

So I figured if we are really going to talk about the entrepreneurial experience, we can’t just talk about the early stage and then forget about what happens afterwards. That’s what this interview is about.

Sarah Bird is the new CEO of Moz. She took over for the founder a few months ago. Moz creates SEO software, marketing analytics tools, and all kinds of content to help you learn inbound marketing. I invited her here to talk about how the business has grown. From where she started when there were only eight people to where it is today, with well over 100 people. We’ll find out all about that growth.

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About Sarah Bird

Sarah Bird is the CEO of Moz, which creates SEO software, marketing analytics tools, and all kinds of content to help you learn inbound marketing

Raw transcript


Mixergy’s audio transcription is done by Speechpad

Andrew: Hey, there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com. It’s home of the ambitious upstart, and some of you guys may know that I had a business earlier on in my life that did fairly well, but what you don’t know is that I had a challenge growing it.

You see, the hustler stage of being an entrepreneur, the one where you find customers, where you build things quickly, where you bring people onboard who are friends of yours and you inspire them with the vision, I was good at. The part where you take it from there, where you manage people who didn’t know you growing up, who don’t have personal connections with you and can tell the nuances of the way you’re getting frustrated or angry, that was a challenge to me. One that frankly, I didn’t learn at school and I still want to learn how to get better at.

So I figured if [??] is really going to talk about the entrepreneurial experience, we can’t just talk about the early stage and then forget about what happens afterwards. I won’t feel right unless I prepare you and myself for that stage where you get really big, the part that you worked so hard for. That’s what this interview is about.

Sarah Bird is the new CEO of Moz. She took over for the founder a few months ago. Moz creates [??] software, marketing analytics tools, and all kinds of content to help you learn inbound marketing. I invited her here to talk about how the business has grown from when she was there. She started when there were only eight people, to where it is today, with well over 100 people. We’ll find out all about that growth.

I should say, since when the founder of Moz was on I forgot to do it, I’m going to do it right up front, his interview was sponsored by Scott Edward Walker, the very understanding sponsor who had to wait until the end of interview last time before I gave him his mention. Scott is the entrepreneur’s lawyer. If you need a lawyer, check out WalkerCorporateLaw.com.

Sarah, welcome.

Sarah: Hi. Thank you. I’m very excited to be here. And thank you, Scott, for sponsoring.

Andrew: We were talking before we started about the kinds of issues that companies go through. For example, you start hiring and hiring and hiring. Job titles, which we wouldn’t expect to be an issue, could potentially be an issue. What’s the problem with job titles?

Sarah: At Moz we’re really small, and everyone has a lot of impact on a really small team. That’s one of the really great things about the early stage, right? Everyone’s work really does make a difference. Also, you’re very, very close to each other because you’re working right alongside, and you’re all in each other’s business because you’re collaborating. So when someone says, “I want to be a VP or head of this”, you think, “Well, why not?” You are in charge of it, and you’re contributing the bulk of the value in that area, so you make a lot of people head of this, VP of that, chief of such and such.

The problem with that is as you scale and you get bigger, you start bringing in new people who are very senior and are also experienced also contributing in that area. So you’re now trying to calibrate your titles with bigger companies. I may have someone new who at their previous very large company was a director, and I’ve got someone that’s been with me from the beginning, has less experience and is my VP of my functional area.

I’ve got to say, Okay. I’ve actually got this person who is going to have just as much if not more impact coming in at the director level, which makes more sense for my stage of business, but I have now a VP who’s a holdover from the earlier days…

Andrew: …and a VP is considered higher than a director.

Sarah: Yes.

Andrew: I see. So why is this person with less experience who’s going to be working for someone with more experience, who’s coming to take us to the next level, why does he have a title that’s higher than the person he’s working for? Is that right?

Sarah: Right. That creates weird title inflation, where because I can’t have my VP reporting to a director, then I’ve got to make my new person the chief of that. Now I’ve got a chief who also isn’t really going to be a chief when it’s two years later and I’m bringing in someone with maybe even more experience, or promoting them within. What’s above a chief? You go from there.

At some point, you’ve got to have a plan and a strategy around your titles to make sure that they all make sense in context with each other, and make sense with other businesses in your industry, so that when you’re out networking and talking with other people, your title makes sense with your peer in the other organization. It’s the communication tool.

This was something I struggled with because I didn’t want to care about it. My personal view is that I don’t care about your title. What ideas are you bringing? I had that attitude for a long time. That actually meant that we weren’t addressing earlier on this title mismatch, and the problem grows because I didn’t want to care. I was sort of like, “If that’s how that works for you, whatever, man.”

But when the company became 120, now 125 people, and you have new people entering in the org, and they don’t even know who to talk to based on titles, because the titles don’t make any sense. “I have this problem, who should I talk to about this problem?!” And they can’t tell just by titles, they just sort of have this personal connection with who can help me find the answer they can’t just find on their own.

So we had to go through is process, which was really painful on sort of a moral level for me. Taking everyone’s job descriptions and then trying to find ways to talk about how, what is the work of a senior lead, versus the work of the director, versus the work of the VP, and building in from future levels we don’t have yet, at the time we didn’t have a senior VP, but I knew someday, we’ll probably have one, so we should think about it now so a don’t have to do this awful process again, and then doing that across the different functional areas.

It’s a huge amount of work; it’s very personal to people, because you’re placing them in a context that now looks higher or lower than someone else. But the value of it was that everything makes sense internally when you’re trying to get an answer. It makes sense externally when somebody’s trying to reach who they should talk to, and then from a career planning perspective, I can say, “Okay, for companies of our size; this is where you are, this is your day to day, if you want to be a manager at a VP level in a company like ours, these are the kinds of activities you’re going to have to do, this is your scope of-”

So it allows people to know where they progress, what they need to do in order to get there, and so it gives them a path. It’s also a hard thing to do, it’s a hard thing to come in and ask people to do, and I imagine that having been with the company for so long, and not being a stranger that comes in and says, “I’m going to come in and change everything around.”

Sarah: Yeah, it was easier to the extent that you can be kind of aware of how attached people may be to their title, and then their sensitivity around that in the conversation with them. I mean, it’s a hard process no matter what, especially because we have jobs that are sort of newish kinds of jobs, right?

I have a payment systems analyst, and her job is to monitor credit card receivables, because 98% of my revenue comes in through a credit card stream, so I don’t have a lot of payables or accounts receivable. Her work is; there’s not a lot of those. It’s not like, “Well, I know what it means to be a software engineer, or I know it needs to do customer support, or event,” I create content, that’s sort of a notable job.

There’s some things like, “Okay, how do I benchmark that against other organizations and different- I have to take pieces of different job descriptions and mended them into one, and it can feel easily to say, “Okay, this is too hard and it’s not going to add enough value,” but once it’s done, you can do this great career planning for that person, and say, “This is what your tasks are today. If you want to be here some day, these are the different skills you’re going to need to get there. And that brings transparency to the career process, and transparency is an important value of ours.”

And I think people often wants to know, “Well, why I aren’t that [at that level.”] And if you have something in place that you’re not even just custom making for them, but it’s already in place, but they feel sort of secure about it, they know that it’s fair, they know like, “Oh, that person’s a up because they can do these things.”

Andrew: Can I tell you something? I’m looking at you at you’re describing it and you’re smiling the whole time. I didn’t have to do this and I’m overwhelmed by it, and to me it just seems so tough, which brings me to this thing that I read. Actually, I read the transcript of conversation, you and Rand Fishkin, were, of course, the founder of Moz had when he asked you to take over and you guys made the announcement.

He said that, “As I’ve been talking to entrepreneurs about this journey, about stepping down from the CEO role, one of the messages that I consistently hear from a lot of folks is, ‘I don’t have someone like Sarah in my life, in my professional life,'” and Rand says, “That is something that I strongly recommend.” You were working at Moz for a while. What was that role that he’s so strongly recommending other entrepreneurs fill?

Sarah: I’m going to answer it first formally, and then informally. I was a president and a member of the board, and before that, I was the chief operations officer and I actually came in as General Council. So those are the sort of titles that reflect what my official function was and how that changed over time, and then informally, which is the most important part, right? Though really, at the fundamental level, we were trusted friends, first. We had a strong friendship before I ever became involved with Moz.

Andrew: Okay.

Sarah: And that friendship became critical to get us through what were really challenging times early in the business, because in early, when there were tough decisions, and there were things that I thought were important that he didn’t think were important. Things he thought were important that I was like, “That’s crazy, that’s not important.” It was the friendship that kept us both coming back to the table.

Andrew: Is it more, or…?

Sarah: Let me see it from your side.

Andrew: Is it more of like the COO, the Chief Operating Officer, is the person who actually implements, who day-to-day will check in on the stats from people, will day-to-day manage the things that are working well, and you know, help grow the company, but keep the ship, keep the ship moving. Is that what the role that you essentially had, and that Rand is suggesting other entrepreneurs fill early on?

Sarah: You know, I think from my experience of it, the way that I think of my relationship with Rand, is that we are both similar, in a sense that we don’t like to be managed, we like to find a problem go figure it out, and focus on it, and the good news is Rand and I like different kinds of problems.

Andrew: Okay.

Sarah: Like, he liked what’s happening in the marketing world, what’s changing, you know how do I help this particular website succeed, or this brand succeed? And he would go, and he likes connecting in the industry with people like you. So, his natural, what attracts him, sort of gravitational pull, and where he puts so much of his brilliant energy are in those areas. He didn’t even see the things that I saw that were like, “Wow, we really need to get organized on our finances. We really need to make sure the team understands what they’re doing. We need to check in on their progress. Do we have a wire frame for that, right? Is it the right wire frame?”

And so I would see different kinds of problems that look a lot like what you’re saying, is sort of the day-to-day, how is it running? Since Rand the problems that attract him, the things he likes to do, do take him out of the office a lot. They also tend to be more like Rand figuring out on his own, and then you know, and then working with external people on them, and my energy is usually towards like, “Okay, how do I get this group of people, get all their brains and insight, together on a shared problem that I’ve seen?” And that with them “Is this sort of a problem? Do we have any ideas around it, and what are the milestones, how do we make that work?”

Andrew: Is it the role of a manager versus the role of a creator…or maybe not even creator, manager versus…maybe it’s just the role of a manager? Someone needs to manage the business.

Sarah: I think that’s it. He manages…So, I guess to me it’s not just like he’s a visionary and I’m the executor. It’s like; I’m the visionary and executor on these topics.

Andrew: Got you, right.

Sarah: He’s the visionary and executor on these things, and we’re attracted toward different areas, and he see’s things that I wouldn’t, that wouldn’t even have occurred to me to look at. I just don’t see the world the same way, and then I see things that he wouldn’t have seen either. So, the different life of the business, right? We need both each other, it’s a very strong partnership, and the things that attract me are becoming more critical as the business gets more complicated, right?

Andrew: I see, I see.

Sarah: As we’re trying to get through these problems of scale these are stuff that I just live for. I think it’s great, but it’s stuff for him that’s like, “Man, what a bummer, I’ve got to spend my weekend doing that,” you know? He likes what he likes, and that’s it…

Andrew: You know, I’m so glad that you pushed back on my description, because I did have a simplistic of how the relationship must work, which is one person creates, and someone else has to get the job done, and obviously that’s not what you’re saying, and I still said it, and I’m glad that you pushed back. One of the reasons why I want to do these interviews is, I have this, this understanding of the way the world works, it’s kind of stuck in my head, and I just see everything through that lens, and I like talking to strong entrepreneurs, strong leaders, strong CEO’s, because they will not allow me to keep going with that vision, they’ll say, “No, this is what I’m saying.” Where most people will just say, “Alright yeah,” you know, and just keep going. So, you started, you said, as a General Council?

Sarah: Yeah.

Andrew: Why does an eight person company need a General Council?

Sarah: Well, they don’t, and that’s what’s so interes-…You know, one of the hardest things frankly about it interviews like this, and questions I get a lot when I do like start-up weekend projects, is how should I do an ex, and so often my own experience of what has worked out is still not something I would recommend. So, for example, I came in as General Council, and I was basically just one of Rand’s really good friends.

What I tell an eight person startup like, go hire a lawyer, as an eight person, or go hire your best friends; I wouldn’t give that advice right? It’s sort of a like we’re really lucky it worked out, but is that the best course of action? No…Yeah, so it’s I started General Council we were both really naive, you know, we still are compared to sort of where we need to get to. Which is the fun part about business, right, is that as I level up, the complexity of the business is also leveling up …

Andrew: Yes.

Sarah: … and so it’s just this constant you’re not quite there yet, which is the fun part. Certainly in the early days, we didn’t know what it meant to be a start-up.

Andrew: Really?

Sarah: We used the word, but we didn’t understand it. We just liked each other, and he was smart, and I liked the Internet. I like technologies, superficially. So, I was looking for a change. I had already given notice at my law job.

Andrew: Without giving a second, without getting another job, you just said, “I’m done with this.”

Sarah: Yeah, actually it was a very … I’m actually usually a very analytical person. But this was one of the flakiest decisions I’ve ever made. And it was … this is not at all how I operate, so it’s weird for me. But I, literally, I had a dream that I quit my job. And in the dream, I was so happy, and I actually woke up with this emotional residue of joy…

Andrew: Um-hmm.

Sarah: … like laughing, and if you had asked me the day before, I wouldn’t have said I’m thinking of leaving, I’m unhappy. It was really like this sensation in this dream where I realized, like, “Oh, my God.” I am not doing what I should be doing, right? And I didn’t even know what the next thing was, but it was such an overwhelming experience that I knew I had to do something. So, I gave my notice that day. It was a three month notice, it was a long time, but I never make decisions that way. I’m like the weighted pros and cons person. Talk to every expert in the field, and then agonize about it for a while, and then finally make a decision. And then worry if it was the right decision for three weeks…

Andrew: Yeah, I was going to say that nothing that I’ve read about you in preparation for today says that you make plans based on dreams.

Sarah: I know. It’s the one time I’ve done it, and it worked out, right.

Andrew: Yeah.

Sarah: I mean, it’s all so … you know, to be fair, the economy was very different. It was 2007, the economy was booming, I knew I’d have no problem getting another job. I was young, I wasn’t married, I didn’t have kids, I didn’t have a mortgage. You know you can make rash decisions based on dreams.

Andrew: General Counsel. Did it mean what we assume ‘General Counsel’ meant, or was it one of these job titles that you said earlier where, “Well, she’s a lawyer, let’s give her the General Counsel title, but she’ll do other things”?

Sarah: Yeah, I mean it was the title because that’s what you call an attorney at a firm, at a business or in-house counsel. There wasn’t as much legal work, but there was lots of other stuff, right. It was so early, there was … we didn’t have … we weren’t doing stuff like invoicing customers. We were just sort of like, “Did anyone remember to ask them for money.” Yeah, we didn’t have Thoreau’s design knowledge or plans, and we weren’t doing any budgeting, or planning or anything really. It was just, “What should be do today? Oh, that sounds good, let’s try it. Did it work? Cool.”

Andrew: What should we do today? Let’s try, will it work, cool. Six months later you become COO. Do you ever miss those days where you look back and you say, “I love having 120, 130 people here. I love that we’re a $30 million company. But I kind of miss …” What do you miss about those times?

Sarah: Yeah, well you know, what I miss most is … I don’t actually miss the day-to-day doing. Cause when you’re that age, everyone’s doing Internet, when you’re that age of a company.

Andrew: Um-hmm.

Sarah: You … everyone actually has tasks they’re doing. I don’t, there’s tasks. I miss when you are 20 people in a company; you know each other very well. You can be so much freer with your language and your humor. I had kind of a dark, kind of awful sense of humor. When you’re in a circle of trust, you can have those kinds of jokes, and it’s no big deal because people know you and, they’re like, “I know Sarah, she’s totally joking. Argh, it’s funny.” And you can tease each other, and it’s a very flat. The power structure is very flat, and there’s very little power distance. A hundred and thirty-five person company where maybe still 20 people know me really, really well, but the rest of the people don’t, right. So, if I make a joke, it’s like, “Huh, oh my gosh. What did she say?” You have to be mindful of that.

Andrew: Yeah.

Sarah: You can’t tease. I love teasing, but you can’t. When you’re the CEO, you can’t tease other people.

Andrew: What do you mean? What kind of teasing?

Sarah: Any kind of teasing. Like, “Oh, nice hair, Andrew.” Then I don’t know what I would say, I’d make up some, you know. “Unbuttoning your collar,” or something. You can’t even…

Andrew: We don’t have to do this interview. You don’t have to hurt my feelings. I just meant in general. Speaking of…

Sarah: When your peers, or you’ve known each other for a long time, you can have that kind of relationship, and you’d tease me back and it’s no big deal. When you have a position of power, as hard as I try not to be like a super hoity toady [SP] boss man, CEO, I still have that position. So if I am teasing, it is experienced differently to that person. And even if you and I have that relationship, the people hearing or listening, they don’t know that we have that relationship. They just think, like, “Oh, my god.”

Andrew: Or maybe they do know and they think, “Why are they in on this little clique where they can make fun of each other but I can’t make fun of the boss? You don’t make fun of me.”

Sarah: Yup. It’s true. It can also be perceived as, like, “Wow! They have an inner circle trust,” right? So everything is suddenly so much more complicated because you have more power differential and because people don’t know you personally as well. And I miss that. It means every sort of meeting and interaction and thought, I have to think, “If I interrupt this person and their presentation to me to make a stupid bad joke, is that going to be perceived as sort of taking power away from them? Like I’m not really engaged in what they’re saying and derail the meeting?”

Andrew: Yeah.

Sarah: Like as much fun as it would be to be in that stage again, you have to change those behaviors.

Andrew: You know, and sometimes you see in the news a tech company get in trouble for something that I think they just grew so fast that what he was doing or she was doing was bonding.

Sarah: Yes.

Andrew: Or understood as bonding just six months ago, two years ago. Today, different environment, it is perceived completely differently. And of course, when it’s public, it’s perceived even more horrifically. And so I think what we’re understanding here is there’s just a different kind of management early on than there is later. It’s not that early on you should be sitting and agonizing about job titles and saying, “Well, one day, we’re going to have a director-level person that we hire from someone else, so this guy can’t be V.P.

We have to really sit and analyze what level do we want even after director, and then we start to give titles.” No. There’s a way of handling things early on, and it means teasing, and it means quick job titles, and it means quick action. And there’s a way of handling things later on, which means going bigger but also being aware of people, and job titles, and the future.

Here’s another thing I’m wondering about. Rand Fishkin communicated vision to everyone. Through even, I think, the sneakers that he wore said something about the way, you know what I’m talking about, right?

Sarah: Um-hum.

Andrew: Said something about his personality, about the company and where he wanted it to go. How does that change as a company grows? How does the vision, the way that you guys internally expressed vision back when you were younger, and now how do you do it when you have over a hundred people who don’t know you, who weren’t intimate with? I mean, intimate. Weren’t having, like, dinner at Rand’s house? What do you do? What was it like before?

Sarah: Right. This is a great question because I think that’s applicable not just to CEOs but anyone that’s in a leadership capacity, as the business grows, right? As you move from an IC to a manager of a team, this is the relevant question: “How do I share my vision? How do I spread it?” When you are small, 20 people, 30 people, you can share your vision by having meaningful one-on-ones with people. You know, once a month, “Let’s grab a coffee.” And, “Oh, this is great!” and everyone’s going to turn around in their chair and be like, “Hey, should we be doing this as a company?”

And you’re going to have this great discussion where everyone participates. And then you as leader can be like, “I love what you said there. Yeah! That is kind of our vision. We should totally do that.” Or, “Hmm. I’m not seeing any. Here’s why.” And it’s very one-on-one and personal influence driven. When you’re bigger and you can’t be best friends with everyone, I would love to do hour-long one-on-ones with everyone in the company. I cannot do it. And I would certainly not when we’re 500 people, right?

Andrew: That’s a hundred hours a week if you did one with each person in the company. Actually, it’s more than a hundred. I keep going down to a hundred. But it’s, what are you, 120, 130. Somewhere there.

Sarah: Yeah. So you can’t do that. One of the things that Rand was great at is he is great at email and he is great at blogging. And so he would use those to help him scale-ably spread the vision, right? Like this is what we’re trying to accomplish and why in an email and on the blog, right?

Andrew: Can you give me an example of that? I sometimes want to spread, frankly, the vision, internally, to the Mixergy team. But it feels so artificial for me to email them and say, “We stand for this.” I wonder, how did you guys do it, early on, via email or any internal mechanism that I, as an outsider, didn’t see?

Sarah: Well, when you’re small and you just have one of these spontaneous, like, “Hey! Are we missing an opportunity to hear discussions?” And then you kind of wrap your heads around it. You can capture that thinking in an email. And then you can be like, “Hey, so we agree that this is the plan.” And that when you’re doing it and you’re small, it is almost like an accountability measure. It’s almost a I want to mark this in time and say, “This is where we’re going and we’re going to hold each other accountable to it.”

Andrew: Ah. So where were you going, early on, that would have evolved through a kind of conversation that you’re describing?

Sarah: Certainly in, gosh, in any number of things. Like how much are we going to invest in rankings? One of the more recent history, right? Are we going to stay pure SEO or are we going to say pure SEO, or are we going to spread into Social? How does social fit in, right? When social can gain- at want point was it like, wow SEO and Social are so synergistic and work together and Social is such an important channel; we have to include that in our suites.

Andrew: I see, so early on that might have happened over coffee, people beating each other up, “No, you don’t understand, SEO is what we’re about, why are you taking us in this stupid direction?” Someone else going, “No, you’re not thinking far ahead, you’re thinking too small-mindedly.” That kind of stuff is how you would have- if this issue had happened back in 2008. That’s how it would have happened. Today, when you decide to have a new decision that includes Social, how does it evolve and get communicated to everyone else?

Sarah: So, we are- one of the things I’m passionate about is making that process, because as a leader, as a business gets more complex, I’m not going to be an expert in everything. I can’t be. I have to rely on experts, and I have to rely on people who are close to the ground than I am. So I am creating a process right now where I can, and it’ll be, people know when it’s going to happen and expect it and they’ll feel good that I know that I can weigh in on these kinds of decisions, because every quarter we are going to meet at this kind of meeting where we answer these kinds of questions, and I will come with this kind of data, right?

So we’ll do a quarterly meeting, which actually we’re having tomorrow, that everyone’s been doing homework on, bringing, “You know, this is happening with my area on the organization.” Bring it to that meeting, and then we can have a discussion as a broader team. Because again, as your business gets more complex, you’re not going to know the answers, your team has to know them, right?

I mean, my job tomorrow is to make sure that everybody gets heard, that I can understand it, and that we can drive towards a resolution on if the vision is changed or and understand the rational why, and then, follow-on of that, capture all of that information in some kind of document that can be shared both in our internet and our town hall and that all of the leaders, because they participated in creating it, they were there, they understood the rational, they can also spread to their teams through their personal leadership, right? And that can be the guidepost for all the of the decisions going forward in this quarter.

So, it becomes a, not sort of, when you’re smaller it’s ad-hoc and a small team. Gosh, is it really time? Can we keep [ignoring] Social, or do we really need to- we need to do it, right, and it’s an on-going, “Okay, we’re going to do it, and then Rand might capture a blog post about it.”

Now, I don’t want it to be random. I want every quarter, we should plan to gut check, are we working on the right things right now? And maybe it won’t change that much, and that’s good, that’s fine, or maybe it’ll be like, “You know, we can’t ignore getting a competitive view on content anymore. Now’s the time for multi-seed, we’ve been talking about it for a year and now’s the time and here’s why”, and that it’s a big enough group contributing, that’ll get all the right opinions, and that also helps create ownership of the project. So that’s part of the plan. Check in a year or two and we’ll see how it’s going.

Andrew: I want to ask you about the town hall, but first, I should acknowledge that my sponsor is Scott Edward Walker, that is his name. He is the entrepreneur’s lawyer. You can find him at Walkercorporatelaw.com. And it occurred to me, Sarah, you are an attorney. You’ve worked at startups and now at a startup and now you’ve at a fast growing, 30 million dollar company.

Instead of me doing the sponsorship spot for Scott, maybe we can just- I can ask you for advice for an entrepreneur earlier on. What things should she have legally put in place so that she’ll be protected when the company grows to have 120+ people and 30 million dollars in sales?

Sarah: They’re, I think, at least two. Two that come to mind immediately, and we’ll see what else comes out of my mouth here, but these two things that funding early days, you need to nail, and you need to pay the attorney to do it, and you should pay an attorney, not just like, “Oh, my brother-in- law is a criminal attorney or a family law attorney, I’ll ask him to help me out for cheap,” like an attorney who does this kind of work. And the two things are:

One, get your corporate structure right, and that is, file the paperwork to be either an LLC or a Nescorps [sp] or whatever the right corporate structure is for you, that alone gives you so much more legal protection. It feels, and it’s not that expensive, it’s not that hard to do. Most of the paperwork is pretty per-form. You’re going to make the right choice about the right entity, but it’s not going to cost you 15 thousand dollars, right? It might cost to 1500, 2500, but that gives you so much protection for your personal assets right off the bat, and shows anyone who comes to invest in you later, that you’re ready to receive the money and you’re ready to be a company, right? Because they also don’t want personal liability in anything, right?

Two, the second thing you just have to get right from the very early days, and so many of the problems I hear about from early entrepreneurs is because they didn’t take the time to get good advice on setting up their ownership of the company. A group of people get together, “We’re going to start this company! It’s going to be great! Your job is going to be this, my job is going to be this,” and they’re kind of like, “Well, but I really want to be that…”

So that’s that roll, and it’s kind of fluid, and it changes within the first 90 days anyway, and they have a lot of verbal agreements about like, “Well, then my ownership will be X percent, and yours will be X percent,” and then they’ll write it down or issue the stock options or talk about it numerically, they talk about percentages, which gets you into all kinds of trouble later. So get your ownership units which is probably going to be stock or stock options, get that nailed down by an attorney and papered, because I guarantee that is going to be like, the first thing, as soon as you get traction, the first thing you guys start, like, “Well wait, if I’m 40 percent and you’re 30%, and this new person’s 1 percent, then we do a round, how many actual units of stock is that?” That’s where it’s going to get crazy.

Andrew: Is that an expensive thing? I know setting up the corporate entity is not expensive at all, no.

Sarah: And those things should be done together. It should be like, “You’re going to be a C-Corps, and you’re going to have 10 million outstanding shares and here’s how you’ll be allocated. I’ll go hand and hand and the attorney will file that paperwork for you and give you a good form to use whenever you’re getting feature stock.”

Andrew: So I understand what you said, right, let me see if I get the implications of it, of not setting up the corporate structure properly. If you and I start a business, no paperwork or anything, and say, “Hey, we’re going to build the staff,” and my mother invests 10 thousand dollars in the app, if there’s no LLC or no S-Corps, we essentially have a partnership, you and I, right? And then my mom, who invests the money, she has ownership, she also has a partnership, and in a partnership, everyone is legally obligated to all the debt, all the liabilities, so if you and I then sign up for something that costs us 50 thousand dollars and we have to pay for it, my mother could get stuck with all 50 thousand dollar debt, right?

Sarah: Yeah, I mean if I was the attorney representing the person who you owed money to, I was like, “Hey, you got 50 thousand of my stock! You’ve only paid me five! Where’s the rest of my money?!” Would I go after you, poor entrepreneur, probably not. Would I go after mom, who has a house, who’s got a paycheck, she’s got some savings, and ask her for the money, and then make it her problem to get it from you and the other partners.

Andrew: Yeah, that’s the way, legally, how it works. You know what, I remember learning that in school, it never occurred to me that if you don’t do that, you really endanger them. Alright, I don’t want to do legal advice here, I just want to get basic feedback from a CEO about what we should be thinking about and I will just walkercorporate.com if you need a lawyer, or at least check in out, or you’ll see on the site how many people who trust him have recommended him.

Here’s the other thing I want to talk about. Town Hall Meetings, you said that to me before we started the interview. A town hall meeting means everyone gets in and we all talk.

Sarah: Yeah, one of the things that’s interesting, transparency is a value. I mean it, I want it, I want transparency.

Andrew: Yeah, I could see actually on your site, I was shocked by the kind of information you gave, there’s some posts where you actually talk about how much you spend on recruiting, what the depreciation is on the, was it servers or?

Sarah: Yeah, it was the data center stuff.

Andrew: Data center! Okay.

Sarah: Yeah, totally. It’s meaningful to me, and what’s been interesting is the company’s scales, is that transparency is the value, but how you achieve transparency has to change, because when you’re a 20 person, 5 person team, whatever, everyone can send their weekly e-mail to everyone else saying, “This is what I accomplished this week, this is what I’m going to do next week, and that works well.”

We’re 130 people, we are at like email overload. You know it worked really, really well up until probably 70 people, and then it became like, oh my god, it’s a full time job just reading the email, let alone writing them, or trying to do any work, right? To really engage the material. And furthermore, email is great for some kinds of communication, but it misses so much other pieces of communication.

And for some people in my organization, email is really challenging. Maybe English isn’t a first language, or maybe they’re just not readers. They won’t to hear it, they’re the talkers. So, you need more than one way to communicate, and I wanted to try to find ways that we could still be transparent and share information, but we don’t have to be overloading everybody’s e-mail box constantly.

So we have the Intranet where you can put it, and speaking of email, why don’t just post it to your department’s web page, and then people who are interested will always know they can find it there? Which is like, just they can decide whether they want to get pinged every time you update your page.

And town hall serves the function for those people who are not great at email, or especially things for, I think, as a leader, tone is important. And I want to be able to say to people, like, ‘Yeah, we missed this month by 58 net ads’, and I want them to see my face, my body language, how I feel about it, and see that I’m even celebrating, right? You can write an email that’s like, ‘Good job, people.’ or I can be like, ‘Good Job, People!’, right, and like body language. It adds something.

Andrew: So you were this excited about Town Hall before we started, and I – like the jerk I am sometimes in private – I said, ‘So what’s the point? Like, so what?’, and then you brought up credit card fraud. And you said, ‘All right, Andrew, so you don’t feel like the excitement of celebrating with everyone? Here is an issue that we solved. What happened with credit card fraud in the Town Hall meeting?

Sarah: So, for example, in Town Hall, we knew that we had, in the month of February, someone was trying to process a lot of stolen credit cards through the site, right? And that generates all kinds of follow-on products for all other departments. So, in Town Hall, I was addressing, ‘This is what we know so far, this is what we’ve done, this is what we don’t know.’ That allows other people in the organization, who maybe have experience in credit card fraud – one or two people in particular, in their other organizations, dealt with these kinds of systems – were able, after the town hall, to be like, ‘Hey, I heard that you guys are trying these things. Here are some other ideas that you can try.’ And broadcasting the information in that way, one, helps everyone in the company know we cared and what the status was, and that we were working on it, and two, it generated new ideas that we can try to solve it in the future. Rather than keeping it siloed within an organization, or hidden away, right?

Andrew: You describe that silo as a ‘beach ball effect’.

Sarah: Yeah, yeah.

Andrew: What is that?

Sarah: So as the organization has gotten more complex, right, one of my missions is to help people understand how the company works together, and to help have empathy for what other departments are doing, and also to be able to plan for how it may impact them. So, the way someone described it to me – it’s not my idea – but, they said, ‘When you are in a big organization, it’s like you are really close up to a beach ball. And all you see is red, so as far as you know, red is the most important thing. Like red is all there is, and it’s really important.’ My job as a leader is to help provide opportunities for them to step back a few places, and then they can see, like ‘Oh! There’s not just red. There’s green over here. There’s a whole green stripe. Look, over there, there’s a white stripe.’

And then they start thinking, like, ‘Wow! There are other things going on!’ And when I will really have succeeded, is if I can help everyone step back and step on top of the beach ball, where you can see how all the different colors intersect, and think, ‘Wow, there are many different colors, and they all come together to create this unified…it’s a ball! Who knew it was a ball? And it has all these different colors.’ So that’s a way that, I think helps explain, ‘Why do you take time out of your busy schedule when people are trying to get work done’, to say, ‘Hey, hold on. I want you to know what the other team is doing. And you should look at that. And, oh, by the way, this is how our whole business works together.’ To get people to understand that it is a beach ball with many different moving parts. It’s not just that the universe is red.

Andrew: I’m still captivated by…When did you post this thing? January 30th, The 2013 Year-in-Review. You have all this data in there, and I want to ask you about some of it, but why this? Why is Whiteboard Friday so important that you’re actually showing the number of hours that people watched Whiteboard Fridays, unique plays, I thought that was just another piece of content on a site that creates content all the time.

Sarah: It is another piece of content that we create all the time. But, I thought it would be fun for people within Moz, too, not just the community, but within Moz to understand, like, ‘This is why we do it.’ It isn’t just, ‘Well, it’s time to get some content on the blog.’ It has a following. Like people with over 35,000 hours…you have that.

Andrew: 35,000 hours, 291,479 unique plays of Whiteboard Friday. This is run in front of a whiteboard, explaining things like why he prefers – what was it? He doesn’t like infographics and he prefers this other kind of content. I actually watched that before I interviewed him, and then in my interview, I still said, ‘What do you think of my infographic?’ But I was proud of it, and I figured, all right, he could give me some feedback, and take a step away from, you know, that feeling he has for it.

Sarah: Yeah, totally. Yeah, you know, I think it was important to help show the team, like, it’s not just like, “Oh, another Whiteboard Friday went up.” Or no one would even think about it. But you know one day a year, I want to step back, and a lot of those things, that like it’s just a drop in the bucket, one day of the year, I want to be like, “Look at the size of the God damn bucket!” It’s a movement, you know, it’s really powerful, and I think that as a leader, part of my job is being able to reflect back to the company, the work they are doing. Like, “You guys have done this. This is amazing!”

You should be proud. It feels like one video every week. But it’s a movement, and you should feel proud about it.” Right, so I try to mark out time to do that, and that’s part of the sharing, right? That’s part of the, “Why do I talk about how many companies we have doing look-ups or how many businesses doing lookups and get listed or how many viewer-alls we have in [??] or other things, and that’s someone passion, and I want to take a moment to be like: that’s a big deal!

Andrew: Wait, there’s an annual report info-graphic? Let me see what it looks like.

Sarah: Okay, I made it myself, so don’t judge it: don’t [??] my team.

Andrew: This is an info-graphic and I see you did make it. I’m reporting you to Rand! I thought he said no info-graphics.

Sarah: Well, it’s not like like don’t- what’s the alternative, right? So it would have been better. It would have been better for me to had design something interactive and beautiful that lives on my site that people could like toggle and play with that also could be very costly, me, for this project. So compared to the first month that we’re doing search ranking factors, they were doing The Beginner’s Side to Social Mmedia. You just have to make a trade-off, so…

Andrew: By the way, this looks stunning. You didn’t do this yourself, did you?

Sarah: Yeah, I did it with Infogram, and I had help with one person on my team helped me make the top little graphic, the Mas graphic, and-

Andrew: I love the part that just rolls into the page. Isn’t it amazing that those little things get me, like you guys have the chart of what you stand for and I got it, I got it, but what really loved and what kept me playing with it was that when I mouse over, everything changes, I’m such a child sometimes in my mind.

Sarah: That’s like what my design team can do, they’re amazing, right? I wish that I could have them- I mean, in a fantasy land, right, I could have my design team work on every single presentation that I do to the company and make it interactive and fun, but it’s [??] trade-offs and so…

Andrew: So, here’s the thing that a really want to talk to you about in there- where is that number- the number of pro-customers, pro-subscribers is now at 25,072 pro-subscribers. What is the cost to get a pro-account?

Sarah: It’s 99 dollars a month for the base level, and I should be clear that that 25,000 number, that’s the total number of people using the product. Many of those are in [free] trial. [??] are in free trial, so they’re not paying yet.

Andrew: But free trial is not an endless supply of free. It’s a limited time, and then you go to 99 dollars, 149 dollars, 249, or 5.99. So what kind of revenue did you guys do last year with that

Sarah: Twenty-nine point two [??] at the top there. Yeah, it’s good, it was a 33 percent increase over the previous year, which is great. I think we can do it even better, right? I want to be outstanding. I think the if you’re an entrepreneur, you want to do the best you can do. So I’m happy with 33 percent revenue growth, a think we can do better, and we will.

Andrew: I think [Dan] told me that one of the reasons that you think you can do better is last year you had issues accepting new members.

Sarah: Yeah, we made some strategic decisions to, I’ll say, sort of cobble or limit our customer acquisition funnel because we were moving off the old platform, which I’ll call a legacy platform, and we were re-building and re- launching a new one. And the messaging around, remember this is a no-touch system, there’s not a sale’s person walking through it. It’s all on the website, no touch.

The messaging of like, “Hey, you should sign up for this legacy system that’s really good, but it’ll also be going away sometime soon, we’ll have a totally new one anytime now that I can’t show you, but trust me, you’re really going to love it because it’s even better, but the old one isn’t bad.” It’s just a very complicated- maybe it’s not complicated- but it’s not a very exciting, like why would you buy, right? Anyone would be like, “Oh, okay, I’ll wait for the new one to come out and I’ll check it out then.”

We just have an invite list that we set up instead that’s like, “If you want to be notified when the new one comes out, give us your e-mail. If you’re interested in the old one, you can buy it here.” So it’s not like it was gone, but it’s not the primary call to action for a while.

Andrew: I see, that makes sense, I didn’t get that. And the reason that that was an issue was, what? What was going on internally?

Sarah: So the launch of a new product took much longer than we have plans on. It was definitely not planned. All told- so we started moving legacy customer or current customer data onto the new system in June. We thought it would probably take a month. It ended up taking all summer. It took three months.

Andrew: Okay.

Sarah: So that was definitely off plan.

Andrew: Why do you think it took so long?

Sarah: Oh, we were just really naive about the amount of data and how long it would take to transfer into the new system, and if there was anything funky about that data it would hold up the whole batch that we were trying to move in. And it has to be current enough so you have to roll over and then keep it current and fresh in the new one. I think we just, it’s a hard thing to test for in advance until you try to move over all that legacy data, including old archive campaigns. You don’t really know how long it is going to take.

So we tried some strategies, they didn’t work. We tried some new ones and then it kind of worked, and then we changed over how we were going to do it overall. So it took a lot longer. So the original plan of, oh we’ll have this invite list open for a while, but in a month or two when we’re ready to set up new customers, it’ll be fine.

Andrew: Bring ‘em in.

Sarah: Right, we’ll just bring ‘em in. Instead we had a full, basically three months, the whole summer, almost three and one half months of having that invite list phase, while we were working on getting the current customer data in. Then once you have all the data in right away, and people, the legacy customers are now using it, you uncover a lot of infrastructure things that are hard to test any other way. You can try to test load, but until you actually have all systems go, all the data, it’s very challenging. So we discovered some more infrastructural things that’s like “Gosh, that’s not working as fast as it needs to be. We’re not ready to release the invite list. We’ve got to spend these two weeks to really nail it.” So that pushed it out another four months of invite–

Andrew: Were you going nuts this whole time?

Sarah: Oh gosh. The team was just working so hard and felt incredible pressure, to get this out, to get it done–

Andrew: But did you feel pressure?

Sarah: I felt pressure. I felt anxious. I felt, I was a little disappointed because you want it to work. But I want to be really clear that it’s not the disappointment in that I think that team did a bad job. They didn’t. It’s an incredibly hard project and we were naive about it in the beginning. And you learn as you go. It’s not the first time we thought something would be easy and it turned out to be really hard, and it won’t be the last. That’s innovation. I also knew that we had the wherewithal as a company to not just survive, but survive and then can grow. So it wasn’t a, “This is going to kill the company” moment. It was just the, “Wow, this is going to be one of those hard years that two years from now when we’re back to humming, we’re going to look back and be like, “God, that was a hard one,” and I look at it as that’s part of the product cycle.

Andrew: Um-hum.

Sarah: I remember when we had a tough launch three and one half years ago. We had all these disparate individual tools and we were bringing them together in a web app for the first time, and launching that product, and how hard it was for months afterwards. And that was stressful, but we got through it. So having those lessons teaches me resiliency, and having committed investors, having a committed community, I knew that this would be a challenging period we’re going to overcome. So it was challenging but not as hard for me as I know it was for Rand. Right, it impacted Rand much more–

Andrew: You talked about that, yeah.

Sarah: Yeah.

Andrew: I wonder if that’s what put him over the edge and made him say, “I just don’t want to run this company.”

Sarah: It’s certainly a contributing factor. There are a lot of pieces. He was struggling with his story, but he was struggling with his, “Is this the right role for me,” well before we even began that launch period. So it certainly contributes. But the things that he likes to do and that he’s great at, those are always going to become a smaller part of being the C.E.O. as the company grows.

Andrew: Yeah, I see here in this conversation, where is that in the transcript? There it is. I think you guys in the conversation where he talks about how you’re taking over C.E.O., one of you brings up the question of what is Rand going to do next? He says, “I want to spend a bunch more time figuring out how we can improve this span algorithm to Dr. Peters and the data science team have come up with. Going and having an hour to dig around the web and look at a bunch of web spam papers and not feel guilty about it. Gosh, I’m really spending-” And you go, “That’s not C.E.O. work”, and he says, “Yeah, that’s not how a CEO works”. I can see when he geeks out on what he likes. Did Moz Pro start out as just content and community first and then you guys added software?

Sarah: No, it started as, go back in time, it was a consulting business that Rand started with his mom, Julianne. He started and then he started to help her, and they were doing all kinds of consulting on SEO, and then created some kind of hacked together tools through the help of Matt [Inman], and they were using that just for their own consulting projects, to make it faster, easier; how to handle our own, repetitive tasks and get some information that’ll help our clients.

And Rand was blogging extensively at this time about what he was learning through his consulting business. So the community was growing as just a Rand sharing what he likes to do and what he’s learning, and then he would share, hey, in this tool, we kind of built a [hub] with our consulting and there’s a lot of interest in that, and so they decided, well, let’s try making this public. We’re getting value from it, why not just- it was PayPal, 29 dollars a month. Crappy little tools, right? Crappy little tools. But the best thing out there at the time.

And people responded and loved it and found it helpful and that’s when it became like, “Okay, if we want to change marketing, we can either do it one client at a time through professional services, or we can help a whole industry, bring integrity to a whole industry, and change the thinking around what it means to do great web marketing.”

And you can do that in the scale of [??] and through evangelism, or you can do it one client at a time as a professional service provider.

Andrew: I see, yeah. And that’s where it started. It was those small tools that became bigger and bigger and bigger. Alright, I think I want to ask, let me close it out with two questions: the first is, I wonder if I should have done this. You guys have Inbound.org, is that is [Miles] property or a Rand property.

Sarah: It began as a Rand and [Darma-Sha] property, and as of six months ago, seven months ago, is now a Hub Spot property.

Andrew: Oh it is?

Sarah: Yes.

Andrew: I see, okay. I had no idea. Well, sending off a lot of traffic, good discussion, I wonder if what I should have done with this interview and with Rand’s interview is maybe start off the way that I did for Paul Gram’s interview. Paul Gram has a Y Ccombinator and Hacker News. I went to Hacker News before I interviewed him and I said, “What should I ask?” And I got great questions from there.

And then, of course I posted the answers and people were more interested. I can’t do this, I’m done, for now, anyway, with our interview and Rand’s interview. Would that make sense as a strategy for someone else who’s interviewing you or Rand to check in with the community and say, “What do you want to hear?”, and then post?

Sarah: Well, it becomes kind of an AMA, kind of a quasi-ask my anything.

Andrew: With a little bit of follow-up questions from a professional? That’s what I should have done.

Sarah: Twitter is great for that, right, like what do you want to know? What do you want to hear? Yeah, Rand has a much more passionate following. There are things that Rand does that are second-nature to him that I will never be Rand’s. My leadership is definitely going to be different, and one of his strengths is certainly in that community. He’s invested a ton from in it, and gets a ton from it, personally. That’s on a personal level.

I have been much more heads down in the company, so I don’t have that same, massive following. I would be flattered if anyone wanted to know anything about me.

Andrew: I believe that they would.

Sarah: [laughs] I guess we’ll find out.

Andrew: Well, I didn’t ask the community and I didn’t put enough marketing stuff in here, but who knows? Would somebody, please, so it doesn’t look like me trying to self-promote: if you think it’s a good fit, post it on In- Bound. I didn’t do enough marketing stuff, so it may not be a good fit, but you guys check it out and let the community vote it up or vote it down. That community is doing great! It’s kicking off good traffic, good people in there.

Sarah: Yeah, it’s serving an important function, right? [??] those different concepts.

Andrew: It reminds me of where Hacker News was when I first started on there, where it was such a small community that I actually would call people up who would say negative stuff about my interviews to find out, how do I make this work, because I could actually talk to them and then they’d be the same people who up voted me later if I improved based on their feedback. When a community is at that stage where it’s powerful enough to send meaningful traffic, have meaningful conversations, but not so big that you get lost, that’s the time to be in there before it jumps the shark.

Sarah: Yeah, it’s important.

Andrew: What was I doing? What’d I want to say? Oh, to anyone listening, if you want to follow up, I’ve been talking a lot about the Moz interviews, or I should say, SEO-Moz interviews in the past, if you just go into Mixer-G and type in at the top, SEOMoz, or probably even just Mas, or Rand, you’re going to come up with some of my best work, including the first interview that I did with Rand, where he pushed back on me, and I don’t know if he was surprised that I accepted it or what, but I think that’s where I laid down what this interview is about at Mixergy. It’s not me pontificating about greatness and having everyone come on here to help pat me on the back and then I turn to the camera and say, “See guys, this is what you have to do!” It’s really me being open to new ideas and having you learn as I learn along, and sometimes those ideas contradict what I think when I start the interview, and that’s what it’s about.

An interview is not me sending you a message through a guest, it’s the, guest really getting to express how they work and how you can learn from them and what you can do. So, go check it out on Mixergy, type in the search bar, “Rand”, “SEOmoz”, “Moz”, anything like that and I think you’ll be really happy with the results. I know with almost 1000 interviews or over 10000 interviews, that it’s hard to find the perfect one. Anything with SEOmoz is going to be good, you’re going to like it. All right, final question, Sarah, is this; where do you go to learn how to run a company at this size and scale?

Sarah: Gosh, it’s a great question and I’ve spent possibly too much time trying to learn about the craft of leadership and there have been some things that are more influential than others. So, for example, I have great people in my life who, when I have a challenge, I just bounce ideas off of them. I consider them mentors. I bet they don’t even know they’re mentors. It’s not an official, “Could you be my mentor?”

Andrew: For example?

Sarah: For example, Megan at DOA, she’s been working as an attorney on the securities side for me since 2008 and she’s seen a lot of different, companies at different stages, so when I have a challenge, I’ll just be like, “Hey, I’m going through this right now.”

Andrew: Not just a legal challenge, but any challenge. I’m going through this issue , have you seen other people deal with it, what do they do?”

Sarah: Sure, because she’s a leader in her organization as well, right? And she sees other leaders and sees what’s working. And they’re certainly entrepreneurs that help and of everything I’ve done, probably the most important thing I have done and this is going to sound like a commercial for them, but there’s a group called Vistage and you meet monthly with mostly key executives, because I’ve only been the CEO for about two months now, most of the time I was meeting I was in a key executive group. You meet once a month for a full day, which is a big time commitment, and in the morning they bring in professional speakers who will talk about how to do strategic planning, media training, sales compensation, mindfulness, self-awareness, your facilitation techniques, listening techniques, all of this stuff that – leadership looks like an art, but there are skills.

So it just helped over the past two and a half years that I’ve been going. It’s every month I get another tool in my tool belt that I can try to be a better leader. In the afternoon in the Vistage group, it’s all of the leaders around the table, usually 15 to 20 share, “This is what is going on in my company, I’m stuck. What should I do?” And that was incredibly powerful for me because I learned that the problems are not unique. The insecurity I’m feeling is not unique. We’re all going through this, even in totally different industries.

The root of the problem, I mean, so many of the same problems, It’s hilarious, actually. Tremendously confidence building, a great support and two and a half years later after going to it, I have a whole new range of leadership tools and skills that I can try, I have a great support community that helps problem-solve. They give me feedback, by the way, that I can’t get internally, because internally, now matter how hard you try to be approachable, you can still fire everyone that you work with as a leader.

Andrew: So, how open can they be with you?

Sarah: Even if I try so hard to be like great at feedback, whereas the people at this Vistage group, they’re leaders, they’re opinionated, they are going to say, “Hey, I hear this and this and this from you, this is not working. You need to try a different approach and that’s in valuable. That’s just invaluable. So, that’s been huge. I read, I listen to books on tape because I walk to and from work and so I just read lots of books.

Andrew: What’s a favorite of yours around management?

Sarah: One of the, most important to me in the last 18 months that has really just been resonating again and again – I’ll give two – one is “Conscious Business,” by Fred Kaufman. Really, really powerful for me filling in an important gap between how do I be inspiring and authentic, because maybe I’m feeling a little bad about something, but I want to inspire the team; that feels inauthentic. And it helps answer that piece about, “What is inspirational leadership, what is important to you? How do you define success?” And what a leader should do is be authentic to their aspirational selves. If I’m having a toxic thought, or if I’m feeling disappointed, or angry or mad, I’m probably not being my best self either so it helps me to put in context the… how do I turn this around and look at it in a new way? To be who I want to be? That was really powerful for me.

Another one that has really impacted me was Drive, by Daniel Pink. That’s a popular one. A lot of people have read that. But… really shaped a lot of the way I think about what’s important to motivate the team, right? I need to focus less on, ‘Do we need a bonus program?’ and more on ‘Do they understand what we’re trying to accomplish?’ And do they feel proud of it. Do they feel invested in it? And you can see that ties into a lot of the corporate strategy work I’m trying to do, that’s very inclusive. Talks a lot about visioning, it relates to Town Hall, in terms of, you know, am I… another opportunity to say, ‘So this is what we’re really trying to accomplish, guys.’ You know, ‘Are you with me?’ And less on, like, ‘Well, how have I benchmarked my salaries, compared to Google?’ You know?

Andrew: Yeah. I know what you mean.

Sarah: Do their best work! They do their best work when they want to solve a big problem and make a difference. So Daniel Pink really helps, kind of, crystallize that, in the context of the other leadership-py stuff I was trying to do.

Andrew: I could see how you even do that externally, too. One of the things that I saw in your annual report was the number of community-written posts that made it into the main site, right? Like, we are showing that it’s not just us coming up with these ideas, but it’s a community, and we’re all working together. So, it’s been so good to have you on here, Sarah. The website… oh, and I should say, you said ‘Vistage’. I looked it up while we were talking. It’s just ‘vistage.com’, for anyone who wants to follow up and check it out. But, that is not your website, that is a website of an organization you were part of. Your website is one of the best domains out there. Three letters, easy to spell, actually easy to pronounce, makes perfect sense. Moz. M-O-Z! Moz.com. Thank you so much for doing this interview.

Sarah: Thank you, Andrew. I had a lot of fun. Really appreciate it.

Andrew: Me, too. Had a lot of fun, too. Thank you all for being a part of it! Bye, guys!

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  • PattiSluth

    I thank my lucky stars Sarah Bird isn’t my boss. Wow. What a bitch. I bet most of “her” employees hate her behind the scenes.

  • Matt Sharper

    why do say that? something in the video?

  • Philip H. Smith

    I have worked beside Sarah for several years, and she has never shown me anything but open friendliness, integrity and charming professionalism.

  • http://stickyalbums.com/ Nate Grahek

    Andrew thank you so much for what you do!! I totally get that your core (bigger) audience will resonate with interviews of early stage founders – but – as a founder two years in to a fast growing startup – I really look forward to interviews like this, that dig more into the challenges of scaling and growth. Awesome episode. Thanks a million.

  • http://stickyalbums.com/ Nate Grahek

    Troll. Ban this user.

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