Rand Fishkin at his standing desk at the company's offices in Seattle.
Rand Fishkin at his standing desk at the Moz offices in Seattle.

Moz co-founder Rand Fishkin stepped down from the CEO post last December, handing the reins of the 11-year-old company to longtime confidant Sarah Bird. But Fishkin, known for instituting a culture of transparency at Moz, is still very much involved in the Seattle company, helping to guide the maker of marketing software tools for its latest stage of growth.

How does Fishkin — a self-described Northwest urban hipster — get his work done? Here are a few of his tips and tricks in our latest installment of The Working Geek.

Location: Our new Seattle office at 1100 2nd Ave.

fishkin-moz44Computers: Samsung Series 9 Notebook (I will never go Apple!).

Mobile devices: Samsung Galaxy 3 with a phat battery pack so it lasts 2.5 days on a single charge.

Favorite apps and software tools: Pocket, Uber, Quickpic, Yelp, Fancy, Osmos.

Software Tools: Gmail, SurveyMonkey, FollowerWonk, Fresh Web Explorer.

Describe your workspace: “Both at home and at work I have a standing desk with a very large monitor (30″). I have a really bad case of sciatica, so haven’t been able to sit down and work for several years.”

What’s the best time-saver in your job? “My (executive assistant), Nicci, is incredible. So, too, is my relative competency at answering email quickly and effectively. Sarah, our CEO, calls it my ‘superpower.'”

inheritanceof losssHow do you keep track of your busy life? “I run everything through either email or my calendar (synched to my phone). If it doesn’t exist on those, it doesn’t happen. That includes both personal and professional stuff.”

What are you listening to? “The hum of an aggressive air conditioner. But when I do listen to music, it tends to be stuff I find via TheSixtyOne.”

Book on your nightstand: “I just started reading The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai.”

Night owl or early riser? “Night Owl fo’ sho’. I usually go to sleep between 1:30-2:30 a.m. and wake up around 9:00-9:30 a.m. This, unfortunately, does not work well when I need to travel east and/or get up early. I’ve actually illustrated my working days below:


Best advice: “For those creating a startup, I’d tell them to build the simplest thing possible that adds great value. For those doing marketing, I’d encourage them to invest deeply in understanding all the options for attracting and converting traffic, and to measure it as best they can, but to never forget the power of serendipity.”

Where do you get your best ideas? “From my team, my fellow marketers, and my friends/colleagues in the startup world.”

Adventure Time

Stress reliever: Watching Adventure Time.

First Job: Front desk at the now-long-defunct Wizards of the Coast Game Center in the University District

How do you unplug? “One night a week, I stop working at 7 p.m. and don’t look at anything work-related until the next morning.”

What would you being doing if you weren’t at your current company? “Probably trying to find ways to solve a lot of the same problems we’re trying to solve at Moz. I really, really want to build this stuff.”

Are you more tortoise or hare? “Tortoise. For the first six years of my professional life, things looked pretty bleak. Only in the last few have they turned a corner (though we’re reaching a tough inflection point again these days).”

How do you run meetings? “List of goals and discussion topics on the whiteboard, as few people as are absolutely necessary to have in the room, work to get to the right decision quickly or find the roadblocks where we need more information to proceed.”

Rand Fishkin in his Northwest "hipster" getup at the GROW conference in Vancouver, B.C.
Rand Fishkin in his Northwest “hipster” getup at the GROW conference in Vancouver, B.C.

Everyday work uniform? “Full-on hipster Northwesterner. Flannel shirts with elbow patches, lace-up wingtip boots, cuffed jeans, dinosaur-print belt.

Daily reads? “GeekWire daily email digest, Moz blog, Everywhereist, SearchEngineLand, Inbound.org, Hacker News, Techmeme, Metafilter, True Reddit, The Slog.”

Whose work style would you want to learn more about: Liz Pearce from LiquidPlanner.

Other thoughts? “As Bill & Ted said, “Be Excellent to Each Other.”

The Working Geek is an occasional feature on GeekWire offering tips, tricks and insights into how busy tech professionals get work done. 

Previously: The Working Geek: Fast-moving Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff on how he works

Editor’s note: Moz is a GeekWire annual sponsor. 


Like what you're reading? Subscribe to GeekWire's free newsletters to catch every headline


  • balls187

    7 hours of meetings?


    • everwhereist

      Pretty much, yeah. He stands when we watch TV.

    • http://moz.com/rand Rand Fishkin

      Sometimes. My back mostly is problematic when I try to do something active with my hands/arms (like typing) while sitting. In meetings or at meals, I can usually sit down OK.

  • Greg Bulmash

    “I will never go Apple!” :-) (nice to not be the only web person who feels that way)

    But is the Samsung running Windows, Linux, BSD? Desktop Linux is at a point where it rivals Windows for many uses, so it’s a fair question.

  • Fish Fan Club

    Holy F another shameless Fishkin plug. Long overdue to rename Geekwire to something like Fishwire.

    • balls187

      You’re not in the Fish Fan Club!

    • Peter

      If Rand were one of your biggest advertisers, you’d probably find him pretty fascinating too.

      Stay tuned next week to learn what vegetables Rand likes to put in his bloody mary!

      • http://moz.com/rand Rand Fishkin

        It’s celery! And sometimes olives. Are olives a vegetable?

    • http://timandjeni.com/ Timothy Ellis

      Not to rain on your hate parade, but Fishkin wasn’t chosen by GeekWire, he was selected by the previous “working geek” that was highlighted in the series. Rascoff chose Fishkin. Fishkin chose Liz Pearce from LiquidPlanner, so that will be the next one.

    • Slaggggg

      I agree … but let’s at least rejoice that GW has at least stopped running 3 Cheezburger Network stories a day.
      Sometimes the GW editors should go through their own Geekwire 200 list and remember that there are more startups in town other than Cheezburger and Moz. How many companies on the GW 200 list have never been written about even once? Do their people all suck?

      • johnhcook

        Thanks for the comment and feedback. We certainly are always looking for great startup stories to tell, especially those companies that have the potential to disrupt big industries and rock the status quo.

        If you have interesting companies that you think deserve a feature, by all means email me with the details on what makes them special, or nominate them for the Startup Spotlight feature (our weekly feature on an interesting early-stage startup).


        That said, true news tends to trump all features — so companies that are raising money, suing rivals, hiring like mad, rolling out innovative products, etc. get more coverage.

        Startup companies at the top of the GeekWire 200 do tend to get a larger amount of coverage, in part because they are bigger companies, often heavily-funded, meaning at least some investors think they have the ability to radically shake up an industry.

        Part of our job here at GeekWire is to spot the next Tableau, Zillow or Zulily — three companies I’ve covered since their formation — and watch how they grow. We certainly love those types of startup stories, since those types of companies can have a big impact on the region.

        That said, we are certainly committed to tracking early-stage startups too, including those companies that have decided to grow without outside capital. (One of the reasons you’ll notice there is a “Bootstrapper of the Year” award at the GeekWire Awards on May 8th).

        I just went through the top 100 companies in the GeekWire 200, and there were only a few companies that we’ve not written about. And those who’ve we’ve missed or haven’t covered certainly could make good stories, so thanks for the suggestion.

        BTW, I am at: john@geekwire.com. Hit me with story ideas any time, and feel free to tell me if we are missing good startup nws stories in the NW. We want to hear about them.

        Thanks for reading GeekWire.

  • mosterhout

    If I had an Executive Assistant, my busy life would be more organized, too.

Job Listings on GeekWork