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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,, 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. 


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