Archive for April, 2012

29 Apr 2012

One eye laughing; one eye crying

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On leaving SEOmoz and being a (slow) serial entrepreneur

A Viennese immigrant physician in private practice in New York City, Dr. Stephanie Feilendorf was a groundbreaker in her field and mentor to a scrawny under-age teen who she hired to be a receptionist in her medical office. It was my first job. She protected me, mentored me and provided me with a much needed job at risk to herself and her practice. Dr. Feilendorf had a gift for expressing complex issues with bell-ringing clarity. “One eye laughing, one eye crying,” she said to me as she closed her pediatric practice door for the last time at the age of 88.

I’m not going to tell you that leaving ‘Moz is easy . . . or that I can’t wait to be on my way. If you’re an entrepreneur and a parent you know two things: if you do your job well, your children will grow as you give them wings to fly and when they fly, they will return to visit and it will give you great joy. And if you do the same with your company, it will go and never return. I went into this endeavor with my eyes open, I made decisions that would bring about this day many years ago and I haven’t wavered. I always knew this would not be the easiest of days.

And so goodbye, dear Company, dear friend that took so much and gave back even more. Indeed, it is always sad to say goodbye to a friend.

So, what’s next?

I have had a number of companies. And albeit I haven’t moved through them as quickly as many serial entrepreneurs, and SEOmoz is the largest and best known (by a country mile!) of any I’ve owned, and despite the fact that Rand’s Dad tells me I’m nuts to do this again, there will be at least one more company in my future. So now (drumroll), it’s time to clap hands and demand, “What’s next?”

My passion has always been around entrepreneurship, specifically technology startups. With time to pursue projects I mothballed some time ago, I am…

  • Interviewing dozens of CEOs around the world to determine in what ways tech entrepreneurs differ from their industrial counterparts. Whether a book or a white paper is the result is yet to be seen.
  • I’m writing a book on Corporate Culture in Age of Social Platforms, which will be published by a Japanese publisher. The book may be translated into Chinese, but possibly not published in the original English. If the publisher does not print for the English speaking market, a publisher in London will do so. Talk about a global economy!
  • Engaging in a number of global women-in-entrepreneurship efforts as I am painfully aware that as hard as the road is for male entrepreneurs, their sisters and daughters have an even tougher road to hoe. I serve on boards of directors and advisors for companies in four continents and I’m looking forward to increasing my portfolio.
  • I’m still accepting keynote and speaking engagements around the world
  • I’m super excited to have become an Angel Investor on a broader level. Bringing SEOmoz to birth was a tough go. Thanks to Rand’s amazing success at SEOmoz, future investments will be a lot easier ;). I’m engaging in Angel investment groups from the Pacific Northwest to India and APAC, and I’m headed down to Silicon Valley to hob nob with VCs and learn more soon
  • Through Angel and VC groups, and sometimes through personal references, I am reviewing a number of startup opportunities in need of leadership support to navigate their way to market. So I may find myself back in a C-suite soon.

I’ve always been a master connector. Now I’m asking others to connect me. Send me your brilliant startup ideas, news of meetups and tweetups, investment groups doing interesting things and more. The world is a wide and wonderful place. I can’t wait to explore it some more!