Even Headliners Struggle…

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on July 19, 2010 in: Branding

Before Gary Vaynerchuk (the video/social media guru and all-star author), there was Gary Varynerchuk (the wine guy). Before Chris Brogan (the social media guru), there was Chris Brogan (the aspiring author). Before Biz Stone (co-creator of Twitter), there was Biz Stone (the guy with the weird name). Before Seth Godin (the “he’s-never-wrong” author and marketer), there was just some guy no one had ever heard of.

Yes, entrepreneurs look to these risen stars and aspire to be like them (or like someone like them!), and we forget that everyone started “at zero” with an idea and a willingness to work hard to get there. Sure, we’re willing to work hard but there seems like a huge chasm we have to cross in order to get to THEIR level. Frustrated, we work our butts off at our “mediocre” level (at least that’s how it might feel to us) and wonder what the X factor is that helped Gary, Chris, Seth, Biz (and many others) to cross over to stardom.

I was reminded of this fact recently when I read an interview with the owner of SEOmoz, Rand Fishkin. SEOmoz is a trusted source of quality SEO strategiesr. Chances are, you’ve heard Rand speak, seen one of his videos, scoured SEOmoz.org for search engine optimization info, or relied on some of their many SEO tools.

Just recently, Rand Fishkin posted a synopsis of an interview he gave with Andrew Warner of Mixergy.com. You can read the full transcript of the interview here, or you can get a shorter “Rand-ified” version here.

Now here’s what you’ll notice:

In 2001, Rand dropped out of university to focus on an existing business (that would later transition into SEOmoz). The company went into massive debt (Rand’s own debt was $500,000+) that would last for a few years. In February 2005, Rand went to a conference in Toronto that seems to have helped him get a handle on the SEO work he would later do. In 2006, the company turned around financially, became debt-free by 2007, and acquired investment capital. They hit a few speedbumps along the way but now earn millions of dollars in revenue and have a robust suite of tools and a compelling position in the marketplace.

If you read Rand’s synopsis of the interview you’ll note that even now – in spite of his position in the market and the money he’s earning – his credit history is bad enough that he can’t rent an apartment or lease a car! Rand’s trajectory to stardom isn’t all that old. Although he was a noted authority as far back as 2006 (which wasn’t that long ago), he’s still a regular guy running a regular business. He makes some good decisions; he makes some bad ones.

Here’s what it means for you:

No matter where you are in your business, your success doesn’t start with an X-factor in a few years…it is happening right now. There isn’t a silver bullet. Rather, it’s the work you are doing now that will build on the work you did yesterday (and so on, every day) toward your own position in the marketplace.

Have a great week!

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