Passion in SEO and the EntreLeader

I’m a big fan of financial expert Dave Ramsey.

That’s no secret to anyone who has been reading this blog for more than a few weeks.  We conduct our business 100% debt free.  We never spend other people’s money, take outside investors or generally spend money before we’ve earned it. So when Dave released a new book, titled EntreLeadership, I got pretty excited.

Dave Ramsey

Last night I was reading a ZenHabits blog titled Start Slow and guest blogger Dave Ursillo posed that to appreciate a slower life, a more dedicated life, we should start our day not by rushing off to the office to tackle that ToDo list but instead to read a chapter or two of a good book – a book that inspires us.

What better book to be inspired by than Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership?

Dave’s story is not too far removed from my own: a young, married father who hit rock bottom, saw great success and then watched that success slip through his fingers. What Dave did after his crash has been one of many inspirational fables that I’ve adhered to in rebuilding my own life and redefining myself as the SEO you know today.

I read the first chapter of EntreLeadership, and be it less than macho or not, it brought tears to my eyes. One specific story (and this is in the Amazon preview of the book as well so hopefully they won’t sue me for retelling it) but the story involves a man who had also run into some hard times. He’d had to do the unthinkable and layoff about 250 workers from his factory.

That in itself makes my heart feel tight. Hiring is hard enough, but firing is the absolute worst part of being a business owner. I feel very responsible for every member of our team and to think of the pain this man must have endured to have to layoff, even temporarily, 250 families, 250 potential mothers and fathers, is heartbreaking.

Dave went on to share how this man, passionate about his business and a servant leader to these workers who had placed their faith in him, started parking at the very back of his factory’s parking lot. This way, each day he walked past 250 empty parking spots, 250 reasons for why he had to turn things around, get those sales back up, put the factory back to work, and put those families back in those parking spots.

Empty Parking Lot

That’s a sad story, but it’s a hopeful one. I sat there this morning, with my five-month-old Labrador pup Casey resting his head on my lap, reading what Dave and his team of EntreLeaders have learned over the past 20 years. That was the slow and dedicated start to my morning that I wanted, that I needed.

If you’ve been following last week’s blog, White Hat SEO Might Get You Beat Up, you’ll know that we’ve been battling with a very competitive keyword against several companies who have been doing SEO for a lot longer than our client. A company fueled by paid links and other Black Hat tactics has been winning in this space and we’d been fighting to get our client onto the first page.

As soon as I closed EntreLeadership, using the front cover to mark my place at the start of Chapter 2, I flicked open my iPhone for the first time that morning and saw a familiar sight for a Tuesday morning. See, on Tuesdays SEOmoz’s Rank Tracker tool checks the rankings of all our targeted keywords for nearly two dozen websites and spits back the results as to how many had risen and fallen that week.

There it was, as if fated somehow to follow my purposeful “slow morning,” the news that this client had moved up seven spaces breaking onto the first page and into the top five. SEO doesn’t typically work this way. SEO doesn’t typically respond to you shouting out to the universe “wouldn’t it be nice if we got this client onto page one?!” and God himself then has a sit-down with Matt Cutts to make it happen.

Nope. That isn’t the world we live in.

SEO takes time, dedication, research and passion to build the right links, organic White Hat links, that nurture the reputation of a website in a way that earn you the rankings you desire. I didn’t expect to have validation so soon after my run in with the dark side, I didn’t expect to see such a leap four days after being threatened by one of these competitors over a silly Google ranking, but I did.

Sometimes that is the world we live in, and that inspired me even more.  Charles R. Swindoll said, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.

In the last 30 days we had two executed contracts for over $30,000 in consulting that disappeared overnight due to corporate restructuring. We also had new business come out of nowhere and want to sign with us all in the same day. We said good-bye to some team members who moved on to new challenges and we welcomed two new members to the Image Freedom SEO consulting team.

I could have seen failure, I could have focused on the loss, I could choose to see these things through failure-tinted lenses (Lord knows I’ve experienced my fair share of failures to know what failure looks like) but that’s not what Dave would do. I’m grateful for EntreLeadership and everything that Dave Ramsey teaches, because were it not for the passion that we live by every day, we wouldn’t have the opportunities that we have and I wouldn’t be leading the best team of SEOs I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.

There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”Nelson Mandela

Pick up your copy of EntreLeadership today – Click here to view on Also, tune in to the EntreLeadership Simulcast broadcast from Dallas on September 30th. Michelle and I will be there and we’d love to see you if you’ll be there too!