What I Learned In 2012

// // February 14th 2013 // Career + Life

2012 was a fantastic year for Blind Five Year Old. I met most of my goals, came to a few epiphanies but often found it difficult to juggle everything at once. In all, this is what I learned.

Stop Comparing

Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy

There are a number of ‘names’ in the SEO community and there’s a growing trend to share your journey – to open the kimono so to speak. (Sort of like what I’m doing here which is going to be strange given my next statement.) The odd thing about this transparency is that it puts a bit of pressure on others. Or maybe that’s just me.

I had a chance to sit and chat with Wil Reynolds. I talked with Rhea Drysdale. They were generous with their time and gave a lot of excellent advice. Yet for a brief while those conversations also made me feel pretty lousy.

I started wondering. Was I doing enough to build my company? Was I falling behind? After establishing myself and building my brand was I frittering it away? Would I just be a ‘lifestyle business’? Shouldn’t I get bigger and build an agency? Are they so much better at this stuff than me?

I came to realize that I wasn’t enjoying my success. And that sucked, particularly because I was doing really well. So I decided to stop comparing my journey to those of others.

I am not Wil or Rhea or Rand. They all provide amazing advice based on their journey and personal situations. Mine will be different because I’m different. Hopefully I’ll learn from their insight and experiences but I’m sure I’ll make some of the same mistakes they made as well as others as I find my way. And that’s okay.

Take Risks

Take Risks

One of my goals was to speak at two conferences in 2012. Mind you, I’d never spoken at a conference before and while I’ve done plenty of trainings in front of large groups this would definitely be out of my comfort zone. I’m still an introvert at heart.

I snagged a spot at SMX West 2012 to speak about Authorship. I worked on that deck for ages. I obsessed over it. Then I found out that the presenter notes wouldn’t be available. Yikes! I was incredibly nervous but there were people like Aaron Friedman and Nick Roshon who were eager to see me present and gave me encouragement.

I was up there on stage with Dennis Goedegebuure. He’s done a lot of speaking and seemed … unflappable. “Do you still get nervous?” I asked him. “Oh yeah, every time” he replied. That made me feel better and helped me more than he probably realized. The presentation was … okay. I think I read a bit too much, had slide problems and went long, which meant Vanessa was about ready to shove me off the stage.

It was done. It had gone well enough. People didn’t heckle me and there weren’t any Tweets about how much I sucked. The world kept spinning. I needed that experience because the next time I presented was at MozCon 2012 in front of about 800 or so people. Crazy! I’m not sure Rand knew this would only be my second presentation or not but I’m very thankful for the opportunity he provided.

With the help of some amazing advice I was able to build a much better deck this time. I was a total and complete wreck before I presented. So if you met me there before my slot I might have seemed a bit preoccupied. (A thank you to Mackenzie Fogelson, Pete Meyers and Cyrus Shepard for distracting me with interesting conversations.)

I think I did well. It felt … good, which was an odd sensation for me. And the feedback and score I received validated my effort.

I’ve always taken risks throughout my career and that has to continue if I’m going to grow.

Retain Confidence

Have Confidence

I’ve had a crisis of confidence a few times in the past, mostly brought on by my own harsh criticism. That didn’t happen this year but between comparing myself to others and working myself up into a lather about presenting, I may have had a few doubts here and there.

But you have to kick those gremlins out of your head. Confidence is so important. Don’t confuse that with being a cocky douchebag. Confidence simply means that you know you’ve done everything you can do and that you’re comfortable with what you’re putting out there. It’s also acknowledging that you’re not always going to be right. That’s life so get used to it and move on.

This piece from Todd Mintz was brave and worth reading. Todd’s a smart and talented guy but he gets smarter and more skilled as time goes by. The post shows that we can only be confident about where we are at any given point in time. Will we make errors? Sure. But we learn from them and get better. Don’t look back and let mistakes sap your confidence, let it fuel it instead.

Keep Learning


Keep Going

In this industry you simply must keep learning. My definition of SEO is quite broad, which means that I need to know a little bit about everything.

Everything is a lot! Some of it you’re not going to understand at first but you have to keep pushing. Ask questions, even dumb ones. Just keep picking up new skills and experimenting. I can not stress enough how beneficial experiential learning is in this business. Don’t just take my word or some expert’s word on how something works, try it yourself.

Because we’re in a post modern SEO era.

Postmodern SEO develop strategies and tactics based on individual context, not on preconceived “Best Practices,” or some blogger’s interpretation of “standards.” Instead we consider things like business goals, risk, longevity, audience and others to build individual strategies.

Do. The. Work.

Watch The Clock

Time Slipping Away

There are simply not enough hours in the day. Success has been great but it also means I’m juggling a lot more. I’ve got more clients. I’ve got a part-time writing gig at Marketing Land. I’m speaking at conferences. I’m keeping up on industry news. And the email just never stops.

I don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for me. That would be ludicrous! These are good problems. But I haven’t quite mastered how to balance everything yet. I’ve contemplated stopping my #ididnotwakeupin series. I’ve missed out on requests to contribute to articles. Sometimes things just fall through the cracks. And I hate that.

Through it all I have guarded my personal time. I’m still working more than I ever have, but I don’t pull that many crazy hours. I take the time to build Legos with my daughter, play family games of Ticket To Ride, watch episodes of Nikita or just have an afternoon off with my wife.

Love Your Calendar

Mayan Calendar

The primary way I began to take back control of my time was to rely on my calendar. I started to put everything in my Google Calendar, including all those ‘tentative’ meetings. Because the worst thing that can happen is you tell three people you’re available on a certain day and within the span of a few hours they all try to book the same time.

Not only were there fewer missed connections but I was able to see the time I had available for other work. It became more and more clear that I had to book hours to do the work too.

Keep Fit

Lets Get Physical

I also made time to workout. I lost 30 pounds and kept it off by counting calories and working our regularly. I admit, part of this was driven by pure vanity. I didn’t want to stand up in front of a lot of people and look bad.

Besides the obvious health benefits, the other reason was also selfish. Staying fit made me a better thinker. Working out let me clear my head and afterwards I was definitely sharper. I think of working out a little like being organized. It takes a bit of time each week but it makes me a lot more productive.

Ditch False Modesty

Grumpy Cat

I ran into Marty Weintraub at both SMX West and MozCon. It was at the latter that he basically called me out. He complimented me on my presentation and I did the ‘aw shucks, thank you, just trying my best’ routine and he told me to stop with the false modesty and instead simply say thank you and accept the praise.

That doesn’t come naturally to me but it was a turning point. I needed to embrace those who appreciated me. I mean, there are going to be plenty of folks who try to tear you down in life so when you’re recognized as being good at something just run with it.

Overcome Guilt

The More You Care

That image will give you a headache right? And that’s the point I’m making here. Guilt is awful but I’ve got a lot of it.

I don’t have much guilt about ‘making it’. I worked hard and put in a lot of time and effort. But I recognize that I didn’t do it alone. I was helped by many many people along the way. So I try to do the same. But that’s not always easy. I despair when I don’t get back to someone’s email or Google+ post.

I even have some guilt about mentioning some people in this post but not others. How can I leave out people like Matt McGeeAnthony Pensabene, Jon Henshaw, Bill Sebald, Zeph Snapp, Max Minzer and Tadeusz Szewczyk.

And I’m leaving a ton of other people out here! I don’t want to slight anyone. I want to acknowledge their contribution and worth. I value my Google+ community. I care. A lot. Yet it’s nearly impossible for me to communicate that. So I’m letting go of that guilt little by little.

Yet, I doubt I’ll get rid of all my guilt because I think it makes me a better person.

Battle Perfectionism

Done Is Better Than Perfect

Am I a perfectionist? If you have to ask yourself that question I think you’re likely closer to one than you might think. I have very high standards and I like to present things when I have pulled on every little thread and packaged it up into something that is appealing as well as informative.

This wreaks havoc with my time management and I try to live by the ‘done is better than perfect’ mantra. I nod my head when Jonathon Colman talks about it and often give this exact advice to others. Yet, I find it tough to follow in practice.

The reason why is that my quest for superior quality at all costs has netted me a really nice referral business. I know I should give myself a break but I fear the slippery slope of sloppy work.

Yet I’m beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel as I work on some other projects and collaborate in different ways. That said, don’t expect this to become a high volume blog … ever.

Embrace The Unknown

Embrace The Unknown

I remember when I would interview for a job and I’d get that ‘where do you see yourself in 5 years’ question. Based on my life experience I was usually honest in telling people I had no idea. Shit happened and you just never could know how things would turn out. You can only open the door right in front of you and see where it goes.

So I don’t know how Blind Five Year Old will grow, though I think it will. I don’t know what new things I’ll be doing this year. Maybe I’ll build a product. Maybe I’ll do more writing. Maybe I’ll write a book. I just don’t know yet and I’m okay with that.

It’s not that I’m not ambitious or that I don’t have goals. I am and I do. It’s just figuring out which direction to go and opening that door.

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Comments About What I Learned In 2012

// 49 comments so far.

  1. Tad Chef // February 14th 2013

    Hey AJ, inspiring self-reflections. BTW. I don’t feel bad for not getting mentioned, you’ve done that a few times already 😉 Nonetheless I notice when you actually do mention me.

  2. AJ Kohn // February 14th 2013

    Thanks Tad. And that’s the thing, people do notice so I feel bad when I miss people who I value.

    On the flip side, I don’t share content based on who I know or whether you ask me to share it (which is happening with increasing frequency) but instead based on my own sense of value. That can sometimes be difficult when I know someone but … I don’t feel much guilt about that. I’m just doing what I’ve always done.

  3. Terry Whalen // February 14th 2013

    AJ, good post. A pleasure to read.

  4. AJ Kohn // February 14th 2013

    Thank you Terry, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Every once and a while I do a more personal post so it’s nice to know folks appreciate them as well.

  5. Eli Schwartz // February 14th 2013

    AJ, great post! I was in the audience when you presented at Mozcon, and I agree, it was really good.

  6. AJ Kohn // February 14th 2013

    Thank you Eli! We never did get that SF SEO Meetup off the ground did we? Maybe this year huh?

  7. Mahendra Palsule // February 14th 2013

    Nice post, AJ, it is gems like these why this blog still remains in my Google Reader :)

    Wish you a great 2013 and looking forward to reading what you learn this year…

  8. AJ Kohn // February 15th 2013


    Thank you very much for your comment. I’m a big admirer of your writing so your feedback is greatly appreciated and makes me want to mix in a few more personal posts throughout the year. All the best to you and your loved ones.

  9. Anthony Pensabene // February 14th 2013

    Yo, dude – reflection is good. it cleans the clock. i’ve been meaning to wind my mind’s pocket watch of late…

    At Mozcon, a bunch of people congregated after a session in the lobby. you gave me a big smile and hand slap upon noticing me. -wanted to write down it made me feel way more chill and relaxed in that ambiance overall. I also remind myself of our discussion about confidence and humility, staying at a ‘licensed to ill’ kinda level. thanks, dude.

  10. AJ Kohn // February 15th 2013


    Yes. A self-inventory like this is a nice palette cleanser and was much needed. I’m glad I could make you feel more relaxed at MozCon. The secret is that you did the same for me. So thank you to you too.

  11. Rick // February 14th 2013

    Post touched a few nerves, in a good way.

    I had to do a 1 hour presentation in person and via video conference internally a few weeks back. Figured it would loosen me up and break the ice if I could get some laughs early on. When the camera went on, I had a big glass container full of Kool Ade (AKA SEO juice) next to me that I offered everyone in the room. I wanted a memorable discussion, not just for the prop humor but wanted the information to really sink in. I hope, and I think I was successful, that by conveying early on that the discussion wasn’t going to be dry that people wouldn’t tune out. Was I nervous? Sure! But I also look forward to next time.

    You speak with great confidence and authority, you should be proud of that and I look forward to hearing you speak again, I always learn something new.

  12. AJ Kohn // February 15th 2013


    Congrats on the presentation and (as you know) I’m a big fan of using humor and visuals to help entertain and inform. The former makes sure you can do the latter.

    Appreciate the kind words and I can definitely say that it gets easier with practice!

  13. Jim Robinson // February 14th 2013

    I really appreciated this post, AJ, and the timing was great for me. I recently launched my own company after 12 years in this business and I struggle each day to be confident, overcome my quiet nature, and give myself permission to do something great. Stuff like this really helps.

  14. AJ Kohn // February 15th 2013

    Really great to hear this Jim. I never quite know how these personal posts will go over and it’s rewarding to hear that I was able to help at least one person. You may want to check out my What I Learned In 2011 post since it covers some of the other bits of running a business.

  15. Rank Watch // February 14th 2013

    Its all about creating the right strategy and right mindset coupled with the best knowledge input at your disposal. You cannot guarantee your success at an instant, especially with so much of competition in the digital marketing. You have to be unique, progressive and most importantly – patient enough.

  16. AJ Kohn // February 15th 2013

    Thanks Sahil. Yes, I’d say being authentic, progressive and patient is critical. Patience is very difficult for folks and sometimes it feels like you’re not getting anywhere. It’s trite but it’s often darkest before the dawn, so keep pushing.

  17. hyderali // February 14th 2013

    It was pleasure to read this beautiful journey of yours in SEO. I don’t know much about your background like whether you’ve a bunch of team along with you or you do SEO stuff alone. I assume you do it alone & I understand that doing seo for clients, writing on marketing land, writing here, commenting on G+ post etc. takes a lot of time but still you manage to do it & that is phenomenal. I first saw you in max minzer’s hangout video & couldn’t believe that it is you & when I compare it with your avataar i can see you lost lots of weight. Please keep writing such beautiful & inspiring post & helping people in digital world.

    Ciao :)

  18. AJ Kohn // February 15th 2013

    Thanks for the kind words Hyderali. I often work solo but also do bring in others as needed and the need has risen going into 2013. So a team might be in the making at some point. Thanks again and keep watching Max Impact.

  19. Max Minzer // February 15th 2013

    You speak to my heart, AJ. You mention so many things I dealt with and still dealing with…

    Stop Comparing.

    There was a period in my life when I kept comparing myself with a good friend of mine. I admired how he spoke with people, how he would start conversations out of nothing, how he would use sarcasm, how he cared about people and could point them in the right direction, how he would approach things,…I wanted to be like him in many areas of life. And it hurt… it hurt badly. I’d feel down many times because… I simply wasn’t him. I’d never be him. I am who I am. I have my own destiny, struggles and purpose. He has his own. it was important for me to “accept” that I was and will always be different. It’s good to strive for something great (character quality, life discipline, passion about something) but only if you don’t become obsessive and crazy guilty about it – that can destroy you from the inside.

    Take Risks

    I was asking myself lately – how does age play into this?
    Do we get more careful taking risk as we get older? I’m sure we do (and it’s usually a good thing). I’m not as risky as I used to be 5 years ago. Or not as stupid?
    I just wish I don’t get too comfy and cautious and stop getting out of my comfort zone as time goes by.

    Retain Confidence

    My life changed dramatically when I understood this “confidence” thing. Like you said, not the over-prideful type of confidence (this type will destroy you the same way insecurity will – this self-inflation is actually usually a cover up of insecurity). But the reality-of-who-you-are type. Being-yourself type. It closely relates to fixing issues of comparing yourself to others and that of guilt.This “healthy” and balanced confidence propels you to new heights.

    Ditch False Modesty
    (Is there a reason I think of you every time I see that cat?)

    I fail in this area. Miserably. I have this mixed with judging myself too much and guilt. I often think people say things just to make me feel better while thinking that I did a horrible job. Me being selfish?

    Overcome Guilt

    I just went to my “false modesty” corner. How did I end up there? Shoot, I feel unworthy…

    John Doherty taught me (he probably doesn’t know) not to be guilty about who you choose to follow on social media on one of the hangouts about 3 months ago (I won’t go in details here). It was just about social but translated into other areas of my life. Overcome guilt. I didn’t understand this when no one knew me and wouldn’t follow me. I thought all these people around were just “too proud” to respond or interact. I understand now… because I’m these same shoes. Don’t get it ’til experience it. You’re right though – having a bit of it (just a tiny bit) is good for ya.

    Battle Perfectionism

    I want to delete everything I wrote above right now… Seriously! Someone will express their thoughts better, I suck with blog comments and don’t want to take the risk and get out of my comfort zone, I feel like I didn’t say it the way I wanted to say it, it’s not perfect, etc. I failed. May be because it’s time to “Watch The Clock:” it’s pretty late… and I’m still re-reading my comment to make sure it’s perfectly the way I want it…

  20. AJ Kohn // February 15th 2013

    Great comments Max! Comparison is the devil and it is related to confidence. Or more closely to being very comfortable with who you are and what you’re doing. Since High School I’ve had this attitude but you can backslide if you’re not careful.

    As for risks, I do think it is tougher to take risks as you age. I wrote about that in my Don’t Lose That Billy Idol Sneer post in 2010. Maybe you take less ‘crazy’ risks but you have to shake things up and shape your life.

    I have a strange relationship with guilt. I’m allowing myself to not be perfect, to not respond quickly to everything, to not keep crestfallen when something falls through the cracks. But guilt also means you care and I don’t want to lose that.

    I’m glad you didn’t delete these comments Max. They’re great and I look forward to chatting throughout 2013 and beyond. Be well my friend.

  21. Totio Filipov // February 15th 2013

    I think there is nothing wrong with high standards especially when it comes to content and SEO. Being a perfectionist in this case can only help you rather than hurt you.

  22. Nick Eubanks // February 15th 2013

    AJ –

    Thank you. I really had not considered the perspective you presented on our tendency to compare our work to others, which I do constantly, but never thought about as a potential inhibitor.

    This makes sense… it’s going to be hard to see the road in front of you if you keep watching the cars as they pass by.

    The other point that really resonated with me is the importance of physical activity during the work week and more so, IMO, during the work day. Since we are physiological beings it comes as no surprise that our mental and physical health are so closely correlated. I find that my best ideas come to me when my heart rate is over 180 and I’m focusing on my breathing (on my bike), and this is quite literally when my most effective problem-solving happens.

    Lastly, the notion of shipping your work before it’s perfect is worth another mention. This is something that has taken me years to realize, and to that end, I feel the importance of pushing it out the door with the understanding that I can iterate towards perfection later, makes it easier to accept that it’s not perfect yet.

    Thanks again.

  23. AJ Kohn // February 15th 2013


    Thanks for your comment and you’re one of those people I feel like I should have mentioned in this post but didn’t. It’s tough not to compare your work and journey to others. I think it’s human nature. But I’m a bit analytical so I began to think of all the different mitigating factors (where they are, how old they are, what makes them happy, are they married, are they really happy, do they have health issues, what means the most to them, what are their goals and on and on and on) involved and you soon realize that there’s just no way to really compare.

    Yes! I’m looking forward to getting out on my bike more this year. I’ve been doing more on the trainer and elliptical but there’s nothing better than that zone where you’re spinning and everything falls away and things are … revealed. Sounds goofy but I sense you get where I’m coming from.

    I want to live by the done is better than perfect mantra but … I battle it. This post was a 4-5 hour end-to-end piece and that’s a short time for me. So I’m slowly getting there with my own work, which is important because I’m always telling others to take this advice but then don’t follow it (that well) myself.

    See you round the Intertubes Nick.

  24. juvy@cyberma.us // February 15th 2013

    I was like 0.O you are absolutely right! It is really good to have your own and be authentic! That way, people will follow you and not even thinking to compare you to others. I so love this post! Thanks very much for sharing your experience with us!

  25. virginia // February 15th 2013

    Great post AJ, pretty full on but it is on the mark! You probably have more followers than you realise and you always provide value to the community. Saw you at Mozcon which was great.

    Also, It is always hard to implement our own advice that we provide to clients. Don’t kick yourself in the foot, you are doing great. You will find a way to monetize it. Don’t leave us yet and perhaps go back to your roots as to why you started this.

    Love your posts


  26. AJ Kohn // February 15th 2013


    Thanks so much for your kind words and I’m glad you enjoyed my MozCon presentation. And I’m not going anywhere, so you’ll keep seeing me doing what I do.

  27. Nick Eubanks // February 15th 2013

    Well that’s very much appreciated, especially since your work is a near-constant source of inspiration for my own. It’s in these comparisons that I push myself to do better; to be better.

    Doesn’t sound goofy at all.

    I can immediately make the mental connection to warming up your legs, where you get the tightness in your chest and feel sort of miserable the first 5 miles out, but by mile 10 you’re feeling pretty good and come mile 15 you realize that you’re not in pain anymore, and you actually stopped thinking about being on the bike all together.. that mental disconnect is what allows for deep concentration, often resulting in new ideas and solutions (much like Jonah Lehrer talks about). There is something Zen-like to cycling that comes from the sustained increase in heart rate and the surge of endorphins as your body tries to adjust your lung capacity so you don’t keel over.

  28. Aaron Friedman // February 15th 2013

    AJ – A very personal post and I think everyone can learn a thing or two from this. Cheers to an incredible 2013!

  29. AJ Kohn // February 15th 2013

    Thanks Aaron and looking forward to seeing you at SMX West in about a month.

  30. Ryan Bradley // February 15th 2013

    I think not comparing yourself to others is one of the greatest lessons someone can learn to do. Everybody has their own path and shouldn’t get discouraged if theirs doesn’t conform to the cookie cutter path society places on you.

  31. AJ Kohn // February 15th 2013

    Agreed Ryan. I think many feel like they have to take a certain path and there are plenty of people ready to push you back into line if you step off it. But, boy, once you’re well off the path the view can be really amazing.

  32. Bill Sebald // February 15th 2013

    One of my 2012 industry highlights was getting to know you, and all of this is why. I’m not even kidding a little.

  33. AJ Kohn // February 15th 2013

    The feeling is mutual Bill. Any chance you’ll be at SMX West this year?

  34. Chris K // February 15th 2013

    I’m not sure if this is sad or awesome, but one of the biggest things I got out of that post is that you play ticket to ride. Any other favorite board games? Besides that this was a great post. I had several similar lessons in 2012 along with some experiences that will affect my choosing of clients. I am constantly battling my perfectionist tendencies.

  35. AJ Kohn // February 17th 2013


    Ticket To Ride is pretty awesome isn’t it? I saw it on TableTop and ‘Santa’ brought it for Christmas. We’re all hooked. We play that and a lot of other more traditional games like Sorry, Yahtzee, Parcheesi and Sequence. I’m thinking of getting Settlers of Catan next.

    And choosing the right clients is so important. I think that’s tough for people just starting out but it really can make all the difference.

  36. Chris Gilchrist // February 16th 2013

    Hey AJ, I’ve got a really small business (10 people) and I recently started going to business dinners as part of a new network I’m in with international business owners some of them with 30m+ turnovers and a big range in between (but I’m the smallest). Guess what, they ALL find it difficult to juggle everything and have as many doubts as you or I and just as many problems.

    I’ve learned from them and my own growth from 1 to 10 people that no matter what size you’ll always have problems. Your freelance – you don’t get paid hols and work stops when you’re ill, you’ve got 10 staff – you need to find x work each month and it’s hard to cover when you’ve 2 people off, you’ve got 100 staff – and you know to expect problems of a different sort. Don’t view your problems as failures because EVERYONE has them no matter what stage they are at. They’re just different. And you’ll most likely always have them. They just change as your journey progresses and business develops.

    It sounds like your being really hard on yourself and whilst it’s essential to challenge yourself you also have to be fair to yourself :)

  37. AJ Kohn // February 17th 2013


    Thanks for the great comments. I am hard on myself but realized last year that, just as you say, I had to be fair to myself as well. So I do that. I forgive myself when I don’t get back to that person. I’m not superman.

    I also think it’s a great insight that the juggling is always there, it’s just juggling and struggling with different issues. I know that but it’s good to have someone else say it too.

  38. Lyena Solomon // February 16th 2013

    Excellent post, AJ! I can definitely relate. One thing I would add from my own experience is to look for opportunities all the time. If you plan to do something, do not delay till a perfect time to do it. Do it now, all at the same time. You never know when an opportunity presents itself. Yes, sometimes life will outsmart you and you have to decide which opportunities can you physically pursue. But it is a good problem to have. Main thing – do not delay.

    I saw your presentation at MozCon 2012 and enjoyed it very much. It was the reason I am following you on Google Plus more closely. I am glad you are a part of our community. Thank you for such an open and inspirational post.

  39. AJ Kohn // February 17th 2013

    Thank you Lyena and I completely agree. You have to be open to those opportunities and just take them as they come. That’s definitely good advice.

    Glad you liked my MozCon 2012 presentation and this post. I look forward to seeing you here and on G+ in 2013!

  40. Bill at FamZoo // February 16th 2013

    AJ, I really enjoyed reading your set of reflections. Wonderfully thought provoking. Have a great 2013, and keep taking the time to build legos with your daughter (Bravo!). Those times are fleeting and so precious. Sounds like you’ve struck a great balance. Cheers, Bill

  41. AJ Kohn // February 17th 2013

    Thanks Bill! I’m very big on being a father. That and family are the most important things in my life. I engineered my life so I could work from home and be here with my wife and daughter. It hasn’t always easy and I’ve passed on interesting jobs but it has always been worth it.

  42. Sahil // February 17th 2013

    Very Inspiring you are AJ! Good going! Hope your experience and the inspiring stuff you do rubs off on the other SEO’s who are serious about SEO.

  43. Farris Jornales // February 22nd 2013

    I just passed by on this blog and I really have a fun time reading your post. For me success does not only mean being on top. It means enjoying the ride while in the journey.

    I also agree with your point “Stop Comparing”. You cannot really feel happy if you constantly compare things specially yourself to others. It will just feed your insecurity. Another thing is I love your tip on “Taking Risks”, I do love to take risks most of the time. It is when I learn things that is essential in my life. Sometimes taking risks can also make our lives healthier. In taking risks, all we need is to accept the consequence of what we have done.

  44. Amy // March 06th 2013

    I think this post probably hit on a lot of points for a lot of people working in SEO. Because it is constant learning, and constant learning-by-doing, at the same time you’re managing client needs, and growing your business, there is little time for you. It is about balance, and that balance is difficult.

  45. AJ Kohn // March 06th 2013

    Thanks Amy. There are absolutely a lot of things to juggle. I think my takeaway is that balance has to be a priority.

  46. Erica McGillivray // March 07th 2013

    This is my super late comment, but I wanted to say that I loved this post so much. I’m so happy that you were part of our 2012 lineup for MozCon, and you were fabulous on stage and made this show runner very happy. :)

    I hope your 2013 is even more amazing.

  47. AJ Kohn // March 07th 2013


    Thanks for the comment and you made it a real pleasure to be a part of MozCon 2012. I really, really appreciated it. (BTW – love the concept of ‘show runner’ in this context, that’s very Hollywood but very apt too.)

    All the best to you in 2013 as well!

  48. Andrea Toole // March 14th 2013

    I’m a month late to the party – I don’t remember whose link I clicked to get here either – but I wanted to say what a great post this is. Very real and inspiring. One of my goals in 2013 is going to be conference speaking, and the closest thing I’ve done to that was participate in a panel of two bloggers (there was supposed to be a third) at a local university. Last week it occurred to me that I should be combining two of the things that I’m an expert in – SMX East helped build my expertise in one of those areas – and turn it into a presentation to shop around.

    I want to read this post again and again. Thank you. I’d add your blog to a Google Reader alternative.

  49. AJ Kohn // March 14th 2013

    Better late than never Andrea, right? Thanks so much for the kind words and I’m glad I was able to inspire.

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