Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

Reboot Podcast #7 - The Relationship between Depression and Entrepreneurship? with Jerry Colonna and Rand Fishkin


Published on

After years of rapid growth and expansion, followed by a serious year of depression, Rand Fishkin, founder and former CEO of Moz, found himself in a room surrounded by VC backed CEO’s and entrepreneurs where the question was posed: “How many of you struggle seriously with depression or severe anxiety or emotional issues?” He watched almost every person raise their hand. It’s shocking how universal depression is in startups. For anyone struggling with depression, it’s helpful to know you’re not alone. In this podcast, which is slightly different than past episodes, Jerry converses with Rand about his experience - his “loop,” how shame and guilt are at times his driver, the importance of understanding one’s emotional state, and how he’s made progress in coming out of his own depression, including his one piece of advice for entrepreneurs or anyone dealing with their own depression.

Published in: Business
  • Be the first to comment

Reboot Podcast #7 - The Relationship between Depression and Entrepreneurship? with Jerry Colonna and Rand Fishkin

  1. 1. Reboot007_What_Depression Welcome to the Reboot podcast. I'm Dan Putt, one of the partners here at Reboot and I could not be more excited about this conversation. We're here to showcase the heart and soul of authentic leadership, to inspire more open conversations around what we consider the most important part of entrepreneurship, the emotional struggle and hopefully, we open up some hearts along the way. We are extremely grateful that you have taken the time to be with us and look forward to this journey ahead with you. Now, on with our conversation. Being CEO of a startup is really hard. It's lonely, there's long hours, there's constant demands and there's no manual. This is why Jerry helped create the CEO boot camp. Join us February 25th through March 1st at our 2015 Winter CEO Boot Camp in Winter Park, Colorado. You'll connect with 20 other startup leaders and learn what it means to be a leader. For more information, go to "If a sadness rises in front of you larger than anything you have ever seen; if an anxiety, like light and cloud-shadows moves over your hands and everything you do, you must realize that something is happening to you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand and will not let you fall." That comes from Rilke, Austrian poet and novelist. After years and years of rapid growth and expansion, followed by a year of serious depression, Rand Fishkin, co-founder and former CEO of Moz found himself in a room surrounded by fellow CEOs and entrepreneurs where the question was posed, "How many of you struggle seriously with depression or severe anxiety?" He watched as almost every hand went up. It is shocking how universal depression is in startups. For anyone struggling with depression, it's so helpful to know that you are not alone. In this podcast, which is slightly different from past episodes, Jerry talks with Rand about his experience, about his struggles with his own "loop" and how shame and guilt are at times his driver. The importance of understanding one's emotional state and how Rand has made progress in coming through his own depression. He also shares one piece of advice for entrepreneurs or anyone dealing with their own depression. Now, on with the conversation. Rand Fishkin: My name is Rand Fishkin, I was formerly the CEO of Moz, which is a software startup focused on making marketing tools primarily for SEO folks but also a variety of other things and we're based in Seattle, Washington. We started in 2004 as a blog and then in 2007 as a more formal software business. We've raised a couple of rounds funding including from a mutual friend of ours who introduced us, Brad Feld from Foundry Group. Earlier this year in January, I stepped down as CEO. My new role is 'Individual Contributor' and I promoted our long-time COO, Sarah Bird whom I know you know as well and who is doing a phenomenal job as Moz's CEO. Part of that story definitely centers around, I think, some of the topics that we are going to discuss today around depression and the pressures of founding a startup and of running a company and those kinds of things. Page 1 of 13
  2. 2. Reboot007_What_Depression Jerry Colonna: Yeah. My sense is that today's podcast is going to be a little bit different because typically, what we've been doing is almost a version of a coaching session where we get into a dialogue about what they are struggling with. But in this case, I think what we are hoping to do is really explore the story behind your challenge with depression and your decision to step down as CEO, perhaps the relationship between those two and where we are today. So, take us back in time and take us back to a little bit more of that story. Rand Fishkin: Sure. So, why don’t we start in 2012? Moz had had five years of what I consider pretty exceptional growth. I'm sure some of that was skills, some of it was also luck and timing and all the things that figure into a successful startup. But at that time period, we went out and raised some money; $18million from Brad at Foundry as well as participation from our existing investors, Michelle Goldberg from Ignition Partners here in Seattle and I had tremendous aspirations. I saw an incredible amount of opportunity and Moz had an impressive history of executing on opportunity, doing a lot with a little, building big, expansive projects that many people in software would tell you aren’t really wise to commit to and almost never really worked out. We were an exception to that rule. We had big launch after big launch after big launch where projects had taken six months or a year to build or even longer and then come the launch day that we wanted, we were pretty close to having it ready. Maybe slipped by a few weeks or a month. So, [Laughs] as you might imagine where the story is going, and after raising funding, we felt that we could keep doing that. So, we grew our team pretty dramatically; I think there were about 60 of us when we raised money. That was in May of 2012 and a year later, there was a little more than 120 of us. Page 2 of 13 Jerry Colonna: Wow. Rand Fishkin: So, huge amount of growth in a short time period and we took on some insanely challenging projects. Not just rebuilding the underpinnings of our software, but launching it with literally ten times the number of new features and sections all those kind of thing which, I think, founders get excited about. We want to build things, we have ideas of what customers want. That launch was supposed to happen in early 2013 which slipped to the middle of 2013, which slipped to the end of 2013. I think we were just about a year delayed on a project that initially was going to take about seven or eight months. So, that was pretty ugly and then the launch itself went extremely poorly because we put this artificial pressure on ourselves to get the product out there. It really wasn’t ready for primetime for many perspectives. It hadn’t been well tested by our users, hadn’t been really well-validated, had lots of bugs inherent in it and we kind of knew this and we thought, 'well, we'll get out there and then we'll fix all that stuff'. Once you get to our size, we had I think 21,000 paying subscribers; we basically just ended up really disappointing our existing customers and making ourselves look bad in the market especially compared to some new competition that had entered and had more solo, individual foci
  3. 3. Reboot007_What_Depression on specific areas. So, it was a very, very tough time culturally internally at the company, externally from a perception perspective, quality wise, customer growth wise. We'd been working off of 100% a year growth for six years in a row and then all of a sudden, we went down to – I think this year as a result of last year, because SAS is always trailing – Page 3 of 13 Jerry Colonna: Yes. Rand Fishkin: This year as a result of what happened last year, we are going to grow maybe 12%-15%. Jerry Colonna: Right. Rand Fishkin: So, that's kind of the – Jerry Colonna: Is this why you decided to step down as CEO? Rand Fishkin: Not directly or exclusively but I think it certainly had some impact on accelerating that timeline. I can describe a little bit of that; so during this time period, I think especially towards the middle of last year, I became someone that I didn’t really recognize. I have always struggled with my personal happiness and with a very intense workload and commitment to Moz. But I could, usually in the past at least, have a healthy balance between self-criticism and company criticism and product criticism and optimism for the future and acceptance and happiness with some of the things that we had accomplished. That pendulum went from, maybe a more healthy, neutral position to a really unhealthy, negative position. An example; if you ran into me in 2013 and you said, 'Rand, I love what you guys at Moz have done with X, Y and Z'. I would actually try to convince you that everything we had done was shit and you were wrong. Jerry Colonna: Right. Rand Fishkin: Which is – [Laughs] that's not exactly a great way to do marketing or evangelize your company and I think a lot of people recognized that and I had this – there's that nagging voice in your head right there Jiminy Cricket going, 'What are you doing? You know this is wrong, you shouldn’t do it' and yet the negative portion of my head just wouldn’t have it. It just wouldn’t listen to any data point that was positive, any person who was being positive internally or externally with the company. I just couldn’t abide it and felt the need to bring everyone down. Jerry Colonna: Do you know why you were so negative? Rand Fishkin: At this point, I actually think it was – I'm not sure how formal or precisely but I think it was a case of depression. I think it was a mental, emotional area. I
  4. 4. Reboot007_What_Depression suspect there was probably some brain chemistry changes too and the reason that I feel that way now but couldn’t identify it when I was inside it at least not truly in an accepting cognitive way, is because the switch did flip probably autumn of this year. Early autumn of this year, the switch kind of flipped and I now feel like another different person like the person that I was previously. I look at my actions and emails that I wrote and things that I said and I think, 'God, that guy was crazy. What happened to him?' Jerry Colonna: I relate to that feeling. I remember coming out of my own depression and the last major depression period was from 2002 through about 2006. That really distorted 2006 into 2007. I remember describing it as 'coming home to a house that I previously occupied but still feels unfamiliar.' Rand Fishkin: Yes. I like that analogy and also going, 'Wait, who fucked up all this Page 4 of 13 furniture?' Jerry Colonna: Yes [Laughs] and 'Where have I been?' So, was the decision to step down prompted by the failures in execution or were the failures of execution a prompt for the depression? Rand Fishkin: I think it's very hard for me to say whether some of the failures of execution were related to the depression itself. There were decisions that I look back at that Moz made but don’t strike me as logical or reasonable and seem to be, on reflection, the poor decision-making rambling of a depressed person, me. But it's hard to know for certain, it's possible that some of those early decisions which were made in a totally rational way but were the wrong ones, led to some of that frustration and failure which then spiraled down into the emotional problems that I encountered and the weird mindset that I entered. It is absolutely the case that we had been talking even before I had gotten depressed and before Moz's product challenges and growth challenges that I wanted to eventually have Sarah become CEO of Moz. We'd been talking about that for I think a good few years and more seriously in the last 12 or 18 months prior but we hadn’t established a timeline. We had talked about a 'few years from now' not 'a few months from now' or a year from now. It was really I think the depression and the negativity, the altered decision-making and the altered, non-rational thought that made our board and specifically Brad say, 'Hey maybe we should accelerate this timeline'. I would say, Brad nudged but he didn’t force. He said, 'Hey, I don’t think you are happy, I don’t think the state of mind that you are in is helping Moz succeed. I will support you and I love you and if you want to be CEO going forward, I've got your back, I'm with you, we'll do whatever we can. But we've been talking about this change and maybe now is actually a really good time to make it.' Jerry Colonna: What was that like to hear that from him?
  5. 5. Reboot007_What_Depression Rand Fishkin: You know what, at the time it was mostly relieving. I felt like Sarah could do a very competent and capable job, I had at least some self-awareness to know that whatever was going on with me was very unhealthy. I even thought that I would leave the company in the next little while and do something different. Yes, so it was mostly relief. I think that being said, the reality of when we did make the CEO change in January was actually very hard on me as well. [Laughs] Let's be totally honest, we are talking about some very first-world problems. A lot of startups would go, 'Wait, you didn’t have to do layoffs, you didn’t have to cut back on spending, you just grew slower and that made you depressed? [Laughs] Get serious here. You're just crazy to think that this is the worst thing in the world.' But what can I say, around my psyche and my expectations, I felt abject failure and real disappointment in myself and in what Moz was doing and so – Jerry Colonna: So, I'm going to suggest you pause on that just for a moment because I think you are eliciting or expressing a really important point which is that other's view of our success or failure can influence us but in the end, it's how we view our success or failure that matters. And I noted, your first-world problem of self-critical assertion. I am your former coach, I can't help it, I'm going to slip back into 'coach mode' for a moment. The thing that I have come to understand is that the existence of somebody else's existential pain and suffering doesn’t diminish our existential suffering or pain except in this way. Except when we understand empathetically and we use the acknowledgement of that pain as a means of generating compassion to know that we are not alone. Page 5 of 13 Rand Fishkin: Yes. Jerry Colonna: And so the fact that there are people suffering somewhere else, physical pain, existential pain, layoffs doesn’t diminish. Even if the rational mind tells you it should diminish, it doesn’t do anything. And then a layer on top of that, self-criticism that says, 'I shouldn't feel bad' creates this kind of shame about being depressed. Rand Fishkin: Well, you know me well enough to know that shame and guilt are my primary drivers in life. That's the engine, that's my fossil fuels. Jerry Colonna: Yes. Do you think there was a relationship between the shame and the guilt and the depression? Rand Fishkin: Oh absolutely. Oh my gosh, one of the blog posts that I wrote around this time was a post called 'Can't sleep, caught in the loop' and I had this recurring – almost every day, every night, mental pattern that I started calling 'the loop' or 'my loop'. It was essentially trying to analyze what we had done wrong, trying to figure out what we needed to do to get better, getting caught in a mental pattern of thinking, 'there's no way that I can fix this', 'all of these ideas that
  6. 6. Reboot007_What_Depression are floating around in my head are no good', 'let me try and come up with some more', 'no, here's why those won't work', 'God, it's depressing that none of these will work', 'I should just leave, maybe if I start it again, I could get a company that would actually work' and it's just that cycle, that spiral. It was a horrible feeling. I can't tell you how many times I crawled in the bed at 1:00 AM or 2:00 AM and look at the clock and it's 4:00 AM and for three hours all I've been doing is looping on that same thing over and over. It actually – even now, I'll catch myself occasionally thinking, 'hey, what can you do to fix this or what's this problem –' and I now at least have the – I don’t know what it is, mental resources, emotional resources to be able to just stop myself and go, 'no, you know what, let's think instead about that vacation we took in Italy last year. I'm going to think about that instead. That's something I can focus on' or 'hey let's think about this call I'm going to have with Jerry tomorrow. It'll be really good to talk to him, wonders what he's been up to'. So, I've gotten better about it, I can get out of the loop but during the depression, I really could not. Jerry Colonna: Yes, I think your description is so pointed and apt; you know, I have been in the loop myself and for me, it loops between anxiety about the future and rumination about the past and I flip back and forth and back and forth. It took a long time to realize that more thinking doesn’t actually get you out of the loop. It's being able to pause and step back and notice the loop itself. There's something powerful in being able to identify the loop because if you think about it for a moment Rand, it's almost like a third eye that steps in and says, 'Rand, you're trapped in the loop'. [Laughs] Right? Because that's a different level of consciousness than the level of consciousness that's trapped in the loop and I think the ability to cultivate that, for me, was a powerful capacity. I mean, I often speak about meditation and I think people make a mistake in thinking that meditation is about not thinking when it's actually about observing the tumultuous, looping mind that is caught between rumination and anxious anticipation of the future and not being able to get out of that. Rand Fishkin: Yes, I think while I agree that is a powerful skill to learn, I think I actually found a tremendous amount of frustration and sadness and anger in talking to – I worked with a professional coach and therapist after [Unclear 0:22:45] at your recommendation and got some nice praise for self-awareness and those kinds of things. That actually made me feel worse. Like, 'oh great, this is supposed to be a solution' or 'this is supposed to be helpful in this process and I can self-identify the loop and I still can't break out of it, I must be royally screwed. I'm so deep in it, even self-awareness, even identification of the pattern, even the third eye looking outside isn’t helping me break out.' That was another really frustrating thing I think. Jerry Colonna: I think you pointedly articulated yet another aspect which is that when we are in that depressed state, we can use almost anything as further evidence of how fucked up we are. Page 6 of 13
  7. 7. Reboot007_What_Depression Page 7 of 13 Rand Fishkin: [Laughs] Yes. Jerry Colonna: Right? 'Fuck, the sun is shining! What an asshole I am! how come I can't feel good?' Rand Fishkin: Yes. Jerry Colonna: Or, 'Damn! It's raining. It always rains when I feel sad.' I mean, when we are in that state, we can use anything as further evidence of how terrible we are. Rand Fishkin: You are so right. I mean, I remember, I mentioned Geraldine and I went on this vacation to Italy. Some of our family who's there, she's first generation and she still has a lot of family. So, in Italy I remember going and visiting these gardens on the Amalfi Coast and thinking to myself, 'This is incredibly beautiful, why can't I make anything beautiful?' Jerry Colonna: Oh. Rand Fishkin: [Laughs] 'Why can't I create something good?' Every good thing I looked at from any perspective, go to a good restaurant, see a store that carries really nice men's clothing and I think, 'God damn-it! Why can't I make something nice? I just want to be able to make something good, something I can be proud of.' I think that was actually a huge part of my cycle was believing that nothing I had done was good and that I couldn’t make anything good. So, seeing good things just kept reinforcing that which is – now sounds insane but I think lots of people who are locked in that. Especially after publishing a few posts about depression, especially the one about coming out, I mean I got a flood of email and private messages and people chatting with me about it. I think that was something so many people identified to me that it was similar for them. Jerry Colonna: Yes; my friend, Parker Palmer, who I often quote and collaborate with, I remember listening to a talk he did on one of the [Unclear 0:25:37] true recordings and he described the fruitlessness of others cheerleading. 'Rand, come on, cheer up. You've accomplished so much.' Or 'Come on, let's go outside and get a breath of fresh air, it's going to help' when again, in that depressed state, it becomes more fuel for 'What's wrong with me?' 'What's wrong with me that I can enjoy a walk?' 'What's wrong with me that I can't break out of this loop?' And the cycle sort of beats on. Can I bring you to something that you wrote in that blog post that really spawned this? Rand Fishkin: Yes. Jerry Colonna: The blog post, I think it's called, 'A long, ugly year of depression that's finally fading.'
  8. 8. Reboot007_What_Depression Page 8 of 13 Rand Fishkin: Yes. Jerry Colonna: It said, "People say it takes a big person to admit mistakes, and admit that they don't have what it takes to lead. I don't feel very big. In fact, I feel like what my Dad always told me I was – a high-potential, low-achiever kinda kid." What was that about? Rand Fishkin: Well, I think you can actually take that extremely literally. That's how I meant it. I did not feel like – and I still don’t necessarily feel like admitting my mistakes or being able to own up to them or making changes like stepping out from the CEO role and putting Sarah in charge, focusing on some of my strengths. For some reason, I don’t actually feel like those make me better or more praise-worthy except if they lead to Moz doing better things. I think I am seeing that and I feel pretty optimistic about that at this point. I think part of that is, I can recognize those aspects in other people and I give other people praise for all of these things for which I deny myself any praise or any value. I know that sounds like a wholly illogical statement, but I think this is true for a lot of people who, for some reason, feel compelled and driven to achieve far beyond what is reasonable or normal or expected from human beings. I would include that the entrepreneurship realm and the physical realm and all sorts of realms. So, this is one point that's important. So, I remember, I had dinner with Brad and with the rest of our exec team after a board meeting and he called out that particular piece, that 'high-potential low-achiever' thing and he said, "What makes you think that your dad's opinion about how you were when you were a teenager or a kid has any value? Why are you carrying that around with you?" I said, and I really believe this, I think my dad actually was pretty wrong about a lot of things and still is. I don’t have a particularly high value of his opinions. I think he was accidentally right about that. [Laughs] Most of the stuff that he says I think is crazy but in that particular case, I sort of agreed. I think that I could do more. I think that if I could manage my emotions and mental state better, I could have been a great CEO for a few more years, if not indefinitely. I think if I could be a little less overly sensitive to some of the peculiarities that I hold, some of the beliefs that I hold that aren’t necessarily helpful, I could achieve greater things, better things. I think I have the capacity, I just haven’t executed. That continues to frustrate me. I think that will always be a driver for me, kind of believing that I'm not good enough. Jerry Colonna: Guilt and shame as a fuel, 'not being good enough' as a driver. Rand Fishkin: I am not arguing it's healthy or maybe it's childish to say. It is what it is. Jerry Colonna: I think that without judging the thoughts themselves, my wish for you would be to spend some time looking at the relationship between the belief that you – what did you call it; 'high-potential low-achiever', guilt and shame as a driver, the belief that you'll never be good enough and the depression.
  9. 9. Reboot007_What_Depression Rand Fishkin: So this is the non-depression part which is, I have a belief that I might be good enough some day. That if I can improve, I can get to a point where I'll feel if not wholly proud of my accomplishments, at least satisfied. I have had moments of those, sparks of those. I can recall a few times that we have built something or I have given a presentation or published something or helped someone in a way that felt like, 'I want more of that, I feel like I lived up to my potential there. I want to do that again'. So, when I consider what has been done today, I feel unsatisfied but I have had moments of that satisfaction and I want to repeat that. I want to grow into consistently achieving those kinds of things. Jerry Colonna: We've talked in the past so I know a little bit about your relationship. What if Geraldine your wife said to you, "I'm not good enough because I haven’t accomplished –" fill in the blank. Rand Fishkin: And she does. [Laughs] Jerry Colonna: And what do you say in response to that? 'You're right?' Rand Fishkin: We talk about a few things; one, things that she has done that have made her feel good and satisfied and happy and also the fact that she is on that path. A few of her wildest dreams, she always wanted to publish a book. She's on the cusp of it. She always wanted to be a writer as a career; she is a writer, that's her career and she's read by a million people every year thanks to the success of her – Jerry Colonna: So, in your eyes, is she good enough? Rand Fishkin: Oh absolutely. I mean more than good enough and in her eyes, I am also more than good enough. I don’t think either of us have the same – or any one externally, have the same demands that we place on ourselves. I think that's true for a lot of people who achieve things. Jerry Colonna: I think the challenge is, how do we hold on to the positive attributes without sinking into a self-loathing, self-criticism – Page 9 of 13 Rand Fishkin: Yes. Jerry Colonna: – and confusing aspirational goals with self-criticism. I think that's the challenge. Rand Fishkin: I wholly agree; I think it's often such a fine line and such a challenge to alternate between the – leveraging the 'not good enough' as a driver to do things and as a motivation – and it can be a very powerful motivation because it's so intrinsic. There's not somebody else pushing you, it's merely yourself. I
  10. 10. Reboot007_What_Depression think we can be our own best engines for that but I agree that's a huge challenge. I don’t think that's something I have solved at all. But I'm 35, [Laughs] I have a lot of time ahead of me to try and figure that out. Jerry Colonna: Yes and I appreciate the humor and the self-love implicit in that, "I'm 35 and I have a lot of time to figure it out." What I have found in my own life is there's a wonderful stance between acceptance of who I am and a wish to grow and a wish to do more. Sometimes that wish to do more compels me to act in ways that are actually against my best interest and sometimes it compels me to do things that are extraordinary; like watch a podcast series when I got more than enough work to do in my life. Page 10 of 13 Rand Fishkin: [Laughs] Yes. Jerry Colonna: This leads, I guess, in a way to a core question that I am interested in exploring is, because a lot of people will ask me this question and I'm curious to hear your answer to your question. What is the relationship between depression and entrepreneurship? Rand Fishkin: I think there is a higher than normal correlation. I'll give an example; I think I am allowed to give this example and if I'm not, I'll find out later. [Laughs] Brad asked me run the Foundry CEO Summit. I'm no longer a CEO but I had run it once before and they had liked what I had done with it and so I ran it again. This was in September. Actually it was a day after I published that blog post about a long year of depression. At the very end, we had an hour to discuss altogether, all the CEOs from across stages of company and company type and that kind of thing, to discuss personal and emotional issues around being CEO and being founder. I remember so distinctly Brad saying, 'how many of you struggle seriously with depression or have struggled seriously with depression or severe anxiety and emotional issues; really severe identifiable?' He asked people to raise their hand and I think there was about 22-23 of the 60-or-so CEOs that are in the Foundry portfolio in the room and almost every person raised their hand. Almost every person raised their hand and we all had different stories to share and plenty were more severe than my story. Jerry Colonna: Right. Rand Fishkin: I recall this too; Sarah was in the room and I was the CEO and she did not raise her hand, which I think is totally honest as long as I have known her. She is always just been – she feels empowered by problems. That's what she loves going to work to do. Solve problems. I remember the look on her face, I'll never forget it, just this – Jerry Colonna: [Laughs] Surprise and shock.
  11. 11. Reboot007_What_Depression Rand Fishkin: Yes, [Laughs] like 'How do you all live your lives? How is it possible that you've founded companies? How can you build anything? Who are you people?' [Laughs] That kind of just incredulity and I don’t know exactly the questions she was asking herself in her head were but that look of shock and surprise was kind of delightful to me because I think Sarah had been a little weirded out by my depression and the issues that I struggled with. Anyways, it was actually helpful for her and our relationship and for all the CEOs in the room to see how incredibly not alone we were. How well-correlated entrepreneurship and funding or maybe the correlation was between Brad Feld gives you money [Laughter] Jerry Colonna: Brad is just seeking out depressed people to fund. [Laughs] Rand Fishkin: I mean it's not just Brad; Jason and Seth and Ryan, like clearly, these guys are Page 11 of 13 – [Laughs] Jerry Colonna: Right, I think you hit upon a really important and maybe one of our final points because how important it is to know that you are not alone. I have often shared that when I first started working with a client and I sat to identify and help them express their feelings, they are often times shocked in some ways the way you described Sarah as being shocked. They are shocked at how universal those feelings are and I think that that's a beautiful thing because it normalizes, doesn’t romanticize it, but it normalizes it. Rand Fishkin: Yes. Jerry Colonna: And as we were saying before, one of the challenges of being in the depressed loop is to think that in your aloneness, which is natural to feel, that it's evidence of how screwed up you are. And to realize that it's part of the human condition to feel anxious, it's part of the human condition especially those of us who place our passions and our love into the outcomes of what we do to be susceptible, to be kind of like wearing our hearts outside of our body. We are so susceptible to what goes on. Rand Fishkin: Yes. Jerry Colonna: And so, developing the tools and the resiliency to be able to withstand that is key. I guess, last question I would ask you is, if you could identify one piece of advice that you would give someone who is struggling right now, what would it be? Rand Fishkin: I am worried that you are going to tell me that this is bad advice and that's fine. So, if you think that I am giving a poor example, that's okay. But one of the things that I weirdly found helpful for me, even though this let me wallow in my depression a little bit, was hanging out with other like-minded folks. So, there's a – I'm not going to out him because I don’t know if I need permission
  12. 12. Reboot007_What_Depression to but there is another entrepreneur in Seattle who went through just a really rough time with his business and we'd become good friends over a few years. I really liked spending time with him even though we were sort of both in that a little bit to a lot bit depressed state and talking about how all these other founders and CEOs were having this remarkable successes and – Jerry Colonna: Rand, I am going to interrupt you, I think that's brilliant. I think that’s brilliant. One of the most important things, one of the reasons why we started the boot camps, one of the reasons we have started this thing called Facilitated Peer Support Groups, is because I think you should hang out with people who are going through similar experiences. I think being in community with people who can empathize with what you are going through even if they don’t have any answers, and they will resist the cheerleading. Page 12 of 13 Rand Fishkin: Yes. Jerry Colonna: Right? Rand Fishkin: I really appreciated that. I'd hang out with other entrepreneurs and they are like, 'You're going to get through this man, Moz is amazing, you guys are kicking ass, you just don’t realize it.' I don’t know why but that sucked energy from me and I know that their intent was to give it to me. Jerry Colonna: Right. I actually think your advice makes perfect sense to me. So, unfortunately we need to break but I can't thank you enough for this. Rand Fishkin: Oh. Jerry Colonna: I think your bravery, your honesty, as we were talking at the start, the more that we all can model by talking about this, the more we can overcome the shame that people often feel. Rand Fishkin: Yes. Jerry Colonna: We are not going to romanticize this but we are going to make it normal. Rand Fishkin: Yes and I very much appreciate all of your efforts from the CEO boot camp to the coaching that you do, to this podcast and all the content that you create for helping to normalize this among the entrepreneurial community. It didn’t just help me, I know plenty of other people that it's helped significantly and I am honored and I am thrilled that I get to contribute in a small way to that project. I have always been passionate about helping people understand SEO and I love what you are doing to help people understand their emotional state and especially the emotional states of founders and entrepreneurs and executives.
  13. 13. Reboot007_What_Depression Jerry Colonna: When you are done messing around with this crappy entrepreneur stuff, I'll train you to be a coach and you come join Reboot. [Laughter] Rand Fishkin: [Laughs] Good to know, get a few more gray hairs between now and then. Jerry Colonna: You got it. My friend, I love this and I just want to let you know that I love you and I care about you and thank you so much for this. It was really a delight to talk with you. Rand Fishkin: Right back at you Jerry. Thank you so much for having me. Jerry Colonna: All right, be well my friend. So that’s it for our conversation today. You know, a lot was covered in this episode from links, to books, to quotes, to images. So we went ahead and compiled all that and put it on our site at If you would like to be a guest on the show, you can find out about that on our site as well. I’m really grateful that you took the time to listen. If you enjoyed the show and you want to get all the latest episodes as we release them, head over to iTunes and subscribe and while you’re there, it would be great if you could leave us a review letting us know how the show affected you. So, thank you again for listening and I really look forward to future conversations together. [Singing] "How long till my soul gets it right? Did any human being ever reach that kind of light? I call on the resting soul of Galileo, King of night-vision, King of insight." [End of transcript 0:45:25] Page 13 of 13