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Publisher's Summary

Rand Fishkin, the founder and former CEO of Moz, reveals how traditional Silicon Valley "wisdom" leads far too many startups astray, with the transparency and humor that his hundreds of thousands of blog readers have come to love. 

Everyone knows how a startup story is supposed to go: A young, brilliant entrepreneur has a cool idea, drops out of college, defies the doubters, overcomes all odds, makes billions, and becomes the envy of the technology world.  

This is not that story.  

It's not that things went badly for Rand Fishkin; they just weren't quite so Zuckerberg-esque. His company, Moz, maker of marketing software, is now a $45 million/year business, and he's one of the world's leading experts on SEO. But his business and reputation took 15 years to grow, and his startup began not in a Harvard dorm room but as a mother-and-son family business that fell deeply into debt.  

Now Fishkin pulls back the curtain on tech startup mythology, exposing the ups and downs of startup life that most CEOs would rather keep secret. For instance: A minimally viable product can be destructive if you launch at the wrong moment. Growth hacking may be the buzzword du jour, but initiatives can fizzle quickly. Revenue and growth won't protect you from layoffs. And venture capital always comes with strings attached.  

Fishkin's hard-won lessons are applicable to any kind of business environment. Up or down the chain of command, at both early stage startups and mature companies, whether your trajectory is riding high or down in the dumps: this audiobook can help solve your problems, and make you feel less alone for having them.

©2018 Rand Fishkin (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"This is a truly courageous book. It's one part business-building guide and two parts Indiana Jones-style adventure memoir. And if you've ever wondered if the 'timeless wisdom' you often hear about startups is bullsh*t, here's the proof." (Chris Guillebeau, author of Side Hustle and The $100 Startup

"You won't find a more honest, raw, and helpful look into the trenches of founding a tech startup than this book. Rand Fishkin shares the rare hard-won insight no one else dares tell you." (Nir Eyal, author of Hooked

"Most books on founders and entrepreneurship sell a Silicon Valley perspective. Yet the inclusive, egalitarian vision of tech that Rand shares is the one that will truly dent the world." (Nilofer Merchant, author of The Power of Onlyness

Featured Article: The Best Audiobooks for Entrepreneurs


Starting a business can be tough. Not only do you have to take your amazing idea from fledgling proposal to working business model, but there are so many little details and unexpected challenges along the way. If you're thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, or if you're in the thick of launching your own business, check out some of these best books for entrepreneurs to help you navigate the uncertain territory of starting a business.

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  • 10-17-19

Stopped reading - politics in a non-political book

The book is great in the sense of its openness to painful experiences and mistakes -- there were/are many -- as there usually are in startups. There are some things that I disagree with, of course. As a seasoned professional and successful business owner, I expect that. I am unaware of a single book that has me fully convinced on all points made.

I stopped reading when the author brought politics into the book. He quoted Scott Adams in a positive way and then said what a horrible person he is. I tried to continue, but my experience was ruined. Once again, a person alienates a significant portion of their potential audience by revealing their views on politics. Even a single-sentence rant on politics or the character of a person (opinion) is unacceptable for me. What purpose in a non-political business does that serve? Perhaps an autobiography could reveal partisanship, and even should. But this is not an autobiography or a political book, is it?

And, to be clear, I don't care which side of the political aisle you'd park your behind. In a time when we are inundated with rhetoric at every turn, the partisanship is both a great divider and unwelcome to all but those they echo. If the author believes that his view is so accepted that he can afford to limit his own reach across this divide, then he is naive in this aspect of business. Stakeholders in his company should be concerned. How much potential profit is lost to this egotistic need to rant? With this in mind, why should I spend my valuable and limited time trying to learn something new from a person that is willing to do that? Nothing I heard before this incident was so new, revealing, or important to me that I was willing to continue. Just a couple years ago I may have made a different decision. Today, I'm done with the dividers and tech founders who perceive themselves as the epitome of social propriety; somehow obligated to voicing the echoes of their particular circle of influence. Of course, if there is hard-core evidence that reveals that bringing political views into a non-political company is beneficial, please reveal that...perhaps in a new book.

5 people found this helpful

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Insightful and inspiring

Lost and founder by @randfish is brutally honest, insightful and inspiring. One of the best and fun books on product, leadership and founding I’ve read in a while.

3 people found this helpful

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Extremist Leftism

this book was ruined and made completely and utterly unshareable for its endorsement of the antiscientific idea that a person can "become" a woman if he is a man. truly horrible propaganda. its amazing that this denial of science and reality is even a thing at all. Horrible.

Also, it has a lot of lefty talking points, which make it really appalling.

6 people found this helpful

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Must read

Really great to hear someone truly open up. Thank you Rand, it’s extremely eye opening and really changes my thinking.

2 people found this helpful

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Rand Delivers an Honest and Graceful Story of The Startup Journey

I really enjoyed this book and how timely it was for me and my own journey. Lots of good notes that I’ll take with me!

2 people found this helpful

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A must-read for any aspiring founder

This book is, indeed, as the name suggests - brutally honest, and digs into some really important pain points for entrepreneurs and those surrounding them, while providing super insightful lessons (or "cheat codes", as the author calls them)

Highly recommended!

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Actionable, realistic and honest startup advice

I loved this book, Rand has always been a great story teller. Hearing the story of Moz's founding through the eyes of the CEO and hearing the business side of the most popular SEO software company out there.

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Great book, spectacular narrator

I've been a Moz customer and Rand fan for a while and have been anxious for this book to come out for a while and it didn't disappoint. If Spark Toro doesn't work out, Rand could be a pro reader. He's a spectacular reader which makes the book much more enjoyable (especially at 1.6x speed). If you liked The Hard Things About Hard Things, you'll like this.

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excellent!

finished in a week. excellent insights, no nonsense, straight and authentic. very good reflections.the best one about being a founder that ive evee read.

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Very Eye Opening

I will definitely be gifting this to all my likeminded friends. What great insight and honesty.

1 person found this helpful