6 lessons that changed my career

Ian Lurie Jun 8 2012

I’m feeling introspective today. These are realizations to which I can point and say “Yep, that’s where I changed”:

  1. It’s not all about me. Successes, failures, perceived snubs, etc. are never solely my own. Share credit, accept blame, assume the best of people (a continuing struggle for me, but hey, I’m working on it).
  2. Mistakes don’t get you fired. Lack of progress does. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Portent lose a client because we screwed up. I have seen it happen when we get complacent. Which happened often when I was running all of our projects, and almost never happens now.
  3. No one gives their vendors a raise. Early on, I took a lot of projects based where someone told me “If things work out, we’ll pay a lot more!” Yeahhhh not so much. It’s a well-intended promise that never comes true, and it led to ballooning, unprofitable work.
  4. The work must be its own reward. I’ve learned this lesson again and again. It’s why I started my company. It’s why I’ve now hired a president. Unrewarding work makes any salary too small, and any work week too long.
  5. Time management skills matter. Before I could become even mediocre as a manager, I had to learn to manage my own time. You cannot run a company until you can run your own life.
  6. Just fix it. Never, ever present a problem unless you have at least two potential solutions.

With each of these lessons, good things happened. I don’t know what the next lessons will be, but I’m sure there’ll be a lot of ’em.


  1. Thanks for this great little list Ian! Good thing most of my meetings are on the phone – they can’t see me roll my eyes when they say “we’ll pay you more once the site’s doing really well!” In all seriousness though, it does take time to not be swayed by someone’s excitement and realize those promises just usually never come true. :-)

  2. Ryan


    Thank you Ian. As someone who is attempting to launch the beginning of a career, I can’t read enough articles like this. Thanks for passing the lessons along.

  3. Most common lie of a prospective client aside from “If things work out, we’ll pay a lot more!” is this gem: “If things work out, we know a few other people that would probably want your services, too.” I’ll believe it when I see the check.

  4. I heartily concur with the first lesson. I’ve never understood why people don’t get the massive value of sharing credit and owning up to errors. Share, share, share the good stuff. That’s one thing that can build loyalty.

  5. Bruce


    Beauty is truth, truth beauty. Thanks for packing so much truth into six bullet points.

  6. Great list Ian. Surprising what little nuggets of goodness can come out of so few words.

  7. mike


    Six great rules to live by and do business by.. Thanks Ian.

  8. Kate


    I’m going to have “no one gives their vendors a raise” carved into the wall above my desk.
    So, so true – and so hard to avoid when you’re starting out, and potential clients seem to see a big sign over your head saying “will work for promises”!

  9. “Just fix it. Never, ever present a problem unless you have at least two potential solutions.”

    Don’t really have anything to add to that, because it makes the point perfectly. More people need to adopt this idea.

  10. We just posted this list in our office for everyone to see. I circled #6.

  11. #4 really resonates with my current situation!

  12. #3 and #4 are very very true. Sometimes lack of progress isn’t even in the agency’s hands. Things are usually held up by the client, or by their 3rd party web development firm, but the onus is still on the search marketing agency to move the needle.

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