The Ian Lurie Field Guide

Ian Lurie

Someone at Portent asked me to put together an explanation of why I behave the way I do. They meant it in a nice way. So this is it: The Field Guide to Ian Lurie, written for “Portent” employees and anyone else I might encounter in the working world. Feel free to laugh at me, or to twist it to your own evil purposes—they can’t possibly be any worst than mine.

I believe

No spaghetti monsters here.

  • Communications can save the world.
  • Marketing – HONEST marketing – is near the top of the communications food chain.
  • The more people know about marketing and how it works, and how to do it well, the better off the world is.
  • We’re all marketers, to some extent.
  • The better products have to win, or we’re all screwed.

In employees, partners and clients, I look for

Stuff I want from folks I work with:

  • Intellectual curiosity.
  • Common sense.
  • Raw communications skills.
  • High emotional intelligence.
  • Initiative.
  • Passion.
  • A strong moral compass…
  • …without the dogma.

Every day, I have to balance

If I look confused, here’s why:

  • Empowering and teaching: How to do the latter without screwing up the former.
  • Marketing paradise versus cash flow.
  • Extrinsic vs. intrinsic rewards for the team.
  • My innate pessimism/cynicism and our track record.
  • Teaching and doing: I should be teaching more and doing less.
  • Working in the business and working on the business: I want to do the latter.
  • Family and work.
  • Neurosis with… damn. Got nothing.

If you want me to briefly hate you

I’ll get over it.

  • Make me do your work at the last minute.
  • Tell a client you’ll do something we can’t possibly do.
  • Over-promise and under-deliver.
  • Refuse to own and learn from your mistakes.
  • Agree with me when you know I’m wrong.

If you want me to hate you forever

The only place I’ll bury the hatchet is in your forehead.

  • Lie.
  • Steal.
  • Ignore the facts, no matter what.

If you want my eternal gratitude and loyalty

Even a hug or two.

  • Take pride in your work. I do.
  • Learn to get twice as much work done without working twice as much. The latter is not OK.
  • Earn trust: Not just mine, but your colleagues as well.
  • Be effective, not entitled.
  • Learn on your own, all the time.
  • Know you’re on an amazing team.
  • Treat your teammates accordingly.
  • Communicate clearly.
  • Take fantastic care of clients: That doesn’t always mean pleasing them, by the way. Never become a doormat. Advocate, teach and improve.
  • Continuously improve your writing and communications skills.
  • Never make the same mistake three times.
  • Don’t be scared. I don’t eat people.
  • Always be looking at what’s working well and what’s not for your, your team and the company: Keep a list. Really.
  • Batteries not included

    I haven’t the foggiest idea whether this is helpful or not. When I was done presenting it to my team, they all just sat there, really quiet. They were either bored to tears, mentally rewriting their resumes, or too afraid to say anything. But I figure, this makes for a nice list: If you want to piss me off, now you know how. If you want to get a raise, you know how to do that, too. Get to it!

    Other stuff


Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at

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  1. Wow! It’s almost as if I was reading my own field guide.
    I think the toughest balancing act I face each and every day is that of teaching and empowering. It is far too easy to get caught up in teaching someone and forget why I’m teaching them in the first place.
    Thanks for the metaphoric mirror. I needed it today!

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