I know this finds you well.

I was just thinking about how you were always such a strong believer that job-hopping is not a bad thing.

It’s your job as an employee to show up and do amazing work. It’s the job of the employer to do whatever it takes to keep amazing workers. When they don’t appreciate what you bring to the table, it’s time sit at a different one.

Of course, you have to believe that though, after all, you were a job-hopper.

For the better part of the past 10 years, you went from job to job because you were unfulfilled for one reason or another. It was never because you were bad at the working aspect of it, on the contrary, I saw the emails you sent with the 1am timestamps. It seemed like you were always trying to make sure the company could deliver to your standards. In most cases, you’d leave your job because you’d solve whatever you were hired to do pretty quickly and get bored.

Well, we both know, that’s just part of the story.

The other part is that you often thought the people you worked for were doing it wrong.

It’s an axiom that bad leadership can ruin the best of teams. Remember that one time you wanted to burn the place down for their lack of appreciation of what you brought to the company? It was you that fostered that growth. It was you who built that team and designed those deliverables. It was you who built new products and services. It was you that continually led the change in the way people looked at the company.

I know, but really none of that matters. Don’t focus on that. You’re about to get a fresh start.

Truthfully, you should have gone out on your own years ago. But it was those bad experiences that prepared you to build something from scratch and do it right.

Well, it was that and your previous career as an independent musician. Remember when show promoters wouldn’t pay to bring you out, so you toured the US on fake Greyhound bus passes until you built your career up? Remember paying your own way to Europe to play tours that you and Dan booked yourselves? Remember standing outside of shows you weren’t even performing at and convincing people to buy your CDs, vinyl and t-shirts?

That was crazy, but it’s that spirit of ingenuity that makes you different. It’s what makes you a public speaker that people seem to enjoy. It’s what will make you go above and beyond the status quo with your own company.

I remember when you were sitting up in your bed a little over a year ago (my time). You couldn’t sleep comfortably for a few nights straight. It seemed like your heart and your mind were speaking different languages. You weren’t sure if you could make it out there in the big city as an entrepreneur. New York City might eat you alive.

Then, one night, with your bank account staring back at you while you did the math, you reasoned “Even if I don’t sell a single thing, I can pay my rent for about 6 months.” You were terrified of failure, but you did it. You jumped.

I’m here to tell you that there will be bumps in the road, but ultimately you have accomplished your goal. You started that agency and nobody died.

Selling vs. Doing will be a Problem

Everyone said it, believe them. You have a difficult amount of monthly recurring revenue that you expect to make before you want to make your first hire. Hire sooner than you think.

You will always be the player-coach. It’s just how you’re wired. You’re always going to want to be authentic and contributing to the actual work. After all, who wants to hear a speaker that’s so far removed from the work he’s talking about?

Be that as it may, your biggest responsibilities are to set the vision, make sure your team has everything they need, keep people fed and keep the lights on.

Get your army in order, make sure they are trained well and then get back to what you are responsible for.

Avoid Bad Clients

After “Always Be Closing,” these are quite literally the ABCs of the work that you do.

You’ll encounter prospects that immediately rub you the wrong way. Let them know you have to return some video tapes and cut those meetings short.

You’ll also hear from clients of one of your previous jobs. You know that one client that everyone on your team hated working with. Yep, the company where that one guy is always 10–15 minutes late to meetings and tries to namedrop your friend in attempts to coerce you to do things that are asinine. Avoid him.

However when the good ones reach out, it will be the business equivalent of the best friend that you haven’t spoken to in a while. It’s like you just saw each other a few days ago.

Just remember that you didn’t start this thing to have the same issues you had at other places.

Clients that don’t align with your values, goals or undermine your methodologies are not worth the opportunity cost. Just. don’t. do. it.

Other Vendors will Always Undermine You

Your industry has a culture of sharing. Despite the fact that you’ve expended much energy to add-on and foster goodwill, don’t think because you’ve taken someone out to the dinner that they won’t stab you in the back. People have their hang ups and agendas. They’ll feel the need to justify and reconcile their behaviors in whatever ways they need to.

Let them. Don’t take it personal. Abide by your written agreements and just move on.

Always Create Redundancies

You always need redundancy. Redundancy on your side, redundancy with client contacts, redundancy with data and contracts. It doesn’t matter how tight you are with the client, make sure that you connect with other people. Otherwise, if your client contact leaves, it’s an entirely new ballgame, but you’re starting down fifty points.

Did I mention you need to create redundancy?

Your Friends Will Keep Trying to Hire You, Don’t Make them Feel Bad About It

There will always be those awkward moments when your friends or colleagues will try to hire you. I don’t think they realize that they are implicitly declaring “you’re not actually serious about starting a company, right?”

You will be offended. Don’t take offense. They always mean well and would love the opportunity to invite you to their table. They have a feast there and they are willing to share with you.

Instead, think back to when you were at your first ad agency when they wouldn’t offer you a full-time role. Remember how frustrated you felt to be strung along on a contract.

Thank your friend for the opportunity, realizing there was a time when you didn’t have as many options.

Don’t Hesitate to Leverage Your Friends

On the other hand, remember that your real friends love you, support you and are willing to offer advice and help.

Take it. You’ve got a network of stellar professionals that you’ve built in your job hopping travels. They are rooting for you and they’re eager to help out. I don’t have to tell you to be sure to reciprocate. That’s just what you do.

Know that some friends can never see you beyond where they knew you. That’s fine. They are still your friends, just don’t work with them.

Recognize the Assets in Your Life

Your family and, to a larger extent in the business context, your girlfriend has your back.

Your girlfriend is a boss in her own right. She’s in your industry and she knows what she’s talking about. You know that, that’s why you IM her for input on how you should word things when a client causes you to see multiple shades of red. She’s so much better than you at sales and account management.

You’ll learn to shut your mouth and listen to her when it comes to these things.

Celebrate Your Wins

You will always be busy. Celebrate your wins early and often so you don’t burn out.

Yeah, I get it, if you take a day off, then everything falls apart. If that happens, you’re doing it wrong. You need to focus on getting what’s in your brain into the brains of your team. That is how you scale.

You can work from anywhere, man. Do a long weekend in Miami every other month and host your team meeting on Google+ Hangouts.

Trust me, you could benefit from that downtime and who doesn’t want another chance to enjoy the W in South Beach?

Don’t Keep the Agency a Secret

You live in New York City and everything is expensive. Tell all the world about what you’re working on.

Sure, there’s a possibility you will fail, but I’m writing you from the future, so I know that you don’t.

I know you weren’t excited about going with your personal brand as the name of the company. After all, “iPullRank” is too associated with SEO and you are far more a marketing technologist than just an SEO.

But Mike, you’ve got to start somewhere, and it’s a name that some people already know and SEO is something that people already know that you’re good at.

A few months later, you will come up with a much cooler brand name, but building the business is far more important than what it’s called.

So as soon as you make that decision to move into WeWork Fulton Center, write a blog post and tell everyone you know.

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This is you onstage in Amsterdam. You’ll have a blast.

Focus on Your Content Rather than the Speaking

I get it. There’s an allure to speaking at conferences. It makes it look like you’re super successful to your Facebook friends. It’s a relatively low effort way of attracting leads for the business. You’ll realize when you head to Amsterdam, and your friend Richard tells you why he’d rather focus on blogging than speaking, that you can make a bigger impact just typing from home.

People like when you blog, man. It’s what created your professional trajectory and what helped you have your past success.

Spend more time on that. Also, get that book done.

Don’t Confuse Authenticity and Integrity

Your background as a musician makes it difficult for you to copy what’s already out there. It makes it hard for you to stomach the fact that there are popular marketers churning out so much stuff using ghostwriters. It makes you want to build tools yourself rather than outsource them.

You said it in a song once. The real world is no place for your ideals.

It won’t make you any less authentic if you employ other people to help you meet your goals.

You have such a distinct voice, so you’re always going to have to do the writing, but you can’t change the world with ideas you can’t get out.

It Doesn’t Matter What Your Title Is

You think it’s corny that so many people are peddling their under-cooked startup and calling themselves “CEO” so you don’t do it. Truthfully, it doesn’t matter what you call yourself.

Just focus on doing great work and being a good leader. Everything else will fall into place.

This is the Best Frustration

It won’t be an easy road. You will make mistakes. You will lose clients to algorithm updates and vendor mudslinging. You’ll be disappointed with the limitations of your own discipline. You will be frustrated.

But you’re building your own business the way you always imagined it should be and it will be great.

You will learn from your mistakes. You’ll bring on bigger and better clients who will grow to trust you through the delivery of great results. You will build a smart team with a great attitude. You will learn how to supplement your own shortcomings with their abilities and they will support your dream in efforts of building their own. You will be happy to get up and face the challenge every day.

Your Team’s Growth will be your Greatest Joy

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You, @AlexsandraNPB, @G_Got_Soul and @RashardSpiller

Granted, this isn’t the first time you’ve built a smart team, but this time will be different. You’ll still hate the family analogy when it comes to work because, let’s be honest, we all do this for money. This time, though, it will feel a lot more personal. It will mean more to you to watch them grow.

Well, let’s be real, that always mattered to you. Now you have the opportunity to give them the support they deserve. So keep doing that.

No One is Stopping You, But You

You never expected to own a company.

You always wanted to be a key contributor to someone else’s. You always expected to be somebody’s Scottie Pippen — damn good in your own right, but not the leader. For a long time you were somebody’s Allen Iverson — the best to do it, but never on the right team.

Now you will be your own company’s Michael Jordan. There’s nobody stopping you, but you. You don’t have time to doubt yourself. You only have time to win.

Mike, you started an agency, it’s been a year and so far, nobody died. I’m just excited to see to what you do next.

Written in hopes you will invent or discover time travel,