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Live and Online

Learning Experiences

I've come across a variety of topics around market analysis, segmentation, competitive research, positioning, strategy, marketing and more over my 20+ years. I have tried to share some of what I have found to be quite useful access points. 


Please note: these are based on my own corporate and small business forays into research and development. I am aware that there are many sites, books, experts, tools, etc that I have not included (some on purpose, some, just because either I forgot about them or have not yet come across them). In fact, I intend to update this list as we (as a collective community) come across, discover and share more useful resources with each other. If you find something not here, that you really think is imperative to building a business, lease share it with me!


The following are meant to help assist in those answers in wide scope.



→ Service Providers in Seattle

• Joe Wallin from Carney, Badley, Spellman – SparkToro’s attorneys, who helped us craft our innovative funding structure, and have assisted many other great startups & projects, always to rave reviews
• Rooster Park – our top choice for outsourced and contract software development
• Aeon Law – superb patent and IP attorneys (Moz used them for our patents)
• Washington Partners – the best commercial real estate folks on the scene
• Delightful Communications – Mel Carson’s remarkable social, PR, and branding agency
• Additional Seattle-centric recommendations on Rand’s FreshChalk page

→  Tools & Software I Love

• 15Five – What Moz historically used to track our team’s 1:1s and project progress; if SparkToro scales employees, we’ll likely use this again
• Pocket – I frequently skim good articles on the web, save them to Pocket, and can then read them anywhere (including on mobile, even when I don’t have a web connection on flights)
• SimilarWeb Pro – one of my favorite subscriptions, they offer data about websites and visits using a panel of 30mm+ unique users in the US (and more internationally)
• Fresh Web Explorer – like Google Alerts, but way, way better, and with a ton of other cool functionality
• Keyword Explorer – the best keyword research tool out there
• Mozbar – terrific for SEO tasks of all kinds while browsing web pages in Chrome or Firefox
• Followerwonk – a tool I loved so much, Moz acquired them in 2013 (it’s now owned & run by the wonderful Marc Mims). Great for Twitter analyses, bio searches, and tracking follower gains/losses in depth.

→ Startup & Technology Sites/Blog

• Hacker News – crowdsourced technology/startup content
• Techmeme – an algorithmically built news site for the tech field
• Fred Wilson’s AVC – NYC based VC; Fred’s among the best writers on startup topics
• Mark Suster’s Both Sides of the Table – LA based VC w/ smart perspectives
• Dharmesh Shah’s OnStartups – Blog and community for entrepreneurs
• Geekwire – coverage of the Seattle area tech & startup worlds
• ProductHunt – like everyone else in tech, I’m addicted to seeing what pops up and does well here

→ Search & Internet Marketing Sites/Blogs

• Trending – what the web marketing industry is talking about & sharing, updated every 15 minutes
• Search Engine Land – news on the search industry and landscape
• Moz – daily blog on SEO & web marketing techniques + how-to
• Distilled Blog – Top notch SEO consultants sharing their findings
• Seer Interactive Blog – very talented and well-written Philadelphia SEO team
• Portent’s Blog – Ian Lurie’s superb advice, rants, & analysis on web marketing, agency operations, and more

→ Interesting Web-Based Utilities and Applications

• Oyster – terrifically in-depth hotel reviews w/ editorial photos from their team
• SkyScanner – a great travel resource site; one I hope can compete against Google’s attempts to wholly own the travel search market
• SeatGuru – find the best seat on any flight; a must have for frequent fliers like me
• Niice – a great site for finding unusual, visually stunning, inspiring graphics and images

→ News Sources

• NYTimes’ Most Read Articles – the most popular stories from the US’ greatest paper
• – Opinion, analysis and creative journalism
• National Geographic News – the best coverage of the natural world
• The Stranger’s Slog – Seattle-based weekly paper with style and substance
• Five-Thirty-Eight – statistically rigorous and impressive analysis of he
• BBC World News – extensive global news coverage
• Freakonomics Blog – the “hidden” economic factors at play in our world
• Metacritic – all forms of media/entertainment reviewed algorithmically

→ What I Read/Visit in My Free Time

• The Everywhereist – my wife’s brilliantly humorous travel blog
• The Sixty-One – a great site for independent music
• SeriousEats – scientifically rigorous recipes… yum
• Maptia – the best travel writing and photos on the web

→ Conference & Event Recommendations

• Mozcon – IMO, still the best large-scale web marketing conference out there; content, production value, speakers, and after-hours events are all top notch
• Searchlove – my favorite smaller events (3-500 attendees) are those from Distilled; technical, tactical talks from high quality presenters amidst a wonderfully friendly and internationally diverse crowd
• SMX Munich – one of the biggest and best shows in Europe; Munich attracts great content and speakers from across Europe and North America
• SEMpdx Engage – for over a decade, Engage (formerly Searchfest) has been one of the premier regional shows in the US, and is hosted in Portland, OR, one of my favorite cities
• Business of Software – possibly my favorite event in the entrepreneurship and broader business community
• Brighton SEO – a remarkable, partially-free event in the south of England that attracts great talent and attendees

→ Books that I’ve Found Valuable

• The Billionaire Who Wasn’t – A remarkable biography of one of my personal heroes: Chuck Feeney. This is probably the book that’s inspired me most in my professional career.
• Good to Great – From analyzing 1,435 companies over 40 years, Jim Collins’ team found 11 standouts. This book looks at the difference between the great ones and the rest.
• Built to Last – What do companies that survive for generations do differently than those who burn out fast? Another great analysis.
• Predictably Irrational – A phenomenal work from Dan Ariely on why we make seemingly irrational choices.
• The Upside of Irrationality – Another excellent book from Ariely, with a lot of new research and a personal take that helps keep the text moving.
• Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion – Robert Cialdini’s seminal work on how and why mankind thinks and acts. Essential reading.
• Startup Communities – In 10 years, Boulder, CO transformed into one of the world’s startup Meccas. Brad Feld, who engineered this process but takes little credit, describes how this can be done in regions around the world.
• Lean Startup – Despite all the hype, it truly is a great book on architecting early stage startups
• Incognito – A great take on neuroscience as it relates to behavioral psychology
• Nudge – Learn about libertarian paternalism, choice architecture, and the science of how human beings can make themselves better decision-makers.
• Radical Candor – one of the best books out there on how to manage people in a more thoughtful, holistic way.

Holding page.

Content To Come

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