Ian Lurie: A Day in the Life of Internet Marketing’s Wittiest CEO

October 9th, 2012 by

It’s 5:45am.  As the sun prepares for its ascent over the northwestern pacific, the sound of NPR’s Morning Edition bursts through a clock radio and breaks the early morning silence.  Portent CEO Ian Lurie awakes, pushes his cats Isis and Romulus aside, they exchange glares, and he begins yet another day in the life of Ian Lurie.

After a typical morning routine, he stumbles to his bicycle to make the first of three, 12 mile commutes he’ll make this week (the other two commutes will be by car) to Portent’s Downtown Seattle offices in Smith Tower.  Ian will point out that the ride to the office isn’t so bad, it’s the ride home with the 500-foot climb and occasional 10%+ grade that will kill you.

He arrives to the Portent offices around 6:30am and begins his morning ritual.  Each morning, Ian kicks off the day by recapping the day before.  He reviews what he got done and what he may have missed from his task list before hitting the RSS reader in an effort to curate content to share with his staff and on social media outlets throughout the day. A process that he mapped out in detail during his social media routine webinar.  Before diving into the day’s “must complete” tasks I an will focus a bit of time reviewing social updates from the previous night and respond as needed.

For the next half hour, he focuses on a single task.  This task is vital, and is always something that has to be done and cannot be ignored.  Typically, Ian will break larger tasks into smaller, more digestible chunks, but ultimately it has to be completed or he’ll be stuck spending the bulk of his day working to complete it.

After completing the day’s “must complete” task, Ian begins making his rounds to carry out meetings with various members of the Portent staff.  Though the meeting topics vary, Ian strives to keep them shorter than 15 minutes since he “really, really, really” doesn’t like meetings.

By 10:30am Ian is back at his desk, jumping from meeting to tweeting, as he spends about five minutes reviewing his RSS feed, Twitter stream and Google+.  The next hour is filled with the day-to-day duties of a CEO, but more likely he’s engaged in a snark fest – cursing and muttering about a post, quote, or something else from an industry “expert” that is probably going to wind up costing some poor business owner a ton of money.

By 11:30am, Ian realizes that his snarkiness might actually be the result of low blood sugar and decides to grab something to eat before tearing apart another blog post.  While enjoying a quick bite, Ian seizes the opportunity to regain a bit of his sanity by reading the latest from Penny Arcade, XKCD, and Scripting News before diving back into his news feed and ultimately, insanity.

The remainder of Ian’s work day is spent doing the things that matter most as the CEO of a reputable internet marketing agency.  From blog writing and research, to working on proposals, aiding his team in diagnosing site issues, or extinguishing “enormous fires started, apparently, by gremlins whose primary desire is to see me running down the street naked, pursued by tranquilizer-dart-carrying guys from the funny farm.” This is when Ian truly gets down to business.  Ian rounds out the work day by clearing out his inbox and creating his to-do list for the following day before starting out on the 12 mile ride home…uphill.

First order of business upon arriving home? Recovery.  Second order of business? Pet the cats.  After a brief recovery and some quality time with the felines, Ian spends the remainder of his evening in the company of his family.  “I find if I cut more time from family and friends for work, I get frustrated and totally lose focus. They’re a sizable part of the reason I do what I do.”  Whether it’s chores, playing video games with his 12 year old son, or helping his daughter with a project, Ian makes sure his focus is on the home front during the evenings.  He checks messages on occasion and replies on an as-needed basis, but explains, “I know the other folks at Portent can handle just about anything.”  Which makes his evenings a lot less crisis-ridden in comparison to 10 years ago.

The remaining hours of the night are spent with his wife watching T.V., or catching up with friends.  As a family of Dr. Who fans, some nights require some additional negotiation with the kids since bedtime is often met with, “Do we have to go to bed? The Doctor’s regenerating, dad!” Other nights, the couple will watch Game of Thrones or True Blood, but only “if the kids are completely unconscious, in their rooms, with the doors closed and soundproofed.”  By 10:30pm, Ian calls it a night and heads to bed.  In just over seven hours he’ll be up and ready to take on another day as husband, father, internet marketer, and Portent CEO.

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I’d been sitting on the day-in-the-life idea for a while and decided to kick it off with Ian Lurie after catching his presentation on time management.  If you’ve followed Ian’s work for any amount of time, you’ve probably picked up on a few things; he loves bikes, he loves cats, he has a wicked wit about him, and he goes to great lengths to maximize time and organization when it comes to his work.  About 20 slides in to the presentation, Ian features the slide below; as you can see the “work shit” and “home shit” segments are dead even.

How Ian Lurie spends his time

It was then that I decided I would reach out to Ian to get his take not only on the day-to-day of being the Portent CEO, but to get his insight on how someone in this industry can find that ideal life balance.

After getting some insight into what a normal day was like for Ian I asked him what advice he had for internet marketers struggling with work/life balance and he replied, “No one ever lay on their death bed and said, ‘Damn, I wish I’d worked more’.”  The one fascinating thing about Ian is that even though he commits his time to his family and friends, he is constantly connected and checks email, Twitter, and the like every few hours.  I asked him how he manages to not get absorbed in it all and he told me that he manages by making sure to spend no more than five to 10 minutes, and makes sure it only happens when he is at home or during downtime.

But even though Ian has managed to create a work/life balance that works for him, he says that he has made one significant sacrifice for his career.  Every Sunday, Ian spends two to three hours  preparing for the week ahead and going through emails.  A small sacrifice, in my opinion, compared to what some of us are making for our careers on a daily basis.

This is one of a handful of posts I hope to do that capture a glimpse into the lives of some of those internet marketers that many of us respect and look up to.  As we all strive for greatness, it’s only natural for each of us to wonder how the experts do it and I hope that these posts will inspire folks to try something new to help manage their day to day lives as internet marketers.  Curious to know what the daily life of a certain internet marketer is, let me know who in the comments and I’ll see what I can do!

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