December 30, 2008
Goodbye Victoria, Hello Florida
The empty apartment is a shell of its former cave-like self. Two dozen or so boxes wait in three desolate stacks, one stack heading to Fort Lauderdale, another to the local homeless shelter and the third into storage in my business partner's basement in the faint hope I return to the Pacific North West someday. It is a strange and scary feeling to leave this warm and terribly comfortable cacoon which has been so very good to me. I have Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" playing in the back of my brain. Actually, I only have the first two lines repeating over and over again...
"I come from the land of the ice and snow, from the midnight sun where the hot springs blow..."I have lived in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada for the past 15 years. Victoria was one of those out-of-the-way places where the practices of SEO and SEM were pioneered by people like Todd Friesen, Ross Dunn, Richard Zwicky, Jennifer Slegg, Dave Davies and myself. It is a beautiful, tiny city at the southern end of a long, thin island off the west coast of Canada. The Pacific ocean marks the western, southern and eastern borders of the city and some of the few remaining stands of ancient old-growth temperate rainforest (in the world) grows just sixty miles north of me. This is a special place and it would be wrong to leave it without marking my own passage. I am truly going to miss this place. This is the town that gave me my career and allowed me to flourish in the flakey blur that passes for my reality. With three major Canadian universities, two colleges and a slew of technical schools, this is one of the smartest cities in the world. I know I am going to miss the levels of intelligence, compassion and understanding present in Victoria. (Victoria is a place where one never has to explain the principles of Keynesian economics as I find myself doing often lately when away) I am sitting at my desk which is the last of the funiture to be descembled waiting for my business partner to pick me up for a meeting with our banker. Making a life altering move presents a lot of challenges, the least of which involve actually going somewhere. I've had to figure out how to keep my own business alive while giving WebmasterRadio.FM 100% of my focus. I've had to make sure the social projects I founded and fostered surrounding the homeless and the hungry are taken care of and will continue to operate in my abscense. I've had to make sure my friends understand that I love them and hope to see them all again someday in a vague and apparently distant future. I need to make sure my two employees understand that though the cat is away, the mice have got to get the work done without the safety net of my supervision. So, why am I doing this? Last week I had lunch with the president of a major SEO firm from the Pacific North West. While eating, her husband asked me, "Jim, you can have any job you want in this industry. Why are you moving to Florida and stepping back from SEO?" That's a good question. It's not that I am bored. Far from it... I am still caught up in the magic and wonder of our industry. Every day I learn new things about search and our society. I have enjoyed what I consider some of the best series of gigs in the search marketing sector for over ten years now. Why in Gaia's name would I even think about making such a move? For the past five years, I have seen my role in the community change from "head SEO" at a major search marketing shop to what I consider some sort of search journalism. Working with WebmasterRadio.FM is search journalism. This move will also allow me to get far more involved in the practice of SEO, this time under the tutelage of another of the originals, Daron Babin, aka: SEGuru. With a growing online radio network and exciting plans for the future, WebmasterRadio.FM needs a couple good SEOs. More importantly, WebmasterRadio.FM presents the opportunities to learn and grow I need to feel I am moving forward in my career and in my life. I came to this town to attend the University of Victoria but never intended to stay longer than four or five years. Today, after a decade and a half, is my last full day on the Island. When ever I delivered a speech or lecture in this town, I would open with a jolly, "Hello Victoria". Today, as I write what is likely the last long column in a search related blog in this town I write with a small tear in my eye, "Goodbye Victoria". Thanks for all the memories. I'll be back again someday, I'm just not exactly sure when.