Entrepreneur and SparkToro CEO Rand Fishkin gave the Future Human audience the low-down on his concept of ‘chill work’.

“I have this belief that modern capitalism is not so great. It kind of sucks in a lot of ways.” That’s what Rand Fishkin, tech entrepreneur and co-founder of audience research software start-up SparkToro, said at Future Human 2022.

“I share a lot of empathy around this. I say this as someone who is obviously an entrepreneur and who cares about making companies. I like the kind of work that I do. I love the things that it brings. But I also recognise that a lot of people have been left behind, especially in the last 30 to 40 years of capitalism.”

Fishkin came up with the concept of ‘chill work’ as an antidote to “hustle culture” and “traditional corporate culture”.

He and his two co-workers at SparkToro are fully immersed in the chill work way of life, meaning they only meet semi-regularly, don’t micromanage each other, and generally trust each other to do what’s best for the company’s development.

“I think companies work best when everyone has the same goals, expectations and similar rates of pay. I think that it is very difficult to have a great company long-term when the CEO or the executive team is making 50 to 100 times more than the average employee,” Fishkin explained.

“I don’t want to be too harsh on traditional corporate culture or ‘hustle culture’ as it’s sort of termed. Hustle culture being the ethos of, work as hard as you can all the time to try and make as much money as you can. There’s a lot of people who like that, who obviously support it. I’m not one of them, but to each their own, right. You should be able to do what you want to do.

“In a chill work environment, what we do at SparkToro is prioritise people who do high-quality, very independent work with almost no management overhead.”


Words by Blathnaid O’Dea