Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
September 21, 2014 7:03 AM

Mistakes We Make At Work

Episode #428 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.

I was walking through a bookstore while awaiting a dinner meeting, and I came across a book titled, Mistakes I Made At Work. Regrets... I've had a few. For the record, I believe that learning comes from setbacks and mistakes. That being said, it is often very difficult for the individual to get over themselves and their mistakes on their path to success. What do you think? How do some of the most successful people get over their mistakes to get to where they really want to be? Jessica Bacal thinks a lot about these questions. She's the director of the Wurtele Center for Work & Life at Smith College, an independent women's college in Massachusetts with students from every state and from sixty countries around the world. The center's programs teach leadership skills, life skills, stress reduction and reflection. Jessica is also a writer for Huffington Post and The New York Times, so she decided to speak with twenty-five influential women to get their reflections on what they learned from some of their biggest mistakes and published the book, Mistakes I Made At Work. Jessica was hesitant to do this podcast with me. It turns out that her father is also my literary agent (I had no knowledge of this until well after I had put in the request to have her as a guest on the show). She was worried that I was just doing this to help out my literary agent. She was wrong :)  Enjoy the conversation...

You can grab the latest episode of Six Pixels of Separation here (or feel free to subscribe via iTunes): Six Pixels of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast #428.

By Mitch Joel


September 20, 2014 9:28 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #222

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see?

My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, Solve For Interesting, the author of Complete Web Monitoring, Managing Bandwidth: Deploying QOS in Enterprise Networks and Lean Analytics), Hugh McGuire (PressBooks, LibriVox, iambik and co-author of Book: A Futurist's Manifesto) and I decided that every week the three of us are going to share one link for one another (for a total of six links) that each individual feels the other person "must see".

Check out these six links that we're recommending to one another:

  • The sci-fi optimist - Nature. "Neal Stephenson has had more of an effect on me than any other writer except perhaps, James Burke. He's brilliant, and unwaveringly tough on himself and others. He's imaginative, but also grounded in reality. And he writes cool books (the term 'avatar', referring to your online persona, was first coined by him in Snow Crash, which in turn inspired Second Life). Case in point: 'a lot of opposition to global warming and evolution is not about science. The majority of people who identify themselves as global-warming sceptics, for example, do believe it is happening. But they think that admitting that will open the door to excessive regulation by the government.' Here's a Nature interview with him." (Alistair for Hugh).
  • How neuroscience is being used to spread quackery in business and education - The Conversation. "It's clickbait with an imprimatur of authenticity. Debunking online myths is easy; but when they have the sheen of science, they stick. There's never been a time when more science is cited - and more of it is wrong - than now." (Alistair for Mitch).
  • Things Come Apart - Todd McLellan. "The stuff inside of things, made into art. Amazing." (Hugh for Alistair).
  • 'Pirouetting guard' breaks decorum to show off dance moves to delighted Buckingham Palace tourists - National Post. "Buckingham Palace guards are famous for doing the exact same thing, every hour, every day for the past, well, anyway for a long time. Here's the guard who decided to mix things up a bit." (Hugh for Mitch).
  • Forget The Hyperloop: Larry Page Wants Google To Build A Super-Efficient Airport The Rest Of The World Can Copy - Business Insider. "I spent a few days this week in Phoenix attending the always amazing Google Zeitgeist event. I like to think of this private/invitation-only event as TED with a business slant. This year did not disappoint. Google dreams big. You can read this article to better understand just how big. Adam Grant had the chance to interview Larry Page at Zeitgeist. Page talked a little bit about how he would like to tackle driverless airplanes after driverless cars. He believes that with the technology we're seeing for drones, there's no reason why we couldn't create a more efficient form of air transport. After hearing him speak - and reading this article - I think he's on to something." (Mitch for Alistair). 
  • How U2 became the new Nickelback - The Daily Dot. "If you're eyes were open these past few weeks, it was hard to miss the Apple, U2 and iPhone story. In short: Apple decided to give everyone (for free) a copy of the new U2 album. Sounds great and smart, right? Well, it turns out that it wasn't 'opt-in.' The album 'magically' appeared on everyone's playlist and all you had to do was download it from the cloud. The problem? People didn't want it on their playlists, nor did they want to download it and they felt like Apple intruded on their playlists without permission. Apple retracted and built a webpage to explain to people how to remove U2's latest. Now, everyone is saying that U2 and Apple are both 'out of touch.' Check out this article. It has gotten so bad that they're now comparing U2 to Nickelback (Hugh, admit it, secretly at night you listen to Nickelback, don't you?). My two cents: people are looking a gift horse in the mouth and they love to kill their darlings. U2 did something different. They did it with Apple. The execution could have been better, but this was an interesting idea." (Mitch for Hugh).

Feel free to share these links and add your picks on Twitter, Facebook, in the comments below or wherever you play.

By Mitch Joel


September 19, 201410:08 PM

Your Brand And The Amazing Spiderman

Last week, I went to the Montreal ComicCon.

It was crazy, It wasn't San Diego ComicCon crazy, but it was crazy. Over 50,000 people took part over one weekend. It's a number that I just can't wrap my head around. Why? Growing up, I was a massive comic book (shocked, I am sure). How bad did I have it? I had it bad. One of the best comic book stores in the city, Capitaine Quebec, used to have its main store right around the corner from my dad's pharmacy. The owners of the comic book store knew my dad. They shared a common driveway, they would often grab coffee or a meal at the same diner a few doors down. Most adults would have considered what I was doing - day in and day out - at Capitaine Quebec as loitering, and my parents probably saw it as free babysitting. For me, it was a place to escape, imagine, get inspired... and kill some time.

There are lessons in these comic book pages.

When I first started going to comic book conventions, they were pretty desperate. They were held in random dreary two-star hotels across the downtown part of the city. And, without joke, they were very similar to the comic book store on The Simpsons (right, Jeff Albertson?). Still, these were my people. Yes, I collected comic books (placed them in a bag with cardboard support and stored them in proper conditions... like fine wine), but the most fun I had would be crawling into bed, pulling the covers over my head and letting the pages of a comic book take me away (flashlight held in place between my cheek and shoulder).

Weaving magical stories.

Thumbing through the aisles of comic book boxes at Montreal ComicCon, it's hard not to get both sentimental and reflective. Regardless of how you feel about comic books, imagine the creativity of people like Stan Lee. It's easy to dismiss the story-lines and art, but that would be very foolish. From Wikipedia: "An American billionaire playboy, industrialist, and ingenious engineer, Tony Stark suffers a severe chest injury during a kidnapping in which his captors attempt to force him to build a weapon of mass destruction. He instead creates a powered suit of armor to save his life and escape captivity. He later uses the suit and successive versions to protect the world as Iron Man. Through his corporation, Stark Industries, Stark has created many military weapons, some of which, along with other technological devices of his making, have been integrated into his suit, helping him fight crime. Initially, Iron Man was a vehicle for Stan Lee to explore Cold War themes, particularly the role of American technology and business in the fight against communism. Subsequent re-imaginings of Iron Man have transitioned from Cold War themes to contemporary concerns, such as corporate crime and terrorism." Stan Lee is just one of the many geniuses behind some of the most legendary super heroes. You know, the ones that are killing it at the box office, on TV, in video games, toys, books, t-shirts and beyond. Stan, without knowing it, created this Steve Jobs-like technologist (albeit a super hero too) back in 1963. The creativity and thinking is astounding, considering he came up with the idea in 1963!

What does this have to do with your brand?

When these comic books were created, there was no money. Times were tough. These artists and storytellers would sit, side by side, banging out idea after idea. For every Spider-Man, there were plenty of duds. They kept at it. For years, comic books were dismissed. For years, comic books were at the fringe. Slowly, over time, they became valued (some, even collectible). The ones that withstood the test of time, are the ones with big stories that can evolve over time. These stories have managed to find relevance with each passing generation. Even as the technology evolved from comic book science fiction into reality, there are many characters and titles that have evolved with the times as well. These creators and artists were true visionaries. It makes you wonder why brands don't do their best to embody some of these values. Imagine brands with a story so strong that people would get sentimental and reflective when they use them. It may not be for every brand, but it's still something that every brand can consider.

Great storytelling doesn't take much more than imagination and the desire to see it come to life.

How many people told Stan Lee that his vision for Iron Man - in 1963 - was silly or childish? He was probably told - more than once - that it was downright stupid. Now, in hindsight, it was visionary. Comic books are amazing. They tell stories of struggles and their bold outcomes. If that's not perfectly aligned with business today, I don't know what is. Still think that comics are for kids... or for the fringe audiences? The next time a Comic-Con comes to your town, do yourself a favor: buy a ticket, walk the floor, stop and look at some comic books and think about how these stories got created, why the artists created them and how do they get readers to follow along with every issue for years on end. There are probably more business and marketing lessons in those pages than you could ever imagine.

You will become a true believer.

By Mitch Joel


September 18, 201411:44 PM

Enter The Zeitgeist

Welcome to the spirit of the times.

The TED conference is my personal escape pod. I've been attending that conference since the last one that was held in Monterey (2008). Someone once described it as "gymnastic for the brains." That description always makes me smile, but for those who attend it, they know that it is about so much more. The TED conference affects me at the cellular level. I'm not being overly dramatic. When was the last time that you attended a conference that you thought about on a daily basis? I think about the event, speakers and people I connect with over there on a daily basis. No joke. There is one other event that holds that same, special place in my heart, and it is: Google Zeitgeist. Google Zeitgeist is a private event (only five hundred attendees that are, primarily, Google's best partners). There are no sales pitches and little-to-no hallway chatter about what Google can do to grow your business. Google positions this conference as a "thank you." I'm not sure how it happens, but they are very gracious to invite me to be an attendee. I've been going for years, and I can best describe the content as, "TED with more of a business twist."

Google Zeitgeist happened this week.

I flew to Phoenix (via Chicago) this past Sunday night and stayed until the end of it (Tuesday after lunch). My head is still spinning (and it's not from the 100+ degree weather). I'm always leery of sharing anything about the event in my social channels (granted, I do post some pictures to Facebook and Instagram), because I'm doing my best to be present in the moment. To take notes. To even spend some time alone with my thoughts. To think about what I learned, and how to apply it to the business of Twist Image, to our clients... and to myself. I feel, somewhat, silly even trying to write about it post-event. It's all mush right now, as it stews around and slow cooks between my earholes. Because it's a private/invite-only event, I'm also cautious to share anything online that was supposed to stay "in the room." (afterall, I do want to be invited back ;).

Let's share some Google Zeitgeist.

I subscribe to the Zeitgeist Minds YouTube channel, where they often post the talks from previous events. Just now, I noticed a whole bunch of this week's presentations were already posted online. So, the first thing you should do, is to subscribe to the Google Zeitgeist Minds YouTube Channel. The next thing you should do, is watch the following sessions that really inspired me.

Here's just a little tickle of Google Zeitgeist:

By Mitch Joel


September 17, 201411:02 PM

This Ain't No Ice Bucket Challenge. Please Read.

Here's a simple truth about me: I don't like asking you for anything.

I don't. I don't like asking you to share my content. I don't like asking you to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or whatever. I don't like asking for help, in general. It's a fault. I'm not perfect. With that, I love sharing, helping and making myself as readily available to as many people as possible. I publish this blog, the podcast, my two books (Six Pixels of Separation and CTRL ALT Delete), articles in Harvard Business Review, Huffington Post and Inc. Magazine  and more, because I want people to think differently about their business and their marketing. I don't take for granted the amazing opportunity that social media has brought, in terms of taking an individual's thinking and being able to share it with the world in such an instant and real-time fashion.

Well, I need your help. I'm asking for your help.

I don't know about you, but I've had another crazy year of people that I know and love getting some form of cancer. Many didn't make it, but here's a deeply, personal story: It was beautiful and perfect sunny day on August 25th, 2010. I was flying from Montreal to Toronto for a business pitch. I was happy with life - family, business and community were all going along great. I remember looking out of the plane window into the clear blue horizon and thinking, "life is good. I am very lucky." I was looking forward to landing because I was about to call my best friend to let him know that my family was expecting a new baby. I've known this person for my whole life. I can't remember them not being a part of my life or a friend. He was the first call outside of my immediate family with the good news. He always is. When the flight landed, I received a phone call from him. I was smiling to myself thinking, "this is perfect! He's calling me!"

That's when my world collapsed.

He told me that his beautiful, young daughter, Leah (who was five years old), had cancer... leukemia. How could that be? A few weeks prior she was at my kid's birthday party, laughing, playing... perfect. Now... leukemia? It was - without a question - one of the hardest moments in my life... trying to understand and take in what my best friend was telling me about his daughter... who I would treat as my own daughter in terms of love and care. I went into a tailspin.

It makes no sense.

Leah's courage throughout this nightmare is what pulled everyone through - family and friends. If there were ever a definition for the word "survivor" it is Leah. After a lengthy and hard battle, she is - thankfully - in remission and back home where she belongs: with her family and friends. She is happily in remission.

She's lucky, but many, many people are not this lucky.

Now, it's our turn to make a difference. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada's Light The Night Walk is a night to pay tribute and bring hope to all those affected by blood cancer. On October 18th, I will be joining thousands of people walking in twilight carrying illuminated balloons to fight this dreaded disease for the fourth year in a row. I'm doing this as a part of Leah's team. I'll be walking with Leah and her family.

I'm asking you to do one thing for me.

I do my best to put out six blog posts and one audio podcast every week. This makes it close to four thousand entries over the years. In a perfect world, I'd prefer to not ask for help (those who know me, personally, can attest that I struggle with asking for help). In all instances, I try to make the ask something that has more value to the person actually taking action. Meaning, I prefer when the value of the ask is balanced not towards the person asking, but to those who participate. I'm confident that over the past decade, I have offered up countless pieces that added value to your work (at least, I hope I have!). This isn't about me raising money. It's about our kids and the randomness and cruelty that is leukemia and because none of us are safe. Leah got leukemia with no family history of the problem. Nothing. Now, Leah (who is in remission) will have to deal with this for the rest of her life. Other families aren't even granted that luxury.

Please help.

I set a goal of $5000 to raise from friends and family. The truth is that I would love to crack the $10,000 mark. I do realize that times are tough and many of us are watching our wallets just a little bit closer than we usually have, but please consider giving something. I know that a lot of you probably took part in the #IceBucketChallenge (as I did). But, you know the saying, "every dollar counts." If over the years, any of my content has struck a chord with you, made you smile, made you see your business world in a different way, I hope that you will consider this ask as the "tip jar" for my thoughts.

If you can find it in your heart to give, please do so right here: Light The Night Walk.

How about a little giver's gain?

As a "thank you," here's what I am offering:

  • Whoever donates the most money gets me for a one-hour get together. It can be via Skype, phone or in-person (meaning, if you're in Montreal or if I happen to be travelling to wherever it is that you live). It will be a social meeting, but you can feel free to ask me anything. Lunch is on me. I'll also include a signed copy of Six Pixels of Separation and CTRL ALT Delete.
  • Whoever comes in next will get a signed copy of Six Pixels of Separation and CTRL ALT Delete, plus a business book bundle that will include three great new books that just came out. Namely: Unselling by Scott Stratten and Alison Kramer, How The World Sees You By Sally Hogshead and The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau.
  • I will also do a random draw and give away five sets of two "special" tickets to The Art Of... event of your choice. This is just the tickets, so you will have to handle travel, accommodations, etc...

Now, it's your turn. Please help out. Please help me spread the good word. Thank you.

My friend - who is Leah's father - wrote the following song and performed it. This should add some more context to my ask...

By Mitch Joel


September 16, 201411:42 PM

How To Make Your Content Move. Think Like Jerry Seinfeld.

After you watch the video at the end of the post, you will think differently about your content. Promise. Have you had a chance to check out Jerry Seinfeld's wildly successful online series called, Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee? It's... Read more

By Mitch Joel


September 15, 201411:46 PM

Don't Make Me Hate You

Marketers often think they're being smart. Most of the time, we're being very stupid. When you visit your big box electronics retailer, it's hard to make headway on which TV to buy. Over the years, television manufacturers have - somewhat... Read more

By Mitch Joel


September 14, 2014 6:51 AM

The Future Of Work

Episode #427 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to. It's not just the marketing of a business that fascinates me. It's everything about the future of work.... Read more

By Mitch Joel


September 13, 2014 9:58 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #221

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see? My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, Solve For Interesting, the author of Complete... Read more

By Mitch Joel


September 12, 2014 5:17 PM

History Predicted It... We're All Cyberpunks Now

How much of you is technology... how much of you is human? No idea how this came across my radar, but - like you - I often find myself (late at night) deep down in the YouTube rabbit hole. There... Read more

By Mitch Joel