Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
July 5, 2015 7:50 AM

The Wrath Of Cannes With Joseph Jaffe

Episode #469 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.

Joseph Jaffe is widely regarded as one of the top marketing bloggers (Jaffe Juice) and podcasters (both Jaffe Juice in audio and Jaffe Juice TV in video). He is the author of four excellent books (Life After The 30-Second Spot, Join The Conversation, Flip The Funnel and Z.E.R.O.) and his latest business venture is, Evol8tion. A long-time friend (and one of the main inspirations behind the Six Pixels of Separation blog and podcast), we've decided to hold semi-regular conversations, debates and back-and-forths that will dive a little deeper into the digital marketing and advertising landscape. This is our 33rd conversation (or, as I like to affectionately call it, Across The Sound 33.20), and in this episode, we discuss the Cannes Lions advertising awards and how chaotic the marketing world is. Welcome to disruption! 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 Mirum Podcast #469.

By Mitch Joel


July 4, 2015 7:34 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #263

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:

  • I used to lead tours at a plantation. You won't believe the questions I got about slavery. - Vox. "Topical, and sobering. If we're going to tackle racism, we can't sweep it under the rug. South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation hearings were painful, like opening wounds, but they made the past unavoidable. Apparently, tourists in the South don't agree." (Alistair for Hugh).
  • Holocaust 'hero' Sir Nicholas Winton dies aged 106 - BBC. "A life well lived. Everyone knows Schindler; Winton, who shunned public praise, smuggled hundreds of kids out of Europe and just died on the anniversary of the last train out." (Alistair for Mitch).
  • Stories for machines, data for humans - Discontents"Alistair and I once gave a presentation together called: 'An API for Books,' and both of us have done work, in one way or another, thinking about what books could be in our digital world, and sadly, aren't for the most part. Tim Sherett is an Oz-based academic who is always doing cool projects reimagining books and academic writing as if, instead of just printing on paper paper, we could also structure our books as data and have them live in the cloud. Here, he talks about his experiments." (Hugh for Alistair).   
  • Welcome to Jun, the town that ditched bureaucracy to run on Twitter - The Guardian. "Fascinating direction for a Spanish town, that now does all its town business via Twitter, supposedly reducing bureaucracy, speeding up town services." (Hugh for Mitch).
  • Welcome To The Age Of The Micro-Singularity - Fast Company Co.Exist. "I'm not sure if I am satisfied with using the word 'singularity' for what is being described in this article, but there is an interesting thought here. When we're all connected... and we all come together around an idea, what does that mean? Does it mean anything? Is it worth putting a title on it? Does it impact culture in new and different ways? Bigger thought for me: are businesses going to get into this? Will brands suddenly start looking for their own multi-singularity as the highest form of recognition and value?" (Mitch for Alistair).
  • Reading Is Forgetting - The New York Book of Reviews. "Maybe people don't read enough books, because it's a ton of work. Not just mentally, but physical work. Moving our eyes, line after line, page after page for days on end. It's exhausting on our bodies. In fact, maybe we can't even really take in anything on our first read. Maybe, all of us need to read the same book 4-5 times to really take in what the author intended (as this article suggests). Wow... I love to read, and I don't think I could ever read something like a book that many times. I don't think I know anyone who would/could. So, are we actually taking in anything when we read, or is it all forgotten in the moment? I never thought of reading this way. Have you?" (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


July 3, 2015 5:37 PM

Why You Should Be Thinking About Design Thinking

Where are you/where is your business when it comes to design thinking?

I have been spending a lot of time thinking about design thinking. What does it mean to Mirum? What does it means to business? What does it mean to the personal work that I do with my words? What does it mean to our clients? What does it mean to the future of business? A lot of thinking. A lot of "what does it mean"? Currently, I am in the middle of reading the book, The Designful Company by Marty Neumeier. I am loving it. Much like Marty's other books (The Brand Gap, Zag and others), they are short, written in an easy-to-understand way, and beautifully designed (typography matters!). It's not the first book that I've tackled on the subject of design thinking, and it is inching me closer to seeing how the focus on design thinking matters in - literally - everything that we do. Currently wrapping up is the Aspen Ideas Festival. A conference that takes leaders out of their standard day to focus - in-depth - on the challenges and opportunities that our world is creating. During this past week's sessions, Roger Martin (the Martin Prosperity Institute out of Rotman University in Toronto) and Tim Brown (CEO of IDEO and bestselling business book author) sat down with moderator Alexis Madrigal to tackle new approaches of design thinking to improve democratic capitalism. What pragmatic steps might we take to make progress on complex challenges? How can design thinking unlock new ways to drive towards massive change? In this fascinating hour-long conversation (which is well-worth your time), Brown says that design thinking allow you to "be intentional about what we create." This is a very powerful space. I have seen too many business leaders think that design thinking is just new jargon for "creative types." It is not.

Why does democratic capitalism need design thinking? Why does your business need design thinking? Watch this...

By Mitch Joel


July 2, 201511:35 PM

Don't Take A Technology Sabbatical

How long can you go without your smartphone?

Let's be candid. Very candid. My smartphone has the same impact on me, personally, like my blankie did when I was a toddler. I simply don't feel safe without it. I feel empty. I feel scared. I didn't want to go anywhere without it. I am not alone. You may think that this is not a healthy place to be, but let me explain.

Without my smartphone I don't...

  • Know the phone numbers of the people that matter most to me. I don't. I can't remember them. I inputed those numbers once (well over a decade ago), and I simply don't know them by heart.
  • Have immediate access to my banking services. Do you know your bank account numbers, etc...?
  • Have my calendar on hand to see what's happening next in my day... week... month.
  • Know when people's Birthdays and Anniversaries are (including my own!).
  • Know my travel plans (airline tickets, car services, hotels and more).
  • Have instant connections to family, friends, clients and others (messaging apps!).
  • Really know how to get from here to there (I am terrible without directions and can't read a traditional map to save my life).

My smartphone is my safety blanket.

In 2001, I worked at a company that specialized in content for mobile devices. Yes, 14 years ago. Do you know what mobile devices looked like then? There were no apps, there wasn't even the mobile Web browser yet. No ringtones. Cell phone carriers had these "decks" with text-based/simple content plays. Back then, one of the company's co-founders (the awesome Andy Nulman) used to say that mobile phones will soon become the remote controls for our lives. Andy was right. Andy was wrong. In no time at all, our smartphones did become the remote controls for our personal lives. Lately, these smartphones are becoming the remotes that allow us to control the world. Yes, they now allow us to control our world. Don't believe me? Need a car? Need some food? Need a private jet? Need a place to think and work? Need someone to do something for you on the cheap? It's real. it's here. 

We have become so reliant on our technology that we can't live, work and play without it.

You have seen the the constant stream of news, articles and reports on just how unhealthy our relationship and reliance on technology has become. The New York Times just published an article titled, Could You Block Your Mobile Phone? How's this for a piece of data: 35% of people wake up, and the first thing that they reach for is their smartphone. Only 10% of us reach for our significant others. You tell me, which one is providing us with more comfort? You may have also been exposed to the countless studies that demonstrate how bad sleeping habits are only magnified by our use of smartphones prior to bed (or, even worse, using them when we wake up in the middle of the night). The New York Times article also focuses on a hotel in Germany that has a bedside switch that allows guests to completely disconnect from our digital world by, literally, blocking all signals.

This summer, many of my friends are taking a technology sabbatical.

They're doing things as varied as not going on Facebook for a few months, refusing to use email for a length of time, or completely going off the grid to work on a project. I can't do it. It's not for me. It's not that I am afraid to leave the comforts of my safety blankie, it's that I have never felt that stuck and sick of technology. I have a technique that I have always deployed when it comes to technology. It's actually, less of a technique and more of a philosophy. Here it is...

I don't let technology manage me. I manage my technology.

What does this mean? It could be a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone, but the first thing that I do - across the board - is mute everything. From the overall sound of the device to notifications on every applications or piece of software. Everything. On my mobile device, the only time that it buzzes (yes, vibrate only) is when it is my spouse and a very select number of family, friends and work colleagues. This way, there is never any disruption. I have a lot of emails, but I could not tell you how many I have, or when they come in. The second phase of managing your technology, is making it a destination (and not something that comes to you). I only know how many emails I have, when I open up that application. I don't even have the number count that likes to hover over the application icons (remember: disable everything). 

If you don't want to be disturbed by technology, you have to manage it and not let it manage you.

One day, I will probably get an Apple Watch. But not today. After evaluating it, my sentiment was that the most powerful functionality of the watch is that it delivers alerts to your wrist. More alerts. I'm not looking for more alerts. I am searching for more time to focus on what matters most. When the watch can become something more than a glorified alert mechanism, I will be all over it. The issue with people feeling so overwhelmed by all of this technology saddens me. Personally, I don't need a break from technology, because I'm only engaging in it, when I proactively need to. I don't need to leave the iPhone away from my bed, because it is my alarm clock. But, before I set that alarm - every night - I also hit that little half-moon icon, and set it all to "Do Not Disturb."

The truth is that you will never need a sabbatical from technology, if you simply start taking control back from notifications and alerts. 

By Mitch Joel


June 30, 201511:01 PM

Marketing Needs To Be About What's New

The most creative ideas win.

If you learned nothing else from all of the news coming out of the Cannes Lions advertising festival that our industry just wrapped, it's that big, hairy, audacious and creative ideas still get the most attention in a world where programmatic, marketing automation and data technology services seem to be the big plays most investors in marketing are looking at. Great creative work has become closer to art than anything else. Still, the change in marketing is everywhere. As advanced as some brand marketers and agencies have become, it is still early days for disruption.

Don't believe me?

If a brand needs to implement a brand new data and analytics platform, who initiates, makes the call and handles the implementation? Is that happening out of the Chief Marketing Officer's office, or is it coming from the IT or online channel line of business (which is, typically, a part of the IT team)? There is no doubt that marketers have leaned more heavily on the side of analytics and predictive platforms to make their work more relevant and effective, but the bridge between technology, data, analytics, sales performance and marketing is often still a chasm within most organizations.

This is not about Mad Men vs. Math Men.

It is about the fact that advertising - which used to be the driving output of a marketing initiative - is moving closer to being "just the creative." Why is this? Historically, we used ads not just to sell products and services, but to point to and say, "see, this is what our marketing looks like!" It's harder to do this in a world where a paid search result can often generate more activation than a television spot. The landscape continues to change for marketers... dramatically. Now, the marketing department isn't just responsible for ensuring that the ad agency is putting their budgets to good use, they're suddenly responsible for being the leaders of change within the organization. That's a complex place to be, no matter the size of the organization.

Marketers are the ones who can demonstrate to the brand what's new... and why it matters. 

How do you really think about change within your organization. If there's one quote that constantly rolls around in my brain, it's the one that I discovered in Tom Peters' amazingly brilliant book, Re-Image! - Business Excellence In A Disruptive Age (published in 2003):

"If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less." General Eric Shinseki - Chief of Staff, U. S. Army (Retired).

We're apprehensive about change. Change is easy to talk about. Change is hard to do. Take a look back at the myriad of editorial and news pieces covering the Cannes Lions, and there's one message that remains blatantly clear: marketers need to change and adapt their business (both brand marketers and agencies), but there is a reluctance in many cases, a slow movement towards that change for most, and total ignorance for an ever larger set of companies. 

The one thing about change: technology.

That's the most fascinating discovery in all of this talk. It's not about how creative the team members are. It's not about access to budgets to make things happen. It's not about brands enabling their agencies to do better work. These were the commonplace issues for decades. Now, it's always about technology. Whether that technology powers the internal team, or whether it's about using technology to better connect creative ideas to consumers. The biggest announcements were those that had technology as the main theme.

So, is technology really driving brands to be more successful?

Marketing is an insights-driven business. Technology has opened up a pandora's box of insights for all of us to use. So, when brands are looking for a new way to think about their business - and how it connects to consumers - it's easy to look at change, innovation and technology as the key drivers for success in business. We can't just push creativity to the bottom of this list. We can't just make advertising the creative output. Clearly, there needs to be a more symbiotic model in place. This means that creativity isn't everything any more... and that's an important place for brands to be. Marketers need to elevate their brand conversations, and stop splicing them into either "technology" or "creativity" buckets. When you look at which brands are really winning (and Cannes Lions showcased many of them), it really was about the brands that have become open to the idea of living and breathing in the world of "what's new." As a digital marketing professional, this is a beautiful thing. As someone on the agency side of this industry, it's even more perfect.

Consumers want what's new. Brands need to embrace what's new. Agencies need to deliver to brands what's new.

By Mitch Joel


June 29, 2015 9:46 AM

Should Authors Be Paid By The Book Or The Page?

Every Monday morning at 7:10 am, I am a guest contributor on CHOM 97.7 FM radio broadcasting out of Montreal (home base). It's not a long segment - about 5 to 10 minutes every week - about everything that is... Read more

By Mitch Joel


June 28, 2015 3:52 PM

Marketing Cartoons With Tom Fishburne

Episode #468 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to. We live in a world with so much content and creativity, that it's hard to remember what's most interesting.... Read more

By Mitch Joel


June 27, 2015 7:55 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #262

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


June 26, 2015 8:20 PM

Small Spaces. Big Ideas

Always judge a book by its cover.  Not a typo. I do judge a book by its cover. I love books. And, there's nothing I like more than a gorgeous book cover. Small spaces with great design turns my crank.... Read more

By Mitch Joel


June 25, 201511:35 PM

Your Brand Is A Learning Space

How much more content does the world really need? Laugh at that line as much as you want, but when I published my first business book, Six Pixels of Separation, back in 2009, I wrote about this newly-formed idea that... Read more

By Mitch Joel