Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
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 great. Let's start there. The premise is simple: Seinfeld chooses a fellow comedian that he admires and he asks them out for a coffee and conversation. In the show, Seinfeld (a car fanatic) chooses a car that best represents his guest, picks them up, they go for a drive and then they extend their conversation over coffee. You not only get some great (and hilarious) moments, but you're able to better understand how these entertainers think, what makes them tick and what they find funny. It's very human. It's very real. People flock to it, not just because it's Seinfeld and another celebrity, but because it's a peek behind the curtain. It's less about what any one celebrity is promoting and much more about their careers and their creative process. Fascinating stuff.

What does this have to do with your content? Everything.

The Paley Center For Media hosts some pretty impressive events, and this one is a doozy. Jerry Seinfeld sits down (for over an hour!) to discuss Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee with David Letterman (crazy, right?). You will have to pay close attention, but there are tons of nuggets that are completely transferable to any brand thinking about content marketing and how to tell stories that work and inspire when most people are watching them graze by on their mobile devices. Just Seinfeld's theory on how his show had to "move" in this new world, is worth the price of admission alone. You will be tempted to simply click the play button below and be entertained. Don't do this. Grab a pen and a notebook or fire up your Evernote and take notes. There's gold in here, Jerry, gold!

Jerry Seinfeld And David Letter - The Paley Center for Media.

(also, if you want to hear more about understanding the dynamics of comedy, success and telling better stories, take a listen to my conversation with James Altucher: SPOS #425 - Laughing All The Way To The Bank With James Altucher)

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 - overcome this hurdle by covering corners of the TV with a removable sticker. These stickers highlight everything from resolution, to types of cable inputs to other kinds of smart features that the screens have built into them (like Netflix, etc...). This way, it's much easier for the consumer to recognize the subtle nuances between prices and sizes, and what they're getting when faced with a wall of screens that all look similar in size and function. This is smart marketing. It's actually become increasingly better over the years, as most of these stickers have become somewhat standardized to make the shopping process have a little less friction. These floor demos and their stickers are a great example of how television manufacturers have overcome the challenge of mis-informed sales associates coupled with the ability for a consumer to make distinctions between the choices at a glance.

But then, again, marketers can also do some very dumb stuff.

I found myself with an extended flight delay (it happens) and I was waiting in an airport lounge (airline, lounge and location won't be mentioned). With everything happening in the news and a crazier-than-usual travel schedule, I opted to sit in front of the TV airing CNN while checking my email, eating some snacks that I have no business eating, and catching up on how much chaos there is going on in our world today. It seemed to be a fairly new and large-ish flat screen TV that had the feature-riddled sticker still on it. It made me laugh. I wondered why the people who had installed the screen couldn't even be bothered to remove the sticker that is solely used for the purpose of comparing it to others while on a showroom floor. As I approached the screen to remove it (someone has to do it!), it disappeared. I thought I was on Candid Camera. Is this a joke? I went over to the bar, grabbed some more pretzels and water and sat back down in my seat. The sticker reappeared. I had been on the road. I was very tired. I rubbed my eyes. The sticker was still there.

Can you guess what happened next?

It turns out that this TV manufacturer had created a digital version of this "sticker" that appears quite often (every couple of seconds or so) on this, specific, TV. It's obviously there as some kind of promotion/sponsorship with the airline to have frequent travelers marvel at all of the features that this screen possesses. But it doesn't. It's annoying. And, as I got more and more annoyed by this digital sticker - either blocking the full screen experience or continually popping in and out of the regularly scheduled programming - I started to hate this brand. With a passion. Now, let's be honest: I'm a marketing nerd, so these types of silly antics are probably more noticeable to me than the average consumer, but it's still an interruption, it adds friction to the TV viewing experience and... it's simply not good.

The thing about hate.

Hate is a strong word. Most consumers probably wouldn't say that they hate it. It's more subliminal. It's annoying. It festers. It lies there... somewhere... in their back of their brains. We all know that life is full of experiences. Some great. Some bad. Some that last forever. Some that are fleeting. The brand's imperative is to ensure that - with every interaction - they are getting consumers to invest in them (and not divest of them). I'm much more aware of marketing than the average bear. I see moments like this as a great opportunity to engage. No one wants to be in an airport lounge. They're simply there trying to get a break from one hectic moment to another. If you were a brand thinking about marketing within that environment, you may want to think more about the state of the consumer's mindset (and less about what you're trying to scream at them). Brands need to look for ways to add peace, serenity and comfort, instead of intrusion, annoyance and confusion. It's not just airport lounges, either. It's everywhere. From Instagram and Facebook to television ads and beyond.

Don't make me hate you.

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. This includes the actual physical office spaces that we use (and, yes, that could be at home, Starbucks or even in the tallest building of the financial district). How will teams be structured? What will the leaders of the future look like? Is Mark Zuckerberg the prototype of the CEO? It's these same thoughts that consume Jacob Morgan. So much so, that he recently published a business book titled, The Future Of Work - Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders And Create A Competitive Organization. Jacob also wrote The Collaborative Organization in 2012 and advises many Fortune 1000 businesses on innovation and the future of work. So, if we live in a world where more and more people can start a business in their garage and sell a seven-person startup for billions of dollars, what does the future of work look and feel like? 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 #427.

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


September 11, 201411:34 PM

Native Advertising Is Everybody's Problem

Have you jumped on board the native advertising train yet? There are few words more buzzworthy these days than "native advertising" (that's a lie... "big data" is probably worse). Yesterday morning, I moderated a panel discussion at Content Marketing World... Read more

By Mitch Joel


September 10, 201410:00 PM

When TV Becomes An Accessory To YouTube

Everyone is talking about video. Have you noticed how on Facebook, some videos in your newsfeed start on their own now? You don't have to click on them. They just start. For some, this is very upsetting and disruptive to... Read more

By Mitch Joel


September 9, 2014 8:52 PM

Be An Advocate For Your Consumer

Who doesn't want their brand to be more likeable? Ultimately, we are in service of other people. This makes a lot of marketing skeptics shake their collective heads in disbelief, but it is true. It is how I feel. I... Read more

By Mitch Joel