Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
May 4, 201211:59 AM

Dear Tom Peters

Dear Tom,

It has been a while since we last did an event together, but I was just thinking of you yesterday and I felt compelled to write you this note. I don't think I ever told you this, but over a decade ago, I took a job as a Director of Marketing for a mobile content business. I was very excited about this opportunity because it involved working directly for Andy Nulman. At the time, Andy was best known for being the founder of the Just For Laughs comedy festival, but he decided to try out the technology and content world. I was both excited and intimidated by this opportunity because Andy is quite the character (and I mean that in the most loving way possible). I knew it would be hard to impress him, because this was a guy who had seen and done everything to turn Just For Laughs into the world-class brand that it has become. On my first day, I walked into my new office and he handed me a copy of your book, The Project 50. Up until that point, I don't think I had ever (truly) read a business book. I had given up on book reading after not enjoying my formal education. The book was small and Andy insisted that I read it before working on any projects.

I devoured that book.

Not only did I devour that book, but it sent me on a virtual spiral to read, consume and find anything and everything like it that had ever been written before. In short, your book, your thinking and your writing style was the catalyst (along with some prodding from my good friend, Andy) to learn. Not to read, but to learn. Not to worry about school, but to get a real education. Since then, I have probably read thousands of books (including all of yours) and my life has dramatically changed because of it. I wound up launching the Montreal Business Book Review and an audio podcast entirely dedicated to business and motivational books called, Foreword Thinking. While I have stopped both of those projects, all of that type of content still seeps its way into everything that I do here on this blog and podcast. I can't even count how many new and interesting authors your work has introduced me to (I still think that Funky Business by Jonas Ridderstrale and Kjell Nordstrom is a gem!).

In 2003, right before you released Re-Imagine! I heard that you would be speaking in Toronto. I got in a car and drove six hours (twelve total!) to see you speak that afternoon. I was so excited, that I actually wound up going to local Toronto bookstore where you were also doing an event in the earlier part of the afternoon to see you twice in a day. What happened at those two events changed my life forever. I had never seen you speak in public before, so watching you walk up and down the aisles (who needs a podium!) and speaking to people in both a whisper and then a scream inspired me to think differently about what a corporate presentation should be. The way you designed your slides and used them only as a catalyst for the words that were coming out of your mouth, taught me that knowing your content is a whole other world away from presenting content from a screen. I was more than inspired... it was a religious experience.

From there, we've had the chance to not only share the stage on numerous occasions, but to connect, chat and catch-up. As someone who spent over a decade in the music industry, I would often tell people that if they ever get the chance to meet the rock stars that they admire, to not do it. It winds up always being a letdown, and the image of them in their minds will always be more glamorous and powerful. Well, Tom, you are definitely one of the rock stars in my life, and am I ever happy that I didn't take my own advice. Meeting you and speaking to you has only reinforced the words that you write and the presentations that you give. You are compassionate, caring, real and a true conversationalist.

I'm not just a massive fan of yours because of the content that you create, but because it's obvious (from your books, blog posts, tweets and speeches) that business is personal to you. It's a life lesson that took me a couple of years to reconcile. People would often say to me, "it's nothing personal... it's just business." I hated that line. I spent my days (and nights) building my business. It's my passion and my love and I take it (all) very personally. You helped me realize that it's ok to take business personally. You have a care not just for business success, but a care for humanity. You preach about equality and doing what is right and - even after all of these years - it's a breath of fresh air.

I look forward to the next time that we have a moment to catch up. Until then, know that I'm following every post, tweet and word that you put out into our world and I do, sincerely, think that our world is a better place because of you.

Thanks, Tom... I don't know where I would be without you (and I owe Andy the old hat-tip for the intro to your beautiful mind).

Warm regards,

Mitch

I was very moved by the book, Steal Like An Artist, by Austin Kleon. Especially the section titled, Write Fan Letters. The truth is that I used to always write a note to the author of the book that I had just finished. I guess I got too busy (or read to many books or became lazy) to keep at it. In Kleon's book, he recommends writing a public fan letter and ends the section by saying: "The most important thing is that you show your appreciation without expecting anything in return, and that you get new work out of the appreciation." It's a beautiful concept. With your permission, I'll be using this space from time to time to write these kinds of letters. Welcome to Project: Public Fan Letter. Feel free to do a few of them yourself. I wrote my first Public Fan Letter to Seth Godin (you can read it here: Dear Seth Godin).

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Del Chatterson
    Mitch Joel

    I agree Mitch, I'm a big fan too.
    For me the inspiration and awakening was "In Search of Excellence" the godfather of all business books.
    Del.

    Reply
  • Posted by Doug Lacombe
    Mitch Joel

    Just bought it. LOVED "In Search of Excellence" back in the day - my wife was in commerce and introduced it to me and we discussed it ad infinitum! Great fan letter concept too, Mitch, way to pay it forward. Good start to the weekend for me thanks to you!

    Reply
  • Posted by Andy Nulman
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch--

    I am profoundly touched by this and proud of you. My little gift the seed that grew into the machine that is Mitch Joel and Twist Image? What better compliment can one get? Okay, a full-fledged Open Fan Letter, but I digress. Seriously, you have made my day. May all the little things we do innocently and unknowingly prove to have such a payoff down the road.

    Reply
  • Posted by Tony Faustino
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch, I love Welcome to Project: Public Fan Letter (Mitch Joel Version). Your Seth Godin letter and this one to Tom Peters move me.

    I had the recent opportunity to meet one of my social media heroes, Valeria Maltoni, when she visited Kansas City earlier this year -- what a wonderful experience and Valeria is a wonderful person. When the opportunities arise, I'm hoping to personally meet more (and you are one of them).

    Tom's Fast Company Article, The Brand Called You, continues to be one of the most influential pieces of work on my life. I wrote a a multiple-post series on what The Brand Called You meant to me last year. And, I was thrilled when one of those posts was published on the Tom Peters' "Media Sightings Page." It's a milestone that validated for me that I was on the right path in starting my personal blog.

    Thank you for reminding and reinforcing to members of The Six Pixels Community the personal and human nature in everything we do. Because, just like Tom's influence on you, myself, and millions of others, let's hope we are positively influencing others through our actions also.

    Reply
  • Posted by John Spence
    Mitch Joel


    Mitch - this could have been a note from me. At the age of 26 I was named CEO of a small Rockefeller Foundation and to say that I was in over my head would be an understatement. I got my hands on "In Search of Excellence" and everything changed -- it gave me the ideas I needed to successfully guide that organization to more than 400% growth over the next few years. I became a Tom Peters groupie – devouring ALL of his books, audios and videos and traveling to see him present live whenever possible. In about 1997 I ended up seated next to Tom on a flight from LA to Hong Kong and we had a great talk.

    Today, much like you Mitch, I spend a good deal of my time giving speeches and teaching seminars - and Tom has been a HUGE influence on my approach and style (although I have not had the honor of sharing the stage with him yet). Since that first book of his, I have kept on a pace of reading a MINIMUM of 120 business books a year - every year - since 1989! In 2011 and 2012 I was recognized as one of the top 100 Business Thought Leaders in America - and I owe a great debt of gratitude to Tom Peters for setting me on that path so many years ago - thank you Tom!!!

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    Wow I am sure it is partly that attitude of gratefulness and sharing that keeps us all coming back to devour your spin on the digital world Joel!

    Reply
  • Posted by Shelley Dolley
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch - this is incredibly kind of you. I know it's going to completely blow Tom away. Thank you for going to the trouble to share this. We need more appreciation and positive energy in the world!

    Reply
  • Posted by Connie Crosby
    Mitch Joel

    Dear Mitch:

    It's been a while since I have commented on your blog, but I remain a fan-girl. I loved your book Six Pixels of Separation. It inspired me to give talks about what it means to be a Digital Nomad and I have recommended the book and your blog to many others since.

    Keep up the great work blogging, podcasting, and writing generally.

    Your friend and fan,
    Connie

    Reply
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