Ask bloggers to list other bloggers they respect and Mitch Joel’s name usually comes up. He’s the president of digital marketing agency Twist Image, and the author of Six Pixels of Separation, the name of his book, podcast, and blog.
I confess never listening to his podcast, but his blog is in my RSS reader for top-notch writing and a Canadian slant to controversial issues; and I’ve also read the book. He’s active all across the web including that little-known place called Twitter @MitchJoel.
I introduce you to Mitch below and launch a new blog series called Monday Muse. Every week you will be treated to a rotating set of questions asked to a different internet personality. They inspire me and through their answers I hope you too.
As “one of North America’s leading digital visionaries,” as Marketing Magazine once called you, what do you like most about what you do?
Growing the business of Twist Image. Without question. People know me for Six Pixels of Separation – the blog, podcast and/or book or from speaking, but everything shores up into Twist Image.
The business started in 2000 and for over a decade we’ve been growing and getting better at delivering great marketing results for our clients. We have a great team of over 100 marketing professionals in two offices (although we like to say that we have one office with a very long corridor). I have three great business partners who encourage me to do what I do, and it gives me great joy to wake up in the morning and think about the day’s challenges. None of that happens without the clients and we’re very lucky to be working with some of the most interesting brands that want to change, evolve and adapt their marketing.
I realize that a lot of what I’m saying must sound like an agency cliché — but there’s a reason it’s a cliché — because it’s true.
What is your daily routine?
When I am not traveling, my early morning is dedicated to my family (getting the kids ready and off to school).
I’m usually in the office by 8:30 am.
I do my best to have both breakfast and lunch meetings booked with either business prospects or business people I would like to connect with. Once I am in the office, I usually run through emails, check the feeds and make some “to-do” notes.
The rest of my day is spent on business development for Twist Image (either finding new clients on nurturing existing ones). I am often called into meetings to review our strategy and creative work. If I get a chance in the late afternoon, I will try to bang out a blog post or two.
I’m always home for dinner with the family, bath time, bedtime reading, etc. Once the house quiets down, I usually finish up some of the emails that require more attention and do some writing.
When I’m on the road, it’s a whole other story.
How have social media and digital marketing changed for you over the years?
My blog has made me (and kept me) very humble.
Every time I write and hit that “publish” button, my work is now left in everyone else’s hands. They decides what works, what they want to share, what they want to comment on, etc. It’s sometimes hard. I’ll often write something that I think is very compelling, but nothing happens. I get the social media equivalent of tumbleweeds.
I also can’t deny that the popularity of the blog and podcast has helped propel Twist Image forward in ways myself and my business partners could never have imagined. From speaking opportunities to a major book publishing deal to getting in front of some of the world’s most compelling brands. Yes, we need to do great work to really make things happen, but social media has opened up so many doors. As it continues to evolve, so too do our opportunities.
Who influenced you the most growing up, and is there a single internet influence on your life today?
My family and close friends provided me with most of my inspiration.
The one person outside of that would be Tony Blauer.
I’ve known Tony since I was about 13 years old. He was my martial arts coach. Since then, I’ve not only trained with him but became one of his coaches (and he is a close, personal friend). Currently, he lives in San Diego and is one of the world’s leading close quarter combative instructors.
Over the years, I’ve trained with civilians, military, law enforcement and even UFC athletes through my training with Tony. My training with Tony was less about the physical and the ability to protect myself, but much more about the psychological aspect of training (which Tony puts a tremendous focus on).
Fear is a mindkiller. Tony instilled in me (early on and to this day) to better understand fear, psychology and how it limits and paralyzes us. He’s probably one of the most inspiring and smart people I have ever met (and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of the best in the world). The lesson I learned with him are actually more applicable to life and business than to training.
In terms of internet influence, I am still amazed and impressed with Seth Godin. He’s the real triple-threat. His blogging is smart, his speaking is on point and he walks the talk (Squidoo, The Domino Project, etc.). He’s also a true mentor to me (whether he knows it or not). When I’m about to publish, speak or pick up a project, I like to stop and ask myself, “what would Seth Godin do?” How would he attack this, what would he say about it.
What do you know now that you didn’t know at 18?
That a great professional life is not linear. It’s very squiggly.
From being a music journalist to magazine publisher, to writer to dot com sales guy, to mobile data marketing person, to PR professional, to music label owner to Twist Image, it’s all very squiggly.
I also used to worry about my ability to generate a lot of money. When I stopped worrying about what would make me money and started focusing on the work, the money followed (another cliché, I know). There’s no doubt that money gives me tremendous security and yes, it does bring me happiness. But, I’m happier when I’m doing the work that I was meant to do.
At 18, I thought it was all about the right career path. There is no “right.”