Full Transcript of Mitch Joel Interview
Recorded in New York City, September 9, 2009
Jim Hopkinson, Wired’s Marketing Guy
Mitch Joel, President, Twist Image
Jim Hopkinson: Alright, I’m sitting here in Wired’s New York City office with Mitch Joel. Mitch is President of Twist Image, an award winning digital marketing and communications agency. He’s also a blogger, a podcaster, a passionate entrepreneur, and speaker, who connects with people worldwide by sharing his marketing insights on digital and personal branding. Marketing Magazine dubbed him the â€˜Rock Star of Digital Marketing’, and called him one of North America’s leading digital visionaries. And, in 2008, Mitch was named Canada’s most influential male on social media, one of the top 100 online marketers in the world, and was awarded the highly prestigious â€˜Canada’s Top 40, Under 40.’ And as of this week, he has another title to add. So, welcome, Mitch.
Mitch Joel: Hey man, thanks.
JH: So, what would you consider your primary job, are you the owner of an agency, a speaker, a blogger, or as of this week, an author?
MJ: My friend, Chris Brogan, who’s got chrisbrogan.com and Trust Agency, says I’m a typist, is what he says [chuckles]. No, I’m actually, definitely a digital marketing agency owner. I’ve got three partners, we have offices in Toronto, Montreal, we have about 90 employees, and I really consider what I do fundamentally, marketing. I definitely use these other cool channels to build and promote the business in a very non-pitching way, but, I consider myself a marketer, at heart.
JH: So, you have the agency, and then all these other things you do kind of help you represent the agency?
MJ: Yeah, people are really shocked to hear about, but like anytime I speak, or the book advance that I got, goes right back into the agency; I don’t take my own cut out of it. When I was teaching digital courses, all that money went into the agency. I really am trying to build the business, after years of being both an entrepreneur and working for companies, I consider myself a rottweiler – this is mine, and I’m not letting go.
And, so, I just sort of look at it as I use a lot of these channels to communicate and connect to people in a very, very non-pushy or salesy way. I’m trying also to build the industry, the interactive world that we live in. And, it’s crazy! You’ve got traditional advertising will account for 90% of the budget, compared to interactive, which is like 10% – on a good day, it’s 10%. And, so, I really do see myself a little bit as an evangelist, a person who likes to go out there and speak to small and big groups about the importance of thinking differently about marketing in this day and age. Because, I’m really on a kick lately, that I think marketers are being highly irresponsible in this marketplace.
JH: What do you mean by that? [Laughter]
MJ: Jim’s eyes light up! Wow.
MJ: It’s true, right, if you think about the world as we know it; people don’t spend a lot of time and energy on search. And, that’s crazy, you have consumers. Like, you and I are going to hang out here for a couple of minutes. Whatever industry people are in that are listening to this, there are thousands of people, right now, looking for something related to that industry. And, if you’re not there, well, your competitors are, and other people are, but just think about that.
Ninety per cent of your other advertising budget is on the â€˜hope and whim’ that someone sees a billboard, or catches an ad in a magazine. But, the people who are actually raising their hands and looking, so, ‘Yeah, search isn’t so sexy, let’s not do it.’ Forget the fact that it’s a recession, but, we’re in a recession still. That’s highly irresponsible, that if you are banking dollars, almost all of them on the essence of a brand, that I believe powerfully in the power of a brand, but, I just can’t believe it. I do, I think most marketers are acting irresponsibly, I think you should be putting 100% of your budget into search, and then whatever you can’t use, then do all your other branding stuff. But, right now I’m looking, I don’t know about you, but I’m looking for customers who are raising their hands.
JH: Right. You’re going to ones saying, ‘I want your product, I want to find your product, and they’re going to land on your webpage.’
MJ: Or not. Or, they’re doing things like, I just came out of my talent agency in the U.S., it’s called Greater Talent, and they just do some real simple searches on search.twitter.com, like for keynote speaker. And, so, if someone is saying, ‘Hey, looking for keynote speaker on digital marketing’, it sort of pops up on their TweetDeck, and they’re like, ‘We have Mitch Joel.’ They aren’t active, they’re not building audience, they’re just listening. And, it’s crazy to think that people will spend all day trying to do, like print that, whatever it is, TV ads, whatever it could be, when there are actually people in market right now saying they need something.
MJ: It’s crazy.
JH: So, what led you to this point? Give us a quick background; did you always have a marketing eye?
MJ: I think I was always a marketer, when you think about it. My first sort of gig was in the mid 80s, I was a music journalist. Actually, my first gig was interviewing Tommy Lee for Motley Crue, believe it or not.
MJ: And I spent many, many years interviewing tons of great rock stars, and I was doing freelance, but, at the same time I was publishing magazines. And, if you Google my name, there are some people who say that was the first magazine ever online. I was putting this magazine on the internet so early that, I live in Montreal, I had to call long distance to Toronto to get on the internet.
JH: Huh! [Laughs]
MJ: Like that’s how, we didn’t even have an ISP at the time, so that was sort of where I was at. From there, I decided the magazine thing wasn’t for me, but, I wanted to still freelance. I started working for mama.com, which was one of the first search engines on the internet; we’re talking years before Google even existed.
I got in there very early, I was the fourth or fifth person, and we built that company up quite large, really got into paid search in the early days, again, way before Google was even around. I went through the whole â€˜boom-bust’ echo that we all sort of have lived through, I think, in one incarnation or another. Spent a short bit of time helping launch a mobile company called Airborne Entertainment, some of your listeners might know this guy, Andy Nulman, who’s got a great blog called, Pow! Right Between the Eyes. He’s the founder of the Just for Laughs Festival. He’s got a book out called, Pow! Right Between the Eyes. I worked for him helping him launch this mobile content thing; again, you’re going back like eight years. So, we’re talking to carriers about data, and they were like worried about voice and turn.
JH: Mm hmm.
MJ: Like they didn’t even care, we managed to get this product on every single carrier deck, because they didn’t care about data, that’s how early that was. I spent about a year there, worked a little bit in a PR firm, wasn’t really a good fit for me, I just didn’t feel like this was where I wanted to be. I started a record company, went back into the music industry – we have two or three bands that did very, very well. And, then we got hooked up with the guys at Twist Image, and, really sort of, I think, found my thing, where I really wanted to create a next generation marketing agency. So, in one incarnation or another, I was always involved in marketing technology, communicationsâ€¦
JH: Yeah. And, you hear a lot about that with music. I found a lot of people in social media kind of came from music, because all of the elements are in it â€¦ it’s kind of starting small, and getting the word out, and trying to monetize, and trying to build an audience, and is there a lot of parallels you found with that?
MJ: I think there are now that I’m 38, and I look back on the fact that I started when I was 18 or 19. I see them, but, for me it was really more of, I was in an industry where I realized that’s really a small percentage of people who really make money. And, as passionate as I was about it, and, it’s not like I’m a money-grubbing guy, I’m actually quite minimalist. But, I just really want to really control my own financial outcome in life. And, I just felt like it just wasn’t a great fit for me, but, I’m still passionate about it, I’m still friends with a lot of the famous people that I sort of met when they weren’t famous, and, I do have one of those lives where anything I’ve been interested in, I pursued, and, sort of have some level of opportunity within that. So, I don’t really ever look at life and work, I’m just sort of like having fun.
JH: I’ve been the same way. I wanted to work in sports, I was able to find a job in sports [talk over each other] I wanted work in tech, I did that, so, I was checking on your blog, and I saw the archives go back to July of 2004. So, while millions of blogs are being started every month, not a lot of people have the consistency to keep it up for five years straight. I know it’s been difficult doing my podcast, I think I’m like on 72 weeks straight. How do you have the energy, and, how do you get your ideas to keep that up?
MJ: The truth is, actually, you can go back further to 2003; I saw it from a
blogger platform, and then moved slowly over onto my own platform. Being from the publishing industry is a huge key to this. And, what I learned really quickly is, let’s talk a little bit about Wired; I go and buy the new issue of Wired with Craig Newmark on the cover, and, I’m all excited. But, for the next three and half weeks I’m pretty depressed, cause I tear through it, and then I keep going back to the magazine store – nothing, you wait. But, humans intuitively sort of know when the next issue is coming out, when you’re really passionate about following a media. And, I realized at that time, when I was doing my own magazines, that as much as it’s important to be relevant, which is really, really key, consistency is a huge thing. And, I do think that as new media as we all are, and, ‘Hey, it’s RSS, and it’ll be there when I publish it, and that whole thing is great’, I think people do have expectations once you build up some semblance of audience. And, I do believe that one of the keys to success for any business, or any individual looking to engage, is to be consistent.
The biggest mistakes I’ve seen is like, you blog seven times a day, then, you sort of, ‘Well, I don’t have much to say today’, and then all of a sudden it’s twice a week, and the next thing you know, they’ve faded off and they’re not blogging ever. Or, they get excited by the next shiny object, and they hop onto Twitter. So, I’m not holding on to my blog because I refuse to let go because I’m on Twitter, I just also look at, for me, what works for me, again, background in journalism, background in publishing, blogging really, really works for me; Twitter, also, podcasting – I just did my 170th episode. And, every single week, I don’t I’ve ever missed a week, actually. And, again for me, it’s just that consistency.
The other part of consistency is an individual looking to produce content is, I think it forces you to do stuff. And, a lot of people see it in a negative way, like, ‘Well, if you don’t have something to say, you’re forcing it’ – yes and no. To be honest, I blog once a day, sometimes a little less, then I do twice a day later on, but I got six things I could blog about, and I’m sort of picking the one. I think just part of it, it’s just the journalist in me, like you, you’re a curious person, you ask curious questions, and, so it’s easy for me to even open up an issue of Wired Magazine, look at an article and ask myself a question, ‘Why is this like that?’ That’s a blog post right there.
JH: Yup. So, how did the book evolve? You just launched your book this week, in the first day, it made it up to number 14 on Amazon Canada?
MJ: Yeah, Canada, we were about 350 in the U.S., which I think for a niche marketing book is pretty spectacular. Now it’s the maintenance part of it, again the consistency of keeping it there. The book was an interesting thing. I think, as a journalist, the book is like going after going Moby Dick with the spoon and fork; as a journalist, gotta get that that book, it’s the whale that you gotta to chase. And, years went by where I thought I’d like to retire and then write a book. Of course, when you say that, you put that on the world, it’s like you meet an agent, and the next thing you know. So, the next thing I know there was a sort of book opportunity in front of me through my agent, really, really exciting, called The Six Pixels of Separation. And, for me, it was actually good, I started writing as a marketer, and then I went back, and I was like, ‘This is the wrong angle.’ The angle that I took my book was that I wrote it as an entrepreneur.
Again, in 2003, I started blogging because nobody would give me any ink. [Laughs] And, so, I thought this is the new world, I don’t need permission to be published. There are blogging platforms, and so I started off on Blogger, and, literally, we built this company – it’s 90 employees in multiple offices and great clients, because of the blog. And, I thought that in a world where people are so cynical about blogging, and Twitter, and Facebook, and YouTube, that I can, actually, also not just use other great business examples, but I think I’m the example, too. So, actually, I took a different almost language, and the language is a little bit more than my newspaper columns, and stuff like that, where it is more business person speaking to business about how to use these tools in business. [Laughs] I know it’s sort of a lot of business, but it was a big thing for me, cause I haven’t seen anything like it out there.
JH: Well, you’re pretty well known, but you’ve had a traditional publisher on this, right? And, so, we’re kind of in an age where bands are producing their own music, and actors are putting their own movies on the web, and every budding journalist has their own blog, did you consider self-publishing with some of the several sites that have that?
MJ: Yeah, I’m actually on the advisory board of a great new site called the Book Oven that’s quite involved in the sort of personal and self-publishing space. No, and the answer’s no, I never thought about it for two seconds. My whole thing was, if I was going to write a book, is I want the book to be for people who are not as engaged in these channels as we are. If you’re engaged in these channels, you’re going to read the blog or listen to the podcast, or check this podcast out; you’re not going to need to read a book necessarily.
I wanted to write a book for those people in the room that keep getting asked, ‘Why aren’t we doing this, why aren’t we on Facebook, why aren’t we on Twitter, why aren’t we doing this?’ I wanted to write a business book for them. I jokingly tell people that the book is like the prelude to the blog, almost. But, the feedback that I’ve had so far, in all honesty, has been that even for people who are really, sort of engrained in this space, they’re also really enjoying, I think they’re enjoying reading the business side of it.
JH: That’s a great angle, I hadn’t thought of that that the reason you do a traditional book, because everyone else is already on the web.
MJ: That’s it. I wrote a book for people who read books, and it is, it’s a whole other market. We were talking before about my newspaper column, and it’s like the joke – everyone two weeks I do a business column in the Montreal Gazette and Vancouver Sun, and people come up to me literally on the street and are like, ‘ I love reading you every two weeks.’ I’m like, ‘You can read me everyday on my blog if you really wanted to.’ [Laughter] But, again, these are people who are buying the newspapers, these are people who are running through the airport, stop to look in the bookstore, like, ‘What can I read on my trip to San Fran?’ And, I keep hearing about new media, here’s a book, boom, off I go to the races.
So, for me it was really important to write a book for a certain demographic or target market, rather, what would be the Channel 3 [â€¦]? Well, if I want to get businesses excited about this channel, let me each them in a channel they like – business books, boom! So, it’s actually a sort of short bridge for me to cross.
JH: And, it sounds like it was very passionate, you had fun with it, â€˜cause I’ve heard people talk about when they write a book, that it’s this long, it’s drawn out, it’s time sucking, it can be frustrating, how was your experience with this?
MJ: It’s really funny, so I speak a lot, and I know people, I go to conferences like TED, and everyone’s like, ‘Oh, how was it like?’ I asked other people, ‘What was it like to write a book? Oh, it was the hardest thing, I hated it, it was like hell.’ So, I was like getting really intimidated, I had the best time writing it, I loved writing it, it came really, really easy to me. Again, background is in journalism still, I’m still a journalist, as weird as that sounds when I say it. I write fast, I know I write fast, too; actually, we cut out 30,000 words to be honest [chuckles], so that’s a lot. The book is about 70,000 or 80,000 words, so we cut out a lot.
It was almost like I took a deep breath, and I was able to suddenly really talk. It was almost like we sat down, and you were a really close friend, you’d been gone for five years, and you said, ‘I want to start a business venture, Mitch, what should I do?’ That was sort of like opening thing, and, that was like ok, voom, here’s what I would do; if I could start it all over today. So, for me it was highly pleasurable, I have an amazing agent, though, I have a great publisher. I was jokingly saying, I was telling my agent, I’d be like, ‘Am I doing a good job?’ He says, ‘Like, why?’ I’m like, ‘Cause there wasn’t really any rewrites even.’ It was like the publisher was really happy, I was really happy; so a great experience, hopefully we can repeat that on book number two.
JH: That’s generally â€¦ maybe it’s that combo of a journalist and a blogger, and then an internet marketer, because that’s how I work a lot. I’ll start with something and have to write like a little blurb for a newsletter, and I’ll write it out, or even a Twitter post, and I’ll look, and, be like, ‘Alright, it’s 190 characters, got to get down to 130′, and then it’s easier to chip away things, and to try to like keep adding more content.
MJ: Some of the concepts were definitely blog posts previously, but they were totally rewritten, and in my head it was like, this can’t be a blog post, because, again, blogs you do want to keep it like snackable content – nice and tight, and Twitter posting, and even less, obviously. I really looked at it and said, like ‘What if there was no end to this concept, can I exhaust myself on it?’ And, then I sort of went back and said, ‘Ok, what’s the meat here, what’s the structure?’ Well, creating the structure for what I wanted to go through was also really good. Over the years I have sort of have, cumulatively, built these thing like when I speak, a lot of keynote speakers they’ve got 40 to 60 slides, that’s what they do. I’ve got 10,000 slides.
MJ: I build slides every day, like if there’s a great quote in Wired Magazine, I create a slide for it, and I bank it. And, I’ve got all these, I call it my master deck, it’s actually 20 files, or something like that. And, so, I â€˜m always pulling and rearranging, and recreating, and I wanted to bring that, I bring that spirit when I speak, I wanted to bring that spirit to the book, too, where it was, again, different ideas and ways in which they flow together, and obviously in the book, I could structure it, too. First, it’s like a blog post where I’m doing like a self-promotional post one day, then like a critique on a news item the next day, it’s erratic – blogging is quite erratic.
JH: Mm Hmm.
MJ: But, I really looked at this and said, ‘Canvas, like white canvas, what would I paint?’
JH: Now, you did an interesting thing yesterday on one of your blog posts called, Asking for Help.
MJ: [Chuckles] Right.
JH: Let’s talk about that.
MJ: I’ve noticed a huge switch in blogging. When blogging started, it was actually, â€˜me, me, me.’, that’s what it was. It was, ‘I’m doing this checkup, I’m speaking here’, that’s what blogging was – online journaling that you were just publishing to the world, And, if it wasn’t of interest to somebody, don’t follow me. That’s what it was, everybody was like that. And, there’s been a small shift in the past three years where it’s not â€˜me, me, me’, it’s â€˜you, you, you.’
MJ: Which I great, I think that’s amazing cause it’s forced me to be more about journalists where I’m just providing total value to people. And then I sort of got trapped where I realized, like Iâ€˜ve got this book coming out, it’s like this weird new thing, you can’t be self-promotional blog, and people are like, ‘Look at him, shilling for his own stuff’ – which is crazy, that’s what it is. And, I had this sort of moment where I realized I have to ask for help, because in this real world that we’re in right now, if what you’re saying is I can’t be self-promotional, then what do I do, wait around for mass media to come and cover the story, cover my book? Well, we all use blogs, because we’re trying to prove that mass media isn’t as powerful, it became this really weird thing, and I thought, there’s only one thing I can do, and that’s ask for help.
And, so, I didn’t ask people to really buy the book, it was one of them, obviously, but I asked them six basic things, ‘Can you buy the book, talk about it, can you blog about it, can you Tweet about it?’ And, the reaction was thankfully really, really positive, and the book’s done well. But, I felt a little dirty even after posting it, I don’t know why, I love people even emailed on the side, and said, ‘This is your time.’ And, I said in the post, ‘Yes, this is me shilling; yes, this is me being self-promotional’, but I didn’t know what else to do.
JH: Right. I think that’s the key, that you have that history, and that following of being helpful all along, so that when it comes time, when you do need help, you can ask for it and people will respond to it.
MJ: Well, I think that that’s the fundamental beauty of a real community, right, it’s like if you look at your neighbors, you tend to help those neighbors who’ve been there longest, and who have been helpful to you. We just moved into a new physical neighborhood, so I know what it’s like, it’s weird, it’s like well they don’t you, you don’t know them, and, so, it becomes this weird dance. You would think it was like that in the digital world, but what I’m actually seeing is that there is that part of it, but, I think there a lot of takers online, I really do. I think there area a lot of people who go, ‘All this great free content, I can take, take, take, and provoke, and do what I want’, but when it’s time to actually put money down somewhere, ‘Well, you’re being self-promotional, why should I give you money?’ There’s actually a comment from someone who’s like more of an open source person, who said, ‘It’s ironic that Mitch’s asking for all this free publicity, but he’s charging for the book.’
Obviously, they don’t know me well, because the reality is every single day I’m just doing nothing but giving, whether it’s links, or thoughts, and, I’m not just giving, I’m sharing, I â€˜m being part of the community.
So, I thought that that was weird, but the other side of it was, and it’s interesting with the book promotion, the publisher comes over and says, ‘Let’s release it free as a PDF’, and all this sort of stuff, and I was like, ‘No.’ Like, â€˜no, no, no. no.’ Because, I give free stuff every single day, all the time – audio, text, even my columns that are published I repost then there with links. I spend the time to link to it, and tag everything. And, I thought, if people want the book, they can buy it, and if they don’t want to buy the book, no problem, I’ll be here tomorrow with more new content for you – free!
JH: Right, because at what point, you’re building this stuff up, you’re building up your Facebook friends, you’re building up your Twitter following, what is the use, if you’re not going to use it. It’s almost like, when you have your life savings, and you’re saving, you’re saving, ‘Oh, I kind of had to do that, I bought an apartment in New York’, and its like, ‘Oh, my god, it’s all my savings.’ But, then it’s something like, ‘Well, what are you saving it for?’
MJ: But that’s what you were saving it for. [Laughs]
JH: That’s what I’m saving it for. So, why do I have all these Twitter followers, I’m giving, giving, giving, and at some point if you have something of value, and you’ve shown a history of giving free value to these people, it’s ok to ask for help.
MJ: One of the things that I pulled out of another great book that just came out, it’s called, Trust Agents, by Chris Brogan and Julian Smith. And, they talk about a couple of things, one is â€˜social proofing’, which is sort of like when you do make the ask, that’s the social proof of whether or not your community is strong. But, they talk a lot about sort of the idea of trust, and I think that’s a big thing, too, is my community trusts me, and I trust my community. And, so, I have hopes that if I’m doing anything self-promotional, they also know that it’s also to their betterment.
So, it’s not like, buy the book, because I’ve given you seven years of blogging, I’ve given you seven years of blogging, and there’s this book which has tons of new stuff in it, and if your so inclined to buy it – cool; and if you’re not, if you’re so inclined to talk about it – great, and if not, well, I’ll be here tomorrow with some more blog posts for you that you can grab, and do what you want with it. I don’t say that negatively, at all, I think that that’s the beauty of the community of people who rise up, people say. I spent a full day, like 18 hours, sending individual emails to people I know who have audience, and saying to them, ‘Now is the time, my book is coming out, what, in anything can you, would you be willing to interview me, can I interview you?’ And, I was thinking, ‘Are you willing to read content for other people?’ And, it was really interesting, some of the A-listers or internet celebrities who I’ve met where I don’t feel as comfortable, there’s a lot of other books on this, and then, it’s amazing, people who are way busier, way more well known, way wealthier, way more engaged, were doing it without even me asking them, out of the kindness of their heart.
We had a re-Tweet yesterday from M.C. Hammer, [chuckle] of all people. He’s got an audience of 1.3 million people. But, it really made me think that there are some people who also take themselves a little bit too seriously in this space. If you’ve got a couple of hundred thousand people following you on Twitter, that doesn’t mean much. In the grand scheme of things, you have to have, I think all communities should be reciprocating. I try to promote as much as I, I try and promote others, and it was sort of interesting to see who the real givers and takers are. And, some of the people we all see as big community people, I’d think we’d all be surprised to see how very selfish they actually are; and they’re really in it for themselves.
JH: Mm hmm.
MJ: And, my whole thing was I didn’t want to be that, and people, I think, know that I’m not that. But, it was a big thing on my head, like don’t ever want to be perceived as someone who is just taking, cause I’m not.
JH: Yup. You do a lot of speaking, and, I’m guessing some of my audience would say, ‘How do I become a good speaker?’, and one of the blog posts that I saw on your site was setting up a speaker page. Talk about that, I thought was a really great idea, that’s so obvious that people may not be as [cut off].
MJ: So obvious. Well it started over at onedegree.ca there. This debate brews up all the time online where they’re not enough female speakers in the tech and social media space. And, yeah, we know that. It’s for sure a male-dominated thing, and there area some amazing women who don’t get the opportunity they need to speak. And, you sort of watch the comments go, because, any time it has to do with that topic, you’re going to see a lot of comments back and forth. And, I absolutely agree that there’s definitely not a lot of female speakers; and, so, as the names were coming and going, this person and that person, this person, I was like, ‘Well, let me go check out who they are.’ And, some of them I’ve never really heard of.
And, I went, and I have to tell you, 96% of the people didn’t have a speakers’ page – it’s like, nothing, not even close. And, it was really, really freaking me out, and, then I was like, ‘Ok, forget the gender issue, let’s just look at people who are saying their speakers, this and that, and, even then. And, so, here you have people saying, like, ‘I’m a great speaker, how come I never get asked to speak?’ Well, because if even someone would, how do we even know you want to speak? Definitely, on my blog, or space, I don’t even know what it is anymore, it’s a blog, it’s a podcast – I have a speaking page, and it’s got my bio for speaking, it’s got images, it’s got video sample, it’s got testimonials from people, it’s got the topics I speak about, an abstract for them, how to contact me. It seems so basic, but, again, none of these people had it.
And, so, two things happen there – one is people say, ‘Well, I just want to be like a panelist.’ But, even then, show me that you can be yourself on a panel. And the other thing is people go, ‘Well, I was interviewed on TV, and here’s my video clip.’ And, the answer is no. So, what happens in my world is people come over to me and say, ‘Can you introduce me to your speakers’ bureau? I’ve been told that I would be a great motivational or business speaker.’ And, I’m like, ‘Absolutely, send me a link that has a video, all the sort of source stuff’, and they go, ‘Oh, I don’t have that.’ It sounds like me saying I want to be magician. [Laughter] It’s so random.
JH: Yeah, show me some tricks.
MJ: Go back, get me some video, and if it’s any good, I’m happy to forward it on. A 100% of the time, Iâ€˜ve never heard from the person, 100% of the time. And, so, it was going back and forth, and the comments, and, I was like, ‘It’s not a gender thing at all. It’s actually across the board. If you’re interested in speaking, that’s the basics.’ And then, people say, ‘So, I have that. How come I’m not getting the gigs?’ And the answer is the same reason why certain bands break and some don’t – it’s cause, ‘Well, you’re not that good!’ Sometimes it’s hard to say, and, ‘Well, I’m a bit more shy.’
There’s Toastmasters, there’s practicing, there’re so many colleges that would love to have a guest speaker – get out there, practice, work with the coach. Hire a coach for a couple of bucks. Learn body language, learn how to build your content flow, there’s so many things about it. And in the end, I was just like, ‘Listen, go buy Presentation Zen, by Garr Reynolds; go get slide:ology, by Nancy Duarte; go get Nick Morgan’s book, Give your Speech. Change the World, and you’re done. Those are also great books, read them, do what they say, and you’ll be on your way. The amazing thing about it is, because there’s so few people who have great speakers pages, I think the ones who do it will just jump ahead because it’s a commodity to get somebody to get up there and deliver a keynote or presentation, or be on a panel that engages a Twitter-crazy, iPhone-nuts, Blackberry-insane audience is a commodity. Not a commodity, sorry, it’s a non-commodity,
JH: It’s a rarity, a rarity.
MJ: You think that was the word I was looking for. And, it boggles my mind, I gotta tell you Jim, like how few people, even on this list, and, just guys, girls, the whole thing, gay, straight, black, white, Asian, whatever it is, the majority of people, really, and the speakers you and I know well, the Web 2.0 speakers, get up there and speak from their hearts. And, it’s very powerful if you’re in an audience where people are following you on Twitter, but when you get up in front of a Google, or a Walmart, or who knows who else, you gotta be polished to the point if you know the beginning, middle, end, you know how to deliver the message, and so that the audience will be engaged. And it is, it is a rarity, so, I’m always like, ‘Hey, you want to speak, great, but you gotta do the basics, too.’ You also gotta let people know you’re alive; no on knows, how would I even know that you want to speak?
JH: Great advice, great advice. What is some other advice, I know many of my listeners are in online marketing, social media, do you have some case studies that would be valuable for marketing professionals, maybe like stuff from the books that you hit on?
MJ: Yeah, I think there are the standard case studies that we’ve, sort of, come to know and love. I was in the car today in New York City, and turned to the New York Times, and saw that Gary Vaynerchuk has a huge photo spread on him on the food section with all the Wine Library TV, and he’s sort of one of those guys who are the Craig Newmarks of the world, there are those stories, they’re in Huffingtons of the world. I think the best stories have really yet to be told; I think one of the main things I really learned in writing the book for businesses is that we’re in the middle of it, and it’s really to kind of show you a conclusive white paper-type thing that’s really going to move the needle for like a Chief Marketing Officer, or even and entrepreneur. And, so, part of it for, the big case study is really about trying stuff. In the book I talk a lot about what versus why, and I think that’s the best place to start is people tend to start with, ‘What should I be doing on Twitter, what should I be doing on Facebook?’, and it’s the wrong question. It should be â€˜why’, ‘Why should you be on Facebook, why should you be on Twitter?’ And, the logic is, ‘Why is strategy, what is a tactic?’
And, I think a lot of times we jump to tactics really, really quickly; strong strategy always wins over time. And, so, my advice is like forget the case study, is think about your strategy â€˜why’, and why people love you, why they connect, but also, like, why? Like, I’m a writer, for me blogging and Twitter was the way. I’m not a video guy, I’ve got a Flip, I’ve got a Kodak, I’ve got all these HD tiny cameras I still don’t carry around cause I’m not a fan of video, it’s not my thing, I don’t’ like to video edit, I’m bad at it. So, I’m always of the mind set of focusing on the strategy, which also ties me to what we talked about earlier is the consistency – if it ties well into your strategy, the consistency becomes really easy because it’s working. The more it works the more you’ll do it.
JH: Yeah. And that’s what you do. Your agency builds marketing strategies for companies. So, what do you do on Twitter, you Tweet about different marketing strategies people can do, and it’s funny cause that’s so obvious the answer when I tell people, ‘Well, how should I use Twitter, what should I do’, and for example, here at Conde Nast, it’s, well, ‘How does Conde Nast make money?’ Well, we make page views, when people come to the website we sell banners on it, and we get page views. So what we do is Tweet about a cool article, and it links back to our pages. And, if you’re a speaker, then you talk about your speaking, and if you’re strategy you talk about strategy. If you’re Dell and you sell, you have products that have been refurbished, and you send a link to refurbished products – you do what your business model is.
MH: Yeah, I tell a story, I think I tell a story in the book, if not it’s on my blog. I love, I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to my laptops and stuff, and I was switching to another ultraportable, and I was unsure about solid state hard drives just cause they’re so really expensive. And, I went on Twitter and I was like, ‘Looking to buy a new ultraportable, considering solid state hard drives, what are you’re thoughts versus standard worth it – yes, no?’ And, some Dell people had hopped on and answered the question; didn’t promote latitudes or anything like that, it was just sort of helping me, and I have to tell you, in all of the 10,000 people that follow me, I really trusted their feedback. It actually was quite good compared to some other techy guys who I know, who I thought would be on, as well. Ironically, I actually did buy Dell in the end, which is sort of a weird part of the story, but, what was interesting to me is they weren’t pushing, they were being helpful as computer experts that aligned me for who I stand for, my personal brand, to them a lot better.
And, I think people forget that, and I tell a story in the book, I make up a case study of a pen shop, and, it’s like, ‘Should the pen shop blog or not?’ And, it was like, ‘Well, who wants to hear that a new Pilot or Sharpie pen is out?’ And I pushed further down the industry, and I say, ‘But, if they did a blog on the art of writing, would that be interesting?’ And, the answer is yes. Like your eyes lit up, and my eyes lit up, is like, ‘Yeah, I’d like to hear stories about writers and how they write.’
And, so, we also tend to forget, we tend to talk about our products and services, but, like the stuff that I do really, I talk about the industry. And, my hopes are that there’s a funnel effect, or halo effect where the more I talk about the industry, or the more empowered I make you as a marketer or someone else, that when it comes time to choose a digital agency, you’ll at least consider Twist Image in your portfolio.
JH: Mm Hmm.
MJ: And, that’s really for me the difference is, I never I talk about my products and services ever, in fact, never. So, that’s another angle to there, too, that I like people to consider.
JH: And what was the answer on the hard drives?
MJ: The answer’s definitely solid state hard drive, I gotta tell you, my brother actually bought a Dell, the same time as me, without solid state, and I thought it was broken, it was so slow. For those asking, it’s worth the investment, these things dance. We are getting to the point where computers are almost like light switches – you turn it on, and it’s practically ready to go.
JH: That was actually my final question. So, a lot of my listeners are also gadget freaks, and I know after we had dinner after your last speech, there was a whole discussion about like what laser pointer you used, and remote controls, and tell us about some of the things that you do as road warrior and a presenter.
MJ: Well, there are a couple of things, I sort of like my man purse, my backpack, that’s a big thing, too, so, I’m currently sporting a Briggs and Riley that I love, it’s a real ballistic nylon, it feels great, like it, feels very manly for me. I love my Logitech remote presenter, it’s the 2.47 GHz, but it’s got a couple of little things that I love, one is that it has a timer in it which gives me a silent buzz at five minutes and zero minutes, which is just amazing, so I can actually see that I’m actually speaking for 45 minutes, I know exactly where I’m at in the presentation, I know how much longer I have, it fells really good, a great little device.
I’m still a big fan of my M-Audio MicroTrack which is sort of a digital two-track studio that I carry around. It’s almost like the size of a pack of cigarettes, and it’s literally a studio, so I do all my audio interviews using it. We should have done it for this, but it would have sounded a lot better, trust me. I love that, I love my Internet Rocket Sticks, or Portable Internet everywhere I go, you dump in the SIM card, it’s pretty fast, 3G, it’s not blazing speed, but it’s quite good. I could go on and on. I, literally, was just walking up 5th, going into all the Best Buys, and stuff like that. I just reallyâ€¦
JH: Maybe we’ll get a list. You should, that’s what Daniel Odio, who you talked to, had a â€˜social media kit’, he called it. And, he had just like a dozen different things.
MJ: I’ll tell you something, on my blog, I just had a post called, What’s in My Bag, because there was this amazing, I don’t know if you’ve seen this widget on Amazon, have you seen it?
JH: Mm Hmm.
MJ: Amazon’s got this great widget where you can choose stuff, and then it just creates like a slideshow and you can put comments on it. So, I literally created this slideshow of the stuff I keep in my bag. And it’s there, it’s literally everything, it even includes my subscription to Wired Magazine.
JH: [Laughs] Excellent, I’ll have to link to that. Well, thanks so much for coming in, Mitch. Where can people find out more about you, your company, and Twitter, and buy the book?
MJ: Sure, well, first of all, great seeing you again. We should say that we would never have met were it not for social media.
JH: That’s correct.
MJ: We were connected through the smartest man in the world, Saul Colt, who I think connects everybody in the end of the world, right?
JH: He does.
MJ: Through Twitter, and then you actually came down; we met and had a great time. I just want to also put that out there that people think that this is just about people in their basement, or whatever, and I think the real value is this, which is, we met, I think, digitally, three months ago, and we’ve already seen each other twice in person, so, that’s better than some of my friends in the world, and my, sort of, long-term friends.
Um, twistimage.com/blog is everything for me to the catchall, it’s the blog, the podcast; I’ve also got another show that I do every two weeks in my podcast called, Media Hacks, where it’s me Chris Brogan, Julian Smith, C.C. Chapman, Chris Penn, and Hugh McGuire, and we just talk. It’s almost like a really noisy, inside baseball on the new media landscape, it’s been a lot of fun, too – it’s all right there for you.
JH: And the book?
MJ: Yeah, same place, twistimage.com/blog, or twistimage.com/book. In stores, definitely available online, and, yeah, if you’re so inclined, check it out. I think everybody will get a lot out of it, and, if not, pass it on to someone who keeps bothering you with those annoying questions of what should they be doing on Twitter.
JH: Great. Well, thanks again, Mitch.
MJ: Awesome, thanks for your time.