Mitch Joel, 45, is President of Mirum (formerly Twist Image), a global digital marketing agency operating in 48 offices around the globe, with over 2,500 employees. Clients included Home Depot, Microsoft, Scotiabank, TD Canada Trust, Fujifilm.
His first book, Six Pixels of Separation, named after his successful blog and podcast, is a business and marketing bestseller. His second book, CTRL ALT Delete, was named one of the best business books of 2013 by Amazon.
Joel speaks frequently to corporate groups like Wal-Mart, Google, Starbucks, Microsoft, Procter and Gamble, Twitter, Unilever and has shared the stage with Bill Clinton, Sir Richard Branson, Anthony Robbins, and Dr. Phil.
Marketing Magazine dubbed Joel the “Rock Star of Digital Marketing” and called him, “one of North America’s leading digital visionaries.”
DG: How would you describe your job?
Joel: Pure leadership, and making sure that there is an aligned vision.
My role is primarily business development. So, that’s everything from writing articles, appearing in media, writing books, doing about forty speaking events a year, and on. And then, creating a great result for the client.
DG: What’s the ‘elevator speech’ for Mirum?
Joel: Let’s make what’s next.
We speak to large clients – usually national or multi-national clients – and help them figure out how to transform their business in this digital world. Whether it’s a site, an environment, an experience, a marketing initiative, how to think about their business internally, how they communicate that within their teams and the tools they use.
DG: What entrepreneurial lessons can you impart?
Joel: As Seth Godin, who is a great business thinker, said, “The safest thing you can do is be risky and the riskiest thing you can do is be safe.” I think that it’s true. I am responsible for the financial outcome of what I do.
Michael Gerber wrote the book The E Myth, The Entrepreneur’s Myth. And, the story is very simple, but it really did create a very different way of thinking: So-and-so likes to make apple pies and she’s great at making apple pies. And everyone says, “Your apple pies are delicious”, and she brings them to parties, and she gives them away.
And, eventually, she goes, “Hey, I should sell these apple pies”. So, she sells her apple pies, and people buy them. It’s very exiting, she loves what she does and she loves apple pies. It gets really busy, and she says “I want to open an apple pie shop”.
And, she opens up an apple pie shop, and on and on, and it doesn’t work. Now, it doesn’t work, primarily, for one major reason.
This individual didn’t realize that the minute they opened the store, they are no longer selling apple pies. What they are doing now is running a business that sells apple pies. And this concept of understanding what a business is – it’s not all you – was huge.
And people see me, Mitch Joel, they’re like, “Wow, you have this amazing brand. You’re publishing all this stuff, and you’re out in the world, and you’re speaking, and writing books, and you’re on TV etc.”
That’s the E Myth. We built an infrastructure from day one that’s not The Mitch Show.
Mitch does a specific role, and that role is important to the organization. But it’s no more or less important than our person who heads strategy, creative, or our person who heads technology. It’s a team.
DG: What’s something entrepreneurs often neglect?
Joel: Have partners, and choose your partners wisely. I think, all too often, we have this sort of spirit of, “I’ve got this. I can do it on my own.” I happen to be very lucky that I have three business partners that are amazing individuals that complement my skill set, or as we like to say about each other, all of us hate what the other one does.
We found our niches and those niches complement and build cohesiveness.
DG: How do you navigate through different demographics of client?
Joel: I’m less interested in the generation and more interested in the type of consumer. Selling to moms is very different than if we are selling to healthcare professionals. Selling to healthcare professionals is very different than selling to a group you are trying to get to open a checking account.
I know a lot of people are making a lot of money on, “How do you speak to Millennials?”
I think it is really hard to look at Millennials and say they are a segment. You are talking about people of different gender, different interest levels, different education, different geography.
DG: How do you balance work/family?
Joel: I don’t call it balance. This is a big topic that I covered in Control Alt Delete. I call it ‘flow’. My flow is, I look at my day, my week, my month, my quarter, my year, and I look at it as a stool with three legs.
The three legs are: professional, community, and personal.
Personal, for me, is family and friends. I just try to make sure that there is a balance of that stool, because if one leg is shorter than the other, it’s going to tip over.
I do not go home from work and ‘unplug’. And people go crazy, “Oh, you’re a workaholic!”
No, I’m extremely lucky to be doing work that I was meant to do, and I’m very serious about it and super excited about it, and I can’t get enough of it.
I don’t consider it stressful to look at my inbox or think about a project when I’m not in the office. And vice versa, when I’m in the office, I might take off because there’s something with my kids, and I can pick up on the work later.
I’m not one hundred per cent successful all the time at hitting that balance, and there are moments when that stool looks like its tipping over dramatically. But I’m aware of it, and I think about it, and I focus on that. And I don’t beat myself up over it.