Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
August 19, 2018 7:58 AM

Rishad Tobaccowala Is The Oracle of Advertising - This Week's Six Pixels of Separation Podcast

Episode #632 of Six Pixels of Separation is now live and ready for you to listen to.

He is, without a doubt, the smartest thinker (and doer) in advertising. Over the years, I have been fortunate to call Rishad Tobaccowala a friend. Some know him best for calling advertising agencies "cockroaches," while others appreciate his mentorship (he prides himself on helping advertising professionals in their professional development). For over 35 years he has held a myriad of roles at Publicis Groupe. Currently, he holds the title of Chief Growth Officer and member of the management board at Publicis. With that, he is an active investor and advisor in a range of startups and venture capital firms. If that were not enough, he also actively runs The Tobaccowala Foundation. I could not wait for the opportunity to talk with Rishad about the current (and volatile) state of advertising, the agency model, the holding companies and the many disruptions this industry now faces. Rishad was also a key figure in the recently published book, Frenemies by Ken Auletta, which all about the ad business (and an incredible read). Editorial note: we had some Skype challenges with this recording. I did my best to edit the audio and clean it up. Please stick with this. It is worth it. 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 #632.

By Mitch Joel


August 18, 2018 5:33 AM

Six Links Worthy of Your Attention #425

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 (Solve for InterestingTilt the WindmillHBS, chair of StrataStartupfestPandemonio, and ResolveTO, Author of Lean Analytics and some other books), Hugh McGuire (PressBooks, LibriVox, iambik and co-author of Book: A Futurist's Manifesto) and I decided that every week the three of us are going to share one link for one another (for a total of six links) that each individual feels the other person "must see".

Check out these six links that we're recommending to one another: 

Feel free to share these links and add your picks on TwitterFacebook, in the comments below or wherever you play.

By Mitch Joel


August 17, 2018 8:38 AM

The Shame of Content Marketing And Social Media

There has been a long-held thought that great content for social media can't be a shill or a hard sell.

That is true. Up to a point. Some brands (and individuals) have done quite well leveraging content and social media channels in a direct response fashion. True, some feel more snake oil salesy than others, but that's not the point. If a brand (or individual) decides that social selling is for them, and - in turn - they are able to find a customer base (which may not be the same thing as an audience), it's not for us to judge (so long as the product or services does what it claims to do and that the customers are happy with their purchase). From big brands "advertising" with content marketing and social media to the gajillion of online courses, seminars and events that we're all exposed to, many brands have one (and only one) strategy with their social media and content marketing: to sell!

It's not just about selling.

When Six Pixels of Separation started publishing (back in 2003), it was a soft (very soft) sell. The focus was on you: The individual. The content was geared to helping the reader (and, then, the listeners of the podcast) build a better business, see their brand from a different perspective and, ultimately, embrace the change that technology was using to disrupt their respective industries. The soft sell (at the time) was that if the reader thought that they might require the services of a digital marketing agency that (because of the content and perceived value) they might consider working with our agency. There was also an ethos in the early days of social media and content marketing that came from the visionary book, The Cluetrain Manifesto, which stated: "markets are conversations." Content and social media was a way to have a conversation (not just push an advertising message) out to an audience. It was also hyper-personal (content was usually created and attributed to an individual, unlike an ad or press release that was issued via a corporation). I fell in love with the idea that marketing was now about real interactions between real human beings.

Real interactions between real human beings is still a noble cause. It's just not the only cause.

In a more mature social media and content marketing space, we can track back to see how the introduction and growth of personal brands has led to a certain level of celebrity. We can see how the selfie revolution has made us all a tad (or a lot!) more narcissistic. We all know about the self-esteem and depression related issues people have related to their own Facebook feed (it's a world where people are posting things about themselves - mostly - to create a persona that they want to world see them as). With all of this complexity, there still seems to be a stigma attached to how much a brand pitches, sells and shills on social media. At the same time, another (perhaps more nefarious) trend has emerged. It's a place where individuals may not promote or shill their wears, but are pushing beyond the humble-brag into claims, self-promotional statements and other not-so-subtle manipulations to create the aura of success (or results) without ever substantiating their claims.

The not-so-humble brag. 

It's subtle, but if you look for it, you will see it (often). Statements or sentences that start like this:  

  • "People have said..."
  • "I don't like to promote myself (it's weird), but...,"
  • "I wasn't going to post this, but people have been asking me to..."
  • "Someone told me that they didn't know I launched (insert product/service XYZ here), so I will share this with you..."
  • Any time they add in words like "best-selling", "first-ever",  "vital, important, original..." 

It's not terrible. We all (brands and humans) need to promote our own work (if we don't, who will?), but it's a form of manipulation and persuasion that goes (mostly) unchecked.

Why should this irk you (why does it irk me?). Self-promotion is a funny thing. It can be subtle (like this post probably is) or overt. It's distasteful only to the person who feels like it is on the receiving end. Some people find these tactics smart. The issue is in finding your truth. Is that book really a best-seller? Is that consultant really somebody who has helped a business to grow or adapt? Has this individual really had people ask/beg/plea with them to share this information or is that a manipulation to make it look as though they are just the messenger instead of wanting to shill? Words matters. The context behind those words matter. Actions matter much more than those words. So, don't fall for claims that are not substantiated. Dig a little bit deeper on the brands and individuals that you are following. Find out if they truly deliver the work that they claim. Find out if the accolades that they are simply "sharing" have merit and truth (that the claims are true, and that the source of the claims are reputable as well). This is not a slight against any brand or individual. Things have become complex and clouded in the content marketing space. It's easy to create, shill, lie and hit the publish button. Who watches the publishers?

Social media and content marketing are as powerful as ever. Let's get back to those real interactions between real human beings. Value trumps all.

By Mitch Joel


August 15, 2018 5:49 AM

Multitasking Doesn't Work. Task Stacking Might.

I can't multitask. I just can't. Can you? Successfully?

When I try to do two things at the same time, I often find that it's a fail. I either focus too much on one task, and it's not accomplished to the best of my ability (because some of my head space is semi-focused on the other task). I can think about new ideas while scrolling through (and deleting) emails... there's something about that practice that brings out new thinking (weird, right?). With that, there have been countless studies that demonstrate just how impossible multitasking is (go ahead, Google it... I'll wait). 

With that, we all get only twenty-four hours in a day, and our world keeps getting more and more complex.

Spouse, kids, work, family, friends, life... you name it. Everything keeps getting in the way. Show me a person who can do it all, and I'll show you a person who spends a lot of time on a couch with a therapist or someone who is heavily medicated (or both). We fall behind. We claim that we will get to it. We want to be able to "catch up on vacation"... or do whatever we're not doing when we have a moment to breathe. Things slip. Always. I've let two things slip (and I'm embarrassed by it) over the years. Up until May of this year, it had been a long time since I had any formal exercise regiment in place. I can give you the standard excuses, and amp those up with two legitimate (albeit it minor) injuries, but they're just excuses. Reading books had become a problem area as well. I just couldn't find the time, energy or ability to keep my eyes open long enough to get through a book (yup, that's just excuses!). Both the lack of exercise and book reading was eating me up inside.

The first shift: Kill your goals.

The idea of killing my goals came to me after reading Tim Grahl's excellent new book, Running Down A Dream (which I read post-May... as you will soon discover). I realized that when I accomplish whatever goal it is that I set out to accomplish, the result never satiates as much as I had thought it might. Plus, more often than not, the goal would not be met, and I would fall into a self-loathing pit of despair. My solution was to kill my goals, and focus on my personal values. Those values being: I don't want to die. I want to have some kind of regular exercise in my life. I want to be a healthy person. I want to read more, because reading also makes me feel healthy (and smarter). With that, I decided to walk every morning. First thing. Every morning. Without exception. So far... so good. I've been at it since early-May. As I began this morning walk ritual, I would listen to music and podcasts to pass the time. Then it struck me, why not listen to audio books? Once that kicked in, I found myself wanting to read more as well (and not just listen to audiobooks). I dusted off my trusted Kindle, and started reading bits of pages and chapters here and there (and, different books from the ones that I was listening to on my walks). By 8:00 am every morning, I had walked almost 5 miles and would "read" (or listen) to a handful of chapters of a book. Killing my goals and embracing my true life values seems to be working (so far... so good).

The second shift: Task stacking.

Daily exercise and listening/reading a book at the same time. Multitasking! It works! Not so fast. I was, simply, stacking two tasks that can be done at the same time without one stealing energy (physical or psychological requirements) from the other. That got me thinking. What other tasks can we stack together? Reading a book while going to the bathroom? Deleting emails and grazing newsletters while coming up with ideas? Reading/listening to a book on your commute to work? OK, these all seem like ways to simply add reading into otherwise dormant moments. What about work solutions that are task stacking?

Uch... nothing else is coming to mind. 

I think there is something to this idea of Task Stacking over multitasking. I'm wondering about what else might work for you at work? What are the combos? 

Let's open this up: Have you figured out a Task Stacking solution that works for you? Do tell...

By Mitch Joel


August 13, 2018 8:39 AM

Amazon Delivery Person Enters A Couple's Home And More On This Week's CTRL ALT Delete Segment On CHOM 97.7 FM

Every Monday morning at 7:10 am, I am a guest contributor on CHOM 97.7 FM radio out of Montreal (home base). It's not a long segment - about 10 minutes every week - about everything that is happening in the world of technology and digital media. The good folks at CHOM 97.7 FM are posting these segments weekly on i Heart Radio, if you're interested in hearing more of me blathering away about what's going on in the digital world. I'm really excited about this opportunity, because this is the radio station that I grew up listening to, and it really is a fun treat to be invited to the Mornings Rock with Terry DiMonte morning show. The segment is called, CTRL ALT Delete with Mitch Joel.

This week we discussed: 

  • On the Homefront: Here, in Montreal, a couple was "shaken" after an Amazon delivery person entered their home. Crazy. Intelcom Express (a delivery service that Amazon subcontracts to) apparently dropped off a package inside the home of a Hochelaga-Maisonneuve resident. After the driver rang the bell to no answer (the husband/father was home, but was tending to his young child), the driver decided to try the unlocked front door, and was caught by the homeowner while he was leaving a package inside the house. The company has apologized and the driver has been fired. 
  • Snapchat Dysmorphia is a thing. Sadly. Because Snapchat (and Instagram) offer filters, it also offers people a version of themselves with flawless skin, different shapes of eyes, etc.... Now, people think that maybe they should like that all of the time? Self-image specialists and doctors are sounding the alarm. These selfie filters have given rise to people seeking plastic surgery, especially those dealing with the medical disorder of body dysmorphia. Yes, people want cosmetic surgery to look like the filtered version of themselves on social media.  
  • Uber (and Lyft) continue to disrupt, while traditional business models (and the governments that regulate them) fight back. Last week, New York became the first US city to cap services like Uber and Lyft by freezing new car licenses for one year, while the city looks at the impact these ride-hailing services have had. The thinking is that these services have caused much congestion, traffic and problems (which runs counter to the company's intent). It is doubtful that New York will be the only city to do this. 
  • App of the Week: Hibooks.

By Mitch Joel


August 12, 2018 8:30 AM

Growth IQ With Tiffani Bova - This Week's Six Pixels of Separation Podcast

Episode #631 of Six Pixels of Separation is now live and ready for you to listen to. It's very exciting to welcome Tiffani Bova back to the show (her last appearance can be checked out here: SPOS #578 - Defining... Read more

By Mitch Joel


August 11, 2018 5:22 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #424

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 (Solve for Interesting, Tilt the Windmill, HBS, chair of Strata, Startupfest, Pandemonio, and ResolveTO, Author of Lean Analytics and some other books), Hugh McGuire (PressBooks,... Read more

By Mitch Joel


August 10, 2018 8:56 AM

The Failed State of Digital Advertising

My digital advertising customer experience sucks. Big time.  I'm speaking at a conference soon, and wanted to know what the official hotel is for the event. I Googled the event. Now all I see are ads for this event. Every.... Read more

By Mitch Joel


August 8, 2018 6:28 AM

Local Retail Needs To Step Up

This does not happen online. This does not happen with major retailers. Recently, I was recommended to a local retailer for some home furnishings. After visiting the store (and ordering some stuff), I was quite taken with the personal service,... Read more

By Mitch Joel


August 7, 2018 8:36 AM

Bridget Kearney On This Month's Groove - The No Treble Podcast

Bridget Kearney is this month's conversation on Groove - The No Treble Podcast. You can listen the new episode right here: Groove - The No Treble Podcast - Episode #44 - Bridget Kearney. Who is Bridget Kearney? Bridget Kearney doesn't talk much... Read more

By Mitch Joel