Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
July 15, 2018 8:35 AM

The Domain Name Game With Bill Sweetman - This Week's Six Pixels of Separation Podcast

Episode #627 of Six Pixels of Separation is now live and ready for you to listen to.

A strong brand and corporate name is critical to demonstrating your uniqueness in the marketplace. The competitive forces are at play. Many people believe that all of the good names are already taken. The problem, of course, is that even if you can secure a strong and original brand identity, getting the right domain name can be costly, time consuming and extremely frustrating. Thankfully, there are smart people like Bill Sweetman who love the domain game. I've been fortunate to know Bill for over a decade. He's a former digital agency professional (who was in the space almost twenty years ago), before switching to his true passion: domain names. His company is called, Name Ninja. He is focused solely on helping individuals and brands get the domain names that are best for them. He is a very successful and respected domain name industry business leader with extensive experience in the domain aftermarket (or secondary market) of premium domain names, including domain pricing, distribution, and sales. A self-confessed domain name fanatic, Bill registered his very first domain in 1994 (which he later sold) and has been perfecting his "Domain Karate" moves ever since. If you've ever wondered how the domain business has become so wild and hard to navigate, you do not want to miss this. 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 #627.

By Mitch Joel


July 14, 2018 5:36 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #420

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: 

  • Radio host quits job over chronic dread, then decides to face her fears head-on - Out In The Open - CBC. "I wish I had the time to spend a year doing the things that frighten me. But first I'd have to figure out what those were, which sounds pretty terrifying in itself." (Alistair for Hugh).
  • Ethical Algorithms - Bias and Explainability in Machine Learning Systems - New York Artificial Intelligence - YouTube. "Kathryn Hume is a national treasure. One of the most eloquent, poetic thinkers I've ever met on the subjects of technology and society. Here's a video of her talking about explainability and bias in artificial intelligence. It's dense, but fascinating." (Alistair for Mitch).
  • David Harvey on Capital. Interview with The Dig Podcast - Reading Marx's Capital With David Harvey. "Did you know I'm a bit of an idealist/socialist/marxist-ish kind of guy? I'm not sure what the solutions are, and I don't much trust Marxists to find them, but I've always liked the Marxist analysis of the problems of capitalism. David Harvey is one of the great scholars of Marx, and everything I've heard and read from him is insightful. In this podcast, he muses on some of the current problems we find ourselves in, the difference between insane people and an insane system, the reason the left should embrace AI and not fight it, and he makes the case that the 'market' is anything but 'rational' ... if it were rational, why is it that we see, side buy side, a surplus of capital accumulation, needing ever more complex mechanisms to deploy it (eg building empty cities in China), and a surplus of labour, with little ability to put these two together for productive uses?" (Hugh for Alistair).
  • The horror and the wonder of jellyfish - New Statesman. "Jellyfish are strange things!" (Hugh for Mitch). 
  • Billionaire Ray Dalio: A.I. is widening the wealth gap, 'national emergency should be declared' - CNBC. "Artificial intelligence is going to cause a much deeper wealth gap. That's not just the words of a famed billionaire talking. I believe it too. I'm sure that do as well? If we think about the impact of AI today, instead of worrying about when it really happens tomorrow, perhaps this headline is then not as outlandish as it may seem at first blush. Are we in the need to treat massive technological disruptions (like AI) as 'national emergencies'? You be the judge." (Mitch for Alistair).
  • The comic book artists that fuelled a century of science innovation - Quartz. "Last weekend, I spent a lot of time (and money) at Montreal ComicCon (along with 60,000 other people!). I've been a comic book nerd since I was a very little kid. OG. I can't remember not having comic books in my life. I liked the stories. I liked the characters. What really captured my imagination was the art. To this day, it's still the artwork that gets me every time. Here's the story of how comic books impact culture and innovation and science. Hint: it's not just big budget action adventure movies!" (Mitch for Hugh).

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

By Mitch Joel


July 13, 2018 6:32 AM

Business Growth And A Better Mindset For Success

How do you define "success" in the work that you do?

Better still, how does your business truly define success? Of course, money, profit and margins are huge barometers, but what about success from an attitudinal standpoint? I recently finished reading the book, Mindset by Carol S. Dweck. It had been on my Wishlist for far too long. It seems like her concept of fixed mindset vs. growth mindset have become a part of the business zeitgeist over the years (I had heard those terms, but was unaware that they were developed from her book). It was hard to not recognize when I'm playing in the fixed mindset, and when I'm able to push through with a growth mindset. Even more powerfully, it got me thinking about certain professionals that I know and... more importantly... many brands that I have worked with.

What's a growth mindset and a fixed mindset?

Here's the definition from Dweck's website

"In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success--without effort. They're wrong.

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work--brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities."

In the business world, many brands are scrambling. Many brands live in a fixed mindset.

Look no further than the industry publications. From massive agency reviews to issues of transparency to data breaches to trying to figure out how a brand can best find an audience. There's an air of uncertainty (make that fear) out there. What brands used to do isn't as effective. What everyone is telling us to do is deeply challenging. Where everybody wants us to go forces us to amp up our skills, technology and more. It is confusing. Blockchain, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, smart audio skills, direct to consumer brands and so much more. 

Then comes the posturing.

Perhaps I get more exposure than the average business professional, but every presentation, briefing and pitch that I have sat through has had an unyielding sense of posturing (very fixed mindsets). From individuals who think they have all the brand's answers to organizations posturing that they've already mastered and are engaged in everything that is new with technology. This is not a criticism of those brands (and people) who seem to be inflating their own tires. It's just hard not to see this happening so much out in the wild and, at the same time, understanding how a growth mindset is probably the one component that - when instilled in the company values and into its people - can truly set them free. 

Think deeply about what kind of business professional you can be... and want to be.

I'm not innocent here. I've sat in a many a room and acted in a fixed mindset. I figured this was the expectation. It's not. Poking, prodding, being motivated to learn and grow is what those who become great have done. Even when things go sideways. Applying a growth mindset when the job is tough, when you feel like your personal growth may be inhibited, etc... is paramount to uncovering your own path to success. Not being judgy here... or pointing any fingers. It just became abundantly clear to me, while reading Mindset, that so many brands today live in a fixed mindset... and not one of growth. They're scared, but they're acting like they've "got it." It's top down and it's for every individual in the organization to think about.

Want your business, your team (and yourself) to truly thrive in this market? Lose the fixed mindset, read Dweck's book and drive towards true growth.

By Mitch Joel


July 11, 2018 7:15 AM

The Future Never Comes When You Can't Nail The Present

It's all about the basics.

You know this. Your business knows this. To build a brand... you must know this. But the present is often harder to nail down than the future. 

Case in two points...

Case One: One of the world's largest retailers. They are in direct competition with almost every other retailer (including Amazon). The other day, I found myself curious about the price of smart water. After checking out Amazon, I headed to this other large retailer. The term "smart water" generated zero search results (even though I have purchased this product in their store on countless occasions). I decided to use their intuitive navigation to see if this was a simple tagging problem. From the Groceries tab it was a quick jump into Drinks and Every Drinks (there was nothing in the Water tab). The "above the fold" section for energy drinks had four product listings. The first result was... wait for it... Feta Cheese. The Second search result was Red Bull and the third result was for Bocconcini cheese (the fourth was Starbucks Frappuccino Mocha). Feta cheese. Feta cheese was the number one result that their own navigation (not a type-in search query) generated. Sure, it's a #fail. What's make it a bigger #fail? This brand is constantly in the media talking about e-commerce, innovation, analytics and more. They have thousands of employees in Silicon Valley as a monument to their dedication in innovation and technology (even though HQ is miles away and in another state). I've seen their executives live on stage at major events touting their digital prowess and transformation. And on and on. 

Case Two: I'm a 100k traveller on a major airline (this is not to brag, but rather to create context that this brand knows everything about me... and I am considered in their top-tier of clients). Last week, I booked a return flight to Philadelphia (I live in Montreal). Several hours after the booking. I got an email from the airline. The subject line: Book your Montreal hotel today. The email reads: "Have you thought about where you'll stay while you're there?" With a listing of airline-supported hotels and prices. I figured I'd just stay at home. This brand knows more about me than almost any other brand in the world. And, the reason this happened is actually quite simple: their databases must be a mess. Without having full exposure, I'm willing to bet that that the ecommerce database, email marketing database and loyalty database are, simply put, not one database. Again, this is a brand where the executives and their PR machines are quick to talk about industry leading innovation and digital marketing capabilities.

Don't talk about the future when the present is such a mess.

I know executives at both of these companies. I know the agencies that work for these brands. The brands are good. The agencies are good. The people are good people who want to do great things. Still, this is the customer experience equivalent of "death by a thousand paper cuts." It's also frustrating. The result really is 101 marketing and technology that has been around for decades, at this point. Instead of fixing the problems of the present, the brands put their marketing and platform business up for review and lay blame to their partners for a lack of innovation on the technology and marketing side. It's hard for an agency to help a brand (or make them look good), when the true fundamentals are so lacking.

The data is also lying.

The real tragedy here is how the data will now lie. Why are water sales down? Why didn't anyone open up that perfectly targeted and personalized email? And on and on. The data will be lying because the platform and infrastructure is flawed. This happens more than anyone will readily admit. Go ahead, do some random searches on your own, or look at how ineffective and un-targeted so many branded emails are. The brands simply don't know that they're sending the wrong message to the wrong person. The core is rotten. Still, brands will please the media and Wall Street with press releases, acquisitions and strategic partnerships in order to not look stagnant in the marketplace. Time and energy might be better placed in servicing customers and inquiries today with true excellence (hat-tip to Tom Peters).

Brands: don't look to the future if you're struggling in the present to get, keep and grow your customers today. 

By Mitch Joel


July 9, 2018 7:53 AM

The One Thing About Content That Nobody Really Talks About

Does your content move?

I could not be more excited that Jerry Seinfeld is back with a new season of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. Some people like sausage. Some people like knowing how the sausage gets made. If "sausage" can be replaced with "comedy," I like to know exactly how it gets made. This puts me straight down the rabbit hole of shows like Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, YouTube clips of comedians discussing their craft, and the myriad of podcasts out there where comedians sit down with other comedians to discuss their trade. It's both fascinating and a nice peek behind the curtain on how creativity comes to life. For my dollar, comedy is is one of the roughest and toughest forms of creativity. An audience either laughs or they don't. An audience either likes a comedian's presence or they don't. Plus, getting people to laugh is tough business. Plus, plus... that individual is up there, naked, on a stage with nothing more than a microphone. Not easy.

What does comedy have to do with content?

At an elementary level, it's obvious. A great joke tells a story that moves an individual to an extreme emotion (in this case, laughing). This is usually done in short order. If brands could simply master that formula, it's clear that advertising, content and brand storytelling would be in a much better place. Dissect the comedian's job and think about it in terms of a brand's true north: tell a quick story that moves a customer closer to your story by hitting an extreme emotion (laughter, sadness, a memorable thought, etc...). Sounds simple. It's hard to execute. 

There's something more pronounced here.

This will get meta. Along with watching videos and listening to podcasts about comedians spilling on their craft, I've watched countless hours of Jerry Seinfeld being interviewed about Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee and its mass success. In one of those interviews, Seinfeld was asked why the component of the car was important (beyond the fact that Seinfeld is an avid collector and lover or automobiles). His answer was shockingly simple, and a true indictment on most of the content that brands put out. Allow me to paraphrase here on how he responded to this question: the show would be boring if it were just two people talking. That's always boring. The car brings in movement. All great content and stories need movement and motion. The simple act of two people speaking in a moving car or talking while they are walking gives the show movement. Movement is a very human thing. Movement makes everything more exciting.

Mind. Blown. 

It's true, isn't it? Even audio podcasts (or audio books) are much more engaging (to me, personally) when listened to while I am either walking or driving in a car. I'm sure that I am not alone here. There's two big ideas here for brands: 

Idea one: does your content have movement and motion in it?

Idea two: when your content is being taken in, is the audience physically moving?

We wants our brands to have emotion. Emotions are critical. We need our brands to also have motion. Motion is critical.

Does your brand have movement in it?

By Mitch Joel


July 8, 2018 8:19 AM

Daniel Pink Puts The Science Into Timing - This Week's Six Pixels Of Separation Podcast

Episode #626 of Six Pixels of Separation is now live and ready for you to listen to. It's hard not to be a fan of the work that Daniel Pink does. He is the author of six provocative books (Free... Read more

By Mitch Joel


July 7, 2018 5:07 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #419

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


July 6, 2018 9:48 AM

Marco Mendoza On This Month's Groove - The No Treble Podcast

Marco Mendoza 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 #43 - Marco Mendoza. <a href="" data-mce-href="">Groove - Episode #43: Marco... Read more

By Mitch Joel


July 1, 2018 8:26 AM

Building Invincible Brands With Melissa Agnes - This Week's Six Pixels Of Separation Podcast

Episode #625 of Six Pixels of Separation is now live and ready for you to listen to. I've had the pleasure of having countless coffees and breakfasts with Melissa Agnes. This happened long before she has become know as one... Read more

By Mitch Joel


June 30, 2018 4:32 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #418

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