Gini Dietrich

The Spin Sucks Inquisition: Mitch Joel

By: Gini Dietrich | April 4, 2014 | 

Gini Dietrich and Mitch JoelBy Gini Dietrich

I remember the first time Mitch Joel commented on Spin Sucks.


I wrote about speakers not wearing jeans on stage and Mitch vehemently disagreed with me. I didn’t care.


Fast forward to October 2011 when I was in Orlando for the PRSA International conference.

Mitch tweeted us was there for another conference and wanted to know who was hanging out at the neighboring hotel.

I was! And we got to meet in person.

Since then, we have spoken at several of the same conferences and have become friends. In fact, we joke we are social media married.

I’m very excited to have him share a little more about himself today.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mitch Joel is in the Spin Sucks Inquisition hot seat!

What is the Biggest Mistake You’ve Made in Your Career?

This one goes back to right before I joined Twist Image. I had left a job I held as an account executive for a PR firm.

I decided  I wanted to do something entrepreneurial again, so I set out to start a record label. I was introduced to someone in another city, and we hit it off. We actually got the record label off the ground, secured major label distribution with one of the biggest record companies in the world and even got a handful of bands to sign with us.

As the record label progressed, I met my current business partners at Twist Image. I wound up ditching the label to focus solely on Twist Image.

A few months after I took that decision, one of the bands we had signed to our record label took off. Now, my former business partner at the label was a sole proprietor and living the life.

At the time, we were struggling to build Twist Image.

In hindsight, I’m still fine with the decision that I took, but I think it was a mistake. I could have held on and done both – without there being an integrity issue. I think it would have been good/beneficial for both this record label and for Twist Image.

The lesson?

We sometimes let go of business opportunities   that are based solely on gut or feelings. It would have been wise to take a step back, get some outside advice about the situation and then make a more tactical/practical solution.

Thankfully, it all worked out in the end – the label is still flourishing, as is Twist Image, but it would have been nice to have been there – at the label – to see my hard work come to fruition.

What is One Thing about Yourself that Would Surprise Most People?

I am very introverted and socially shy.

I know, this is all the rage to say now that Susan Cain is such a well-known author (her book Quiet is massive) and TED presenter, but it’s true.

I struggle with how to wiggle my way into conversations at events and, while it’s fun to be on stage and presenting, I really grapple with what happens when a lot of people are in a room networking.

And, as much as I talk to people about knowing their elevator pitch and stuff… I often find mine to be a little inauthentic… but I’m working on it!

If You Could Achieve Everything You Ever Wanted in Life, but Had to Die 10 Years Sooner, Would You Make that Trade? 

Yes. Without a doubt.

Don’t get me wrong: Totally scared about dying and being sick. Still, I think a life worth living is much better than just trying to live a whatever kind of life.

I was just telling someone over breakfast that my life (and mortality) is something that I am acutely aware of and – for better or worse – it informs a ton of my decisions about life.

What Industry Advice or Practice Would You Most Like to Cry Foul On?

The entire RFP process. From top to bottom, it makes me sick.

I don’t find it to be a legitimate or accurate way to figure out if a brand and agency can play together nicely.

Not sure why it’s not as simple as some informational meetings and then working together on a project.

Right now, we live in a world where brands see choosing an agency as this strange Hunger Games-like process of pulling out a ton of free strategic and creative work, and then making a decision based on hardly doing any type of work together.

It’s brutal. And that’s my PG way of saying how messed up it is.

What is the Best Book You’ve Read in the Past Six Months?

The Circle by Dave Eggers.

I hardly ever read fiction, so I may be way off base on this one.

I loved how Eggers tells the story of people in a connected world. It’s total fiction about a company that could be Google… or Facebook… or Twitter… or one of those Silicon Valley behemoths, and what happens when what we share becomes who we truly are.

You read this book, and say to yourself, “this could never happen!” and then, sure enough, the next day something real and tangible happens on one of these social networks and you feel these scary fables creeping into reality.

It’s one of those books that I think about almost daily, because that fiction is becoming a reality.

Why Does Spin Suck?

In the old world, you devoted 30 percent of your time to building a great service and 70 percent of your time to shouting about it. In the new world, that inverts.

I can’t say it better than the way Jeff Bezos from Amazon said it.

Spin sucks because it’s based on the notion that the product/service isn’t as good as the communications about it.

Now, the true role of communications isn’t about spin, but rather helping people to know the true story. The true story doesn’t need spin. If it does, then it actually sucks… which means that spin sucks too. Get it?

Mitch Joel

And there you have it!

You can find Mitch on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Slideshare, Google+, and his blog (where he writes every, single day).

You can also read Six Pixels of Separation and Ctl Alt Delete and listen to his weekly podcast.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Great introductions. Nice to meet you Mitch!

  • Very fascinating and enjoyed learning more about you, Mitch!! Definitely a fellow introvert here more comfortable at a keyboard or on a stage but struggling with the inbetween.  I haven’t read the Eggers book you referred to but loved What is the What. Nice to “meet” you!

  • I never would have though you to be socially shy, mitchjoel!

  • Man, this inquisition is fun. 

    And looking forward to checking out that Dave Eggers book – I’ve read a few of his novels and nonfiction, he’s pretty great.

  • Funny, I’ve never met Mitch in real life, yet I wasn’t at all surprised to hear he was socially shy. So many of us ‘in this space’ are! It’s like the classic twist on comedians – so many of them, inside, are terribly troubled and depressed. I think if we have enough gumption, those of us with ‘social issues’ of some sort naturally gravitate towards careers that will *hide* our true selves, and also, those careers that force us to step outside of our comfort zones. I could never have ended up a social shut-in living in a dark basement, BUT, I’ve spent my life faking it, and quaking at the thought of being at an event or networking function. 

    Mitch is the real deal. I really enjoy him. I mean, come on – music fan AND Canadian? What’s not to love. I hope we get to meet face to face one day!

  • Good morning, Mitch. Thanks for everything you shared. The inquisition can be tough.

  • “We sometimes let go of business opportunities that are based solely on gut or feelings.” I know that I say “go with your gut” A LOT. It’s gotta feel right; it’s gotta feel natural. With golf, I always knew it was better to commit to the WRONG shot than not committing to the right shot. But, it is important to understand our instincts and why they feel the way they do. Analyze, commit, and execute.

    Happy #FF, Mitch and GiniDietrich!

  • Matt_Cerms Matt. We have to get together.

  • Mr. D texted me and said, “Mitch left us hanging! Who was the band?” So, Mitch, who was the band?

  • ginidietrich Totally. I am sorry I have been a little MIA around here. Agency life has been wild and crazy, and my schedule seems to get thrown off. Working on managing my time better!

  • First, I wasn’t around here back in 2010 for the jeans conversation, but didn’t you post a photo the other day of you speaking in a jean jacket? Is denim up okay?
    Anyway, RFPs totally suck. I look at some RFPs and think, “Even if I get the business this is clearly going to be a terrible company to do business with—bureaucratic, process-driven and motivated by all the wrong things.”
    And one of my favorite books of all time is Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. I’m hesitant to pick up anything else by him because I fear it won’t measure up.

  • So great to learn more about Mitch! Only have had the chance to hang out with him once, but I can vouch that he’s a super laid back, cool dude (even if he says he’s shy!). And he has great taste in music. 🙂

  • I was just talking to new business contacts yesterday about the RFP process. They, like many of us, had put in a tremendous amount of effort with their pitch and the company went with a cheaper vendor. (A vendor who still hasn’t produced anything six months in.)  It’s so nice to learn more about you Mitch. Thank you for being so candid.

  • Laughing about the RFP commentary having just been the awful client conducting the RFP process myself…even we think it is ridiculous. 🙂

  • mitchjoel

    We both wear jeans now… right?

  • jenzings

    What a great inquisition! Mitch was so gracious in agreeing to be a guest on the Radio Roundtable podcast back in 2010. I was giddy too!

    I’m always so relieved to hear successful people say that they are introverted and shy. Networking situations terrify me, because I’m introverted when it comes to those setups too. I also agree with him on the RFP process, it is horrible.

  • jenzings

    ginidietrich Ha, I immediately wondered that too!

  • mitchjoel  I don’t to speak. I can’t bring myself to do it. But I do wear them at conferences.

  • RobBiesenbach  Yes…because I was freezing. But I had a dress on underneath.

  • Matt_Cerms That’s agency life. Total rollercoaster, but lots of fun!

  • jenzings ginidietrich  If I’m not mistake, *I* know who the band is, a fantastic Canadian band – but I’ll never tell.

  • RobBiesenbach  Me too re: HWSG. I’m so afraid to be let down.

  • ginidietrich I totally agree. I think, and maybe this is reverse-sexist, but a lot of dudes just don’t know how to put it together, and they go for that “Yo, I’m down with the kidz” look and end up pairing a pinstripe suit coat (not sportcoat) with baggy mom jeans and it looks terrible. Maybe that’s catty, but enough people WILL judge and even if you end up knocking the talk out of the park, why give yourself that hurdle to start with (to mix metaphors)?
    And I figured you were cold when I saw that, given how most conference rooms/ballrooms are cooled these days.

  • belllindsay Yes! I’m even worried about re-reading it, I loved it so much. It came at a really important time in my life and that might have had something to do with its impact.

  • Can I say again that I love this series? Okay. I love this series. 

    And, mitchjoel, you’re the second person in a week to recommend The Circle, so I’m putting it on my list of books to read.

  • mitchjoel

    ginidietrich mitchjoel  All in good time… all in good… you too will obey the jeans 🙂

  • Welcome aboard, Mitch! I enjoyed reading what you had to say. 
    You are so right about the RFP process! It really is a Hunger Games style of play. It’s dumb because every agency will sell you a basket of goods and tell you what you want to hear just to get your business. 
    It’s probably always better to go with a referral from a business partner, right? 
    As for why spin sucks, I love how you phrased it! “Spin sucks because it’s based on the notion that the product/service isn’t as good as the communications about it.” 
    I’m definitely going to share that now. Anyway, it is a pleasure to meet you on here! Thanks again for sharing your insights! (I’m everyone’s Padawan learner here lol.)

  • Welcome to the 3rd Installment of the Friday Inquisition Punditry Report with your hosts Tommy Bunny and me. Let’s get started.
    Me: Do we trust mitchjoel ‘s answers Tommy?
    What do you think Howie? I mean you had his blog linked on your
    websites and used to go to his blog all the time and comment. You were
    kind of a fanboy weren’t you?
    Me: Well yes I have to admit
    Mitch was always very kind responding to my comments and while I got
    upset he works with the evil Walmart I still think he is smart, kind and
    gracious. I don’t frequent many blogs anymore but his is a great read
    and he is not a Social media Fanboy he has plenty of skeptic. His
    podcast with JaffeJuicewas always a great listen. I even called in once and Mitch acknowledged me. I used to play that for strangers to bring awe.
    Me: Let’s get to the content. What do you think Tommy?
    Great stuff and you told me how you tried to convert him to heavy
    techno and he brushed you off. Now knowing more of his history is way
    Me: Yeah that made me a bit sore but I have so much
    rocker in me I let it slide. Just wondering what band he is talking
    about, Better not be Bang Tango.
    Me: So what about the
    meat Tommy. And YES we know you are vegan don’t even go there for a
    third week or we will never be signed up to podcast.
    Tommy: He gets great grades here. He wasn’t as wordy as crestodinaand maybe isn’t out to save the world but he didn’t hold back. Plus really thought he was much shorter or does ginidietrichjust
    make everyone look much taller?The guy is smart and honest. And he
    proves along with Gini extroverts aren’t the only rock stars. In fact
    Ronnie James Dio, Glenn Danzig, Rob Halford….introverts! 

    Me: So lets wrap this up people have things to do places to go tweets to send. What would you grade his work here Tommy?

    We give him an A for sure Howie. He would get an A+ but everyone knows
    Walmart uses child bunny labor in parts of the world to make cheap socks
    so had to ding him. But as Golem would say ‘We’s waz very impressed
    So its a wrap see everyone next week same bunny time same bunny station!

  • kanya632

    Great to know more about you, Mitch!

  • JRHalloran really liked that take on the product vs hype. Some products would die without hype. I mean who needs Axe body spray unless you are a hippy who doesn’t shower. But great products and services need no hype.

  • Yay, more Canadian content.  So, our UotT Social Media class’s  “recommended  reading” was  “CTRL ALT Delete”  I picked up the book at the Indigo Store in the Manulife building ( not far from the Pilot – sorry you have to know Toronto for these references). I think I picked up the last copy, or perhaps there was only 1 copy, anyway I started reading it and realized that the concepts, philosophies, and antidotes  actually applied to the way we should interact and live in general, completely aside from the Social messages of the book. 

    With the exception of the RFP and the Eggers, Mitch (can I call you Mitch?)  actually shared all those personal details above,  and more,  over the pages of his book,

    I found Mitch’s book quite inspirational. 

    Great to meet you “Mitch”

  • Howie Goldfarb JRHalloran   As long as well don’t group the Axe antiperspirant in the statement, I’m on board.

  • belllindsay   Actually Mitch considers interacting like this as “real life” – I read that in his book?  Or something close to that.

  • I got to see mitchjoel last year at NMX when he spoke with Robert Scoble. It’s hard to imagine two more polar opposites on actual practice when it comes to using social media. It was a really interesting conversation. It was a really fascinating discussion and highlighted (for me) that we need both in the world. I didn’t get to speak with Mitch at the time, but I’m not surprised he’s shy and reserved. There are so many of us. I am working harder to get past my shyness so I can go up to people like Mitch and others that I respect so much and let them know that I appreciate how much I’ve learned from them. 

    And omg, RFPs – ugh.

  • katskrieger  Nothing personal! My view is that the RFP process is probably well-suited to, say, ordering airplane parts (if you’re the Pentagon). But for selecting a creative agency, it’s a blunt tool.

  • belllindsay jenzings ginidietrich  “Fantastic Canadian band” — that certainly narrows it down! BOOM! Roasted!

  • RobBiesenbach  LOVE that book. Zeitoun was also really good, though there have been some unfortunate news stories about the title character the last couple of years. I also listened to What is the What – again, good, if a bit of a slog – and so, so difference from HWoSG.

  • mitchjoel this is my favourite Spin Sucks Inquisition so far! Maybe it’s because I read it with your voice in my head or perhaps because I’ve seen you at conferences and events. Have you and ginidietrich considered co-authoring a book called “RFPs Suck”? 😉 Agreed, they’re brutal. One of the perks of being a sole proprietor is most of my clients come by word of mouth these days and I refuse to do them unless I’m hired by an agency to help them. Apart from being a brutal and often not telling process, RFPs are can be very expensive. The Circle sounds like an interesting read and perfect for an upcoming road trip. Thanks for sharing!

  • Karen_C_Wilson mitchjoel  OMG, Karen, I can totally relate to your comment about trying to get past your shyness so you can let people know how much you’ve learned from them, etc. I’m even shy commenting on blogs when I don’t know the blogger.

  • Howie Goldfarb mitchjoel JaffeJuice crestodina ginidietrich  What would we do without you Howie? 😉

  • robin_solis

    mitchjoel ginidietrich Nobody ever expects the SpinSucks inquisition!

  • Thanks for this both of you! I actually first followed Mitch, then through him found my way to Gini and Spin Sucks. So thank you for that, Mitch!

  • mitchjoel ginidietrich  Pants are for quitters.

  • I was introduced to mitchjoel in a Hubspot Inbound U. webinar about 5 years ago. He was a tidal wave of information and ideas. Mitch, you do a great service for the marketing community through all you share. You are appreciated.

  • EdenSpodek mitchjoel ginidietrich  What I find hilarious is when a company specifies that none of the time spent responding to the RFP can be billed. That’s cute. You keep thinking that. Vendors add that into their costs, so the company WILL pay, one way or another, down the road.

  • Impressive; bringing in the big hitters to your place.

    BTW ginidietrich when you RT’d BarbaraNixon’s tweet that I had RT’d about some Mercedes contest and then followed me, I thought I had made the ‘big’ time…:).

    Concur or not concur; a lot of people who have had success in the online world are self-professed introverts; do you think the semi-anonymity of social platforms allowed them to express themselves better and then give them the confidence to take it ‘outside?’

    Good to see you mitchjoel certainly know the name; welcome to the house o’ Gini. 

    I like this series.

  • KevinVandever

    I’m with Mitch on the whole jeans/speaking thing, but you already know that and I know that you know that I would comment on that.

  • Hi mitchjoel very nice to “meet you”. Great Spin Sucks Inquisition. Completely agree that RFPs suck and EdenSpodek  that’s a great idea for  ginidietrich  ‘s next co-authored with Mitch! They are indeed unnecessarily brutal and a waste of a lot of time and resources.  The Circle is now on my list. Sounds very interesting. Happy Friday!

  • LSSocialEngage mitchjoel ginidietrich  Maybe it’s time for a Spin Sucks book club.

  • RobBiesenbach mitchjoel ginidietrich Couldn’t agree more Rob. One of my pet peeves is when organizations already know who they’re going to hire but because of procurement policies, they conduct RFPs and make at least two other agencies compete for the client they don’t have a hope in heck of winning. There are so many issues with RFPs and pitches we could go on all day and there are several blog posts and podcasts that have discussed the problem with RFPs.

  • Now that’s a plan! EdenSpodek LSSocialEngage mitchjoel ginidietrich