Reading the Future with Mitch Joel

Mitch Joel is a best-selling author, entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and co-founder of ThinkersOne, a platform that provides premium, bite-sized thought leadership.

Mitch was a driving force behind Twist Image, a game-defining Montreal e-commerce agency he eventually exited successfully… Read the rest of this article on Guerrilla Wisdom

CHAPTERS

00:00:00 In this episode…

00:00:35 Chapter 1: The Squiggly Line

00:07:43 Chapter 2: The Internet’s Early Days

00:14:05 Chapter 3: Technological Connections

00:24:04 Chapter 4: Decentralizing Trust

00:35:40 Chapter 5: Humanoid Technology

00:56:15 Chapter 6: Connecting Brands

01:07:05 Chapter 7: Constant Reinvention

View Full Transcript

Reading the Future with Mitch Joel

 

FRED

First of all, welcome. Thanks for coming in.

 

MITCH

I’m happy to walk 4 minutes from my office to yours to get here.

 

FRED

Yeah, we made this one really easy for you.

 

 

Chapter 1 – The Squiggly Line

 

FRED

 

So Mitch I like starting from the top. You’ve talked on some of the biggest stages in the world. You’ve been a bestselling author. You’ve built and sold a very successful e-commerce company. You’ve kind of done a lot in your career, but I wanted to start with your roots. I wanted to start with the beginning. I believe your first gig was you were a music journalist. You interviewed Tommy Lee. I believe that was the first gig.

 

MITCH

Yeah.

 

FRED

Correct me if I’m wrong. Dare we say you were a rock journalist?

 

MITCH

Yeah, for sure. Music writer. That’s right.

 

FRED

Then you even co-founded a music label. A hard rock label.

 

MITCH

I did, yeah.

 

FRED

I know you’re also a very big comic book fan.

 

MITCH

Yeah, I am.

 

FRED

So you have this…

 

MITCH

I have a lot of interests.

 

FRED

Yeah, you have a lot of interests. So my question for you about the roots part, like how your journey sort of evolved, is you clearly have this very eclectic interest in art and creativity, and then you’ve gone on to do all kinds of things on the business side and the marketing side. How and when did you decide to transition from the world of sort of, let’s call it pure creativity, journalism, writing into the world of business and marketing? And is there a connective thread that was there all along the way for you?

 

MITCH

Yeah. In my second book, “Ctrl Alt Delete”, I talk about the squiggly life, and the idea there, is we have this conception that you go to school and in some way, shape or form, either you or with the help of a guidance counselor, you choose some type of formal educational path. And the thought is you’re going to go down that path, and you’ll graduate. You’ll get a job in that world, you’ll move forward in that world, you might become a partner in a law firm or you might start your own law firm like you did. And that trajectory, if you think about it, seems that it goes from the bottom left to the top right, that it’s very linear and moves in that direction. As you do better, you move higher and higher up. So, when I look at people whose careers we truly admire, it’s not necessarily even from the tax base. What you see is that it’s usually not that linear, that there was some type of change in education that they went into and studied something, but then went into a completely different direction, and they tried this thing, and it didn’t work. And that went here.

 

You know, a great example of that would be somebody who I don’t know if you know him, but Harley Finkelstein from Shopify is a great example. Then when I first met Harley and we became friends, I think he was just finishing up his law degree or no, sorry, he was doing online T-shirts at the time, but he studied law, went to practice a bit of law, realized it wasn’t for him, had done DJing in school and had done some work with promotional items and things like that, and thought Internet is kind of still relatively new from an e-commerce perspective. Why don’t I start selling? He looked around and found this solution of this tool called Shopify that was really just a handful of very few people that were trying to sell snowboards that needed to optimize the software because back then, software wasn’t cloud-based. It was really expensive, and it was really challenging. He partnered up with them and then actually stopped selling his T-shirts and went on to become one of the developers of the software because he believed so deeply in it became Shopify. These are stories that we know, but we don’t realize that it’s actually a very squiggly path.

 

It’s like I studied law, it didn’t work out, I was selling this… So when I think about my path, it doesn’t seem that extraordinary or different. And I don’t think it was creative to a business, one, because even when I was writing, and I was contributing to magazines, and this is a pre-Internet world, I was still thinking about how would you build a business around this. What are the components that make this work? So when I transitioned that, I did it really quickly. From being a writer to being a publisher and editor of a magazine, it was a lot of work because I had no experience doing it, but I had some connective tissue in terms of I had been asking a lot of questions about how do you make money in a magazine? Where does one print a magazine? How do you find photographers? How do you do layout? Because again, this was the earliest versions of the magazines I created. The scanners at the time were either industrial, which were untenable for someone just starting a magazine or it was, in my case, those handheld Logitech scanners. And you created like we would take shoeboxes as guides because otherwise, it would get squiggly, and it wouldn’t work. The entire output of it was so different. So the desire that I had was always around the world of media entertainment brands. When I was very young, I loved, you know, I jokingly tell people I love walking through shopping malls. I don’t necessarily buy a lot. I’m not a massive consumer, but I love shopping. I don’t necessarily like buying.

 

FRED

You’re like my wife.

 

MITCH

She doesn’t like buying? She just like shopping?

 

FRED

She likes shopping way more than she likes buying, likes the experience of shopping.

 

MITCH

Me too. And I’m always curious by what goes where and what looks like and how does it change over the years. So when I look back on my career from writing to publishing magazines to being interested in the Internet to working in Internet-based businesses, there is a lot of connective tissue around media, advertising, communication, brand building. You know, those anchors are there from before day one. Even when I was a young kid trying to do, you know, magic parties as a magician, trying to do magic for kids parties, it wasn’t necessarily the magic or the performance. It was probably more in the building of that type of business where people pay for this that got me super interested. So for me, I always had interest in that. What I did realize in my path is that the traditional education system wasn’t working for me. It might have been the school that I was at. It might have been the way in which I perceived education at that level. But once I started reading really on my own and this, you know, it flies in the face of a lot of our peers will get their MBA or get their legal, their law degree and stop reading. It’s like, okay, I’m done. I’m out now. I did all the reading I had to do.

 

FRED

That’s when they should really start. I mean, once you go into practice, once you start practicing something, that’s when you really need to kick up the education. But I agree. A lot of people follow that traditional model and they’re not served very well by it typically.

 

MITCH

Yeah, and I don’t know who said it, but I’m often quoted because I say it a lot. But I don’t think it was my quote that I never let school get in the way of my education.

 

FRED

Right.

 

MITCH

It’s just the way to think.

 

FRED

Yeah.

 

MITCH

So there’s a lot of things with me that are anti-establishment. I would say too, there’s a bit of that. I do like the irreverence. I do like a lot of things that people will dismiss or think it’s for a certain generation versus another. And I think there’s a lot of learning in paying attention to things like that. That’s just my own perspective on it.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2 The Internet’s Early Days

 

FRED

So that’s probably why you were very interested in the Internet from the right, from the beginning, right. And when you talk about that connective thread, I’ve always seen people in our generation, so let’s call it Gen X broadly speaking, people that are like in their forties and fifties now. I’ve always seen us as kind of a bridge generation because we were fully formed adults before the Internet sort of blew up. And but at the same time, we kind of usually started our careers right around the time that the dot com boom and the Internet started really picking up. And we’ve really had a kind of a front row seat at the evolution of the Internet. And certainly you did. I mean, your career literally tracks very, very heavily around that time, right?

 

MITCH

Sure.

 

FRED

And I don’t know sometimes if it’s a gift or a curse, but it gave us this kind of sense of perspective of we have this like before and after, right. What life was before. We have these strong memories of life before the Internet or without the Internet and then like, but at the same time, we’re as immersed in the connected life as anybody else.

 

MITCH

Yeah, there’s a huge level. We use the word privilege a lot in our world now, and particularly when it comes to race and gender and diversity. But there’s also privilege in time of birth that we don’t reflect a lot on.

 

FRED

Generational Privilege almost.

 

MITCH

Yeah. And so while we are digital immigrants- we’re not digital natives, that is fact. Our generation and timing was still of the age where we are open to new and to exploring. And because you’re not so set in the ways of the path passed, at that age, you’re open to how it innovates and changes. That was very fortuitous for Gen X 100%. So when I saw the first commercialized web browser, meaning it became accessible to the everyday person, and I was one of the first definitely here in Montreal, I was way too young to have access through McGill, but I was going somehow through that online BBS modems. When I saw the first visual browser, it became very clear to me that this is going to be a much more powerful way to get content to a broader audience. Why? Because if you love music, you would typically go in buy a magazine, pre-internet, read the whole thing cover to cover, go back into the store and realize there’s no new issue. It’s going to take another three/four weeks for that to happen. You would reread it and reread it and reread it. Suddenly, and I remember this really, really clearly, there was a site called All Music, and every day they would update it with three or four articles. I mean, imagine, like then, the real time of Twitter, but back then, it was three or four articles, and to me, that was ground zero. I knew exactly that point that hold on a second, if I can get content from them. Again, this is pre-blogging and the ability to  was much more complex then. But if I get new content from them daily, waiting a month is just, that gap of time, it’s wild. And if you fast forward to when blogging came in and I started doing that really early in the, you know, probably 2004, 2005, and I would look to the landscape and see someone like Seth Godin, who was one of the earlier bloggers and somebody I know, love, and trust. My whole thing there was, well, this even blows it up further, wide, because Seth isn’t writing a new book every month. You’d be lucky if you saw something new from him every couple of years. Suddenly he’s giving you that insight free every single day. That to me was I just saw everything is – You’re Neo in the Matrix, and you’re watching everything fall down, and you realize, you know, what we had before that moment and after that moment?

 

FRED:

From a publishing per- Yeah.

 

MITCH

It’s going to be cataclysmic. So what is, you know, Kevin Kelly, who’s one of the founders of Wired, is a very well-known futurist. He wrote this book called The Inevitable, and I didn’t have a word for it until he came up with that word. But I look back and go, these were inevitable. They were things that I could directly look at and go, no chance we’re not doing that. And what’s interesting is you have a whole population pushing against it going, we don’t need that. And so I lived through that for decades now. I lived through people saying why. I remember people saying, why would I ever need a computer in my home? Why would I ever need a computer on my desk in my office? Why would I ever need a computer that I could take with me from one place to another? Why would I ever need a mobile phone? Why would I ever need email on my phone? Why would I ever buy something on the internet? I could go through month by month to even this moment in time where people will say, there’s no way that AI will replace any type of work that I do. And as somebody who is very early into it, I can tell you that there is not a piece of work that I don’t touch right now that AI isn’t my co-pilot on, and I can viably see it replacing me if it gets an inkling better. So, I see these things and I know. So when I made these work changes and jumped over the decades that I’ve done, they were things that I felt compelled to do because it seemed so obvious to me. You’re telling me you’re going to go down to a library or call someone or ask someone when you need any form of information, when you can find it in a search engine? And people were very dismissive of it in the early days of search, because I was there before Google, people would type in words like car, but I’m sitting there going, hey, when I’m writing an article on Motley Crue’s example, what year did Shout at the Devil come out? And how do you spell Nikki Sixx’s name? What did you do in that moment in time? Even if you went to a library, they wouldn’t have that current information. I would have to call record labels. They would then have biographies printed up Xeroxed that if you were smart enough to be even technically savvy, to have a fax machine at home, they would send you. Otherwise, they would compile these bios, and weekly, I would go and pick them up, and that would be the answer to my question. I would then file them. I had massive filing cabinets for all of these bands because I needed to know what year an album came out. How do you spell that? All of these things that you had no access to.

 

FRED

It almost becomes an extension of your brain.

 

MITCH

Right.

 

FRED

The fact checking, the additional little pieces of information here and there.

 

MITCH

We don’t realize it. We take it for granted. And now in a world where you have digital natives and things like Google, we take these and it’s on your phone, you know, we take it for granted. But as Gen Xers, we really remember that we had to look for things in this, in such a larger scale of complexity that it’s almost unimaginable to someone who is a digital native. It’s unimaginable.

 

Chapter 3 Technological Connections

 

FRED

It’s very hard for us to like, you know, my son’s a digital native, my daughter. It’s very hard for us sometimes. Like I see how ingrained it is in their way of thinking, like there is no world pre-internet for them, right? Right. It just doesn’t exist. They don’t have that reference point. And so I wonder sometimes about nostalgia. You know, the people who are nostalgic of the pre connected age. Right. And I know, like your first book, Six Pixels of Separation, you cover the theme of connectedness and how much closer all these digital tools make us. And I know that you’ve done a lot of work on the business side of things, but you also clearly you’ve delved very deeply into the broader sort of social dimension to this. And I always see you as a as an optimist, correct me if I’m wrong. Yeah, I see the potential of this technology to make us more productive, make us better, connect us. There’s also another perspective. Maybe it’s nostalgia, maybe it’s people just getting old. But a lot of people believe that technology actually isolates and separates us. So I’m going to give you a little quote, this fantastic psychology academic at MIT, Sherry Turkle, she wrote this book called Alone Together.

 

MITCH

Sure. She’s been on my show.

 

FRED

She’s fantastic. And so she writes this online we fall prey to the illusion of companionship, gathering thousands of Twitter and Facebook friends and confusing tweets and wall posts with authentic communication. But this relentless connection leads to deep solitude. So if we zoom out of the sort of this insanely connected life and on one end, it seems inevitable that it’s only going to become more mediated by technology, more connected. I suppose the essential question a lot of us have is how much are these technologies connecting us and how much are they separating us? Or maybe it’s both at the same time.

 

MITCH

Well, they do, they’re doing both at the same time. And I would never extract one quote from someone like Sherry Turkle and dismiss it, but it’s easy to dismiss that quote because what you’re not factoring in, and then she talks a lot about this in her work, is the reality that it isn’t binary.

 

So it’s not we’re connected or not connected. It is what started the connection. How small was it and how large were you able to expand it. So for every conversation we have about how it isolates us, makes us feel alone, contributes to our mental health, to eating disorders, to comparison, to FOMO, to whatever- this is true- I could give you probably 20,000 more arguments about how it’s connected us. Think about in relation to someone who has some form of physical disability and suddenly they’re egalitarian in terms of being able to communicate and connect in some type of virtual world, it could be a social network, it could be even an online game. We can’t dismiss that, that the privilege that we have of being more able-bodied is flattened. It’s completely equalized for digital channels.

 

I happen to run a private Facebook group for fiction, for non-fiction and business authors, and it’s a small group. It’s a couple of hundred people. But I would make the argument that that has translated into so many what I would call protein-based engagements, meaning we meet in person. I’m traveling to a city that author’s based in the city. Had we not had this private group where we can help one another become better writers, better experience and use it healthy in a healthy manner, I would have never had those engagements. Think about dating apps. Who falls in love and gets married in this day and age without the help of a dating app? Because if you think about the world without dating apps, it’s mind-blowing that what you’re doing is predicting your actual future and love based on probably a two-kilometer radius and the luck of walking into some space at the same time as someone else. Where now you’re expanding it to interests and beyond. Are there problems with online dating? Yeah, we have harassment. We have a ton of issues related to rape, but there’s tons of problems with it.

 

FRED

Hookup culture people who just stayed fixated on that thing.

 

MITCH

Yeah. Which might relate to things like people not getting as much married now or having as many kids, there’s all sorts of things. But the point being is that it’s ambiguous. It’s ambiguous in the same way that fire is. Fire keeps us warm and has led to a mass amount of innovation, but at the same time it can burn your house down is extremely dangerous. So the platform’s technology has that ambiguity to it. There is no doubt. But for every negative, I could point to a positive; I could sit here and talk to you about how cancer-full this technology current is because of how it affects you, because of how unhealthy it is, because of how, as Gen-Xers, we remember episodic moments. You watch TV. It was a half hour or an hour, and then you went on to another activity or you watched something else. Now you can scroll endlessly through Tik Tok, and it never ends. You could lose 4 hours of your life without having any cognition of the physicalness of time, because it never ends. Well. You and I used to play video games on Atari or Coleco or in television or whatever was- Super NES, those game ended. They had levels, they had bosses, and at the end you won and it was over. Games now never end. In fact, the engines are created to keep you there as much as possible. If you study the area, which I do a little bit, you know that they’re not even competing with other media formats now. These technologies are competing with sleep. That’s what they’re trying to ultimately do. And they have these addictive things built into them unhealthy. But again, for every story like that, you may be dismissing the person who’s going to create the next great innovation because they met somebody through these connected channels. I have incredible business relationships over what’s coming into three decades. So at least the earliest days of Internet connectivity and a lot of them were 100% digital or originated. They originated digitally and then evolved. Now think about relationships like that, that you evolve beyond the digital tweet. Now think about how suddenly you moved from the tweet to texting. So now I have people like a work wife or a work BFF that I see as often as possible. But more often than not, we are connected. Now there’s the old Chris Rock joke about how it used to be that you went to work and that your spouse was at home and that person could have died in between that time, you’d never know. Now it’s like you’re working and in the relationship all the time because of texting. Is that good? Is that healthy? Does it help the relationship? Does it not? We have to be able to take the brilliant work of people like Sherry Turkle, the brilliant work of people like Johann Hari. There’s David Sax, who talks about living a more analog life. These are great insights that we have to do and understand that like everything else, balance.

 

What is the balance? So if it’s taking over your life or is it an activity? To me, that’s the story. It’s a story I try to teach my kids. It’s the story that I speak to other parents about. And I’ll tell you that when we talk about younger people in particular, the biggest thing I see is that they’re modelling after their parents, that the kids aren’t even close to being as bad as the parents are. The parents don’t realize it. They’re like, we’re mature, we know what we’re doing. But ultimately, it’s their behaviour that is causing the modelling that’s pushing it forward. So, you know, a powerful story that I heard recently is a school was looking at digital usage in terms of their students. And what they realized is that in between classes, the biggest problem was parents texting the kids. Make sure you do this. Don’t forget this. The hell of digital helicopter parenting. So how do you want the school to move forward with a healthier attitude of activity-based, using technology when you should, in a world where the parents won’t stop talking digitally to anybody? So these are the challenges that we have, but I don’t think it’s a technological challenge. I think we have a cultural, societal, psychological, communal challenge that we have to decide what is our attention worth? Where are we putting our attention to? When is this the best thing ever, and when is it the worst? And being able to identify those moments in between?

 

FRED

Yeah. No, I love the analogy with fire and I think you’re showing that perspective, that without and with and you sort of very, you were very aware and self-aware as all of all of these transformations were kind of being hoisted onto us. Okay, what’s the boundary. And you mentioned so, fire.

 

MITCH

But the thing with that is, is you’re only as good as the worst person in your network. So if you’ve got a kid that has way too much screen time, it might be the kid’s friends parents that are the real problem because of what they’re modeling and because of what this kid thinks. They’re constantly pinging your kid in and now your kid is trapped in that. And if your kid is not, if your kid resists. We’re not going to do this. We’re not going to have that kid have a device. They’re socially extracting themselves from a social circle. That could be really precarious to their development and growth.

 

FRED

So you’re very, very aware of the threat. That’s something I see. Like, right, like so nobody would argue that we were better off pre fire. Like nobody would make that argument, right? But at the same time, fire can burn down your house. So the key is and you mentioned it like health. So you mentioned the perspective of health, like doing it in a healthy way, doing it in a balanced way. And now you’re giving this perspective on you’re only as good as the worst person in your network, which is like, okay, so this is what I’m hearing. You correct me if I’m wrong, we should not approach it as shiny new object. Let’s dive in blindly and just find, figure out later what happens. We should have a little bit of trepidation and a little bit of awareness as to, you know, the potential for good, the potential for bad. And then we need to sort of apprehend these technologies from a broader human perspective and also be very aware, because I don’t know how many people would word it so strongly, like you’re only as good as like the worst person in your network can actually cause a lot of damage

 

MITCH

100%.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4 Decentralized Systems

 

FRED

So it’s like, how do we go about drawing those boundaries in a sort of in a mature way and not fall prey to shiny new objects syndrome of we just sort of get addicted with playing with a new toy.

 

 

MITCH

I don’t see it in that framework. The framework that I would see it in is- One, If you have any form of literacy in this technology, you will typically fall into that early adopter mode. So playing with it, tinkering with it, trying it… It’s healthy because you have a level of education, understanding, impact, that makes you somewhat skeptical while being optimistic about it at the same time. So I’ve tried a lot of things over the years that have fallen, you know, face first into the digital dust that I don’t even necessarily miss because you realize in that, that it never really had its place. So let’s look at early adopters and say, okay, we’re going to place-hold them over here.

 

In the middle of that, you have what I call real consumer behavior. So what I’m really ultimately looking for is not the early adopters and the tinkerers and people willing to try it. I’m looking for the moment in time where it has fundamentally changed how somebody lives and or buys. So I’ll give you a great example of this. You and I used to go out and buy media. You bought a CD, you bought a book, you bought a movie, you had your collection. You proudly displayed it in your living room. That’s what we did. And you snap your fingers in your world of Netflix and Apple Music and Disney Plus and streaming services. So most people would look at that and go, wow, streaming services are really interesting. I go: they are. And what makes it most powerful is people went from buying a thing to paying a monthly fee to have access to a library or everything. That’s a big shift in technology. Then if I can take that shift and apply it to every business B2B, B2C, small, medium, large. So here we are in your office, you’re running a law firm. One of the things people who call you will ask for an opinion on something. You will then have people scramble and put together some piece of thinking. What if that information is in some type of database that you’re actually pulling it from? And you made that directly accessible to your customers and you charge them a monthly premium for them to be able to self-serve into that information. Now, alleviating this hustle, this back and forth, this 1 to 1. You’re letting them service it. And by finding some of these answers that’s making them want to engage you more. Because wow you’re making me smarter, it’s faster to do. That becomes a differentiator between you and the competitor down the hall. What’s amazing about that is you basically Netflix an aspect of your business because we know that the consumer’s behaviour and desire to do that has changed.

 

So I’m swiping left or right for, I’m talking a lot about dating, my wife doesn’t let me date, I should just be really clear about that. But you use something like, you know, you’re swiping left or right. It’s the same idea as I push a button and a car arrives, food arrives, and flowers arrive. So that’s a consumer behavior that has changed how we buy, how we do things. And then the third area of that is the laggards, which are the people who try to get to it way too late. And now, suddenly, what they’re doing is their competition is multiplied because, before that, they were competing with who is in their competitive landscape. But now they’re also competing with the digitization of it.

 

So look at things like the taxi business and how slow they were to adapt to just saying, hey, if we put an app out that just basically lets people know that the cab is coming and where it is, why would people use Uber? And the question would be price. It may be cleaner. Whatever it might be, but is that enough of a differentiator to change the landscape? So they allowed ridesharing to change the story for a myriad of reasons, but then they quickly caught up. So they played that game. And then in theory, it did work for them because you have things like contractor issues, you have things like just pricing in general. And cabs are actually in many areas like here where we live in Montreal, cabs are way cheaper than Uber is right now. So it can work at night, but it could have destroyed them too. So that laggard game is a very dangerous one to play. I like the middle one. I like the one where you are astute enough to see this behaviour; this technology has changed how people buy.

 

How does that impact my business? So, you know, we could talk really specifically about your industry, which I don’t know much about, but you look at things like NFTs and Non-Fungible tokens. So now we have a world where people are buying digital assets based off of this idea of scarcity, whereas before all we had was abundance. And now you’re going to see things like smart contracts, like if I do something with you here at Pinto Legal, maybe you will NFT or tokenize that thing. And so I don’t have to deal with the problems later, proving to a judge that this is the latest copy, that it’s mine. We see this a lot in reconciliation of wills, for example, prove that there’s no other wills out there. Well, if I’ve NFTd or tokenized this will, it’s very apparent to everybody where this final digital piece of code went to. So this is really transformative. So people are, you know, NFTs and like Bored Apes. It’s like the world’s imploded. I’m like, no, no, no. All it did was validate that people will do this. They will have a digital wallet, they might use cryptocurrency, but more importantly, they’re interested in the idea of a smart contract, meaning a digital file that has some piece of technology attached to it that says this is one of or one of a series of.

 

FRED

Very powerful. We’ve done a lot of thinking around this issue of NFT smart contracts, I believe. So this is where to the crux of the matter in our industry. Crux of the matter is there are some simple contracts that are really like you deliver x, I will deliver Y in terms of payment. Okay, that smart contracts would be fantastic for it because it reduces. So it’s really all about risk and uncertainty, managing risk, uncertainty and cost. Really the fundamentals of the legal system are always about risk and uncertainty. There are, however, situations that are so complex inherently. Okay, you can have a 40-page contract. First of all, the contract itself creates some uncertainty

 

MITCH

For sure.

 

FRED

Because the ambiguities and clauses-

 

MITCH

And it’s interpretation.

 

FRED

That’s right. And then there’s there are contracts that try to predict the future. So what you’re going to do, what I’m going to do, and then the better contracts are dynamic contracts. If this happens, this will be the outcome. If this happens, this over there will be the outcome. Those are the better contracts. That requires a lot of finagling and a lot of work.

 

MITCH

And a lot of unknowns. I’m sure.

 

FRED

A lot of unknowns.

 

MITCH

But how much could you figure?

 

FRED

So when a dispute arises, okay, this is really the issue when it comes to smart contracts in our industry, particularly… When something happens, the question is how is the uncertainty of this situation going to be adjudicated and ascertained. Right? And you will find, so if you could wave a magic wand and say, well, you know, when there’s a legal dispute, you just refer to the smart contract rules, and it’ll just adjudicate. You will find that a lot of people are not comfortable with the idea that we will have foreseen all of the issues that will emerge.

 

MITCH

Yeah, I would argue that that is also completely irrelevant. And the bigger problem isn’t that. The macro problem that you’re actually talking about is the fact that if you have a contract that was built in some form of decentralized away, the minute you bring it into a centralized system, it collapses, period. That’s the actual bigger issue is the fact that you’re not looking at the contract as a form of adjudication. The problem with having this decentralized contract is that it ever needs to be enforced, it will only be enforced in a centralized environment. So the only way this works is if you have a decentralized judiciary system, which we don’t have clearly.

 

FRED

No.

 

MITCH

This is what we’re dealing with, with cryptocurrency and crypto winter. It’s the fact that any time we talk about a problem with it, we have to move it from decentralized to centralized and it collapses. And then the response becomes, well, then, what’s the point? How is it truly going to live in a decentralized world? So what I think will happen is we’re going to have two parallel lines. You’re going to be both in a legal system, let’s say, deciding that they’re completely comfortable working in a decentralized way. What would that look like? Perhaps instead of having a judge and a physical location based off of where the actual contract was executed, I’m saying it’s decentralized and now what I’m using is the network, the nodes to actually decide the verdict.

 

FRED

Yeah

 

MITCH

You’re going to have them. So it’s very it’s very.

 

FRED

It’s a high level of trust.

 

MITCH

It is.

 

FRED

It’s exactly like you said before about the ambiguity that requires a level of trust in technology that a lot of people don’t have because. Because I’ll tell you the benefits…

 

MITCH

And you don’t need everybody to have it.

 

FRED

That’s right.

 

MITCH

Look, look at crypto.

 

FRED

Exactly.

 

MITCH

Like most people don’t have a digital wallet, they’d never be. And by the way, that is the FTX problem is people wanted to have the benefit of crypto, but they didn’t want the full benefit of it, which was the fact that it’s decentralized. You put it into a centralized system which then becomes a victim of people’s greed and the system, and when it collapses, you look at each other go, what happened? I’m simplifying it.

 

FRED

Of course, Of course.

 

MITCH

But it’s true.

 

FRED

No, but it’s absolutely true what you’re saying because there are many uses. So there are many types of contracts, many types of situations that would without a doubt be improved tremendously with the use of a decentralized system, with NFTs and with- through smart contracts. Without a doubt. Now, the question is, when we talk about legal and contracts, those are very elastic terms and we’re talk about very, very different types of situations. The benefit of a centralized system, in theory, in theory, because it absolutely is much more susceptible to corruption and to sort of hidden agenda.

 

MITCH

Or an individual’s moment in time.

 

FRED

Yeah, that’s right.

 

MITCH

You walk in, right? Look, we’ve had issues in, you know, dealing with our accounting, our league. I mean, everyone has these issues as you grow and build a business over the amount of time. No one is, you know, unscathed from anything like that. And when you speak to professionals, whether they’re lawyers or counsel, say the same thing, it’s 100% in your favor. It just depends on how the judge is feeling that day.

 

FRED

That’s absolutely true.

 

MITCH

How flawed of a system is that?

 

FRED

What I mean we see with statistics, for instance, when the judges, when the local football team loses the previous weekend, the judge hands out harsher sentences or when the temperature is warmer that day, they hand out harsher sentences. I actually wrote an article about this in The Atlantic, and I have a Supreme Court judge from Ohio that we’re interviewing next week who reached out to me on LinkedIn and said, Fred, this is my battle. Like I’ve been fighting this. The wrongful convictions that you see in the legal system are out of control. Statistics are telling us how biased judges are. They make decisions based on things that are completely irrelevant, that are not part of the legal system. And so all of this, these are all the problems that no problems with a centralized system. The advantage in theory and it’s a theoretical advantage, but when you see it in practice, it does play out in the real world, is that when you have a situation that emerges that is unforeseen and it’s a little bit more complex, then, you know, Fred hired Mitch and he’s not paying Mitch. And so now we have this issue. It’s a little more complex in that there’s a, there’s an uncertainty involved. The idea is you’re going to have a human being who is a representative of the legal community that is the trustee of certain values, values of integrity, values of honesty, values of, you know, respecting a contract – what that means – and this person is going to look at this situation and when the rules are insufficient to sort of get to an outcome, this individual is going think about it from a holistic human perspective and is going to make a fair and just decision. I am- this is an ideal. It does not always play out that way, it very often does not play out that way because you go in front of a judge. Sometimes they’re exhausted. They’re dealing with 18 cases that day. They’re- right? They’re human factors. But in theory that a centralized system is meant to be the trustee, the fiduciary of certain values. And you want to trust that. But there are, you know, it turns into a monster.

 

 

 

Chapter 5 – Humanoid Technology

 

MITCH

Look, you graduate top of your class, you build a very successful practice. And in all of this last week, you became a junkie. So all the things you’re talking about go by the wayside because every decision you’re making now isn’t focused 100% the way it was 24 hours before. Think about what we’re talking about. It was like, AI, AI in diagnosing things like cancer. What we’re seeing is that when we feed this information into these large language models or some type of technology that’s looking at much larger data sets that can scan it in a way which a human being can’t, we’re seeing results. Should we have perhaps somebody, maybe an individual, maybe a panel, maybe another form of A.I. on top of that, reviewing it to get it closer to be a 100% certainty or whatever it might be. I’m just saying that I believe the day and age in which you went to a store, bought a magazine, and then had things like a Twitter feed in relation to that type of content has to be coming for everybody’s work. So the individual sitting behind a desk thinking and working to the best benefit of their knowledge and their skill is probably going to be a multiple less in a world where these large language models or A.I. modeling can actually not only replicate you and how you judge or make your calls, but also take that into consideration from thousands of other people in your profession. I just don’t want to dismiss that. I don’t want to be the person sitting across from you saying, yes, it can do this, but it can never do that. I have just seen enough in my short lifetime to see, any time that’s been said, to be completely false. And the reason is I don’t look at it as an absolutist. I don’t go it’s either this or that.

 

One of the lines I wrote about, you know, long before the first book, Six Pixels of Separation, but in my blog and in my articles was “everything is ‘with’ not ‘instead of’.” I think people’s mindset is always “instead of”, it’s going to replace… What if it’s just “with”? What if it’s just “with”? And suddenly they made Fred a super lawyer. You have- cause right now. I can tell you on the creative side of content creation, whether it’s writing, podcasting, making decisions, investing, getting ready for a meeting, coming up with ideas for the non-profit work I’m doing, that when I use A.I., it gives me a superpower. Now, I know right now it’s a superpower because not everybody else is using it. But I am convinced that when it starts proliferating to the masses, and we have that tipping point like talked about earlier in the middle, consumer behaviour, it’s going to change everything. And will it be bad? It’s going to be terrible. Will it be great. It’s going to be amazing 100%.

 

FRED

I love that paradox. But it’s amazing because you really see it as a tool. So- and I’ve had this discussion with a lot of it, particularly in my industry, and telling them, look, you know, if we had access to AI, if we had in our profession, it would give us some abilities that we don’t have in terms of information processing, in terms of knowing how judges actually make decisions, not the theory of the law. The three-pronged test…

 

MITCH

Like you said, in murder. You’ve got this blood sample, you’ve got eyewitnesses. I just had an incident recently. I can’t remember where it was, but it was something around. Did you speak to this person about that? And I could have sworn to you that I did. And it turns out I did not. And it made me realize how many people might be in jail because someone said, that’s exactly who I saw. But in turn, they believe it because of whatever conversations or thing and time has given them this perception. And we see this all the time with eyewitnesses as well. So when we talk about things like, should there be cameras everywhere, what are the privacy implications or using an AI for facial recognition and all of these things that can move us to very dark places? We could also see that they could move us to very enlightened places where criminals who are in jail right now, are absolutely not criminals and are wrongly accused of crimes. Blood. You have a- you might have somebody working the lab who’s just tired that day, who made a mistake, who slipped up. It’s not their fault. We shouldn’t put them in jail. They made a- they made a vocational error. But this person’s doing 20 years to life and nothing else.

 

FRED

I couldn’t agree more strongly because we always take our current reference point as the sort of absolute or as the peak of and then, oh, the threats. But it’s like self-driving cars, right? What if they can slash car accidents by 80%, 100%? Some people are going to point to, Oh, well…

 

MITCH

It killed somebody last week.

 

FRED

It killed somebody. Yeah, but what about all the people-

 

MITCH

The people that we killed last week?

 

FRED

How many people do we kill? Exactly.

 

MITCH

I got to tell you a funny story about self-driving cars. So I’ve had a very fun career. And I say that because when I think about the situations I find myself in, I can remove myself from that situation- and go, this is fun. One of those situations happened over a decade ago. I was at an event for Google in Arizona somewhere, and as part of the event, they were taking people on self-driving cars for the first time, on public roads, with people who are non-Googlers. So you would sign up for this thing. There were basically two or four people in the car, and in the front seat, there were two Googlers, one in the driver’s seat, another one with a laptop plugged in, whatever the early days of the self-driving technology was. And- I sign me up, Let’s do this. I want it to just be that one of those people to be the first non-Googler in a self-driving vehicle felt like that’s something I would do. Get into the car…

 

FRED

That you were an early adopter.

 

MITCH

For sure I was excited to try it. Yeah, I know they’re not going to take us into, you know, crazy traffic or problems. They probably cased out all that stuff. Get into the car, and they start explaining what the technology is because your instinct would be, well, it’s Google Maps or it’s Waze, which Google owns. But no, they actually built an entirely different system for this navigation and what it does. And they start pointing out how it’s noticing objects that weren’t there, where it’s noticing them, and then it’s showing you how far out the system is grabbing in information. We’re talking miles and or kilometres out. And is it a fun drive? It’s not like a fun drive. It’s not a great- but it is driving in a very safe way to the point where when the car came back to the hotel and parked, I thought to myself, my first reaction was if I could never get into the car with another human being driving again, I would. Only because the information I saw it gathering was staggering to me. That’s something that I know I’m not paying attention.

 

FRED

Those human beings’ ability. You didn’t sleep well last night, all of a sudden…

 

MITCH

But the world isn’t perfect. And so if a squirrel pops out, might that create a swerve? If the car has to decide that there’s- it’s between a kid and an old person, it’s going to hit somebody. Who does it hit? Like all of the other issues that come into- the conversations around what are our values? What do we want it to do? Become the question mark. And again, just coming back from an automotive event that I spoke at, one of the other keynote speakers was from the High- US Highway Safety Institute or whatever, and was very vocal in the fact that we are still a long way away from being away from fully automated systems because of the issues. Fine, fine and fine. But I still look at the nascent technology and think no human is paying that. It never gets tired, it never gets sleepy. Its eyes, how they see never changes. I don’t know about you. I’m getting older every time I go see the eye doctor, I’m like, What? I can’t see that much. Yeah, we don’t really. And people do not go to the eye doctor, okay?

 

FRED

We’ve gotten used to human beings driving cars. We’ve gotten used to this number of car accidents.

 

MITCH

They’re older, they’re slower, they’re drinking. You know, we’re in a world of legalized pot. Maybe they’re a little high. Their reactions are a little slower. Maybe there’s more. Like all of these factors are gone when you do it. Now, imagine if all these cars are also connected to one another. So their daisy chained technologically. I know how far I am from you. I know what you’ve done. I actually know the problems that your car might have. You might be at 40% brake capacity. What if you knew the car in front of you had 5% brakes left?

 

FRED

Yeah. So I learned about this, actually, in one of your blog posts. You mentioned Herzog, Werner’s Lo and Behold, this beautiful technology documentary. And one of the things they were looking at was this technology precisely where the information, the data from all the cars gets shared.

 

MITCH

Network.

 

FRED

So now it’s not network effects. So it’s not one individual learning and becoming a better driver. It’s the entire network across millions and millions of drivers becoming safer and safer as you go.

 

MITCH

And you’re- million of people now who don’t drive, who are driving Teslas, who are feeding information that will make the automation better because they’re seeing at scale how human nature is, how heavy are you on these regenerative brakes? What are you like on a turn? What are you like on a highway? So you know what the speed limit here is 70 kilometers an hour, on one of the expressways people are going 120. Like that’s information where the car can throttle you to, let’s say even 80 or 90. Even though you’re over the speed limit, you’re probably making you 30 to 40% safer. There’s all these little things that we can’t- we have to understand that we can’t even- the things that I’m saying are probably even wrong. It’s probably able to do things at scale that we can’t even comprehend. Our ability to not be able to comprehend that is the thing that holds us back because we think in our box in our finite way with our very limited information, in a very limited cognitive system that we’ve had for billions of years, that has hardly evolved into systems that are growing at exponential speed, especially when we talk about things like AI right now, I have to be able to have the cognitive dissonance to understand that I probably don’t understand much in relation to a supercomputer. So even one of the challenges we hear now in A.I. is, well, this is a big problem. We’ve got engineers who don’t know how the A.I. is thinking, and my answer back, is no kidding? How would you expect a limitation of a human organic brain to understand what’s happening in a non-organic exponentially understanding information system that is taking in billions and billions of inputs every single second?

 

FRED

So I have a question with you on that point, because it clearly, like anything that’s analytical, anything that’s like taking in information, computing it, I mean, it’s we are ready, we can idea of competing it’s obsolete. Doesn’t make any sense. However, in a human context. And I know your writer, you write for other human beings, right? So it’s the way I see it, is human, technology, human right. At the end of the day, it’s a human being receiving this information, right? So if you want to create value, let’s say in a literary space or by for a motion picture or in the artistic realm, like composing a song, ultimately, you’re creating value for a human being, right? Do you think that there is an edge to HI, so human intelligence, so there are computational type challenges that are, let’s say, the technology can already do exponentially better than any human being ever has? Without a doubt. But then understanding the predicament of a human being from, let’s call it just to use some maybe some terms that are that are problematic. We can we can from an emotional perspective or from a life perspective, or from a narrative perspective. Do you think that all of those human perspectives can ultimately be broken down into data that computers can understand better than us? Or is the fact of being a native human give you the ability to communicate with another human in a way that’s more effective?

 

MITCH

We want to believe that, because we want a control. Yeah. So one is, if we alleviate this notion that we can’t control anything, it changes your dynamic. But there’s one word that I would use to describe what you’re actually saying. Can a computer replicate when a human does something that is surprising? It’s really word surprising that you’re talking about. And so the answer to that question is you listen to a music, a form of music, which is seven notes that or 26 notes, if you count flats and minors or whatever, or whatever the number might be. And how is it that you can have the Beatles use the same seven notes as the Rolling Stones or Post Malone, and the result is so different? And the answer is because of influence and who we are and culture, you create a surprising result based off of who you are as an individual. The way I write a word is not the way Tom Peters would write a word or Whitney Johnson, but it’s just that’s what human beings are. We create these surprising moments. Yeah. Now, if you take Google as an example that has been in the large language model business for a long time with AI, people think, they’re so far behind because of chat GPT OpenAI, they’ve been in AI for a long time. There was a documentary on this game Go, which is a very complex game- board game- similar to chess, but apparently much harder and impossible to play. Now they’ve proven technologically that they could use an AI to beat a human in this game, thinking it’s impossible because the myriad of variations on how to win. When the AI system won, what happened was it did a bunch of plays that no human had ever done.

 

FRED

Yeah.

 

MITCH

I could transcribe that easily and say it was surprising. So the answer is, can AI do something surprising now down to market of one- Mitch Joel- my experience is when I use ChatGPT and I ask it for things like take this article and create a headline for me, create ten of them, I am often very surprised by the result in a sometimes negative, but in a more often than not positive- and I will use certain aspects of it because I don’t think I would have thought of it that way because of where I was in the creation of the content.

 

FRED

Right?

 

MITCH

So when we asked that question, I believe the answer is yes, because I have seen proof in multiple ways, not just me, but in research as well, that these systems can do things that are surprising and in the same way interesting to a human being.

 

FRED

Okay, so that’s the second part, because, yes, there’s a lot of literature around the violation of expectation is what all great art does, creates an expectation and then violates it. But the second piece to it is that it violates it in a manner that is understandable by a human being in their current cultural, emotional, psychological context. And that’s the part that I’m asking myself because I’ve also played a lot with Chat GPT… Has it come up with decent articles, blog posts that, you know, the average-.

 

MITCH

Don’t need it to. I need it to work as a junior copywriter.

 

FRED

Got it.

 

MITCH

I need it to work as a brainstorming partner. It is giving me a superpower. I’ll give you a more relatable example because AI is somewhat obscure to most people. Music. Auto-Tune. Do you like Auto-Tune? Do I like Auto-Tune? So, when Auto-Tune is used at scale, people hear that and all that, whatever that thing is. So what’s interesting about that is you now have artists who sing with the timber of Auto-Tune because that’s what they’ve heard so much over their career. So imagine you’re not replicating an artist. You’re replicating a sound that a technology generated. Yes, that’s the extreme side. On the non-extreme side, there are tons of instances where you’ve either been live at a concert or listened to an album that has moved you to tears, that Auto-Tune was used in some level of context that is subtle and nuanced that you would have never have known, that to get the artist to hit that specific tone would have been physically impossible. There are a ton of producers right now who cannot listen to music from the sixties and seventies because all they hear are the mistakes. It is those mistakes that made it so beautiful to our tone and ear. But because of the advent of technology and how we produce, record and even create music, we have become accustomed to the complete cyborg of what music is. So people think, you could never do that music. And I’m like, you are already a victim and passionate about the artists that do it. The- like I said, the ones who do it at scale, it’s very overt, but the subtleness of it, where you’re taking a singer who is a half a tone off hear a quarter of a tone there and making it so that that harmony hits you right in the heart. You don’t even know it’s being used.

 

FRED

That’s very tricky.

 

MITCH

The truth is we see that in creativity all of the time. We don’t know how many artists are currently to your painter. How many of them use a form of technology or AI to find the perfect tone, color, 30% green, 20% yellow, 5% red. And it could only be created by technology that then they take create the mixture and then apply it to a painting that strikes you down when you see it. We don’t even know. And that’s the part that I think people struggle with this binary of, well, I see this in technology, so I’ll freak out. But that technology or type of technology that has been manipulating or used to augment has been here for decades already.

 

FRED

Yeah. So it’s so it’s a great way to look at it because it’s it’s always what I reply to people that talk about this replacement model or it’s technology versus human- no, it’s human plus technology.

 

MITCH

Everything is “with”, not “instead of”, 100%.

 

FRED

Versus human without technology.

 

MITCH

For now.

 

FRED

Right. Just like eyeglasses, like it’s us with the eyeglasses versus us without the eyeglasses, which one is better?

 

MITCH

But it might get to the point where it does replace. And in that instance, we might want it to. So imagine a world right now where the system really understands how much money you have, in how much goes to taxes, how much what we actually have that system. So people freak out when they’re like a digital currency, like look at your bank account. It’s zeros and ones. Your employer literally doesn’t even pay you with cash.

 

FRED

Yeah.

 

MITCH

If you went to the bank and said, I need that money, they’d need 48 hours to produce that cash for you. So we know that and we see that. Now, imagine if you had a technology that’s analyzing your entire life and your usage that you’ve opted into, that you control this data. It sits in some type of blockchain, digital wallet, whatever you want to call it. Now it’s time to vote and you don’t know how to vote or who are these people? Is five people sitting up at the Westmount Public Library that you’re meeting? I don’t know. I mean, I might have a lean towards a certain party, but you know the individual. Now imagine if this A.I., this thing existed that’s looking at all of your values or everything they’ve said and done and comes back and tells you this is who you should vote for. You’re hoping, would I trust, that I would trust it more than I trust me, because it’s providing me a level of information that I can’t physically as a human being reflect on. But the idea that you might have a digital component of you and A.I. of you, that is autonomously making decisions like who you vote for right now sounds insane, but all you’re doing is scaling out from where you currently are, which is your money doesn’t exist. It’s a zero and a one.

 

FRED

It would be very interesting, at the very least to have that information, to be able to consider it.

 

MITCH

So then it would be a with, and then as you trusted it, it might become the replacement. I don’t. And by the way, imagine what would happen in politics if we had double the amount of people actually voting. Now, imagine we had double the of people actually voting really based off of their values and who they are in relation to how it relates to the person running for office. I mean, this is information you and I can’t physically capture.

 

FRED

It’s very interesting. This this example makes me think of there’s a book called Super Forecasters. I forget.

 

MITCH

Great book.

 

FRED

Yeah. Yeah. I forget the name. I believe it was Ted Lee who wrote that book. I’m not sure. But he they spoke about they compared the diagnoses of experts like doctors in the medical space with the diagnoses made by a simplified model of those very same doctors. And they found out that the diagnoses of the model of the doctor- so it’s a simplified, it’s less than, right? From a human perspective, were more accurate and the diagnoses of the actual doctor.

 

MITCH

Yeah. And then we have the variance of it and it’s a plus ten. Well, what happens in that? And one of the things I think is really happening right now with automated cars is not the fact that they may not be ready for prime time, but liability. I mean, I think there’s a lot of inter discussions from insurance companies saying, So then how do we ensure, Fred, like, how do we ensure, Fred, if the autonomous vehicle is driving? And then who do we blame if there’s a problem? Is it Fred? Is it the car? Is it the make of the car? Is it the car manufacturer? So now if you have insurance professionals trying to figure out where blame goes in a model that is completely different from… I could see why things like that might get held up in a centralized system.

 

FRED

Yeah, the actuaries at the insurance actuaries.

 

MITCH

Yeah, exactly.

 

FRED

They will figure this out quicker than everybody.

 

MITCH

Or the A.I versions of the actuary.

 

 

FRED

That’s right.

 

 

 

Chapter 6 – Connecting Brands

 

FRED

Even better, I want to make sure I talk a little bit about connecting brands with people because you’ve done a lot of work in this in this area, and you’ve helped brands and consumers connect for four decades and you’ve been an advocate that this can be done authentically. You’ve also pushed back against the notion that there’s anything wrong with commerciality, with the fact that people are using it, using these connective tools to, you know, gain a competitive advantage to grow their businesses. So how should businesses approach this extreme level of connectedness that we have today? So because I talked to a lot of business owners and a lot of people struggle against it, you have this kind of maximalist version like Gary Vee style, like post every day, like every business needs to become a media company to publish, publish, publish and just get out there. And you have a lot of people that want to be purists in some way. They’re like, let me just focus on my product and focus on my customers. And all of that is just like exhausting and I just don’t even know where to start. Are there different, like valid approaches to this challenge and what are some important questions or touchstones that everybody should be asking themselves or considering?

 

MITCH

I think the idea that someone like Gary Vaynerchuk puts out into the world has merits. And again, I think it’s – It can be ambiguous at scale. We could look and go hustle culture might be really unhealthy to better-balanced wellness. We could say, hey, if you hustle like that, you can have a level of success that’s unattainable if you didn’t do that. So I don’t want to say that jury’s out on that. I think it is a philosophical thought about how hard should we be spending our time at work. So let’s put that aside as a macro idea. Are you a part of hustle culture, or do you push back against the idea of hustle culture, which is, are fair arguments across the board? And I can vacillate between the two personally 100%. Now, in a world where any business grows by how they grow their customer base and now you’re no longer in a world where you fundamentally have to pay for access to the audience and that attention, advertising and marketing, you can win that in a bit of a different way now, by creating valuable human-based content. I like that, and I’ve always liked that I’m a writer, so I would prefer that you bought the magazines for the articles and not the ads. But in a world of magazines like Vogue or fashion-based magazines, you buy them for the ads, and the content is a supplement to it. So… and there’s stuff in the middle. There’s a lot of stuff in the middle in relation to like travel magazines or health and athletic magazines. So it takes all kinds. There’s not one or the other. What I think came forward in the early days of digital content is this idea that content is media. So right now, we’re doing this. Is this a valuable use of your billable hours, Fred Pinto and growing your law firm? And the answer is this might be the differentiator between you and a lawyer who is two or three floors down in the same building. I don’t know. What’s going to make it resonate is whether or not an audience cares and wants to be a part of this and wants to come on this journey with you. And I can’t speak to that. I mean, I really I can’t. Do I believe that the Internet and in particular social media brought forward this idea of real human beings having real interactions with other human beings through the power of media? Yeah, I’m all in on that. I’m all in on that because not just the only work for us to build that digital agency and build a platform and then do all the things that led to where I am now with ThinkersOne, all the work that I’m doing, it did one, and it continues to do that, there’s no doubt. But I also am able to recognize as someone who spends a lot of time, both creating media and studying it, that it’s not easy. It’s not an either-or. For some businesses, it’s just much easier to pay for that access to the audience or to attention. For others, in my case, I like working harder only because I really enjoy creating content. Most of the time, I’m on the other side of the microphone. I’m the one having the conversation. So why am I giving people like Dan Pink or Whitney Johnson airtime? Because their work has inspired me. I have questions about it. I can now corner them for an hour, spend time with them, and the secret head fake of it is I’ll publish it so other can listen to it. But really it’s the most selfish act of content creation that I do. When I’m writing articles, what I’m really doing is letting the gasket open up. I met- I read something that someone said I’m like, that is absolutely false, untrue or untrue in my realm of thought. Well, now I can put that thought into ideas and I can publish it out and see if my thought has more resonance than theirs. What’s the strategic byproduct of it is it might have a similar result to advertising, that by creating this piece of content, it hits a certain audience that says, I’m aligned with that. We should hire Mitch to speak at our event. Back when I had an agency, we should work with Mitch’s team to do our advertising and marketing or now, you know, we should go to ThinkersOne and find other thinkers like Mitch so we could bring that type of smart content into the business that we do every single day. For me, that’s been a very successful model, but it’s not easy to do what I do, and I’m not trying to inflate my own tires. I just spent a lot of time since the late eighties creating thousands and thousands and thousands of pieces of content, and I just happened to hit a privileged moment in time where new people were coming in to try and do it. And I had a lot of years, a lot of tread on my tires over them. So I had a way to have a more unique voice or perspective because I had done radio and a ton of articles and a million interviews. So even now, people- you know what makes your show interesting? What I’ve done. I did thousands of interviews before I even had a podcast which has been running for almost two decades at this point. So the answer is, yeah, man, it really depends. It really depends on the person. What is the type of content that you could not stop doing? What makes you passionate about doing it? If nobody was paying attention to it, would you still do it? So I’m in a position where the stuff that I create I can’t stop doing. So if they shut down the internet, it would just be in a journal somewhere or it would be on a cassette somewhere. That conversation or I wouldn’t stop doing it because it helps me grow. My thought is, it’s helping me to grow. There’s probably someone else out there in this world that it’ll help for them to grow professionally and if it helps them, perhaps that is a customer.

 

FRED

So I love how you don’t generalize based on your particular experience. Right. Like you’re not saying this is what you should do. You’re saying it’s highly case specific. Yeah, it sort of draws down on like what is your unique experience? What things are you genuinely passionate about that you’re going to keep doing anyway? And then and then can you get an audience to care about that? So it’s those particulars.

 

MITCH

The biggest mistake we make, and it’s the theme of every part of this conversation, is everybody is a market of one. I would never do that. My wife would never do that. My boyfriend would never do that. My partner would never do that. My friends would never do that. Nobody does that in my community. You and I right now recording this in a very affluent community that is approximately four kilometers in size with a population under 20,000 people. And if you drive up and down the street in this community right now in the day, we’re recording this. It’s dead quiet out there because these people are in Barbados and Mexico and up north skiing and doing a million things. You and I are still working here, but if you take and go one kilometre east, west, north or south of here, it’s busy because these people can’t necessarily afford to go to Barbados for two weeks during March break when we’re recording this. Right. And so if your perspective is, well, everybody is in Barbados right now, you’re living in a really skewed world. So that’s why I’m always able to zoom out and go, what is this and who is the audience? And by the way, that beauty of thinking like that also it absolves you of geography and physicality, of why you’re creating this. So my biggest challenge when I started off in the business was to try to not be Canadian because Canada is a smaller market. From the way I speak to the way I interview, to the way I write, I don’t write with- I use the word “color” as an example. I try to watch words like “university” versus “college”, which are more Canadian or U.S. colloquialisms. Why do I that? Because I know that the U.S. is a bigger market. When I transferred into digital, I did the same thing. So when people say, Where, where are you? It’s I’m based in Montreal. They would be shocked. Not in a bad way. Just the assumption is-

 

FRED

North Pole.

 

MITCH

And I created it because I believe there’s a larger discernable market than the geography of where we live. The city, the state, the province, the country. And if you can think in a truly connected way, which is the Internet, it’s a global platform, then you start thinking, Well, how do we take the content of this podcast and translate it to 50 other languages or ten other geographies? So when you see people like Gary Vee, what I think he’s doing so strategically, which I don’t do, so this is a you know, don’t do as I say or- do as I say, not as I do, is he’s translating all of this content and making it so his discernable market is going to scale exponentially versus someone like you. And I just if he does, if he just does that… I like that thinking whether you like the values, the content or not, it’s almost irrelevant. It’s the thinking that I use digital for as my baseline. So think about one quick example would be retail. So here we are in a, in a kind of retail area scenario, have a store and you’re hoping that enough people walk by or hear about it. In this town of X million of people that will walk into that area when you are open to do it, or would you like to sell the exact same product 24-7 to anybody in the world? That’s what e-commerce is. But so how is it we have a world where people still want to open that physical store in a place where you can build that tiny bookstore that you want to build and have it have a global audience and what’s going to make it powerful? It’s going to be the culture of it, digitally or physical. What type of content do you creating? What type of conversations? What makes people want to shop at yours to buy books from you versus a Barnes Nobles or another independent retailer? That’s what you build with culture, and culture comes from our media. Now anybody can create media, text, images, audio, video, short form, long form, live, prerecorded with essentially a free distribution network. That’s powerful.

 

FRED

It’s very powerful. And in terms of that-

 

 

 

Chapter 7 – Constant Reinvention

 

FRED

I also wanted to touch on the theme of reinvention or rebooting that you’ve touched a lot in your career. And it’s an interesting Segway because we talk about the sort of like overall human experience that you’re trying to create, right? Physical digital. It’s the and perspective, right, Not the or perspective. One thing…

 

MITCH

Yeah the “with” instead “of”.

 

FRED

Yeah that’s right that’s really one of the threads that I take out of this conversation is and it’s hard to think that way in terms of added, right. We’ve got to combine perspectives and we’re just not wired. It’s easier for us to just create these with or without, these absolutist perspectives, but are our insight’s going to be very limited if we do that? So in your second book, Ctl Alt Delete, you, explore the theme of reinvention, and you give the example of Hernando Cortez, burn your boats.

 

MITCH

It’s a bad example now.

 

FRED

But it’s an example that a lot of people talk about and a lot of people use that phrase, that metaphor of burning your boats, meaning that, you know, like you don’t have a fallback position, like you’re moving forward, you’re reinventing yourself and you kind of develop the idea of the reboot as a modernization of Cortez. And it’s about, you know…

 

MITCH

Didn’t stand up that right. Cortez was a really bad guy.

 

FRED

He’s a bad guy…

 

MITCH

Colonialism. Yeah, not good.

 

FRED

People use it metaphorically…

 

MITCH

Yeah, metaphorically.

 

FRED

As like, you know, don’t be limited by the past. Right? Like so.

 

MITCH

Yeah. For those who don’t know, the idea is these ships came to this strange foreign land that obviously had native and people here and instead of giving that group a way to go back or a way to take what they had from where they were and implant it here, the idea would be this visualization of there is no going back. We are going to chart a new path here and see where it goes. The story I was trying to get to- is if you try to take your traditional model into the digital world, you’re going to sit with a lot of limitations. Now, I’m saying this also as we sit here in a time where that book is almost ten years old. I still think the fundamentals are true in “Ctl Alt Delete”. I think a lot has changed. And by the way, I would make the argument that a lot of the polemic statements I made were definitely dismissed. I mean, we are in a world where it’s not- we let a thousand flowers bloom. We went from a world of three large entertainment television networks to a world of three large digital networks that are very similarly quite monopolistic. And in fact, they are so much so that if you build an audience on these platforms, you don’t even have access to the entire audience, they’ll throttle that. You have to pay them for access to that audience, which again is very traditional in terms of the model for it. So I don’t want to make it sound like there was this, this visionary thing. I think some of the ideas and there are still true. And again, in a world that has, you know, that, one, that I should have been paying more attention to back then but obviously I didn’t it’s much more visible is we often use these stories, especially ones that are more military based or colonial based or just conquering based as analogies that, you know, don’t sit well with me. That would be the one part of the book I would completely take out if I could, because you could say it another way. It just had the context at the time of fitting this idea that if you try to take those traditional ways into the new ways, it’s going to be challenging. So how do you reinvent yourself? How do you stick this idea?

 

FRED

I never read it as you were sort of not condoning, but like using it as a literal kind of I always understood.

 

MITCH

No it was stupid.

 

FRED

You use it as a metaphor.

 

MITCH

It was stupid, you know, I refer to myself now as male, pale and stale, and I’m a middle-aged white guy with a tremendous amount of privilege. I really am. That hit the genetic lottery in terms of that, and I find myself checking myself, thankfully more and more as I get older, which is healthy. But I didn’t back then. And that’s it’s problematic because I see how problematic it was, in my own defense. I really came from a place where we’re all equal, we’re all trying, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But you don’t. It’s hard to see your own- I think now our privilege is very much on display.

 

FRED

But, Mitch, as your attorney, I would like to take your defense. I would like to get your defense on this one. Okay. As a metaphor. Okay. And very clearly from the context of the book, the point that you were trying to make, I’m now defending old Mitch. The point that you were making is that, you know, with this rapid change in technology that comes in, if you stay sort of too attached to, your former way of being, you’re going to miss the boat on a lot of things. And so you have to master the skill of recreating yourself or like rebooting yourself. That’s the terminology you actually use, recreating and rebooting yourself is this kind of a skill or a mindset that you have to get comfortable with, because, with these waves of technology and technological changes that are coming at us faster and faster, if you don’t get comfortable with that skill in that mindset, it’s going to become very problematic to you. And I argue that your point that that particular point-

 

MITCH

Yeah for sure.

 

FRED

Is even more-

 

MITCH

100%

 

FRED

Relevant in an age of A.I., in an age of, you know, genetic technologies, the rate of technological change has not slowed down. It’s accelerated, if anything. And so what I wanted to know is how do you approach this from a practical perspective? I know you’ve got a lot of ideas about that in the book, but having, you know, the benefit of perspective over the last ten years.

 

MITCH

I can switch from being an apologist to seeing how brilliant that was. Don’t don’t, I’m pretty good with that. My ego is not that deflated. Fred. The truth of the matter is you reflect on moments of profound change in your life and you reflect on what got you through it. Who are the voices? Who were the things. With any sense of humility it is really easy to reflect on some of the technological trends we talked about earlier in the conversation and say, that was totally me. I remember walking down the street not far from here and seeing somebody speaking loudly and thinking they must have a mental health crisis happening, but they were just talking on their phone. I’d never seen that before. Remember when people talking on their phone in a restroom was rude? Oh you would never do that.

 

FRED

I remember. Know what I remember, Mitch? I remember the first selfie I ever saw. And I’m like, my God, the narcissism, this is- this is just one person with a mental problem. That’s what I thought the first time I saw a selfie.

 

MITCH

Now a selfie is essentially a photograph. It’s not even a selfie.

 

FRED

Yeah.

 

MITCH

So if you can check yourself as the Beastie Boys so brilliantly said and look back and go, how many times have I said that is absurd and it became a certainty… That is a really good place to start as an indicator.

 

FRED

So humility…

 

MITCH

A little bit. Then I have a close friend, Michael Bungay Stanier, who’s wrote some great books, The Coaching Habit and stuff, and I don’t think it’s his question, but he often will provoke me with this question. He’ll say, What has to be true for this to be true? And I just wrote about this really, really recently too, because it is in relation to people saying, AI can never replace X, Y, and Z. Well, what has to be true for that to actually not be true? And if you took and opened up a notebook, a document and started in bullet point writing, what would need to be true for that statement to not be true, you probably would have a very compelling list that would point to many technological changes that already happen. I go back not long, and if I said to you, Fred, you are going to meet your spouse because of a dating app, you’d be like, I would never put my profile. I mean, for people of our age, even doing that still feels a bit humiliating versus everybody else. There’s no other way to do it. It’s completely shifted. And for it to be true, the list of what it takes for it to be true are very reasonable and feasible. You know, my punchline to that joke is, once you’re done with that list, go ask ChatGPT what has to true. Right? And then see what you’re missing because is going to come up with things you didn’t even think of. It is just going to add to the fact of you could look at this and go, well, this is back to Kevin Kelly, a probable inevitable.

 

FRED

I like the ChatGPT as it kind of a sparring partner. As a kind of brainstorming partner.

 

MITCH

But again, if you if you think about reinvention that way. So when people say, you know, we’re going to be in a place where one in I think recently McKinsey came out with a report and they said something like one in sixteen people will be replaced in terms of their actual work by 2030. So we’re talking like a very soon in the grand scheme of things. And I don’t look at that and go, my God, what am I going to do? I better have a plan B for my job like, right. You need a plan B AI’s gonna take your- that’s not me. I’m just always wondering. I wonder what my work is going to look like with all of this stuff. So my, my approach to it is so different. And this is the problem I have with my life, actually. Like if I’m going to get very personal, it’s I almost can’t believe that people don’t think like me. Not that I’m such a great thinker, but isn’t it obvious that we’ve all seen this stuff and you realize that wow no, people are really set in their ways and so I will jokingly be referred to sometimes as a futurist, and I will jokingly say I’m more of a presentist. Look Like I’m able to look at things that have happened in technology, how they impact the consumer behavior and make some connections that maybe other people can’t see. Only because I have more tire, more tread on that tire. Right.

 

FRED

You remind me of a quote and again, I’m going to find the exact attribution, but it’s the future is here. It’s just not widely distributed yet.

 

MITCH

It’s not evenly distributed. I don’t know who said that either, but somebody related to Wired magazine, I’m sure.

 

FRED

We’ll find that in Google.

 

MITCH

But, you know, here’s like a pragmatic correlation analogy to that. If you look at how much these investment wealth managers make, who’s the number one person out there.

 

FRED

I know of in terms of as an Investor.,. As an investor Warren Buffett guys would be known as…

 

MITCH

Are there people in the past 20 years who have year on year had better returns percentage wise than Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway? The answer is, oh yeah, of course, by double digit percentage wise. So that how come this they’re not that and the answer is really simple he started when he was 13 and compounded interest works that way knowledge is compounded interest. So the reason people often can’t change is because they haven’t spent enough time getting to the place that I am. And what I realize is through no fault of my own, just a general interest is I’ve always liked this stuff. So when the first computer came out and my parents happened to be able to buy one for, you know, our family and I wrote a book report on an Atari 800 with a dot matrix printer and brought it in grade five or six to school and had it sent home with a zero because the teacher looked at it and said, how do I know that you wrote this? Because I couldn’t see my handwriting. And it’s absurd to think about that now. And if I think about all of these things in my life that have brought me to where I am, it’s not me trying to forcefully push my way in. I’m just really open to the fact that I could be wrong, you know?

 

FRED

So you don’t put up a defence-  you don’t put up like a- you know, you hear this, AI is never going to replace what I do or. There’s no way AI can do this or that. You sort of like I almost feel like step one is being lowering the sort of influence and power of these defense mechanisms. Right. And then staying open to, you know, what will emerge- Like so observing. Accepting and then also just taking it on as a creative challenge. Right. How can this change what I do and maybe improve it?

 

MITCH

Yeah, I don’t know how great I am at negotiating- we were talking a little bit about this earlier- but there is a great negotiator and his name is Herb Cohen, who wrote this book You Can Negotiate Anything. Anyone who knows anything about negotiation, let’s say whether it be like Chris Vos’ Never Split the Difference- great book. And there are other great negotiators and salespeople that Herb Cohn was quite the character. And Herb had this line. I used to speak on stage with him a lot, which is amazing, because he’s no longer with us and just his energy was a funny person, much older than I was. Obviously, he could have he could have been my father in terms of age. And Herb used to say in a negotiation, you have to care, you have to really, really care, but not that much. And I only came to that term later-ish in my career. But it always sits with me and I really believe this and I really. But what if? You know now the problem with that is we then head into conspiracy theories. We then head into partisan thinking we then head into a world where you could say, Well, then I don’t believe in anything. And suddenly the earth is flat and science is this. And that’s not me. It’s a tent. It’s a shoe that you put on your thinking that allows you to go through some type of psychological exercise that enables you to play some form of devil’s advocate, but put in more information and data than superfluous analogies or bad information. So you always want to be checking your work and double checking at the end of the day, too. I want to use the Internet for information, but I want to make sure that I understand the sources of it. This makes people very frustrated. Cause they just want the answer. I don’t I don’t know that I live in that same world. And then if I go from that futurist to the presentist, what I’ve also is it’s afforded me a career that in most careers or on some type of path, and you can maybe almost even see the end of that path when you’re constantly looking at technology and innovation, you realize that that path never ends because tomorrow there’s something new to look at. And it’s not only a very long path, but it’s very wide also. I think the challenges most people’s vocation, the path is actually not very wide and it’s not very long and they’re comforted by that limitation. It might make them even insane to be in the world I’m in. But you know, what’s the word we talked about surprising earlier? The word is curiosity. I’m just really curious and I’m open. I’m open for that journey. I’m not an adventurer. I don’t like heights. I don’t like things that move too fast. I don’t even like the outdoors. I think everything outside of outside is trying to kill me and nature is trying to constantly kill me, whether it’s a pandemic, a virus or a bug or whatever it is. So I like concrete and air conditioning and commercialized spaces. That’s what I like strong Wi-Fi, and I know that about myself. But at the same time, I am ever curious. And as I get older, I think while I can become very nostalgic, as we talked about earlier, I find my level of curiosity increasing as my comfort with myself gets more in check. I worry less about what people think about me, so I’m able to explore more. It gives me more time to explore everything from different styles of music to different types of books. All of that opens me up to other ideas. Some of the greatest ideas I’ve ever had haven’t come from a business book or reading Wired magazine. It’s come from something I saw in a museum or in Architectural Digest or a piece of content that it’s not related to my actual work, because then you can create inference and other ideas that so, you know, how do you do that is be curious. I think the problem with people is they don’t want to be curious because they want more certainty. So any time that certainty is removed which by the way, is everything, we could both walk out of here and unfortunately have a stroke. I mean, I don’t want to think about that. I want to live with this world where if that were to happen, I could say to myself I really did explore as much as I could versus constantly make my world smaller and smaller. Now, that’s really complex in the world because we are living in a world where we have this unlimited potential to connect- Six Pixels of Separation, and yet we’re becoming so nationalistic and so dug into our ideals and, our values, and not open to having people with a differing opinion. Some of them-

 

 

FRED

Is that almost a reaction too? Do you see it as like we opened up the potential for connection so much that there’s almost like a return of the tribal, the nationalist, the ideological, those hard certainties, those certainties become even more attractive because of the potential for openness and exploration, connection.

 

MITCH

I would say that my pessimism, which I am, I’m an optimist with a certain level of pessimism, really amplified during the pandemic. Less about technology. Here was a moment in time that we all had to deal with. We all had to go home. We all had to, again, check ourselves. We all have to realize that some people are living in very small apartments with multiple people with a pet and really bad Wi-Fi and are expected to work at the same level as someone who had the privilege that I have, which is insane. And this moment where globally we all had to do with this- instead of coming together, we frayed even more. And that’s where my pessimism is probably peaked, because then what will it take for us to come together? If not that there’s not a global pandemic which made us so much more divided, then some people would argue exactly when. I get that too. I’m not dumb, but it’s depressing to me, and it’s what makes me very pessimistic that I don’t think we can ever come together. If we can’t do it then, I don’t know when.

 

FRED

It’s funny that you should hit me with that, because I’ve always seen you is such an optimistic person and so exploratory. And my final question was going to be about, you know, the journey forward. And so on this note of like this, this kind of a heightened self-awareness around how things can sort of turn in multiple different directions, good and bad. We’ve talked about the optimism that technology brings. You know, we can save lives we can lower wrongful conviction, we can create more connectivity, we can do all of that. And yet, as the pandemic showed, we can also sink in, you know, ideological rabbit holes and turn each other into, you know, the enemy and like, you know, the conservatives versus liberals and the tribal and all of that. So, that’s one way to look at it. The other way to look at it also is this sort of big opposition between life and career. Right. Some people are just so dominated by their need to have certainty around their career. And then other people look at it from a broader life perspective. And I know that you’ve always said you hate the expression work life balance. Yeah-

 

MITCH

Flow.

 

FRED

Flow. Yeah. Okay, flow. So let’s talk about so what is perhaps the reinvention, perhaps the next step in the journey for you from a general sort of life perspective? How do you attack this? Maybe the reboot of Mitch Joel looking forward? And I was very surprised that you sort of hit me with the pessimism, not what I was expecting from you, but with that, including that in your perspective, your mature perspective, at this point, everything you’ve done, you’ve already lived through what many people would consider multiple careers.

 

MITCH

Yeah, yeah. I have.

 

FRED

So as you look forward and as you approach this next reboot, how do you sort of what’s your mindset, what’s your perspective?

 

MITCH

Yeah, the pessimism isn’t, it doesn’t have a correlation to it. And what I would say is from a very young age, I thought about what does success look like? So yeah, financial is a big one. I mean, there’s no doubt that if you can remove the financial woes of your life, that is a big one. But is it as big as your health? Is it as big as your physical health? Your mental health? Is it as big or powerful as the relationships that you have? Is it as big, and powerful of the balance that you create between what are happier or sadder moments in a world that Susan Cain so beautifully brings forward in her new book, Bittersweet. You need to have a bit of that mix. Very, very normal. So there’s different things that I would equate to success or even general wealth, which are not necessarily financially based. So if you’re living in a world where your construct is purely financial, which many people most people probably are, 100%, it’s hard to understand what I’m about to say. So what I’ll say is remove yourself from a world where everything is driven by success equals once I have my finances in order, I can, then, will, should. I think all of us have the chance to move from a place where we are extracting to contributing. So you see this with extremely wealthy people who have either don’t have to work or have retired. They extracted Bill Gates would be a great example. This year, Bill Gates extracted quite a bit and now is contributing at scale. Whether you like him or not, whether you think he’s implanting chips into your body.

 

MITCH

Curing polio, whatever it might be, I think the balance should always be in your life that whatever your extracting in terms of your work, your salary, what you need from Twist Image, the image, which was the marketing, which is how we met, because two of my business partners are friends of yours, or one of them in particular was a close friend of yours. There was an article written about me because I was very involved in community and I always felt that for community to work, it has to be local, national and international. You have to have your hands in all three if you can. I was doing this when I had no money. And when I mean no money. There was an adult that had to cosign for my apartment at that time. I could not make rent without having somebody co-sign. That’s where I was financially. Very small apartment that was a fight for me to pay my monthly rent on forget, you know, cars and having disposable income- I would get invitations to weddings for friends at that point in their lives and I’d be like, how could they invite me? I might buy them a present. That’s how I was thinking, like, how dare you? And you know, it’s how I- But I was still contributing. What I would hope for the world. And moving forward, as you get to a point that as you get older and it doesn’t take much financially to get you across that line, which is another longer conversation, that you start moving from a place of extraction to more contribution. Now what you will learn, I think, and I’m not that old, is the more that I contribute the- I use the word easier- it is to extract. But in the sense of it doesn’t become as burdensome that I have to extract. Extract I can’t give to anything. I can give my time, my money, anything because I’m so busy extracting, trying to just get by. I don’t believe that to be a truism in my life. I just don’t. And by having that now, I believe I’m just expanding the contribution side. So if I look at my brand new business, which again, you know, it’s called Thinkers One, what it really is, is ultimately a way for every business to be able to affordably buy bite sized and personalized thought leadership from some of the best thinkers in the world. So for the thought leaders, what I’m trying to do is I believe most of us are leaving a lot of money on the table in a world of hybrid and virtual work, why not bring someone that you would only see your keynote every year into your everyday meetings. So one is there’s a way to help them grow their business and grow the people who are going to be able to hear and benefit from their ideas. A nonprofit, a small business start they can afford even to hire a keynote speaker for their event can now get a taste of that. So that’s one side. On the other side, what I believe is happening is that I’m now making it affordable to those types of businesses by fractionalizing it and creating it in an e-commerce way. I’m not trying to promote the business, but it speaks to this. It’s a business I believe, that contributes more to so many individuals and businesses than it extracts. I do believe that the idea is big enough that it might create much more abstraction for me financially, which is fine, but the thesis of it is based on contribution, not extraction. I’m not just trying get a better price than you and compete with you on price. I’m trying to affect change and there’s a social component to it. I believe that’s how you reinvent. You start thinking more about how is the work that you’re doing contributing to making things better. And if it’s not, what are you doing to do that? And by that, I’m not saying the extraction part takes care of itself. I can’t say that because people have really challenged and marginalized lives and problems in the world, but that would be my current strategy. It’s how do I overweight on the contribution versus extraction.

 

FRED

So it’s almost think like how do you bring more value in a human community.

 

MITCH

Yeah.

 

FRED

And then as that value gets created, you have all these options. You can either stay in that modality or you can decide to go more on a business side. But value’s always good right?

 

MITCH

You could grow this practice by being the best green lawyer in Montreal or Canada. It might take you longer than having all those, you know, big walleted and corporate clients, but you might be able to grow the business more significantly because of the specialization. At the same time, you’re adding value to it at the same time that might get you involved in some not for profits or have you build a foundation of your own once you have some level of success. These are powerful changes that we all have the ability to do. There’s nothing stopping anybody right now, regardless of your income level, to go and serve meals to people who are less fortunate than you. There’s nothing stopping you. That is a form of contribution as well. So I think about that is even in the content I create, it’s not this holistic, I’m changing the world. But I do believe that if someone listened to the conversation I just had with Dan Pink as an example, it might put them on a path and that is pure contribution because yes, I have financially benefited from the podcast, but indirectly, not directly from it.

 

FRED

Love it. Mitch You’ve contributed a lot in my life. You’ve given me advice, support. I’ve seen you create value in this human community that we’ve shared bits and pieces of over the years for decades now. And it’s it’s kind of heartwarming. But at the same time, also, I know that this when we talk about contribution, you’re also kind of mixing it with your very innovative, creative side. And so you’re creating value in a very there’s the philanthropy that I know you’ve been involved in, but there’s also like creating value in a human community through innovation and through creativity as well. And, and I’m not surprised and I’m loving that that’s the focus for you and that’s the emphasis moving forward. And I want to thank you for this conversation. I’ve learned a ton, and it was dizzying at times because the ‘and’ the perspective that you keep talking about the or the ‘with’ perspective, the way you put it, it’s very hard to hold these opposites. Yeah. At the same time. Yeah.

 

MITCH

Have Scott Fitzgerald one of the things I am my you know presentation on is F. Scott Fitzgerald has this idea right. So it works well in this moment and time. Going back to hybrid, would be virtual so we were just talking about that for your business as well. And F. Scott Fitzgerald, who lived long before the Internet, said, you know, the real sign of brilliance is your ability to hold two opposing ideas in your mind at the same time and still have the ability to function. I’m paraphrasing. And I think about that quote all the time what would have to be true for this to work. And the truth is, can you build what you’re doing in a world that is hybrid and a world that is virtual or world that is back the way things were? And if the answer is that model works there, it’s probably a healthier avenue to take. So, yeah, I appreciate the time here and I’m even happy for you to extract from me as being our lawyer and being connected because I feel like it. It works for me because there’s a value that works. And I think that that’s the ultimate win is when you feel there’s a contribution and the extraction at the same time. People say, in real estate, what’s the line? It’s a good deal when both parties feel like they didn’t get what they wanted. Yeah, I don’t think that has to be true. I think both parties can feel that they got what they wanted, whether someone paid more, but they felt the contribution on the other side. I have no issue with that.

 

FRED

Mutual value creation, I think is like the modality for relationships. So what we want it to be a win win. We want, you know, you can create value in certain ways. I can create value in different ways. And ideally as a human community, we all show up with that spirit of contribution and then everybody’s uniqueness and everybody’s own life experience and everybody’s skill and strengths and abilities kind of come together and we’re all creating value for each other. And there’s sometimes a tragedy of the commons one day when we each focus on what’s the most that I can personally extract, the community ends up losing. And if we all show up with the spirit of contribution, everybody kind of kind of wins. But it’s something that, you know, you’ve got to promote in a human community, in a hope that people show up. And, you know, as I’ve gotten older as well, I’ve kind of started to kind of ascertain, you know, what people’s motivations are. And I find it’s a lot easier to create value for people that show up in a spirit of contribution as well.

 

MITCH

You look you ultimately want, you know, again, you go back to some like Jeffrey Gitomer is like the ultimate people, you know, all things being equal, people want to do business with those they know, like, and trust. All things being unequal. People will want to do business with people they know like and trust. Meaning, I’m willing to pay more if I know, like, and trust you. And if that isn’t the message that resonates in, that builds community. Yeah, I don’t know what it is.

 

FRED

I love that we’re ending on this really philosophical, human fundamental change that doesn’t change with time, doesn’t change with technology. We go back to the essential, the fundamentals. If you focus on that, on creating value for people, being trustworthy, being pro-social, doing good in the world, you tend to kind of figure it out.

 

MITCH

You find your base.

 

FRED

Beautiful. Mitch, thank you so much for this. We’ll have to do it again.

 

MITCH

Anytime, happy to be here.

 

FRED

Love it. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Potential GOAT

 

 

GOAT?

 

 

It’s actually Philip Tetlock

 

GOAT

 

 

 

Quote or GOAT