Mitch JoelMitch Joel is founder of Six Pixels Group – an advisory, investing and content producing company that is focused on brands, commerce and community.

He has been called a marketing and communications visionary, interactive expert and community leader (he prefers the title “Brand Hacker”). He is also an entrepreneur, author, journalist, investor, trusted advisor, and passionate speaker who connects with people worldwide by sharing his insights on business transformation and marketing innovation. He has been named one of the top 100 online marketers in the world, and was awarded the highly prestigious Top 40 Under 40.

Prior to Six Pixels Group, Mitch spent close to two decades building, running and (eventually) selling his business. He was President of Mirum – a global digital marketing agency operating in 25 countries with close to 3000 employees. Mirum is owned by WPP.

Mitch Joel speaks frequently to diverse groups like Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Microsoft, Procter and Gamble, Twitter, Unilever and every organization and association in between.

Since 2005 he has given anywhere between 40-60 keynote presentation a year to small, medium and large organizations in both the B2B and B2C space all over the world. As a professional speaker, Mitch is represented by Leading Authorities in the U.S. and by Speaker’s Spotlight in Canada.

Mitch is also a bestselling business book author.

His first book, Six Pixels of Separation (Grand Central Publishing – Hachette Book Group in 2009), named after his successful blog and podcast is a business and marketing bestseller. His second book, CTRL ALT Delete (Grand Central Publishing – Hachette Book Group in 2013) was named one of the best business books of 2013 by Amazon.

Mitch invests in people, community and technology.

Currently, he is an advisor and investor in many businesses and charitable organizations in the fields of Blockchain, artificial intelligence, smart audio/voice, fintech and martech spaces. He sits on the advisory board for Canada’s Top 40 Under 40, HubSpot’s Inbound conference, the Public Awareness & Branding Committee for Baycrest Health Sciences and more. Mitch is the former Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Canadian Marketing Association and a past executive for the National Advertising Benevolent Society. He is also a former board member of Postmedia and the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada. In the past, he sat on the content committee for both and the Web Analytics Association.

Mitch is frequently called upon to be a subject matter expert for publications like Fast Company, Strategy, Forbes, and many other radio, television, digital and print outlets.

He is a columnist and journalist for the Harvard Business Review, Inc. Magazine, The Huffington Post and many other magazines and newspapers. Mitch is also the host of Groove – The No Treble Podcast, where he is slowly trying to build the largest oral history of electric bass players in the world.

Fun side fact: Mitch’s first professional job was interviewing Tommy Lee from Motley Crue. He then went on to become a music and entertainment journalist and publisher of magazines. With that, he also co-launched Distort Entertainment, the only hard music label in Canada to have major label distribution (Universal Music) and whose roster featured the platinum-plus, Juno Award and MuchMusic Video Award-winning acts, Alexisonfire and City And Colour.

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Travel Products & Places mentioned:

Business Travel Hacks Episode 12 show transcript:

[00:00:00] Yeah I think the other thing is that a lot of times we just get excited like oh that person will meet me. Oh that speaking thing is there. Oh this conference is there. And I think we feel like the world is not amenable to shifting times. And so I don’t know your Miami situation but the answer might have been well I’ll fly in the night before meeting will happen first thing in the morning and I’ll fly out on the 10am flight. And this way you’re going. I’ve done things where I’ve literally flown overseas. So like overnight to London you know seven hours will land shower speak. Get back on the 2:00p.m. flight there and be home and not because I’m a maniac or I’m trying to kill myself. If there was something for me to do in London I would it’s just for me. I’d rather sit at home or I’d rather be moving than me sitting in a hotel for 10 12 hours waiting for a meeting when it just doesn’t have to be that way. And again it’s not that sustainable as a strategy. I don’t recommend it like all the time pushing pushing pushing you need to give yourself the room to not get sick and not die on a plane. And I get a you know an embolism or something. But you know for me my theory is that I’m not going to sleep great in a hotel regardless. It’s not like being home. And so if if there’s a way for me to shorten especially obviously when it’s business when it’s family vacation other things I have no issue with it.

[00:01:19] But in these cases at times we tend to think the meeting is fixed and then we look for flights. I just think reversing it changes the game.

[00:01:56] Well sure my name is Mitch Joel and I’m the founder of Six Pixels Group formerly spend close to two decades running a marketing agency. Which is how you and I met a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away. I travel a lot for business primarily now to do presentations and for meetings and I do about 40 to 60 presentations a year all over the world and that sees me on a lot of back and forth flights.

[00:02:28] What do you wish you knew when you first started traveling for business that you now know so? Think back to that first trip what was it like. What’s changed?

[00:02:38] Well for sure I didn’t understand why people get into lounges. I thought originally it was because you had a business class ticket. I just didn’t know and I didn’t think it was fair to be honest I was like I bought a ticket. It seems like my ticket cost a lot of money I should be in there too and enjoying the comforts away from you know you’re sort of waiting at the gate. And you know especially back then with power was so limited it still is but it was even worse back then.

[00:03:05] So I guess the number one tip would be to get into those loyalty programs as fast as possible try and figure out where you’re going to be flying to as frequently as you can and lock in the best carrier for that. It just so happens in my world because I live in Canada the limitations are are pretty significant. So it’s either Air Canada, Air Canada part of Star Alliance and that gives me access now to United before was also Continental. But then there was that merger. So I primarily use to choose an airline of choice which would be anything within the Star Alliance family is where I would primarily go. The one exception being if I can get there direct if I can get somewhere direct and avoid that headache of connecting then I’ll fly whoever will take me there direct.

[00:03:54] What do you think your travel superpower is?

[00:04:00] I think my travel super power comes from preplanning. And when I tell people this trick slash what has developed into a superpower. It’s sort of one of those duh moments for people like I can’t believe I never thought of that or I can’t believe I didn’t initiate it. So if you go back in time a long time over a decade when I started speaking I also have a very young family. And as much as I love what I do professionally I love my family more and my whole thing is to be as present in the family as much as possible. And I realize that would require some maneuvering in terms of getting in and out of places as fast as possible.

[00:04:41] As you know a lot of times you could speak at noon and there’s just not another flight till the next day. That is 24 plus hours of time. To me that is away from family and I don’t like that. So my superpower is when I’m asked for a meeting whether it’s to speak or for business or anything. My first place that I go before responding yes yes or no is to check out the flights when I can organize the flights. I will then go back to them and say that’s workable for me. If x y and z if I can be in at this time if you’re okay with me flying in on the same day if you’re know I recognize some people have jobs where they can’t do that. But I would I would push back a little bit and say more often than not when you’re traveling most people can be accommodating say they know the travel is tough and they don’t necessarily know your reasoning for going in or out. And so my my sort of main thing was to always figure out the flights first so that I’m spending as little time as possible dormant in another city when I can be home.

[00:05:41] Love it.

[00:05:44] When you plan these flights and you start thinking you know what clothing you’re going to take and of course you’re well known for your one outfit. Do you spend time planning out what you’re going to travel with? Do you pack you know that night up with to kind of a last minute scramble?

[00:06:04] I’m very prepared individual so you’re right. I’m I only wear black. People think it’s a Johnny Cash thing. I let them go at that.

[00:06:12] The real reason I do this is because back when I was in my music days I used to be a music writer and a publisher of Music magazines. I just remember seeing the Metallica guys and how they’d like be onstage in black jeans and a black T-shirt and then they’d go to the Grammys and they basically just throw a jacket over the T-shirt you know and they look formal and Black was just one of those colors that was just completely utilitarian and for me I just didn’t want more choices in my life. So you know all black jeans all black shirts off I go. I’m super prepared. I definitely pack way before the last minute and I’m usually the night before. But really it is just a question of how many days I’m packing for. And that’s basically it. So there’s not specific things I have a specific way of packing and thinking about packing but it’s not about what goes in there because I tend to be able to use sneakers I can use those to work out. So it’s not like multiple pairs of shoes. I very much am somebody who if there’s a piece of paper in the bag I remove it I want it to be as light as possible. That’s probably my own sort of quirkiness where I just want it to be as light and as compact as possible as little as I need.

[00:07:20] So tell me a little bit about you know you’re packing you know any special kind of luggage or using any any bags or your favorites any special travel clothes? And you mentioned the sneakers.

[00:07:33] What is it that you’re wearing that kind of lets you go back and forth between being able to work out with it and obviously use it in a business setting?

[00:07:40] Yeah I’m a big fan of Skechers. I think that scepters are also very utilitarian. They look good. You’re sort of wearing more dressy dress pants if you find the right model and you can use them to work out they’re just super comfortable they’ve got that sort of yoga mat stuff going on in the inside which is great on the feet in terms of clothes. I just like things that are super light. I’m always looking at sweaters dress shirts jeans even that don’t weigh a ton. They just have more of a lightness them especially because climates change to I mean I live in Canada where it’s really cool a lot of times traveling somewhere warmer. So I want to be able to have that sort of flexibility.

[00:08:17] In terms of packing. I’m looking for the exact same thing. So yeah I’m very very specific about the luggage that I use. My main weapon of choice right now is a Briggs & Riley baseline rolling cabin bag which basically looks like one of those old catalog briefcases sort of that size. The reason I like it is one I think the weight is really good. I always check the weight first because you got to remember there are limitations on planes they will sometimes check it and weigh it. And my whole theory is that you know if the bag is let’s say ten pounds and you can win that seven that’s basically three more pounds of your own stuff you can bring rather than just the sort of durability of the bag.

[00:08:56] So I find this Briggs & Riley bag great especially because even when you’re on the little pond jumper planes that bag can go under the seat while your briefcase or whatever your your other knapsack can go overhead. So I I I literally do not gate check anymore which is another huge metric for me in terms of what I’m taking with me. The way that I make the efficiency of that bag work and I can basically do three nights with that bag which is you know it’s an overnight bag so that’s quite a bit is because of a couple of things that I use.

[00:09:28] Eagle Creek has a Pack-it Specter garment folder which basically looks like at the Gap those things they used to fold the clothes but it’s got a very very soft shell and that’s the Spector part but it’s almost like a way like lightweight material and that allows you to fold multiple shirts and then sort of use the velcro that holds it together to push it down and also it doesn’t wrinkle your shirts so you can really pack in. You know I can do like three dress shirts in that with my dress jacket and still have a plenty of room.

[00:09:56] Eagle Creek also has in their Pack-it Specter formats cubes and I was never a cube fan until a couple years ago. And the reason is I just like well it’s extra stuff like it’s just cubes just roll up your stuff and put it in. And yes rolling is a huge time saver. But the specter packets actually have a compression feature on them to sort of fill the little cube up and then as a zipper that compresses it and pushes the stuff all the way down.

[00:10:22] So I use that for underwear, undershirts things like that. And so basically if you opened up my bag it’s you know two maybe three rolled up pairs of pants, one packet specter that’s got all my shirts and dress jacket in there that it’s got one bigger cube that’s got all my socks and undershirts rolled up in there done. I mean it really looks like there’s almost like nothing in this bag and there’s like four days, three nights of stuff in there. And again the secret or trick for me is to make sure it’s as light as possible.

[00:10:56] So I like to refer to that you know you personal item or your carry on almost like a sanity bags. So if we take that bag and inspect it what kinds of things we find in there besides you know gadgets and maybe snacks what are we looking at?

[00:11:16] Yeah well I think first probably good to tell you which bag I use because I’m like as you can tell I’m sort of like you know if you have a wife spouse or girlfriend that loves handbags I’m the equivalent only male and knapsacks and so I’m a big believer of using the knapsack not the carry on. I had a back issue for a while but then as I get older I just I just love to be able to just have stuff where my hands are free. I used to be a big fan. I still am of the eBags professional slim laptop backpack. I think you Bryan were using that one too. I very recently discovered a brand that I’m totally in love with for the bag.

[00:11:56] It is a knapsack format it’s a company called Walter & Ray it’s actually an individual she lives I think and the West Coast. And it’s a brilliant bag. The reason I love this bag so much is the woman designed this with the attitude of most briefcases or backpacks that we use is about getting a computer from where you are to where you’re going and office. This bag is built for in transit.

[00:12:20] So you can imagine for people who travel like you and I it’s like a complete game changer from how it stands up to how you access the pockets too how many pockets there are to how it flips on to having hidden pockets. It’s an unknown brand it’s very very new but it’s called Walter & Ray. I totally love it.

[00:12:38] What’s in there that’s surprising not to this and that’s surprising. I’m very very specific about this stuff and keeping stuff compartmentalized. I think the biggest sort of thing for me is the I have some it’s similar to a RuMe bag. Which is R U M E. And it’s basically like it almost looks like a big pencil case. It’s got three zippers on it. And I love this bag. I have. I literally keep everything in there from your wires to your adapters to your headphones to your dongles for your computer to connect to projectors to your power savers. And so again when you open it up it’s very clean because all of this stuff is compartmentalized in this one bag.

[00:13:19] For those who live in Canada the big Dollarama stores up here actually sell what I consider to be a better bag than the Rume one it’s three bucks and that comes in multiple colors. But I love those multi zip pockets you know like my first one keeps my remote presenters and their second one has all my dongles and then sort of big hollowed out one has you know the car adapter, headphones, extra USB cables whatever it might be that’s probably most surprising because most people’s bags when you open it it becomes like this sort of snake coil of of cables it just explodes out of it. Mine’s really really organized for that.

[00:13:55] What is your favorite title hack?

[00:13:59] Well I mean for sure the one I told you previously would be my favorite one calling and getting your flights first. That would be you know without a doubt the biggest one. The other travel hack I guess is when it comes to booking the flight. A lot of people sort of wait it out when I get confirmed I actually book the flight right away. The reason being seat selection I find that I am very specific I want to sit as close to the front as possible. I don’t really like the bulkhead anymore because of the way of a childlike thrill to shoot stuff under the chair. But I do like the aisle and I often get frustrated when something comes up last minute I look at the flights or seats and look. The other thing is when you put your flight later you may not realize it.

[00:14:46] There might have been other flight choices that either got canceled or the system changed them so that I would tie that into also checking flights on Google Flights. Google Flights basically shows you everything not just what the airline or independent airline wants you to see and there are usually options on there that are super surprising to me that I would have never thought of or connected to. And then the sort of tie in to that in terms of the physicality of traveling is never check your bag. I can’t tell you how many times there’s been a change or I got some or earlier I wanted to go somewhere and had my bag been checked. Those games would not have been able to been a foot.

[00:15:50] What’s the best lesson you’ve learned about business travel in your 20 years of traveling?

[00:15:57] NexusGlobal Entry and tie that in to build loyalty and you will get as little of the airport on you in your experience as possible just the ability to move through both security, customs and away from the gates. To me is the best lesson learned just to make it efficient when I don’t see that TSA approved thing on my ticket I howl in agony.