Not that he needs any more recognition or admiration, but I gotta say that I love Mitch Joel.
Mitch has been a friend for years, and a former colleague at Airborne Mobile. He still ribs me to this day that I was the only person to ever fire him (hey, budget cuts in the early days of Airborne), but without that fateful turn of events, today he may merely be a Montreal mobile marketing exec instead of the international digital media maven/author/agency president/speaker he has become.
Not only am I extremely proud of Mitch, I admire the way he has engineered and managed his impressive and steady rise with an incessant sense of humility, humor, and most importantly (particularly for this blog post) his curiosity.
For Mitch is a voracious reader and consumer of knowledge. But more importantly, he is a disseminator of the same, and this week's learning comes from a book that he not merely recommended with zeal, but rushed to his car and pulled it out of his bag to lend me.The book is the brilliant "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" by Donald Miller; very unlike any other book Mitch has ever recommended, as it's the only one that would not be found in Amazon's Marketing section. In a writing style very reminiscent of that of Saul Colt, Miller spins a great yarn about the importance of stories; more specifically, the importance of living your life like one.
While profound throughout, it's on page 72 where Miller knocks it out of the park. In a discussion about character development and communication with two filmmaker colleagues, Miller realizes that people can't read character's minds in film. Six words of eternal wisdom ensue:A character is what he does
Miller then goes on to tell the story about a friend marveling over how much more he appreciates, and is in love with, his wife since the birth of their child. I'll quote the book to show you where this goes:
I asked him how his wife felt about all of this. My friend looked at me as though he were realizing that he hadn't actually said anything to his wife.
"You haven't said anything?" I questioned.
"I guess I figured she knew," my friend suggested.
And that's the first time I realized that the idea that a character is what he does makes about as much sense in life as it does in the movies.
I thought about my friend's story from his wife's perspective. She only knows what he says and what he does, not what he thinks and what he feels. (I realized) the stories we tell ourselves are very different from the stories we tell the world.I told him he ought to bring her flowers.
I don't wanna go all Dr. Phil on you, but Miller really nails this point. How often do you think someone else knows or understands something just because you think it? Equally as bad, how many business opportunities or personal relationships have gone awry--or never even started--because of something you assumed one knew but you never had the guts or smarts to say out loud?
I remember at my high school reunion last year witnessing squeals of delight when someone revealed--three decades later--how they had a crush on someone else...directly to their faces. I also remember witnessing scenes of heartfelt regret when said revelation was met with a "Jeez...why didn't you tell me back then? I was crazy about you, too."
Nobody knows the future. And nobody can read minds. Too bad, because life would be way easier.
But until the days of rampant clairvoyance and/or prognostication, the best bet is to follow Miller's lead and be who you are, be who you should be, by saying and acting, not by thinking.
That said, I think Mitch always knew how I felt about him.
But if not...