Mitch Joel is one of the world’s foremost authorities on digital marketing and communications, a blogger, podcaster and public speaker who has shared stages with Bill Clinton, Sir Richard Branson, Malcolm Gladwell and more. His accomplishments are downright impressive. But he’s also a proud Montrealer who took some of his precious time (during a 24-hour layover in Montreal between New York and Los Angeles) to answer our questions…
Who are you? My name is Mitch Joel and I’m the president of Twist Image. We have offices here in Montreal and in Toronto that employ 130 people. I run a blog and podcast called Six Pixels of Separation and I speak all over the world about all the exciting things happening in our industry.
Why did you choose Montreal? I’m a third generation Montrealer, so Montreal chose me really. I do somewhere around 150,000 kilometers of travel every year and I’ve had many opportunities to move elsewhere, but I love this city. I like it culturally and I like it from a family perspective.
What makes Montreal special, in terms of the work you do? Montreal has always been a city that has been very good at coupling culture and creativity with technology and development. The result of that is hyper-creative, cutting-edge work.
How should the web-savvy tourist approach a trip to Montreal? Well, you can of course start with baseline searches and connections through Facebook and Twitter. Specifically, Bixi has a great app and the Montreal Tourism site– not to promote you guys or anything (Ed. note: We don’t mind at all)- is quite practical and has done a good job of moving beyond the standard travel brochure. But really, there’s a lot out there: ask and you will find.
What, in your mind, are the important web trends for 2011? There are 3 components. First is “social”- people have always connected at the watercooler, it’s just that the watercooler is now online. The other two are “local”, what is happening right now in your scene, and “mobile”, being able to bring the experience with you everywhere.
Why do so many of you 2.0 types have shaved heads and fancy glasses? For me, the hair was a proactive act- a “quit before being fired” kind of thing. As far as glasses, I get mine from Toulch, which is a Montreal company that just makes really cool glasses.
Where in Montreal might someone find you? Probably at the airport (laughs) or in Old Montreal.
Café: Le Cartet. They just make a very delicious café-au-lait.
Restaurant: If I’m in the mood for a steak, probably Gibbys, and if I’m looking for a bistro kind of vibe, it’s usually L’Express. But if I’m looking for breakfast, which I often am, it’s always Bagel Etc.
Boutique/Store: I have trouble walking past an Apple or Future Shop without stopping in. But if I want to relive my youth, I will probably go stare at the instruments at Steve’s.
Favourite Festival: Just For Laughs and not just because they’re a client and because Andy Nulman is a good friend. But because they have a truly global profile, people all over the world have heard of the fest. Plus, you come home from a great comedy show sore with laughter and filled with insight.
Neighborhood: Maybe Nun’s Island? It’s so close to downtown, the parks and the Place Du Commerce are great, it’s just a really interesting place. We also really love walking around Old Montreal on the weekends.
Many people don’t know about your past as a music writer- how has your taste in concert venues changed over the years? Well, I used to go see bands like Slaves on Dope and Voivod at places like La Brique and Foufones, but now I appreciate seeing shows at Place Des Arts and Le National– comfortable seating is much more important to me now than getting someone’s DNA all over me during a show
In your travels, have you found any cities that you find similar to Montreal? This won’t make hockey fans happy, but Boston is quite similar. Like in Montreal, there’s a joie de vivre there- people work to live, not live to work.
What are your “must-have” travel essentials? Even when I’m not travelling, I try to work as nomadically as possible. I always have the trifecta with me- Macbook, iPad and iPhone. And my passport, of course.