This story is about me and how I came to understand the concept and power of a Six Pixels of Separation world, but really this story is about you. It’s going to illustrate how the little things we do as entrepreneurs to get our messages “out there” are now creating big opportunities that are connecting us—and our businesses—to opportunities that were not available to us before the advent of the Internet.
In 2007, I was asked if I would be interested in interviewing Dan Ariely for my Forward Thinking podcast. Dan is a well-known behavioral economist. He was also about to publish his ﬁrst book, Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, in about six months’ time. I had never heard of Ariely (his book was not out yet), but I liked the idea that he was going to bring some different thinking into what motivates people to do things.
We immediately hit it off. By the end of our conversation, I was recommending that he get in touch with my speakers bureau and he suggested that perhaps I would be interested in connecting with his literary agent. At the time I had met with a few literary agents but nothing had really clicked. So Dan made the digital introduction. At that point, his literary agent, James Levine from the Levine Greenberg Literary Agency, hopped over to my company blog and started snooping around. He checked out my speakers bureau’s Web page and dropped me an e-mail expressing an interest in meeting to see if something could be done.
We met at his Manhattan ofﬁce. I showed him some of my presentations and top-line concepts for the book. But here’s something Jim doesn’t know: I could not concentrate. Sure, there’s a palpable energy in the air when you’re sitting with a Manhattan-based literary agent, and the thought of having him hunt down a serious publishing deal was equally exciting. But in truth, I could not keep my mind off of his socks.
Yes, his socks. They didn’t match—not even close. Now, let’s be clear, Jim is not a young guy (but he ain’t old, either) and all I could think was, Is this guy wearing Little MissMatched socks? I ﬁrst heard about Little MissMatched socks on Seth Godin’s blog. The premise of Seth’s best-selling book, the Purple Cow, is that brands can’t afford to be ordinary. According to Seth, in this day and age you’re either remarkable or invisible.
To illustrate the story in live presentations, Seth talks about Arielle Eckstut. Arielle started a different type of clothing company—she sells socks to young girls. The big idea is that you can’t buy a single pair of socks. You can only buy them in sets of three. Oh, and one more thing: none of them match. It’s a remarkable idea that has grown Little MissMatched into a unique franchise of clothing, furniture, books, and beyond. While the philosophical spirit of the business is about empowering young girls to be different and creative, Little MissMatched works because little girls like to talk and show off their new and freaky socks.
I had to ask: “Jim, are those Little MissMatched socks you’re wearing?” He looked almost as surprised that I knew what they were as I was that he was wearing them. It turns out that Little MissMatched was not Arielle’s ﬁrst venture. Her ﬁrst gig was working alongside Jim at his literary agency. On top of that, the LittleMissMatched ofﬁces were only a couple of ﬂoors down in the same building. During our lunch break we went down to meet Arielle. In a strange twist of good timing, just that week I had blogged about Little MissMatched because someone decided to make a Seth Godin action ﬁgure and the toy is decked out with mismatched socks (no, I’m not making this up). Arielle had not heard of the action ﬁgure until I brought it to her attention.
There’s a point to this story.
What was nothing more than a step above a hobby for me (my Foreword Thinking podcast) had led me on this amazing adventure that includes a book deal with one of the biggest publishing houses in the world and personal encounters that have not only been interesting, but have led to new business opportunities and introductions. All of them were perfectly linked through my activities in online channels (blogging, podcasting, online social networking, etc.).
My point is, if I can do this, so can you. Every single pixel in that story was connected to me—either through someone I follow online or someone who follows me—and while those looser pixels had never directly connected, I was suddenly confronted with four connections that linked perfectly together. Ultimately, your business needs to sell more stuff and sell it fast.
You may be thinking that you simply don’t have time for all of this online stuff or you’re equally jaded because of the many “time suck” articles you have read about these channels in the traditional media. Let’s look at some reasons why you should care and take the time to understand this new medium. It will change your business forever. Here’s why.
This excerpt, adapted for Sparksheet, is from SIX PIXELS OF SEPARATION by Mitch Joel. Copyright © 2009 by Mitch Joel. Reprinted by permission of Business Plus, an imprint of Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Book Group, NY. All rights reserved.