Rebooting with Mitch Joel’s new book, Ctrl Alt Delete

By sethmsparks

I’d like to start by sharing a bio on Mitch, but there’s entirely too much to list. If you’d like some background and context on his experience and qualifications head over to the Google. There you can find his blog, books, HBR posts, podcast, previous speaking engagements, AdAge Power 150 Ranking, and lots of other things that will solidify his eminence in the marketing space.

In Ctrl Alt Delete, Mitch draws upon his client experience, research, and network to synthesize a slew of environmental factors that will impact businesses and individuals over the next five years. He tackles business and individuals separately in the book, but there’s a mutual inclusivity that never really allows them to stand apart. In Reboot: Business, there’s (as expected) a focus on media, digital technologies, data science, and mobile. In Reboot: You, he expands  the scope of the book to address the need for a digital first posture, what a career path looks like today (hint: non-linear), the characteristics of successful squigglers, how to spur innovation, blending work and life, and the new realities of marketing yourself.

Mitch finds a way to cover the breadth of topics in the book with ease, and shares a multitude of examples to bring the lessons to life. As a business civilization we’re merely on the cusp of where Mitch says we are heading, but the predictions align with the daily business concerns and research firm reports that popularize LinkedIn headlines today. If you’re following the likes of @JayBaer, @CC_Chapman, @TheGrok, @KenBurbary, @briansolis, @cspenn, and others, the content won’t be a major revelation for you. But even if you are following them, the book’s a great synthesis of many issues brought on by the digital revolution. It highlights the expansive impacts of modern business chaos, and offers actionable advice to help you reboot for success.

I don’t want to steal the thunder of the book, but I do want to enlighten you a bit more on the topics that you will undoubtedly want to read in more detail about. I reverse archetected an outline of some of the key concepts of the book, and added in a short description (my interpretation) of each piece.

For Business

Utility based direct relationships with all customers – Every business has the opportunity to reach each and every customer to and tell them about their products and mission. It will be key for businesses not to just sell, but to satisfy customers through utility and value adds. This will break most existing ROI models and agitate shareholders.

Passive and Active Media : Blasting vs Touching – There’s media you engage with, and media you absorb. Different communication techniques work better for different kinds of media. Don’t be the business that uses the same message  and delivery frame across all media.

Data convergence : Linear and Circular – Analyzing your purchase funnel is great. But cross analysis with circular data from digital media engagements adds depth and nuance to the results. As big data allows for high volume, mass variability, to be processed as maximum velocity, the ability to link complex data types allows you to understand better, test faster, and win more.

Privacy and Relevancy – Customers hate ads. Well, they hate irrelvant ads. Along with mass data, comes mass personalization, amid privacy concerns. The key is finding the sweet spot that over-delivers in an Amazonian kind of way.

Multi Screen World to a One Screen World – The screen that matters, and the one that you should be buiding for is the one in front of you. TVs get smarter. Smartphones have impressive processing power. TV shows are distributed online. Podcasts that are TV quality. Magazine articles look like blog posts. Collections of blog posts read like a book. What we end up with is that video is video, text is text, audio is audio… regardless of channel or medium. The only distinguishable difference should be the architecture of the platform it’s delivered on.

Mobile as a platform, not a channel – This isn’t about making your website look good on mobile. Don’t shrink the screen. Revisit the capabilities of the modern smartphone and build your offer to take advantage of connectivity, geo-location, audio/video capture, gyroscopic motion, etc. Connect the utility you offer through the capabilities of the device.

For You

Digital First Posture – The closest device to any customer is the one in their hand. A phone. A keyboard and mouse. Digital technologies are hard to fathom if you haven’t been engrossed in them, and will be a big problem for aging business leaders who don’t immediately understand the opportunities and challenges associated with it.

Gold Watch Mirage – It used to be that you’d get a job, move up the ladder, work hard and were rewarded with the trophy of literal gold watch. Not anymore. Companies are less loyal to employees, and vice versa. The linearity of a career path has gone away.

Adapt or Die: The Business Squiggle – Businesses need employees that embrace the squiggle of career. A willingness to learn and reinvent. To innovate and revolutionize. Again, threatening to shareholders who cling to stable revenues and profits, who will put walls up to block the revolution of squiggly employees. Those employees will leave, and revolutionize elsewhere. Which feels like the safer career choice?

Characteristics of a Squiggly Employee

  • Ability to Change
  • Willing to Disrupt the Flow
  • Artistic View of Work
  • Willing Revolutionize the Framework
  • Appreciate Solitary Thought: A loner

Innovation from Collisions – Innovation happens when silos are removed, and opportunities are discussed across functional roles. Where individuals with a specialty and broad intellect can explore and ideate with others who have thier own specialties. Innovation comes from horizontal thinking and connecting dots that others don’t see.

From Work/Life Balance to Work/Life Blend – Portable work has killed the 9 to 5. Balance implies one vs the other. Mitch contests we now blend. The right blend depends on how successful you want to be.

New Realities of Marketing Yourself – We’re now on display 24/7 through social media outlets. While a LinkedIn resume is nice, it’s not nearly enough anymore. You need to exude thought leadership through a blog, demonstrate a network, and show that you understand the industry through links and comments. And there’s no room for narcissism, dishonesty, or being fake. Call it your personal brand, or your daily pitch, either way these actions are necessary for you to win immediately.

And as always, there’s a “what’s next” section where Mitch talks about issues coming a bit further down the road. To find these out, you’ll have to pick up the book (like you weren’t going to anyway).

I’m a big fan of Mitch’s work, how he thinks, and his earnest expectation of marketers to do better. It goes without saying that I think Ctrl Alt Del is a book everyone should read, either to enhance their awareness of the coming environment, or to connect a little bit more deeply with the holistic impacts of a digital first environment. The book comes out May 21, but you can pre-order from Amazon today.

What do you think? Does it feel like he’s right on? Have you experienced the squiggle in your own career? Lets talk about it in the comments.