That time I changed my life by ignoring my customers

ignoring my customers

Too short for a blog post, too important to ignore, here are a few things on my mind these days! Let’s start with ignoring your customers. 

Don’t listen to your customers?

I’ve been playing around with the “Trusted Voice” badge on LinkedIn. Does it mean anything? Who knows?

100 percent human contentI recently answered a question about aligning your communication style to your target audience and provided a weird answer: Do NOT develop a style that fits your audience. Instead, find an audience that fits your style.

When I started my “second career,” I dutifully created “targeted content” for my imaginary “ideal personas.” Every week, I blogged about what I thought this imaginary person would want to see.

Two things happened. First, NOTHING happened. No traction. And second, I became bored with this made-up scenario.

I finally relaxed and started showing my own personality. Maybe one day I was joyful, sad, or confused. I started teaching through my own stories.

That changed everything. Instead of me finding my audience, my ideal audience found me, and there are thousands of them, from all over the world.

To stand out, you have to be original. To be original, you have no choice but to integrate your own voice and stories.

Holy shit

I recently visited my Dad, who is 89. He enjoys seeing the new technology I’m using, so during this visit, I recorded him telling a story about playing basketball as a kid and transcribed it in real-time through

I then copied and pasted the transcript into  Eleven Labs. I had previously uploaded my voice onto the Eleven Labs app and now I could have HIS story narrated perfectly through my computer in MY voice.

His reaction? “Holy shit.”

Truly, we are living in the Holy Shit Era.

It’s not a campaign, it’s a lifestyle

In response to a question about starting a “personal branding campaign,” I got prickly:

I don’t like the word “campaign” because that indicates it has an end date. Your personal brand does not have an end date. You create content and you don’t stop. There’s no shortcut.

Your goal is to become a habit, part of the fabric of somebody’s life, so you need to show up consistently. The longer you do it, the more “known” you will become. The more known you become, the more opportunities will come your way — sales, speaking invitations, book sales, students for courses, or what dream you want to come true.

Why do people fail with their personal brand? They give up too soon.

Shut up.

Speaking of personal brands, I work hard in my masterclass to help participants define a meaningful niche where they can thrive. It’s so hard to stand out with all the noise in the world.

That’s why I’m not surprised that one trend is to not say anything at all. That’s right — silent vlogging is a thing. Makes sense in a world with too much noise! HT to Keith Jennings for passing this along!

Remember Grumpy Cat? Thought he would like this new trend …

grumpy cat

Connecting the Disney dots

I recently read a great biography about Walt Disney. The guy was obsessed with quality and design. He ignored economics and profits in favor of creating experiences that achieved his vision … at any cost. And he was often harsh and cruel to those closest to him, especially key employees. His employees went on strike against him, and many eventually left to start their own shops.

As I read through the book, I could not help but make this comparison — Walt Disney was the Steve Jobs of his day.

What a difference a year makes

I am a big fan of the generative art app MidJourney. In the early days, creating prompts to get what you wanted was labor intensive and you were likely to still get some bizarre renderings. It is simply amazing how fast this technology has improved. You can get very interesting image with just a few words today.

My friend Frank Prendergast recently demonstrated this in the RISE community when he compared two images one year apart using the prompt “David Byrne performing ballet while his pet pig observes”

ignoring my customers

Technology: The great leveler?

It’s interesting to me how gaps in income and education are collapsing due to the affordability of technology and the accessibility of AI.

No matter how rich or smart you are, you can’t buy a better smartphone than me. You can’t buy a better internet. For $20 a month, every person has access to powerful AI like ChatGPT and can build their own applications … without knowing any code.

The difference will be, who’s actually using these tools?

I recently gave a presentation to more than 300 marketing professionals. Only a handful of them were using ChatGPT on a regular basis.

Access to this “level-setting” technology won’t matter unless you use it. Are you taking advantage of these powerful tools?

The new B2B content marketing

There are certainly distinct challenges to B2B marketing, where I have spent most of my career. But I also think people are people. Nobody thinks, “I only respond to B2B content.”

I think it’s going to be interesting as Gen Z enters and leads the workforce. How will a generation who grew up on 10-second videos respond to your white papers and webinars?

This blows my mind

If you think this through, this is an overwhelming piece of information:

Microsoft plans to spend more than $50 billion annually on data centers in 2024 and beyond. For comparison, the Manhattan Project cost roughly $34 billion (in today’s dollars).

Can you imagine the land and energy required to build and run $50 billion in new data centers? And that is for just ONE COMPANY. For ONE YEAR.

The pressure of consistency

What is the number one challenge of developing a personal brand? That’s easy: Consistency.

Most people start off with a bang and then lose steam when faced with creating content every week (and you have to do that). Let me offer three pieces of advice that might help.

Consistency is about priority. Do you try to be a consistently good mom? Wife? Friend? The answer is yes, because it’s a priority and you arrange your life to the best of your ability to achieve that. Same concept.

Plan for problems. I’m out for most of next week. So … I blogged ahead. And for the next week, too. You know you’re going to get sick. You know you’re going to have a vacation. Plan ahead and create ahead of time so you can stick to the schedule.

Block an hour per week. This doesn’t have to be complicated. Not every post has to be a PhD thesis! How long would it take you to create:

  • A 500-word essay?
  • A three-minute video?
  • A 30-minute podcast?

In each case, I’m guessing an hour or less. If you collect ideas all week and set aside an hour to create each week, this seems doable, right? You can read more about creative discipline here.

Need a keynote speaker? Mark Schaefer is the most trusted voice in marketing. Your conference guests will buzz about his insights long after your event! Mark is the author of some of the world’s bestselling marketing books, a college educator, and an advisor to many of the world’s largest brands. Contact Mark to have him bring a fun, meaningful, and memorable presentation to your company event or conference.

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Illustration courtesy

Eleven Labs link is an affiliate link.

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