That time I changed my life by ignoring my customers

Mark Schaefer
6 min readNov 27, 2023

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?

I 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 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…



Mark Schaefer

Keynote speaker, marketing strategy consultant, Rutgers U faculty and author of 10 books including KNOWN, Marketing Rebellion, and Belonging to the Brand!