Conformity is the lowest-paying way to live.
David Perell created the term “personal monopoly.” He reminds us that when you work for a corporation you’re rewarded for following the rules, playing the political game, and engaging in bureaucracy.
But he says the internet rewards you for being unique & refusing to fit in.
ADHD went from being his weakness to his superpower
There’s a dude online I love. His name is ADHD Jesse.
For years he suffered from ADHD. He felt alone. He tried to fit in and hide his ADHD from others. Then one day, by accident, he started writing on X.
He wrote about many topics and not much happened. But whenever he wrote about ADHD it went viral, so he kept doing it.
The ADHD screening test should just be “try to schedule an appointment for your ADHD screening.”
There was nothing fancy about it. He simply shared his lived experience and the challenges of living with ADHD.
By accident he became a voice for people with the condition. What made him different became his superpower instead of his limitation.
Being yourself has enormous rewards online
I’ve had a similar experience.
I’m an average guy from Australia who’s been sharing my thoughts online for 9 years. When I started I had no clear how to reach people, start a personal brand, or build an audience.
I tried to copy people and it failed. I shouldn’t admit this, but I even got done for plagiarism. Because I tried to be like everyone else, no one paid attention. One evening I shared a personal story about mental illness.
It was about my struggle and what I learned. 84,000 people shared it.
I kept being myself ever since that post and it led to enormous rewards. (I won’t share the vanity metrics.) I learned that when you try to be better it’s much harder.
I’m not that smart and have no unique talent. So if the online game is based on being better then I will lose every time. But when the online game is played based on being yourself, it’s much easier.
You just have to be yourself (here’s how):
1. Tell stories from your life instead of Elon’s
People love to write Elon Musk 5 AM cold shower productivity p*rn articles.
It’s exhausting. Everyone does that and we don’t need another “Warren Buffet’s money advice for a good life” blog post. Worshiping billionaires and celebrities is overrated. 99% of us will never reach that level.
That’s why the market for originality is so huge.
No one can compete with you because no one has the same lived experience as you. I’ve found the best way to stand out is to document every small story that happens to you in a database like Notion.
Then whenever you say anything on the internet, bring up the database, and see if you can add in a short personal story. If you do this for long enough your name becomes like a magnet for the right kind of people.
Those people become your tribe.
2. Write like you talk
Most of life is a performance.
Influential leaders read scripts written for them by ghostwriters. We use big words to sound smart or force the opposition of our ideas to be unable to understand us.
A great way to write is to record yourself talking. Then use an AI translator to turn your voice into written words.
3. Share your culture
I’m a bit too loud about my Aussie culture.
But it’s an easy way to stand out and refuse to fit in. A good way to do it is to include phrases from your culture in your writing and explain what they mean. For example, we Aussies say “barbie” a lot. It just means BBQ.
We love to eat stuff off the grill that’s covered in char. It adds to the flavor and is a laidback way to cook that suits our overly relaxed culture of “no freaking worries, mate.”
Stop hiding your culture because you think it’ll incite racism.
4. Don’t worry what people think
When we focus on what people think we start to write and talk to them according to their rules. It happens unconsciously.
The best thing you can do online is write for strangers.
Pretend your boss and family aren’t paying attention because they’re not. Once the audience changes so, too, does the message. You go from fitting in to flat out rebelling and talking about the taboo causes you care about.
5. Write for your children (or family)
This is the opposite of the last point.
I like to write for my daughter who is 11 months old. I imagine she will read my words one day and I want to share any small nuggets of wisdom with her that I may find.
When I do this it naturally helps me to *not* fit in. I want to educate her on paths that most don’t travel down. I want her to know you can do and be anything you want to be without asking for permission slips ya whole life.
You may call this a legacy. And a legacy is untapped power many people forget they have.
How being different pays 10x more money
At the start I promised that being different pays more than being better.
Now let me tell you why. Attention is the new oil. The internet revolves around who can get attention, keep it, and use it ethically to help people.
When you’re different and lean into your personal narrative, you attract attention in a good way. Once you have attention you can use it in an honest way to help others through products or services you may offer.
This can be as simple as a book or newsletter.
ADHD Jesse is a perfect example. He has a newsletter and a book that make him more money than his previous career. That’s a massive reward.
All you have to do is stop trying to fit in, and be yourself.