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How to find your voice - and own it
Last Updated July 24th, 2014

Back when I started creating content, I had an identity crisis.

When you met me in “real life,” I’d be a loud, quirky, arrogant, and sometimes even border-line obnoxious, and larger than life personality.

I’d say funny things like, “it’s not FREE today?” to random clerks. I’d walk into a restaurant and bellow, “What’s up!” to the hostess.

And apparently I’m so quirky that the other week when I had a Social Triggers team meeting in NYC, my assistant ordered my usual cappuccino , sparkling water, and a cup of ice at my favorite coffee shop, and the clerk said, “Wait, is this for Derek?”

(This coffee shop gets bombarded with probably 1,000+ customers a day. But they remember my order, heh).

But back when I started creating content, I showed NONE of this. I smashed my personality into a little box and threw that box out the window. I was scared that people would judge me because apparently being judged online was scary to me.

I told myself, “Well, I can’t show the real me. It would turn people off, and I don’t want to do that. I’m looking to help everyone!”

Sound familiar?

Finding your voice, and owning it, is tough. Especially when you’re first getting started. I know this becaue I was in your shoes.


Fast forward a few years, it’s clear that I’m unapologetically me…

…And my worst fears came true.

I receive messages like:


I was turning people off… and losing them forever.

Should I panic?


I know how to deal with haters, but here’s why I shouldn’t panic:

For every one of those people who hated me, there were a slew of other people who loved me.

Like this one lady who tweeted this:

people like me. they really like me!

At first, she disliked me. Then she came around, liked my content, and eventually bought one of my online training courses.

Now why am I sharing this with you?

When you’re looking to start a blog, build a business, or GROW a business, you’re going to want to conform to the people around you.

You’re going to want to blend in with everyone else because of your innate fear of being judged by other people.

And yes – even if you have unshakeable confidence in yourself – that fear is there. It was there for me, and I believe I lack the ability to feel embarrassed (did you see some of the shirts I wore in my videos?!?).

But don’t do it.

What blends in gets forgotten. What stands out gets remembered.

And being remembered is vital when you’re competing in the overcrowded online space.

Take a second and look around at the most successful personalities and companies.

Some of them are the world’s best at what they do. But others just have an innate ability to stand out and be remembered.

Steve Jobs. Jim Cramer. Rush Limbaugh. Howard Stern. Joe Rogan. Joel Osteen. Tony Robbins.

Whatever personality you identify with, you know there’s something about them that makes them uniquely themselves. It turns out, there’s something about you that makes you uniquely yourself too… and it’s your job to ensure you’re not hiding it from the public.

You need to find your voice… and own it.

What if you have trouble finding your voice?

I’d check out Sally Hogshead’s new book “How the World Sees You I was reading it the other day, and that’s what prompted me to want to write this today.

(Note that’s an affiliate link. Meaning if you get it, I get compensated. It’s negligible though. I just do it to see how many of you actually take my book recommendations ;-P).

You might know Sally Hogshead because I featured her on the Social Triggers Insider podcast.

(It’s one of the hottest podcasts I’ve ever released. You can listen to it here).

We’re all worried about how the world sees us… and we conform. Or, as Sally puts it, we learn how to be boring.

Even though being boring isn’t our default state. It’s something we learn how to do as we get older.

So I’ll leave you with this:

You need to find your voice and own it. You likely know what you need to do. You likely have written something, and thought, “Oh no, I can’t say that…”

Well, maybe you shouldn’t… or maybe you should.

And that’s it for today.

I want to leave you with a question:

Have you struggled with finding your voice and owning it? Would love to hear your personal experience in the comments below.

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89 comments Leave a comment

Thank you for this write up I can totally relate to what you are saying. I have struggled with finding my voice for a very long time. I wasn’t always like this but because of my experiences and what I have gone through my voice has died down and fear has taken a hold of me. At the beginning of the year, I promised myself I was going to work on myself. work on my confidence, attitude, the way I see myself and the words I tell myself. I am working on being whole and finding out who I really am and what I am all about. I know I have something to offer but I have to work on what that thing is and drown out my insecurities.

Russ Hanneman

Most people find me arrogant but you can’t get to the $B by letting people step all over you.


Thanks for this article Derek.

Im currently working through Ramit’s ZTL and I am feeling the tension building as I am now reaching out to bloggers in my area. Eeeppp writing articles…for strangers!

Its reassuring to know that being “me” is a good thing. Im going to let out my inner weirdo and know that not everyone will like me…but that isn’t the goal.

Haters will come with lovers…um…people who love me. Haha

Thanks again,


I found your website this morning through a post by Sarah Peterson at Unsettle, and I’m glad I scrolled until found this message. My natural voice is blindingly sarcastic with a hillbilly accent. My friends know me well enough to not take offense when I’m being especially snarky, or making a weird analogy. But since my blog is aimed at homeschool parents and book lovers, I’ve toned down my voice (OK, it’s darn near undetectable) to try to get across my message without the distraction of my warped sense of humor.

I’m not embarrassed to be myself, or worried about haters – I have plenty of those IRL and have developed an immunity. However – do you sometimes feel like you have to back off a bit so that your message is what is heard?

I won’t be taking off all the filters, but I’m going to try to let a little more of myself out into my writing. So thanks for the encouragement!

Emma White

I will be honest when I began blogging 4 years ago I was terrified of allowing the real me to be portrayed, what would a mentally ill mother of 6 be able to bring to the “mummy blogging” community – I felt lost, I tried to “copy” what they were all doing, just to fit in, the problem was I sucked at baking, am not a very crafty person and mt lifestyle was nothing like tiers. I tried not to blog about the word bipolar or mental health, but I was fooling myself, I had created a fake online persona, nothing was further from the truth, my life was not sunshine and roses. I let me guard down and began sharing other areas of my life too, I spoke about being in an 11 year abusive marriage, I spoke out about parenting with a mental illness and that’s when I saw readers returning and actually interacting on the blog. These mothers didn’t want to know how to bake a chocolate cake, they wanted to know they were not alone withe feeling depressed and guilty about motherhood. I found my voice through my readers, they accepted me, they emailed me, they tweeted and inboxed me. They began sending me their own experiences and the blog grew over night. I have faced criticism, blocked from following certain others on Twitter, received hate email ( the police were involved at 1 point after they got my address) and I have been questioned whether I can call myself a mummy blogger, I don’t call myself anything, I write a mental health blog aimed at supporting mothers- to me that is a mummy blog – I am a mentally ill mother. Finding my voice took courage, yet the blog has now become a lifeline to many.


    High fives Emma! Talk about taking the plunge. Im on the cusp of entering the “mummy blog” world and its scary in the mummy trenches. It scares the crap out of me. Mums can be bitches (pardon my French). So much guilt, judgment and people “shoulding” one another to death.

    Heaven forbit you dont love ever waking moment of motherhood. Heaven forbit you love bedtime. Heaven forbit you dont feel guilty at all for taking time for you. Oh and heaven forbid you are depressed or mentaliy unwell.

    Im going to go check out your blog now. ๐Ÿ˜‰


      Damn…I assumed your name would be a link. Care to share? Id love check it out.

Dina Rodriguez

Really great read, thank you! I especially agree with what you said here “What blends in gets forgotten. What stands out gets remembered.”

We all need to stop being afraid of what comes natural to us. We need to show our personalities and not care what the internet thinks of us. The best way to make a real connection with our audience is to be ourselves without compromise.

This article was very helpful when I was writing my own theories behind developing a unique voice on my blog at http://lettershoppe.com/the-secret-behind-finding-your-unique-voice-and-style. You really inspired me.

Thank you again for this and keep up the great content!

Philip Gallman

Useful post! I too want to share!

I read a lot on this site about the companies which are qualitatively doing their job. But I never read about a company that will do the job for you. I have my own small printing. We publish several magazines and books when we were approached by customers. But orders more and the less.

So I had no choice and I asked for help from the professionals. Such people I did not have to search long because I have many friends who advised me marketers with which they are more than a year working together. It was the company Black and White Marketing! Main snag was that I did not know how to conduct an advertising campaign.

They firmly took up my candidacy in the sense that the first week they studied all aspects of my small business. And only after that they started an advertising campaign. I could only agree with everything and behold a miracle! First of all, we have a site that previously we did not have. Printing for over 30 years and we do not even thought of.

After that we started to advertise the site on the internet and we immediately got new clients, I was very pleased with this fact. Further more, they are slightly altered brand my company added creativity and minimalist and everything else remains the same. Then there was the outdoor advertising.

On the way out I got rebirth business at a reasonable price, the number of orders increased by 300%. Black and White Marketing got their bonuses. I am very grateful to them!

Rebecca P.

Thanks for the insight. I started a mommy blog and was wondering if my ideas and opinions weren’t “granola” enough… I tended to water down my content for the sake of the whole, but your right… Who needs another boring mommy blogger… You’ve inspired me to unleash my evil twin.. Muhahaha


    Hi Rebecca, were you successful? Id love to check out your blog and meet your twin. Im in the research stage of my biz (personal development for mothers) and a bit scared to really be me when I do start writing.

Maya Elious

Wow, this was great! And I like your “arrogance” – it actually makes ME feel more confident!

Sam O

Thanks for this Derek.
I found my voice once in the past and let it slip away as I grew older.
I’m getting back into the hang of things and finding the new me.

I think finding your voice is a process you need to go through over and over again as you grow as a human being and as you incorporate different forms of media into your life.

Ex. finding your voice on video, find your voice in podcast, finding your written voice etc


As someone who has worked many years in the service industry this line:

“Iโ€™d say funny things like, โ€œitโ€™s not FREE today?โ€ to random clerks.”

is the type of thing you hear on a daily if not hourly basis. Unoriginal and annoying rather than in anyway quirky or funny.

Just had to get that off my chest.


Yes, I’ve struggled with finding my voice and owning it. I’ve been told im funny in “real life” but that it doesn’t come through on my blog in my writing. Will definitely be working on that. You’re right about the fact that I worry about what people will think if I’m too opinionated.

Dale Hardiman

I can totally relate to this Derek. Instead of trying to brand and sell myself, I was being all “salesy” and turning into someone I didn’t like and someone my potential customers didn’t like. I find it much easier like you said to be myself and make friends not customers.


Hi Derek ,
Really great article .
I agree with you that everyone has to find his unique voice and motivate him, i tried to find my voice and i found it!
I hope to achieve success and i tank you a gain for reminding me about my voice.


I’ve always been told I can’t make $ on-line & how face book is a gossip factory. I’m trying to gain confidence & confirm my voice!


Hi Derek,

I struggle with this at times and am working my way to express who I am. In fact I had ‘find your voice’ written up on the white board in my office. Then your email arrived ๐Ÿ˜‰
I was getting upset and low in self confidence when people unsubscribe, but less so now. Why do we live so much from outside in, but rather we should live from inside out.

I liked you more for writing this email.


Brian Schmitt

I have a confession. I had stopped reading ST about three months ago. Email was overflowing so I unsubscribed from all but three newsletters.

By chance I saw Derek at his favorite coffee shop, getting his usual order and decided to say hi. Just now reading this latest blog post is a bit spooky. But one of those great times life gives you a little gift.

Derek, you were a pleasure to meet! Almost immediately afterward you found and reached out to me on Twitter. Impressive. Now I’m a real fan.


O M G!

You better believed I’ve struggled with finding my voice and owning it! In fact, I commented on another blog about it. This is obviously a theme for me, and I need to pay attention.

I’m so tired of having to conform to what I perceive is the “ideal” online voice. You know, the one where everything is sunshine, rainbows and unicorns. Where you write words that leave you feeling empty and hollow inside. Words that you don’t even mean. Words that have no passion or fire behind them.

I really would love write blog posts that are from the gut — raw and uncensored.

I’m tired of being someone I’m not.

I’ve lost my edge along the way.

Maybe it’s because I’ve listened to too many “well meaning” experts.

Maybe it’s because I’ve saturated my brain with webinars, teleseminars and monthly or yearly content writing and marketing courses.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t had a vacation in four years and I’m burned out!! ๐Ÿ™‚


I think we all have had to wrestle with finding our voice. Especially when writing. As we become comfortable in our writing skins that starts to fade. If you are an introvert like me you’ll find it hard to let your personality shine out in public either on paper or in person.

I solidified my voice when I was going to meetups and conferences where “what do you do?” comes up and I was forced to provide an articulate and worthwhile piece of information without sounding like a raving madman.

A few notes:
@Jon Bowes the MBTI is a preference scale and not a sign of competency or ability. The criticism of reliability is well known because with it you are either an I or an E for example. When approached as a spectrum as most modern assessments it tends to be as reliable. Though the MBTI does have some relationships to the big five personality factors. They do not overlap excessively and I’m not an uber expert but they do have some construct validity separate and together. Just know they are designed to show preference and thinking styles as opposed to outright personality and limits.


If you’re not standing out, you’re getting covered up! Business owners should take this advice to heart. Be original, be charismatic, be weird, be noticed!


Powerful insights.
Whether looking to build an online presence or not, I think everybody suffers from this. The system makes us tone down who we really are in order to appear ‘acceptable’. However, what people really want is to see the REAL you.

Marsha from YesYesMarsha.com

Derek, full disclosure: when I first encountered you (via your lesson in B School), I thought, “Who is this shouty, shouty man?”.

I wasn’t sure about you. But I also knew you were really smart (around an area I had TONS to learn in), so I signed up and stuck with you.

MAN, I’m glad I did! Not only have I learned so much – I now LOVE your videos. Love love love. Every single one makes me laugh AND want to high five you.

And on being oneself online: I’ve found that people who watch my videos find me much funnier than my friends find me in real life. Which I put down to the fact that I wear my eccentricity on my sleeve (and a number of wigs on my head) while I’m giving advice on the internet.


I’ve found my voice – and I TOTALLY own it. Who I am is slapped all over my website for the whole freaking world to see.
My problem is that some other people in my life (family etc) aren’t as down with that as I am.
Having to learn how to think “ahhh, screw ’em”. Tricky.


I completely agree, infact everyone’s goal should be to find your own voice. That’s why I love blogging and working for myself, the more I do it, the more I grow as a person.

Lisa Jackson

Hi Derek
I totally agree with what you’re saying. For me, I’ve never been one to shout the loudest or be the centre of attention. I have a quiet confidence that people only see when they get to know me.
I will definitely need to change my tone of voice on my website to show the real me, rather than trying to be the person that I think people will like.
They’ll either enjoy reading it or not.
Thanks for sharing your experience.

Jon Bowes

I took Sally Hogshead’s test. My avatar was the Rockstar. Innovative and Passionate.

Derek, don’t you find that a lot of these tests just return results that really could apply to anyone? I’m very skeptical of personality tests… as Dan Ariely said about Myers Briggs, when answering a question on his blog

“Next time, just look at the horoscope. It is just as valid and takes less time.”

(Link to the blog here: http://bit.ly/1qEIy4n)

So Derek, what’s your view on personality tests, strengths finder tests etc?


Just what the doctor ordered for me. Question: I easily connect with people in person. Being new to blogging, I find it difficult to translate this “in person” connecting power into my voice in the digital world.



Gina Ritter

Thankfully I have “come into my own” as I approach my 40s and I am a stand-up comedian and humor writer, so finding my voice has been a natural evolution. But, that being said, even I suffer from the negative comments or from new, scary situations in life and my comedy or writing career where self-doubt creeps in. For ME what works seems to be to just go for it without thinking about consequence. Just going for it, balls to the wall, helps me get over it – because more often than not the feedback is GOOD and I feel GREAT about my trajectory and choices after I’ve completed the task (or whatever it was I was afraid of). I prove my gut was right and in not always belonging, I somehow belong.

Thank you for this reminder, it was needed today!

Geniece Brown

Hi Derek,

I have more of an amiable personality. I have tried to be more assertive and loud like people would tell me I needed to in order to be a business owner. When I tried that, I felt un-natural and out of place. So, I invested more time and some money in learning how to communicate myself and what I do with other personalities.

I am able to be assertive but I realized that I don’t have to be loud or be like anyone else. When I became happy with who I am, I noticed that people started to become more attractive to me. And of course there are some who don’t get me but it’s worth it to me for the ones who get me.

I have liked you and Social Triggers from day one ever since I was first introduced to your website by one of my coaches. You personality is certainly drastically different from mines!! But I am captured by it and I read the social triggers blog more than any other blog. Thanks Derek.


Love this one. My industry is FULL of people in their late 40’s and 50’s who are very conservative in almost every way. I am a 24 year old with piercings and tattoos, traveling full time while running my business. I think it may be the reason I wasn’t invited to speak again at a huge conference ;/ Thanks for the encouragement Derek.


Thanks for sharing this Derek. As others have said, knowing that successful people have gone through the same struggles when they started is a huge relief for beginners.

I agree with you and cannot recommend Sally’s work enough! It may be silly but after taking her test, I finally gave myself permission to be more of myself (in every part of my life, not just business) instead of trying to “blend in”.


Thank you for this post – I did some filming recently and it felt like being boxed in, it wasn’t me and I feel it is the way I present “live” that keeps the audience focused on my training, the filming was “boring” – so this week I find my voice with filming “me” this time!!


Hey Derek,

Iโ€™d like to sincerely thank you for writing this, as much as I want to start a blog, (Iโ€™ve even set up the blog page, just last fortnight) this exact issue has seriously been my greatest fear/frustration.

Thank you so much, for your wise, yet encouraging thoughts.!

Best Wishes: Matt Bromfield


Hi Derek,

The thing with restaurant happened to me recently, going for many times and being served by same waiter, I said :”hey what’s up?” the reaction was strong… she was surprised… although I have been there for many times and my assumption was that she knows me:-)

Yes this is important to be confident with your own way, although this may scare some people! You are on my main list, I did subscribe to your channel so you are here to stay!

I do believe in self-directed learning principle, so if you are not comfortable with your identity, others will see this, nothing wrong but there is always the discovery way which can be exciting! Cheers and continue…

maxwell ivey

Hi Derrick; I didn’t have trouble with my voice. I’ve always just said what i was thinking or feeling. My problem was being a blind blogger and having people tell me that i inspired them only to wonder why. I didn’t get it. I fought it. but i finally decided that if i am inspiring and motivating people, then i am an inspiration. kind of like writers write? so i started a new blog. and luckily i got to kick it off with some awesome post, some great comments and a wonderful guest post opportunity at harleena singh’s site. i love your post. looking forward to being a regular guest here from now on, max


Thanks for touching on a subject that needs to be heard on a bigger and LOUDER scale…especially to teens. We live in a world of conformity or exclusion. I experienced both, and finding and owning my voice is absolutely the way to go…fricking freeing.

AJ & Serenity Services

Hey Derek thank you much for this inspiring blog post.

I’ll admit that throughout my high school and college career, I was so used to using proper English when writing my papers that I felt I had to be a perfectionist with my online writing as well.

Over time, I’ve learned that you don’t have to have a formal tone all the time. There’s a time for formal writing (such as with legal contracts) and a time to let your personality show through your writing (even if it means your spelling/grammar being off a bit).

Lisa O

I like this, I agree with this, next step? Hmmmm not so sure.
Thanks Derek ๐Ÿ™‚


Great post Derek!
I poo-pooed Sally Hogshead a few weeks ago after a client recommended Sally’s Quiz. Then it landed on my lap again 10 days ago for me to take the Quiz and so I did. Phenomenal! Let’s just say I wish I had done the Quiz years ago. If anyone is on the fence about taking the Quiz – just do it.


Derek, great post and so on time!

I work in a small Internet based company that competes with huge businesses. We always tried to hide the fact that we are small and based outside the US. Just recently I realised that this might be our advantage.

Being small helps us to relate with our customers (that are small businesses as well). We share our experience in doing internet business, using internet marketing, working remotely and having work-life balance.

Actually, just today I updated our about page to tell the our story, be ourselves and be proud of that.



This post came at exactly the write time. I was just telling my wife how over the years I have adopted opinions and beliefs that are contrary to the majority of my friends and associates and because of that have been slowly ostracizing myself.

In addition to that I have a very upfront, in your face, “it is what it is” approach to sharing information. Since I was a child my mother has called it, “lack of tact.”

I have struggled with trying to be more (whatever everyone else is drawn to) a to have my opinions and ideas heard and build an online audience.

But as of recently I’ve been toying with the idea of branding myself, “the angry marketer.” Or something to that effect. I have definitely come to the realization that you can’t be all things to all people and in being true to yourself and who you are you will innately draw people to you who are more in line with you and your message.

Lee Trends

Definitely some food for thought Derek.

In “real life” and online many of us tend to taper down our personalities because we fear how we’ll be perceived. However every time we do this a little piece of our soul just withers and dies off.

Maybe that should be a challenge for us. Go out, kick ass and be authenticly ourselves.

Beth Barany

Lately, I’ve been called out, gently, that some of my marketing material too much resembles another’s. And, yeah, I need to make it my own. I struggle with that because what the other created said it well and their structure is so useful.


I needed this post… Perfect timing

Patrick Wagner

I think one of the first sure signs of success (or doing something right) is gain both fans and haters. Fans are the ones worth focusing on and haters are going to keep on hating no matter what you say or do (that’s just the numbers) . So to change for them is totally the wrong thing to do. You nailed it as usual, Derek. I think you and Gary Vaynerchuk are true value providers, since there really is no bullshit to your talk or writing.

I’ve always appreciated it.

Kamila Gornia | for passion-driven solopreneurs

Wow this is really powerful, Derek, and such an important lesson to us all. We have to remember that we are unique and to stop trying to be liked by the masses – because there’s no way in hell we will ever be liked by everyone in the world, neither should we WANT to be.

I know all about this, I’ve always wanted to be liked, seeking validation from outside of me. It would hurt when I’d get a hater, like “What did I do?! How can I change to make this NOT happen again!?”

And now, I’m like, “Whatever. If you don’t like me, that’s fine. I’m not meant to be liked by everyone.” Cause that would mean I’d have little substance to me. Nothing that makes me stand out.

Word. I’m checking that book out.

Joshua Powlison

My biggest struggle is that I have both a perfectionistic and fun side (no, I’m not multiple personalities). I’m afraid it’ll sound like I’m changing my voice from “professional” (at least that’s how I perceive it) to “fun” depending on what mood I’m in.

I guess a little honest statement in the “About Me” might fix that concern, though. Hmm…

Phillip Dews

I am a Socially Inept Brummie and Blogger!
That’s all I got to say on the matter!


This was a timely article for me. I think I become paralyzed by the fear that my personality is a turn off or is insufficient in some way, so I turn it down or off altogether and tend not to type posts at all because I *know* no one will like it or benefit from it. But I have been reflecting on this lately and have decided to put my best foot forward and let what will happen, happen. I’ve taken a new approach to my business, and I am growing each day.

Each of us is unique and has something special to offer regardless of how it’s interpreted by others. No one person is liked by everyone and because we are all at various stages of development, what we have to contribute will be more or less valuable to others based on what they have experienced. So we should all just be the best version of ourselves and let the rest go.

Thanks for sharing this nugget of wisdom.

Joel Libava


We haven’t talked for awhile. Heck, I haven’t seen you in-person in wayyy too long.

Nice job you’ve been doing.

Anyway, here’s what I’ve discovered.

The only way I can be true to myself and the folks who follow me and trust me is this:

I have to be me. Period.

I’m blunt. So what?

I’m truthful. Important.

I move fast. My ADHD problem, I guess.

I care. That’s never a problem and won’t ever be.

Make sense?

The Franchise Kingยฎ


Hi Derek,

I am so glad you are so open about this! I am starting my own bussines and yes, people find me arrogant too ๐Ÿ™‚ But I dare to be different and I think it will pay off , there’s only one of me in this world, after all!

Thanks to Sally Hogshead I found out the world sees me and I wrote it on a piece of paper and pined it on my pinboard so I can look at it every day and remind myself never to try to blend in.

Thanks for all your great articles!


AWESOME article!
I’d been emotionally/mentally suffocated in my marriage of nearly 15 years. I was told so many times “You can’t SAY THAT!” I started believing it!

Fast forward 10 years (widowed 10 years ago!) I’m now finding my voice, realizing I was created for a special unique purpose; There is ONLY ONE ME. ( Thank GOD, the Universe could not POSSIBLY handle another one! LOL) And that I need to BE ME; Unashamedly, totally, authentically ME!

And when I am, people LOVE me! Or not! And I’m okay with that!

Thanks for a well written article!
I’m a hugger, so sending you virtual hugs!
Keep up the Great work, Derek.

Rachel Henke

Hey Derek
I love how you shared the subscriber messages. I see a lot of people especially those who are sensitive finding it very challenging to claim their expert status online for fear of being judged. Great piece.


Oh yes,I really understand what you put. I often get told by friends I need to present/write things in a more acceptable manner,but often I either get ignored (like things I’ve written before on blog attempts.Is it because I’m truthful,would like to hear others thoughts and start discussions,and NOT follow the latest craze in bullshitting others en masse to get followers built up),loved,or hated by many others. Often run into trouble by showing how others are acting lower by following THEIR rules better than they claim to.(the best insults are not sudden,but well planned out and demonstrative)

A few times I’ve had many say they love what I have done and how I’ve approached things.Followed by how I should go further by their plans,not mine,which has lead to frustrations.

There is no ‘quick fix’ to so many things,and I’ve long quit trying to find one.I’m always open to a discussion or trading ideas on many things I will either tell someone,or post about somewhere.Too often,this has turned into high school popularity contests with different forms of power-play and trolling.

Oh well,I’ve seen many times where good friends often working in ways seen as freakish,create things together many fans go onto love.Look at the works of Mark Lanegan and Nick cave.Both are seen as quite different from the usual,and they don’t work together in everything,but projects or songs they’ve both worked together in has been well loved by so many.

Bill Thomas

Great post Derek!

When I first wrote the “about us” page for my website I was so tired of all the bullshit corporate babble that I just laid out in bare language why people should buy from me.

Then I almost took it down. A couple of times. (I thought it was too much and would alienate people.)

I’m glad I never did though, that page has been a huge part of the success of my business.

After reading it, people feel they really know me and they want to buy from people they know. I’m sure it has turned some people off, but the folks who stayed have become great customers.

Stay Alpha –



Derek! I want to say thank you for this message. I NEEDED to hear it! My biz name includes the word “naked” as you can see in the title. And all my writing uses words like expose, naked, and skinny dip. I think it is a cheeky and a funny way to teach about the naked truth about health. BUT I find that some people really freak out about it. This then makes me feel shy and I almost trip over my biz name sometimes when meeting new folks. Bottom line: be bold, be me! Thank you very much. I seriously needed this one ๐Ÿ™‚


Hi Derek, I had to write a comment to say that today I decided to unsubscribe from the many emails I receive as they were all bogging me down! I was about to do the same thing to yours (Sorry!) and then I read your email/blog and it just hit me right between the eyes that everything I am trying to do with regards to content (and why I have been finding it so difficult) is because I am not being me ! This blog was perfect, timely and the time has come to just be me… thanks so much.


Hi Derek, I absolutely struggle with this same problem. I seem to clam-up with stage fright every time I write a blog and sound stuffy and pompous when I’m not like that at all. I’m trying hard now to be my normal chatty self, but still worry you can’t be like that and help people, I even want to add humour to my self-help blog but don’t know if its appropriate, we live in such a politically correct world it’s scary writing one word in case you offend someone, or their religion, or something other about them. What do you do?


I’m transitioning from my old, more corporate brand to one that I think much better reflects my approach to business and the way I like to work with clients. It’s a massive departure from my previous (forced) style of communication and I’m loving it! So are all the new inquiries that are coming in…but at the same time I’m getting quite a few unsubscribes from my newsletter, too. I’m okay with it – lots of new people are subscribing too, so I think what I’m doing is resonating with the right people. We’ll see if they start buying stuff soon!

Anthony Pabon

I REAALLY struggled finding my voice at first. When I decided that I wanted to build a blog I knew that it was key to finding my voice. At first, I found myself imitating other experts’ voice. But after a ton of discovery, I found out that finding your voice is very simple: You just have to be yourself and give two F$cks what other people say ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks for your no BS attitude Derek


I totally agree. It’s something that a lot of us that were told to “Sit down, be quiet” when we were kids or “You’re too abrasive” as an adult have an issue with!!

When you worry all the time about offending people, you really aren’t connecting with the people who truly appreciate you and your values. Those who appreciate your wit, your bluntness, or your version of “weird” truly make the best friends AND clients.

So, Own it! Love it!! Fly your “freak flag”!
And thanks for the push forward.


YES! I’ve absolutely struggled with finding my voice, (and still do sometimes!)

My writing has ranged from funny, to sympathetic, to sarcastic. It seems like every time my voice changes I feel the need to start a completely different venture, thus always starting and rarely getting very far.

My goal is to be able to stay with one thing even when my voice changes… where I can just be me….sympathetic and supportive, comedic, sarcastic and a little snarky, all rolled up into one.

I think true freedom is found in just being you.

Mark Insight

Ya, finding your own voice is scary, but there is really no other way to do it. I don’t know about everyone else, but when I speak from the heart, unfiltered, those are my most profitable and popular events. I don’t only get more views, but also more loyal followers.

John Shea

Being yourself is the only way to be, I actually find it funny. I have had so many guests come on my podcast be so polite but I’ve had other guests who have swore so many times I lost count.

It’s just easier to be yourself, I’m brutally honest and blunt and most of my personal friends know that about me. I’m no different when I post on my blog or talk about stuff on my podcast with my audience.

Lauren Rader

This has given me something to think about Derek. I do consider myself a very honest and authentic person – but do I hide a bit out of fear? I likely do. I teach creativity and I notice that when I get comfortable the real me comes out much more – and it seems to work fine – even with the f-bombs that come out when I’m at ease… ๐Ÿ™‚


I’ve definitely been struggling with finding my voice lately.

I don’t want to come off as young and inexperienced, but I’m already starting to notice that there already are some people who find value in my point of view and my experiences. I still acknowledge that I have a lot to learn, but letting go of that comfort zone, the one that makes us artificially boring – that helps a lot.

Rachel at The Party Fail

I used to have a decently popular blog with a very distinct voice. I’ve also been told, in life, I have a very distinct personality (ahem, blunt I think is the term). But, online, I guess from my experience 5+ years ago, I have a harder time bringing my real personality back out. Now that I own a business and my kids are older…I worry about doing something wrong. I need to work on it.

Gabriella Vermaak


You must be some kinda clairvoyant guru or something! I’ve been a subscriber for ages but this post just blindsided me while sipping my red wine. What you’ve written about today has really been bugging me about myself all damn week.

I’ve been struggling with ‘owning my voice’ for a looong time. I know it very well, it’s the nagging one that bitches each time I write something unlike me. Well, I’m done with it! No more ity bity boxes for me.

Thanks dude, you really are a legend!

    Derek Halpern


    Love hearing that.

    And lol at bitty boxes.


1.) This email landed in my Primary box, though I heard ones with images aren’t going to. WHO KNOWS!?

2.) I love this. I work in the veterinary world, and all of the consultants and speakers are VERY plain Jane. They have bland presentations and make bland attempts at videos. One veterinarian, though, decided to do all of his pet health videos in a dog costume from the dog’s perspective.

It’s ridiculous, but no one forgets it. If you say “Dr. Roark” people say, “The guy in the dog costume!?”

He committed to being quirky and weird, and people love it. It inspired me to just be my normal, casual, silly self in my own veterinary consulting business. It wouldn’t have been me to be all stuck up & boring, so I’m thankful for that!

Thanks so much for this email/post. And keep up all of your yelling & antics. That makes you you!

    Rachel Henke

    Great example of magnetic branding. ๐Ÿ™‚


Completely agree Derek. I’m struggling now for all of the reasons you list. My big struggle is being authentic while not saying anything that would jeopardize my standing as a good corporate employee. I would never say anything disparaging but you never know how people will take the things you say so…I “corporatize” most of my writing. Wrong thing to do I know but I’m working on it.

Great post.

Matthew Godley

Hey Derek,
I think this has to do a lot with self confidence, people who have low self confidence will have a hard time revealing their real character (whether it’s on the internet or out with strangers on public) and will try to “blend in” as much as possible because they really care what other people think of them.
I don’t blame them for that, I’m a sinner myself for doing that, but I think the key here is getting rid of the mindset of “what people think about me” and not care so much. Easier said than done though.

Therefore I think it takes practice and it’s not something that happens overnight, but it’s definitely a process I see myself have to go through.

Thanks a lot for these tips.


I recognize the difference between content and ‘real life’, but the weird thing is that I experience it exactly the other way around. Online in video and text and speaking on stage I am quite fearless, even have a little bravoure. In real life I hardly dare to sell even if people wave their credit card before my face, haha! Also I have no problem publishing videos worldwide, but if one friend watches me recording I want to hide under a blanket. Can be weird that gap between the ‘public’ you and the real life.

    Lisa O

    Zlata, I can so relate!

Piers | CrowdfundingDojo.com

What I’ve found challenging with this is that I’m into many things that are unusual or at least not well known in the mainstream and as such are likely to be misunderstood by people without experience in these areas. Many of them are kind of counterintuitive.

Yes, these are interests that I love, am proud of etc. That said, quite a few of them have little to no intersection with the target demographic for my business and are likely things that have little chance of being of interest with my target demographic. I also have interests and personality traits that likely DO intersect with my target audience (eg. being creative, artistic, into marketing, technology and media).

So, does it really make sense to let even the parts that your target audience as a whole are likely to not connect with, when there are many other parts that they will? I certainly understand the value in not being generic, but if parts of your interests are likely to not connect with 99% of your audience does it still make sense to fly them on a flagpole, so to speak?


    I don’t think being authentic means that you have to put every single piece of yourself out there. It just means you put your real personality out there. You are building a business they don’t necessarily need to know that in your spare time you are a furry, but they should see your real personality shine through. Of course, all those other interests would likely make for a great blog that would have a great following (just not necessarily a business blog).


Hi Derek,
Interestingly, this is exactly what I am struggling with in developing a blog. I have interest from a book agent for a book that I have been writing so naturally I tuned into your website to grow a subscriber list – fast, in order to develop my marketing platform. I have some thoughts but still in the works – overanalyzing it, I suppose.

    Derek Halpern

    That will happen. I didn’t launch SocialTriggers.com until 2011. I registered the domain in 2009. That should explain everything.


for a long time i’d suppress myself socially and my family and friends would notice this fakeness about me.
now i embody my thoughts without apology or regret. it works.

Leanne Chesser

Derek, I so totally, absolutely agree with what you’ve written here. I hid myself for a long time and put on a personality that was NOT me in order to be “accepted” by others in my life. It took me a long time to rediscover myself, love who I am, and live it. Now I teach it :). And you’re totally right. When we’re our unique selves, we attract the people who resonate with us . . . and we don’t attract others. That’s a good thing. If we’re fake and we attract people who resonate with our fake self, it sucks and it’s draining!

    Jon Bowes

    Never stop being yourself Leanne. You have so much better things to do with your time and mind than pretend to be something you’re not.

      Leanne Chesser

      I agree, Jon. I don’t pretend :). What I described was in the past and was a journey I went through in my life.

    Kamila Gornia | for passion-driven solopreneurs

    Hey Leanne! I didn’t know you follow Derek too! Yay. Anyway, I totally agree with that – when we are fake, we attract fake people, and then we feel miserable and confused why we are surrounded by people like that. It’s because we weren’t being our true selves to begin with!

    True words. Good wisdom.


      You took the words right out of my mouth!! Well said!

      Leanne Chesser

      Hey, Kamila! Awesome to see you here – – I’ve actually noticed you in the comments of a couple of other people, too :). We follow awesome people!

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