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Yep! I look ridiculous. It's on purpose — And why you must be weird.
Last Updated April 30th, 2015

If you’ve ever seen my YouTube channel, one of the first things you might notice is that I look ridiculous in half of my thumbnail pictures.

Why would I publish these truly unfortunate freeze frames when I have much better pictures I could be using?

The answer is simple:

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

And people remember those weird pictures because they stand out.

I remember when I first met Tim Ferriss. At the time, Social Triggers was already a popular website and we had a few mutual friends in common. What’s the first thing he said to me? He commented on those pictures. Seriously.

Or as another example, I recently read Bryan Grazer’s new book “A Curious Mind.” If you’re not familiar with Bryan, he’s the guy behind hit movies like Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, and tv shows like 24.

Well, in Hollywood, he’s known for long hair that stands up straight – and it looks ridiculous. And in his book he admits that’s exactly why he does it. He wants people to remember his crazy hair.

However, when most people put themselves in social or business situations, they spend their energy trying to blend in. They don’t want to ruffle feathers out of fear of being judged, or rubbing people the wrong way.

I get it. But no one ever remembers people like that. And if people don’t remember you, you’re in trouble.

The question is, how can you be someone that people remember… without embarrassing yourself with silly pictures… without spiking your hair up?

I reveal more in this new video.

Why You Must Be Weird

I got quirks – real weird quirks.

As an example:

Even though I run an online business, I work exclusively on paper first. And not just any paper…

I like to write in these Japanese notebooks with paper so smooth that you want to rub your face against it.

Now, this might sound like something I should probably keep to myself, but I don’t. And in social situations, I actually brag about it.

I’m Derek Halpern, you’re watching Social Triggers, the place entrepreneurs and executives learn to get ahead in business and life.

And in this video, I’ll show you why being weird in social situations can be “good for business.”

Let’s be real for a second.

You only get to make a first impression once. And having the ability to leave a GREAT first impression is a skill that you can take to the bank.

Here’s why:

If you leave a great first impression, people will remember you. They’ll want to follow up with you. And they’ll want to help you with whatever you’re working on.

The question is how?

Well, when most people meet new people, they’re busy telling themselves, “Okay, don’t make an ass out of yourself. Don’t argue with anyone. Be nice. Don’t talk about yourself too much. ASK QUESTIONS!”

After all, they read Dale Carnegie once. And good ole Dale said:

”Just ask people questions and they’ll love you!”

But most people stick to safe topics. Things like:

“Where you from?”

“What do you do?”

“Are you working on any fun projects?”

Here’s the problem…

When you go this route, you might have a few conversations with people, but the sad truth is, no one will remember you.

They may remember you’re a nice person. They may remember, “oh, I spoke with so-and-so!” But they’re not going to remember anything important about you.

And that’s because…

What Blends In Gets Ignored

If you go this route, you’ll essentially be invisible. And you’ll be that guy or girl that has to introduce themselves to the same person 10 times.

But let’s compare this to the smooth paper you want to rub your face on…

You’re here watching this video. And I bet you’ll never forget that I like to write on expensive Japanese paper. Because…

What Stands Out Gets Remembered

And in social situations, that couldn’t be MORE true.

Everyone is trying to fit in. If you make a concerted effort to just stand out a little bit, you’re going to be one step ahead of everyone else.

And that’s why being weird in social situations is so valuable.

Being weird lets you become the type of person who people remember.

Now, you don’t want to be weird for the wrong reasons.

You don’t want to be that person who spilled wine all over themselves during a conversation.

But you do want to be the person who has a quirky little habit, whether it’s writing on expensive paper, or being obsessed with bad pop music, or getting $300 haircuts, or… wait a second:

If you’ve watched Social Triggers for any length of time, you’ll notice I just described myself.

Maybe I share that stuff on purpose?

I sure do.

And people remember me for it.

Now let’s take this back to you:

What weird things do you exhibit in your life that you’d like to start telling people about? And how can you connect those weird little quirks to what you do?

As an example:

When I’m meeting new people and I want to tell them I like to write sales copy, I never tell them, “I write sales copy.” Instead, I say something like, “I like to write sales copy while listening to Clarity by Zedd on repeat.”

Now it’s your turn.

Leave your example in the comments.

Also, be sure to sign up for Social Triggers so you can learn more tips and tricks about getting ahead in business and life.

And remember:

Let your freak flag fly!

Next week, I’m going to release a new audio podcast. For the first time in more than a year. It’s going to dig deep into some topics I’ve never covered before. And while it may appear “dark” at first, you’ll quickly see why it’s so important. So, look for an email from me on Monday about it.

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53 comments Leave a comment

I made the mistake of trying to fit in when I started my business. I chose the most generic name for my company (NW Clinical Massage) because I wanted to sound professional. I used stock photos for my website.

After learning more about personal branding, I’ve been shifting everything to be more personal and memorable, but it’s not something that comes naturally to me as an introvert. So it’s a work in progress and the finished result has not yet been achieved. Learning step by step. Thanks for the boost!

Prabhu Tharmarajan

Being different causes you to stand out. And in industries where you want to stand out, even if it’s a crazy/weird/totally not in the norm approach you have, as long as it gets you nearer to your goal, that’s a definite win! Great post mate!


This is attraction marketing at it finest! I am loving this site 25k to build was well worth it.
show em the real you, if they dont like it they can “CLICK off”
Do your thing Man.

Great Name too. We will have to collaborate when I get my Sh** rolling in the Authority online world.


I seriously want that notebook now. I will admit to also rubbing my face on soft paper. Any chance you tell me where I can buy one?

I often use the fact that I have screws in my hips to make me stand out. It’s surprising because I am only 26 and I got them when I was 12. I’ll tell people this and follow it up with “and no, I don’t beep when I go through metal detectors, they’re titanium.” I also love to reference sci-fi shows and when I find someone who gets it I never forget that person so I am sure it goes both ways.


Basically be a OPENLY professional weirdo. Gotcha.


This post is something my co-workers should read. Its really interesting and for me looking weird is being unique and being unique is being a risk taker. I work in a SEO and content writing job and I really don’t just conform with the standards I try to be better.

Melissa Semra

I can’t think of any beneficial ways of being weird other than that people will remember you better.
You could say it is an easy way of converting website hoppers, who rarely remember any of the sites they visit, to regulars, who can’t get enough of your crazyness!


love the video. I’m the guy that thinks about thinking and asks people to think about that! Well…that sounded better in my head. 😉


Last week at work, we started a conversation that lead to everyone deciding to use their middle name, instead of their first one. So, everyone was being known by another name. I’m English but my mothers parents were Italian born & bred. So I went from Michael Osgood to Michael David Fontana. So now everyone thinks i am Italian & are looking for a red Ferrari in the car park!!!

Really look forward to your emails… BRILLIANT.
I also just checked out your website for mobile friendly with that Google tool.
You passed with flying colours!!!
Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly.

Fiona McAllister

First of all, when I saw your new website layout, I said outloud “Holy Shit!” It looks Great Derek! Not sure how long you’ve had the new layout but wow. It is fantastic.

Anyway when it comes to standing out, I tend to feel like I’ve made a fool of myself at gatherings because I don’t put on a face and I am exuberant and lively. But it seems people remember me. I got an incredible opportunity to interview a top fashion model because the owners of the agency remembered me at the opening fashion show gala for their agency in my city of Calgary in Canada. Even if I do still feel like I “should” be more refined, people remember me. This stuff works!


I have 9 toes.


Thanks Derek. This gives me more courage to be weird and just be myself.


Wow, this is so true! Derek, I truly think that you are talking about personal branding and you are doing it right!

And the thing is that a person doesn’t have to actually make up something weird or unique about themselves to do or show for branding. Just be yourself, your true self because we all have quirks 🙂

I think I have been doing it subconsciously for a very very long time. It’s just so boring to be like everyone else…

My quirks are wearing bright colors even in suits (at my bachelor thesis defense I was wearing a purple suit and shoes when everyone else so super professional in black and gray) and making silly jokes about myself. I think making people laugh is the first thing I always want to do when I meet someone and this gets remembered…

BUT also I need to mention that not everyone appreciates MY personality. In some situations people are so common and average they are threatened by someone who is different and isn’t afraid to show it…so sometimes it can get awkward!


Well, that really makes me think. Makes sense – stand out. I have a weird love of all things redwood trees, forests and Christmas. I’ve kept myself “professional” and have been feeling for a while that what I’m missing is more personality – more me. This comes at just the right time. I’m thinking the best way is to actually get in front of the camera rather than always hiding behind the voice over. Thanks!

PS – Love the new photos and site! Very you. 🙂

Laurel Noddin

Hmmmm…you know, I wish I were a little more quirky and/or weird! Maybe that’s weird in itself. I am painfully introverted yet I have recently started making Youtube videos about how to be happy and following your passion. I am totally drawn to quirkiness but I think I am a little boring, lol. Maybe I should try to branch out and be a little weirder, but then it wouldn’t really be me. It does however, work well on you;)


I’m a recovering heroin and crystal meth addict. Does make me weird enough? 🙂 . I actually haven’t found the courage to blog about who I really am yet, but I’m thinking it may be the key to getting noticed. Not that being a drug addict is particularly unique (or at all commendable) but openly blogging about your experiences is a little rarer. And given I’m 100% reformed I think it puts me in a position to help others who are in or (trying to get out of) the some crazy world. Maybe I could even warn off some people from making the same mistakes as I did.

Am I mad for considering this? or barking up the wrong tree? Is publicly shaming myself for a blog even a good idea? It’s a tough one and I could use your opinion!

    Derek Halpern

    It depends. Revealing something like that could be tough, but I wouldn’t reveal it for the sake of revealing it. I’d highly consider the fall out. I’d also highly consider the reason why you want to do it in the first place.


      Thanks Derek. Your words of caution ring true. I’ve debated this for some time. I think most reformed addicts have a yearning to be honest with the world after going through this type of journey as part of you wants to lift your head up and say “yes I did this, I’m not proud of it, but I conquered it, and it’s made me who I am today”. Ultimately I’ve come out of it a better, stronger and kinder person (but with little else to show for it). However hard drug addiction is about the most socially unacceptable thing one can reveal about themselves and there’s potential that I would hurt not only myself in the process, but other family members and people who got caught up in my world of insanity along the way (and I was quite literally insane on meth for a period of time).

      It’s a challenging part of my life right now, as before my 10 year journey on drugs I had everything going for me, but unfortunately I blew it, and now I’m ten years behind in the world desperately trying to just catch up to the life I once had. I have much I could say to help and entertain people with stories from the last decade, but perhaps if I’m going to explore this idea a pseudonym would be the safest bet? (and make sure I leave out any details that could reveal my identity).

        Fiona McAllister

        Simon, I think if you have the right reasons for sharing your story you will help thousands of people improve their lives. I imagine (as I’ve never done hard drugs) that that life must be one that is incredibly difficult to leave and clean up, which it sounds like you have. And I also imagine it must be difficult to get the courage to clean up. Because as you say that life comes with a stigma, but forget the stigma, and see if you can help those who are in recovery. People who’ve never been down the road don’t get it. Now of course you shouldn’t do drugs to be able to support others (that would be crazy) but having been down the road, you can probably offer more insight than is possible for anyone who has never been on that path. And you can do it with understanding and compassion with all the struggles that will be unique to some one who has had successful and clean recovery. And it takes an incredible amount of strength to own your mistakes and share with others how you have grown changed and become a better person because of them. Good luck.


          Thanks so much for your lovely reply Fiona. The simple fact that you took the time out of your day to share your thoughts with me, let alone leave such an encouraging and understanding message, means the world to me.

          It’s not possible to go through the journey I have without losing a sense of self-worth and esteem along the way, so any messages of support really help with my confidence. Part of my life now is trying to work out who I’m comfortable being, and what I want to share with the world and part of that involves asking people like yourself and Derek for advice.

          I really do want to help others who may have followed a similar path, and also to help educate the public by breaking down the negative stereotypes associated with addicts. There’s so much I can share that I feel would be of benefit. It’s a big decision though so it’s one that I need to give some serious thought and make sure I work through all the ramifications of sharing something so huge on the Internet.

          I think I may approach this initially by blogging under a pseudonym, and then if I feel like the idea has legs and that’s it’s something worth pursing, that might be better time to expose my identity. If I do so right out of the gate, and the site doesn’t flesh out into anything worthwhile, then I may just be hurting myself and others without any gain.

          Anyway there’s naturally lots more to say on this topic, but this certainly isn’t the right forum to do so. However I really just wanted to say thanks so much for voicing your support. It meant the world to me and who knows – you may even have helped kick-start my blog by giving me the confidence to pursue it 🙂


When you do sex education and coaching, this one is pretty easy! It took me a while to get used to feeling like a unicorn at business and social events since my response to “what do you do?” is, well, unique.

Throw in the fact that I’m usually dancing to whatever music is playing and will probably make a Doctor Who reference somewhere in the conversation and well… The conversation is always inyeresting!

    Derek Halpern

    Sounds like you got this down pat.

David Withington

I build websites using software that’s no longer made, and you can’t buy it nowadays. That makes it so refreshingly different from WordPress. (it’s XSitePro, by the way).

Sergio Felix

Hey Derek, I have seen this a few times myself, people who stand out because they do not try to blend in and in direct consequence, I never forget about them.

I’m already a bit known by always having a green screen in the background on my videos but I can’t be dragging a green screen around with me on the streets LOL will have to find the “thing” that makes me look unique…


PS. The look on the new blog looks FANTASTIC man.

    Derek Halpern

    Glad you like the new design!


I have a shaved head, but I still go to a barber shop every week to get my goatee trimmed.

Tracy Spangler

I’m known by many people as the queen of odd jobs. I’ve worked many unique, sometimes odd, usually well-paying jobs. I help other people find ways to make cash from home or by doing work they’d never have thought of themselves. Also, brightly dyed hair and lots of colorful tattoos help me stand out from the crowd.

Mary Kathryn

My Freak Flag is this…..

I help Parents embarrass their kids by promoting entrepreneurship and dancing to Uptown Funk in the car.

“Uptown Funk You Up!”

Are you a Parent Entrepreneur? (Not you, Derek, I know you’re not…at least I think you’re not…?)

    Derek Halpern

    You don’t even know. When I first heard that song I was dancing too.

    Kerry Hargraves

    I am a major advocate for singing in the car. Embarrassing the kids just makes it all the more fun!

maxwell ivey

Hi derrick; i was recently asked in an interview if i thought that i would be as noticed or memorable or if people would help me as much as they do if i weren’t blind. and my opinion is yes because my primary business is unique the selling of amusement equipment. also i have a natural gift for story telling or so i am often told. and online i leave longer more in depth comments than most. but finally i think that the blindness helps me because there are still so many people who don’t realize how many blind people there are out here running businesses including blogging. so for most people i impress them by doing what seems ordinary to me while being blind. and if emails and online comments are any judge i believe there are a lot of people who would like to meet me in person which i can also use when i finally get out from behind the laptop and meet people face to face. I know that i love a good story, and great stories are full of fun quirky complex characters like you and me. so keep writing on that fancy paper, max the blind blogger ps you have me wanting to buy some to find out just how good it feels against the skin


Ways I’m a little weird – my business has .ninja at the end instead of .co.uk or something bland. I saw the .ninja available and just had to have it. As I’ve progressed through my 40s I’ve become more comfortable expressing myself visually as well as verbally. Many people are surprised by my dark purple hair and I’ve had a couple of comments about the tattoos I’ve had done the last couple of years. But I figure that I’ll be remembered and if anyone has a problem with the way I look then that’s their problem 🙂 I’m celebrating being different now instead of hiding who I really am.

Catherine | Fit Armadillo

I’m a personal trainer and while 90% of my work is now done online, I go to networking events in my yoga pants and branded t-shirt.

The first time I did it, I really had no other choice (other that try to play superwoman/trainer in my car, but even though I live in TX, my tints aren’t that dark!).

I felt super guilty and cracked jokes at myself, but…people LOVED it! (I do have a pretty cute brand…) and I love my yoga pants these days so I keep being the worst dressed in the room.

Freak flaggish? Maybe, but also easy as pie for people to remember what I do (and yes, do have that one slice of pie, I’m not your trainer… yet!).

Great topic, Derek!

P.S. I’m sooooo loving Zippy Courses!!!! Thank you for creating it 🙂


When I am in creation mode, I like to listen to Tibetan mantras and sing or chant along with them while I am working. And when I really need to focus on something, I diffuse clove essential oil. It really helps me to stay on task and open up the creative floodgates!


I’ll grab someone’s hand and look at their fingertips, then tell them if their fingerprints are arches, loops or whorls. People get excited when I tell them they have arches because it’s only 5% of the population. I’m known as the “fingerprint girl.”


    Hey Mindi, are you a naturopath> i had that done by mine.


      I was a Fingerprint Technician for a law enforcement agency. I would roll fingerprints as well as enter them into the state database and match them to existing records. It was very detailed work.


Of course, I demonstrate all sorts of unique, interactive “glitches” by being myself. I’ve finally learned they are enjoyable features, and not usually flaws. Breaking the shame trap was incredibly freeing.

People tell me I stand out for being intensely personal and interactive with people, to the point that they sometimes feel as if I’d known them all their life. That vibe unsettles them at first, until they realize it is genuine and respectful, and then they trust me with their inner selves. Maybe discovering a person who represents safety and acceptance in vulnerable situations can be the “weirdest” experience of all. Who knows?

Liz Weston aka @TheLizWeston

So, I know you might not like links in comments, but I *have* to share this with you – this is me, looking ridiculous but also, positive, fun and someone that you might want to work with… So I’m all for being different and standing out online…


PS. If you need to edit out my link, no worries, for everyone else, it’s a video of me dancing!


    You look so cute!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I’m glad you’re “happy.” 🙂


    Awesome! That’s me virtually every day in my house.

Kerry Hargraves

Quirky is good and I totally agree about letting your freak flag fly, or at least allow it to peek out so people will remember. I love bubbles and always have some in my pocket or purse to be put to use any time the impulse strikes. When exchanging business cards I hand over a small tube of bubbles along with my card. For those who’s immediate reaction is “I’ll give this to my child/grandchild” I admonish them that these bubbles are for their own use. More often I hear something along the line of “Ooh, I love bubbles!” as the recipient whips out the wand with a big grin and begins filling the air.

I’ve been able to get an entire room full of business suited professionals gathered to impress and sell to one another to join in a group bubble fest. It really breaks the ice and they do remember the Bubble Lady.


    What a fun idea! You must leave a lot of play-filled memories wherever you go.

Terry Gassett

Love your into “I’ve got quirks.” Makes me identify with and remember you already!
Some of the ways I “brand” myself is by letting my authenticity show. It helps that I grew up in New Oroeans where everybody is quirky!
I love pink and rabbits. My logo has a rabbit in it and my tag line is “journey to joyful living” so I go ahead and wear pink clothes, have a pink wallet, a pink iPhone case, pink IPad case – but not just any pink – it has to be fuschia and if it is an accessory it has to be leather! I also wear a silver pandora bracelet with silver bunny charms.
And in addition to this, another one of my quirks is that I talk to everybody! People I know, people I don’t know, people I’ve just met and I try to say something to bring “joy” or “laughter” to them in the moment I meet then even if it’s just for a few seconds.
Thanja for the reminder that not only is it okay to be quirky – it can help our businesses!

LaVonne Ellis

I am an accountability coach who admits to being a complete flake – and I also live in my van. Kinda weird, no?


Does having a Buddhist name and teaching mindfulness count?

I also like driving too fast which kinda surprises people in a Buddhist. But I am trying to give it up.

I like the thought, and yeah, being remembered definitely counts. But I’m right there with Brian too – it’s got to be real.


I AGREE 100%.
Is being brutally honest weird?

When working at a fortune 500 company I was taken to the decision makers to give my opinion of something.
En route I thought I was getting fired.
When I arrived, they basically told me they needed me because I was a blunt jerk with a lack of empathy.
Being it was a major decision for the company, they wanted the truth, with no fluff.
Don’t know if that counts for quirkiness, but it has landed me in many advantageous situations since.

Nathalie Lussier

I love quirky! But I also think that it has to be your own *brand* or quirky, not just weird for weird’s sake. I think we’re all weird enough as it is, and the more we can tune into what’s already unique about us, the better. 🙂

Oh, and being a wannabe librarian / bookworm who loves code is pretty weird as it is. 🙂


So true, Derek! Quirkiness makes you relatable. Plus, we all have those little weird things, like how I won’t write with anything other than a Pilot G-2 #10 gel pen. And don’t give me a #7 ’cause I’ll know.


Actually being “weird” is a great thing and should be celebrated, and most people are left-of-center in at least some element of their lives. Maybe it’s noticeable, maybe not.

Do you feel like a contrived weirdness works in concert with being genuine? There’s nothing that’s more of a turnoff (in business or socially, to me) than someone being fake, especially when it’s like “whoooooo-hooo look how ca-razee I am!” These usually turn out to be the most boring and unoriginal people once you actually talk to them, in my experience. It’s all some “act” – they’re always “on”.

They call this peacocking in the gross pickup artist community, and the guys that do it are pretty roundly vile in every way.

I usually love your stuff but this feels off.

    Adam Kayce

    I see what you’re saying… inauthenticity rubs most of us the wrong way. But, I feel like Derek is saying to simply be more revealing about your individuality, not to manufacture a false image of yourself to get attention (which is peacocking, totally).

    Most people hide their uniqueness for fear of being thought of as weird… but it’s the unique that gets remembered. Should it be authentic? Absolutely.

Beth Bridges, The Networking Motivator

I am SO with you on this! One of the things people notice about me when we meet, and which they are continually struck by throughout our acquaintance, is how small and short I am. Personally, I don’t think I’m THAT short (5 feet even), but people seem to make a big deal out of it.

So instead of waiting to be ridiculed by them, I make sure to draw it out myself. I’ll make jokes or give them permission to comment on it.

I’ve also been known to stand on chairs at casual networking events where I was the hostess and needed to get a crowd’s attention for announcements.

Seemed to work, but I’ve gotten very tired of it. People need to grow up and get some cultural diversity. I’m average height in many nations around the world.

So I also have some dramatic hairstyles 🙂 and sport bright green accent clothes on occasion.

Kamila Gornia | for modern entrepreneurs

I love the new look of the videos and the website, Derek. Ha. I totally feel ya on the quirkiness. It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to be liked so much, we become bland in the process. I fell into that trap myself a while back. Embarassed to admit things about myself wondering what might they think, it’s not “cool” or whatever. But honestly, who cares? I love this approach to thinking about it. What you do different, stands out and gets remembered. Preach!

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