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One of my favorite mistakes

Posted in the following categories: Decision Making, Life Lessons

A few years ago, a mentor shared some well-intentioned advice with me.

He said that my email newsletter looked “too plain.” It lacked graphics, a brand image, or even color. It was just plain text.

“He’s got a point,” I thought. To jazz things up, I hired a designer to put together some fancy branding and sprinkle graphic magic on each weekly edition.

The transformation was visually impressive, embodying a more “put together” look.

But something unexpected happened. My audience engagement plummeted, and unsubscribe rates climbed.

After weeks of observing a steady decline in readership, I realized I had made a mistake. The new corporate look masked my personal touch that readers loved. It even affected the way I wrote—the tone of my emails became less like a cozy fireside chat and more like a corporate presentation.

In following my mentor’s advice, I had lost sight of why I created my platform in the first place—to do things my way.

“Originality consists of returning to the origin,” the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi said. So I went back to my origin, stripped away the gloss, and returned to the basics: writing like I was chatting with a friend. No branding, no graphics, just me and you having a personal conversation.

This wasn’t just a stylistic choice. It was a way for me to reclaim my voice and my approach.

The impact was immediate. Average open rates—the percentage of people who click on and read my emails—soared to over 50%, a number that would make any seasoned marketer’s jaw drop. And when I shared my creations—a book or a course—readers eagerly jumped on board.

What does this mean for you?

We often get swayed by advice, especially when it comes from someone we look up to. It’s easy to think that their way is the only way. But what works for one person may not work for you.

After all, we create things—whether it’s art, a business, or a simple newsletter—because we’re dissatisfied with the status quo.

So why fall back on the very conventions you’re trying to reimagine?

And people notice things because of contrast. Something stands out because it’s different from what surrounds it. If you blend into the background—if you turn your idiosyncratic emails to yet another corporate newsletter—you become invisible. You become the background.

Your journey, your narrative, your perspective—that’s your superpower. That’s what makes people stop scrolling, read your email, or buy your product. People connect with stories and individuals, not just polished content.

My informal, no-frills emails resonated because they were real. And it turns out, people like real. Sure, some readers prefer glossy newsletters, but they aren’t my audience. You can’t please everyone, and trying to do so only reduces the force of your magnet.

If you find yourself lost in the copy-and-paste culture, return to your origin. Remember why you started creating. It’s about centering on your intention, not conforming to others’ expectations.

In the end, the world doesn’t need you to regurgitate someone else’s story.

It needs your own epic tale, with all its unique quirks and insights.

It’s not just about choosing the path less traveled.

It’s about choosing your path.

And that makes all the difference.

The Contrarian Handbook
The Status Quo.

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