Have you ever had a caricature drawn of yourself? Usually on a boardwalk somewhere or at an amusement park. An artist sits and exaggerates your best, worst and stand-out features in a way that makes you laugh because it looks like you, but it isn’t you at all.

Tim Ferriss (the entrepreneur, author, and creator of The Tim Ferriss Show podcast) talked in a recent interview about why he doesn’t follow where his customers lead him. He mentioned this concept that you can become a caricature of yourself when operating this way. When following where the likes and algorithm lead you.

Well, heyyyy. I stopped the recording to think.

Caricatures are everywhere. Look at the thumbnails across YouTube channels. Each featuring zany cutouts with exclamation points or question marks. Each title more outlandish than the last. Each mimicking the others. Each no doubt following what the algorithm told them worked. Chasing likes down a path that leads to exaggerated drawings of themselves.

How did we end up here?

In Tim Ferriss’ case, he deliberately decided and continues to choose every day as a content creator not to become that. He wants to continue to drive the substance of his show and his brand with instinct and what he himself would like to see, learn, and experience in the world. Not just what the algorithm tells him will net the most views. Like he says, his show would be a 60-second reel of someone brushing their teeth had he done that. 

And just look at how so much marketing content online eventually converges to the same pillars of substance, style and tone…

How one meme spreads so fast that we’re exhausted and bored by it before lunchtime. How if you’ve seen one real estate social media stream, you’ve already seen dozens. How if you follow the course of one content creator on YouTube from early days to a few years in, you can predict with scary accuracy what their content will look like at year five by simply perusing the rest of YouTube’s recommended videos.

By writing this, I know I’m going to receive at least one comment from someone smarter than me about SEO and algorithms, letting me know that hey those are the breaks and that’s how it all works and it’s what builds audiences so these people can make a living.

I get it.

And yet Tim Ferriss, who rejects all of this, produces one of the most successful podcasts in the world. And has been going for 10 years. 

So…Does playing it safe, producing content in a GPT factory, following the likes and subscribes… Does all of that not matter? 

Sure, it matters if that’s what you’re building.

But for the others in the room. The people trying to connect with other people, whether it’s to teach, entertain or do business with… I’d say listen to Tim on this one. Go with your absolute human gut. Create marketing that lights you up and expresses your point of view.

Given all that other stuff that’s out there already, I’d say there’s tons of room for more of this.