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My "origin story"

This email was really uncomfortable for me to write. But what the hell.

 

It’s the deeply personal story of how I was misunderstood as a kid, and how that drove me to understand people as well as I can. Hence why I got into marketing.

 

You probably won’t read the full thing, and that’s okay.

 

The story starts in 1st grade. On the first day, my teacher had me sit next to a kid named Elvis.

 

Elvis and I became instant best friends. We threw paper airplanes at each other and showed each other all the drawings we made. For about a month, we were inseparable.

 

Then a new kid showed up at school named Daniel. Elvis decided he wanted to be friends with Daniel instead of me. To impress Daniel he started making fun of me. After that we weren’t friends anymore.

 

Later at another school I made a friend called Sebastian, who liked the same kind of music that I liked. One day Sebastian told me we needed to talk. Then he “broke up” with me: he told me we couldn’t be friends anymore, because being friends with me was hurting his social status with the “cool” kids.

 

Then Elvis dumped me again. Our moms were friends, so once we stopped going to school together, we became friends again. Elvis’s mom suggested that I go to his school. And then within a week, Elvis was being mean to me again.

 

I was abandoned by close friends over and over again because I was misunderstood. And I was misunderstood because I don’t think the way other people think.

 

I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD and Asperger’s. I’m pretty sure I have a mild form of autism, too, because I memorized thousands of Pokémon cards and because I could do 8th grade level math before I started kindergarten.

 

I think the root of the problem was that I didn’t think like the other kids. Human brains think in parallel together — if you put a bunch of people in a room together, their brain waves will sync up. I think my brain doesn’t do that. So it takes me longer to “get it” than other kids. Which means I have a hard time fitting in.

 

My teachers didn’t understand me either. That started at the very first school I went to, a snooty private school that wanted me to behave exactly the way everyone else did. Anytime I did things “my way”, they got upset.

 

For example, one time in class we were supposed to make something called a “Gallon Man”. Gallon Man’s body was one “gallon”, and then his arms and legs were 4 quarts, and then his fingers were pints, and then his sub-fingers were cups. I guess the idea was to teach us about units of volume measurement.

 

Well, I decided that “Gallon Man” ought to be holding a bottle of Bud Light. My teacher didn’t think that was funny, so she sent me to the principal’s office.

 

Eventually they got fed up with my hijinks and they threw me out of the school. (I later heard that I was the first of many; the principal got addicted to her newly discovered power and went on an expelling spree shortly afterwards. She kicked out like 10 kids in a year.)

 

The same stuff happened at the next school I went to. They knew I had gotten kicked out of my last school for “bad behavior”, so they interpreted everything I did as “bad behavior”. They knew I was smart, so they kept me around long enough to raise the school’s average on the No Child Left Behind tests. Then they kicked me out.

 

There are 2 big ideas that my childhood drilled into my subconscious. The first is that I need to understand people better. Subconsciously I feel like if I just learn how people think, I can make up for all my childhood disappointments.

 

That’s why I read 50-60 books every year, most of them about psychology or history or something that I hope will shed some light on how other people think. All so I can fit in a little better.

 

That’s also one of the big reasons why I got into marketing. It’s basically on-the-job psychology training.

 

My second big “psychological takeaway” is that I felt like the school system failed me. In fact, I think the school system fails everyone. They want you to fit in and be like everyone else instead of honing the differences that make you special.

 

That’s probably why I gravitated towards the coaching/online courses world. I want to help people learn something. Learning stuff is how we get better. The more stuff people learn, the better happier they get, and the happier people around them get.

 

Other copywriters make tons of money promoting supplements and survival gear and shady investment advice. I’d much rather sell something that improves people’s lives, even if it means making less money.

 

(And it DEFINITELY means making less money. Online coaching is a pretty small niche!)

 

So anyways. That’s my life story.

 

I don’t mean to sound like I’m telling you some sob story. I have a pretty awesome life, I have great friends, I can pay my bills just fine, and I wouldn’t want to trade places with anyone. (If anything, most people today are probably jealous of me.) But if you’re gonna be on my email list, I want you to understand where I’m coming from.

 

Writing this was really uncomfortable for me. I haven’t told my best friends some of this stuff.

 

I procrastinated it a lot. And it still feels weird sending it out. But I had to do it.

 

The writer Neil Strauss says that the secret to writing a great book is to tell people everything, even the stuff you want to keep private. (He once refused to ghostwrite Britney Spears’s autobiography because he didn’t feel she was being forthcoming enough.)

 

I was reading Confessions of a Persuasion Hitman by Ian Stanley the other day (if you don’t know him, Ian Stanley is super famous in the online marketing world). If you get on Ian Stanley’s email list, he’ll send you a super emotional email about the time his dog almost died. People reply to him all the time and tell him that they bought his courses because of that email.

 

If you can’t be vulnerable then you’re just another corporate robot. People will hire a corporate robot to do their taxes, or to defend them in court — but they definitely won’t hire a corporate robot to coach them. Coaching is too intimate to hire a corporate robot — you want to hire someone who you really connect with.

 

That’s why it’s so important to tell your “origin story”. You have to be vulnerable.

 

If you’re not telling your “origin story” already, then reach out to me. You can get an email like this one to put in your welcome sequence, so you can bond with your readers.

 

Think about the effect this email had on you. (You read all the way to the bottom, so I hope it had an effect on you.)

 

Send your readers an email like this one with your own story, and it could have the exact same effect on your readers.

 

Anyways. If you wanna take me up on this, you know where to find me — just hit “reply”.

 

-Theo

 

P.S. If you’re saying “But I don’t have an origin story”… that’s what I told myself, too. Your life stories probably seem boring to you by now, because you’ve already lived through them. But they’re super interesting to other people.

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