November 8, 2023

How to customize ChatGPT to your needs

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Working with AI right now is like working with a brand new coworker. They don’t get your processes or your way of thinking. You have to give them a lot of context, and even when you do, the results aren’t exactly right. 

You might think, “This isn’t worth it – I’ll just do it myself.” 

Don’t do it. Spend 30 minutes giving AI custom instructions for how to work with you, and you’ll be stunned at the difference. 

Most people’s experience with AI 

Today, I’ll be sharing how to personalize ChatGPT’s outputs using custom instructions. If you have 30 minutes today, start developing your custom instructions. It will make using AI more productive, efficient, and fun.

Want to join my upcoming workshop on AI for Personal Productivity? Use discount code SPEED for 20% off a workshop seat, or SPEED2X for 25% off membership. Check out now >

Note: This post assumes you are using ChatGPT for prompting, as other LLMs don’t have custom instruction capabilities yet. But it’s certainly not the only LLM we recommend – stay tuned for a future post on our favorites. 

I do expect other LLMs to release similar capabilities soon, but for now, hone these instructions in GPT so you’re ready when this rolls out on other platforms.  

How to find the custom instructions feature

On web:

Click on your name → Settings → Beta features → opt into Custom instructions. Custom instructions will appear in the menu when you click on your name going forward.

On iOS: 

Go to Settings → New Features → turn on Custom instructions. Custom instructions will appear in settings.

Your save-able guide to custom ChatGPT instructions

Step 1: Tell ChatGPT how to talk to you

You’ll save a lot of time and frustration by telling ChatGPT how to talk to you. Here are a few prompts that I’ve used, largely to cut down on the length of AI’s responses.

  • Please provide short responses and don’t repeat yourself.
  • Assume I know business terms (total addressable market, ARR, LTV, CAC) and don’t define them for me.
  • Don’t apologize or express regret.
  • Don’t thank me for feedback.
  • Don’t tell me that you’re AI.
  • Don’t confidently guess if you don’t know the answer. Simply say, “I don’t know” or “This is an approximation.” 
  • Cite your sources when you’re providing research. 

Step 2: Tell ChatGPT what you do

Give ChatGPT context on where you work and what you do, so that it can tailor its responses to your level, industry, and function. 

  • What’s your role? For example, “I’m a seasoned executive currently working as the CMO of a 200-person, late-stage startup.” 
  • What’s your background? For example, “I have 20 years of experience in marketing, so you can assume a strong familiarity with the entire marketing mix.”
  • What’s your specialization? For example, “I have a strong background in brand and content marketing, and need help thinking through large-scale partnerships and GTM plans for new products.”
  • What’s your category? “Our company specializes in B2C makeup products designed for people with sensitive skin.”
  • What’s your major business challenge? “Our business has reached $20M in revenue and we are currently trying to find new markets outside our target customer.” 
  • What’s your long-term business goal? “Our mission is to deliver high-quality, ethical, affordable makeup options to people with sensitive skin, who traditionally are only served by a small segment of expensive providers. We want to reach $100M in revenue by 2026.” 

Step 3: Tell ChatGPT how you think 

Your favorite coworker probably understands exactly how you think – and knows how to anticipate your next question. AI can do that too, but much more quickly. Even better? It can balance out your weaknesses or blind spots, as long as you share them. Here are a few prompts to start with.

  • Are you risk-tolerant or risk-averse? For example, “I’m risk-averse, so please push me to consider more outlandish or challenging ideas and back them up with lots of data.”
  • Are you more creative or more practical? For example, “I’m a creative mind so you will need to ground me in reality and point out the budget / revenue implications of big ideas.”
  • Are you a numbers person or a language person? For example, “I’m a numbers person, so ground your reasoning in data and calculations” OR “I’m a words person, so give a brief verbal explanation of your logic every time you give your opinion.” 
  • Is tone important to you? For example, “I respond best to a casual tone of voice, so please talk to me like you would a trusted friend or colleague.” 

Step 4: Put it all together


What to learn next

Download the framework to set up your AI workspace, including a template to help build your custom ChatGPT instructions

Join our AI for Personal Productivity workshop, using discount code SPEED for 20% off a workshop seat, or SPEED2X for 25% off membership.

Greg Shove
Taylor Malmsheimer, Head of Strategy