Rebel Uprising Podcast

Scaling Empathy with Kira Hug


One question my clients are asking me right now is, “How should I be marketing my business in November?” Now, November is code for, “I think the election is going to be a shit-show and everyone's going to be distracted. So what should I do?” And you know what?
I am right there with you. I'm not exactly sure how I want to proceed in my own marketing when November comes, but here's my feedback and what I'm going to do:

Make a plan, but hold that plan loosely.

Don't be afraid to burn it to the ground based on what's happening in the world so that you can respond with compassion and empathy to your clients, your community — and most importantly, you should do what you need to do to take care of yourself. And also right now, make a plan to vote.

Empathy, compassion, even getting out of our online bubbles of information is exactly why I wanted to have a conversation with Kira Hug.

She has some unique and fascinating insights on why the words we use in our marketing and our copy matter and how business owners can actually get out of their bubbles and how that can influence them to do better work. And what I loved most about this conversation is we talk about scaling empathy so that we can live in a more compassionate world.

Kira is a personality-driven, conversion copywriter, the co-founder of the Copywriter Club and co-host of the Copywriter Club Podcast. She helps small business owners package their weird following her signature weird trifecta framework. And, really, this is the perfect conversation for election season, and I hope it will make it easier for you to navigate your business and your life, and that you can start to think about things differently.

Listen in or read through the transcript below:

Resources mentioned in this episode

The Copywriter Club
The Copywriter Club Podcast
KiraHug.com
How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan
Three Word Rebellion Service and Pricing Guide

One question my clients are asking me right now is, “How should I be marketing my business in November?” Now, November is code for, “I think the election is going to be a shit-show and everyone's going to be distracted. So what should I do?” And you know what? I am right there with you. I'm not exactly sure how I want to proceed in my own marketing when November comes, but here's my feedback and what I'm going to do:

Make a plan, but hold that plan loosely.


Don't be afraid to burn it to the ground based on what's happening in the world so that you can respond with compassion and empathy to your clients, your community -- and most importantly, you should do what you need to do to take care of yourself. And also right now, make a plan to vote.

Empathy, compassion, even getting out of our online bubbles of information is exactly why I wanted to have a conversation with Kira Hug.


She has some unique and fascinating insights on why the words we use in our marketing and our copy matter and how business owners can actually get out of their bubbles and how that can influence them to do better work. And what I loved most about this conversation is we talk about scaling empathy so that we can live in a more compassionate world.

And before you dive into the show, let me tell you a little bit about Kira. She is a personality-driven, conversion copywriter, the co-founder of the Copywriter Club and co-host of the Copywriter Club Podcast. She helps small business owners package their weird following her signature weird trifecta framework. And, really, this is the perfect conversation for election season, and I hope it will make it easier for you to navigate your business and your life, and that you can start to think about things differently. 

Now, I'll be hopping back on at the end of the show to give you some questions so you can reflect and figure out what you want to implement from Kira’s insights. Enjoy the show.  

Michelle: Hey, Kira. Welcome to the Rebel Rising Podcast. I'm so excited you're here. 

Kira: Hi, Michelle. I am so excited to be here! I'm so excited just to hang out with you because it's been far too long. 

MM: Oh my gosh. Yes. So everyone should know that Kira and I have known each other for ages. I think we met through Erika Lyremark, right?

KH: That's right. I worked on some copy with you. You helped me with a presentation in Vegas. That was huge for me. And so helpful. You saved me on that presentation. 

MM: Oh yeah. And you rocked that presentation. I remember that.

KH: I dressed up a bridezilla. I showed up in a dinosaur costume to this presentation. I don't think I would ever do that again, but it worked, it worked out well. 

MM: For those of you who don't know Kara Hug, she is known for her costumes. 

KH: I am upgrading the costumes in 2020, though.

MM: Oooh, next-level costumes -- I can't wait to hear more.

Kira,  so tell me -- what are you rebelling against? 


Kira: Oh my gosh. So many things. As a contrarian, what am I not rebelling against? I'm rebelling against copywriters showing up as freelancers and taking orders and minimizing the value they provide, or even saying things like, “Oh, I just, I just play with words. That's all I do.”

So really anyone, I mean, beyond copywriters (I work with copywriters), anyone who just diminishes their value that they provide for clients and the big problems that they're actually solving.

I'm also rebelling against bubbles. Basically just only associating with people who share the same viewpoints and values as you. So this has been something that's really important to me as I've built communities online because you know how easy it is just to find your bubble today and hang out with people who are too similar to you and don't share any differences you can talk about.

MM: So I have two follow- up questions based on that. Why is it important? (And I have my thoughts on this about people who are just saying, “Oh, I just play with words.”)

Why are words so important? 


KH: I cringe when I hear, “I just play with words,” because there's so much that goes behind the words that we choose, right? Words are important.

I always tell my kids that the words you use matter. It really is all the work that you do before you choose the words, it's all the research you do to figure out your audience, what messages resonate with them, and what they care about and what they don't care about.

And copywriters, we typically work for a couple of weeks just digging into the research before we even choose the right words. And a lot of it's also around big ideas too. Like how to think outside of the box, how to get really creative so you can grab attention and hold attention with the words.

So I feel like anytime I see someone just say, “Yeah, I'm just playing with words today, or “That's just all I do in my business,” I have to just stop and say, “No, you're doing so much more. And you're solving so many big problems that help businesses connect to the right people and find the right products.” So it's a lot more than just playing with words. 

MM: Yes. And I would also add, in graduate school, I learned about critical theory and that's all about how language creates our reality. So what words we use actually help create the reality we exist in. So the words that you're using to describe your business actually create the reality of your business. 

KH: Exactly. And even the title you choose for yourself and your business. It's really easy for us to call ourselves freelancers as you build an online business, but sometimes if you look at yourself as a freelancer, you also diminish the value you provide.

It may even affect the way you charge. You may just charge hourly as opposed to creating packages that are actually profitable or even building and getting some revenue share when you're working with clients.

So I think the way that you view yourself, the title you give yourself, the message that you create to describe what you do is more powerful than we give it credit for.

MM: Absolutely. And I never loved the word “freelancer” because  of the word “free” in it.

KH: Right! Yes. In the last year it has just made me cringe when I hear it. I'm like, “No, you're a business owner. You're a CEO. You're the creative director. You're a strategist.” There's so many other ways you can define what you're doing beyond being a freelancer. 

MM: Yes. It's that identity shift that puts that value behind your work and I could nerd out all day on how language creates our reality and why that matters. And that really informs the work that you and I do with people. What we call something matters.

KH: Exactly. But also, it's something that we move through very quickly when we're running our own businesses because we prioritize other things that pay the bills quickly. But a lot of the messaging feeds into the long-term growth and sustainability of your business and building that brand and connecting with the right people long term.

MM: So talking about connecting with people, I love this idea that we are all in our own little internet bubble because I see that so much and I have to always remind myself whether it's the online business world or the political world of Twitter that, yes, this is an internet bubble that I'm in.

So how do you break the bubble? How do you escape the bubble? 


KH: I mean, this is such a big question. It's so important. It's something that I'm thinking a lot about now because I've done this and I've cut out people or unfollowed people who I just disagreed with, and I'm trying to stop doing that so much.

Part of it is building a community, building a safe place where you can welcome in people from different viewpoints, different backgrounds, different cultures.

So with the Copywriter Club, my business partner and I have really built our Facebook group. It's grown to 10,000 copywriters and marketers. It helps when you have a business partner because it's not just your viewpoints. Now you have someone else to share that space, and with the two of us we're so different and we have really different backgrounds and viewpoints on just about everything. And we joke around about it all the time because you couldn't get more opposite than the two of us, but I think that's helped us realize that we don't want to pull in one specific type of person or one specific type of belief.

We are so different, like how many other people can we pull in around a shared value? We all share this love of copywriting and wanting to really grow copywriting-based businesses. So that joins us all together. And I think if you can find one core shared value or one objective that everybody can align with, then it gives you something that you can talk about and discuss and support each other in.

All the other differences can still be there, but they don't get in the way of what you all want to accomplish together. 

MM: So it's like you have that core, overarching mission, that value that you rally around down and, yes, maybe people do things differently and they have different backgrounds and different views and different perspectives, but yet at the end of the day, they're all bonded together and rowing in the same direction because they all want the same thing. 

KH: And also they see the value in it. Hey, I can actually benefit from understanding a little bit more about you and why you reacted a certain way or why you answered that question a certain way.

So I think  especially as marketers and people who are working in this messaging space -- if we can't figure this out and we're in charge of a ton of marketing around the world, then that’s a problem. So we as marketers need to be able to figure out how to have this level of empathy, otherwise, how can we expect other businesses and even other leaders to have that empathy, if we can't even do it as more sensitive people in this space?

MM: Exactly. And I think empathy is the key there. Like really trying to see things from other people's perspectives, even if you don't quite agree. 

KH: I just was thinking through how I'm rebelling against that too. I feel like our culture often associates weakness with being more sensitive and being more of an empath and sometimes being more of an introvert too.

A lot of copywriters, including myself, are highly sensitive. I've taken the test. I'm an empath. And I feel like sometimes people look at that and are like, “You're a weak human being. Toughen up. We're in business. Toughen up.” But as a copywriter, those are our superpowers.

So I think also in the marketing space and then beyond, just viewing people who are more sensitive and can really feel other people's emotions (sometimes too much where it just kills their energy), seeing the value in that and then helping other people, even if they're not naturally more sensitive or an empath, to still tap into that too. We can all learn how to be more empathetic.

I think as a culture, if we can change the way we look at that, that would be the first step. Then we can start moving toward that and helping more people live in a more empathetic way.

MM: And that's a great segue into my next question.

What change do you want to create in the world? 


Kira: Oh man. So many. Okay. So I have my personal ones and my business ones. I think on a business level, I want to help give copywriters a path so they can build a profitable business and make a good living, but also build platforms, organizations, and media companies that make a difference.

Again, going back to the freelancer term. I think we oftentimes start out thinking just like smaller about what we can do because we're just trying to hack it, but helping people see a lot bigger and, not just dream bigger, but see the path and figure it out beyond just what we do in our day to day to see that you can make a difference similar to what you're doing with your podcast and your community, but helping specifically writers do that because for so long writers have been told, at least in my generation, you can never really cut it as a writer unless you're writing novels and you're Stephen King. Other than that, you're just not going to make a good living. And that’s changed. And so I want to focus on continuing to change that.

MM: Oh, I love that. How about on the personal level? 

KH: I definitely want to create more change in the mental health space. This is something that I want to get more into in 2020.

There's so much research right now taking place around even exploration of psychedelics. A lot of research that will support people suffering from PTSD and depression with assisted therapy through psychedelics. And I just find it so intriguing because here's this drug that's been stigmatized and it's actually helping people and there's research to prove it, but in order to do that in a bigger way, so much will have to change, right, beyond just the research. Talk about messaging! Messaging work is needed in that space for the culture to accept that this might actually be something that can heal people.

So I think just, beyond psychedelics, the mental health space definitely pulls me in. I want to do more to help in that space because it's not news to anyone. That's where our country is definitely suffering. 

MM: Some are lacking resources and help. Didn't Michael Pollan just write a whole book about this too?

Kira: Yes, yes. His book is a great primer just on the type of work that's currently being done with psychedelics. I mean, Tim Ferriss is on it. He's donating -- I don't even know how much he's donated to Johns Hopkins and other organizations to support the cause. It's definitely something he's championing. It's fun to hear him talk about it too and see the difference he's making. 

MM: It's interesting. Like how if we, as business owners, are able to think bigger with our businesses, then we're able to give back to the causes that we really care about, you know? 

KH: Yes, and that’s a couple of steps ahead of where you are today, and then where you do want to be three years from now. I mean, it's not even five or ten years. It's “what can I do to support that cause and where do I need to go to get there as a copywriter” or as whatever you do. It doesn't matter what you're doing. You can find a way to plug into that cause that you care about without quitting your job and taking an unpaid internship.

The time we're taking now to pivot, to reinvent, to rebrand, I feel like it's every three to five years for online business owners today. So I'm always thinking about what's the next pivot? What's the pivot after that? Even though I know it will change.

MM: Yes, yes, yes, yes. And always thinking about the next thing. And how can I let the big changes that I care about in the world also fuel part of my business.

KH: Yeah. And part of it too is just looking ahead and seeing what you're interested in doing maybe even 10 years from now. How can you pull that into what you're doing today? And there's always a way -- you don't just have to blow everything up to pursue that.

For me, I love the idea of screenwriting. As a writer, that's a dream. I'm not going to just quit everything I today and do that. But how can I write more video scripts for my business today because I need video scripts all the time.

How can I pull that interest into my current business that I also love and make it work today? Not 10 years from now. 

MM: What would you tell people as far as advice or the first step that they can take to start seeing that bigger vision of their business?


Because I know for a lot of people who listen to this show, it's so easy just to get sucked into the day to day and “Oh, where's my next sale coming from the next client” or the next launch or whatever the next thing is. What’s the first step in thinking bigger?

KH: I think it could be a couple steps.

I mean, this is obvious, but what do you want your life and business to look like ten years from now? And then when you write it all down and you don't edit yourself, change the ten years to say three years instead.

So what I've found talking to other copywriters about goal setting is we just tend to really struggle with big goals. It's almost like you don't give yourself permission to set really big goals, unless you say ten years, because you just don't believe that it's possible in three years. So I think just doing the math so that your ten-year goals become your three-year goals is tep one.

And then step two, as far as the reinvention part, is just following those little voices and the siren song that pulls you in different directions when you're in a bookstore or even on the internet and not editing those interests.

For me and psychedelics, like it's so random, but I just kept reading more and more about it after reading Michael Pollan's book, so I'm not dropping it and saying that it’s silly. I'm just following it and seeing where it goes. I just love going into a bookstore and following my interest to see what books I end up with in my shopping cart that are not business related, are not marketing related, are just out there and I don't judge myself for it.

I think part of it is just allowing yourself to disconnect from that marketing/business space and just following the other rabbit holes that you're interested in. 

MM: That's another interesting way to break the bubble. Talk about coming full circle. That's another way that we can break the bubble and get out of our little internet bubble. Because if all we're ever reading is like those business and marketing books...

KH: That is so true. It's just be a curious person. Which seems obvious, but sometimes it's hard when you're just hustling hard and focused on the business, but have other interests that connect you to other people that you might not have been connected to otherwise that might be opposite of you. I think that's where communities are just so important. 

MM: This is my last question for you:

If we followed our intuition, if we broke the bubble, if we started dreaming a bit bigger for our businesses, what do you think the world would be like? 


Kira: Oh, that would be fabulous. There'd be more empathy in our leadership, less divisiveness, more supportive people who are suffering, less violence, happier, healthier people. The list goes on. Everything will be fantastic once you follow the message. Clearly, I drank the Kool Aid on the message.

MM: I think it's good. Because at the end of the day, we are the champion of our message. We have to be the believer at first, otherwise nobody else is gonna believe in it. 

KH: That’s true. I am a believer. The world would be a better place in the near future. 

MM: We'd all be more well-resourced and more well-equipped to have the empathy, to have the different conversations. 

KH: Yes, more empathy for everyone, for sure. I feel like it starts online. A lot of the problems actually arise from being online and being anonymous and trolls and that culture that we've created, and it can sometimes be so negative, but I think we can also solve a lot of the problems today online because you can scale.

You can scale empathy and scale compassion in a much larger way than you can in person. So maybe we can treat some of the problems online by using the online space to actually solve those problems. 

MM: I'm like, “How do we do that?” But that's probably a conversation for another time. How do we scale empathy and compassion?

KH: That’s a big goal is to figure out how to scale empathy. I'm writing that one down. 

MM: I love it. I love it. So, Kira, tell everyone where they can find you online. 

KH: Okay. You can find me online at thecopywriterclub.com, especially if you're a marketer, hang out with the copywriters there. It's a great place to meet other copywriters and marketers.

And then if you just want to check out my personal site at kirahug.com, that's where I work on copywriting and branding projects. 

MM: All right. Thank you so much for being on the podcast and we'll have you back on when you figure out how to scale empathy, or maybe we can have another conversation on how do we scale empathy and compassion in 2020, especially heading into an election year. I feel like we're going to need it. 

KH: Thank you, Michelle. This is really fun. Thank you for posing these questions. It’s really helpful for me to sort through. Thank you.


Now I'll admit, I always love talking to a fellow word nerd. And so I appreciate Kira’s insights on why words matter. And I loved having that conversation about breaking out of our internet bubble and scaling empathy.

So here are a few questions to reflect on and see if you want to change anything in your business based on this conversation. 


The first question I have is about words. How are you using your words? What pictures are you painting with your words? What reality are you building with them? And now, once you see the audit of the words you're choosing to use in your copy and in your messaging, is there anything you would change about your message or your word choice? 

Second question. Who's in your internet bubble? Who are the people that you are constantly seeing in your news feeds and how is this reinforcing your beliefs? Or reinforcing your own confirmation bias? And what could you do to break out of that bubble to get new information and insights to create from?

And then the final reflection question I have for you is how can you use empathy in your business to relate more to your clients and your community’s situation? These are some big juicy questions to sink your teeth into, and I hope they help you see how you're using your words and creating more empathy and how that can create a more resonant message for your business. 

And speaking of creating a message that resonates, if you struggle with what to say, how to say it, so that you're connecting with the right people and attracting the right clients to your business, I'd love to help you find the right words for your business.

I only have six one-on-one spots available to work with me for the rest of 2020 and that would be in my Three Word Rebellion Messaging Intensive. So if you're ready to package up your big ideas, skills, expertise, and your vision into a one-of-a-kind message that attracts the right people to your business, grows your audience, and helps you make more money while making more impact, I'd love to help create that messaging with you.

The first step is to go grab the Three Word Rebellion Service and Pricing Guide at drmichellemazur.com/guide. I'd love to help you find the words that matter to your audience and your clients.

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