Rebel Uprising Podcast

Are You Communicating or Playing the Game of Communication?


Let me ask you a question.

Did you start your business to accumulate shares, likes, views, comments, email subscribers, and traffic?

I don’t know your life, but I’m guessing that if you’re listening to this podcast, you did not start your business for any of those reasons.

I started my business because I truly believe that communication can change the world. I knew that if I could help business owners communicate what it is they do and why it freaking matters, then more people who are doing the best work would be known, seen, valued, and hired for that work.

So how did our goals and missions for our businesses get co-opted and transformed into all of those metrics?

The reason lies beneath this question: Are you communicating or are you playing the game of communication?

In This Episode:

  • What social media and the Legend of Zelda have in common
  • How the game of communication erodes your message and makes it harder to actually connect
  • Three questions to get clear on your real goals for communication
  • Why real messaging and communication have long-term dynamic value

Learn more about Michelle Mazur:



Listen on your favorite podcast player or read the Transcript below:


Dr. Michelle Mazur (00:00): Let me ask you this, did you start your business to accumulate shares, likes, views, comments, email subscribers and traffic? Well, I don't know your story. If you're listening to this podcast, I can probably guess that you most certainly did not start your business for any of those reasons. I started my business because I believe that communication can change the world. I knew if I could help business owners communicate what it is they do and why it freaking matters, then more people who are doing the best work would be known, seen, and valued and hired for that work.

Dr. Michelle Mazur (00:48): So how did it happen that our goals and our missions for our businesses got co-opted and transformed into all of those metrics? The reason lies beneath the question, are you communicating or playing the game of communication? Which is exactly what we are diving into today and for the next three episodes. So let's do this.

Dr. Michelle Mazur (01:29): You're listening to the Rebel Uprising podcast. This podcast is dedicated to helping passionate business owners become recognized leaders who make more money and impact the world by turning their messy, complicated ideas into thriving thought leadership businesses. I'm your host, Dr. Michelle Mazur, and I'll be your no BS guide in the art of building a business that gets noticed. Each week, I share strategies, tools and insights on how to turn your complicated ideas into great messaging and solid business structures. Are you ready to create an uprising in your industry? Let's do this.

Dr. Michelle Mazur (02:10): Growing up, I had a Nintendo entertainment system, and The Legend of Zelda was my jam. The main goal of the game is to gather all eight pieces of the Triforce, defeat Ganon, and save Zelda. Along the way, you were able to upgrade your sword, find gems and be rewarded when you completed each level. The goal of the game was clear, my role as Link was clear, the point system to let you know how you were doing was clear and the way the world worked was clear. Heck, even the obstacles you had to overcome you clearly knew what you were up against. Wouldn't it be lovely if communicating and marketing our business was as clear as these games? But it's not. Communication is messy. Marketing and knowing if your marketing your copy is working is messy because when your business communicates, the goal is pretty simple, to create shared meaning. That means you create a message that a recipient then receives, understands, and hopefully is persuaded by.

Dr. Michelle Mazur (03:34): Now, that sounds super easy, right? Super easy to do. But it's not. Because when you think about all the thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, experiences and distractions that happen when you are trying to communicate with another human being, all of a sudden the goal of being understood, creating meaning and persuading someone is a pretty tall order. However, social media, email marketing and even online business itself has been gamified into clear goals, into simple point systems. That game has really jacked with what we value and what our goals are for our business.

Dr. Michelle Mazur (04:24): C. Thi Nguyen, in his article, How Twitter Gamifies Communication, argues Twitter gamifies communication by offering immediate, vivid and quantified evaluations of one's conversational success. Twitter offers us points for discourse. It scores our communication. And these game like features are responsible for much of Twitter's psychological [inaudible 00:04:51].

Dr. Michelle Mazur (04:51): Now, you can swap Twitter for any social media platform or email marketing platform, or even what celebrity entrepreneurs say about success, because with each of those platforms there are these vivid, easily quantified goals, whether it's likes or shares or open rates or opt-ins.

Dr. Michelle Mazur (05:16): Nguyen goes on to argue that our goals and our motivations for why we communicate essentially get warped by the gamification of these platforms. So instead of showing up with a message that is authentic to who you are, the mission you're on, your values, your beliefs, whatever the goal is your business set out to do, you show up with a message that looks to achieve likes, shares, comments, or goes viral. That sacrifices a message that can actually resonate and lead people to your work and achieve the very real business goals. And I'm not just talking about money, but I mean your mission behind why you do what you do. All of that, your mission, the goals for why you created your business, what you want your business to do for your life, how you talk about your business, all of that is complex and nuanced. It can't be measured in retweets or likes.

Dr. Michelle Mazur (06:32): And next time we're going to go into how platforms keep score and the mind fuck that is versus how we can keep score to keep our motivation high while still measuring the right goals that we want to go after.

Dr. Michelle Mazur (06:53): But I want to talk about the implications of what playing the game of communication means for your messaging and marketing. So the first big implication is that it actually erodes our message. It erodes our ability to be able to connect to a human being who needs the work that we do. When we're playing the game, it ends up watering down our messages because most of us have something that is complex and nuanced that we're doing and it kind of dumbs it down, because we want to score the points versus wanting to reach the people who need us.

Dr. Michelle Mazur (07:41): The other day I was on a happy hour call for the It Should Have Been Me community project, and one person mentioned that she doesn't feel like she can show up as herself and share what she actually believes about her business because the social media ecosystem won't reward her. That's a real shame and that is playing the game, right? Because when we are communicating with that goal to persuade, to inform people for understanding, it is about showing up with that message and knowing that the right people will hear it and also probably showing up in different ways.

Dr. Michelle Mazur (08:26): The second implication of this is that it makes us sound like everyone else, people. Because what happens when we're playing the game? We look at people who are winning the game. We look at the people with the big platforms and try to game out what they are doing. So that means that all of the messaging can sound the same. All the program promises sound the same. Even social media posts can sound exactly alike because we're playing to win the game. So people are afraid to let their freak flag fly or to take a stand because they might not win the Twitter game or the Instagram game. That's a shame because it is not letting us differentiate our work. It's not clearly communicating who this work is for and what we believe.

Dr. Michelle Mazur (09:23): And all of those swipe files for emails and social media, those are the tools of the game. It makes it easy for us to basically mad lib our message and what we want to say so that we can meet the goals of the platform, so that we can go viral or be popular or do a quick money grab. And those things work, but at what cost? What long term cost for your business? And building relationships with the people who can collaborate with you on your work, the people who need your work.

Dr. Michelle Mazur (10:06): If you are listening to this podcast and realizing that, "Hey, you know what? I'm not having the sales that I want to have. My business isn't generating the revenue it should be generating." Then it might be time for you to work on your message and figure out that comprehensive strategy for how to build that argument for your work and turn people who don't know you at all into people who are ready and willing to sign up to work with you. This is exactly the work we do in The 3 Word Rebellion messaging intensive. So if you're digging this episode and you're thinking, "Yes, this is my next step or it could be my next step," then I encourage you to go to That's, and apply for a free consultation call. That way you and I can discuss if messaging is the right move for your business. Now back to the show.

Dr. Michelle Mazur (11:24): The platforms created the game. They have set the rules, the point system, the obstacles, all of it. And celebrity entrepreneurs have had a huge hand in creating the online business scheme where success looks like how many figures you make, because when you're making eight figures then you are successful. That is a vivid goal we can go after. We can post about our $80,000 month on social media or a million dollar month on social media, and then that post has the opportunity to go viral. But what I want you to ask yourself, knowing all of this and thinking about are you playing the game of communication or are you actually communicating to create meaning, ask yourself, number one, what is the goal of your business? Not the money goal, although I'm glad you have that because we should all have a money goal. I'm not saying those metrics don't have a role at all but I really want you to focus on the meaning goal. Why did you start this business that you started? What is its purpose in your life, in the life of others? Because that is the goal we should be communicating, that we should be messaging and marketing around.

Dr. Michelle Mazur (12:45): Then the second question to ask yourself is, how does that goal differ than the game being played on the platform or the game being created by the celebrity entrepreneurs? Because the platform, a platform like Twitter, yeah, the goal is to go viral, but that might not be the goal of your business. It totally might be the goal of your business, I'm not judging you, but there's probably something else that's deeper, more meaningful.

Dr. Michelle Mazur (13:15): And the third question is, what's the intention behind how you've been talking about your business? Whether that's marketing on social media or email marketing or the content you're producing, what was your intention behind creating that content, having that conversation? Was the intention behind your last social media post to share meaning and lead people to your work and hopefully persuade them? Or was it to get engagement, to get the followers, get the likes, to get the shares? Get very clear on what's your intention when you're communicating in your marketing.

Dr. Michelle Mazur (14:02): Here's the deal, we can do both things. We don't have to give up our goals and our values to play the game, but we can't let the platform or what the celebrity entrepreneurs are doing erode our own goals, our mission and our message. I'll be talking more about that in episodes two and three of this series. But I wanted to finish with this, my approach to messaging and communication, both when I am marketing my own business but also when I'm working with clients and thinking about their message that they want to be known for, that they want to share with the world.

Dr. Michelle Mazur (14:48): The first part of this is that I am very aware of the game. I understand the rules and how the points are assigned. And when I'm working with someone, it's easy to hold those things lightly. They're in the background for how can we use the game to actually reach people and achieve the goal they want to achieve? For myself, it's sometimes much harder. I can get very obsessive about metrics that don't actually tell me what's going on or if I'm getting closer to my goals or not. So I'm aware of the game and how the points are assigned and how that can impact how the message that my people are creating and I'm creating, but my goal is to hold those lightly.

Dr. Michelle Mazur (15:33): Number two, I'm more concerned with creating a message that sounds like you, that says what you want to say than giving you swipe files and templates that would allow you to win the game of social media but not actually get you any closer to your goals. This is why when I work with someone, and even when I'm doing my own messaging, I'm a huge believer in free writing or even just talking it out on Otter and letting it be messy because here's the deal, that is my client's voice. It is their words. It is their brilliance. And what I am there to do is dig that out and give it a little bit of structure so that they understand how to use that message in marketing sales, PR, whatever it is they want to do so that they're reaching the goal of persuasion and creating shared meaning.

Dr. Michelle Mazur (16:33): And finally, I believe, with my message, when I work with people on their message, that messaging is about durable, long term value. So my work and your message is not about the cash grab, the superficial swipes, the templates that dumb down your brilliance or are focused on upping your TikTok follower count. That is not the goal. My goal is for you to build relationships to help you make the best case, the best argument for your work and understand how you can apply that in your marketing sales and copy.

Dr. Michelle Mazur (17:16): And finally, my approach, it is dynamic. So we create this base message, and I have a base message for myself that I've been using for years, but what I've realized is the more I interact with the message, the more my clients interact with the message better and more effective it gets, because we learn, we practice, we embody it and then it becomes second nature. So it has this dynamic value that it just keeps getting better and better the more you interact with it. And the downside of that is some of my people have created their message, tried it for a couple of months and then abandoned it before it even had a chance to take flight, to have that dynamic value of growing. Messaging is this long term strategy. It is not easily measurable with the current metrics that we have available, but there are ways to look for points over time, which is what I'll be talking about in the next episode.

Dr. Michelle Mazur (18:26): So let me leave you with this final thought, be clear on what you're doing and what your goals are for these platforms. It's fine to play the game. And if you're playing the game to amass a huge following, cool. That's what social media was invented for. And the quickest way to grow an Instagram account is to create a meme account. Share memes, make people laugh because that goal is virality, but that's probably not the goal of your business. It's something else, something that is more complex and nuanced and meaningful. So be aware of the intention behind your communication so you're actually communicating for meaning and because it's what you believe instead of just communicating for the points.

Dr. Michelle Mazur (19:20): Thank you for listening all the way to the end of the show. Your support means the world to me. Did you know the Rebel Uprising podcast has a quiz that can help you pinpoint the number one way to build an audience of super fans while staying true to your unique personality? We do, and it's called What's Your Rebel Roadmap to Exponential Impact and Influence? You can take it at If you are loving the podcast, do us a favor, rate and leave us a quick five-star review wherever you listen to your podcasts. It helps more people like you find the show. Until next week, remember your ideas matter. And now get back out there and cause an uprising in your industry. You got this.

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