TCC Podcast #349: Living Your Values with Michelle Pollack - The Copywriter Club
TCC Podcast #349: Living Your Values with Michelle Pollack

On the 349th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast, Michelle Pollack joins the show to completely shatter your perception of the inner critic and how something as “simple” as values can truly change how you show up in your life and business. Michelle is an Executive and Leadership Coach who shares her expertise in how to give yourself permission to play bigger and live the life you desire.

Follow along to find out:

  • How Michelle was able to change the neural pathways in her brain.
  • What to do when the “is this all there is” feeling pops up and how to step out of it. 
  • The importance of values and how to define them for yourself. 
  • Can you have too many values and how to prioritize values for different seasons of life? 
  • Is there such a thing as balance? 
  • How to LIVE within your values once you’ve actually identified them despite life’s responsibilities. 
  • The #1 barrier to facing your own inner critic. 
  • 7 ways the inner critic could be showing up in your life.
  • How to create awareness around your inner critic.
  • The critical component of working through your inner critic.
  • What’s a “why” and how do you create one?
  • What does compassion got to do with your inner critic?
  • Why is messy action better than no action?
  • The reality of shifting into new identities. 
  • How are you supposed to sit in difficult emotions?
  • Leadership vs power: what’s the difference?
  • How to lead with your values. 

Tune into the episode by hitting play or reading the transcript below.


The people and stuff we mentioned on the  show:

The Copywriter Think Tank
Kira’s website
Rob’s website
Michelle’s website 
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Free month of Brain.FM
AI for Creative Entrepreneurs Podcast

Full Transcript:

Rob Marsh:  At some point in your business or life you’ve probably thought a bit about your values. What’s really important to you as a human, as a copywriter, maybe as a parent or a friend or a sibling, or any of the other roles that you fill in your life. What’s really important? Some of the stuff isn’t easy to figure out, it takes time and deep thinking, and that’s why we invited our guest for today’s episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast to join us, that’s Michelle Pollack, and Michelle is a leadership and mindset coach for executives. We asked her about figuring out our values, setting the right goals and dealing with the inner critic that won’t leave us alone, and her answers are directly applicable to your business and success.

Kira Hug:  But first, this episode is brought to you by the P7 Client Attraction Pipeline, which is our client acquisition system. And anytime we survey our community of lovely copywriters, we ask you what do you want? And you say, I need help finding clients, I need a prospecting system. So we put it together and we continue to improve and add to it so that it works for copywriters based on what’s happening in the marketplace today. And inside the Pipeline Prospecting System we have over 21 pitching templates, so there’s different styles you can use, different templates you can pull from based on what works for you. There are also different tools and pitch tracking templates that you can pull from so that you…

It’s really easy to start pitching tomorrow and you don’t have to reinvent everything from scratch. And there are also a ton of other templates and tools and resources inside the system that other copywriters have used to find new clients. So, we wanted to make it really easy for you to just get up and running and find those clients, especially during weird recession times like right now, where it feels a little tricky. And so if you are looking for something like that, you can learn more at

Okay, let’s kick off our episode with Michelle. How did you end up as an executive coach slash leadership coach slash mindset coach? How did you get here?

Michelle Pollack:  So I ended up where I am because I felt like crap about myself for a really long time. I thought I was going to be an actress. I went to school for acting, I was convinced I was going to be a star. In eighth grade I told everybody in my class that we were moving to Manhattan for my career. My mom got all sorts of phone calls from people, “Joanne, you’re moving to New York City?” She was like, “No.” I think I was testing out early iterations of manifestation, they didn’t work.

But that was it, I was tunnel visioned. And then I got to New York City. I mean, I did some performing after college in Chicago. I went to Northwestern, I did all the shows. And then I moved to New York and I did… I auditioned, I did some summer theater and I was on the track and I was at a callback for a national tour of Annie Get Your Gun, and I was cartwheeling across the room at the callback and I was like, “Oh my God, I don’t want to cartwheel across the stage eight shows a week, this is not how I want to spend my life, I don’t want to leave New York City to do that.”

So, I had this total crisis of identity. I had no idea what I did want to do, I just knew I didn’t want to do that anymore. So, I went and I worked, first I did some interning in film and then I went and got into theater, into the producing side of things. I worked for the producers of Rent and Avenue Q, I helped to put La bohème on Broadway with Baz Lerman, and Avenue Q on Broadway. And then I ended up moving out to LA and I got into TV and I worked on shows like The Unit and The New Adventures of Old Christine with Julia Louis Dreyfus, and I worked on Without a Trace.

I had this very glamorous looking life that people were like, oh my gosh, that’s so sexy. And I was like, “Oh my gosh, I’m so unhappy.” I was just like, I did not feel good inside. I was like, “I have all the boxes checked of all the things that I’m supposed to be doing with my life, and is this all there is? Because if it is, this isn’t what I feel like I signed up for.” So I just kind of started searching, I was on this constant quest to figure out what it was that was going to make me feel better about myself. I was surrounded by all these incredible people, I had friends that were on TV, I had friends that were on Broadway, I had friends that were crushing it as corporate lawyers, I had friends that were starting their own businesses.

And I just was like, “There must be something decent about me because all these people like me.” Can you imagine thinking that about yourself? I mean, there must be something decent about me. But that was genuinely how I felt. I was like, “Well, I’m really lucky, I’m surrounded by all these incredible people.” And I knew that that was a terrible way to think, I just didn’t know how to stop thinking that. And I also had this constant feeling of, there’s got to be something more than this. There’s got to be something more than this for me. And, I feel like I know deep down that I’m capable of way more than this, like there’s more for me out there.

So I just started, I went… I took an interior design class, I got certified as a yoga teacher, and this was all while I had a full-time job at CBS. And I just started exploring, and at a certain point I was like, “You know what? I can’t feel this way anymore. I need somebody to help me.” And I went and I started therapy. And through the work I did with my therapist, so I actually had some disordered eating issues, which she helped me to really overcome through mindset work, and I was able to… I mean, we all know it’s never about the food, it has nothing to do with the food. And it was very, very largely connected to the way I was feeling about myself and what I did and my kind of meh ness about life in general.

And she really helped me to change the way I thought about my body, about myself, about food, and it was all through shifting neural pathways in my brain. She taught me how to do that. And I was like, I had always thought, this is just the way I am. This is just the way I think. And all of a sudden it wasn’t just the way I was and it wasn’t just the way I thought. And so it started me on this journey of like, well, I want to know more about this. I want to understand this. And I would like everybody in the world to know that that’s not just the way you are and it’s not just the way you think. So I started just exploring more and more personal development work.

While I was at CBS, I kept getting this like, “You should be a life coach. You should be a life coach.” And I was like, “What the hell is a life coach? That is such a [censored 00:07:55] idea.” And then lo and behold, six or seven years later I decided I was going to become a life coach. I did more and more work and I loved what I was finding, and after taking some time off to be home with my kids and feeling ready to head back into work, I dipped my toe back in entertainment. And I was like, “This isn’t it. This is not it. I was right the first time around.” I wasn’t feeling the sense of what I now can identify as fulfillment, in my day-to-day life.

So I decided to look into coaching, the idea of coaching, and as soon as I set foot, well, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but after the first day of my first class I was like, “This is it. This is my thing. I’m in.” I signed up for the whole thing, I did the entire program and that’s it, I haven’t looked back. And really, there was this whole part of me in that time where I was exploring that had all these ideas about different things that I wanted to do that I thought I could do, and then I just would shut myself down, I never even tried.

I had like 30 million entrepreneurial ideas. I really wanted the freedom of my own career, my own business, but I just was convinced I couldn’t. And then through the process of initially therapy and then the work I did and then ultimately training to be a coach, I realized that that was just not true and how much I was in my own way and how often we as human beings get in our own way. It has been so gratifying to work with other people, to push that aside or learn to retrain the way they think about things and help them to achieve multitudes of different things.

Rob Marsh:  So I want to dive into this idea of the, is this all there is feeling. Because well, it’s very common. My guess is, almost everybody feels it at some point in time, we’ve probably got people listening that are feeling it right now. Do you have some advice, some first steps to start to take? If I’m feeling that right now or if they’re feeling that right now, how do we start to step ourselves out of that and find deeper meaning?

Michelle Pollack:  Such a great question.

Rob Marsh:  This is probably too big of a question to answer in a full hour, but I want you to do your best.

Michelle Pollack:  I can give you… We can start.

Rob Marsh:  Let’s do it.

Michelle Pollack:  I just mentioned that idea of what I ultimately identified as fulfillment, and I think that’s what’s usually lacking for people when they have that sense of, is this all there is? They haven’t been able to tap into what is really most important to them, and to me, that starts with identifying your values. So that’s a huge part of what I do in the work that I do, is discovering what your values are, where you’re actually living them in your life and where you’re not. And usually that chasm exists in the place where you’re not actually living into your values.

And so we start to explore there and we start to explore, if you start to look at, what would it look like if I actually was living my value of courage or my value of integrity or my value of adventure or my value of fun? I think a lot of people dismiss those values, and if you’re somebody that adventure is really important and you’re not acknowledging that in your life, you’re going to feel like, is this all there is? So it’s really doing some work to identify what your core values are and how you operate from those values in living your life. Look at that, not the whole hour.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah. Podcast over. We can end it right there.

Kira Hug:  And I also wonder if it’s as easy as just knowing in that moment. You said you took your first class, coaching class, and you just knew, is it because you had already identified your values prior to that?

Michelle Pollack:  No.

Kira Hug:  Or is it really just a gut feeling when you find the right thing and you just should keep looking until you have that feeling?

Michelle Pollack:  That’s such a good question, Kira. Here’s the thing that I’ll say, I think that for me there was… I think we all have a calling in our life, I do believe that everybody has a calling in their life of some sort, but it doesn’t mean that it has to be what you do for your work. So for me, it ended up being what I chose to do for my work and what I knew was going to bring me fulfillment on a consistent basis. But I think there are people who can just like what they do.

I’m not a big believer in going to work and being miserable. So it doesn’t have to be your passion and what you’re meant to do, but I don’t believe that anybody should be stuck doing something that absolutely makes them miserable. And you could be miserable because you hate the work, you could be miserable because you hate your boss, you could be miserable because you hate your co-workers, it could be any multiple multitudes of things. But for me, that feeling of this is my thing, I felt… You know that feeling when you feel totally and completely alive? That is an indication. And I didn’t know this at the time, but that is an indication that you are living inside of your values.

That feeling of, this is what life is about, is an indication that in that moment you’re living. So that’s one of the things I do with clients is we talk about a peak experience. Sometimes what I’ll do is talk about one big peak experience, but then for some people it’s how you feel on a sunny day on your porch with a glass of wine and a good book or at a dinner party with friends. It doesn’t have to be this momentous occasion in your life that indicates and points you towards the direction of what is fulfilling to you.

But I think for me in that moment, I had a sense I was feeling fulfilled in a way that I hadn’t felt in a really long time in entertainment. I had moments of it, I had like little bursts of it, but I also had a lot of moments of, what am I doing with my life? And it was more of what am I doing? And I’m not saying that we don’t have, everybody has those moments, even if you are in love with what you do. I’m not one of these people who believes that you should only be doing what you love a hundred percent of the time.

Any job you have is going to require some of the stuff that’s hard. For me, that’s marketing, it’s my Achilles heel. But if I want to do what I’m doing, and that’s why your values are so important because if I go back to what’s most important to me and I let that guide my actions, then I don’t get stopped by the thing that’s hard. I kind of went on a tangent. Sorry.

Rob Marsh:  Good tangent. Good tangent. So while we’re talking about values, again, I have the sense that most of us have an idea of what our values are. It’s like, oh, my family’s important to me, or maybe my religious background or spirituality or work. Do you have a process? Or can you maybe give us some examples of how we can dial that in really specifically and really say, okay, these five things are the five things that I’m living for and I want more of this.

Michelle Pollack:  I’ll tell you the exact process I take my clients through. We start with just what comes up for you when you hear… So we don’t start with just picking five, we start with a big long list of all the things that are important to you, all the things that you feel bring you fulfillment in your life. And I say fulfillment rather than happiness because as an example, someone’s value of family might be fulfilled by taking care of a dying parent, that’s not going to bring you happiness, but it is going to be fulfilling for you because that’s how you want to show up for your family in your life. Fulfillment can have happiness as a part of it, but I don’t think it’s… You’re not always just happy or joyful when you are feeling fulfilled in your life.

Rob Marsh:  I apologize for jumping in, but it feels to me like, along with fulfillment, then it’s almost avoiding what would be the negatives, right? Because if I don’t show up for my parents who I’ve got to take care of, I’m going to feel really bad about that, which is definitely not happiness, not fulfillment. So there’s kind of like that opposite thing there.

Michelle Pollack:  Yes. So a lot of times when I go through this exercise that I’m going to share with you, what we’ll find is, three of the five are going pretty well in someone’s life, they’re in that, they’re showing up for themselves and fulfilling that value in a very strong way, and two are real low and that’s what you’re speaking to. They’re, they’re not honoring that value in any way, and it’s really having an impact on them. So first I start by just asking, “When I say to you values…” Like you just said, it’s spirituality, family, those are two that come to mind for you, and people just talk about what that word means to them, what values means to them. Then I say, “Okay, besides food, shelter, clothes on your back and your health, what is imperative to you to live a fulfilling life? What is absolutely necessary?”

So for me, connection is one of them, connection is imperative for me. I’m not a person who can sit in a room by myself for weeks on end, I would lose my mind and I would be miserable. And so we go through that, we start to think about that. And these are not easy questions, this is a long process, usually this exercise takes a good 45 minutes to an hour when we first go through it. Then I’ll ask other questions like, I talked about peak experiences, so to think about a time in your life where you just felt completely lit up, you felt like this is what life is about. And, I like to ask for both a big experience, something that feels more major, and some smaller experiences, and get a mix of those and see… And so they start to point towards certain things that are important to you.

I just added a question because I just read a great book by Pooja Lakshmin, who is a therapist who wrote a book called Real Self-Care, and it’s brilliant. And she also values as a big tenant of hers, and we do all the same exercises except this one, so she says, “If you were going to have a dinner party and you had $200 to spend and it was for your birthday, a birthday party, not just a dinner party, and you had $200 to spend, what is going to be important to you about that party? And what is it going to look like? How are you going to do it? Does it matter? Is it about having a lot of people and doing it low key? Is it about… What is important to you?” And that also is indicative and points towards certain values. I loved that question, I thought it was such a good one.

Kira Hug:  It’s a great question.

Michelle Pollack:  So I’ve now added that to my… Thank you Pooja Lakshmin. So when I do it with clients, sometimes, a lot of times, there’s things that are hidden, words they don’t actually say that I pull out. And sometimes when people are struggling, I’ll say, “What’s important to you to instill in your children? What’s most important to you in your relationships with your partner or with your friends?” It just depends, some people just flow and some people struggle a little bit more. And then we go through that list and they pull out what they feel are the most important, the top five things that are just non-negotiables in their life, to help them discover. So I have them define each word because your definition of connection and my definition of connection are not one and the same necessarily, right? Your definition of integrity and mine.

Brene Brown has a great list of values, and that’s usually what I use to just take a look at to make sure if there’s a word that I’m having trouble identifying, I can find it on the list. There’s a whole bunch of lists of values out there. So if somebody wants to do this by themselves, they can just Google the list of values and they’ll be able to print it up. So I ask them to define their values, and then I ask them, how much on a scale of one to 10, do they feel they’re living that value in their life? And then I ask them to define what it looks like at a 10. If you’re living your life at a 10 in that value, what does it look like? And that value is being honored. It’s being honored by you, it’s being honored by those around you.

And that’s a big one, because it’s not imperative that everybody that we’re friends with or that we are in a relationship with, has the same values as us. But if we’re in a close relationship with somebody, it’s pretty important that they honor ours, which is where conflict comes into play and boundaries come into play and things like that. So we look at that and they talk about what it looks like at a 10, and then I ask them why they gave it the rating they gave it. So we get to see the gap between a 10 and where it is now, and we talk about what’s in the way and then that guides us towards what we’re going to be working on together.

Kira Hug:  What would you say to people like me, and of course we worked together already, but I was looking at my list of values and it’s grown over time. So you said ideally it’s five, I think I counted eight, I’m at eight values. But also it seems really hard to be able to embody and lean into eight values in a day or a week. And so it also kind of stresses me out, so what should I do?

Michelle Pollack:  So Kira, do you feel like, when you say your list has grown, do all of the things that started on that list still feel equally as important to you as the new ones that you’re adding?

Kira Hug:  Yes.

Michelle Pollack:  Because in different seasons of our lives, first of all, our values can shift. I have clients that I’ve worked with for several years and we always revisit it because sometimes it’s just, a value falls off or it’s just less important in that season of your life. Here’s the thing, you could have as many as you want that are important to you, but you have to be able to look… Sometimes the more you have, the more they might bump up against each other in making decisions. And I like to think of values as a great compass for helping you choose the direction that you’re going to go.

This whole idea of balance is just [censored 00:23:33] to me. Intentional living is really what I think people want to do and they’re calling it balance. So when you’re looking at trying to do that, you might have two values that bump, and then you just have to be able to say, okay, these two values bump, which one is going to be most important to me right now? You’re not going to always be able to honor eight values, most likely, sometimes you might. But when you come into a situation where they’re conflicting with each other, it’s about choosing which one you are going to be more committed to in that moment or that circumstance.

Rob Marsh:  I want to know what Kira’s eight values are, but I’m not going to ask her to share them here. Maybe when we do some commentary on this podcast or something like that.

Kira Hug:  I’ll share them later. I’ll share them later.

Rob Marsh:  I’m really curious. Okay, so now we’ve got the values, we’ve kind of locked in on our five-ish values, now we have to live them. And that starts to be the… I mean, you started talking about values bumping up against each other, but it’s not just against other values, it’s against what other people need from our time, what work requires us to do. So can you just share a little bit about, how do we actually implement them so that we are true to our values and not having that disconnect that brings us back to the, is this all there is? And I’m a total failure.

Michelle Pollack:  So I would tell you that before your values bump up against people wanting your time and work and all your priorities in your life, the first thing your values are probably going to bump up against when you look at what’s not working, is yourself.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, for sure.

Michelle Pollack:  It’s going to be your own internal chatter. It’s going to be that inner critic voice, the voice of self-doubt and sometimes imposter complex that it’s going to bump up against before it bumps up against external. Because usually, this is kind of true and kind of not. Often, part of what you’re bumping up against in the external world is a lack of boundaries, is a lack of being truly communicative and clear about what you need and want to thrive. And yeah, you might come into a work situation where you do end up being clear and communicative, and you are trying to honor your values, and they don’t care.

And then you have a choice to make. But at least you’ve been truest to yourself and your needs, and then you get to make a choice. I’m either choosing to stay in this job knowing full well that it’s not aligned with what I want and who I want to be in the world, but I am, I’m going to stay here for X, Y, and Z reasons for now, and I’m going to decide to do something about it down the line. Or, this isn’t going to work for me because now I know very clearly that this is not aligned with how I want to live my life and I’m going to create a plan to get out. But most of the time it’s getting to that place that’s actually the hard part, not that place itself.

Kira Hug:  So let’s talk about the inner critic and all the voices in our heads. What do those sound like? How can we identify those voices?

Michelle Pollack:  So that inner critic voice is really… It comes from our safety instinct, which is from like our cavemen days when we were either running from saber-tooth tigers or hunting for food and then worried that another group of people were going to take our food, it threw us into fight or flight. And we were literally… The safety instinct was there to keep us alive. And while we have evolved as human beings, our brains have not evolved at all. So we still have that caveman brain that throws us into fight or flight all the time, whenever our safety instinct kicks in and senses any sort of danger. And today, that danger could be failure, it could be that person’s going to be mad at me, it could be, what if I never get another job in my life? It could be, I don’t like how I look and people aren’t going to like me because I don’t like how I… Or whatever. There’s 50 million things I should do.

Those are all thoughts that are generated by our safety instinct and they are there to keep us safe. Unfortunately, they’re also there to hold us back, they all come out of a place of fear. So the inner critic could sound anything like, the really obvious one when you’re really nasty to yourself, judgmental, rude, anything you wouldn’t say to anybody that you care about, but you say to yourself, that’s inner critic. It can also look like binary thinking, like black and white thinking. It’s always this way, it’s never this way, that’s often that inner critic voice. What if? What if it doesn’t work? What if I never make money? What if, you know, the long list of what ifs? I’m not ready. This is a big one, especially for women, it often sends us back to school in times that we don’t actually need to go back to school. Women love to say things like, I’ll be ready after I get this degree. And so there’s a lot of, I’m not ready, I’m not good enough or I’m too much.

There’s also, I think I mentioned the voice of shoulds. Like, you should do this, you should be doing that, that’s an inner critic. There’s also that voice of reason that’s like, are you being practical? Is this really practical? And there is a way, it’s not like you just throw all that out the window, but there’s a difference between the inner critic voice and a curious voice of getting clear about what’s actually possible versus that’s never going to work.

So, if you wanted to write a book and you wanted to try and publish a book, your inner critic might say, you don’t have time, plus you’re not good enough, and how are you ever going to get an agent? And the discerning voice who’s like, okay, let’s see how this is possible, let’s see if there’s a way, what you might need to do in order to make this happen. So, it’s not like everything is just a yes, but there is a difference between just putting yourself down all the time or telling yourself you can’t and that curiosity around, let’s see if this is something that really might be a possibility for me in my life. And the answer sometimes might still be no. But you’ve at least explored and looked at all the different perspectives and looked at all the different angles and you’re not just going straight to, well, this is everything that’s going to go wrong, so don’t even bother to try.

Rob Marsh:  I think for me, sometimes the inner critic shows up as an inner slug. It’s more like, you’re so tired, Rob, go take a nap. Don’t worry, that’s going to take too much energy.

Michelle Pollack:  Totally.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah. So when that voice shows up, let’s talk a little bit about discipline, because to me, this is really where the rubber hits the road. Just because something’s in the calendar doesn’t mean that it’s going to get done. Just because I’ve decided it’s important to me doesn’t mean it’s going to get done. There’s this discipline muscle that we need to build over time, and it is maybe the hardest of all muscles to build when it comes right down to it. Can you maybe give us some ideas on how we fight against that inner slug?

Michelle Pollack:  This ties back to your values. So what’s most important to you? I mean, this is a big conversation.

Rob Marsh:  For sure.

Michelle Pollack:  I mean, I’m not sure… I don’t always know that I feel discipline is the answer, it’s more about discovering what’s in the way. If it’s really important to you, what’s getting in the way? There’s something more going on for you than just, I’m too tired, I don’t want to. I mean, we all do have a little bit of an inner brat, like that five year old that goes like, I don’t wanna. But, if I were coaching you, I would pull it apart with you, Rob. I would say to you, okay, well let’s look at this, are you really too tired? Because you might be, there might actually be a need for some rest here. Are you needing to create some space in your life? And, how important is this? Because if everything’s important, nothing’s important, right? So, how many things are you making important, and where does this fall on that scale of importance?

And if it is really important to you and that voice is coming up, then I would dive into that voice with you and find out. I would say to you, what’s it avoiding? What are you avoiding by not taking on that thing? Is there something you’re afraid of? It’s probably deeper, and what we’re looking at here is avoidance. And the truth is, most of us have several of these inner critics. I also refer to them as saboteurs because they sabotage you, right? So, there’s one usually that’s judgmental in some way. But then some people have a people pleaser. Some people have an avoider. Some people are perfectionists. Some people are super controlling. Some people are hypervigilant. Some people are hyper-rational. Some people are hyper-achievers. Some people are victims. And nobody is all of those things, don’t worry, you’re not all of them.

But we all have those things to tap into… And sometimes they’ll gang up, like the judgemental one will gang up with the people pleaser and the avoider, and they just like, they’ll pull you out of the thing that you want to be doing. And so it’s really about, this is a practice, really, the first step is starting to have awareness around that voice. And I do a whole exercise which I learned from Tara Mohr who wrote Playing Big, she’s phenomenal, and that book is phenomenal, about creating a character around your inner critic so that it starts to separate you, so you’re not hearing it as your voice so much, so that you start to see it from an outside perspective.

I just worked with someone who identified their inner critic as Trump. And it was a woman, and she was like, “Oh my God, it’s Trump.” And since that session, her inner critic is just taking a backseat. Because every time she hears it she hears it from Trump and she’s like, “Well, I don’t care what you have to say. You’re an idiot.” And not everybody has that much ease in disconnecting, but there is a humor that can come with identifying that inner critic as a character. And when you stop hearing it as your voice and identifying it as you directing yourself in a certain way, it allows you to take it more with a grain of salt.

Kira Hug:  All right. Let’s get into it. Rob, do you want to kick it off?

Rob Marsh:  Yes, I do want to kick it off. So a couple of things really jumped out at me, starting with our discussion around that feeling, is this all there is? And this is not something new. We’ve heard it from other people that we’ve interviewed on the podcast or people that we’ve talked to, and sometimes we’ve even felt it ourselves, where you get to this point where you feel like you should be successful. And Michelle talked about how she was at the top of her game, she was working with big names and stars and making good money, and yet not feeling the kind of fulfillment that you expect to feel when you get there.

And it just kind of begs the question, what is fulfillment? What does that even mean to us in our roles as copywriters, my role as a dad or a husband, those kinds of things? And it’s not the kind of question that we can answer in a 30-minute discussion even. It takes a lot of thought, a lot of work, which clearly Michelle’s explaining, is important to do.

Kira Hug:  Yeah, no. I mean, this whole process of figuring out your values and then recalibrating is, it can really be business changing. And if we’re thinking about business, it can be life-changing. It’s definitely helped open my eyes up to just figuring out why I might feel like, just frustrated or asking that same question, is this all there is? Because I haven’t paid attention to my values, I haven’t even articulated them in the past. I really didn’t articulate them until I started working with Michelle and she forced me to do it. But now that I know what my values are and I know how to use them as a tool to help with decision-making and to help with thinking about opportunities and problem-solving, it’s really just, it is a tool. And I love tools, this is a great one. It’s something that we can all pull from.

And yes, you can work with someone like Michelle, it really helps to have that accountability so she can call you out if you’re not doing it or if you get stuck, it helps to have that person. But you also don’t necessarily need to have that person if you want to get started today and sit down and rank your values and then also figure out, are you actually tapping into that value? And a scale of one to 10, how much are you living those values and keeping a close eye on that?

Rob Marsh:  As we were talking, you mentioned, and you mentioned again that you worked with Michelle to figure out your values. I’m curious if you’ll share some of those with me and our listeners. What are some of those values? Those baseline foundational things.

Kira Hug:  They’re probably not that surprising to anyone who knows me. So I have eight, which is also not surprising that I had a really hard time sticking with five. I would like to get it down to seven, that feels like a sweet spot. So I’ll run through them and I’d love to hear your thoughts, Rob, on these. Number one, and this is in no particular order, but fun, that’s important.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, it makes sense.

Kira Hug:  Yeah, it makes sense. Being seen-

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, I see that.

Kira Hug:  … and understood, as a human. That’s really important to me, if I am misunderstood I feel very frustrated. Truth, courage, authenticity, serenity, which is a fun one.

Rob Marsh:  I think you should cut that one out. Get down to seven right there.

Kira Hug:  I don’t need serenity. Growth. Rob, you probably don’t want me to cut that one out. And the last one is wealth, and you probably also don’t want me to cut that one out.

Rob Marsh:  As long as we’re partners, those last two are… They definitely affect how you and I work together, but-

Kira Hug:  You don’t care if I’m-

Rob Marsh:  … that’s a good list.

Kira Hug:  You don’t care if I’m fun as long as I am helping you grow the business and making you wealthy…

Rob Marsh:  No, fun’s good too, I just don’t need the serenity. But no, it’s actually interesting as you list those out though because, and this is maybe a different way of looking at values, I haven’t been through this exercise with Michelle but I’ve done it in time management seminars and those kinds of things where you’re saying your values are things like family, and it’s a different… Clearly, it’s not things, these are attributes that you’re talking about and they apply across all of the different things that you do, including business, family, whatever. However you show up in any role, it applies to all of them.

Kira Hug:  Yeah. Sometimes it’s easy to get confused with that because family of course, that’s number one to me. But, when you use it as a tool, it’s more like, okay, because family is important to me, can I pull in fun today? Can I tap into that and be a little bit more fun in the time I have with my kids today? Or, can I focus on growth activities where they’re growing and I’m growing together? So that could be going on a run, taking my daughter on a run with me could be a growth opportunity for both of us, and we can also have fun together. So I think it’s using it more as a way to navigate your way to those other values around family and relationships.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, I like that. For sure. So another thing that we talked about while we were discussing the values is this inner critic. And I’m guessing that even as you were developing your values the inner critic shows up and says, wait a second, that’s not important. Or, you forgot this kind of thing, or you can’t focus on that kind of thing. And I appreciated a lot of the stuff that Michelle said about this, how do you stop that voice? How do you set it aside? And whether it’s the inner slug, like I described it, or it shows up in some other way, I think, paying attention… Go back and listen to that part of the podcast and write these down because when that inner critic shows up and tells us this stuff isn’t important or that it doesn’t matter or that we can’t do it, I think it’s really critical to be able to turn off that voice or at least turn it down and ignore it for a while.

Kira Hug:  And it’s always with you. And so that inner critic is always riding with you, but the more you can recognize the voice and just say, oh, that is the inner critic telling me I can’t do that, it makes it easier to operate in the world. It’s also a really hard process, even when you understand how it works and that there is an inner critic, it’s still challenging to recognize that voice and separate it from yourself. So this is where again, it does help to have other people that can at least share that language with you, whether it’s a coach you work with or it’s talking about the inner critic with friends or family members, so you can start to use that language and kind of call it out when it shows up even with kids or friends. This is still something I really struggle with because my inner critic is loud, and sometimes if you don’t get a lot of sleep or you aren’t taking care of yourself, the inner critic gets stronger and more powerful, so it can get out of hand at times.

Rob Marsh:  For sure. I think another thing that goes along with this is, it’s one thing to identify as we were talking about, to know what those values are, it’s a whole other thing to live them. And so to know that you value something like fun, but then to wake up and think, how do I live that today? How do I make a day of calls fun or a day of something that I don’t necessarily want to be doing? My spouse has dragged me to this thing, or I’ve got to go to the kids’ school and I don’t want to, or I know… That’s, I think, where the rubber hits the road and it becomes really difficult to show up and practice your values in all the things that you do. You can’t do it unless you know them, but once you know them, that really becomes a challenge.

Kira Hug:  I mean, luckily I’m just naturally fun all the time, so it’s really easy for me.

Rob Marsh:  And serene and truthful and all of the things.

Kira Hug:  But it did help not too long ago. We’ve been launching a lot of new products, programs, and so I’d say it’s been a little bit more intense recently, and I did have a moment with Michelle where I was talking to her and I was just like, “Ah, I’m feeling overwhelmed, stressed at the moment. We’re in the middle of a launch, blah, blah, blah.” And it was actually our AI challenge and it was right at the beginning and she did a great job of asking questions, “Which value could you bring into it?” So for me it was like, could I bring more fun into it? How could I make this experience more fun so it doesn’t feel like it’s hard, it doesn’t feel like it’s work, it can just feel lighter? And it really did help with just a mindset shift. So if you can use that tool to change how you’re approaching a project, it can be a game changer. So again, it’s just a valuable tool that we can all use in business, in life.

Rob Marsh:  Let’s get back to our interview with Michelle, where she walks through how we can continue working through that voice that we hear from that inner critic.

Kira Hug:  Maybe you could work through an example, whether it’s a real example, an anonymous example, or a made-up example of, okay, once we recognize these voices, how do we work through it and get to the other side, on a regular basis?

Michelle Pollack:  So like I said, there are several different ways to work with this voice. I’ll tell you what they are not, they are not getting angry at it because if you get angry at it will never work. It’s not arguing with it, that will never work either. Do not try and have a fight with your inner critic. I mean, we all have, and we all know the inner critic always wins, right? Here’s the thing about all of this stuff, it’s all a mental practice, it’s a form of mental fitness. And just like if you go to the gym all the time and your biceps are great and then you stop going for two months, your biceps are going to start to atrophy a little bit. That’s the thing about this work, it’s never done. So, they’re exercises that you’re consistently doing and you’re never trying to perfect them. There’s no such thing as perfect in this.

The first step is truly the awareness around that voice and being able to catch it, and the easiest thing is just to go, ah, that’s my inner critic. You start to identify it as being outside of yourself, so instead of saying, I’m never going to get this done, you can go, oh, hold on, my inner critic says I’m never going to get this done. And let’s bring it back to values for a second. One way to deal with it is to say, okay, well what does my integrity value have to say about that? Because if I say I’m never going to get something done that’s out of integrity to never get it done, and my integrity is going to say, okay, well what do I need to do to be able to get this done in the way that I want to show up in the world?

So to me, your values in a way come back to your why, of how you want to exist in the world. And then to go even further to what do you want your legacy to be? What do you want to be remembered for? Do you want to be remembered for being the person who never got it done? I mean, that’s a very simplified example, but you get what I’m saying. Another way to work with your inner critic is to ask it what it’s scared of. Kind of like I mentioned to you with the slug Rob, and now I hope you always view your inner critic as a little slug inching along, because that’s a great image.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah. That’s who it is, that’s for sure.

Michelle Pollack:  To be able to identify with it. To me, might not be for you, to me, it definitely, if I thought of that, it would bring some humor to me. Like this little slug talking to me, don’t do it, Rob. But you can say, what are you afraid of? What are you nervous about? Why don’t you want me to do this? And it’s engaging in a dialogue with yourself about what’s behind that voice stopping you. And to be able to actually, I mean, another big tenet of the work that I do is compassion, self-compassion. And so to be able to bring some compassion into that conversation to understand why you’re nervous or afraid of something and be compassionate about it, allows you to find another perspective as well. There are a couple of somatic ways to deal with your inner critic that I really love.

One of my favorites is to say to a client is like, “Can you put that voice on the shelf in your closet for the rest of our session?” Or, “Can you throw it in a drawer?” I can’t remember who it was for the life of me, but there was someone I heard who once referred to their inner critic as [censored 00:47:50], and they just talked about turning the volume down on [censored 00:47:55]. So, you can think about actually turning the volume down. Liz Gilbert in Big Magic, she talks about her fear and she talks about putting… She knew she wasn’t getting rid of it, she knew it was going to have to come along for the ride, but it didn’t get to control the music, it didn’t get to say where they were going, it didn’t get to control the temperature of the car and it had to buckle into the backseat and just shut up.

It’s that image of, you can come to the party, but you can’t throw the party, you can’t tell me what food I’m eating and tell me what I’m drinking, how do you know that it’s there with you? And as I’m saying this, I’m like, well, shut up is not very compassionate to your fear, but you get the idea. How do I find a way to live with this part of me that exists and is really just there because at the end of the day, even if it’s unkind, it’s trying to keep me safe. And so the more and more you start to be able to identify that, and sometimes identifying it looks like three weeks later going, oh my God, this entire time I’ve been listening to my inner critic. But there’s a really big difference in having that realization three weeks later than living your life with that voice kind of running the show for 10 years.

So it’s just starting to slowly but surely recognize it and then find the way that works for you to work with it. And then, I have a whole slew of other tools that move us forward along the way once you start to identify it. I work with people’s like wiser self, what does your wiser self say? I tap into self-compassion, we do that. We talk about old stories that are running in your mind that are assumptions or that are not actual truths, but you are living like they are the actual truth, and we dig into all of that to help discover. And then I make you get into messy action. I mean that’s really the key, mindset work is great, but the thing that actually starts to give you confidence is doing the thing.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, that’s the hard part. So I’m curious, in your work as a coach as people are identifying their values and the things they want to accomplish, do you ever come to the point where… I guess, is it always self-discovery? You’re asking questions so that I can discover myself? Or would you say at some points, Rob, I know you just identified family and adventure as really important to you, but how are you going to do that if you don’t lose some weight or if you don’t stop drinking? Do you ever have to pull that stuff out, or is it always like, oh, I need to figure this out on my own?

Michelle Pollack:  Oh no, I definitely call my clients out. Yes, it’s a yes and. A lot of it is self-discovery, but I’m also there to read between the lines, hold up a mirror when you don’t want to look in it. And on the flip side of that, champion you when you’re not acknowledging all of the incredible things that you’re getting done. We have five positive thoughts to counteract every one negative thought, so we can have something great happen and then it washes away so fast and those tough things stick with us for so long.

So I’m also there to kind of say, hold on, let’s take a beat and look at how far you’ve come, it’s so easy to dismiss that. But yes, that’s part of the reason, so I have you look at your values and one of the questions I ask on my intake form with my clients is, is there something you don’t want me to know about you? And it’s so fascinating the answers I get, and most people really go there. And that helps me to know what they might not be telling me that might be getting in the way of them living the life they want to live. So someone once was like, well, if I wanted you to know, it wouldn’t be something that I didn’t want you to know.

Rob Marsh:  That’s how I would answer that question. Yeah, it seems…

Michelle Pollack:  It is really helpful. And I pull things out along the way, I ask the hard questions for people to have to say, like, well, what’s most important to you here, Rob? Is it drinking and hanging out? Or is it losing weight and whatever the…

Rob Marsh:  Sure, yeah,

Michelle Pollack:  I’m not saying you need to lose weight, you brought that up.

Rob Marsh:  I mean, I don’t even drink, so I mean, they may both be hypotheticals.

Michelle Pollack:  Okay, good.

Rob Marsh:  Maybe only one of them is a hypothetical, I don’t know. But yeah.

Michelle Pollack:  There you go. But it’s like, I’m not going to tell you that you have to do anything, but I am going to say to you, if you’re saying you want this and you’re not taking the actions to do it, what’s going on there? We got to get really clear about what’s up here.

Kira Hug:  All right. So when we go back to your story about your transformation and finding fulfillment, it was really a lot around identity shifts and showing up in the world as a producer to showing up in the world as a coach. And I feel like there’s so many identity shifts that we step into as business owners, especially today where we’re pivoting more and more frequently to keep up with changing times. I wonder if you have any advice to help us step into new identities?

Michelle Pollack:  Oh, I love that question because I think a big part of what kept me stuck for so long was holding onto the things that I said I was going to be and the things I said I was going to do without actually asking myself, what do I really want? Are these still the things that I want? And there was a story I had around, if I didn’t get to the place that I had in my mind I was supposed to get, then I was a failure, I was giving up. And I just don’t believe that’s true anymore in any sense. First of all, who determines that in the world? You can’t fail at something unless you still want it and you stop trying. So it’s discovering, I think it’s really important to make sure, especially when you feel like, is this all there is?

Am I barking up the right tree? Is this what I want for my life? Or is this what I said I wanted when I was 25 but now I’m 32 and things look different? And that speaks to changing values too, your values might have been one thing when you’re 30 and they’re another when you’re 45 and you have a family and you want different things for your life. So I think there’s this idea that if we had a dream and we say, I don’t really want this anymore, that we’re giving up. And I don’t think that’s true, I think if it’s not what you want anymore, then you’re moving on and you’re growing. To use Michelle Obama, “We’re constantly becoming.” Constantly. And I think we have to give ourselves the freedom to explore that and look for that, and discover what’s shifted and changed and who we are in that moment.

And if we’re not feeling aligned in our life, it usually has to do with us and some sort of limiting belief we’ve created, or story we’ve created around staying in the place we’re staying or having to fulfill a certain thing that it’s time to let go of, it’s time to say goodbye to. And let’s be clear, there can be grief in that, but you’re not a failure. There are two different things, there’s often grief in letting go of something that you thought you wanted and maybe you even did fulfill it, and you’re still letting go of it and moving on to something different, so that’s a whole other conversation. But there’s also joy in allowing yourself to move into this new phase of, what’s next? Did I answer your question?

Kira Hug:  Yeah. No, I’m thinking about all the identity shifts that I’ve experienced and the grief is an important part. I don’t know if I’ve properly grieved a lot of those identities I’ve shed along the way, so I might have to have a grieving party years later.

Michelle Pollack:  Totally. And grief looks different for everybody, and there are all sorts of different ways to let go of things. But I think one of the other things that we have been trained not to do is to leave space for that full range of emotions. So, that’s also a big part of what I work on, is learning how to be with emotions that are deemed difficult, and grief is one of them. We don’t want to feel that way. But when we resist those feelings they don’t go away, they just get pushed down and suppressed and they show up in some other way, whether it’s our health or in an emotional explosion of some sort.

So really learning to allow ourselves to look at our emotions, not to guide us necessarily in terms of action, but what are they telling us about ourselves? When I say not to guide us in terms of action, what I mean is not being super reactive in the world based on an emotion, but actually sitting with the emotion. Usually that reactivity comes from wanting to get rid of it. You want to put it out and put it onto somebody else, but at the end of the day, that doesn’t really feel good either. We often don’t feel good after we’ve had a reactive moment to something. So there’s that as well.

Rob Marsh:  So can we talk a minute about using goals to move from our values to accomplish whatever it is that we want to be? I heard a rumor that you feel about SMART goals the same way I feel about SMART goals, which is that they’re not smart at all. But I mean, what is the proper place for goals and how can we use them to move ourselves forward?

Michelle Pollack:  Okay. So that is true. I’m not a fan of SMART goals.

Rob Marsh:  I hate, I hate them.

Michelle Pollack: First of all, part of the reason I’m not a fan of SMART goals is because I think the idea of a reasonable goal is ineffective in terms of growing ourselves in the world. I believe in setting goals that feel really difficult and dare I say impossible, because the whole thing about goals to me is not necessarily about actually achieving the goal, it’s about who you become in the process of going after it. And I guarantee you, along that way, you will achieve plenty of goals. You will get to plenty of places. I don’t think it works. Then you focus completely on the doing, it leaves a lot of space for your inner critic to beat you up if you don’t achieve that goal, the whole failure conversation, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

So I instead feel really strongly about taking small incremental steps, you don’t have to know exactly where you want to be. The goal that you’ve set for yourself at the top of our time together might completely change along the course of the way, it’s never a straight line. It’s usually several steps forward and several steps back, and it’s bumpy and it’s windy. And we look at the goal, we do look along the way at how you want to achieve it, but it’s not hard and fast, it’s an interactive process along the way. I want to look at the big picture of what you want, and then we’re going to look at the small ways to get there and reassess it at every step.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, that makes sense. I mean, my objections to SMART goals specifically is that they feel small, they’re not significant oftentimes. Yeah, it’s measurable, it’s actionable or all that stuff, timely, whatever. It doesn’t seem to move the needle in the way that thinking about goals really should. I love the idea of impossible goals, we’ve talked about that on the podcast before as well. In fact, we like to challenge our Think Tank members to think about things like, okay, if you think that making 10k a month is really hard, what if it had to be 30k? And you’re like, what do you have to do differently in your business in order to do that? And I think when we start to think in different ways, it doesn’t just… It’s not just a goal. Like you said, maybe you never reach the goal, but it changes the way that we think about the way we’re approaching things. And I think it just opens up all kinds of possibilities versus, oh yeah, I can accomplish this, it’s measurable and I’ll get it done in three months and all of that.

Michelle Pollack:  Yeah, it’s about how you show up in the world. Who do you need to be in order to achieve the 30k rather than the 10k? It’s different. It’s a different mindset, it’s a different way of showing up, it’s a different way of operating your business. So when you go for that you expand so much more, and that’s really what I’m interested in with the people I work with.

Rob Marsh:  And I used financial as the goal, that’s probably a terrible example because really it should be like, well, what if I was the dad of the year? How would I show up for my kids if I were the dad of the year instead of hoping just to be the adequate dad that makes sure everybody gets to school on time. So there’s so many different ways to look at that.

Michelle Pollack:  Right.

Kira Hug:  I want to make sure we have time to talk about leadership because that’s a message. You are a leadership coach, and that’s something that attracted me to you early on. I feel like for me, leadership has been such a turnoff along the decades where I’ve seen so many examples of leaders I don’t look up to, admire. And so I was really put off by that for a long time and I was like, “I am not a leader.” More recently, I’m leaning back into it. So, I don’t even know my question is here, but how, if we do want to be a leader in our business, whether we’re a solopreneur or we have a team of five, how can we think about that term and approach it in a way that works for us?

Michelle Pollack:  So to me, leadership has nothing to do with your title. Leadership is 100%, and to go back to the goal conversation, about how you show up in the world. It’s funny, the way you were talking about leadership is the way I often have a conversation with women around power. The idea of power is such a turnoff to so many women because we’ve seen so many examples of abuse of power, and that’s what we’ve come to think of as power. And it’s the same thing with, I think that’s what you’re equating leadership with, an abuse of that. Or, there’s also a very patriarchal view of leadership and it’s been much more challenging for women to… Women often feel they have to show up in a certain way in order to be seen as a leader. And so I really, as you know, look at, what does it mean to you?

How do you want to show up as a leader? What is your definition of leadership in the world? What do you want to accomplish by being a leader? You can be a leader as a stay-at-home mom because God knows you’re affecting our world if you are leading with your children. So you don’t have to have some big job in order to view yourself as a leader. And what happens, how do you show up in the world when you start to see yourself as a leader? Or you start to think, I want to be a leader in the world, what are you going to shift from the way you are right now to the way you would need to be in order to view yourself that way? But it definitely starts with breaking down this idea that you have to be a CEO or you have to be like this big macher in order to be seen as a leader.

I think teachers are among our both worst and greatest leaders in the world, there’s so much opportunity there. Think about your greatest teachers that you ever had. It’s really about showing up in a way that feels authentic to you, leaning into, for women in particular, both their feminine and masculine energies as a leader. Women tend to shy away from certain ways of being that really lean into their feminine energy that are really imperative to our leadership in the world. And truly, I believe that when women fully embrace what they bring to leadership is when we will fully experience true equality in the world.

I’m not saying that’s easy, it’s really looking at the stories we’ve been fed about what it means to be a leader and examining, which of that does work? Because it’s not all bad by any stretch of the imagination, there are lots of incredible leaders that we’ve had as examples. But, what works for us and what doesn’t? I mean, to bring this very full circle, how do you lead with your values? What does it look like to come back to your values and lead from your values? And if you’re leading from your values and using your values as a compass in your leadership, you can’t go wrong.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah. I’m glad you said it that way too, Michelle, because I think a lot of us get hung up on titles as the source of power, which of course I mean, there is power associated with some titles for sure. But it feels to me like sometimes, we’ll see copywriters who, they’re the only person in their business and they want to own the title of CEO, whereas their clients are looking for somebody as a copywriter. They’re not saying, don’t show up as a leader, don’t show up as the CEO of your business, but they’re not looking for the title so much as they’re looking for the person who does the thing. I don’t want to minimize that, yes, titles are important, we should have more people with the titles that feel right. But power, the earned power, the power that you get through solving problems, is in a lot of ways, way, way more important than the power you get if somebody says, oh, well this is the person in charge, whatever.

Michelle Pollack:  And I would say to that person, what’s important to you about having the title of CEO? Why is that important to you? And I would dig into that because for many of us as entrepreneurs it is important for us to approach our businesses as CEOs, but being forward facing to the world, they don’t care if that’s our title or not, they want to know what we are bringing to the table for them, and that’s two different things.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, totally.

Michelle Pollack:  You get clear around, why is that title important to you? And then we dig there.

Kira Hug:  So Michelle, we want to know what’s next for you? What’s coming up? What are you excited about?

Michelle Pollack:  What’s next for me? That’s such a good question, geez. I’m just trying to get through my week these days. Lots of lacrosse tournaments. But also, I am actually starting to get into some speaking stuff, which is really exciting. So that’s been a new kind of place for me to explore. I really love working one-on-one with people, there’s never going to be anything that I love more than that, but it’s also hard to get your message out to one person at a time. So I’m starting to think about ways that I can expand my reach quite a bit so that I can get some of these thoughts to more people.

Kira Hug:  Well, if someone wants to work with you, what would be a good way they can work with you in the future?

Michelle Pollack:  There are several ways that you can work with me. One is one-on-one coaching, a longer term one-on-one coaching engagement. And I also have started doing VIP days, which I’m loving. They are largely centered… I just spent five hours on values with somebody, values and goal setting, and that allowed them to create a roadmap for what was next in their life. So that’s something that I’m doing a little bit more of now. If you don’t want to dive full speed into a full coaching engagement, but you know there’s some stuff that you’re interested in and you need some guidance to help you get clarity, we can do a VIP day.

I also have a group program that I do a couple times a year where I basically go through the basics of the tools that I teach. We do values, we do inner critic, we do inner wisdom, we do self-compassion, we talk about science experiments, which is a big part of how I work in the idea of letting things be messy. And that’s a six week program that I do a couple times a year with people.

That’s how people can work with me currently. And you can find me on Instagram at Michelle with two Ls-E, Pollack, also with two Ls and an A. And if you want to do some more deep dive into inner critic work, I have a free guide and you can hop to my website and that will help you take you through that whole process of getting clear about your inner critic so that you can really start to learn to work with it more effectively.

Rob Marsh:  It’s amazing. This has been a fantastic interview. You’ve shared a ton of… Given us lots of things to think about, ways to step into our values. So thank you, Michelle for all of that.

Michelle Pollack:  Thanks for having me, guys.

Kira Hug:  Thanks Michelle.

Michelle Pollack:  This was really fun.

Kira Hug:  That is the end of our interview with Michelle. But before we go, Rob, I’d love to hear what stood out to you from this part of the conversation.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah. Well, I haven’t gone through the exercise again, but if I were, I would say that one of my values is probably mastery. And so when we started talking about that mental practice, the exercising the mind muscle, really making sure that you’re consistent with this stuff, that appeals to me. And again, probably because that is inherently one of my values, is figuring things out, making them work for me and getting it to the point where it becomes natural. All of that stuff that’s involved with mastery, so something that jumped out at me there.

Kira Hug:  What would you say are one or two other values that you embody or are important to you right now?

Rob Marsh:  Yeah. One is probably discovery or exploration. I love new experiences, going to new places, trying new things. So that’s probably one. Yeah, there’s probably another one somewhere rooted around spirituality or faith, those kinds of things are important to me and show up in my life in a lot of different ways, so that’s probably another. Have to give it a little bit more thought than the time that we’ve had on the podcast though to come up with a full list of five.

Kira Hug:  Yeah, that’s really cool. And the fun part about all of this is that as your values change over time or even seasonally, I mean, they could change month to month, it shifts your identity too, and how you look at yourself and how you think of yourself and how you show up in the world, that can really change dramatically too. And so I can see where some values like faith, that may be one that you carry with you your entire life, but other ones like exploration, I’ve had different stages where exploration is really important to me and other stages where it feels less important than some of the other values. So I think the whole identity shifting part is really interesting to me.

Rob Marsh:  I mean, values aren’t situational, obviously they’re important to you across everything. But different life experiences and situations can definitely impact the ones, the values that mean most to us at certain points in time, for sure.

Kira Hug:  And I’m glad that Michelle mentioned the grief, I hadn’t really given that a lot of thought, although we’ve all lived through that. When you do grieve the letting go of something, and that could be an identity connected to a value, and that is just part of life but at times it feels it can drop some shame like you failed at something. But I love the process of just grieving those identities and letting it be okay to not just push forward without having a moment to be like, oh, that was really important to me, but it no longer serves me, and that’s okay.

Rob Marsh:  Yeah, I really like this idea of the audit of your goals or your values or the things that you think are important, from time to time. And it’s probably not a weekly thing, but every few months or maybe every year looking back and saying, that thing that I’ve always wanted to do, is that still really something that I want to do? Or is that something that I have been, for whatever reasons, somebody else gave me that goal, or I feel like I should do it because everybody else has been doing it, or somebody else that I respect has done it, and is it really the thing that I want to do?

And I mean, if we get serious about those kinds of questions, some people that ask them end up changing careers or they change some relationships, it can be pretty serious. But at the same time, there are lots of things too that we think, writing a book is an example, that goal that a lot of people have, there’s a reason that 80% of people want to write a book and only one or 2% of them do it. And it’s because that goal really isn’t serving them in a lot of ways. It’s something they want to do or they’re not prioritizing the goal to accomplish the things that they really want to in alignment with their values.

Kira Hug:  But then if you look at your values, if it’s authenticity and truth, speaking and sharing the truth, and courage, like mine, so it might line up, right? Writing a book might be a courageous act that allows you to be truthful and authentic and feel fully seen. So in that case, I feel like it does line up with my values, which makes me wonder why I have not still done it. But also, working on it, next week I have a meeting with my accountability buddy to get started on the book. So we don’t have to talk about it constantly without actually doing it, it’s happening.

Rob Marsh:  We’re going to see some action there, courage.

Kira Hug:  Courage, yes.

Rob Marsh:  So I also appreciate what Michelle was talking about in leadership, and this is a really big topic, we could talk about it for hours. But the idea that power doesn’t necessarily come from a title, it can come from so many other places, you earn power. Sometimes the most powerful person in a big organization is the person that’s running the CEOs schedule, that’s the person with the influence and the person that you need to get to know or to help, in order to get time with the CEO. And it’s less about titles, although we did talk about some titles are important and can say things about you, but it’s really more about showing up as a leader and taking, not necessarily control, but taking advantage of opportunities that we have to help people solve their problems, change their lives, do the things that they want to do in a way that serves them best. That is truly what leadership is.

Kira Hug:  Yeah, I’ve struggled with leadership for a very long time, for many reasons. We touched on some of them in the conversation, so I agree with you that we should tackle that topic. It’s much larger, but I just feel like it’s definitely something I’d love to tackle in another episode.

Rob Marsh:  Stay tuned for that episode at some point in the near future, yeah. We want to thank Michelle Pollack for giving us so much actual advice about living in alignment with our values so that we can figure that stuff out and actually live true to our true selves. If you want to connect with Michelle, head over to, or you can find her on Instagram and LinkedIn.

Kira Hug:  And that is the end of this episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast. The intro music was composed by copywriter and songwriter, Addison Rice. Outro was composed by copywriter and songwriter, David Muntner. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard, please leave a review. We will read it out loud, we’d be excited to read it out loud on the show. And be sure to check out our other amazing, fabulous podcast all about artificial intelligence and how copywriters and creatives are using it to lean into their values and creativity and grow in their careers and businesses. You can find that at Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.


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