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20 min read

How Solopreneurs Can Foster Human Connection in the Age of AI

Human Connection in the Age of AI


Watch the Episode on YouTube

Do you feel like technology is advancing at warp speed, while human connection struggles to keep pace?

For our solo businesses, there’s such a fine line between technological progress, like AI, and the timeless need for genuine human connection, which is so important to reach your audience!

So, how do we bridge the gap?

Well, today we’re joined by Marisa Shadrick who coaches people on finding their voice in this noisy digital world. She recognizes that being heard in a crowded space is more than volume; it's about communicating with clarity, purpose, and authenticity.

We invited her on to discuss topics like:

  1. Advice for bridging the gap between technological advancements and human connection

  2. The science behind how human behavior exposes potential AI pitfalls…and what those are

  3. Examples of successful initiatives or technologies that have effectively fostered human connection in the age of AI

  4. AI aside, the tactics that individuals can employ to genuinely connect authentically with their audience 

Plus so much more!

Like the show? We'd love it if you'd leave a 5-star review!

Connect with Marisa Shadrick

Favorite Quotes About Success:

"Success is not a destination and it is not your identity. Success is the courageous decisions you make every day to get to a destination. Every day you can be successful" - Marisa Shadrick

"It's not about you." - Rick Warren

Being a solopreneur is awesome but it’s not easy. It's hard to get noticed. Most business advice is for bigger companies, and you're all alone...until now. LifeStarr's SoloSuite Starter gives you free education, community, and tools to build a thriving one-person business. 

So, if you are lacking direction, having a hard time generating leads, or are having trouble keeping up with everything you have to do, or even just lonely running a company of one, click here to check out SoloSuite Starter!


About Marisa Shadrick

Marisa is a published writer with articles featured in national and international publications. She’s the former acquisition editor for Faith’ n
Fitness Magazine and former cohost for BizTalk on KQMS Radio in Northern CA.

In 2015, Marisa was one of 32,000+ contestants from 126 countries competing in an international speech competition and became Toastmasters’ 1st Place Champion for District 33, positioning her as one of the world’s top 100 speakers.

Marisa is a Ray Edwards Certified Copywriter and “You Are the Brand” expert. She’s the founder of Amplify Your Authority and the host of the “Resilient Faith Online” podcast.

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on Apple Podcasts Thanks!

Full Episode Transcript

Carly Ries (00:00):

Do you feel like technology is advancing at warp speed while human connection struggles to keep pace. For our solo businesses, there's such a fine line between technological progress like AI and the timeless need for genuine human connection, which is so incredibly important to reach your audience. So how do we bridge the gap? Well, today we're joined by Marisa Shadrick, who coaches people on finding their voice in this noisy digital world. She recognizes that being heard in a crowded space is more than just volume. It's about communicating with clarity, purpose, and authenticity. We invited her on to discuss topics like, well, you guessed it. Advice for bridging the gap between technological advancements and human connection, the science between how human behavior exposes potential AI pitfalls. And we actually go into what those are. We discuss examples of successful initiatives or technologies that have effectively fostered human connection in this crazy age of AI.


Then we also talk about AI aside, the tactics that individuals can employ to genuinely connect authentically with their audience. We discuss this plus so much more.

Intro (01:09):

You're listening to the Aspiring Solopreneur, the podcast for those taking the bold step or even just thinking about taking that step into the world of solo entrepreneurship. My name is Carly Ries and my co-host, Joe Rando and I are your guides to navigating this crazy but awesome journey as a company of one. We take pride in being part of Lifestarr, a digital hub dedicated to all aspects of solopreneurship that has empowered and educated countless solopreneurs looking to build a business that resonates with their life's ambitions. We help people work to live, not live to work. And if you're looking for get rich quick scheme, this is not the show for you. So if you're eager to gain valuable insights from industry experts on running a business the right way the first time around, or want to learn from the missteps of solopreneurs who've paved the way before you, then stick around. We've got your back because flying solo in business doesn't mean you're alone.

Carly Ries (02:03):

So, before we jump into this episode, I just have to share this new free offer we have called the SoloSuite Starter. Being a solopreneur is awesome, but it's not easy. It's hard to get noticed, and most business advice is for bigger companies and you're all alone until now. Lifestarr SoloSuite gives you free education, community and tools to be a thriving one person business. So if you're lacking direction, having a hard time generating leads, having trouble keeping up with everything you have to do, or even if you're just lonely running a company of one, be sure to check out SoloSuite Starter at and click on products and pricing at the top menu. It's the first one in the dropdown. Again, it's totally free, so check it out at, click on products and pricing, and it's the first one in the menu. Hope to see you there., Marissa, welcome to the show.

Marisa Shadrick (02:57):

Thank you so much. I'm so excited to be here and to talk about the elephant in the room. I love talking about this topic.

Carly Ries (03:04):

Okay, so I dunno if we've fully prepared you for what you're walking into today. I have an opinion on this, but Joe has a very big opinion on this topic, and for those of you who don't know what we're talking about, we really want to talk about human connection, especially in the age of AI. So Marissa, solopreneurs have such little time, and so AI is very intriguing for them. What is your advice for bridging the gap between technological advances like ChatGPT or others and human connection? How can people find that balance?

Marisa Shadrick (03:43):

Exactly. That has been the question that everyone has. And as a copywriter, people ask me a lot about AI. I've got my own opinions about AI too, but there's always change. There's always something that comes about. Right now, AI is the topic of conversation. Everybody is wondering how to use it. People are thinking that this will just produce more and more and more and more. And do we really need more of what? What is it producing? So when you look at AI, yes, it's evolving, it's learning. There's going to be more of it. It's not going away. It's going to be here. I was hoping crossing my fingers, it would go away, but it's not.

Joe Rando (04:25):

Just a passing fad, I know. Just like the internet was. Remember that? The Internet's a passing fad.

Marisa Shadrick (04:30):

I know, exactly. So it's here to stay. And we see many of the tools that we use, even Zoom integrating an element of AI. Everybody is running the race to implement some type of level of AI in existing tools. You see a lot of updates going on. Let's just say that AI has its place if you know why you're using it. More is not necessarily going to help you grow your business. When people say, well, I can create more social media posts. Well, what is it that you're trying to achieve with social media? What is the goal of social media? How are you measuring? Why are you there? Are you trying to track leads? Are you trying to grow your email list? What's the purpose? So when you begin to kind of reverse engineer and figure out why you're there, is AI a good solution?


Now granted, it can help with maybe ideation, it can help summarize maybe a transcript. It's all about what you input because it can't do it on its own. Even on LinkedIn, they have these LinkedIn collaboratives, but the origin of the content is human beings. And AI is never going to replace a human because it can't learn. It can't do what it needs to do without the human element. So yes, ideation, summarizing things that you're giving it, giving it clear boundaries. You can use it for some things to shorten the time that maybe you're producing content and maybe it could take an article and pull little snippets for you for social media, but you've got to originate it. The idea that it will take over and be like a little employee, it's more like an apprentice. One that needs a lot of supervision and you've got to come in and review the work and oftentimes you've got to correct the work. And as a copywriter, I see the pitfalls that it often just generates the same old content that's out there. You mentioned ChatGPT, keep in mind that ChatGPT, that data is from up to 2021. It's not new fresh content, new points of view.

Joe Rando (06:47):

But weirdly it is learning for me. My own ChatGPT account learns what I've put into it previously, even though it's not the same, I dunno what they call it, thread. I had some fun. I asked it to write a biography of my daughter. I just gave her name to see what it knew, and it wrote this crazed biography using all of my past stuff it learned about me and putting it onto her. Also said she was born at the turn of the 20th century, which is weird. So it is doing some learning now, which I was surprised to see but it is limited in terms of things that happened in 2023 that you didn't tell it about.

Marisa Shadrick (07:28):

And who knows where it's headed. But where we stand right now, while recording this podcast, we have to supervise it very well.

Carly Ries (07:38):

You were talking about LinkedIn and social posts, I feel like no matter how human it gets, the telltale sign for me that it is not a human is the strong use of emojis. They're everywhere.

Joe Rando (07:52):

What's the word? Delve.

Carly Ries (07:55):

It uses delve in everything. It's like a giveaway. You're talking about pitfalls. What other pitfalls are you seeing and what ways are people using it incorrectly that they should course correct on?

Marisa Shadrick (08:09):

I think they're looking for a panacea and it's not going to replace human connection. I'm really big on relationship marketing. We are in the people business. I don't care if you're selling a tool or coaching program, we're in the people business. And if people would say, "oh no, we're not". Think of customer service. Any business that has poor customer service, is not going to last very long. I get frustrated when customer service isn't any good. When I have to put in some type of foreign question or something, or I have to wait five days to get an answer. So we're in the people business and I think some of the pitfalls is thinking that this is going to be the answer that's going to fix everything. I think if we pull back a little bit and look at what we trying to achieve, are we trying to get more prospects? Are we trying to get more leads? How are we going about it? Automating all of that is not necessarily the answer. We automate something that we've already begun and we see that it works and we can automate parts of it, but only so that it gives us the time and the margin to have more human to human connections.

Joe Rando (09:17):


Carly Ries (09:17):

Yeah, I'm so happy you said that. Joe is actually in a little bit of a debate with one of our team members who's one of the most intelligent people that we know. What is it, Joe, that is his take versus your take on all of this?

Joe Rando (09:32):

He basically has trained his own ChatGPT, to understand his tone of voice and his approach and he feels that he can create content that seems to come from him without having to actually write the content just by prompting. I'm like, "yeah, no." I'm waiting to see an actual work product to see if it works or not. If he send me two and wrote one and didn't write the other one, and I can't tell the difference. I'm proven wrong. But so far, I am not convinced that you want to be generating content. It's one thing to generate an outline or something that you heavily edit, but we'll see.

Marisa Shadrick (10:16):

Again, if you think about an article, and I've published articles, I am going to be publishing articles for another magazine here soon, but when you think of an article, you want to make sure that you explain it well. Oftentimes you need maybe an illustration, maybe some statistics and storytelling. The whole thing is that emotional connection is not going away. That is really at the heart of our marketing. Marketing is simply earning trust and we need to connect emotionally with people. Even the buying process, it's an emotional decision that's backed up with logic. When people are looking at something or reading something online, you have to connect emotionally. AI can't do that. If you just want something like a quick post or you want something that you don't really care about and you want to put it out there, sure, it can create these little snippets for you all day long.


But if you're writing an article, it has to be a little bit meatier. It has to have some insight, it has to have wisdom. It has to have a little bit of you and your personality because that differentiates you from others. And I don't know that you can put that much input into it. If you did, that's all you would be doing is writing all the data that you're going to put into it so it learns. Why not just write the whole thing yourself anyway? I mean, you're in the middle of doing it, you might as well write it up. You could use AI to say, what have I missed? But you got to give it a structure. You have to give it an example. You have to give it some kind of out outline that this is what you want to cover. If it's SEO, then you've got to go into Google and find out what Google likes and put that in there. It's a lot of work, but you could do that if you wanted to. Sometimes it's just best to lead by the heart and really understand your audience and how can I emotionally connect with them? How can I serve them today? Not so much think of the tool or the head, but lead from the heart and you're going to connect with people.

Carly Ries (12:19):

It's so funny. I have fallen into the trap of relying on ChatGPT to do some of the content that I usually do, and Joe and I were having one of our weekly status calls one day, and he was like, "Carly, you're an emotional person." Some say, I have a sense of humor. He's like, "you need to be using your personality in what you're writing." And it was like, oh gosh, I have fallen into the ChatGBT trap. Even though I feel like I tweak it to make it sound like my own voice, at the end of the day it's not. So I would just say to solopreneurs and people who are really strapped for time, you might get into a hamster wheel of wanting to use it for everything. You really need to take a step back and be like, "wait, my human connection, my personality are far more important than me getting this done in the next 10 minutes"

Marisa Shadrick (13:10):

Right. Checking it off the list. It's so true. You have to look, if you're that busy as a solopreneur, and I'm a solopreneur, I only have two people on my team, my bookkeeper, CPA, and then my web guy. But you have to realize if you're that busy, what are you busy doing? What is it that you're doing? Because really business is the process of prospecting and selling. You have to be very strategic and very selective on what you're going to do. You have to have systems in place and figure out what's going to be your core content to share your wisdom, the insights that you have. Is it going to be a podcast? Is it going to be writing articles? And then you have to repurpose and you have to get really good at repurposing the content, that topic that you have, and be able to deliver it in different ways and have a system or workflow that helps you.


So it's not just creating more and more and more and more. It's like shooting arrows but there's no dartboard, there's no place to shoot it to. You're just shooting these arrows hoping that something will land. We all know the build it and they will come just doesn't work. Even the website, you have to make sure that organic traffic, when they get there, how many are coming there? Go deep. So many people are trying to go wide and hope that something sticks. Pick one strategy and go deep. Go deep in it. What are you doing on your website? What happens when organic traffic comes? What do they see? Do they understand what it is that you do? See if you can get that as close to what you want it to do and then continue on with that and then call to actions, interactions that you have.


If you are on social media, how do you interact? What's the purpose of it? I don't look at vanity numbers or algorithms or any of that. That drives me absolutely insane. I've seen too many of my clients burn out thinking they have to post every single day. Why? What's gone on? I've had clients that came on to me and as I was asking them questions, they were spending ad money for nine months and I said, "well, how many leads did you get?" "Not one." "How many sales?" "Not one". That's sad, but they believe this because people have told them you got to do it and eventually it'll come. You have to look at what's keeping you so busy? What are you doing? What is the best strategy for you to create content, the workflow, the repurposing, and it all needs to lead to your products and services. You need to reverse engineer that. If AI can help you shorten that process in some way, by all means, but to just have it to create more and exhaust yourselves, I don't recommend that. I've seen too many people just totally burn out and that's so sad.

Joe Rando (16:02):

One of the questions is, if you're using AI to put out social posts that you're not even touching, what are you saying? What is the point of the post? Then all of a sudden it's like that old story of let's write a blog. It doesn't matter what it says. People then said, that doesn't work anymore. It's the same thing. If you're putting out crap, nobody's going to care. Nobody's going to notice it, nobody's going to interact. So what are you buying by using the AI to generate just chaff instead of wheat?

Marisa Shadrick (16:35):

That is such a great point. I love that because I tell people, look, if you're having a day that life happened and you're super busy and you normally post say three times a week and you can't for a specific day because of something, don't worry about it. It's better not to. Then when you're fresh, you can create something of value. Because what you're doing is you're serving people and we don't want to serve people with something that's like garbage. We want to serve them with something that has value. Chances are other people that will see it few days later or a week later will receive the values well. We're always trying to earn the trust and the respect to be in their lives because there's a lot of options out there. There's a lot of things that they can be doing. And the fact that they're even looking at our post or reading it is really a privilege. It is an honor that they're doing that and we want to provide the best that we can. At least that's my philosophy.

Carly Ries (17:33):

I just want to reiterate. For solopreneurs who are starting out, a lot of times, and this is what we're trying to change with Lifestarr, but a lot of times they'll go to entrepreneur sites to see what they should be doing. And entrepreneurs, a lot of times they're trying to grow their company into multi employee companies and these huge businesses where they need to think about SEO and generating a ton of content or lead magnets or everything. But a lot of solopreneurs only need four or five clients to get through. Obviously you always want that pipeline, but is generating all this content necessary or should you be using ChatGPT to brainstorm icebreaker ideas for networking event where you can meet people in person and get two clients that way? I think solopreneurs have to think about running their business in a different way than the standard entrepreneur. Because of that, use chat GPT in a different way because they don't need all that content that more traditional entrepreneurs might.

Marisa Shadrick (18:30):

Exactly, There are probably different types of businesses represented. There could be service providers, coaches, I'm not sure exactly. Depending on the industry and the market, you need to find first where your audience is, and that's a given, most people know that. Not just be everywhere, but be on a platform that you know your audience is there. From there, you want to, like I said earlier, you want to think of that workflow, that process that you're going to have and how is that going to work? So much of our business is really thinking and planning and writing down things, just taking white erase boards or just a blank piece of paper and figuring out the process. How you're going to bring people in and what is that need because it's all about emotional connection. Then we can do things that copywriters know as pattern interrupt, which is totally different.


It's creative. It's something that will stop the scroll that ChatGPT may not. With the same words it uses unpack and some of the others that you said, you can tell that ChatGPT created it. We can't be so automated that we're not keeping our finger on the pulse of the market. As I said, ChatGPT, the information goes up to 2021. What happened in 2020? It was a totally different mindset for everyone. It was totally different. So when you think about that, when you think about human behavior and you think of emotional connection, I love Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. It's such a great classic example of what happened in 2020 when marketers were still marketing the same way, and all of a sudden they realized, oh wow, we need to pivot. We need to market. Our messaging needs to be different now because people's minds were not where they were before.


In Maslow's hierarchy of need, it starts with the physiological needs like the food and shelter. Then it goes on to safety and security, which is jobs. A lot of people, the things that they needed, like health and employment, some people lost their jobs and there were a lot of things with health issues and love and belonging. They were worried their families and friends. There were all of these things happening. Even if they were at the point of self-actualization, which is more of the purpose and meaning and potential, and they're investing in themselves, all of a sudden they're down to safety and security. So if you're marketing the same way, you're missing the mark totally. Because they're not there anymore. Understanding your market is so key and ChatGPT won't understand your market unless you tell it to. We need to go back to the basics and always keep our finger on the pulse of the market because it changes.


That's why real estate agents say it's a buyer's market or it's a seller's market because the market changes. I think if we just pull back and don't feel like we have to do all these other things and figure out what works for our business, what makes sense, we're going to be on more calls, one-on-one calls with people. Sometimes it's an avoidance to have those conversations with people on Zoom or a phone call to tell them, "Hey, I have the solution for you. I can help you reach this transformation and I have a program for you". But some people avoid and get busy with other things because they don't want to have those type of "sales" conversations. And a lot of times that's the best way to really understand your market, understand what the problems are facing. Maybe even tweak our messaging and make more sales. Like you said, sometimes you don't need a lot of sales to make those goals that you have.

Carly Ries (22:20):

I'm so happy you brought up the hierarchy because I feel like at the end of the day, people just need to get to the basics of human connection. Like you were saying, forget about AI. Like you said, it could be a good supplement, but it's so important just to get back to who is your audience, what do they need, how do you solve their problem? It's as simple as that. And AI can assist, but it's not the end all. I'm so glad you brought it back to the basics because people need to think through that reverse engineer like you've been saying. I just think that's a really good point.

Marisa Shadrick (22:53):

Yeah, for sure. It's important. In copywriting, it really is about emotional connection. One of the best things that you can do that AI can't is storytelling. That's why testimonials, customer reviews are so important. Because it's storytelling. Nobody can argue with a story. And when you just take something and you create a metaphor or a story, and it doesn't have to be long, three sentences, that's going to connect with people because connecting at a subconscious level, not a conscious level, and that's what copywriters do. That's why it's all about finding not only the external problem, but what's the internal problem going on? Because this external need hasn't been satisfied yet. And that's why copywriters write copy to not only address the conscious mind, but the subconscious mind. That's why people say the fear of missing out and all those things are implied. But we want to understand our market so much and not manipulate them, but understand that emotional connection is huge. So if you don't know anything about copywriting, if you don't know anything about how to get your message out there, use stories because stories will bridge the gap because of that emotional connection. And that's something that AI can't do. It can't create those stories for you.

Joe Rando (24:16):

A lot of people, me included, I was a terrible salesperson back in the day. I took the trouble to study it because I was so bad. A lot of people, including me, didn't realize, and people still don't realize that people don't buy for logical reasons typically. Typically, they're buying for emotional reasons and justifying the purchase with logical reasons. Hence the number of expensive sports cars that are not particularly practical in New England that still exist in New England for some reason. You're better off with an SUV with snow tires, but a lot of people have these little sporty cars. They can only drive six months out of the year because it's the emotion. They'll come up with good logical reasons after the fact to justify it,

Marisa Shadrick (24:59):

Exactly. We're always talking about benefits. People are wondering, how's this going to benefit me? We're always talking about benefits and we can't get away from that because that is at the heart of our marketing. Our messaging is communicating that so they understand because there's a lot of competition out there. Now, you can use AI for some things, like I mentioned earlier, ideation, summarizing things, but it needs a lot of your input. I use an AI tool for podcast show notes, but it's taking the actual show and it's really organizing it in a way so that I can take it and still have to tweak it and write things and put it in my own voice, but at least I'm not starting with a blank screen. And that saves me some time. But later on, maybe AI will be better, but I'll tell you, it's not going to be able to tell those wonderful stories that you can tell even in a short post or in an article. It's not going to replace that. Even on a sales page.


A sales page is the same thing. For those of you that maybe are listening and wondering, well, I don't know anything about copywriting. Yeah, I can tell stories. If you just get on one-on-one calls with people and you start talking to people and you take random acts of kindness and you start reaching out and start building a network and you start hearing what the problems are, you're going to have opportunities to offer your products and services. And you know what? I'm a copywriter, and I'll tell you right now, you don't need a sales page. All you need are those calls, and you need just a Stripe account and send them an invoice and done deal. I mean, that's as easy as you can do it.

Carly Ries (26:38):

Joe, I keep saying, we need to get one of those boards that has the prerecorded sounds like an applause sound or something. Maybe for Christmas or something next year, we can get that for each other for the podcast. Maybe ChatGPT can do it for us. Marissa, we knew that we were going to be talking about human connection today and AI, but we didn't necessarily know which side you would be on with that. Suffice to say, we agree with everything you said and you just said it so succinctly. So I just very much appreciate your take on all of this today. I think you'll help people find a lot of success with what you said. We ask all of our guests this, "what is your favorite quote about success?"

Marisa Shadrick (27:22):

I will have to say that success is not a destination, and it's not your identity. I'm saying this myself. I do have a quote for you, but I want you to know that "it's not a destination and it's not your identity". Success, it's those decisions that you make every day. Often they're decisions of courage to get you to a destination. Every day you can be successful. My favorite quote is from Rick Warren, Purpose-Driven Life. "It's not about you serve people well, connect with people, try to understand and listen well, and you're going to be able to reach more people."

Carly Ries (28:02):

Perfect. Well said. Marissa, if people want to find out more about you, where can they find you?

Marisa Shadrick (28:09):

I would love for them to listen to the podcast. If they'd like to go to, I will send them an email. If they want a copy critique, we do those live on the podcast. They get my Monday Marketing Memo, every Monday, a short, quick read on marketing, and if they want to be on my podcast, they'll also find out how to do that. That would be a great way to start. They'll have my LinkedIn profile there and we can connect.

Carly Ries (28:37):

Great. All of that will be in the show notes. Sounds like a slam dunk to me. Well, Marissa, thank you so much for coming on the show today. We've thoroughly enjoyed it. Listeners, as always, we would love that five star review, the comment, the subscribe, the share, anything you want to do to make sure that we can keep doing this moving forward, we would very much appreciate it because we love doing it. We'll see you next week on the Aspiring Solopreneur. Have a great day.

Marisa Shadrick (29:04):

Thanks so much.