When I’m feeling desperate about life, this is where I go

a hand on a black background

When I feel desperate, there are a few places online where I go looking.

a hand on a black background

I’m often not quite sure what I’m looking for because I’m often not exactly sure why I feel desperate, just that I’m in an emotional funk and I need someone to throw me a life raft. I feel certain that, if I read the right combination of words, the solution to everything in my life that feels confusing or unsure or uncomfortable will materialize in front of me, like a bonus in an 80s computer game.

Sometimes, I’ll scroll aimlessly through Facebook or Instagram. Sometimes, I’ll find people I know on Twitter. But usually, I end up at Heather Havrilesky’s Ask Polly.

Ask Polly (which I once wrote a blog about, here) is a long-form advice column. You may know that I have a mild fixation with the genre — it’s why I started running Yes Yes Questions, my own, quarterly live advice column. But Heather Havrilesky’s is like nothing I’ve ever encountered before, mostly because in almost every letter she responds to, she does a magic trick on my brain.

Pretty much every week, I read the latest letter and think, Well, that sounds hard for you, Stranger Who Wrote To Heather, but I can’t relate to your problem at all. I will read Heather’s reply because I like her writing so much. But there’s no way her advice will apply to anything I have going on.”

But then — half way through the response, I’m always like,


Because how else could she possibly know eXACTly what I’m going through in my life at this exact moment???

The best part is, I know that this is a common experience, but not a universal one. I know it’s common, because HH has been writing Ask Polly for almost eight years, so it must be pretty popular. But I also know it’s not universal, because people are not that much the same. But Heather’s people are. People like me. People who read every single new column that comes out (and several back issues). And that makes me feel both seen and a bit special.

This is the alchemy that happens when you’re really clear on how your people speak. Whether you’re writing an advice column, a blog or a newsletter, doing a Facebook live or chatting to someone at a networking event. If you can get crystal clear on the words and phrases your potential clients use when it comes to the problem you solve, you’ll have people asking,

“Hang on, how did you know such personal information about me??? Wait, are you IN MY HOUSE RIGHT NOW??”

(but, like, not in a creepy way. They know you’re not actually standing behind them.)

So how do you get this language?

Well, if your ideal client/listener/reader/joiner-inner is basically some former version of you, then take yourself back to what life was like before you figured out whatever it is you teach. And then ask yourself these two questions:

“How did I feel?”


“What was I thinking?”

Then take yourself to now (or just after the problem was solved) and do it again.

If you’d like some help, this is exactly what I do with my Sales Pages With Soul clients.

During the sessions walk you through a visualization which helps you access what it was like to be where your ideal client is right now, and where they want to be. Inside those places, we figure out exactly what they’re thinking, both about what they need to change and what they wish was true instead.

This helps you come up with words and phrases that make it easy-peasy for you to say, “I can help you with that.” Because if they know you get it and get them, they’re already pretty certain that you’re the person they need.Click here to find out more: yesyesmarsha.com/saleswithsoul

Thank you so much for reading! I’m genuinely thrilled that you do, and it just tells me that you are one of my people.

You rule!

xx (Yes Yes) Marsha

PS want to get free coaching on storytelling and business, AND get my epic guide for the magic bullet when it comes to powerful storytelling? Pop your details in below and you can get ALL of it when you join the Yes Yes Family. It’s FREE!


Photo by Cherry Laithang on Unsplash

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