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E2A 076: Human Connection in the Digital Age: Leaving Instagram and Creating Community with Mark Groves 

 June 25, 2024

By  Scott A. MacMillan


In this episode of The Entrepreneur to Author Podcast, Scott is joined by Mark Groves, a human connection specialist and the founder of Create the Love, and the co-author of "Liberated Love: Release Codependent Patterns and Create the Love You Desire".

Mark discusses co-authoring a book with his wife, Kylie McBeath, emphasizing the challenges and rewards of merging their unique voices and experiences into a cohesive narrative.

Mark also shares the profound impact of human connection on our lives, contrasting it with the often-superficial connections facilitated by technology and social media, and opens up about his decision to step away from social media despite its role in his business.

This insightful conversation highlights the complexities of balancing personal authenticity with professional demands in the digital age, providing authors with a way to think about what’s best for themselves and their businesses.

GUEST BIO

Mark Groves is a Human Connection Specialist, founder of Create the Love, host of the Mark Groves Podcast and co-author of Liberated Love. Mark's work bridges the academic and the human, inviting people to explore the good, the bad, the downright ugly, and the beautiful sides of connection.

CONNECT WITH MARK

Book Website: markgroves.com/book

Websites: markgroves.com and createthelove.com
Podcast: Mark Groves Podcast (Spotify) and on Apple

LinkedIn: ca.linkedin.com/in/magroves

YouTube: youtube.com/@markgroves

CONNECT WITH SCOTT

entrepreneurtoauthor.com
grammarfactory.com
scott@grammarfactory.com

LinkedIn (@scottmacmillan): linkedin.com/in/scottmacmillan
Instagram (@scottamacmillan) instagram.com/scottamacmillan
Medium (@scottamacmillan): scottamacmillan.medium.com

Listen now on Spreaker.

Episode Transcript

Please note: The transcript is produced by a third-party company from an audio recording and may include transcription errors.

Scott MacMillan:

You're listening to the Entrepreneur to Author podcast.

Announcer

Welcome to the Entrepreneur to Author podcast, the podcast that brings you practical strategies for building authority and growing your business. And now, here's your host, Scott MacMillan.

Scott:

My guest today is Mark Groves. Mark is a human connection specialist, founder of Create the Love, host of the Mark Groves

podcast and co-author of "Liberated Love: Release Codependent Patterns and Create the Love You Desire". Mark's work bridges the academic and the human, inviting people to explore the good, the bad, the downright ugly, and the beautiful sides of connection.

Mark, thanks so much for joining us today.

Mark Groves:

Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Scott:

Yeah, likewise. And look, I shared a little bit about you in the intro, but would you share a little bit more with our listeners about you and the work that you do?

Mark:

Yeah. Well, first off, thanks for having me on the show. I'm obsessed with human behavior, with human relationships, with understanding how do we get better at them.

I know through my own lived experience that I didn't get the education I needed in school on that specific subject, and through relational outcomes, saw that there was a real gap in my own knowledge. And originally, my obsession with human behavior was actually in the area of sales. When I was working in sales, I was really wondering how do I get someone to change from one product to another?

How do I influence behavior? But it was when a relationship ended that I really dove deep into what is the science of what makes relationships work? Why do some people thrive in love and others sort of flail in love?

And that really just became my life's work as soon as I started to see how much I needed to learn and how much it was benefiting my life, I started to really experience a difference in my own mental health, my well-being, and I saw that the impact that relationships have on our lives is significant.

Scott:

Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. And look, in the age that we're living in, there's a lot of hype, I think, around the technology aspect of interaction, whether it's how we communicate with devices, it's generative AI, things like quantum computing and autonomous vehicles. I was just listening this morning to a podcast talking about robotics.

But human connection runs in the opposite direction of all of this. Why do you find that human connection is such an important area and why have you chosen to focus your attention there?

Mark:

Well, you know, I think in our current state or culture, there's this idea that the ultimate achievement is to get a million followers. But really, the ultimate predictor of your mental health is do you have one person to call at 2am? You know, and I think as much as we feel so connected by things like social media and smartphones, I would argue that it's pretty clear that we are more disconnected than we've ever been.

Look at the states of mental health, anxiety, all that kind of stuff. And really where that is sourced from, at least this is my current thesis, is that because we have nervous systems and nervous systems are not technology, they're a technology, they're a human technology, but they're not technology. And we are not used to having a place or being available to be evaluated 24 hours a day.

And so what that does, you know, and the research shows that if you're in a conversation and your phone is even facedown on a table, you're less vulnerable because there's a pull to more outside of the moment that you're in. And that is also because your social media profiles are 24 hours a day, often available to the public, especially if you have a business on there. And so there is an unconscious recognition that you are being evaluated.

And that for the nervous system is not something it's used to. And so human connection to me is just the ultimate, it's the ultimate source of everything. It's nourishment on every level.

And it's shocking to me that we need science that says forest bathing is good for us. You know, it's just the felt sense of sitting by a tree, of watching a vista, of seeing the ocean, of sharing around a campfire, of asking questions, sitting and breaking bread with people in person, not over a Zoom meeting, while recognizing there are obviously positive aspects of everything.

Scott:

Hmm, yeah, yeah, it's funny, you describe those things that I think in the past, we've all, as a society, kind of took for granted that we're important. But for whatever reason, as we become more and more immersed in technology, we become more distant from one another. I love that term forest bathing and, you know, that connection to nature that I think fundamentally we all really crave and desire.

You know, you recently published a book with your wife, Kylie, I believe, titled Liberated Love. Could you share a little bit about the book? Who did you write it for and what was your goal for your reader?

Mark:

Well, I'd say that we wrote it for younger versions of ourselves, you know, ultimately. But we wrote it for everybody who is, whether you're in a relationship and there's some desire for more, you can't get beyond the same challenges, the same fights, the same upper limits. Maybe there's a break in intimacy, you're going through a breakup and you haven't been able to let that previous person go.

You find yourself placing other people ahead of you. Everyone else comes first. You seem to date projects, people who need you to help fix them, or you just find yourself kind of lost in the sea of dating.

What the book ultimately is about is about reconnecting to yourself, about diving deeper within you and really dedicating the way that you relate, being a dedication to telling the truth, to honoring what you need, what you want, and really using the frictions of relationship, the challenges that we've all had to actually become stronger, to become more solid in our communication, to see that the things that we're challenged with relationally are just a magnifying glass to the things that we're challenged with in every area of our lives. And so we really see that relationship is this opportunity to fully step into what is possible for each of us as individuals and using relationship to do that. And imagine if on someone's Bumble profile it said, gosh, I really want to use the relationship that we're in to come fully alive, to step fully into each other's potential, and to use the relationship to do that.

I mean, that is a swipe right if I've ever heard one.

Scott:

Yeah, it absolutely would be.

Now, given the audience for this podcast, we like to delve a little bit into not just the content of the book and the business behind it, but also the writing process. And, you know, I think what's a little bit unique about what you and Kylie did was you co-authored your book. Could you share a little bit about that writing process?

Did you find it challenging? Was it energizing? What were some of the challenges and benefits of co-writing together?

Mark:

Yeah, you know, the writing process, we submitted our manuscript the day before my wife gave birth to our son Jasper. And I never would have thought that writing a book together would be incredible preparation for having a child together. But if you think about it, it is the merger of two minds, of two forms of self-expression, of two styles of creativity.

And the product of that is a merger of that. And that's not dissimilar to a child. So, yeah, there were certainly challenges, challenges in my writing styles, very different than my wife's.

And so we had to find a unique voice. But we also had sections in the book where each of us were speaking, where it would say, you know, I and then Mark or I, Kylie. And then in the audio book, we both, I read the majority of the book, but she read all the parts that were hers.

And then at the end of each chapter, we had a conversation that was unscripted just about the learnings of each chapter. So the co-writing process, yeah, my wife is very structured, very scheduled. I'm very, I need almost like the tension of last minute to create the stuff.

And so I'd be like, oh, yeah, I'll just write a bit later. And she's like, no, no, no, you will write now. Here is your assignment.

Like this. So God bless her. She really managed the process and she now probably understands the statement, what it's like to herd cats, because that was probably what it was like to corral me.

So it deepened our relationship for sure. And, uh, I think if you asked either of us currently, we would probably not write a book together again. Like we did it, we got the art out, we needed to bring it into the world.

And, uh, you know, now I think we're like, okay, that was good. We love, I love you. I love you. Okay, good.

Scott:

Move our separate ways for the next one.

Mark:

Yeah.

Scott:

When you write a book, obviously you've got goals that you're trying to, uh, you know, something you're trying to communicate to your readers. Um, you know, but for a lot of us who are entrepreneurs, we've also got business goals for our book that kind of underlie, um, why we're doing this beyond just, you know, communicating and helping our audience. Um, what were your business goals for writing the book and how are you using it to support your business?

Mark:

Yeah, such a great question. You know, the book, uh, filled quite a few gaps in the business. One, it was a product that was priced at a space that I really didn't have anything else priced, um, and, and really a very accessible price and a gateway to dive deeper into further parts of my work.

So it was great from that sense. The other thing is that all the products that I had previously offered courses, um, they all appealed. All the courses that I had created appealed to different aspects of the relational experience.

So, you know, whether you're frustrated dating or you're going through a breakup or something like that, the book, actually, I had not had a product and my wife hadn't either. That was about actually, Hey, if you, if you're seeking to master relationship, here is the book or the product for you. So it really, from a business perspective, really fulfilled that space.

Um, and I'd say it kind of put a bow on everything that I'd done up until that point, it kind of finalized or, or finished, um, my work in romantic relationships, so it felt really good from that sense, um, in terms of how I'm using it to support the business. I think that's evolving. You know, I've been speaking on a lot of podcasts and, um, it doesn't really fit into the space of business, although it does, but you know, not a lot of businesses are saying, Hey, we should bring in someone to talk about liberating love, you know, although there's a lot of love that happens at work, they don't like to talk about it.

Scott:

Yeah, that's a good point. That's a good point. It's, um, perhaps a different segment within the, within the, uh, enterprise.

Right.

Mark:

Yeah, exactly.

Scott:

What, what sort of impact are you finding, um, you know, as it relates to, um, you know, what, what a lot of authors find is having a book, uh, is a bit of a, a foot in the door when it comes to interacting with partners and media, um, you know, you mentioned podcasts that you're in, are you finding, I know it's still early days, but are you finding that the, the book is a bit of a gateway into certain opportunities?

Mark:

Yeah. In terms of the podcast space, for sure. It's, you know, I had been on already quite a few fairly large podcasts, so it was another foot in the door to say, Hey, uh, here we have this new thing coming out, I'm doing it with my wife, which was very unique as an offering.

We did a lot of the podcasts together for the book. So that was something we'd never really done. We'd taught things before together, but never actually done a ton of, I mean, we did so many podcasts.

Like, I don't even know how many I probably, we probably did something like 50 for the launch of the book. So it was, um, that part was, was really incredible. I think from a PR perspective, you know, our book came out April 16th.

And so we really were a little late for the Valentine's day sort of segments. So, um, and, and, you know, call it a gap in, in PR gap in marketing. Um, there was not someone from, you know, maybe whose responsibility it falls upon is probably another discussion, but there was not actually an attempt to get PR for Valentine's day.

So, um, I look in hindsight and think, wow, that was a massively missed opportunity. And from a television perspective, I live in the West coast and we had a new son. So traveling to, let's say Toronto or Montreal or New York was actually quite challenging for, if it was to be both of us, which ultimately the media would have desired.

And so we actually, you know, in talking to our PR people, they were like, uh, Toronto's where everything happens. That's like a, for our Montreal and for everyone in the West, they're like, yes, we know, we know it is. So I'd say it.

The impact though, that I've noticed is our audio book has done exceptionally well. Our book has done well, but our audio book got a much higher percentage of sales than I expected. Although I figured it, it would get some because of the podcast, I was actually surprised with how well it actually has done.

Scott:

Yeah. That's really interesting actually. Cause you know, I, when, when we publish, um, audio books alongside print publications, uh, I think what you highlight is, is actually the differentiating factor is, um, you know, if the author has a podcast of their own, they've built an audience around the medium of audio.

Uh, if they're doing a lot of podcast interviews, the audio book tends to perform a lot better than those who, you know, just published it because they wanted to have the additional format, even though they don't really play in the audio space. So that's a, that's fascinating. One thing that I was interested to see a couple of months ago, you shared that you were getting off Instagram, which is a pretty bold move for, for somebody, uh, with a public profile.

Could you share a little bit more about that decision or what led you to that?

Mark:

Yeah. You know, I'd been feeling like, uh, social media was causing friction for me for a long time. Just, I didn't feel brought alive by doing it.

It felt like a have to, instead of a choose to, it didn't always feel like that, but I'd say I've been exploring some sort of, I couldn't put my finger on it, but the last three years, that's something that I've been really just, okay, this is. Something I have to do for business, something I have to do. And I just realized after trying to get other people to manage it, what I noticed is, you know, I've probably over the years had four people manage it.

I've been on there over 10 and a half years. And I'd say the last five years I've had someone else manage it. Tried to, they all eventually hit a place of psychological strain.

And it's not like my Instagram is, you know, talking about, you know, things that are highly disruptive. So I looked at that and I thought, well, I don't want to run it anymore. You know?

So when I started to notice what was the impact that social media has, like, why do I, I was journaling on it one day and I'm like, why do I feel stuck with this? And I was like, oh, I feel powerless. Why do I feel powerless?

Well, organic reach has really changed. So since TikTok came out, they changed the way that content is curated. So instead of being something that you get the people you follow as content, they saw that TikTok got incredible success by providing content that keeps you on the app.

So you have a platform that maybe the original intention of Instagram was, you know, a couple of people being like, let's create a photo sharing app and connect people, blah, blah, blah. But eventually when it was bought by Meta, it got owned by shareholders. And the only intention of a shareholder is to create more profit.

The way that they create profit is monetizing attention. So everything is derived at how do I keep people on this platform longer? So what I noticed was I was starting to be a conduit for extraction.

I was, if I didn't say the right thing or create the right content, or I used the wrong words, or I didn't dance to music and point my fingers at titles that disappear way too fast to read anyway. I just, it was like, if you're not in the current trends and I noticed too, it's like, it's a mystery, the algorithm. You'll never be told how to actually succeed.

And that's part of what keeps people hooked. And when I evaluated this, I started to see that the power dynamic of this relationship with social media is heavily tilted in their favor. And someone said to me, oh, you built a mansion in someone else's backyard.

And that's so true. You built your business and depend on it, but it can instantly be taken away. And if you're not paying to play, you're not playing.

So I really started to recognize that this was very similar to an abusive relationship dynamic and or dating a narcissist. And I was like, well, if I hire someone to run it, that's like hiring someone to date an abuser. Like it just ethically doesn't feel right.

Now I want to be mindful that I don't want to project on everyone else, how they might feel. There was certainly a time when social media felt aligned for me. Um, but I couldn't in good conscience actually put myself into those circumstances anymore.

Originally I was going to delete it, which is kind of what we all do when we don't know how to relate to something. We want to just get rid of it. And sometimes that's actually the healthy thing to do.

But as I made that announcement, I got, you know, a thousand replies saying like, Hey, can you leave it up? I have so many of your posts saved. Like you've graded this for over 10 years.

Like, why would you delete it? And that feedback actually became so insurmountable that I was like, okay, yeah, I can leave it up. And then, you know, it was interesting talking to the woman who works for me.

Her name's Kelsey, who pitches me to things. She was like, God, how do I pitch you? Like if you don't have social media and I thought, isn't that so fascinating that we've even created the framework of someone's social proof is, you know, and it's all this game that we're, we're sort of enrolled in.

So the decision really was birthed from that. Not a quick decision, but now I notice in the conversations I'm having with entrepreneurs or speaking at conferences is this question, can I have a business and not have social media? And I'm living that question right now.

I'm not, I'm not sure the answer.

Scott:

That's really helpful. And I'm, I'm really happy that you shared that. Cause particularly for, um, authors, I think a lot of authors are introverted and the whole notion of, you know, getting in front of a camera and doing, you know, a dance to the trending song of the day is uncomfortable, right?

For a lot of people, it doesn't feel authentic, but a lot of people feel like they have to do it. And to, you know, see somebody like you who, you know, has a really huge following on, on Instagram. I think you're up over a million followers, um, to make that decision and to, to share your thinking behind that I think is really empowering for people, so I appreciate that.

Um, on, I guess a similar, um, line of questioning is, is this tension between short form content, like is often posted on, on Instagram, um, TikTok, et cetera, compared to long form content, right? I would categorize a book in that category. Um, a lot of, uh, YouTube and podcast would be maybe medium length, but it has a bit of a longer form feel than, than short form.

Um, is there a role for both short form and long form and what you're doing? How, how are you thinking about that balance?

Mark:

Yeah, it's such a good question. And I think the answers to this tend to evolve depending on what the algorithm is celebrating. Um, YouTube seems to be in much rise.

Like if I was to start all over again from the very beginning and I had put the same amount of effort into YouTube, I mean, I'd probably be able to retire, you know, because Instagram and Facebook do not pay you for your content. So there's not a reciprocal relationship of a value exchange. It's create, create, create.

And when you actually try to promote anything on those platforms, the algorithm dials down your reach, the moment you say something like click on this link, enroll in my course, sign up for this, buy my book. All those things do not get engagement. And by design, which I think is quite crazy because it's like, uh, they expect you to build a business on there, but the moment you try to convert your business outside of there, they actually punish you.

It's a, it's a very, very extractive relationship. And I understand why people have so much anxiety because it's not healthy. And when I look at short form versus long form content, well, what has created such an amplification of division?

Well, one, we do not watch people who are intelligent conversationalists who disagree on things. Short form content is not celebrated for that. You're not going to be able to watch the nuances of dialogue about things like politics or public health or whatever it is.

And so that just leads to more space between us because we don't even know how to navigate. And so what short form content does is it, it, it is rewarded for being emotionally eruptive. It's for triggering for affirming.

And you know, that's not to say there's no value in it because certainly there's entertainment value in these short videos of people doing things. And that might be the source of why someone clicks on the longer form podcast or something like that. Like we did have a clip of an interview I did that when I would say relatively viral, it's, I think it has over 2 million views now and had a lot of engagement.

And it definitely saw an increased consumption in the podcast episode that it was based on. But that is honestly, that's been quite rare. I do think that if you're going to create content on YouTube or Instagram or TikTok, there is a mastery to short form content.

There's no doubt. And, and I think it's like any art, you know, it's like when I wanted to learn how to be a public speaker, I studied public speaking, I studied the art of it. What was it that really compelled someone?

And I think this is the same thing. And I don't know. I feel like we're at, uh, I I'm, I'm still like, isn't a necessity.

I hear you about authors thinking I have to. And I'm also like, yeah, but like, is, is that what art is truly about? Is that us selling ourselves out?

Or is that a necessary contract that we do make in order to get our books or our creative things into more people's eyes? And I, I think there's a both end here. I just think there is sometimes a point where the, where the equation is actually not in our favor and I don't know what it is, but I think it's something that each individual, it's going to be very subjective because I know an author who was told you can't not have an Instagram if you're going to be an author, so if you want to be an author, get an Instagram or don't be an author.

And so she started one and then she paid a lot of money to have people manage them because she didn't want to. And then finally she was like, F this, I'm not doing this. And then her business started to blow up from referrals.

So, you know, I kind of, I'm like, sometimes I think the cost from a health perspective is too great, or even just from a fact like that we're going to self abandon and do something we don't want to do as, as this idea that it's the price of admission while recognizing that that's easy for me to say. I started on these platforms 10 years ago when they weren't the way they are today. And so I really caught a really good time when I was one of the first people writing about relationships on Instagram.

And so I recognized that. So I just wonder like, Substack seems to be a really great place to create, um, notoriety as an author. And I feel like it's very contributory to, or collaborative with one's self expression and now they have great tools on there, even though I don't necessarily have one myself, I have one, but I don't actively use it.

Um, I do think they have great features. If I was to start as an author, I would definitely be going there and maybe creating an Instagram or something to just start to flip it on social channels. Um, I know that's a long answer to your question.

Scott:

No, but that's, that's really helpful. And I really appreciate the, the Substack recommendation. I think there are still a lot of, uh, authors that probably aren't familiar with Substack and, you know, maybe I need to do a bit of a primer on it for people.

Um, yeah, so that, that makes a lot of sense. That tension between, uh, the art and the marketing of art, I think it's one that we all struggle with. What, what's coming up for you and your audience that you're especially excited about?

Mark:

Oh man, I'm taking huge leaps. So, uh, I created my own community, which is launching right away. And the premise of that community, it's called Aligned.

And the, the creation of it is one, I didn't want to broker anymore between my relationship with people. And the other side of it is that all of my relationship work, all the reasons people find my work or the book, uh, it's usually, you know, maybe heartbreak or being lost, all the reasons we wrote the book and for those people, it always comes back to us. And so I wanted to create a community that was really about, you know, hanging out with people who are holding us to a higher standard that the shared standard of community is really celebrating people fully stepping in to what is an integrity for them, what their values are.

And. And so that community launches right away and it kicks off with a 30 day challenge of actually doing that learning. Like what does it mean to live an aligned life?

What does that actually even mean? And, uh, and 30 days to do it. So that's a, everyone can do it.

And so I have that coming out and then I'm currently working on projects for. Like a documentary on, uh, the state of social media and even what it means to be a creator on there. And, and, you know, you talk to young people today and I think it's something like, oh, I don't know, I want to say it's above, it used to be 25% of people wanted to become influencers and I'm like, what, what does that even mean anymore?

Yeah.

Scott:

Wow. That's all super exciting. What's the best place for people to, um, find out more?

Would that be your website?

Mark:

Yeah. markgroves.com. My podcast...got lots of good stuff cooking in the Mark Groves podcast. And, um, my YouTube is where I'm now putting long form content and my podcast is on there. But also just if people have questions, I'll be doing live Q and A's on there. And the reason I chose YouTube as a place of still maintaining self-expression is that there is a value exchange that you actually do get paid to put content on there.

While recognizing it's not much or maybe even we'll put food on your table yet. I think the investment in it is that there is a reciprocal relationship. And I think if I was to start again, that's where I wouldn't, I would recommend people actually create from.

Scott:

Yeah. Yeah. Even, even just on principle of, you know, that reciprocal exchange of, of value I think is, is really important.

So, um, that's great. We'll be sure to put the links in the show notes that, uh, it's easy for people to get in touch with you. Mark, thank you brother for being on the show.

It really means a lot that you shared your time, your expertise and your experience with us, both as it relates to human connection, but also peeling back the curtain a little bit on what you do as a thought leader and as a creator. I found it incredibly inspiring. And I know that our listeners will too.

Mark:

Well, thanks so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

Scott:

As we wrap up this episode of Entrepreneur to Author, remember this. Now is the time. Time to write, time to publish, and time to grow.

I'm Scott MacMillan. Until next time.


Scott A. MacMillan


Scott A. MacMillan is a speaker, international best-selling author, entrepreneur, and the President and Executive Publisher at Grammar Factory Publishing. He and his team help expert entrepreneurs write and publish books that build their authority and grow their business.

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