Liz Wilcox: How AI Is Disrupting Our Industry, and What We Can Do About It

An Interview With Cynthia Corsetti

Learn enough to be dangerous.
We don’t need to be “guru level” when it comes to AI, but we need to keep up on the trends and know enough to use it where applicable. Remember, AI is all about enhancing our customer’s experience and making us more efficient. So learn how to do that with technology and you’ll be golden!

Artificial Intelligence is no longer the future; it is the present. It’s reshaping landscapes, altering industries, and transforming the way we live and work. With its rapid advancement, AI is causing disruption — for better or worse — in every field imaginable. While it promises efficiency and growth, it also brings challenges and uncertainties that professionals and businesses must navigate. What can one do to pivot if AI is disrupting their industry? As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Liz Wilcox.

The Fresh Princess of Email Marketing, Liz Wilcox is an Email Strategist and Keynote Speaker showing small businesses how to build online relationships + make real money with emails. She’s best known for selling a blog, turning a $9 offer into multiple six-figures (without ads), and helping you untangle the email “knot” with her simple framework, the Email Staircase. She loves the 90s, headbands, and the beach.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive into our discussion, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

My company stands out because it focuses on H2H. Human to human. With the world moving so fast and technology growing at exponential rates, a company that focuses on the human experience and connection over anything else really stands out.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Oh this is a fun question!

When I was first starting out, woo! The odds were stacked against me. I was starting an online business and I didn’t even have the internet. Not on my phone and not in my house. Ha! But what I did have was grit.

I was determined to make things happen despite my circumstances. And that’s what grit is. It’s being resourceful, despite not having any obvious resources.

I’d go to libraries and business parking lots to use their wifi. I’d write late at night when my daughter was sleeping. I’d attend events and strap my then-toddler to my back and carry her around while I introduced myself to brands and influencers that could help me move closer to my goals.

Even today, after building a multiple six figure business and having plenty of resources at my fingertips…I stay gritty. I’m not afraid to push in a new direction, introduce myself to a room where I’m clearly “the smallest fish”, and put in the work necessary to get the results I want.

In fact, I’m up at 5am taking this interview. Ha! Yeah. Grit.

A lot of people think you’ve got to have confidence. But confidence comes from a whole lot of action. And when you’re just starting out, there’s not a whole lot of anything (except fear, maybe.) But if you can have faith in your product or service and faith that your customers are out there and in time you will find them? Well, that’s the mark of a true leader.

For example, my business runs on a membership model. And when I started my membership, I didn’t see anyone in my specific industry with a low cost membership. But I decided to launch one anyway. I had the faith that I knew this is what my customers needed and they were just waiting for me to create it.

Three years and over 4,000 active customers later? It turns out having a little faith was all I needed to have a successful membership.

Now, this one might be controversial. Especially when we see all those folks selling us the dream… “Work four hours a week and be a gazillionaire…” You know, stuff like that.

But what those people don’t tell you is that no! No one starts out working four hours a week. In fact, it takes a lot of discipline and intentionality to ever get to the whole “work less and earn more” business.

Don’t get me wrong. Discipline isn’t about punishing yourself if you don’t get things done. Instead, it’s about setting standards and a code of conduct for yourself and how you operate. And it’s being able to work and operate under those standards.

Without discipline, I never would have built my first company. Remember, the odds were stacked against me. I was married at the time and my spouse actively encouraged me to slack off and spend as little time building my company as possible. Without discipline, it never would have grown large enough to sell.

And even now! Now when my current business is doing so well and I’m not in “feast or famine” mode…Without discipline, I might decide that maintaining the status quo is fine and that my assistant can handle almost everything herself.

But I have bigger dreams. I want to make a bigger impact and reach more new entrepreneurs. Which is why I stay disciplined and continue to find new ways to reach my customers.

Let’s now move to the main point of our discussion about AI. Can you explain how AI is disrupting your industry? Is this disruption hurting or helping your bottom line?

Everyone and their mother is screaming about AI right now

Which specific AI technology has had the most significant impact on your industry?

ChatGPT, for sure. Marketers seem to be yelling from the rooftops to use it to “10x your content” and how it can “be the team you can’t afford.”

But here’s the thing…your ideal audience probably doesn’t want ten times the amount of content they’re getting from you right now.

With email, the company and business owner that truly understands and speaks directly to their ideal customer wins. It’s not about quantity with email marketing. It’s about quality.

With that, I think using ChatGPT to write your emails has actually been worse for my industry. It’s not really helping the customer and it’s not helping you, the business owner, actually connect with your customers.

Can you share a pivotal moment when you recognized the profound impact AI would have on your sector?

It wasn’t one exact moment, but a series of the same moments over and over. Back in late spring 2023, people started popping up to my q+a sessions with the same question “how do we incorporate ChatGPT into all this, Liz?”.

That’s when I knew the excitement of using AI to write emails had staying power.

But it didn’t take long for me to realize that AI, when it comes to email marketing, can’t and never will replace that human to human connection.

I’m not saying don’t use AI in your email marketing. But I am saying that at the end of the day, people want to hear from other people. And those companies and small business owners that remind themselves of that (and act accordingly) in this new AI-age, will rise to the top.

Use AI as a tool to help you get further. Don’t use it as a replacement for real interaction and connection.

Let’s look at two large companies that use AI in their businesses. Chick Fil A and McDonald’s.

One has used AI to completely replace employees. The other has increased the amount of employees and empowered them to use AI to make the checkout process more efficient.

Can you guess which is which? And if you’ve had an interaction with either, which was the more pleasant experience?

Chick Fil A has grown to make more sales per store than McDonald’s. And they are closed on Sunday! But how?

Again, Chick Fil A uses AI and technology to create a more (dare I say it?) pleasurable experience for their customers, leading to more upsells and repeat customers.

McDonald’s, on the other hand, uses AI and technology to replace that human to human interaction, leading to simpler orders and dissatisfied customers.

I bring this up as a warning. Do not use AI to replace you. Use it to make you more efficient while also enhancing your customer experience.

With email marketing, that looks like

–generating content ideas…not writing that content for you.
–creating a list of what you need to say during a launch…not using it to write all your launch emails.
–drafting up an outline for your campaigns…not writing each and every single word of those campaigns.

How are you preparing your workforce for the integration of AI, and what skills do you believe will be most valuable in an AI-enhanced future?

With my team, we are looking at AI just like you said…an enhancement. How can we use AI to enhance our customer experience?

We’re asking things like “will this make our job easier?” and countering it with “will our customers love it?”

Because at the end of the day, our bottom line is our customers. And they have to love everything we put in the front of the house.

I don’t care what business you’re in–not one of your customers wants to feel like they are just a number or a sale to you.

I’ve trained my team (and my students, really) to understand that we should never have more for the sake of more. Instead, use AI to add to the customer experience and ensure we maintain the level of care and service that our customers expect as we grow and scale.

I recently heard that in order to be successful in business, you have to be “a little bit good at everything.” I tend to agree with that sentiment. No, you don’t need to master it all, but you have to be willing to learn it just enough to be good enough.

With this new AI-enhanced future, I think a skill like that is invaluable. AI will grow and evolve faster than we can keep up with. But if you’re willing to learn just enough about a certain AI that’s relevant to your industry? You’ll do well.

It’s called adaptability and it’s the name of the game.

What are the biggest challenges in upskilling your workforce for an AI-centric future? Some people might say the biggest challenge with AI and the workforce will be simply “how can people keep up with something that’s growing at an exponential rate?”.

  • But that’s not my take on things. People are genuinely curious and as the workforce grows, the generations taking over will have been working with AI since their childhood. Keeping up with it won’t be an issue.
  • My biggest challenge is reminding the team of what AI is supposed to do in the first place.
  • AI was and is meant to enhance our lives. Not be the center of it.
  • As I empower my team to get excited about AI, they do! And then they want to use it as a major arm of the business–they want it to run just about everything. After all “it can, Liz!”
  • But remember, I am in the human to human business. And I want to keep it that way. You might feel that way, too.
  • So the biggest thing I’m doing in my business is to allow my team to learn about AI and bring their findings and ideas on how to use it to our monthly meetings. During the meeting, we discuss everything and bring it back to the question…
  • “Will our customers love it?”
  • If the answer is yes, I’m in! We implement changes immediately.
    If the answer is no? Well, I think you can guess what happens next.

What ethical considerations does AI introduce into your industry, and how are you tackling these concerns?

In my industry, ChatGPT reigns supreme for creating content and helping business owners make their next move.

However, you cannot copyright anything generated from AI. You know, because you didn’t come up with it. And AI is simply combing the internet for what it believes to be the best result for you.

This is, at the least, a yellow flag for business owners looking to use ChatGPT for content creation. And a big reason I tell my audience in particular…don’t use it for writing your emails!

Email works so well because it’s consent based. Someone consents to hear more from you, your brand, or your company. They like your style of teaching, writing, etc.

Remember, ChatGPT is not you. You’re doing yourself and your potential customers a disservice to use it to create your email content. Your email list wants to hear from you…so you need to write the emails!

Last, anything you put into ChatGPT then becomes “free game” for the AI to use in creating results for others. It’s impossible to know what content is already inside the AI giant, but important to consider when using.

liz wilcox

What are your “Five Things You Need To Do, If AI Is Disrupting Your Industry”?

  • #1 Remain calm.
    Seriously. AI is growing so quickly. If we panic about one tool, there will be a new feature or resource tomorrow. Never forget you’re in the human to human business. Your customers will never tire of that H2H experience. So continue to show up as a human (easy, right?) and your success will continue, too.
  • #2 Stay customer-focused.
    At the end of the day, we are all human to human businesses. It’s important to keep that top of mind and to stay focused on your customer. What role does AI have in enhancing my customer’s experience with my company? And at what point (or points) does it actually hurt the experience?
  • #3 Be curious, not afraid.
    If AI is truly disrupting your industry, get curious about it! Is the new technology a fad or is it around to stay? How can you use it to enhance your bottom line and drive the vision and mission your business has? Talk with your team or peers about it and brainstorm fun and innovative ways to use the AI in your business and for your customers.
  • #4– Learn enough to be dangerous.
    We don’t need to be “guru level” when it comes to AI, but we need to keep up on the trends and know enough to use it where applicable. Remember, AI is all about enhancing our customer’s experience and making us more efficient. So learn how to do that with technology and you’ll be golden!
  • #5– Have fun with it.
    As the old saying goes, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Even a tech-lean lady like myself knows that AI is here to stay. And the sooner I embrace that and have fun with using it, the better I can serve my customers, stay relevant in the market, and simply go back to enjoying growing my company.

What are the most common misconceptions about AI within your industry, and how do you address them?

  • I’ve said it before and I will say it again. In my industry, AI should never replace you. This is a common misconception.
  • AI is there to help you become more efficient with the work you do.
  • That’s it.
  • We shouldn’t be trying to replace ourselves. Especially as small business owners! The advantage we have over the big guys is our unique selves.
  • People want to buy from other people. We live in this amazing market where gone are the days of being impressed by Fortune 500 companies. Now consumers are impressed by the little guy getting in there and caring about his customers!
  • That’s you!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

Oh this is always my favorite question! First, you’ve got to know I’m a huge Will Smith fan. And some of his stories about his life just really inspire me.

The best one is about, as a child, his dad knocked down a wall in a building in order to build a sturdier one. After a day or two, Will tells his dad, “This is impossible. You knock down the wall, it’s just not there anymore.”

And his dad picks up a brick and says, “Son, you don’t build a wall. You just lay one brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid. And soon, you’ll have a wall.”

Chills, right?

Ever since I heard that story as a little girl, every day I just wake up, and it’s like, “How can I just lay this one brick?”

It’s how I’ve built all three of my businesses, too. I’m not trying to get a million dollars. Or ten thousand customers. I’m just turning on my computer and asking myself how I can do things as well as I can today.

This interview is a great example of that.

It’s not about finding customers from it. It’s just about answering each question to the best of my ability for the people that are going to read it.

I’m just laying my bricks. One by one.

Off-topic, but I’m curious. As someone steering the ship, what thoughts or concerns often keep you awake at night? How do those thoughts influence your daily decision-making process?

  • If you couldn’t tell by the rest of this interview, I am obsessed with my customers and creating a great experience for them as they interact with my brand and offers.
  • Lately, I’ve been really thinking about how companies at large are doing less for their customers and demanding more (dollars, that is.) It really upsets me and I believe attributes to a lot of unrest to the individual.
  • Because of this, I’ve really gotten back to basics in 2024. I’m not worried about new customers. Which isn’t to say I don’t want them, I’m just not worried about where they are going to come from.
  • Instead, I’m worried about the customer that’s right in front of me right now. That’s in my membership, taking my courses, and using my templates to improve their business.

Are they actually learning anything real from me?
Seeing any positive results from the actions I encouraged them to take?
Do they feel good when they interact with my team?
Are their questions getting answered to their satisfaction?

When they log into their account, are things clean and is the site easy to use?

I could go on.

And I know if I focus on these answers and helping my current customers succeed, new ones will come along. (That’s part of having faith that I talked about at the beginning of this interview, remember?)

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

  • I’d just ask people to care a little bit more. And this isn’t about being nice. We are nice out of obligation. But when we care, we can move mountains.
  • If we really cared for our neighbors and fellow humans…how would we act? What would we say to each other? How would we treat ourselves so that we could show up for someone else? How would we treat the planet, even?
  • So yeah. Simple but effective, I think.

How can our readers further follow you online?

I thought you’d never ask! Of course, I’m an email marketer so I’d love for you to join my email list. That’s the best way to learn with me about the latest tactics and tools around email marketing. You can go directly to and hit the hot pink button. That’ll give you a big ole mega swipe file of email goodness. An entire welcome sequence already written for you. Three newsletter templates taken directly from my membership. And of course, 52 subject lines for a year of prompts. Why? Because writing from scratch totally sucks. Let me help you out.

You can also find me on Instagram. I’m @thelizwilcox. And I’ve got a really helpful Facebook group called The Email Sound Booth.

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

About the Interviewer: Cynthia Corsetti is an esteemed executive coach with over two decades in corporate leadership and 11 years in executive coaching. Author of the upcoming book, “Dark Drivers,” she guides high-performing professionals and Fortune 500 firms to recognize and manage underlying influences affecting their leadership. Beyond individual coaching, Cynthia offers a 6-month executive transition program and partners with organizations to nurture the next wave of leadership excellence.