Thursday, September 7, 2023

Day 2 at INBOUND: I Took 24 Pages of Notes (and Someday, AI Will Take Those Notes For Me)


What was the big takeaway from today (Day 2) at INBOUND 23?

That someday (probably today, actually), I won’t have to type furiously to capture everything I want to remember from a day’s worth of conference sessions. 

Mentioned prominently by several speakers today was how generative AI can eliminate the drudgery of work, allowing creative professionals to focus on the work that matters.

We already know that AI can transcribe videos pretty accurately — Teachable added that functionality to its course platform recently — so the fact that I spent most of my day watching sessions and virtually transcribing the speakers as they talked about how AI could take notes for us in the future and even — with “digital twins” — represent us in meetings … well, let’s just say the irony wasn’t lost on me.

But I’ve learned over the years that I learn best when I’m typing the information myself. So I’m not sure how that will work in the future, but for today, I got a LOT out of the sessions by watching the videos myself and doing the transcribing personally.

There were three sessions today that I found particularly impactful. I’ll try to give you a couple of key takeaways from each.

The Captain’s Playbook: Strategies for Success

The second day of INBOUND started an hour earlier than yesterday, but I didn’t want to miss this session, so I was up early. One of the neat things about INBOUND is the Spotlight sessions that bring in some big names to speak. In 2019, we got to hear from Jennifer Garner. Last year, former President Obama did the closing keynote.

This morning, Derek Jeter was the first speaker. Jeter isn’t just a former baseball player (and a good one, at that!). He’s a businessman, founder of a nonprofit, and father. His talk wove in elements of each of these. One of his key messages was about failure — and the resiliency required to survive it. “I played a sport where, if you fail for long enough, you go to the Hall of Fame. Baseball and the weatherman are the only two jobs where you can fail that much and still have a job,” Jeter said. “You have to get used to failure and try to find a positive in anytime you’ve done something wrong.”

He talked about creating a “winning culture.” He said, “You always hear people say they want ‘Everyone on the same page.’’ He said you need enough people on the same page, pulling in the same direction. “You have to make people feel they are part of the same team, that they are valuable.”

Listening to him made me want to watch his documentary, “The Captain” (which Jon looked up and it’s on ESPN+. We’ll definitely be checking it out.

Getting Candid: Lessons in Workplace Culture and Feedback

I had never heard of the concept of “Radical Candor” before this session, but I learned a lot about it — including that I want to try it in real life.

“Radical Candor is about caring and changing. It helps organizations become more collaborative,” says the book’s author, Kim Scott. Scott told the origin story of the concept. She and her dog were out for a walk and the dog was almost hit by a car. A man nearby said, “I can tell you really love that dog.” But, he added, you’re going to kill that dog if you don’t get her to sit. He pointed to the ground said “SIT” and the dog sat. He added, “It’s not mean, it’s clear.”

I like that: It’s not mean, it’s clear.

I got a sense of the Radical Candor framework from Scott’s presentation, but I’m looking forward to reading the book

One of the most important pieces of the concept was “It’s difficult to change personality vs. behavior.” Focus on what you observe.

Scott noted that “Some people have used Radical Candor to be obnoxious.” Someone told her, “It’s not a superpower if it can’t be used for evil.”

Preparing for the AI Boom: The Perspective of a Futurist

I’ve been in sessions with futurists before, but never one talking about the future of AI. This one was interesting. Sinead Bovell, the founder of Waye, first took us back to 1993. “The World Wide Web has just dropped. People are talking about it. They don’t fully understand it. We don’t know the industries that will be invented,” she said. “Explain to people from then how we live today: social media, apps, the creator economy. Imagine what has yet to be invented in a world where we co-exist with smart machines.”

With that in mind, where we are today with AI makes more sense. Bovell says we really haven’t seen anything yet when it comes to AI. She said right now, people are treating AI as a gadget. But, she adds, we haven’t invented the things that will exist on top of AI. She said it’s like the camera has been invented, but movies haven’t.

When it comes to the workforce, Bovell says employers are asking the wrong questions. They are asking “What roles can I replace with AI? Where can I leverage this for the bottom line?” She said they should be thinking about, “How can I add value with these systems?” She encourages attendees to be thinking “3, 5, 10 years down the road. If you’re only thinking 3-5 years down the road, things will look very different. If you were completely caught off guard by the breakthroughs in AI this year, you’re not looking far enough ahead.”

Bovell provided several “use cases” for how AI might impact us in the future. She talked about a chatbot as a part of a team — you can converse with it and it can answer your questions, create A/B tests, and execute a project. It’s still up to you to make the decision about how to move forward, but AI can add value and transform your team.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s Day 1 blog post, “change” and “artificial intelligence” are the two themes of this year’s conference. Today’s sessions really focused on both.

I can’t wait for day 3. Two words: “Reese Witherspoon.”

Did you miss yesterday’s blog post? Read it here:

Insights From Day 1 of INBOUND 23: An AI Drinking Game and How Technology Let Me Down

Read Day 3’s blog post here:

Day 3 at INBOUND: Two Words – Reese Witherspoon


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