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Adapting to the AI Era with Jason Feifer, Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Magazine

Jason and Adel explore AI’s role in entrepreneurship, use cases and applications of AI, AI’s impact on established business models, frameworks for navigating change and much more. 
Oct 2023

Photo of Jason Feifer
Guest
Jason Feifer

Jason Feifer is the editor in chief of Entrepreneur magazine and host of the podcast Problem Solvers. Outside of Entrepreneur, he is the author of the book Build For Tomorrow, which helps readers find new opportunities in times of change, and co-hosts the podcast Help Wanted, where he helps solve listeners' work problems. He also writes a newsletter called One Thing Better, which each week gives you one better way to build a career or company you love.


Photo of Adel Nehme
Host
Adel Nehme

Adel is a Data Science educator, speaker, and Evangelist at DataCamp where he has released various courses and live training on data analysis, machine learning, and data engineering. He is passionate about spreading data skills and data literacy throughout organizations and the intersection of technology and society. He has an MSc in Data Science and Business Analytics. In his free time, you can find him hanging out with his cat Louis.

Key Quotes

I think that it's always worth leaders taking new shifts seriously, exploring whether or not there's opportunity for them. I don't think that right now most businesses have to transform themselves into AI companies. Again, it's early days. But I think if you're taking it seriously, if you're thinking about are there ways, even in very small ways, to improve your business, your solutions for your consumer, then it's worth exploring.

In the dawn of the industrial revolution, when knitting machines started to replace individual humans as knitters, there were large disruptions, great uproar, and rightfully so. In that, people lost their jobs. But then, what happened after that? A knitting historian told me what happened after that is that knitters started to create the distinctive knitting styles that we all know today.

You may not know the names, I didn't when she told it to me, but then I looked it up and I was like, oh yeah, like Irish cable sweaters and Fair Isle sweaters, like these things. They all came out of the dawn of the Industrial Revolution when human beings started to find ways to innovate, to compete against machines that couldn't innovate. And that is the amazing human power, is that we will always find something new, some reason that we as humans are of benefit to other humans.

Key Takeaways

1

Focus on Purpose Over Technology—Before integrating AI or any technology, businesses should have a clear understanding of their core purpose and how the technology can enhance or align with that purpose.

2

Quality Over Quantity: The rise of AI doesn't necessarily mean better content, especially in media. Businesses should prioritize the quality and relevance of AI-generated content over sheer volume.

3

Redefine Business Models: As AI makes certain tasks more efficient, traditional business models, such as billable hours in the legal industry, may need to be re-evaluated and redefined.

Links From The Show

Transcript

Adel Nehme: Hello everyone, welcome to DataFramed. I'm Adel, Data Evangelist and Educator at Datacamp. And if you're new here, DataFramed is a weekly podcast in which we explore how individuals and organizations can succeed with data and AI. I think it's safe to say that we are in of the hype cycle with Generative AI.

Almost every week now, we see new startups with exciting new Generative AI use cases and products. However, exciting doesn't necessarily translate to useful. And now, more than ever, it's important for leaders, whether at incumbents or startups, to adapt and drive value with Generative AI and focus on useful use cases.

So how can they adapt well to these tectonic changes in technology? Enter Jason Pfeiffer. Jason Pfeiffer is the editor in chief of Entrepreneur Magazine, a startup advisor, author of the book Built for Tomorrow, and host of the podcast Problem Solvers. Jason has advised numerous companies on change management including companies like Pfizer, Microsoft, Chipotle, DraftKings, Wix, and more.

In our conversation we delve into where we are today in the generative AI ecosystem, why Jason is skeptical of some of the generative AI use cases we see today. why boring use cases are much more valuable than the flashy ones you see online, principles for organizations and leaders to adapt to an ever evolving technology landscape, and a lot more.

If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to let us know in the comments, on social, or more. And now, on to today's episode. Jason Feifer,... See more

it's great to have you on the show.

Jason Feifer: Hey, thanks for having me.

Adel Nehme: So you are the editor in chief at Entrepreneur Magazine, a podcast host, author of the great book, Build for Tomorrow, which I can see here in the background in case anyone wants to check it out. You're a keynote speaker, startup advisor, and your website says that you are a non stop optimism machine, which I think definitely comes out in a lot of your interviews in your podcast.

So, preparing for this interview has been pretty difficult given your wide ranging knowledge and experience. But since you had the opportunity, to speak to and, collaborate with a lot of great entrepreneurs I'd be remiss not to talk about how AI will drive the upcoming wave of entrepreneurs.

If I'm not mistaken, 35 percent of Y Combinator's latest batch of startups are AI focused. So maybe to set the stage, where do you think we are today with generative AI as a technology and how do you look at the AI ecosystem evolving in the short term?

Jason Feifer: thanks for having me. I appreciate that and all the kind words. And just to set expectations here, I'm not a technologist, so I can't speak to AI from any kind of highly technical standpoint, but I can certainly tell you what I'm seeing inside of the business ecosystem and where I think it's going and I've spent a lot of time studying.

the history of innovation and there are a lot of patterns that emerge there that I think could apply to AI. So to your question, where are we right now? I mean, I would say that we're in the very early experimental phase. That's to be expected. And I think that At this point, look, I was just this week at LinkedIn's headquarters to watch this future of work conversation that they had between their editor in chief and their global economist, and she was talking about the.

very steep, fast rise of AI as a focal point for companies. There is, in the last year, a 21 times increase in job listings on LinkedIn that in some way or another ask for AI skills. Now that could be like a head of AI or that could just be somebody who has a familiarity with chat GPT, but What that speaks to is I think that this is a moment in which the expectations for AI are very high, but the clear understanding of exactly what it's going to do, how it's going to be most useful, how it's going to transform business, how it's going to be integrated into business, I think is unclear.

And so there are a lot of bets being taken. It doesn't surprise me at all that Y Combinator statistic that you shared. How much of this will survive five years from now? Who knows. But at this point, it's spaghetti against the wall.

Adel Nehme: Okay, that's really great. And we're definitely going to unpack a lot of that. And you know how you think the ecosystem will evolve given, the bets that are being made and how you think these bets being played out. So, arguably what's exciting about the AI space today, as you mentioned, is that it's very early days, it's still nascent, there's so much opportunity here for entrepreneurs and organizations and startups to drive impact in this space.

you know, a lot of open questions about how this ecosystem will evolve. So maybe looking today at the latest batch of startups and latest batch of entrepreneurs trying to make an impact with What type of use cases and applications are you personally excited about that you think will drive the industry forward in the next year or so?

Jason Feifer: It's so funny because I, I'll give you one quick example of how I think excitement may not necessarily be the best harbinger of usefulness. So, hey Jen, H E Y G E N came out with this incredible video translation

Adel Nehme: I saw that.

Jason Feifer: remarkable. I

Adel Nehme: hmm. It's incredible. Yeah.

Jason Feifer: Yeah, so I mean, I filmed a video of myself speaking for 30 seconds in English.

I uploaded it to HeyJen. It spat out versions of this exact video, but I, and something that approximates my voice, it wasn't perfect, but approximates my voice, is speaking in, I'm speaking in Portuguese, I'm speaking in Hindi, and it is moving my lips to match the translation. That's incredible! Now, Why did I know about that?

I knew about that because, of course, the second it came out, everybody started playing around with it, and I saw a bunch of videos on Twitter of people doing it, and so I decided to pony up 29 bucks and do it myself. And I did it. Okay, so notice this. I paid 29. I got 15 credits. Each video is a credit.

I've used two of those credits. The hell am I gonna do with this thing? It's amazing. It's so cool. What am I gonna do with it? I don't know. Now, I, I, but then I, I was, I was having dinner with a friend who runs global content for a massive company. And when I told him about it, he was like, oh my God, we have been talking about how to make videos for other markets.

And this might be a great way to do it. Can you send me a link to it? And so I did. All of which is to say that I think possibly something like HeyJen's Translation Tool is something that we all talk about and then 1 percent of the people who are interested in it find an actual business case for it.

And I think that's going to repeat itself over and over and over again. I've seen things that I'm very excited about that I just think are so cool, but then I think what a... What is the point of this? And I don't quite know. And I don't think that the entrepreneurs know either. And I think that's fine.

People reach out to me all the time and they say, Hey, we built this. Would you use it? Or how would you use it? And the feedback that I give them is so remarkably different than the the way in which they thought a user might want this, AI tools for creators or for community builders. And I think that's, awesome.

But again, what it means is that there's a lot of ideas out there. Excitement doesn't necessarily match. business use case, and it will, all get sorted out in time. Right now, I just love the idea generation of it.

Adel Nehme: Yeah, that's really exciting. And I completely agree with you as well, like the excitement aspect does not necessarily translate to usefulness. And I think they're probably going to be a reckoning in the next couple of years for a lot of these exciting startups that didn't necessarily translate into into usefulness.

Maybe looking at currently the landscape of what you find to be, really effective examples of useful generative AI use cases, you have something that comes to mind here? Yeah.

Jason Feifer: Right now, I'm finding that the things that are most exciting also sound, frankly, the most boring. So I, do a lot of keynote speaking, usually for companies, and Just a week or two ago, I flew out to speak at a conference for a company called Appfolio. Appfolio is a property management software company.

So if you are a property manager, you work for a company that owns a bunch of residential buildings, you might use AppFolio. Okay, so I'm addressing 700 property managers in this room. And before I go up, announcing all their new products. And a lot of them are AI driven. A lot of them are generative AI.

And it's stuff like, when the elevator breaks in the building that there's now a tool that can identify. Everyone impacted and their native languages and then right. an email to them all in their native languages and send it out. And this does not sound like sexy,

Adel Nehme: Yeah, it's not.

Jason Feifer: This got a round of applause, a huge round of applause from 700 property managers who don't want to spend an hour trying to figure that thing out themselves every time the elevator breaks.

This is saving them time. And what I found was completely fascinating about this was that Appfolio had done a survey of their users and they had asked questions like, What do you hate and love most about your job? And what do I hate most about my job if I'm a property manager? The answer is data entry and rote tasks.

Everyone's got to do so much of that. What do I love about my job? What I love about my job is human interaction. I love working with the residents. I love helping them solving their problems and building community and whatever. And what everybody quickly understood was that these kinds of generative AI tools are going to save them time.

in the things that they hate about their job. And then they can transfer that value over to the things that they love about their job. Because I, I really don't believe that when you make people's jobs more efficient, that you reduce your workforce. I, I, I don't. I think that what happens instead is that you take that liberated human capital and you start to put it towards Increasing value right like in a way you could think of the human capital in these property management roles are really being locked up inside of rote tasks where you have people who could be doing a lot more creating a lot more long term value who can't because they're busy.

doing data entry. So what's going to happen once they're liberated? You know, Who knows? I don't know, that's up to them. But I would imagine that the more time they start working with residents, maybe the more in which the community in that building grows stronger, which means that resident turnover is a lot lower, which means that the property company makes a lot more money and the residents are happy.

And that's all because of what are really functionally generative AI tools. But that is where I think the real big first opportunities are going to be.

Adel Nehme: Yeah, I couldn't agree more. And if you extrapolate this on the enterprise side where there's, millions and millions of road tasks that are done every day and, large organizations that you're able to, improve the quality of life there and make work. better and happier, right?

knock on effects are really big. But I think you mentioned something that's really interesting here, which is, the reduction of time spent on a lot of different tasks, and I think that kind of threatens potentially a lot of different industries business models. I saw, you know, another appearance of yours on a podcast where you talked about the legal industry specifically, right?

So where law firms, for example, need to evolve in a world where potentially they are 50 percent faster, And the way they make revenue is through billable hours, So taking that law firm example, how do you see AI threatening or potentially changing established business models for a lot of different industries?

Which industry do you think AI will be threat to existing business models? And how do you see these business models evolving?

Jason Feifer: Yeah, so... A pattern that you're going to discover in all my answers is that I'm going to dodge any time that you ask me to specifically predict something because I think that people in general are incredibly bad at predicting the future. Like if you study, if you study the past, what you find is that nobody, nobody can accurately tell you what's going to come.

So I try not to make that same mistake myself, but I will tell you what I learned from that conversation with the law firm that you're citing there and what I think it tells us about where we're going. The story, similar setup, is that I had flown out west to do a talk. In this case, it was to a, pretty sizable law firm.

And it was their attorney retreat. And I get up and I give this talk that's about change and what I call personal change management. I believe that if you're going to navigate change as an organization, every person in that organization first has to understand their own unique relationship with change.

And that's what I want to help people do. So that's what I talk about. And. I got to the end of my talk and then hands go up and it's all these lawyers in a room and the lawyers all want to ask me about ChatGPT and I just didn't expect it, and I got off stage afterwards and I went to their CEO and I said, it's so fascinating that all of your lawyers want to talk about ChatGPT and he said, they wouldn't say this out loud, but I'll tell you what they're really concerned about.

What they're really concerned about is that. AI is going to make motion writing, the act of writing legal motions, more efficient. And these lawyers work on billable hours, which means that if their work becomes more efficient, then they're billing fewer hours. And that's what they're really concerned about.

And I said that's. Great, isn't it? Like, that's fantastic. And not in an anti lawyer kind of way, but like, in a who likes billable hours kind of way. Who likes billable hours, you know? like, does any, nobody, nobody likes billable hours. No client. is ever saying to themselves, I am so glad that I'm paying for this incredibly important, very expensive professional service by the 15 minute mark when this person writes emails.

That's ridiculous. And I look, I, and I speak from experience. I've hired lawyers and then I see their bills and it's outrageous. And this is a stupid way of doing things. Nobody liked this. I'm sure the lawyers don't like this either. And yet it's the thing that we continue to do. Why? Here's why. Because.

When something breaks in our home, we throw it out. But when something breaks in our business or our life, we often keep it. And we keep it because we don't know a better way, because there's not an incentive to change it, because like, like just getting rid of it is in some way harder emotionally or something than, just holding on to it even though it doesn't work very well and nobody likes it.

And that's billable hours in the legal world. Nobody likes it. But there's never been an incentive for some law firm to stick their neck out and say, You know, I think that we have a better idea. No, why would they do that? It doesn't make any sense. Until now. Because now, ChatGPT or something like it, very well, may indeed, very soon, make motion writing much more efficient.

At which point, billable hours as a mechanism, For billing your clients for legal work is not going to make sense anymore, which means that somebody has an incentive right now to try to figure out how to build a new system that actually works for our needs. Now, instead. of holding on to this thing that's been broken, we are going to break what's already broken and then build something new.

That's what I told the CEO of the law firm, to which he said, amazingly, that's exactly why we just hired a head of AI. Because the way that he sees it, and this goes to your question about business models changing, the way he sees it is, All right. Let's say that AI is going to make motion writing more efficient.

Let's say that that's going to happen. You can't fight the future, can't like opt out of it, so let's say it's going to happen. Let's get proactive about thinking about what that means for a law firm in a positive way. So if I have a lot of lawyers who now suddenly have more time on their hands because writing motions for their clients just took half the amount of time, what do I do with that human capital?

Here's one thing that could happen. I could start to service a wider range of the market and start to move into clients that maybe couldn't previously afford my services. Because right now, the only people who can afford me are people who can pay this top dollar for these billable hours. But now I can move outward because I'm more flexible and I can start to service a wider range of clients in a wider range of ways that doesn't shrink my business that expands my business that gives me more people to reach and work with.

That's exciting. That's the kind of stuff that they're thinking about. And I think that you can start to apply this idea of breaking what's already broken and then building a new system that actually works for what we need now to all sorts of industries. What will they be? I mean, look, that's up for complete speculation.

I mean, I can, I can only. Yes, but I think that you'll see it and you'll see it happening in fits and starts. I think that obviously, and this is, it doesn't take a genius to say this, but you know, the more complicated and more regulated the industry, the longer it's going to take to see that kind of stuff.

But I think that it's going to be inevitable and those experiments are going to happen in ways large and small. And here's what I will, I'd put money on this right now. The first law firm to successfully develop a new way of building relationships with clients that doesn't involve billable hours is going to see a windfall, and then everyone else is going to follow them.

Like, it's a race right now, and somebody will be the winner.

Adel Nehme: Yeah, I couldn't agree more. And it's, I can also see the path towards applying this other industry as well. And what you mentioned here, I think the crux of your book as well as being proactive about change and being able to adapt. And I think this marks a great segue to my next question is like, how should organizations be thinking about change here?

So maybe I'd love to deep dive with you into kind of the framework that you lay out on the book built for tomorrow and kind of the different phases you lay out and harnessing change and succeeding and managing change.

Jason Feifer: Yeah, sure, so the book, Build for Tomorrow, which you can find ebook, hardcover, whatever, anything but Stone Tablet. That... is structured in four phases, which I call, I say the four phases of change. I say that everybody goes through them in the same way. Panic, adaptation, new normal, wouldn't go back.

Those are your four phases. Panic, no idea what's happening. Adaptation, start to look around and see what new resources are available. New normal, you create a new foundation, some new familiarities, something to grow from. wouldn't go back where you say, I have something so new and valuable that I wouldn't want to go back to a time before I had it.

It's the funny thing about change is that at some point change becomes so familiar that you forget that there ever was a change. I mean, I literally just today on LinkedIn posted a video from 1993 of a news clip about. Burger King taking credit cards. It was hilarious. There's reporters walking around Burger King and everyone's like completely flummoxed that Burger King is taking credit cards now.

Can you imagine walking into anywhere now and they're not taking credit cards? So there is a moment in which something new becomes something valuable. And that is the moment that I, I want people to start operating under the faith that it is available to them because the process of change becomes a lot less scary once you recognize that at the other end of it are actual benefits, not just loss.

The reason why panic is the beginning stage here is because change feels like loss. And that's for good reason. Decades of psychological research have confirmed what's called loss aversion theory, which is to say that we are programmed, our brains are programmed, to protect against loss more than to seek gain.

And so when change happens, we experience it like loss. We start to extrapolate that loss. We say because I'm losing this, I'll lose that, because I lose that, I'm going to lose that other thing. Soon I have nothing underneath my feet. There's no foundation. That's panic. But if you know that wouldn't go back is coming, if you know that there's something on the other end of this that's going to be gain, not loss, gain, then you can start to move more confidently through the process, seeking that gain rather than protecting against loss.

Adel Nehme: Okay, that's great. And I think that also segues to my next question here, which is on how do you panic correctly? Right? Because you mentioned here, the ability to have that faith that you will get to that point where you would never change back. So I think many organizations and leaders are feeling, a lot of panic today.

You mentioned that law firm example, but maybe deep diving a bit more here. Is there a good way or correct way to panic as opposed to an incorrect way to panic in the face of change or technological revolutions, for example.

Jason Feifer: Sure, panic is a natural thing. It's going to happen anyway, so we might as well make the most of it. I Often think back to this moment at the very beginning of the pandemic. It was the last social event that I had gone to before lockdown. I'm sure everybody can remember their own last social event. And mine was a birthday dinner at a crowded restaurant for my friend Nicole Lappin, who I co host a podcast with called Help Wanted.

And Help Wanted is a show we bring people on to talk through their work problems. and so Nicole had invited, ten friends or something out to dinner and we all show up and we're like sanitizing our hands as if that was going to do anything. We didn't know what was going on. And I was seated next to Megan Asha.

Megan Asha. is the CEO of a company called FounderMaid. FounderMaid is a trade show company for the CPG industry. She puts on live events. Live event business, beginning of pandemic. Not a great business to be in. And so I said to Megan, I said, it looks like live events are all shutting down. What are you going to do?

Are you afraid? And she said, you know what? I'm actually not afraid. And the reason is because we have had all of these ideas. For how else to grow founder made for what additional revenue models we can develop, and we've never really had the time to explore any of them because the trade shows take up so much of our time and our energy and our resources.

So we never get to these other ideas. But now Now that the live events are going to be on hold, we have the time to start exploring. Now at the time, I thought to myself, this is a woman with no fear. Just incredible, no fear. As the pandemic wore on and I watched other people operate with a similar mindset, I realized that that's not the right way of understanding it.

Megan had plenty of fear. She was panicking, to your question. She was panicking. There are really two ways. to panic. There are two ways to fear. Fear number one is the fear of losing something. And the fear of losing something is a fear that moves you backwards, makes you start to think, what am I losing and how do I hold on to it?

How do I try to preserve it? The second fear is the fear of not finding the next solution fast enough. And that is a fear that propels you forwards. And I would encourage anybody who is seeing the rise of AI, hearing conversations like ours, and are getting worried for their own business, for their own industry.

to ask themselves, which fear am I feeling right now? And how can I shift if I'm fearing losing something to fearing not finding the next solution fast enough? Because once you start to fear not, finding the next solution fast enough, you can start to plot out some experiments of what it would take to get there.

All right, I'm Megan. I'm trying to save my business, FounderMade. It's a live experience business functionally right now. I need to get to a place where this business is sustainable without live events. I am afraid of not finding the solution to that fast enough. Starting point, there's a solution.

Starting point. What happens next? How do I work backwards from that? Okay, who's my community? What have I been doing for them? And are there other ways to serve them? I'm a connector. I bring people together. I facilitate ideas. I help people get discovered. Those are all things people still need. Maybe they need them in different ways right now.

That's how she can start to plot her way forward. You can do the same thing when transformative new technology comes along. You step back and you ask yourself, what is the core thing that my business does? You go back to Appfolio. Appfolio is not in the business of helping people with people like enter data.

Affolio is in the business of helping property managers do their best managing property and most importantly, people. So once you start to think about that, you can say, Oh, there are these generative AI tools. That's really interesting. How can I use those to fulfill the greater purpose that I have and the greater purpose of my users?

And it starts to move you forward. Not to say it's easy, not to say it's simple, but it gives you a way to use that fear and panic in a more productive way.

Adel Nehme: Okay, that's really great. And, here about taking that fear and harnessing it to more productive second phase, which is adaptation, You mentioned that great example from your friend in terms of live events and how they adapted during COVID. And another great example as well from our folio.

Maybe connect to us as well when it comes to generative AI. How do you think leaders should be thinking today when it comes to adapting to the advent of AI?

Jason Feifer: It's again, very early days. And I think that it would be foolish for me to say right now, every leader of every company needs to have a concrete AI strategy right now. I don't know. Maybe you don't, or maybe it's early days and the best that you should have right now is some folks on your team who are exploring it.

running a piece in Entrepreneur about whether or not you should hire an AI consultant. And there's a wide range of answers to that. Some people say, yeah, it's really helpful, and other people say, it's a complete waste of your money. Just follow a bunch of AI people on Twitter and, you'll have the basics of the ideas that you need right now.

it's just too early. I was talking to Thomas Tull he created Legendary Entertainment and is now an investor and works with entrepreneurs in many ways. And asked him a version of this question, like how, how does a leader know whether or not to take AI seriously? And his answer was really interesting.

What he said was, ask yourself, if my competition starts to use am I in danger? the answer could be yes, the answer could be no, it depends on the industry that you're in and depends on the moment in which you're in. I think that it's always worth leaders taking new shifts seriously, exploring whether or not there's opportunity for them.

I don't think that right now most businesses have to transform themselves into AI companies. Again, it's early days. But I think if you're taking it seriously. If you're thinking about, are there ways, even in very small ways, to improve your business, your solutions for your consumer, then it's worth exploring.

But, again, there's a fine line between what's practical and what's, like, chasing things because, of a perceived obligation. And I think that right now everybody is on one or other side of that line and it's worth being very mindful of what it is that you need to do for your business right now.

Adel Nehme: I couldn't agree more, especially on this temptation here of, wanting to chase that shiny new object. Here in this case, it was AI. I think 10 years ago, it was data science, for example, right? Or machine learning. So maybe what, what advice would you give leaders here to cut through the noise?

and try to ascertain how to best ascertain what would be the best outcome for their business in this situation.

Jason Feifer: I think a good starting point is to go back to that idea that I introduced about breaking what's already broken. It's worth asking, what are the things that you are doing in your business, either internally or for your customers, that is not perfect, that people don't maybe like, maybe at all, or maybe not as much as you wish they did.

And out of a fear of change, are you protecting systems that aren't actually maximizing your opportunity? And if so, then the next question has to be, how do I unlock new opportunity? And, I'll tell you a quick story that's fascinated me since the moment that it was told to me, which is not exactly an AI story, but it's a technology disruption story.

And that is, I was talking to this guy whose name is Hamza Mudassir, he's a disruption expert at Cambridge, and he tells me about this interesting theory, which is that what killed Kodak? Everyone always says what killed Kodak is... I mean, talk to me,

Adel Nehme: The digital camera,

Jason Feifer: The digital camera, right?

Everyone says that Kodak was killed by the digital camera. And there's plenty of reason to say that. Kodak was involved in the development of the digital camera, didn't take it seriously, and was flat footed when the digital camera exploded in popularity, but there's another way of thinking about it.

And the other way of thinking about it is this. The digital camera did not kill Kodak. Facebook killed Kodak. How do you get there? It goes like this. The first digital camera sucked. They did. I have one. It was not good. It was, it was ex you right? It was expensive. Do you remember? I mean, it was

Adel Nehme: Yeah, pretty bad, yeah.

Jason Feifer: uh, the photos. Yeah, the photos were grainy. Uh, It could barely store uh, you know, photos and it's like the small little memory chip. Yeah. Right. It was nothing. It was nothing. And then what, what were you gonna do with it? What were you supposed to do with it? Because, because you could take these grainy photos and put them onto your computer, but like why, for what purpose?

Whereas you were living in a world in which people took. More high quality photos with camera film and then printed them out and put them on refrigerators or mailed them somewhere, put them in a book like that was what we did with it. And the just the use case for the digital camera wasn't clear and then Facebook came along and Facebook was the first real mass.

use case for storing and sharing digital photos. Now people understood how to organize photos and give people access to photos. There was a place to put photos that made sense. I mean, do you remember the very beginning of Facebook? You would like treat Facebook like your just personal storage device.

You just like, you take a bunch of photos,

Adel Nehme: People would have albums. People would have

Jason Feifer: they have albums, right, right. Albums that you could browse yourself. Like, it was a totally different way of thinking of it. And that. the theory goes, was the thing that helped people recognize the value of the digital camera over camera film.

And that is what killed Kodak. And the lesson here for Kodak, or for the Kodaks of the future, is not, oh, take the new technology seriously. Because, look, there's a lot of new technologies and, which ones do you take seriously? The lesson is, you better understand what business you're in. Because, Kodak thought that it was in the camera film business, and as a result, it thought of its competitors as producers of camera film.

And then therefore, if you understand your competitors, you understand how to compete against your competitors, which is in a traditional linear way. I better make my camera film cheaper and better than my competition, and that's how to beat them. But when your competition is something totally different, because it turns out that you're in a totally different kind of business, the rules of the game change.

What would have happened if Kodak had thought of itself as being not in the camera film business, but rather being in the memory business? We are in the business of preserving your memories. Now, these nascent social networks, because Facebook didn't invent it, right, MySpace had been around, Friendster was around, they saw this stuff.

They could have invested in that. They could have said, oh, this is also in the business of memories, just like we are. We should get into that. That would have led to a completely different way of thinking about your business. and how you serve your customers. And that, I think, is what business leaders today need to be thinking about.

Technology is changing. The way in which you're going to serve your consumer is going to change. You better have a really clear idea, before you even think about the technology, generative AI or anything else, you better have a really clear idea about what it is that you do. What is your purpose in the world?

Why do people turn to you? And once you understand that, In a very clear way, you can better understand how and whether new technologies help you do that.

Adel Nehme: that's brilliant. And yeah, it's a really great example on, the Kodak Facebook connection here. And, we're talking a lot about how organizations can adapt and how business leaders should be thinking about adapting, but I think individuals also going to have to adapt over the next few years as AI becomes, integrated within their workflows.

You mentioned earlier in our discussion, the LinkedIn event that you were talking about, the amount of jobs requiring AI skills. Walk me through. Your theory of change for personal management is what personal change as well. And how you think individuals should be thinking about change in the face of new technologies that will potentially disrupt their workflows.

Jason Feifer: So I think that it, you need to go through, on a personal level, a very similar exercise to what I just described for Kodak. What do you do? Come up with a mission statement for yourself. As an individual, here's the structure for it. It's very, very simple. It should be one sentence, as few words as possible.

It starts with I, and then every word is carefully selected because it is not anchored to something that's easily changeable. The hell does that mean? My identity for a long time was, I'm a magazine editor. I've been in magazines for decades. I'm a magazine editor. But you know what? Anything, any crazy thing falling out of the clear blue podcast.

My boss, I don't own Entrepreneur Magazine, I'm just the editor in chief, I'm a salaried employee. My boss, who's the president of the company, he could call and fire me, right? He could call me, he could send an email, he could send an email and fire me, he could do anything he wants, at any time. And, if that's true, and it is, then, if my identity is, I'm a magazine editor, I'm one phone call away from losing my identity.

But also, it couldn't be, maybe it's not disruption from my boss. Maybe it's disruption from technology, maybe it turns out that I'm not needed anymore because thanks to the new workflows and whatever, they're going to take my job and they're going to distribute it to five freelancers around the world.

And they're going to pay them ultimately half of what I get paid now. And nobody has to pay for healthcare and I'm off the table. Anything can happen. I don't like that and therefore my identity can't be, I am a magazine editor. So again, I told you, come up with a mission statement for yourself. Short sentence.

Starts with I. Every word, carefully selected because it is not anchored to something that's easily changeable. Here's mine. seven words. I tell stories in my own voice. I tell stories in my own voice. Why? Stories! I tell stories, not magazine stories, not newspaper stories, not podcasts, not books, whatever.

I tell stories. You can't take that away from me. You just can't. You can't. There's literally no technology, has or ever will be developed, that will reduce the desire for people to hear stories. Not gonna happen. In my own voice. That's me setting the terms for how I want to operate at this stage of my career.

This is really important. And it's really helpful because it means that I now have a way to understand and filter new opportunities as they come. If something is disruptive in the magazine industry, I can say well, where else am I valuable? How can I create value myself? I have all sorts of things that do that, right?

I mean, a couple of you've mentioned. I have this book. That's me telling stories in my own voice built for tomorrow. The podcast, Help Wanted. I have a newsletter called One Thing Better. can find it at onethingbetter. email. And that is each week, one way to be happier and more effective at work, build a career or company you love.

That's me in my own voice. I'm doing that because once I had a clarity of understanding of mission, then I can figure out. how to best use the resources and technologies available to me to do that. You know what, if you subscribe to One Thing Better, one of the first things you'll see in every edition, it opens it up and there's an illustration drawn with Dolly 2.

I use AI in it and it's great. And I, it doesn't, it's not reducing anybody's job because I wouldn't have paid an illustrator for that. I don't have the budget for it, but Dolly, I have the budget for Dolly. So, I love refining and understanding of yourself down to something that simple. Because once you do it, big giant things like AI stop feeling like major disruptors.

They start to feel like tools. They start to feel like ways to enhance and refine the thing that you are. And I really encourage everybody listening to go through that process themselves. When I do this with senior executives, it's fascinating what I hear. People tell me things like, I build companies.

I help solve the most complex problems. I help teams achieve greatness. These are things that they say. I love that. That's great. There's always going to be a need for someone to build companies. There's always going to be a need for people to help teams achieve greatness. Always. Always. So focus on your always.

Adel Nehme: That's awesome. I couldn't agree more. I love that idea here. And you mentioned the use of AI. You hinted at the use of AI in the media industry. And I would be remiss not to talk to you about that, given, this is your bread and butter. How do you view generative text and generative art and the entire issues around it, around copyright, for example, evolving especially as our media ecosystem uses these tools more and more so.

Jason Feifer: Yeah, so copyright stuff is super interesting. I am the furthest thing from an IP lawyer, so don't, don't take my thoughts as legal advice. But, I see the IP conversation similar to the very early days of music streaming, right? We, there was a kind of wild west where we created this technology and hadn't really considered the implications it would have on ownership of, intellectual property.

And now we got to a point where... I can, for a small fee, pay Spotify or any other service and get all the music that I want. It's pretty amazing. And I would expect there to be some similar shift in AI. Right now, the generative models have gobbled up a lot of the world's intellectual property and are spitting out all sorts of things and we're going to have to start to parse out.

what that means and and I don't think that it'll happen immediately, but it'll be interesting. But in the meantime, I do not worry for media. I really don't. That's not to say that there won't be massive disruption in media. There will. I think a lot of, a lot of companies that exist in media today will not exist in five to ten years.

The reason I don't worry about that is because I just don't think that that's a loss. Like, that's not a loss, right? If if a media company was born because Facebook had a specific algorithm for how to surface content and the, uproxes of the world and bored pandas of the world or whatever, figured out, oh, you know what, we can use that understanding and build a media company that's driven primarily off of Facebook driving traffic to us and then we can make a bunch of money on ad impressions.

Okay. They saw an opportunity and they took advantage of it and then technology is going to change and maybe their business model doesn't make sense anymore and maybe they disappear from the world. We weren't promised Uproxx forever. Like, that's just not, that wasn't part of the thing, right?

Like, it wasn't like the 11th commandment from Moses was Uproxx exists forever. Like, it doesn't matter, and that, that's just the way it's going to be. But I think that people will always find new ways. to utilize the resources and technology and storytelling means available to gather and share information.

And just like One of the things that I, I, I, this is a game everybody in media has to play and I, I, I don't like that entrepreneur has to play it, but everyone has to play it, right? Which is which is that a lot of traffic that any media site is going to get is going to be from this kind of small set of stories that just drive a ton of awareness for whatever reason, right?

Like Elon Musk farts in the woods and everyone cares. so what happens? Well, What happens is that everybody's got a team. of these young editors whose jobs are to just see what's trending on some other sites and then write their own version of that story, right? So like Elon Musk farts in the woods, and Forbes writes about it, and then Fortune's gonna write about it, and then Ink's gonna write about it, and then Entrepreneur's gonna write about it, and then Fast Company's gonna write about it, right?

And like, everybody's doing their own version of that. AI could probably, and probably will, replace that. pretty quickly. And, that sucks for the, the young editor who might be out of a job for that. That, that sucks. But, the other way of thinking about it is, I'm not sure that they were developing a very useful skill set in just repeating other stories anyway.

And maybe this is going to liberate their human capital to be more inventive and to go create something of, of greater value. In the same way that when in the dawn of the industrial revolution when knitting machines started to replace individual humans as, as knitters there was large disruptions, great uproar.

Rightfully so, in that people lost their jobs. But then, what happened after that? Uh, Knitting historian told me what happened after that is that, Knitters started to create the distinctive knitting styles that we all know today. You may, you may not know the names. I didn't when she told it to me, but then I looked it up and I was like, oh yeah, like, like Irish cable sweaters and fair isle sweaters, like these things, you know, these things, they all came out of the dawn of the industrial revolution when human beings started to find ways to innovate, to compete against machines that couldn't innovate.

And that is the. amazing human power is that we will always find something new, some reason that we as humans are of benefit to other humans. The technology is just tools. So yeah, there'll be a lot of disruption in media. suck. But I'm not sure that like net net we lose anything as a society. I think if anything we just put to bed a business model that has really not been working for a long time and we can start to build a better one.

Adel Nehme: But do you also worry about the potential health of the internet in general, if a lot of the content that we see is generated? Using AI.

Jason Feifer: I mean, but the, a lot of the content on the internet before AI was garbage too. Right. I mean, right. I mean, like, what are we replacing here exactly? I mean, if you Google for something and you

Adel Nehme: Recipes is a great example.

Jason Feifer: recipes is a great example, right? Great, great example, right? Like the, the world is full of.

Absolute, like, pre generative AI, full of absolute crap that was created for one purpose only, and that was now we're going to have a different version of that. I don't know, that's like, we're not creating new problems, we're just creating new versions of old problems.

Adel Nehme: Okay, that's really great. I think on this note, I think it would be great to close our episode. But before Jason, do you have any final call to action or closing notes to share with the audience?

Jason Feifer: Oh sure, well I'll just, you know, I had mentioned a couple different ways to get a hold of me or find my work, but I'll just reinforce two. One is that newsletter that said One Thing Better. You can find it by going to onethingbetter. email. That's a web address. Just plug it on in.

onethingbetter. email. Each week is a tip for me for how to become more effective and happier at work. lot on change, change management. then that book that I told you about, Build for Tomorrow, which you can find audio, ebook, hardcover, anywhere. Again, Build for Tomorrow.

Adel Nehme: Okay, that's awesome. Thank you so much Jason for coming on the podcast.

Jason Feifer: Hey, thanks for having me.

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