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  • Writer's pictureBill Petrie

Yelling at the Ocean

Why understanding what scares you is critical to success.

You never know when someone you respect will say something that not only hits you at the moment but stays with you to the point it becomes your mantra. About four years ago, I had one of those instances when former PPAI (Promotional Products Association International) CEO Paul Bellantone eloquently stated the following:

“The pace of change will never be slower than it is today.”

As we barrel through an age of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) that seems to accelerate exponentially on a daily basis, I couldn’t help but recall Paul’s prescient comment. We are constantly bombarded with machines that can hold ever-increasingly natural conversations, graphics programs that create whatever we imagine in mere moments, and programs that can write catchy songs that are almost indistinguishable from the artists they are emulating.

Candidly, it’s some terrifying technology. At the same time, however, it’s fascinating technology.

Whether you welcome it or not, the age of AI is here and has been for some time:

  • Unlock your iPhone with facial recognition? That’s AI.

  • Enjoy that predictive text that helps you communicate faster? That’s AI.

  • Rely on Google to search for an answer to a question? That’s AI.

  • Use the maps feature on your phone to guide you to your destination? That’s AI.

  • Use Grammarly to check your writing before you post a blog (like me)? That’s AI.

Now that we are here, you have two choices:

  1. Stick your head in the sand because the power of AI is too scary.

  2. Pull your head out of the sand, learn, and understand how to leverage AI.

I’ve chosen the latter and strongly urge others to do the same. Change is inherently scary and is only further compounded when it’s difficult to understand the agent of said change, like AI. I have no idea how it works, but I know that if I wish to remain at the forefront of what I do, I need to learn everything I can about AI. So, I use Grammarly to make my blogs easier to read after I write them, communicate with ChatGPT to spitball ideas, and use MidJourney to create images as a substitute for stock photography (like the image on the cover of this blog post). Doing this does more than make me more efficient in my work; it helps me stay at the forefront of that rapid pace of change I mentioned earlier.

I don’t know the future of AI or the myriad of ways it will impact all of us. What I do know is that attempting to ignore AI in the hope that it won’t influence you or how you do your job is as effective as standing at the ocean and yelling at it to turn left.

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