Several months ago, I was hired by a client to deliver a keynote on my first book, Management Mess to Leadership Success. Apparently, it went well enough that they hired me back for four more events of varying lengths to different audiences in the company. Basically an author’s dream gig. A leader buys and reads your book. Within weeks, they buy 2,000 more copies of your book, and now your point of view and experience are centerpieces of their organizational strategy.
Then comes the inevitable pivot. You’re asked to customize your content to their culture, strategy, and growth initiatives.
Sounds reasonable, until you learn their focus is a digital transformation through A.I. and they want your leadership content to support the significant change in culture required to be successful.
A.I.? I could barely spell A.I., let alone link my content to it.
So, I had two choices: decline the invitation and go back to my cave and continue to huddle by my warm fire, or disrupt myself entirely and get relevant…fast.
Trust me, the fire was appealing. My books were selling well, clients were hiring me continually for keynotes, and life was good…really good. Developing even a light level of knowledge on A.I. wasn’t that appealing…or even on the list.
How often have you been in a similar situation?
Reminds me of an Instagram post last week from my friend and author Dave Hollis, where he describes his decision to leave the safety of an executive career at Disney and jump onboard his then-wife’s rocket ship, The Hollis Company. Dave writes:
“Phase 1: Safe harbor. Time for change. I’d stopped growing, so I was dying. Not using my potential. Not connected to purpose or impact. Clinging to the familiar. Choosing to sit in the suffering I knew versus the challenge I needed. Time to go.”
A.I., meet Scott Jeffrey Miller.
I threw myself into reading every blog and article and calling my entire network that might be even closely related to the topic. I ended up talking to MIT Ph.D.s, Harvard-based experts, and A.I. consultants. I even called my friend Seth Godin (who kinda knows everything about everything), and he taught me an immense amount about why digital transformations and machine-learning implementations thrive and also die inside organizations.
I interviewed six separate industry experts and absorbed more than I needed (and wanted).
The investment enabled me to crush my engagements with the client, but perhaps more importantly, I can now actually hold my own in any (short) conversation about A.I. Even with an A.I. expert like Ash Fontana, the featured author on this week’s On Leadership podcast.
A former leader of mine, prone to sharing folksy adages, once shared this thought: “Why doesn’t the hound dog, who’s crying out on the porch, get up and move off the nail he’s sitting on? Because he’s not in enough pain to move. Yet.”
How sharp is that nail you’re sitting on?
Oh yeah—A.I. stands for artificial intelligence, and it’s coming for you and your organization like an August hurricane in the Caribbean.
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