Why not listen to me narrate a story about tools over insane late-night roadworks? Oh the irony. Direct Spotify link here.
When I was a kid near the beaches in ye olden days, the alpha surf males drove Holden Sandman panel vans, with lurid airbrush art.
Giant spiders in a psychedelic space-scape, attacking a broadsword-wielding warrior woman in a fur bikini, that sort of thing.
I think of those vans every time I see AI art. It’s technically impressive.
Conceptually and artistically, it’s trash, like endless L. Ron Hubbard book covers.
AI art won’t be this terrible forever. Actual artists will work out something interesting and meaningful.
For now, it all looks like a coder bro’s idea of what art is. “We don’t need to pay artists any more, this is just as good,” they’ll tell you.
It’s all the same to them. In the same way that Facebook are perfectly OK with their version of emojis, rather than seeing them for the horrifying soulless blobs they are.
How art makes your cash register ring
There’s a difference between art and a picture. Why should you, a business or professional person, care?
Because art makes people feel something. Making people feel something really helps make your cash register ring. Particularly in a long-term, loyal high margin customers kind of way.
By art, I’m not just talking images here, but all forms of communication.
Those customers might not even register it at the time, sometimes it works subconsciously. But their reptilian brains will think: this is a quality company, they care about the details, I feel good buying from them.
Not everything you do will be art, but if you can understand why not everything works on spreadsheet logic, you’ll be a long way ahead of your competitors.
Because we are well on the way to The Great Same-ening. Every company’s CFO orders them to cut costs with AI tools. So everyone’s marketing and comms will look and sound exactly the same. Why should a single customer choose you? Or pay a penny extra for your services?
Guys talkin’ about tools
The whole thing highlights that a lot of LinkedIn-style advice is just guys talking about tools, while dismissing skills that take a lot of effort and time to learn.
My social stream pulsates with swaggering AI posts.
“Get ready to have your skills left behind, regular plebs, because I get ChatGPT-4 to do full day’s work automatically before I’m done with my 5am ice bath! Read my carousel on how to replace all your suppliers and get 10x growth by yourself 🚀🚀🚀 follow me now for more daily tips!”
The urge to disrupt your industry with new ideas is great, part of the natural Darwinian order of things.
Yet disrespecting the skills of everyone else is built deep into the DNA of so many tech hustlers.
It makes for a clicky social post but it’s not a reliable way to get anywhere in the world where normal people live.
Any clown can do a business plan and so can Chat-GPT
Do you remember the crypto guy who got a firestorm of exposure a while back for setting up Chat-GPT to come up with a new business and run it? He let AI come up with the idea, create the website, and so on. Lots of word-of-mouth at the time. “Have you heard? People can do their whole business from AI! We have to get on board or we’ll be left behind!”
I gave GPT-4 a budget of $100 and told it to make as much money as possible.— Jackson Greathouse Fall (@jacksonfall) March 15, 2023
I’m acting as its human liaison, buying anything it says to.
Do you think it’ll be able to make smart investments and build an online business?
Follow along 👀 pic.twitter.com/zu4nvgibiK
Because business planning is an art, too. Any clown can do one with a template, and that’s what AI does.
But the genius business plan comes from the wiliness and creative skill to go where others haven’t gone before. The insight into customers that makes them respond to your brand. The understanding of what makes staff want to do a better job than they would working elsewhere.
All this is the product of a lot of skill, effort, observation, thinking and learning from previous failures. But all that gets brushed away because LOOK NEW TOOLS.
Develop skills before using advanced tools
So many people – and by people I mean mostly men – are in it for the tools. In all areas of life.
Guys will buy a $20,000 bicycle that’s 700 grams lighter than a $2,000 one. They could save much more weight via their own bodies by having fewer pastries at the end of each ride, but that’s not the point. The point is to tell others at great length about their investment.
The most expensive guitars in the world will not make Stephen Seagal a player you can listen to. These indulgences are fine if you’ve got the budget. Nobody was ever harmed by a Seagal solo, just robbed of time they’ll never get back.
But don’t tell others that they’re wrong and should do what you do, purely because you have some new tools.
When I get advice from tool guys, I like to show them this video of Kelly Slater surfing a coffee table. Maybe work on some skills before you tool up with prestige equipment?
The AI winners will not use rocket emojis
I’m not against the tools themselves. We use AI and it’s great. The business we invested in that I wrote of last week is built on it. AI brings what was a premium, consultant-heavy product within reach of clients who don’t have a multinational budget. Nobody gets made unemployed and everyone’s generally better off.
That AI application is guided by people with powerful spider senses about customers in that industry.
As with all tools, the AI winners will be people who don’t just start and finish with AI. They’ll already have a deep understanding of how business and people already work without AI, and know which elements can be improved by the new tools, without all the hype and posting swagger.
There won’t be a rocket emoji in sight.
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