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How to use AI to make data-driven decisions in your business with Shelly Palmer

It’s no secret that AI can have a positive impact on our business. In fact, 70% of independent business owners already feel that way. We know that AI can help improve our systems, our overall client experience and save us time, but what if we took it a step further? 

How can we use AI to make data-driven decisions to make money in our business? Shelly Palmer, AI expert and CEO of the Palmer Group is here to teach us how to do just that. In this episode, Shelly guides us on how we can use AI to gain a deeper understanding of our business through data, plus how we can use that data to make smarter, data-driven decisions.

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Why AI isn’t going to replace you and why you need to use it

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) advances, fear about being replaced by a robot has become more and more real. However, this fear is not something to worry about as long as you continue to hone your skills and learn how to utilize AI tools to help you do more than you could do before. 

While AI is a powerful tool, it can’t replace our feelings, experiences, and how you see the world. Ultimately, there is no replacement for human connection.

There are things, however, that AI can do that humans cannot. For example, AI can help you create targeted offers for varying personas and deliver those offers to the right people at the right time. Tools like this can allow you to be more efficient than your competitors. That’s what we want to dive into today—utilizing AI to make data-driven decisions in your business.

Get organized for data-driven decision by tracking data

We know there are a variety of benefits to using AI, but before you can harness the power of Artificial Intelligence, you have to set up good hygiene, data governance, and data policy. Whether you run a big or small business, without data for AI to read, you can’t utilize many of the data-driven AI tools.

Additionally, if you don’t have these data practices in place, trying to use AI to read your data is only going to confuse you.

How to use AI tools to make data-driven decisions as a business owner

AI tools are powerful, but you still have to understand how to use them to get the most out of what they offer. Through his free course, Shelly teaches business owners and executives how to use generative AI.

Open AI also has an amazing blog that offers helpful step-by-step guides you can follow so that you can start implementing AI automation into your business. 

How to stay on top of AI without becoming overwhelmed

Even before AI, keeping up with business trends could get overwhelming. It’s normal to see the new trend and wonder how it fits into your business. However, the best way to stay on the cutting edge is to stay on top of your market, not every individual trend. You need to make sure that you are positioned inside your competitive set where you want to be.

You can’t keep up with everything and you never will, but you can stay aware of what’s happening in your market and industry. It’s important to understand that things are moving faster today than they used to, but it’s up to you to determine what’s relevant to your business based on what’s going on in your market. 

The more you pay attention, the more you’ll be able to tell a fad from an effective tool that could improve your business.

The biggest differentiator between businesses that succeed and the ones that fail

Shelly believes that the biggest differentiator between the businesses that succeed and the ones that fail is in how badly you want to succeed. How much risk are you willing to take to be successful? Businesses fail because you just don’t want it enough. 

Important sections of the conversation:

  • [5:35] AI isn’t going to replace your job
  • [11:50] Why you need to use AI to stay ahead of your competition
  • [19:06] Using AI data to move your business forward
  • [36:57] How to stay on top of AI without becoming overwhelmed 
  • [46:00] The biggest differentiator between businesses that succeed and the ones that fail

Resources Mentioned

Connect with the guest

Episode Transcript

Akua Konadu
Now it is no secret that AI can have a positive impact on our business. And in fact, 70% of independent business owners already feel that way. We know that AI can help improve our systems, our overall client experience and just save us time. But what if we took it a step further? How can we use AI to make data driven decisions to make money in our business? Well, that is where we brought in AI expert, Shelly Palmer and he is an author, professor and CEO of the Palmer group, a consulting firm that helps companies with technology, media and marketing. Shelley walks us through how we can use AI to gain a deeper understanding of our business through data, and how we can use that to make smarter decisions. I know after this episode, you are going to feel so fired up about AI because I certainly did. So let’s hop into the episode. Hey, everyone, this is your host, a cook and audio and you’re listening to the independent business podcast, more people than ever are working for themselves and building profitable businesses in the process. So on this show, I get to sit down with some of the most influential authors, entrepreneurs and creators to break down the science of self made success so that you can achieve it too.

Akua Konadu
Hello, Shelly, how are we doing today?

Shelly Palmer
Living my best life?

Akua Konadu
I love that. Yes. I mean, that is absolutely the best motto. And I’m also just really excited to have you here today on the show. Because AI, again, has been it’s this trending topic that’s really not going anywhere. And you have I mean, you are truly an AI expert. So I’m really, really excited to just hear your thoughts and hear how we can be utilizing AI continuing to utilize AI in our business. So yeah, thank you for coming on. My pleasure. Absolutely. So let’s just hop on in, you know, AI is just growing rapidly, right? It’s just constantly evolving. And so I want to know, are there any major breakthroughs or advancements over the last few months that you think would be particularly beneficial for independent business owners?

Shelly Palmer
It’s a great question. I think AI changes every morning when you wake up. I think the industry is moving at a pace that is unlike any I’ve seen in my entire career. We always talk about what’s new, what’s next, what it means for your business, we always talk about the pace of change is exponential. And everybody, you know, rolls their eyes at that. And, you know, the only thing that’s constant is change, and you need to adapt to change, like these have been tropes that have been just literally mashing ated a million different ways, sung in every key scream to the rafters, but never has it been more apparent, and never has it been more really dramatically demonstrated than in the last 12 months. The changes just between what open AI was able to accomplish in November of 2022, to what they announced in November of 2023 is pretty profound. You’ve got every major company in the game, from Amazon, to Google, to Facebook, to Salesforce, to zoom, it doesn’t really matter who you’re talking about. At this point, there are AI toaster ovens and you know, AI crayons, and it seems like everybody is incorporating what they believe is AI into their tools or their products or services. So while there are probably more charlatans, and probably more posers in the business than there have ever been, there’s also more substance to the business. So when you ask an open ended question, like what’s changed depending on when this podcast airs, open AI is latest announcement where they’ve increased their context windows where they’ve basically, both embraced the developer community and put a bunch of developers out of business and one of the same breath by by making certain tools and certain developer tools available. This is we’ve just never seen anything come this fast. And you know, look, at the end of the day, this is the last communications transformation. This is the last transformation we have. We’ve transitioned from the age of curation, where we curate everything to the age of generation, and AI does play a role in that. So we’ve been producing and curating stuff forever. You curated me as a guest on this podcast, someone’s going to curate when you listen to this podcast, it’s going to be a more old fashioned kind of AI although it’s that’s the wrong way to couch it. That’s doing the curation and doing the sequencing. At some point in the very near future, you’ll be able to create this podcast with voice clones from a goal oriented request that says I need a podcast that has the opinions of quote AI expert tech expert however you professor have asked me to whatever your uses, Shelly Palmer, what would you say go and and you can almost get there today. It would it be emotionally satisfying as an output, maybe maybe not. But in very short order, that output will be the accepted way that that gets done or one of the accepted ways. So yeah, we’re in a new place. We’re

Akua Konadu
in a new place. Exactly. And I feel like again, yes, there is so much Unknown just with how things are rapidly growing, and to your point of what you said, of just how you like voice clones there. Absolutely. I’ve seen little instances like that as well, where it’s almost like, you don’t necessarily need people. Right. But it can really save you a lot of times in different areas. But another question that I have, because I’ve been hearing this a lot, and I would really love to know your take on it, what I’ve seen a lot is in the conversation is, AI is not going to replace your job. But it’s the people that are using AI that will replace your job. And so what when you hear that, what are your thoughts? Do you think that rings true?

Shelly Palmer
Well, first of all, it is true. But it’s been true from the very first ever, tool anyone ever used ever in history, whoever used a stick better than their competitor was more successful, whoever used the rock better than their competitor was, you know, more successful, any tool you get, if you practice and becomes, you know, you give me a Stradivarius violin, nothing’s gonna happen. That means anything, give it to a skilled violinist, you’re gonna get something amazing give it to, you know, a prodigy musician is practice 12 hours a day for 40 years, you’re gonna get something else also. So you know, that everyone performs according to their gifts, and also the amount that you practice, to say that any technology is, empowers people who are less skilled to achieve more than those who are skilled is nonsense. Tools empower us to do very, very specific things we could not do otherwise. So, you know, everybody likes to talk about big, gigantic inventions for humanity, fire is a big one. Electricity is a big one, the steam engine is a very big one, the world around us, is only possible, because we were able to use machines in the industrial age to amplify the power of our muscles by millions of times, which is how you get skyscrapers in Manhattan, which is how you get vast all of the vast buildings in the metropolis that I live in and others live. This is only possible by power tools. And what computers do is they amplify the power of our minds by millions of times, not the entirety of our minds, but the computational parts. And where everybody’s having trouble right now isn’t that they are not used to using tools that amplify certain things we can do. It’s that they’re not used to having cognitive non repetitive work tasks be amplified. That shouldn’t surprise people. But a lot of people didn’t study logic in school. And, you know, in the 20s, when Claude Shannon figured out that Boolean logic could be the, the way that you teach electronic circuits to reason logically, prior to that logic was thought to be a quality of humans, the human mind had logic and the ability to reason and here, we’ve used your and nor and NOT gates, and it’s like all of a sudden, with a pile of gates on transistors, the computer is in quotes, able to think or reason through a problem that other than that only humans were able to be able to do. People don’t think about that as being displaced. But actually, that’s the displacement. For them as the first of it, we were the only things that could logically think, all of a sudden, a computer’s logically thinking, Is it really thinking No, but we separated logic from people the ability to do a logical calculation from a person that had never been possible before. So all of a sudden, stuff is your word calculators are calculating the next best token and putting words together that look a lot like English sounds a lot like English. And to many people, the English that comes out is a little better than you could write. Because you weren’t that good at it to begin with. Not better than a writer could write not better than a professional writer could write. But good enough. Oh, what is good enough mean? Because how many people can really tell the difference between something that’s written in The New York Times and Something’s written by like a really a well schooled individual or a scholar? And the answer is, if you’re at below a certain grade level of reading and comprehension, everything above the New York Times looks the same to you. Oh, this is not a failure, the success of the computer, this is a failure of our educational system. So people are scared because they they are for the first time challenged, in a way they haven’t been challenged and things they thought were just part of being human or turning out to be not so much a part of being human. And the things that maybe some people don’t value as much. You know, it’s a job that’s never going to be taken by a computer, no matter how much AI is put into it. Preschool Teacher, you want to teach a child to be human, you need a human to do it. And when when a five year old skins their knee, they’re not looking for a hug from a from a robot. You’re looking for a hug in a band aid and uh, you know, and it’s going to be okay kind of, you know, cuddle and security and that you can’t get that from something that doesn’t have a human grants, I can’t come, no matter how good the voice clone is, it’s not going to ring true. We respond to touch, we respond to things that are human. And so we are redefining, and maybe these tools aren’t so much scary as they are helping us cut to the essence of what it means for each of us to be a human being, and maybe not so much about the calculations that we do for our jobs every day. Yeah,

Akua Konadu
there was so much that you shared within there to unpack. Number one is that just in general, a lot of times what I’m hearing is, there’s the foundational thing, with AI, especially if people are afraid to use it, or, you know, not really sure how to start, it’s practice, you really just have to kind of just dive in and really explore and just kind of see what’s going to work. And the possibilities are endless, clearly with everything that you’ve been sharing. And so really just practicing utilizing it, so then you can really see how it can necessarily benefit your business. And two, I think it’s just a good reminder that you can’t replace human beings, you can’t replace feelings. And yes, despite the fact that logic, a computer now can solve these logical problems, place logic into and separates us from human but we still have feelings, we have specific experiences that machines and whatever can’t replicate. And so I think that’s just what’s really encouraging for business owners, again, is that you still are you your experiences, how you view the world, your feelings, like we crave connection, and that’s something that AI just doesn’t have. And I think that’s just such an important thing to really lean into, as you’re exploring these topics, as you’re like, is this thing going to take my job, or you know, what I mean, and just having some of these fear mindsets that could take over is that nobody can replace you like people buy from people, that’s a lot of times why we invest in our products and services from somebody that we love is because we love them and who they are and what they represent. So I absolutely love that. Well,

Shelly Palmer
I’ll tell you what, I think I would I add to that a little bit, everything you just said is true. But if you if you look at it through the lens of a business owner, we have to be, I think a little more specific, just a tad more specific in that. There are things that AI can do that people cannot do, and I mean cannot do in the extreme. When we talk about this transition from curation to generation from a business context, now we’re talking about target personas, we’re talking about propensity to buy we’re talking about the right message in front of the right person in the right place at the right time, you’re talking about the an offer that is correct for that person, the you know where it’s the right price and the right product, not just the right message, right person, right place, right time. So there are confluence of things that can be data driven. And while you can have gut intuition about this, maybe in an individual one on one sales environment in a retail store, when you’re an E commerce environment, when you are when you’re selling by machine, and you are trying to ensure that your money is invested properly, and your marketing money’s invested properly, your merchandising money’s invested properly, that you’re getting the best of creating the best value for your shareholders and stakeholders. All of a sudden, we come to a new place, which is that for all of the things you need to be human, which are all true, by the way, 100% true. What you need to do here is be more efficient than your competitors. And more accurate. So if you understand the how to talk to data, which is not a new concept, this idea of being able to gain insights from the data, you know, data is more powerful in the presence of other data. Ai can’t work in a vacuum, it’s not human, it can’t size up somebody by looking at them and understand anything about them. But what it can do is look at your single view of the customer look at the publicly available data parking lot densities, weather trends in the business, like there are all kinds of things you can you can analyze. And now how good are you at your business intelligence analysis and then converting that into something actionable. And this becomes really interesting in a business context. Because there now we’re talking really two separate animals here. One is productivity in your day to day working sitting at your desk where you’re doing cognitive, non repetitive work, and you have an AI, copilot assistant. The other is I have a very complicated data structure infrastructure where I’ve got my proprietary data, my first party data, I’ve got second party data from partners, I’ve got third party data that’s maybe not as good as I’d like it to be. Then I’ve got location data, I’ve got streaming data, it’s all kinds of stuff coming in, how quickly can I react to that? And how quickly can I tune my messaging to adapt to what my inventory levels what people’s demands are pricing around the internet, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. The use of tools that can calculate and contemplate and reason through these kinds have complex data structures quickly, then at low or no cost in near or at real time generate the message as opposed to me often to curate a few things that cost me a lot of money and then try to cluster people into personas and say, Well, alright, these are two headed Martians, they need three Young’s on Thursday. And, and I think we have an ad for that, like, No, I can practically hyper personalize with these tools. And so from a business perspective, there’s a major shift going on here. And it is to confuse it with will AI take my job is to misunderstand the upside and the downside. The upside is that we now can be better masters of the data that we’re that we’ve collected and aggregated. The scary part is that we misinterpret this to be some kind of threat to us, people are going to lose their jobs, they really are lots of people. This is the history of humanity and tools from from cotton gins, to the present, like a new new tool shows up. Some people, you know, get laid off, because whatever they used to do, and by the way, I think it’s important when you have someone who complains about their job, like from a fashion model saying I’m an object or a or someone who’s a bank teller, saying I’m in a cage, and I only have to do what I’m told her customer service rep was forced to read from a script, and they feel they’re robotic, and they’re not empowered to do anything that they need to do. When you replace those jobs with robots, you’ve actually freed the human being from their robotic prison, because a human being was acting as a robot. And they said it out loud complaining about the roboticist some of their job, the strict pneus of the job, the constraints and parameters by which they were allowed to operate the dehumanizing reality of their day to day existence. People complain about that constantly. So here you have tools is like, you know what, get you out of prison, like you don’t like being in this cage only allowed to say, Man help you, Oh, that’ll be $4. Please, like you don’t like to do that all day long. Those are the only things you get to say. Because you’re not allowed to ask them how the weather was, or you know how their kids are like, because that’s not on protocol, we can fix that we can put a machine right there to do that. Now. What will you then do? You were complaining, you were being treated like a cog in a wheel, like a cog in the machine? Now I’ve let you loose, what will you do? Now, that’s really the other side of that coin. Right, but never to be confused or shouldn’t be because people are confusing it with either way, be more effective, more competitive, more productive. And I can either if I’m a small business owner, I’m the stakeholder myself, I’m the shareholder. Or if there are public shareholders as like, I can be more creative and create more value by unlocking the value I couldn’t get to with these tools. So that’s unbalanced better, I think.

Akua Konadu
Yeah, I just loved a lot of the things that you said, because number one, you are really challenging the way that business owners need to be thinking about AI, and so many different ways, which I just love. Like, it’s true if you have the freedom now to really do the things that you feel passionate about the things that truly align with you. Right. And so that’s something that we need to remember is that AI is here to support us. And, you know, 60% of independent business owners are already using AI, which is great, but there are people who still aren’t sure about it, but what even the 60% that are already using it, I mean, you just blew my mind where I’m like, okay, yes, a lot of us are using it to be more efficient, right, like help alleviate certain pain points in our workflows. But we can take that now a step further, to really provide us with certain data that helps us make better smarter decisions in our own business where we don’t have to rely on multiple people or decision makers, like we can actually and quickly as well, where we can instantly start pivoting and moving in our business much faster to be able to serve more people that we would like to serve. And I think when you look at it like that, that especially it’s very powerful, like you feel extremely powerful. So there were just so many Yeah, I loved everything that you shared with him that I thought it’s super gold. And number two just really challenges us to think differently. And so if you were mentoring somebody, a business owner, for example, wanting to utilize AI hacking into it, what do you think are some key applications that they could be implementing into their business?

Shelly Palmer
So I think there are two sides of the house. There is table stakes now. Microsoft Office 365 copilot is going to help you just be better using Microsoft Office. You writing a Word document, you say make me a PowerPoint, you’re in a PowerPoint and make me a Word document. You’re in Excel. It’s like, see if you can write a narrative about these four columns and the insights you can gain from them. It’s like that that’s table stakes. Everyone’s gonna have that so everybody has a Death Star. It’s not the Death Star anymore. It’s like yeah, it’s just another weapon. Right? So you’re not Darth Vader. Darn it. I’m not like, there’s no way that you’re going to create a competitive advantage using chat GPT. That’s not happening, you can be more productive. The chat up plus for $20 a month is the best of the best. But it’s still a consumer grade tool. If you really want to get serious. You need to get into the API at open AI and you need to you need to do things that you may or may not have skills to do so that but one way or the other, that level of personal productivity and worker productivity is literally table stakes. And don’t see competitive advantage there that you will not get it, what you need to do is just learn to use it and learn to use it as, as you will. And each of you will perform according to your gifts. And I keep saying that, it’s like when when I teach prompt crafting a prompt engineering to our clients, and we teach these classes that are 45 minutes to an hour long with the teams and workers, the people who are great at their job with immense subject matter expertise, get like three, four or five times more productive. I mean, literally, that dramatic, people who are good, get better 25 40% Better, they just get and I’m winning, but better. It’s not right, faster, they just get more productive. If you don’t get better at your job, you get faster at your job with these tools. But people who suck still suck. Like if you don’t like if you don’t care about it, when you’re not, if you’re not good at your job to begin with, this isn’t gonna make you better, it’ll make you suck faster. Like it’s just not, it’s not magic. It’s like you put in you get out of it, what you put into it. What I would tell him what I do tell every business owner, whether they are a small business independent business, or they’re a unit manager or category lead in a big business and make any difference. If you don’t have the data to act upon, AI does nothing for you. There’s nothing that a large language model does but calculate words, the next best word based on the patterns it’s seen, or the patterns you give it. So if you’re you can, you can’t go to chat, GBT has a wide sales go down last quarter. If you can’t ask any data, or why question you can only ask what questions so I could build a system where I put all of the I put all the businesses information in any database, you like sequel, Mongo, Postgres doesn’t matter. You’re in some database, you’ve got a database, Salesforce doesn’t matter what it’s in. And I can build a transformation later, where I can use natural language to talk to that data directly. By using a large language model. I can sit at a chat client and ask questions, I’ll never be able to ask the question, Why did sales go up? Or why did sales go down? Because data doesn’t tell you the answer to those questions. What I can ask is data driven questions? What is the last day I can sell a full price barbecue grill and store 17? Before I have to transship it, mark it down or send it back to the manufacturer? That’s a data driven question. Apply that to 20,000 sk use and all of a sudden, you got a Christmas bonus coming Alexa, which you’ve never seen, you’d ever asked why you simply said what is the date that I can do the following then your subject matter expertise was what you used, you applied your knowledge as a merchant, you applied your knowledge as a as an executive go, Okay, this is my inventory levels. This is the last kind of dates, I can do that let’s make some plans. And see if we can maximize the inventory that we have, you know, maximize our return on investment, maximize our cash flows, maximize whatever it’s going to be. So you can simulate and optimize based on on what questions now, in the old days, you would have to have very sophisticated data office to do that, you’d have to have a data scientist or very good database programmer, you’d say to that person, hey, I need to I need to understand what’s happening in store 17 with the barbecue grills, and they would write the queries and write the joins and do whatever they do. And maybe they’d give that to a report writer and you as an executive would get back the report. And you might go through that cycle a couple three times till the report was just what you wanted, or the dashboard was just what you wanted. That could take a couple hours that could take a couple of weeks. It depends on how complex the question was. Imagine the productivity if I put a large language model chat client between you and your database, and enabled you just by using the large language model that translate your words into queries, and then the and the answers back into pros that you can understand. Or you could say, hey, I need a PowerPoint, I’m going to talk to my boss, I need to understand what’s going on with barbecue grills across the Northeast, in q4 of last year, because q4 This year is shaping up the way I want it to all of a sudden, you got your deck in like, you know, 90 seconds that would have taken your assistant to people in research, and five people in the data office all week to give it to you. And you just asked for it. How much better will your business be if you can talk directly to your data? So that’s, that comes from having data to talk to and where most businesses fail? And will with AI? Even without AI that couldn’t answer those questions. They wouldn’t even know what to ask them. So if I make it easy for you to ask that question, I’m not making it easy for you to have the data to ask that question. The data to ask that question must be in your possession. So all businesses must practice in order to take get the most out of AI to make it even slightly useful. You’re going to have to have good data hygiene, good data governance and good data policy. That’s been true for the last 25 years. It’s never not going to be true. And AI is only going to confuse you. If you throw AI onto bad data you don’t you’re gonna get bad information out of your data, because you’re going to ask questions here improperly, it’s gonna do its best to give you what it can there’ll be giant gaps, and it will be basically useless. And if you want to test it for yourself, go by the consumer grade chat GBT plus for 20 bucks a month, it’s got business analysis, select it, upload a spreadsheet that’s incomplete and ask it questions about the spreadsheet, you know what it’s gonna give you nonsense or tell you stuff you already know, just by looking at it, then upload a good spreadsheet with all kinds of very, very complete data and just say to it, what can I learn from this spreadsheet, and good data versus bad data? well structured data versus unstructured data or poorly structured data or data with immense gaps in it. The difference is profound at that level. Like, you can see how the difference just from the consumer grade tool, when you go to a professional grade tool, the only thing that happens is that you spend a lot more money to learn the same thing you just learned, which is, with bad data, you get bad information. And with good data, you get good information.

Akua Konadu
My mind is blown. This is so good. And just so so so beneficial, because I think a lot of us, including myself were you know, I’m just kicking it up and catching up, you know, using Grammarly, you know, using like an EA, like email composer, which are all great. But again, if you really want to see that ROI, if you really want to be using AI intentionally, to build your business, get sales, you really need to understand your data. And I think in a way to of utilizing that and putting it into the chat GBT. So you can get that data, but also to identify the gaps of where your data is really struggling and where you need to go back as a business owner and look at things foundationally of how you can improve your data like right, what do you need to be improving in your business and your data to get a better understanding? I think, again, to your point, just consistently practicing, and it’s uncomfortable. And that was something I’ve always noticed, too, that I’ve seen a lot is that many business owners, we use shad GDT. But a lot of us are under utilizing it not utilizing it well. And I think you’ve already just pointed that out with all the other different types of AI tools that you need to know what you need, you have to be aware of the questions that you’re asking it, that’s always been a really tough thing, I think as well for business owners is like being better at asking questions. And I think that is just so so key. If you’re looking for specific answers, I think that was really, really beneficial. Another question I wanted to ask is, are there more so like, just kind of under the radar trends that you’re seeing that could significantly impact business owners?

Shelly Palmer
Sure. So it’s not a there are, there are plenty of under the radar trends, some of which will matter. Some that won’t. But I think more importantly, there are on the horizon trends that are coming in fits and starts and relying on those or thinking that at some point, you’re going to be able to do something that right now feels like science fiction is just a bad way to position and frame your thoughts. Yes, there is going to come a time when you give a goal to an autonomous agent. And it fulfills that goal. That goal might be purchasing if you’re a business owner, you know, bots talking about making your inventory, adjusted inventory purchase. Like there’s all kinds of ways you could think through what might happen in the future. And one good way to think about that is just forget the letters AI. Just think of it as super automation. Like what can I super automate that requires a lot of human intervention now that I really wish I could like just perfunctory stuff? And also, where are you using gut intuition where you probably should be using data, but you don’t have data. So you’re using gut intuition and be better if you had data. So we’re good to go get that data. But the trends I think are important, are the ones where you can incrementally improve. And that you can do in a way that point you towards higher and better business outcomes. That were everyone’s getting caught up in the shiny new object part of AI because all of a sudden, it’s like, oh, I used chat CBT to write me an exercise plan. I use chat CBT to do recipes for you know, my bake sale, I use chat GVT to blog, fill in the blank. Oh, I use it to write my marketing copy. Oh, I use it to do this. It’s like, okay, great. That’s awesome. You can use it to do all kinds of things. Did you properly constrain the model to use variables? How was your pre prompt? If you don’t know what those words mean? Then you use it like, you know, the shiny new object it is and you played with it. And it’s all good. You want to go deep there, we have a course called general AI for execs. It’s free of charge has no advertising in it. 1000s of people have been through it, take an hour, hour and a half to go through it. It’ll set you up for how to go on a journey to learn to be great at this. It’s at [email protected]. But, and there are plenty of them out there and ours is free. There’s some you can pay for. I mean, there’s plenty of information on how to use this. Well, truthfully, on the open AI website itself. There’s a wonderful, wonderful blog, and a tremendous amount of documentation that will walk you through how to use this really well and all the products that they offer, not just Chachi beauty product, but the thing you need to think about isn’t AI at all. It’s business outcomes. And I think every business owner owes it to them. Tell us to stop jumping on the I want to do a blockchain project I want to do a crypto project I want to do an AI project. Because Why are you talking to me about doing a blockchain is a database? Would you tell me what database to use when I started engineering your solution? No. cryptocurrency is a method of exchange method of account and a store value, would you tell me how to do that? If you were starting from, okay, I have a new project. This is my business outcome. Here’s how I want you to store value. Here’s I want the method of like, no, none of the in here with AI, here’s how I want you to use automation. To solve my problem. It’s like, don’t do that. Talk to yourself, sit down and say, look, here’s where my business is, this is where my competition is, if I could know the following, if I could do the following, I would then get the best business outcome or a better business outcome incrementally better, improve 1% On every workflow and process. Very quickly, I can teach anyone to be five to 25% more productive at their job in about 45 minutes. But that doesn’t help. Here’s why. Sure, you’re doing what you used to do. Five to 25%, more productively? Who invented that workflow and process? Well, it’s, it’s based on humans and human frailty and human computational ability. You need to innovate workflow and process with the same intensity and at the same pace, that the tech is being innovated. Because if you just slap productivity on an old workflow, so you’ve got a 14 step waterfall schedule for some project, now I’ve automated part of that it’s still, you know, a million steps. Why don’t I reduce this thing to the way it should be done when I have tools that are able to super automate and do a little cognitive non repetitive work, and then instead of taking 15 meetings, it’s going to take one meeting, I’m going to set some variables, let this thing go set some testing criteria, set my KPIs and turn the thing on. It’s like, that’s a completely new workflow. Yeah, a lot of people are gonna go Wait, what am I going to do? Now I can’t take a meeting about making a meeting, I can’t sit in a meeting and say, Well, we’re waiting for so and so no, the computers doing all that work, completely revise workflow and process, what we learned is we taught people this is that what we lovingly call the Deep State or the middle management mafia hates this with a passion. Why? Because they’re not getting paid to be more productive. They’re getting paid to do what they do. So if you teach someone to do something in 30 minutes that used to take them three hours, you know what they want to do in minute 31, they want to go get a latte, and then tell you what hallucinates until you have to check the work, there’s no way for the same pay, they’re going to do 345 times the work, you’re not going to do it. So you, as a business leader have to figure out how am I going to not only innovate the workflow and process? How am I going to inspire? And how am I going to incentivize and compensate my workers to be more productive, are you going to tell somebody that three times more productive with the tools and you’re only going to pay them the same money, pay him half again, as much you still double the output. So you have to like rethink your business. And then the third thing is that at some point, you are going to be able to using, I’m going to say fairly inexpensive tools, super automate your business with your data. So you have to work on a roadmap and a strategy to get to your co GP to metaphorically what your co GPT looks like. It won’t be a generative pre trans transformer, it may be in a set of models, it may be different kinds of AI, but just in your mind, like what does your co AI look like or your co JpT? And that’s not clear right now. Will it be done at Microsoft Azure Cloud? Will it be done in Google? Will it be done at AWS, will it be done an open AI will be done at Salesforce will be done in IBM? It’s unclear where it’s going to be done, what tools are going to be used, which models will be will be open source will be small models of big models with highly specialized will it be general purpose, we don’t know. So that is a process that every business is going to have to go through. If you wait for the market to catch you, yo you can but that makes you you know, you’re a follower, not a leader. Maybe leading is not a place you want to be right now. So you want to be like a fast follower. Get ready. Like I don’t think anybody should pioneer this unless they’ve got an awful lot of data science people and AI people on staff and since nobody does except big tech, get the commonly available tools as they become available, learn to use them and think about business outcomes and stop worrying about AI and start worrying about business outcomes using new automation that becomes available, how can you get the most out of it? Like how could you be the best performance marketer How could you be the best leader? How could you be the best workflow in process innovator? Like those kinds of things? You’re gonna see real improvements in the business there?

Akua Konadu
Yes, think about business outcomes, I think for I’m sure other businesses is kind of like it’s flipping a switch, right of like, How can I actually use this to get the business outcomes that I’m looking for that goes beyond productivity, right, and automation, which those things are so key and important and But he’s negating that. But it’s like if you’re gonna use AI really be intentional about the way that you’re using it. So you can actually make money. And I so I love that. I think for me, like, even just as my mind was moving like a million miles a minute of like, what I plan on doing after this interview, I’m definitely going to upgrade to the chat GBT to even just starting there. I think that’s such a great, great starting point where you gave such great advice of prompts that we should put in there to really understand the data more in our business. And I want to encourage you, as well, as a business owner, again, if you are 78% of independent business owners still don’t have the great understanding of how AI truly can benefit us. And I think you just gave us so many good pockets of information to where it’s like, alright, thank things. Now we’re starting to make sense, things are starting to really turn where you can see AI now from a bigger picture than just from one specific lens of chat, GBT have like, oh, a cool video editing tool that can make pick out some clips for me for my podcast, like, it goes way beyond that. And it’s all you have to do is just really practice and be okay, practicing like you don’t know everything. But this is this is your time to practice, right? That’s what I feel like, because everything is still so new. And yes, things are evolving quickly. But this is the time now where you want to do that you don’t want to wait anymore. And so if that’s you that’s still on the fence, or if you are using AI, but you’re still not, you want to take things to the next level, this is the time to do that now to really, really see how this can truly, truly benefit your business. So I have just, I mean, my mind is blown. Alright. So another question that I have for you is, you know, as with AI evolving at breakout speed, do you? How can we stay in sync with all of the things that are coming at us with all of the trends that are happening? How can we stay in sync but not be overwhelmed, still be aligned with ourselves as business owners, but not kind of losing it? When we see a new tool that’s coming out? And all the changes happening with AI?

Shelly Palmer
I think that has been a challenge for everyone, forever? what’s new, what’s next? What does it mean for my business? What are my competitors doing? How will this impact you know, me, and how do I stay on top of it, the best way to do that is to stay on top of your market. And make sure that you are positioned inside your competitive set where you want to be. You’re not ever going to be able to keep up with everything, because that’s my full time job, and I can’t do it. So So if someone’s got a full time job, and they’re trying to do my job to good luck, it’s just it’s an impossibility. But what you can do is you can be very aware of what your what’s happening in your market, what’s happening in your industry. And literally stay on top of that in a way you haven’t in the past because things moved a little slower. So just being aware that things are moving now more quickly than they ever have. And it’s interesting because while this is true, on the macro level, if you look at AI, the the the AI industry by itself, every morning, I wake up to three, four new white papers, it’s 20 new apps. Some of them are built on GVD. Four, some of them are built on other models, some are built on the open source models. And it’s incumbent upon us to figure out are they relevant? Do they mean anything? Will they change behaviors? Are these nightclubs? Are they utilities? are they what are they like? What? What just happened this morning? Is anyone gonna care about this? There’s a trend chat. GBT was the fastest growing consumer technology ever. In its first few weeks of business, it got to 100 million users faster than anything before happened. Like it came out in November 30 2022. By I think by December 6 that had 100 million users. No one ever seen anything like that before. And it was easy to understand why not only was a bright, shiny new object, it was really cool and fun to play with and did all kinds of stuff that yeah, a lot of people have backed off it. So what is the fastest growing AI app as of right now? November 2023? And the answer is a very strange little app called What is character AI? It’s synthetic companions. It’s synthetic Paris Hilton, synthetic Elon Musk’s synthetic Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein. You can make your own significant others boyfriends, girlfriends or whatever you’d like. You can chat with them. You can put them in chat rooms I could put Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Stephen Hawking’s and Isaac Newton in a chat room and talk physics with them. These are synthetic characters. And as it turns out, 13 to 32 year olds seem to enjoy talking to synthetics as much as they enjoy and maybe in some cases more than talking to each other. Now, this is a disturbing trend in some ways. You say well, okay, Be your authentic self. Unless of course you’re talking to something that makes you happier than being then talk. into someone who is trying to be their authentic self as a business owner, or, you know, how should you think about that statistic? Well, as a father of three and a grandfather of four, I’m incensed by it. And you know, repulsed by the idea that some human beings would rather than talk to synthetic creatures and talk to each other. As a marketer, I have to be aware of the fact that on tick tock and YouTube synthetic voices voice are from 11 Labs, there’s five voices you hear on on every other video, it’s an accepted methodology for putting a voice over people in some cases expect it, they prefer it to human voices. So am I going to be surprised that a 13 to 32 year old who grew up doing this full time alone together in a room is excited about talking to a synthetic? As a business owner? I have to understand that Trent, you can’t sit back go, I’d never do that. I would never let my kids do that. So maybe, you know, maybe you wouldn’t let your kids do that. But someone’s letting their kids do it. And they buy products. So how do you stay on top of that trend? Well, the first thing you do is you take yourself out of it. And you put your business into IT business outcomes if if our customers are 13 to 32 year old human beings, and they happen to be you know, are there and we know that they fall into various clusters and classifications. And we know that they are showing a propensity towards synthetic friends and synthetic voices. And we’re sitting there trying to be authentic and natural. And that’s our brand, is a time for a new brand that takes advantage of that as a time for a line extension. That takes a part of that. Is it is it a is it a fad? Is it an actual trend? Where do we think it’s going is this worth some study and some testing, you don’t need to be ahead of it, you need to be aware of that. And so if you’re not paying attention in class, then it is oh, this just happened. It’s like none of these things just happen. Right? This may just fizzle out and be nothing. Or this may be the the very front edge of a massive wave of generative AI tools that are going to empower people. And while they empower people to do certain kinds of messaging creatively and methodically, what what they probably are doing is showing us that there’s a new film grammar, new audio grammar, people have to remember back in 1980, that was the first time you could put a video camera on your shoulder. MTV starts, CNN starts, people run out, they don’t have time to put the cameras on tripods. They’re there, people are dancing to the music while they’re shooting video. They’re quick cutting because they don’t have a way to do dissolves in these in these edit days. All of a sudden, these jumpy, quick cut videos show up. It’s a brand new grammar we went go forward to the 2000 10s phone cameras are getting serious. Everybody used to shoot in landscape, all of a sudden everybody’s shooting portrait. This was not acceptable for about 15 minutes. And now it’s the way that everybody shoots video. This is a completely new film grammar or completely new grammar, about how you communicate with video. It’s not only totally accepted, you get people get a little strange, really why you shouldn’t wait for like, it actually doesn’t look good the way most people are going to view your video because they’re not on a giant flat screen TV. Things change are they going to accept synthetic voices and synthetic humans synthetic are not synthetic synthetic synthetics. They’re not humans, they’re synthetics. There’s this set of influencers, virtual influencers, Mia Sophia is my favorite. She’s aimed squarely at 13 year old adolescents. And and she’s not real. She’s got 1000s, hundreds of 1000s of followers on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter and Tiktok they finally got her into video right now. Do the 13 year old and 15 year old boys care that she’s not real? I don’t think they do. I really don’t based on the number of followers that she has. And there are hundreds more like her they’re easy to make. She’s a deterministic figure that they keep recreating. When you go into Dali, or you go into mid journey, you have to work hard to use the same figure twice, they actually went the other way. They said Alright, we’re going to make a deterministic figure and we’re going to put her in a lot of different situations, they built a character, that character is gonna have a life of its own. Is that different from Bugs Bunny? It’s just more modern. So, again, is that trend important? Is the virtual influencer going to be able to sell your product? Is a virtual creator going to be able to sell your product? And the answer if the answer is yes, the Oh to sell to test? And if the answer’s no, you owe it to yourself to test. So that’s incumbent upon you that’s not staying ahead of AI that’s staying ahead of your industry and wherever you’re comfortable. If you’re a leader, fast follower, slow follower, like

Shelly Palmer
where do you sit? What’s your personality? What’s your risk profile? What’s your investment profile? Are you willing to put a few dollars into it?

Shelly Palmer
Go do it. If you’re not, I’ll sit back and relax. But don’t be surprised. If you wake up one morning and everything’s changing what happened. It’s like you’re paying attention. That’s what happened. It’s not that you can’t To keep up with your industry, you can’t keep up with AI. But you can keep up with your industry’s adoption of AI that you can do. Yes.

Akua Konadu
Oh, so good. And I think again, it just stems to the fact that knowledge is power, right, staying on top of your trends. And just even if it’s something that, again, taking yourself out of it, what you said, My love that and put your business into IT business outcomes, and I think that makes it a lot easier for business owners, it doesn’t matter how you feel whether you feel negatively or positively towards it, you want to know, is this going to serve your business? So test it, you owe it to yourself to test it. And I think that is just such a key reminder. I think it’s powerful, especially when you have the data now of how this affects your business. And if you want to even move forward with it. And if you don’t Gucci keep doing whatever it is that you’re doing. And I think I think that is just so important. And so key. And this conversation, I think has been wonderful. And so the question that I always love to end with is, what do you think, is the biggest differentiator between the businesses that succeed and the ones that fail? It’s

Shelly Palmer
always the same answer. It’s never ever, ever going to be any different ever, no matter what,

Akua Konadu
how bad you want it real bad.

Shelly Palmer
No, just how bad you want it. The difference between the person that comes in first in a downhill ski race, and the person that comes in second is 1000, or 2000s of a second. That means the person who won was no more skilled than the person who came in second whose name you never know. It’s that the person who won one a bit more, they pushed off a little harder, they took 1/1000 of a second more risk one or 2000s of a second more risk than the person who just wasn’t willing to leave it all on the slope. And you can find this in every aspect of all competition. Who wants it more? businesses fail because you just don’t want it enough. You can look, there are extenuating circumstances, you’d be minding your own business and somebody drops a house on you like in The Wizard of Oz. And there’s nothing you can do about that you’re walking through the jungle minding your own business, the tiger jumps out and eat you all up, happens constantly. That’s not a business failure. That’s a disaster. And when people say my business failed, what happened someone dropped a house on me. It’s like, you know, Wicked Witch of the West. That’s not a business failure. Don’t do anything like that. Just, that’s just bad luck. And luck is a monstrously large component of every single business. People don’t ever give lucky enough credit for you know the name and a lot of things, but it’s just luck. And let’s be fair luck is important. But barring any extenuating circumstance that is beyond your control, you’re not bigger than the market all of a sudden bubble bursts. Yeah, there’s nothing you do the housing crisis. You can’t do it the minute the pandemic, you’re like you these are not things an individual business owner can prepare for well enough to be blamed if the business can’t survive during one of those because, you know, you just you can’t know everything. You can’t be prepared for everything. You can’t have enough cash on hand for everything like, hey, we just got blindsided. And it was over. But where businesses fail Other than that, undercapitalized understaffed, under Managed, poorly managed family arguments, you go down the list of things. You don’t want it bad enough. Somebody else wanted it more. You didn’t want it bad enough. It’s always it’s never not that. It’s people just saying, You know what? Yeah, all right. You know, we I here’s the white flag. That’s when the business fails. When that’s what failure is, you say I’m done. Right? Not if you’re fighting against like a competitor put you out of business. I you know, competition isn’t about winning or losing. It’s about elevating the sport. Competition makes you awesome. Competition is the greatest thing ever in a business. It makes you better if you ignore your competition. You’re okay, maybe there’s room for both you but if there isn’t, you’ll pay for it. So it’s who wants it more? It’s never not been that and and bar again, bar barring the stuff you literally have no control over. And I gotta say, existential crisis is like that or or talked about they use that word, a lot existential and they use the word crisis a lot, too. Yeah, sure, if there are extenuating circumstances. It’s a de minimis ly small reason why a small business fails, small businesses fail because the owners give up.

Akua Konadu
Yes, that is so so true. I think especially in times of where, number one this was very motivational still to hear. It’s a truly how bad do you want this right. There’s a reason why you have the business that you have. This was placed on you as a dream, right? And I think sometimes we get so caught up in the hamster wheel of running the business that we forget, especially during hard times. We forget the reason why we started and when you are so consumed with everything that’s happening negatively, that’s the most where you have to have that inner voice inside you to say that you can do hard things I can still do this. You So I don’t know the unknown, but I would rather keep pushing forward than, you know, just quitting. And I think that is just so so important. And Shelley, thank you so much for coming on the show. This has been amazing conversation I know people are going to be after listening will be excited about AI and the future of AI. And so for people that want to connect with you, where can they find you? Shelly

Shelly Palmer is the best place if you want to learn about AI, you can throw a slash AI after Shelly It’s sh e ll y, no extra E. So Shelly, one word and, yeah, come on by and we’ve got a daily newsletter that you can subscribe to. We have courses you can take. We have all kinds of stuff you can do. We don’t tend to work a lot with small businesses, but we have a lot of resources. They’re available for you and they’re

Akua Konadu
all free. Yeah, no, I definitely check it out. Definitely check out the blog too, because it was really great, informative, like trending stuff on AI and I thoroughly enjoyed reading some of your articles. So thank you again, so much for coming on the show. And thank you everybody so much for listening. And until next time, that ends our episode of The Independent Business Podcast. Everything we’ve discussed today can be found at [email protected] headrow website to access for show notes, relevant links and all the resources that you need to level up. And if you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, be sure to subscribe to the podcast to make sure you never miss our future content. Drop us a review and leave our guests some love on social and thank you again for listening.

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