Synopsis: In this AI Leadership Insights interview, Amanda Razani speaks with Jeremy Shapiro, founder of Bay Area Mastermind, about the transformative role of AI.

Amanda Razani: Hello, I’m Amanda Razani, with I’m excited to be here today with Jeremy Shapiro. He is the founder and facilitator of Bay Area Mastermind. How are you doing today?

Jeremy Shapiro: I’m doing great, Amanda. Thanks so much for having me.

Amanda Razani: Glad to have you on our show. So the topic of the day is the transformative role of AI in the enterprise. And Jeremy, I’m going to start with my first question, which is how can AI serve as a tool, a support tool rather than a competitor and enhance productivity in the enterprise?

Jeremy Shapiro: That’s a great question. I think there’s been a lot of headlines and conversations as of late about AI taking away jobs and AI replacing. And AI is transformative, but really where I’ve seen firsthand with our clients and within our mastermind community. What I’ve seen is that AI is supporting businesses and especially when we’re talking about some of the more creative or production related tasks within a business, AI is there to help get rid of the blank slate. So instead of someone in marketing or someone in design looking and saying, “Gee, what should we do?” You can get really helpful prompts, you can get really helpful research and insights to make that writing and that creativity side of things much easier. AI has also historically been really helpful on the automation side, but where there’s been a movement in industry over the decades to automate more, it was still always up to a person to decide, “Gee, what should we automate?” And we’re seeing AI assist more in terms of the suggesting or automatic creation of automations you might have in business.

Amanda Razani: It certainly is making things more efficient across many sectors and the automation level you brought up. But I have a question as far as when it comes to the implementation phase, what is the starting point for business leaders? Because that’s a huge undertaking. So what is your advice?

Jeremy Shapiro: So we are lucky that so many tools have become more freely accessible, easy to access and play with, and there are some cautions around that to have. But the barrier to entry, if we look over the past five, 10 years today, anybody can quickly get going, whether it’s again on the marketing side or your software developers or your C-suite execs can jump in and start playing with AI to see some of the transformative ways it can help us out and support our team, our customers, and our business overall.

Amanda Razani: How do you suggest that business leaders handle some of the buck back from employees that are not on board with utilizing AI just yet?

Jeremy Shapiro: Yeah, so again, this is an area where having it be accessible to the team in a non-threatening way is really great. So you can show value more easily without tremendous cost and time investment and the way it can help out your team. So for example, one of our clients and Mastermind members, within his business had some avatar work that was being done in terms of defining your customer avatar. And all of our CMOs and marketing folks know what I’m talking about there, right? The better you know who your customer is, especially if you’re launching a new product line or new division, the better you can speak to that avatar.
So we all have ideas of who that avatar is and we have our preconceived notions, but leveraging AI to say, “Hey, give me a counterpoint to this. Tell me more about this avatar and what am I missing? And help me to challenge the avatar I’ve created,” gives you a really well-rounded perspective. And so George was able to use this to get a much better idea of what his avatar was and wasn’t, what was motivating, what the fears were, the concerns were, where the opportunities were. And that allowed the creation of a much better, much more targeted copy than could normally be done by a marketing team or creative writer on their own. And so that’s just one of the ways that AI was able to assist and support versus replace within the team.

Amanda Razani: Absolutely. So another question I have is, there are many concerns about the security of AI and the many flaws that exist currently such as bias or hallucinations, et cetera. So how do companies address these situations and what do you think is in store for AI as far as regulations and governance?

Jeremy Shapiro: Yeah, that’s a really good question. And we’ve seen over the past number of years a lot of vocal voices sharing about some of the controls and things we need to put into place and those are reasonable, and we should be having that conversation. In terms of what we do on a day-to-day basis with that, we’ve got to keep in mind that AI is being trained on the data put into it. So just like anything, garbage in garbage out. We need to be mindful that we don’t just ship the output of whatever AI says.
Just the other day, we were working with AI again in terms of content generation and research for some content we were writing. And so we asked the question about some very specific marketing stats, but also asked to cite the sources. And so this was a rather simple prompt, and we got back some fantastic stats we were able to use along with really good sources from publications we know and love.
And wouldn’t you know it, those URLs were like all made up, falsified URLs. None of them were actually valid, but they looked good and they looked convincing. But until you actually peel back the layer of the onion and go back a few levels, you would think this is all great. So we’ve seen oftentimes output can be good, but it may not have the voice of the brand. Output can be good, but it may not actually be based in fact. So really where we’ve seen success again in using AI not to replace but to support, is taking the content that’s generated or the output, but still having people look at it and use it and fact check it and make sure it’s on point, it’s on brand and it’s factually correct, but it’s a really good jumping off point.

Amanda Razani: That human element is still very important. Enterprise is not at a point yet to where they can just say, “AI, go run with it.”

Jeremy Shapiro: Exactly.

Amanda Razani: What are some particular roadblocks that you have seen business leaders experience in the AI implementation phase?

Jeremy Shapiro: So again, there’s so many ways we can use AI within the business. A lot of the businesses that we work with within the Bay Area mastermind, the AI is being used for marketing, for content creation, for research, for support in that regard. We’re talking a totally different conversation if we’re saying from a technology standpoint, integrating AI within your technology, a little out of scope of what we’re talking about here.
So within that context, from a roadblock standpoint, it used to be getting started was a challenge. That roadblock is gone, now any business can start playing with AI out of the box, but where we’ve seen is not knowing how to prompt or how to ask the right questions to get an answer that would be valuable. And so that’s why we’ve seen the creation of all these roles for people who have knowledge of that and are able to interface and put in the right prompts to get the right data back out.
The second roadblock we’ve seen is assuming that whatever output comes out can just be used. And so it can take some massaging and some nuance. And so a roadblock that we’ve often seen is this assumption, “I can just use what comes out.” And then usually you quickly learn, “Well, hold on, I’ve got to take the output, work with it and make sure it’s on brand, it’s on message, it’s factually correct,” and that is what we want.
We’ve seen companies start to integrate AI far more into their own products, for us and users. Just the other day, for example, using Google Slides, there’s the option to have Google Slides create images and graphics for your slides, which is a really great application of making AI accessible to an end user in a product. However you look at what of the output is actually usable that you put in a slide deck, well, that’s a bit of a different story. And is it your own original work? Not really.

Amanda Razani: I appreciate you sharing some use cases. There are so many it seems like, and really across any sector. So if there’s one key takeaway you’d like for our audience to have today, what is that when it comes to AI?

Jeremy Shapiro: Yeah. So AI is not here to replace your team and get rid of jobs. It’s here to support your team and help them to do a better job. You can look at the medical space, we’re not yet at the point where we want AI completely handling everything, but to have AI spot things a human might not, where a human can then check it. But we’re not replacing jobs. We’re allowing our humans to do a more efficient and more effective job with support that doesn’t get tired and is able to spot things that we might not. So a key takeaway, AI is not here to replace, it’s here to support. And what we’re seeing at the Bay Area Mastermind with our members is that AI is helping to get rid of the blank slate of paper and is here to help challenge assumptions and is here to support creativity.

Amanda Razani: Absolutely. Well, thank you so much, Jeremy, for coming on our show and sharing your insights.

Jeremy Shapiro: Absolutely. Thanks for having me Amanda.