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Episode 69

Why Expertise Still Matters In The Era Of AI

David C. Baker
Advisor, Author & Speaker
Dive Into The Evolving Landscape Of Marketing Technology

This discussion centers on the value of expertise and the critical role marketers play in an age dominated by artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“The people who are going to win are the ones who understand the landscape and are taking advantage of the tools but are still contributing the human part that AI can’t do.”

David C. Baker

Gain insights into the unique qualities that humans bring to the table, setting them apart from the algorithms and data-driven systems. Discover who is poised to thrive in this AI-infused world, as we explore the traits and strategies that will help individuals leverage their expertise to effectively stand out.

AI isn’t a magical switch that can be flipped on; it requires humans to unlock its full potential. Listen now to learn how to navigate this exciting era where expertise and AI become a powerful combination.

Watch the Live Recording

Full Episode Transcripts

Tessa Burg: Hello and welcome to another episode of Leader Generation, brought to you by Mod Op. I’m your host, Tessa Burg, and today I am joined by author and advisor, David C. Baker. David, thank you so much for coming on the show today.

David Baker: Glad to do it, been looking forward to chatting with you.

Tessa Burg:I know. So this is not the first time we’ve talked or even worked together. As part of your business, you are an advisor to agencies, specifically creative and knowledge work-based agencies. Tell us a little bit about your background and business.

David Baker: Well, I owned an agency for five or six years. It wasn’t a big one, 16 people, and I did not know what I was doing, make that clear. So I tried to find as much help as I could, and I connected with this guy who wrote a newsletter and it was really helpful to me. And through a strange set of circumstances, I ended up working with him and he put an ad in his publication thinking that maybe people want individual advisory help. And so I didn’t think anything would come of it, but people started calling and very quickly my life transitioned over just a period of months to being full-time advisor and author as well to this field. So I’ve worked with a hundred, a thousand firms, excuse me, in this field all over the world. They’ve all been digital marketing, advertising, PR, design, that kind of thing. So I get to spend time with the weirdest but most interesting people in the world, including you, right?

Tessa Burg: Yeah. Yes, I love the way you put that. And I feel like it’s us interesting weirdos, data geeks, creatives, designers that are today feeling a little bit of stress and tension around the impact AI and machine learning will have on what does make us special, you know, in our field. It is, I think, an honor and a joy to be in a creative knowledge base work area that gives you flexibility, that allows you to collaborate with so many different types of people. And so today I’m excited to really dive into, you know, what is the value of expertise going to be? What is it today in this age of AI?

David Baker: Mm hmm, yeah.

Tessa Burg: And how many agencies do you think at this point, that you’ve talked to like over the years?

David Baker: Oh probably, so 5,000 plus have been through seminars and then sold hundreds and hundreds of thousands of copies to books and speak with people. So it’s not scientific, like it wouldn’t meet your data scientist threshold stuff, but there’s just probably five phone calls a day with people around the world in this space. So it’s very analog-like, but I’m I’m hearing from a lot of people, right? And not a lot of people seem to have a pretty balanced perspective about AI. It’s almost like they’re terrified or they’re just brushing it off. And I don’t know if that’s sort of self-protective. But I’ve always felt like, not just in terms of AI or even change, that things are never quite as bad or quite as good as you think. Right? And also, if you’ve been around a while, goodness gracious, think of all the things that we used to do so differently. Like around the edges, all of the stuff that isn’t right straight in our core competency or that we don’t make a lot of money on, those things start crumbling away. And you look back on like typography and printing and website building and like what’s left is we’re left on this island with fewer and fewer things to do, but a more important role of thinking and guiding clients. And to the extent that you’ve depended on doing these things than something like AI coming along could be pretty terrifying. I get it. I understand it.

Tessa Burg: Mm hmm. So you talk to people every day. You’ve seen sort of the insides of at least 5,000 agencies. Are there some elements or components or types of people that you feel are likely to be the most successful at leveraging their unique area of expertise to differentiate themselves?

David Baker: Hmm. Yeah. Well, if we put that just a little bit differently, like what area under the marketing umbrella is thinking most carefully about AI is also probably the area that’s going to have either the biggest impact, either good or bad, right? And it seems like that’s more the content creation side of things. So people who are writing, I almost said they’re writing for Google, they’re really writing for their clients’ customers, but in a way they’re writing for Google and they’re wondering about what’s the impact on SEO, what’s going to work in terms of like, how is our job impacted? Like those are the people that are most nervous, I think are the ones who are thinking about content creation because that’s where the impact of AI has bubbled up so quickly. We have so much garbage content out there. And now on top of that we’re thinking, oh my God, is there going to be even more garbage content? How are we going to stand out from that? And not just how are we going to stand out, but how are we going to compete with something that only costs pennies to create versus thousands of dollars to write something beautiful. So yeah, it’s tough.

Tessa Burg: Yeah. Something that I have found interesting about the fear around content creation is at a lot of websites I look at, the content really isn’t that productive anyway.

David Baker: Yeah.

Tessa Burg: So yes, your agency or business might be making a lot of money creating content or as a company you might have a large content strategy, content development process, but how well are you tying that to actual revenue generation?

David Baker: Right.

Tessa Burg: And I feel like some people are like, oh no, we can see it. We have analytics, we have attribution. We definitely know the role it’s playing, but do you know the actual value to the customers? Like, have you been stuck so long in this content creation, sort of the frequency and cadence of it all that you haven’t stepped back to reexamine the problem that you were trying to solve with the content in the first place?

David Baker: Yeah.

Tessa Burg: And maybe AI machine learning gives you different tools or a different way to solve that problem differently. And maybe it’s not content, maybe it’s something else.

David Baker: Right? Like even if you don’t have the solution yet, are you confident that you’re a sharp enough thinker and not so risk averse that you’ll end up on top anyway. Right? Because it’s so fascinating to me that just six months ago or a year ago, here we are very confident in what we do and standing up all kinds of promises about why you should buy this and what impact it’ll have on your business. And then this thing comes along and all of a sudden we get jelly legs and we’re terrified that we’re really even worth what we’re doing, or we think we’re going to be displaced by something. It’s like, well, what was true? Were we really as good back then? ‘Cause if we really believed that for the right reasons, then we shouldn’t be so terrified now. But I think what it’s highlighting really is, I was reading, I think it was LinkedIn this morning, it wasn’t my phrase, but somebody used the phrase like, content landfill. It’s like we’re writing stuff that shows up in the content landfill. Have you ever heard that phrase? It’s really interesting.

Tessa Burg: Yeah.

David Baker: I’d never heard. Yeah. And it’s such nonsense. And so my first reaction when I heard about what AI can do, it’s like, well, okay, that could be, in my own life, that could be really useful if I want to summarize an article or a book rather than reading it. Or maybe to do some initial research. But AI can’t read signals in people. It’s like, you know, it can’t know how to be humorous and get right up to the line without crossing it. It doesn’t have personality and it’s like when you compare AI to a lot of the stuff out there that should be in the content landfill, there isn’t much difference. So the problem isn’t AI, the problem is that AI is highlighting the fact that we’re producing lots of nonsense content all the time, right?

Tessa Burg: Mm hmm. Yes.

David Baker: Yeah.

Tessa Burg: I agree. So one of the things that we’ve focus on as, you know, this phrase I keep hearing to refer to creative services is knowledge work. You know, and the big question is, what will be the impact of AI machine learning on these knowledge workers and how many jobs could potentially be lost? And I recently did a post about focusing on what unique value, what unique perspective, what unique data as people and as companies are we bringing to that content equation. Again, always staying centered on are we solving the problem and is the way to solve that problem through creating more content or is there something else? Because we are people who are built of experiences and expertise. How do you go about having that conversation with creative agencies today to help them sort of find that you unique experience and expertise that they can leverage to make the best use of the tools?

David Baker: Mm hmm. Yeah. Well there’s not a simple answer to that. Like, my mind just ran off in all kinds of different directions. Like the first thing I thought of was, well, they’re going to need to run their firms in such a way that they make enough money doing the core stuff, that they don’t have to be running around like idiots without any time to sit down and think and put their feet up, right? It’s like, okay, to do this stuff, well, it can’t be an add-on. It needs to be a core part of, like, it is different for everybody, right? In my life, there are 13,000 people that get a weekly email from me. I spool it up on Sunday and they get it delivered to their inbox on Monday morning. And that is the lifeblood of my business. And I love the chance to sit down and write something like that. But what if I was scurrying around all the time and I only got to that if I had the time and it wasn’t a priority. So anyway, that’s the first place that my mind went. The other place is that I don’t see many agencies who have carefully crafted a unique point of view. And I don’t mean that just necessarily as a substitute for positioning, like positioning to me is what you do for whom. But I think on top of that, you could have a point of view, like, this is usually true and I’m here to solve that problem. And I don’t see many firms who have a really carefully crafted point of view. And I think there’s a lot of room for that, right? And that point of view should be, it should bleed into all the different things that you do so that when people hire you, it’s just not for your knowledge worker stuff, but it’s for how you take bits and pieces of this and turn it into a particular point of view. So my point of view on this is this, what does that relate to? Anyway, so I think there’s just, this is not terrifying to me, all of what’s happening. This is exciting because what’s happening is the water is dropping and now we’re starting to see all the wrecks under the water. And this is a chance to rebuild. And there are going to be fewer firms that are really, they’re not afraid of what this exposure brings to them. It’s going to spur them to be fantastic. So we’ve all heard the joke about the cobbler’s son has no shoes, right? And then when I used to go see my GP in Guatemala where I grew up, he would chain smoke as he is talking to me. And of course it didn’t occur to me as strange at the time. But isn’t it odd that in this industry where we talk about the clarity we need for what we do in the marketplace and the value it brings and how to articulate that very carefully and how we need to build it into a discipline marketing plan. We don’t do that for ourselves. And I don’t know if it’s funny or if it’s really sad, but it’s just, I’m going to say sad.

Tessa Burg: No, I agree. And you said a couple of extremely important things that I think should bring all marketers, especially people who own or work in an agency, comfort. One, that you are not terrified. You a person who consults thousands of marketing companies and knowledge workers, you are not terrified by this change in the market. And two, that this is the catalyst we may need, or whether we need it or not, it’s happening, to be fantastic. And that is very exciting to me. And I think that the people who are curious enough to learn from themselves what the path to fantastic looks like, we’ll be successful.

David Baker: Right.

Tessa Burg: And sometimes I feel like we look too far back, like the whole cobbler’s children thing, analogy. I know that a lot of companies come up based on the relationships that they have. So they, you know, having an agency with 16 people is probably pretty normal. And the way that you get clients is most likely the ones that are close to you or that you have relationships with. And those relationships could become stronger if you can take what’s fueling your curiosity and share that with your clients.

David Baker: Yeah. Because there’s not going to be any room for somebody in this field to not have a perspective on AI. The perspective can vary, but you could not get away with not having a perspective on AI. Which means you can’t just ignore it, you have to dive in. But you don’t dive in with this sense of terror. You dive in saying, you know what, it’s not an emergency. I do need to understand this. I need to be very open. And it’s almost like going to marriage counseling when nothing’s really bad, but you just think, you know what, maybe we’ll learn some things here. This is kind of a unique opportunity. AI is basically testing the foundation that you have before it becomes an emergency. And so I think at a minimum, you’ve got to look at what this means because it’s just one of dozens of things that will come along and they’ll come along at an increasingly faster pace. So use this as a way to sort of poke around the edges of your firm. It’s not just about AI, it’s about things testing your model. And that can be pretty exciting.

Tessa Burg: Yes, I agree. So in my past life, I guess not that long ago, I’ve worked on the client side. I have a lot of friends who work at big brands and some of them are exploring bringing more of their marketing in-house. So as in-house marketers, they’re looking at it and saying, “Is AI an opportunity for me to cut my spend with agencies, bring more of this in-house because in theory I can quote/unquote automate all of it and then I’ll just use the team I have to edit it.” Or a couple of people are feeling there’s getting pressure from boards or higher up, like, well, how are we using this? How are we show the efficiency? And where can we see that efficiency within your department? Have you seen this trend or heard from anybody that companies might want to start pulling more work in? Or is this also just part of that normal cycle of every five to 10 years, companies in different kind of like bands and waves go through this? Like let’s pull it all in. Oh crap, we can’t do that. Let’s outsource it again. Let’s pull it all in.

David Baker: Yeah, it does definitely go in waves. And it depends on external things like when Covid hit, obviously, you know, oh, e-commerce is way more important now, right? And so it can be impacted by that and by the tools that are available and so on. And I don’t think that will ever change. There have been some permanent changes in that in the past, at least I think they’re permanent. In the past you would pick a side, you would work on the client side, or you’d work work on the independent side. And if you got it wrong, you would fix it and you’d go to the other side and that was it. Nowadays there’s a lot more switching back and forth.

Tessa Burg: Yes.

David Baker: And there isn’t nearly as much difference between the two different roles, right? That’s one thing that’s permanently different. Something else is permanently different and it relates to your question, is that the best agencies now don’t view in-house teams as their competitors, but their perspective is, our job isn’t done until you don’t need us anymore and so we’re here to not just do overflow, but to help equip you to not need us at some point. And that’s a very healthy perspective, right? It’s sort of like, we’re going to raise you then you’re get kicked out of the nest and we want you to come back every once in a while. But it’s not like buying a timeshare where you just can never get rid of it. Like that shouldn’t be what hiring an agency is like. So I think clients, and we would do the same thing. I mean, clients are always going to look for ways to cut spend and improve effectiveness. And depends on the company, some people don’t care too much about effectiveness, they care more about spend and so on. And we need to be up to that. We need to be up for those conversations. I haven’t seen a lot of clients who are dismissing agencies because of AI, but I know they’re thinking about it, but it’s too early days, right, to figure out some of that stuff. The really heavy content relationships are obviously being impacted, but for now, I think clients, if there’s one thing that they’re hoping for is that the wide adoption of AI by agencies will help them produce more for less money. I don’t think it necessarily means that they’ll take the work more in-house. They’re just raising the expectations for what they get from their agencies. That’s what I sense at this point.

Tessa Burg: Yeah, I agree. I was just jotting down some notes because all the answers you give are very rich, some great points. I’m like, I gotta come back to that. One of the things that you said that I just think is so important is if you are in a client relationship, on either side, whether you’re on the client side or on the agency side, is to be up for that conversation. So if someone has asked you, you know, how does this impact your budget with the agency? How does this impact what we’re doing with content? And you are on the client side, then have that conversation with your agency. And if you’re on the agency side and you haven’t yet had that conversation with your client, then do that.

David Baker: And maybe raise it, take the initiative maybe, right?

Tessa Burg: Yes. Because the conversations are happening on both sides, but are we up to have those conversations together? And you know, I’m not sure how much that has happened and.

David Baker: Right.

Tessa Burg: There are a lot of agencies that have amazing expertise, but I wonder if they’ve elevated up to having that unique point of view and how that always looks at serving their clients to scale. ‘Cause that’s what the promise, you know, of the do more with less. It’s about what can we scale. As you go back to the big problem you’re trying to solve, an agency becomes more valuable, the more uniquely they’re positioned to solve that client’s problem. And in doing so, that client looks like a rockstar and can show that efficiency of budget and the results. I think that where you’re not really focused on how this impacts scale, you don’t have those shared metrics with the client. You know, whether you’re a project base or retainer base, I could see both starting to feel like a little tense, but it’s really about, you know, starting to have that conversation with them as early as possible.

David Baker: Right.

Tessa Burg: Because I think agencies have good relationships with their clients.

David Baker: Yeah. Right. And the best of those relationships are not one party dragging the other along, but it’s a collaborative sort of learning together. Right? I suspect that there’d be more jumping on the AI bandwagon by agencies clients if some things were more settled, which they aren’t yet. So one of those is IP ownership. I think the big clients would really flirt with the idea of more AI, but they’re a little uncertain about how IP is going to be handled and whether they’re inheriting a lawsuit because they’re using AI that was trained with something where they didn’t have permission for that, whether it’s books or songs or whatever. That’s part of it. And the other part of it is privacy too. And we ought to be more concerned about privacy than we are at the moment. Like feeding client stuff into an LLM, what happens with that? What rights do you give up? How does that IP that the company owns move from private to public? And I don’t have the answers to all of that stuff, but I think AI has raised lots of big flags that people, that they’re not sure how to solve yet. Once those get solved, then I expect that the adoption of AI will be a lot more uniform, but it’s not right now.

Tessa Burg: Yeah. I love those examples. And those are areas where agencies can get curious and help clients navigate through that.

David Baker: And maybe lead and lead them in that.

Tessa Burg: Yes. Yes. And the other area that I personally am very interested in is the environmental impact. And I feel like not enough people understand the amount of energy that’s required to run these tools. I rarely hear it talked about, and it’s very interesting at a time where I think sustainability is still a thing we care about or some companies have it as a part of their values and there’s B Corps and what does that mean? And there are environmental initiatives, you know, by the United Nations that you don’t hear very much about. Okay, the more AI machine learning we use, what does that mean for the earth? And maybe maybe we don’t care about the earth. I’m not sure. There is immense environmental impact.

David Baker: Well, even the people on the earth too, there was an article, it was in the Washington Post or New York Times, I can’t remember. I think it was the Times, talked about the mass of people, particularly in the Philippines was the example they gave, tens of thousands of people that are paid, basically starvation wages, to tag things that are fed into LLMs. And so behind AI is a sweat shop of people who are making this stuff possible. And we tend to be pretty selective in what we care about. So I think our jobs are probably to be a little bit more consistent about that stuff too. We can’t police the world, but we can be intelligent about what’s required to deliver something to me that basically cost me $10 a month and I get all of this stuff, but what’s behind it? What was required to create all of this stuff? I think those are valid questions.

Tessa Burg: Yeah. And if you’re a brand that you know you have conscious consumers and conscience consumerism is a part of something that you align with, then you really do have to be cautious because your use of the tools will reflect on your company and people will find out.

David Baker: Yeah. Right.

Tessa Burg: They’ll start doing their own digging. You know, that’s not every company, not every company has that sort of conscientiousness built into their brand, but there are, especially on the consumer side, quite a lot that do. And they’re the ones that are going to have to invest in really understanding the implications and maybe even having their own perspective. And that’s where agencies, a lot of agencies have that expertise by industry, by vertical, can really help ’cause they’re going to see this challenge across many different companies.

David Baker: Yeah, I mean this profession, it’s supposed to be a leading profession in the sense that we are supposed to be guiding clients on everything new that comes to them that relates to positioning and communication and purchase patterns and habits and so on. So that makes it exciting, but it’s never dull. It’s never, you know, there’s always going to be something we don’t know. But fortunately I think in our industry, we’re pretty comfortable being slightly ahead of our skis and taking risks a little bit. So let’s just keep doing it right. But I don’t agree with either perspective that AI is going to change everything about this business. I don’t think that’s the case, nor do I think we should just completely ignore it. It feels to me like the people who are going to win this are the ones who understand the landscape and are taking advantage of the tools, but still contributing the human part that AI can’t do. Now how to do, that’s easy to say, but how to do all of that, that’s what I would try to figure out. I can’t put my head the sand. I gotta understand the tools and I have to figure out how to incorporate them and then I need to update my positioning and I need to remain confident through all of this. Right?

Tessa Burg: Yes, I agree. So I shared a little bit of the feedback I’ve been receiving, but you know, you’re the one having all these phone calls with creative agencies every day. What other feedback have you been hearing from them, hopes, dreams, concerns?

David Baker: I think they’re most worried about whether their clients are going to get it right. So they’re not afraid of AI itself. They’re afraid that their clients will have a twisted view of what AI can do. So they might be dealing with an expectation from a client that, hey, you know, you should be able to do this for a lot less money or a lot faster, right? So they’re worried about uninformed clients more than anything. And so I think they’re trying to do what they can to inform their clients before it becomes an issue. Like the really responsible agencies are doing that, so they feel not just a pressure to figure this out for themselves, but to help their clients come up with the right perspectives as well.

Tessa Burg: Yeah, that is a valid concern. I feel like the people who jump into the, we should be getting more for less, like right now, they actually haven’t tried any AI or machine learning driven application themselves. I feel like if you’ve even tested, you kind of get to a point pretty quickly of where the limitations are and kind of start to realize.

David Baker: Yeah.

Tessa Burg: Oh, okay, this doesn’t do everything. The potential is high. Like there’s a lot of potential, but it’s not a switch that flips and now, you know, I should.

David Baker: You know, some of these models just make shit up too. Like, you know, somebody’s gotta read this to see if that’s really true. They’ll even make up professors and articles and titles. It’s like, what’s happening? It’s like my little kid lies a lot, now AI is lying.

Tessa Burg: Yeah.

David Baker: So it it takes human intervention too.

Tessa Burg: Yes. Yeah. And I’ve been thinking about like, how do we expose sort of more of that because it’s all about education on both sides, you know? And that if you are going to do it responsibly and if you are going to be conscientious and try to align to your brand values, that actually takes money. So the get more for less isn’t always immediate depending on what your priorities are and what problems we’re trying to solve. But yeah, I feel like people who are like, we should just be doing stuff. This should just be happening. It’s like, well have you tried that?

David Baker: Yeah. Get back to me in a week. Tell me. I’m way more nervous about the capabilities of AI to generate video that looks like it was shot live, right? And has somebody saying something they never said and it creates some ripple effect in the public.

Tessa Burg: Oh.

David Baker: That’s what scares me more than anything, especially in the political realm. Not what happens in the marketing world. I think we don’t have much to worry about compared to public perception and wildfire social media sort of spreading things. That’s, oh god, that I don’t even know how to solve that one, but that one scares me a lot.

Tessa Burg: No, that’s true. You always have to come back to that perspective. And I say like, I mean like all of us as marketers, like our job just is not, you know, that life or death.

David Baker: Yeah.

Tessa Burg: And even if you have revenue goals, and I know a lot of people are under a ton of pressure, but it’ll be all be okay. And we do have to kind of remember at the day that we’re the ones with the fun jobs. I mean, this is why I got out of IT and like dipped my toe into marketing because like those people are having so much fun. Like, I’m stuck in the server closet with these blinking lights and tapes. I mean, that was a long time ago.

David Baker:Yeah, you just dated yourself right there.

Tessa Burg: Yes. Blue Mountain tapes. So I really enjoyed your last book, which is “Secret Tradecraft of Elite Advisors.” And I felt like if people are feeling worried, if they are thinking about what is the value or my role now as a marketer, just reflecting on yourself or on the agency side or the brand side, knowing how to keep your craft alive as that consultant, as that expertise consultant, is so important. But are there things within that book that you think are more important now than ever? However you say that.

David Baker:More relevant now.

Tessa Burg: Yeah. More relevant now that, you know, as a starting point, it’s like, yes, you still have this within your wheelhouse and now it’s become more valuable based on where we are today.

David Baker:So we have these external threats like AI and so on. And the other one that seems to be hitting this field quite a bit is that some firms are thriving, they can’t even keep up, they can’t hire people fast enough. And some firms are going out of business, not many. But the vast middle is sort of struggling with generally, just sort of, you know, not great, not terrible, not great. And during those times you kind of really figure out who you are as a professional. Like you’ve gotta balance short-term income needs with all the reputation that’s taken you years and years and years to build. And so one of the things that prompted me to write that last book was the idea that an expert just doesn’t know a lot about a particular field, but they deliver that. The process is unique too. And we all have these people in our lives who are super knowledgeable but also super annoying. It’s like you can’t hardly stand to be with them. If you could just fish stuff out of their head while their personality is turned off, you would welcome that. And that translates into like, you could know everything that your client needs to know, but if you don’t have a way to deliver that in a way that’s warm, inviting, somewhat safe, challenging, then you’re never going to be all that successful. You probably won’t make a lot of money, but even worse than that, is you won’t make much difference in their lives, right? So I think the process by which you deliver, that’s where the name comes from, Tradecraft. It’s like, it’s not just what you know, it’s how you deliver it. And that’s the one message I really want people to hear, that it’s not just what you know, it’s how you deliver it, that’s what makes you a professional. And it doesn’t seem all that important on the surface. And it also seems a little arrogant to talk about it, but it just feels like there’s not that much help out there for it. And so that was the whole point about it, right? And in an environment like this where everything is not hunky dory everywhere, that’s where process really distinguishes you from the other firms. Where you’re not desperate, you’re still not afraid to say the things that you see. You get dirty in that situation and you help people. Like keep doing all of those things. It’s not just about what you know, it’s how you do it too.

Tessa Burg: Mm hmm. I agree. And it gives the people around you a sense of stability.

David Baker:Mm hmm.

Tessa Burg: So you know, when there’s a lot of change and it’s not all hunky dory, if you are still bringing and delivering in that consistent manner, it builds confidence in everyone.

David Baker: Well, they’re watching you too, right? Like AI is the example right now. You as a leader, you’ve got lots of people watching you. They’re not just listening to what you say, they’re looking at how panicked you are or you aren’t, or how thoughtful you are or how non-defensive you are. And this is a great opportunity, regardless of where we end up on the AI thing, this is a great opportunity to be a great leader as well and to communicate that. And have strong points of view, but always with mastery because like, but I’m always willing to change my mind if I need to. So let’s talk, what is it that you want to tell me, right? So you blend those two things together and that really happens well in a situation like AI, which has the potential to be quite disruptive. And there are people on your staff that are saying, “Well, probably nothing will happen this week, but does this mean that the career path I chose is a little bit less glorious than I thought?” Right? So you gotta be aware of those kinds of things, right?

Tessa Burg: Yes, I totally agree. And my optimistic side is, from a personnel development standpoint, I think this is such an awesome time, not just to redefine potentially what that path is, but how they get there. You know, can this be a way that you bring people together in different ways and show different forms of collaboration? I feel like the more that you can leverage this change to help people, if they’re not curious yet, if they’re more on the, you know, hesitant side. You know, each person’s unique and people get excited about different things, you know, what can you kind of poke at to spur that curiosity and help them see their career in a whole new light? And I know that’s always scary at first, but it’s like kind of meeting them where they’re at. And I know you in your practice have used disc assessments and we still use those. I also like just doing 16 personalities with people. But I think that’s one of the most fun parts is finding that unique aspect of people and also using that to get them excited about where their career can go because of this change, you know, in the market.

David Baker: Yeah. This is where you earn your pay. This is the storm that you’ve been preparing for. And anybody can be a captain of a ship on a beautiful day without much wind, right? But this is where you can stand out as somebody who is a leader, who has a right approach to innovation, not wildly for it all the time, not wildly against it, just very open to it, eager to embrace things. And we really do need to remember that this can be terrifying to people, right? It shouldn’t be terrifying to us as leaders, but we should be very open to the fact that this matters. Like it’s not just this issue. This is, you know, in two years it’ll be something else. Let’s figure out how to react to these kinds of outside forces so that we are better leaders in the future as well.

Tessa Burg: Yep. I agree. Well, this is all the time we have. I actually lost track of time because this is a good conversation. It just kept going. But thank you David, so much for being a guest. And if people want to find you or find the books, I mean I’ve read the last two, they’re awesome. “The Business of Expertise” and “Secret Trade Craft of Elite Advisors.” How can they get in touch with you?

David Baker: So the last book you can go to Tradecraft.is, and the other one is Expertise.is, or if you want to see what I do for a living, just go to davidcbaker.com, which will become punctuation.com in a month. We’re changing the website name, so. You’ve been through one of those. I remember that. Remember?

Tessa Burg: Yeah.

David Baker: Remember where you got the name?

Tessa Burg: We got the name from you, yeah.

David Baker: That’s right. And I don’t even think I made any money. I just gave it to you.

Tessa Burg: You did, you just gave it to us.

David Baker: Yeah. That was fun.

Tessa Burg: It was fun. I love that name. Tenlo will always have a special place in my heart. It was great.

David Baker: Well thanks for having me on. I enjoyed the chat with you Tessa.

Tessa Burg: Yep. Thank you David. And if you want to find more episodes of Leader Generation, you can visit ModOp.com, M O D O P.com or look for us on LinkedIn, just search Leader Generation podcast and we are on all of the major podcast platforms. Until next time.

David C. Baker

Advisor, Author & Speaker

David owned a marketing communications firm for six years. He then started a management consulting firm and became the leading authority on positioning, reinventing and selling firms in the creative and digital space.

David is the author of five books, three of which focus on the central elements of the business of expertise: positioning, financial management and leadership. He also speaks regularly on more than 70 topics relevant to entrepreneurial expertise and appears as a guest on podcasts every month.