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The CEO's Guide to Understanding, Implementing, and Profiting From AI with CEO Coaching's Curt Gooden

The CEO's Guide to Understanding, Implementing, and Profiting From AI with CEO Coaching's Curt Gooden
CEO Coaching Int’l

Guest: Curt Gooden, CEO Coaching International’s Chief AI Officer. Curt helps CEOs define and realize their AI vision and meaningfully integrate AI into their business strategy and operations by leading CEO AI Roadmap workshops.

Quick Background: Mastering AI is not the CEO’s job. But learning about the fundamentals and identifying potential implementations is a responsibility that no CEO can afford to shrug off any longer. As Peter Diamandis said at our recent Make BIG Happen Summit, “Everyone’s moving towards AI companies. It is happening now, and it is the most important happening that has ever existed.” You simply can’t let challenging ideas and an alphabet soup of acronyms prevent your company from catching this wave.

On today’s show, Curt Gooden explains important AI concepts and discusses how CEOs can drive innovation and gain a competitive advantage that will Make BIG Happen.

Keys to Understanding and Implementing AI From Curt Gooden

1. Know who’s who and what’s what.

Search is Google. Social is Facebook, with a side of X. Networking is LinkedIn. Hardware is Apple.

At this early stage of the AI arms race, several companies are vying for that name-brand status. Recent breakthroughs in AI that use “large language models” (LLMs), essentially technology systems that can understand and generate human language based on patterns learned from vast amounts of text data, have captured the world’s imagination. And while every platform has its strengths and weaknesses, most experts, including Curt Gooden, agree that there are three specific platforms CEOs should focus their attention on:

  • ChatGPT (OpenAI and Microsoft) “is the most popular at the moment. It’s a great all-around large language model that’s really going to accomplish pretty much anything that people are trying to throw at it. Some of the most impressive things that you see in ChatGPT-4o are the ways that you’re able to talk to this model, and the emotions and the expressions that it has, and the real conversational flow you’ll see. I think this is where a lot of these models are going to go: enabling human-like interaction.”
  • Claude (Anthropic) “is doing an amazing job in regards to just dealing with text. It has really strong reasoning skills. It has great summary skills. It’s creative in regards to how it’s generating text. But it’s not as visual, it doesn’t have the multimodal capabilities like a ChatGPT-4o has. So you’re not going to be uploading images or creating images along those lines.”
  • Gemini (Google) “They’ve taken a different approach. In their latest demo, they upload a short movie into Gemini and then start asking it questions. And it’s able to look at the movie, understand the reasoning, and really find answers to it.”

2. Write better prompts.

Playing around with one — or all — of these tools is a low-cost step one for CEOs who are just starting their AI Roadmaps. Download the free ChatGPT app onto your phone and ask it to plan your meals for the week. Replace your Google Assistant with Gemini and get AI-powered answers to your “Hey Googles.” You don’t need to get into the weeds on things like “tokens” and “context windows” to appreciate the power and the promise of these platforms.

But to really unlock everything that AI can do, Curt has five bullet points for prompts that will generate more complete and useful responses:

  1. Persona
  2. Context
  3. Data
  4. Clear instructions and output expectations
  5. Permission for clarity and iteration

“You need to tell ChatGPT or any of these LLMs how to act,” Curt says. “If you want them to act like a Stanford MBA grad and be an expert in the industry, tell it to act like that. It has all the information of every personality, every book, so it will act as you tell it to act. You then want to provide context. Give it a good amount of background. Give it the information that you’re trying to base your ask on. Give the comprehensive data that you’re asking it about. Give it very clear instructions. Don’t just be generic in regards to, ‘Give me a story’ or ‘Give me an outline.’ Give it really clear instructions and tell it how you want that output.”

If you’ve ever asked AI a question and felt the answer was too generic or incomplete, you’re probably overlooking Point 5. Curt believes that following up and prodding the AI to iterate its answers is the most important step to receiving high-quality output.

“If you don’t get the information you want the first time, keep refining it, keep asking it back,” he advises. “Give it permission to ask you clarifying questions. These large language models are extremely confident when they’re right, and they’re extremely confident when they’re wrong. They will make stuff up. But if you specifically tell it, ‘Ask me any clarifying questions if you need more information to accomplish this,’ it will ask you to clarify and it’s going to give you a much better answer if it has all the facts that it needs.”

3. Treat AI like a calculator.

“I’m sure you know how to do long division,” Curt says, “but when was the last time you were doing long division and not utilizing a calculator? That’s really the challenge and the opportunity of AI. Educators need to teach people how to utilize the tools they have, but they have to have the skills as well.”

When it comes to educating your teams how to integrate AI into their workflows, think about an alternative definition that was very popular at the Make BIG Happen Summit: “augmented intelligence.” Destigmatize the use of AI — especially in mundane tasks — and encourage experimentation.

For example, if your company runs on Google Docs and Sheets, point out that Gemini star and tell folks to let AI take a stab at drafting their next email or analyzing a data set. The productivity gains your people will make by letting AI handle more mundane tasks will help them feel more comfortable with the technology and also free them up for more creative and personal tasks that no tech can handle: providing empathetic customer support; dreaming up new products and services; exploring ways to collaborate across departments in innovative new ways.

“The CEO’s role is really to set that vision, set that strategy as to what we expect in this organization,” Curt says. “There are all these little things that you can do, at a minimal cost, to encourage people on the experimentation side. So setting that vision, pushing that down through the organization, providing training, providing education, and providing the tools for people to do these things — then you’re going to start finding these innovative areas.”

4. Customize your AI Roadmap.

The best companies are already moving well beyond the basics to create their own customized AI solutions. Click the HELP button at your favorite online retailer and you’ll “talk” to an AI chatbot that processes your return in seconds. Medical pros are feeding AI gigs of patient data to improve early detection of diseases and personalize longevity plans. And, in the weeks and months ahead, expect to hear more about “AI Agents” that can complete complex, multistep workflows, such as booking your next vacation, start to finish.

While letting ChatGPT draft a PowerPoint might save your marketing team an hour of work, it’s these next-level AI integrations, customized to a business’s specific needs, that are going to be the real game changers. The combination of a low barrier to entry and rapid advancement means that CEOs have to get serious about upgrading their talent and their tech if they want to stay competitive.

But CEOs also have to ground their AI Roadmaps in reality. No matter how smart AI gets, there’s no substitute for the hard work of tracking, measuring, and managing the processes that are leading your company toward its short-term and long-term goals. Identify ways that AI can enhance those processes, and you’ll Make BIG Happen faster and more efficiently.

“At CEO Coaching, we offer training in regards to helping organizations understand AI,” Curt says. “What the different terms mean. What it means in various industries. What are the various use cases. We then will help companies figure out and generate that AI Roadmap customized to their company. There is no magic silver bullet that’s going to fix all your problems. What it takes is really understanding the capabilities, using sound business practices, figuring out your biggest problem, figuring out your biggest opportunity, and generating your AI Roadmap to accomplish or to account for that opportunity or that challenge. Those things won’t change. You need good business fundamentals. CEOCI will help a company in regards to, what does that roadmap look like? What are those opportunities? What are those areas that AI can help your organization that are tied into your business strategy, your business goals? That’s really what it’s about.”

Top Takeaways From Curt Gooden

1. Learn what you need to know about AI and hire the experts you need for your company to master the rest.

2. Augment your company’s intelligence and employees will embrace the new tools at their disposal

3. Customization is the future of AI and it’s coming faster than many CEOs realize.

How to Turn AI Hype Into BIG Profits by Executing a CEO AI Roadmap – CEO Coaching International’s Randy Koch gives an overview of the process CEOs can use to build their own CEO AI Roadmaps and leverage AI to its full potential.

5 Ways for CEOs to Harness AI for Bold Business Transformation – Are you prepping for a fast-approaching future in which smarter, faster AI can make your business more efficient?

About CEO Coaching International

CEO Coaching International works with CEOs and their leadership teams to achieve extraordinary results quarter after quarter, year after year. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 1,000 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 60 countries and 45 industries. The coaches at CEO Coaching International are former CEOs, presidents, or executives who have made BIG happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from startups to over $10 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight, nine, and ten-figure exits. Companies working with CEO Coaching International for two years or more have experienced an average revenue CAGR of 31% (2.6X the U.S. average) and an average EBITDA CAGR of 52.3% (more than 5X the U.S. average).

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