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The Day Expertise Became a Commodity

It’s been a year since I was first introduced to ChatGPT. My reaction then couldn't be more distant from my reaction today. 


Last week, after hearing about OpenAI DevDay, my brain swirled and spun. I sent out a couple of texts and rewatched Sam Altman's demo introducing GPTs and GPT4 Turbo. 


I needed to confirm that what I was seeing - expertise becoming a commodity and a novice becoming an expert with a few prompts in minutes was REAL.


Humbling at the least and terrifying at best.


Over this year, we have tested, practiced, hashed out, attended conferences, listened to podcasts, read books, asked "experts," rinsed and repeated to gain the knowledge we need to speak intelligently about GAI and the tools - new and those we've used for a while who have AI woven in. 


Throughout the year, we have shared what we know with one another, clients, strategic partners, and others. Some love the conversation and engage, while others simply say they are not ready to even discuss it.  


One of my strengths, according to CliftonStrengths, is my innate curiosity and forward-focused mindset; they call it Futuristic. I am not typically the person telling stories of how it was in the good old days, resting on the successes of past years and accomplishments from the late 1900s.


Rather, I look for what's around the next corner, what's new, and how it will be leveraged. Where the application and opportunity align with growth for our clients and Intero Advisory.


As I reflect on 2023, professionally, this has been a harder year than any other year in the 2020s - yes, including 2020. This year, the changes and outside influences just keep coming - pebbles to boulders; even those of us keeping close tabs just didn't see how fast it would change our businesses. The torrent will continue. When I pose the question, "How has 2023 been for you?" most people pause. Once I share that I think it's been pretty challenging, people open up. Being vulnerable creates space for real conversation.


When I launched Intero Advisory in 2011, I decided to niche down - work with B2B professionals who needed to know LinkedIn to drive business outcomes for themselves and their businesses. It has served us and our clients well. We are experts with more than 35,000+ collective hours with the LinkedIn platform. Clients who applied our insight and best practices saw results. Overnight? Not always, but we have always been about the long game. Building better presence and better networks, helping them work smarter and more intentionally to create a competitive advantage.


The line "What keeps you up at night?" has always annoyed me - so trite. However, here's what jolts me out of bed at 3 a.m.


How do you, as an expert, trainer, coach, or consultant, protect your business? I know how you protect your knowledge and experience. I am not sure about your business. Right now, you can take your favorite thought leaders - thinkers, experts and spin them up and synthesize their expertise into one crystallized, brilliant, and best-of-the-best personal resource and assistant. Have we ever been more vulnerable? Nope, not really. 


How will leaders prepare and empower their teams? Not everyone on the team is wired to learn, change, and go deep to expand their knowledge base. Not everyone is wired to see their skills rendered obsolete right before their 30-year-old eyes. I have always tried to press, cajole, encourage, and sometimes even put the fear of God into my teams over the years, even those teams I led before Intero. I have been an advocate for upskilling for decades.


Become digitally literate or else. Age is not the only indicator of digital literacy. Mindset is. Not everyone will be needed - it is unfortunate and straightforward. I wanted to believe I could help people position themselves to be more marketable, more digitally literate adventurers in the world of learning. I am not sure I succeeded.


How will small businesses prevail? Will they have the resources, budget, and inclination to adapt fast enough? From marketing and sales to operations, can they future-proof their business effectively and efficiently? Do they have the fortitude and resilience to weather the mistakes, chance the risk, and pursue the continual changes that present itself? ChatGPT 5, for example.


Can we? Do we hunker down and do "our thing" as we have for more than a decade? I am not convinced. Can we modify and add to our services, use GAI to be better, more effective, and efficient, and ride a new wave as probably so many will - yes. 


Over the years, we resisted so many of the shortcuts, the hacks, and the automation that diluted the member experience on LinkedIn. We weren't about creating the biggest networks but rather a better network, a better strategy, and workflow. We focused on delivering custom guidance and strategy to companies trying to make sense of new ways to recruit, market, and develop business. 


We also resisted a lot of shiny objects that, for one reason or another, could take us away from our core business. For anyone reading this who knows me, I LOVE shiny objects - an eternal optimist, I see the possibilities in most things. Better judgment and a team of far more pragmatically-minded thinkers usually tempered my zeal. Thank goodness.


Having navigated multiple recessions, the advent of the internet, social media, and the decline of industries I enjoyed working in - publishing and printing, I view GAI as the most significant moment in my professional career, our business, and for multiple generations of knowledge workers. Perhaps it's my age, although my colleagues, who are half my age, agree wholeheartedly.


What will businesses/clients need from us going forward? Just our "regular," or will they seek us out for more strategy and greater and deeper guidance on the tools that will change their business in the days and months ahead? I think so.


What are you asking of your clients right now? How are you future-proofing or, at the very least, creating future resiliency for you and your business? Ask the questions because a head-in-the-sand stance will ensure people will walk right over you. Do all you can to protect your business.


Intero Advisory will look different in the coming months. In what ways, I am not exactly sure. However, our goal will always be to create accountability for our client engagements, support people during difficult conversations and times of change, deliver our best thinking to clients, and serve as a preferred resource to those who seek information from a trusted, reliable, and well-practiced team of human experts.


This article is unfiltered and non-AI-enhanced.