10x Productivity and Engagement with AI-Generated Visuals and Voices

In this short blog post, I want to share my experience using two remarkable AI technologies: AI Automatic 1111 GUI and Eleven Labs speech tech. These tools can help you create stunning visual and audio content with minimal effort and cost.

Automatic 1111 GUI is a browser interface for Stable Diffusion, a deep learning model that can generate realistic images from text descriptions. You can use it to create anything from surreal paintings to photorealistic portraits, just by typing what you want to see. You can also edit existing images by sketching, inpainting, outpainting or upscaling them. AI Automatic 1111 GUI lets you choose from different models, adjust various parameters, clone or design new voices, and merge checkpoints. I have been using it to create all my recent blog post images.

Eleven Labs speech tech is a voice technology research company that develops the most compelling AI speech software for publishers and creators. Their Prime Voice AI platform can convert any text to speech in any voice and any emotion with unprecedented fidelity and context awareness. You can use it to voice news articles, newsletters, blogs, audiobooks, videos or games. You can also clone voices from surprisingly small samples or create entirely new synthetic voices from scratch. The authentic storytelling potential for this is significant and although It does not yet supports the nuance of Stephen Fry’s reading say Harry Potter. However, with a little effort and the creation of voices, I would image we are not that far away.

It’s truly amazing how these technologies can work together to create uber-personalization for an audience. I used AI Automatic 111 GUI to generate these images on my blog. It’s crazy what you can do with it for example these images are based on me having trained the model on some pictures of myself and if I ever wanted to know what I might look like as a woman; well know I know! The important thing to realize here is that they are not “photoshopped” they are totally computer generated.

I used Eleven Labs speech tech to clone my own voice from a 15-second recording it’s a bit bazar to hear yourself say something you have never said! But the potential for this is enormous. As a Dyslexic person who does not find reading a pleasure, I can see a host of user cases. For example, in the games industry, when playing a computer game, you could have the narrate spoken out loud in your own voice. Many AAA game have voice actors for large amounts of text, but the quests are still written and require the payer to read.  I have also experimented having my blog read in my own voice the result was a personalized audio experience that sounded surprisingly just like me. It is of course, possible to combine  Automatic 111 GUI and Eleven Labs tech along with some animation to combine the two.  

Eleven Labs and Automatic 1111 GUI have the potential to be game-changers in the B2B, B2C, and B2B4C spaces, transforming industries in ways we’ve yet to fully imagine. As someone who began my career around the same time as the internet was emerging, I’ve witnessed first-hand the transformative power of technology. AI is already revolutionizing the way we work and create, with machine learning driving ever-faster improvements.

Businesses of all sizes need to embrace these new technologies and transition to an AI-powered future. Just as everyone was building a website in the early days of the internet, I believe that soon everyone will be shifting to an AI-powered agent. These agents can work 24/7, delivering a 10x productivity boost for businesses of all sizes. And for those Woking in marketing looking to create engaging content without spending too much time or money on production, these technologies are a must-have.

At Curious Cognition, we help businesses understand how AI technologies can be applied to create game-changing products and services and support a 10x productivity increase. If you’re interested in trying them out, visit their websites or contact me to schedule a call for an overview of what’s possible.

In my next article, I’ll be sharing my experimentation with an open-source project called Auto GTP, as well as two products: LangChain and Pinecone, which make the creation of intelligent agents possible today. Stay tuned for more insights on how AI is changing the game!  

Why Leaders Need The Power of Corporate Storytelling to Drive 10x Productivity Revolution.

Corporate storytelling has become a critical aspect of modern-day leadership and a powerful tool for businesses to achieve their goals. In a world where people are more connected than ever, leaders need to find ways to stand out and engage their teams in a way that is both meaningful and memorable. That’s where corporate storytelling comes in.

Studies have shown that storytelling can increase employee engagement, foster teamwork, and boost productivity by creating a culture of reflection. This is because stories can captivate audiences and create an emotional connection that lasts long after the story has been told, allowing team members to reflect upon what they have done that day.

One of the key reasons why corporate storytelling is so effective is that it allows leaders to communicate their vision and goals in a relatable and inspiring way. By telling stories highlighting relevant aspects of the company’s values, mission, and objectives, leaders can create a shared understanding among their teams and inspire them to work together towards a common goal.

Another benefit of corporate storytelling is that it helps to build trust and credibility with employees. When leaders tell stories that demonstrate their expertise and experience, they become more relatable, and their message is more likely to be well-received. This in turn fosters a culture of trust and collaboration, which is essential for any organisation that wants to achieve its goals.

Finally, corporate storytelling can also build employees’ sense of community connecting employers to their work. Leaders can create a shared experience that brings people together and strengthens their bond by sharing stories about successes, challenges, and struggles. This can be particularly powerful for remote teams or teams spread out across different locations, as it helps to create a sense of unity and connection.

Examples of compelling corporate storytelling include companies like Apple, which has used storytelling to communicate its values and mission and to inspire its employees and customers. Another example is Airbnb, which has used storytelling to create a shared sense of purpose among its employees and to foster a sense of belonging among its users.

In conclusion, corporate storytelling is a powerful tool to help business leaders deliver the 10x productivity revolution. By creating a shared understanding of the company’s vision and goals, building trust and credibility with employees, and fostering a sense of community and camaraderie, leaders can create an environment that inspires their teams to work together and achieve great things. Learn more in my upcoming book 10x Productivity Revolution.

Drive your teams productivity 10x: Why Backlogs are not just for development teams.

If you work as part of a technology team or are a product owner, you’ll be familiar with the concept of a ‘backlog.’ In short, a backlog consists of a list of incomplete work items, ideally in priority order and only containing items you can complete in a reasonable amount of time.

Backlogs are common in development environments and are part of Scrum and Kanban, but don’t just think of them as being exclusive to tech startups or new product development. Backlogs can play an important role in helping any business become more productive.

When I headed the global marketing department at Travelport, we ran the whole department off a set of interconnected Kanban boards. After a lot of initial pushback, the team slowly started to recognise the value of visualizing work, understanding work in progress (WIP) limits, and measuring velocity and gained a basic understanding of the underlying principle behind most agile and lean tools.

With access to automation tools, increased data, and better analytics, the traditional marketing department that once focused on creative is beginning to look and function like a development environment. In a growth hacking oriented environment, managing marketing in this way might be a distinct advantage. Combine that with AI to stimulate ideas and support SEO and blogs and you can deliver a step change in marketing productivity learn more in ‘10x The Productivity Revolution” coming soon!

Meanings and Feelings

Winning Hearts and Minds

Firstly, I want to thank everyone that reached out to me over the holiday period after my first Curious Cognition blog article. It struck a chord with many of you and so instead of focusing this article purely on product management, which was my original plan, I am going to go a little deeper on why storytelling works and what it means in a B2B contest. I am also going to talk about the importance of persona for product management and messaging as part of the article.

I have recently had many colleagues and friends telling me to, “drop the whole storytelling thing” now. They have told me to focus on my product management skills as they are what organisations will want and will pay top dollar for. Which is why our focus for curious cognition is product management related. Having said that, authentic storytelling as a skill is so compelling and useful to different roles inducing product managers, that I feel it deserves at least a little more attention in this article. We are all familiar with the concepts of winning people’s hearts and minds, but do we win the heart or the mind first? Does it even matter if B2B is only organisations talking to other organisations?

Where is the P in B2B?

Is there such a thing as Business 2 Business? Or is it Business 2 Person 2 Business in reality – (B2P2B)? I hope we all know the answer to this – people are still the interfaces to business, not exclusively of course, as API’s and the handoffs between them play an increasingly essential role in digital business; in true platform business they play a vital role. However, I want this article to focus on people. We will leave API’s for another article, people in sales, in marketing, in product management, in finance, in purchasing… You name it, these people are everywhere and to make it worse they are different colours, have different attitudes and backgrounds and depending on the day, they may be in a good or bad mood. Yet in traditional B2B business marketing, you would think people don’t exist. Yes, there are pictures of people everywhere in B2B marketing and yes, they are different colours, sexes and backgrounds as you would expect.

A lot of the time however, the content that’s communicated in B2B sounds like a business talking to business:

“I am a leader in my field; therefore, you obviously want to buy from me”

“We have more of X and more of Y, and therefore you want to buy from me”

Does this sound familiar? If you don’t believe me, go and look on the web now, I just found half a dozen examples. I don’t want to make myself unpopular, so I am not going to share them! My point is many businesses sound arrogant pompous and insincere.

In some cases, more progressive messaging teams are building messages that speak to the users or the buyers, however often the two personas get confused. I have seen this problem first hand in my career and it’s a problem not just for sales and marketing, it’s a challenge for product managers as well. If you don’t have a clear view of who the customer is, how can you prioritise the requirements for your backlog? How do you prevent bloatware and all the additional costs it drives? (build time, quality assurance, support, training, sales enablement, etc.) In my personal experience, I have seen products that did not know who the target audience were, this kind of mistake is value destroying and it is not as uncommon as it might sound.

I have this feeling

As people, we are all share many of the same feelings. Recent research shows there are at least seven universal facial expressions that cross-cultural barriers. These are: happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, anger, contempt and surprise. We can all recognise them, we are pre-programmed from shortly after birth to do so. A message that resonates with us that triggers a feeling, is far more powerful than one that “bounces off”. A lot of B2B marketing in my view bounces off customers. It fails to recognise that we are emotional beings with feelings of hope and aspirations. I think, we are seeing more businesses that would have traditionally sold directly to the business, increasingly sell to the individuals within a business. The first company that did this was Salesforce.com who launched with an inspired marketing campaign build around No Software. They were one of the first Software as a service (SaaS) business models that are becoming increasingly standard today – it’s all about subscriptions. They use the cognitive bias known as ‘Anchoring’ – this is the human tendency to frame subsequent assessments around an initial piece of information. By claiming the solution was No Software, they made it easier for the sale people who they targeted directly to work around the IT departments. It was the beginning of the end for the IT department as the sole owner of the software solution. Today we see more and more businesses targeting the end user directly. Project management tools like Monday.com and AirTable are good examples of this with Monday.com adverts proudly boasting “what it feels like to use Monday”. Their YouTube videos also talk about emotional things such as “Your girlfriend leaves you” hardly what we see from the traditional B2B marketing efforts.

So feelings do have a place in B2B marketing?

If feeling has a place, then emotions must have a place also. After all, feeling and emotions are effectively the same. The definition of a feeling is an emotional state or reaction. I think they do have a place and for me, this underlines why storytelling works. When we hear a good story, it triggers an emotional response. A ghost story where the hairs on the back of our neck stand up, or a story about overcoming adversity where we feel proud for the company we work for. If we want to trigger emotional responses, we need to consider the words we use carefully and with meaning when we build messaging frameworks in marketing and how we make marketecture’s in product management.  This link demonstrates how all these words matter and if we want to trigger an emotional response, we need to use adjectives, as this helps express the tone, feelings, and emotions of our words by accentuating the point. Picking the right adjectives for your product, narrative, purpose, values, vision or strategy matter… no, they REALLY matter.

Most of us are familiar with the research that shows how quickly interviewers make decisions. Much of this is based on feeling, heuristics and cognitive biases. Examples include halo/horn bias, affective bias, confirmation bias, anchoring bias (which I mentioned above) and nonverbal bias are some of the most significant used in interviews

So, if feelings matter, then the meanings of the words we use must also matter for all the communication we do – whether you’re writing product user stories, marketing copy, creating investment pitches, sales pitches, compiling an earnings announcement or announcing a new strategy or change in strategic direction. So often, getting everyone on the same page fails because we don’t consider just how much the messages matter and whether they contradict or support each other – they often contradict, especially in bigger business.

I have worked with organisations where the ‘strategy’ felt like a lottery of keywords and phrases, each selected by a different senior leader, all delivered as a smorgasbord of strategic options and generic statements. “Win in sales” – FFS! Who doesn’t want to win in sales?! I have also worked with organisations with a coherent, focused strategic narrative that inspired, focused and constrained the options before us and explained how we were going to achieve something. Getting everyone pointing in the same direction, committed to the cause, drinking the cool aid, motivated, excited, aligned… I could go on, but you get the idea. This can be so powerful and yet it’s far from universal, in part because everyone is using a different set of words to describe what they want to achieve. There is a general lack of alignment between intent and action, often because of the quality of communication – with many businesses favouring the number of communications over the over quality. The way messaging is built and managed also contributes to this challenge.

A physical feeling

All words have meanings, but some trigger feelings some of which can be visceral – a physical feeling brought about though emotions. I am guessing as I conclude, some of you will feel uneasy with all this talk of emotions in a B2B context. However, as we have established, even in B2B there are people – people with cognitive biases can’t help themselves. You can’t hope to win people over with logic alone, and many studies have shown this.  One pricing example: Two groups, equal groups, were offered two different offers a 35% discount or a staff discount at 30%. Logically you would expect the 35% to have performed better, but the staff discount with a compelling story performed better. Maybe because of the story that went around the pricing and because we expect staff to get the best discounts.

Next month I promise to leave the squishy feeling stuff alone. I am going to deep dive on a product topic that’s been described as ‘Elephant Carpaccio’ and often manifests its self as ‘How do you prioritise a backlog when it’s too big, and your senior leadership keep adding more to it.’

If your curious about the power of authentic storytelling in a business environment this is the event for you. You will hear from Jason Nash the founder of Curious Cognition, and about his work building a company narrative for Travelport supporting its repositioning effort form B2B Global Distribution System to B2B4C Travel Commerce & Retailing Platform. He will also share some storytelling tricks and tips.  You will find this interesting if you’re a B2B Brand Manager, Marketing Managers, Sales Managers and Product Managers.

Looking for growth in all the wrong​ places

Paid Engine of Growth

Many customers I meet are growing there business through the paid engine of growth (Lean Startup) in my view this is a risk and potentially unsustainable model. Google’s genius, more than anything else is its bidding model for Google Ad words. Its drive up the cost of AdWords for advertisers in a way that makes prices increase to a greater extent invisible to its customers, yet we see more and more money pouring into google. With Expedia and Booking spending over a $1B each per quarter (Skift Reseach numbers) before you take into account their metasearch business it’s very lucrative for Google. Then factor in the Airlines, Hotels, Car rental companies and we are talking about a lot of AdWords. If your smaller independent travel resellers how can you hope to compete?

Sticky engine of growth

In short, I think business needs to focus more on their sticky engine of growth (Lean Startup) where customer loyalty, lifetime value and superior customer experience are real drivers of value for customers. Don’t merely pay to get their attention, invest in your proposition – make it better, make it easier, make it simpler, make it so your customers would never dream of going elsewhere — investment in your sticky engine of growth, is an investment in your brand, in lifetime value and it should payback multiplies times over.