Bernie Borges | AI Threat or Opportunity | Midlife Fulfilled Podcast

Ep 143 AI in Midlife: Opportunity or Threat To Your Career?

The worst thing you can do in your midlife career is ignore AI. The best thing you can do is embrace it, and harness your human connection to thrive.

Welcome to episode 143, my takeaway from my conversation with Mark Schaefer on episode 142. Following is a recap of the three key discussion points from my conversation with Mark where we discuss the impact of AI in your midlife career. Further below I offer you my challenge for your midlife career success journey.

🌟 Key Discussion Points Recap 🌟

  1. Embracing AI for Career Productivity: Just as I embraced social media in its early days, we discussed the critical importance of familiarizing yourself with AI. It’s not just a tech trend; it’s a tool that can significantly boost your productivity and open new doors in your career.
  2. The Irreplaceable Value of Human Interaction: Despite AI’s advancements, it can’t replace the human qualities essential for mid-life professionals. Our wisdom, empathy, and critical thinking are our unique strengths in an AI-dominated world.
  3. Personal Branding in the AI Era: Personal branding has never been more crucial. It’s about making your unique expertise and wisdom visible and complementary to AI technologies.

Once again, as I did on episode 141 I’m going to lean into all three discussion points, not just one of them as my takeaway. You might be thinking, “Bernie, what is your original takeaway if you’re combining the three discussion points from your conversation with Mark Schaefer?” That’s a fair thought, but hold that thought! Stay with me. 

In the first discussion point, embracing AI, I’m reminded of how I embraced social media when it first became popular in the 2003, 2004, and 2005 time frame. I was one of the older ones embracing social media, in my late 40s when social media was coming on the scene. I vividly remember people in my age demographic saying things like “I don’t want to share my life with complete strangers on the internet,” or “I don’t care what someone ate for lunch,” or my favorite, “social media is dumb, a complete waste of time.” 

As for me, I leaned into it. In fact, one of the many benefits in my career of leaning into social media is I was invited to give a presentation to a group of 100 CEOs in 2007 on social media. I remember how eager this group of mostly 40 plus men and women was to learn something about social media. I broke it down into a simple explanation of how businesses could empower their employees to share content that could allow others to learn about their business. And, I even suggested to these CEOs that they engage in social media themselves as a way to humanize their company. That idea didn’t go over very well. 

At the end of my presentation, about 20 CEOs lined up to speak with me to ask a question or two. Here’s what happened next. A few of them invited me to contact them to consult for their business. So, I gained business from this speech. Almost all of them (maybe all of them) said to me “you should write a book, you have a book in your slides.” 

I remember driving home (I worked from home) feeling pretty confident. Maybe over confident, if I’m honest. In addition to winning some consulting clients, I convinced myself that I SHOULD write a book. So, I went on social media and I announced that I planned to write a book about social media marketing. At that point, there was no turning back. 

Remember, this was 2007, the early days of social media. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn were still in the very early stages. 

As a result of going public with my announcement to write a book, I was committed. I couldn’t let myself down by not doing it. So, I did and in 2009 my book titled Marketing 2.0 was published. It wasn’t a national bestseller but it sold a few thousand copies. More importantly, the book was considered one of the early books on social media and it opened many doors for me.

If I had not embraced social media, which at the time was a new advancement in technology, I would not have had many doors open for me, which led to more open doors and more open doors. This is why point number one – embracing AI – is a point I wholeheartedly support. I have personally experienced many benefits by embracing major new technology advancements. 

Regarding the point about the need for human interaction, what can I say? We are the wisdom generation, my friend! AI in its current form does not replace critical thinking, judgment, empathy, emotion or leadership. I will not predict that it will never happen. But, at this time, AI does not replace human connection skills based on experience. As we discussed on episode 142, the highly productive output of AI needs to be guided, managed, and optimized by people with wisdom. That’s us my friend. But, back to the previous point. You must first embrace AI to understand how you complement it with empathy and wisdom. 

Regarding the third point about personal branding. I think (and I’m not alone) that now more than ever, personal branding is more important. In my experience, people in midlife are polarized about personal branding. On one side, people recognize the importance of building and maintaining their personal brand to be known and recognized for what is uniquely you. On the other side are people who utterly reject this idea. I’m convinced this group of people misunderstands the true meaning of personal branding. Personal branding doesn’t mean that you have to be creating videos and posting on social media 7 days a week. All it means is that you intentionally and thoughtfully create a persona for an intended group of people that you want to be recognized for, fill in the blank. 

For example, your specialization area might be civil engineering, or cyber security, or international affairs, or European history, or a trade such as electrical, mechanical or specialty construction such as schools, churches, community centers, or life insurance, or financial planning, or teaching, or cooking or dog grooming, or IP attorney practices. Are you tired yet of hearing me list a wide variety of career paths? We both know the list is very long. Here’s my point, no matter where you are in your career journey, being recognized for your expertise is important so that you can make it obvious how you complement AI. I’ll repeat this point because it’s important. Your expertise which includes professional wisdom, complements AI. If you’re invisible in your industry or in the company where you work, no one will know you and those in your field who embrace AI will shine brighter than you. This would be a scenario where AI is a threat to you. 

Another scenario related to this is if AI does make some aspect of your work obsolete. In that case, you need to think about where does the AI end and your wisdom start? Mark mentioned doing research as one of many examples. It’s easy to do research using AI such as ChatGPT. But, it still needs to be fact checked, AND you still have to do something with this research. In other words, you have to provide the “so what” of this research. It needs to be summarized, explained and published or presented. That’s you my friend! 

I implore you to embrace AI, embrace the human connection needed to harness AI and embrace building and sustaining your personal brand. 

Earlier I told you to hold that thought about me summarizing the three key discussion points. Here’s my key takeaway. 

AI is already disrupting industries and it will be even more disruptive in many ways we can’t predict. Speaking for myself, I can’t feel confident in my ability to navigate the future that has so many unknowns if I have blinders on. On the contrary, I need to be informed and actively engaged in experimenting with AI in order to be ready for whatever disruption comes my way.

And, that is my challenge to you my friend. Be ready for whatever disruption comes your way by embracing AI to understand it, and how you can use it, and how you can thrive, even in the midst of disruption. 

I want to thank Mark Schaefer for sharing his insights and “terrifying” experience, which has led him to dive deeper into what’s possible with AI. I hope his insights and my takeaway in this episode offer you some encouragement to embrace AI. 

Neither of us has a crystal ball. We can’t predict the future. We both feel strongly that the worst thing you can do on this topic is ignore it. And, the best thing you can do is embrace it, experiment with it, and be proactive about ways you can harness your human connection to thrive in your current or next career chapter. 

I will remind you that you can watch my video recording with Mark Schaefer on episode 142 on my YouTube channel.  

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I used AI to help produce these show notes powered by Castmagic

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