It was raining on the
flight from Atlanta to Boston. Not a soft, gentle summer rain. But the kind of rain that feels like we did something to seriously piss off June, and June was angry-beating outrage upon us with wet little fists.
It was the worst kind of weather for anyone, anywhere. But especially for me, now climbing
with 138 others to 30,000 feet in the air.
It's fitting that an airplane window is called a porthole, I think to myself, because it looks more like we were accelerating through ocean more than sky.
* * *
Since we're friends, I'll admit something: I fly all the time. Yet I hate it.
The palms of my hands are clammy on almost any flight. But when the airplane is navigating stormy seas, the clamminess blooms into a full-body sweat. The plane is tossed around like a fishing bobber that's hooked a fish with some fight in him. My heart races. Breaths come in small shallow gulps.
Rational-Me knows that it's just irregular air movement causing that erratic bobbing through the air. There is no real danger. Planes are built for this. The Internet has told me that a thousand different ways. Concerned seatmates have, too, on occasion.
Total strangers. Assuring me it's fine. Embarrassing.
Irrational-Me blooms with sweat and the stranger/Internet assurances fly right out the window.
In-one-ear... etc. etc. They might as well be speaking Russian.
Last week, I look around at others also securely buckled into their plane seats, hoping to catch... I don't know... a sympathetic eye?
But I'm seated
in the Exit Row alone. (It just now occurs to me that I am solely responsible for moving that emergency door...? With MY sweaty palms...? A fresh flash of sweat blooms.)
* * *
I glance at the guy across the aisle. He's wearing brown dress shoes and a solemn face. He's staring straight ahead, not seeming to be aware of the sweaty shallow-breather across the aisle.
Or maybe pretending not to notice. I can't blame him... I'd avoid me, too. I hope our fellow passengers follow the closest exit to *his* Exit Row Door. He looks... less sweaty.
Brown Dress Shoe Man pulls out his laptop.
(Work. At a time like this?) He launches his email.
I check my phone and realize the past hour has been only four minutes.
* * *
"Wasn't that kind of comforting though?" my daughter Caroline says, when later I tell her the story of Brown Dress Shoe Man. (I survived the flight, by the
"It's like AI," she says. "Some people are sweating and freaking out about it. When maybe the better thing to do is just relax."
Caroline works in marketing at a tech company. I don't think I mentioned that.
* * *
I'd been in Atlanta to talk about (among other things) the turbulence that is generative AI and marketing. It was my second event of the week that touched on how AI is changing how we work.
feel it. In the last 6 months, my palms have had an existential clammy sweat. I've also been trying to understand what AI means for us as creatives, writers, marketers.
Maybe you, too, have traveled through a kind of Kubler-Ross five stages of grief. The AI-induced denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression.
And (maybe?) Acceptance.
For me it started when ChatGPT exploded into headlines on November 30, 2022. (Yeah, I remember the date... as you remember any seminal date that splits a world in two and creates a "before" and an "after.") Cue Kubler-Ross. (Here was depression.)
Which isn't to say I've figured it all out.
But after talking to lots of marketers about the calm vs. sweaty approaches... I've realized that the best kind of acceptance (AI-ceptance? LOL) includes a rational, measured, informed approach.
Open your laptop, fire up your work. Maybe the better thing to do is just relax.
It takes time spent playing play around with AI to know when to use it / when to not use it.
The use/not-use is a call we all need to make for ourselves. For example, I don't use AI to write. To me, writing is thinking. I need to do the writing myself to know what I think. So yeah... ball/your court. And all that.
I'm unable to write anything without solid
takeaways for you... so here are 21 good uses of generative AI tools, based on my own playing around.
The 5 helpful ways I use AI are in bold. (This slide is from a presentation I gave last week.)