Episode 0007 · December 15, 2022

The podcast about what to do next.

AI Anxiety

Rich has been a Customer Success Manager Level IV for Salesforce for 13 years—and he’s panicking. He heard a cable bill got renegotiated by a robot and now he’s convinced the robots are coming for his job. Paul unpacks that with him and helps him see that there could be new ways of working and doing things for him and his team, and then Paul and Rich demonstrate the absolute state of the art in AI technology.


Paul Ford: Whoa, Rich. Whoa man, you look exhausted.

Rich Ziade: I’m having a hard day. Having a hard day.

Paul Ford: What’s wrong? Are you sick? What happened?

Rich Ziade: No, I’m fine. I just, as, as a leader? 

Paul Ford: Yeah…

Rich Ziade: My career is done.

Paul Ford: Oh, well, what is your career exactly?

Rich Ziade: I am the Customer Success Manager, level four, roman numeral four for Salesforce for 13 years. I manage a team of people that make sure our clients are happy, and I’m done.

Paul Ford: Uh-

Rich Ziade: I’m done. 13 years of building knowledge and expertise swirling down the drain.

Paul Ford: Is this because people finally figured out that Salesforce is unusable?

Rich Ziade: Don’t go there.

Paul Ford: Okay. 

Rich Ziade: No, that’s not why. I’ll tell you why I turn on the internet box like two days ago and someone wrote a robot, I, I don’t even know if I’m saying it right.

Rich Ziade: They wrote a robot that like renegotiated his cable bill. So he had this thing message, customer service at like [00:01:00] Comcast or some nonsense, and he starts arguing about his bill. I don’t think it was even founded cause it was just a, it was just a machine. It was AI and I think another robot was responding from like call center place.

Rich Ziade: And the two robots were talking to each other and the guy’s bill went down like 28 bucks and I was like, oh my God. We’re done. I’m done. My team is done. I work so hard to make sure customers are happy. I, I solve problems for them. I, I, I unlock data that they put in the wrong place, sometimes. I reach out.

Rich Ziade: And I’m done. Why? Because you can spit eight words onto the internet and it, it comes back with a Bob Ross painting of like unicorns dancing.

Paul Ford: Rich,

Rich Ziade: I’m done!

Paul Ford: Rich, calm down. You need some advice.

Advising Time

Paul Ford: [00:02:00] So now, all right, Rich, let’s talk about this. Let me give you some living in the world of AI career coaching.

Rich Ziade: Okay…

Paul Ford: First of all, let’s talk. Let me, let me tell you about your job today. You tell me if I’m right. You’re a Customer Success Manager, level four. You’ve been at Salesforce for 13 years.

Rich Ziade: Yes,

Paul Ford: You run a team, let’s say five people, could be more.

Rich Ziade: Yes,

Paul Ford: And over the years many companies have bought installations of Salesforce.

Paul Ford: It’s a tool that lets them manage customer relationships, canned band boards. They move cards around and they say, this one looks like they might actually buy.

Rich Ziade: Yes.

Paul Ford: That’s what Salesforce does. So you sell that to people.

Rich Ziade: Does a lot of things, but yeah, that’s fine.

Paul Ford: That’s the core. Let’s start there.

Rich Ziade: Yes.

Paul Ford: That’s where you started and now-

Rich Ziade: That’s where I started. And we sell all kinds of clouds. There’s a lot of flavors of clouds for Salesforce.

Paul Ford: That’s right.

Rich Ziade: I don’t want to get, this isn’t a Salesforce podcast.

Paul Ford: [00:03:00] Doctor’s office, not-for-profits, whatever. And so what happens is you would walk in and you’d say, “Hey, what do you need? You need Salesforce”, and they’d be like, “Whoa, yeah, I didn’t even get to say anything yet”.

Paul Ford: And you’d go, “No, no, you need Salesforce”.

Rich Ziade: Yes.

Paul Ford: And then you would write up a contract and they would sign it, and then people would bring, they’d get a login to Salesforce,

Paul Ford: Yeah, it seems-

Paul Ford: all sorts of stuff. That’s what you do. But they would say, “look, we’re having trouble scheduling dental appointments in our health portal”, and you’d go, “Mike over here is gonna help you out”.

Rich Ziade: Yeah. And sometimes we share our screen, sometimes we send them a demo. Sometimes we just write up what they should do step by step. We, we make sure people can use the tool.

Paul Ford: And what’s been, what you’re worried about is that now a computer can come in, index all the content that anyone’s ever used.

Rich Ziade: Have you seen this shit?

Paul Ford: Yes, I have. We’re gonna talk about that in one second. But you’re worried about the fact that somebody can come in and say, “I need help with dental appointments. Can you give it to me in the form of a video tutorial?”.

Rich Ziade: Absolutely.

Paul Ford: And now the computer replies and says, I got it all right here for you. And it’s pretty good.

Rich Ziade: It’s pretty good.

Paul Ford: It’s pretty good.

Rich Ziade: It’s pretty good. I, [00:04:00] I, I mean, love my team. I’ve seen this chat, GP T thing, it writes better than like half of my team members.

Paul Ford: That’s true. It does. It’s pretty good.

Rich Ziade: Punctuation is good. Full sentences. Looks legit. We’re done dude, this thing came out like Wednesday.

Paul Ford: So look, let’s see how bad this is. I just went over to chat.openai.com/chat, and I typed in “write me a customer success script for a user who’s having trouble logging into Salesforce.” Rich, let’s take a look at that.

Rich Ziade: Okay.

Paul Ford: Here’s how it starts. “Hi there. I’m sorry to hear that you’re having trouble logging into Salesforce”

Rich Ziade: Empathy. 

Paul Ford: “Can you please provide me with your username or email address so I can look into this for you?” Then it, it sort of continues and it actually tells you all about how to make sure you’re using the correct login URL that you’re entering your username to clear your cookies,

Rich Ziade: Forgot password,

Paul Ford: all that stuff. It’s pretty thorough, pretty good. This is not a bad customer service interaction. 

Rich Ziade: Not only did it do a good job, I’ve never met this robot before.

Paul Ford: It’s pretty upsetting.

Rich Ziade: They didn’t go through [00:05:00] my training process. 

Paul Ford: You know what the robot never does?

Rich Ziade: What?

Paul Ford: Never asks for a commission.

Rich Ziade: Ohww,

Paul Ford: Yeah. Here’s the coaching you need Rich. You actually don’t know what you do. Okay so what you actually are doing there is interacting with sets of human beings to create a software solution that’s aligned with them. Now if, if Salesforce was a true consumer product,

Rich Ziade: Mm-hmm.

Paul Ford: focused on, um, just giving everybody exactly what they wanted,

Rich Ziade: Mm-hm.

Paul Ford: with no human interaction,

Rich Ziade: Mm-hm.

Paul Ford: this is a great tool. Like you could start to write tons and tons of documentation much more quickly.

Rich Ziade: We do, sometimes we have a knowledge base and if people want to look up the answer there, we’d love for them to do that cause then they don’t bother us.

Paul Ford: There are some issues with accuracy and so on and so forth with, with tools like this.

Rich Ziade: Mm-hm.

Paul Ford: So they’re not quite ready for that.

Rich Ziade: Mm-hm.

Paul Ford: But yeah what’s nice is they can help with translation.

Rich Ziade: Sure.

Paul Ford: They can help with issues of tone. I’d like this to be, you know, can you write, they can write you a poem. If you want a, a poem about logging into Salesforce, they’ll write you a poem.

Rich Ziade: [00:06:00] That, that’s very upsetting as well.

Paul Ford: I want you to think about this tool more like automatic translation.

Rich Ziade: What do I tell my team? Are there jobs done for? People are nervous.

Paul Ford: Call center is vulnerable, things like that. Things that are scripted and so on and so forth. If their job is to translate something from one language to another or from one discipline to another, they’re vulnerable.

Rich Ziade: Okay.

Paul Ford: So, so those sort of tasks are at risk. Let me, let me reset your brain for a minute here.

Paul Ford: Okay. There are a set of new technologies that generate content from prompts and they generate it in such a way that it’s grammatically correct, pretty positive, uh, can look really good or pretty good. There’s a tendency with the images to have too many like arms, so that’s tricky.

Rich Ziade: Mm-hmm.

Paul Ford: You don’t wanna send somebody a, don’t want to go in the company picnic and send a picture of people with too many arms.

Rich Ziade: Mm-hmm.

Paul Ford: But you can ask it to draw you, diagrams, illustrations, all kinds of things. Now you’re, you’re a person [00:07:00] who, you have a sales role, you have to get people to buy into your product, correct?

Rich Ziade: Well, I mean that’s part of it. First off, contracts end and when the time comes to renew, we want them to renew.

Rich Ziade: Ideally, we want them to like upgrade and spend more money. Like the sales process never ends.

Paul Ford: That’s right. But your success is that you bring more revenue into Salesforce than you would if, and Salesforce makes more money than it would if it didn’t have you.

Rich Ziade: I would hope so.

Paul Ford: Okay. So you’re worried that Salesforce will go get to make all that money without you in the loop?

Rich Ziade: Yeah. They’ll replace me with a beige com, computer tower.

Paul Ford: Did Stack Overflow ruin everybody’s engineering jobs?

Paul Ford: Not as far as I can tell. There’s 20, 30 million engineers out in the world, casual and otherwise,

Rich Ziade: True.

Paul Ford: and they all use Stack Overflow. And what, what it actually does is it makes certain things more accessible. Right?

Rich Ziade: Okay.

Paul Ford: Okay. So in you go to you, it’s, it’s time to renew the contract. 

Rich Ziade: Yes.[00:08:00]

Paul Ford: So now there’s an interaction that you need to have and it needs to fan out to your group. What kind of communication do you normally do? You send an email, or say, “I want to have a phone call”, right?

Rich Ziade: Well, first off, relationships matter.

Paul Ford: Of course. People like to see you.

Rich Ziade: People like to see me and I, I, I like to connect with them on a personal level because that’s part of getting people to commit. Right?

Paul Ford: Okay.

Rich Ziade: Um, but also you wanna show them that, look, we, we, we, we produce these decks where like you got 92% of your feedback was five stars. But there’s more to it than that. Sometimes we know where their pain is, they’re annoyed about something, and we want to get ahead of that. Now what’s gonna happen is they’re gonna get on a video call. A giant talking fish is gonna be on the other line, and it’s gonna say, “Hi, my name is Willie”.

Paul Ford: Calm down. This is, first of all, that’s been Salesforce marketing for the last 20 years. So relax. They love a good talking fish.

Rich Ziade: They do.


Reframe It

Paul Ford: You’re just seeing this wrong. Let’s frame it. First of all, your customers have the same concerns that you do. They have call centers. They don’t want to fire all their people tomorrow.

Rich Ziade: Okay…

Paul Ford: Like they’re trying to figure out what this means.

Rich Ziade: Okay.

Paul Ford: You are in a position. Look, just take it as a given for one minute that you’re safe, just relax.

Rich Ziade: Okay.

Paul Ford: I want you to think to yourself, how can I use these tools to help-

Rich Ziade: I want to come out of character for one second,

Paul Ford: Yeah.

Rich Ziade: and point out to the audience that you tell me to relax six to twelve times a day.

Paul Ford: Ahh [Sigh].

Rich Ziade: Continue.

Paul Ford: Umm, okay.

Rich Ziade: That’s a nice break, actually.

Paul Ford: Yeah. I don’t, I don’t even want to go into it. Let’s, okay, so relax.

Rich Ziade: Okay.

Paul Ford: Rich…

Rich Ziade: Okay.

Paul Ford: I want you to make. The best dashboard and the best deck possible. Now you’ve already got this automated output that comes out of all the Salesforce tools and you can go, I’ve seen everybody do it, you kind of generate your PowerPoint and you go and you say, “Here’s how you’re doing, and here’s our roadmap, and here’s where we’re [00:10:00] headed”.

Rich Ziade: Yes.

Paul Ford: Okay. Now you have tools that could. Create a knowledge base specifically for that customer and all their users?

Rich Ziade: Yes. Okay. 

Paul Ford: You can do something that’s custom just for your people. You can customize imagery, you can enhance diagrams. You can draw pictures of a bold new future,

Rich Ziade: Mm-hmm.

Paul Ford: in ways that you’ve never imagined before.

Rich Ziade: Okay…

Paul Ford: Because you keep these tools at hand, you treat them as tools, not as threats.

Rich Ziade: What I’m hearing is retrain, learn, keep learning. Don’t assume that you as a cog in the assembly line can just keep doing the same thing because innovation and technology marches on.

Paul Ford: The value that you actually have in the role that you have is through your relationships, not in, not because you can produce certain statistics and information about Salesforce installations at any given moment. You have to do both.

Rich Ziade: Yes.

Paul Ford: But the most important thing is that they know you’re a person they can call and that you will give [00:11:00] them reliable information so that they don’t increase the risk in their organization.

Rich Ziade: Not only that, Paul, um, the relationships really come through when things go bad because I get to pick up the phone and say, “Hey Diane, I wanna get ahead of this”.

Paul Ford: That’s the huge part, think about-

Rich Ziade: “We were down for three hours last night and I wanna make sure you’re okay”.

Paul Ford: Think about Amazon Cloud. Okay?

Paul Ford: Amazon Cloud should never have any customers in the loop ever. I should just be able to buy access to services, run servers, and that should be it.

Rich Ziade: Yes.

Paul Ford: But there’s a premium tier and what do I get with that premium tier?

Rich Ziade: Humans.

Paul Ford: That’s right. So it’s worth money to people to know that if something goes wrong, humans will take personal responsibility and accountability.

Rich Ziade: Relationships still matter and they will continue to matter.

Paul Ford: We’re never gonna be done with that, I don’t think, in our life. 

Most Worried About the Junior People

Rich Ziade: I gotta be frank, I’m most worried about the junior people. I’ve built [00:12:00] relationships. I have an important Rolodex I rely on.

Rich Ziade: I’m also, I think, pretty fast on my feet. Like I’m not too worried about the computers coming to get me, but I am worried about some of the lower skilled people who, frankly, it’s a thick binder of scripts, they go to page 83 when someone asks this question, actually it’s software that does it. In fact, it’s Salesforce, uh, Service Cloud.

Rich Ziade: But we won’t get into that, we’re not marketing Salesforce here, but they are the ones that seem most vulnerable to me. What advice would, should I give them?

Paul Ford: Okay, so good on you for, for chilling out for a second. Okay. You wanna take care of those people? You wanna be responsible towards them?

Rich Ziade: I did shrooms 20 minutes ago.

Paul Ford: That’s great. You want to take care of these people?

Rich Ziade: Yes.

Paul Ford: Okay. That’s right. A lot of people start like in a call center capacity. They’re kind of running the script, so on and so forth. You now have a set of tools that will empower these people to have better English, better visual communication, and be more productive.

Rich Ziade: Wait, what you’re saying [00:13:00] is don’t go to war. This isn’t your enemy. Take it in, become an expert at it, and let it enhance and grow your capabilities?

Paul Ford: Here’s why. Okay? If you are expecting to continue to, to deliver at the same pace, but someone else has access to these tools, they will be faster than you. If you train the junior employee, 25 year old, young woman,

Rich Ziade: Mm-hm.

Paul Ford: comes in and you say, “Hey, I need you to make a PowerPoint”.

Paul Ford: You ever seen a, a new employee who’s never worked with this stuff kind of struggle through the experience?

Rich Ziade: Yeah.

Paul Ford: They just don’t get the basic form in any way.

Rich Ziade: Yeah.

Paul Ford: But I can say to her now, “Tell the computer to make you a PowerPoint”.

Rich Ziade: Right.

Paul Ford:  Tell her, you gotta give her the prompts.

Rich Ziade: And they learn from that.

Paul Ford: She’ll learn the form.

Paul Ford: You know what she can do now? One, make PowerPoint. She learned it pretty fast. She learned it from the computer. 

Rich Ziade: Mm-hmm. 

Paul Ford: two and, and she’s, and when I say PowerPoint, gimme the bullets and then she has to put it into the PowerPoint. We’re not at the point yet where it’ll make you the PowerPoint itself. Okay.

Paul Ford: Now. Great. [00:14:00] Thanks. You made that PowerPoint. That’s really helpful. It’s on my desk. I didn’t have to think about it. And it took you a day to kind of get it all trued up and where it used to take you a week as a really new employee.

Rich Ziade: Right.

Paul Ford: That’s cool. Now you can make five of these a week,

Rich Ziade: Yeah.

Paul Ford: so I can talk to five times as many customers,

Rich Ziade: Mm-hm.

Paul Ford: or I can do five times as many things for my clients.

Rich Ziade: And my skillset is evolving.

Paul Ford: My skillset… No, hold on. We’re not done. I can have you do more of this faster. I can have you be more creative. I can have you make it more visual. I can have you make deeper, more intense things for the customers to think harder about their stuff. And I can have you make it, uh, I can have you use these tools,

Rich Ziade: Mm-hm.

Paul Ford:  to research and think, so it becomes an outboard brain.

Rich Ziade: Paul…, good advice and I see the potential of a lot of the people I hire, but for some of the people that I hire, I can also see the limits of what they can learn and do. Um, their, their skill sets are, [00:15:00] let’s just, I’m trying to be as kind as possible kind of bound to a more sort of rote, scripted day-to-day work life, right?

Paul Ford: I saw somebody online and they have very, it was, they were talking about how they mentor someone and that person has very, very poor English and very poor written communication skills. So a challenge for them cause they have like a lawn mowing business.

Paul Ford: A challenge for that person is communicating. 

Rich Ziade: Mm-hmm.

Paul Ford: Okay. And they’re, you know, cause the emails will start like coming Wednesday and that’s it. That’s the whole email. I’ve received many emails like that in my life. Okay?

Rich Ziade: Yeah.

Paul Ford: And you learn to kind of parse that, but it, it definitely doesn’t make you feel secure that the person’s actually gonna show up on Wednesday.

Rich Ziade: Yes.

Paul Ford: This person can say, write me an email, letting them know I’m going to be there Wednesday.

Rich Ziade: Okay.

Paul Ford: And it’ll write a nice-

Rich Ziade: In, in Albanian.

Paul Ford: That’s right,

Rich Ziade: And it’ll write it in English and send it off.

Paul Ford: You can get there, right?

Rich Ziade: Right.

Paul Ford: You can get a nice, formal, clear communication structure.

Rich Ziade: The tools that can empower you.

Paul Ford: It’s an enhancement to somebody.

Rich Ziade: Yeah.

Paul Ford: Now, if you, if you have somebody who is just really confused about why they’re [00:16:00] there in the first place.

Rich Ziade: You might have a different issue.

Paul Ford: You have to educate and help them along the lines there if you want them to stay around. But if you, this isn’t, this is if you have low English or, or challenges with writing. I mean this is actually, you know, we,

Rich Ziade: Yeah,

Paul Ford: People are very focused on the threat. This is a tremendous enhancement for people who want to communicate in the larger world and don’t necessarily have the tools at hand at this moment.

Rich Ziade: History has shown that technological innovation or innovation in general, frankly uh, creates more jobs than destroys.

Paul Ford: It does, b-

Rich Ziade: It’s, it has been proven out time and time again. Um, I wanna,

Paul Ford: Let’s let, let’s-

Rich Ziade: I wanna share a thought, hold on to your question.

Paul Ford: I want to just like, I want to, I want to like complicate that for people to think through for a minute. Cause I think it’s important not to just be like, more opportunity… orchestras. They were great. Everybody loved orchestras, for a long time you needed to have one for every TV show.

Rich Ziade: Mm-hmm.

Paul Ford: The synthesizer comes in. There’s actually [00:17:00] unions that, that were like, we, there will be no synthesizers.

Rich Ziade: Sure.

Paul Ford: Can’t fight the synth though. Synth’s is good. You get the pep shop boys, you get new order.

Rich Ziade: Yeah.

Paul Ford: So anyway, the synth starts taking over. Not great. I would say the last 50 years, not the best for orchestras.

Rich Ziade: No.

Paul Ford: Tremendous flowering of enormous ranges of musical expression.

Rich Ziade: That’s really the outcome, right? The orchestra was able to protect its territory, but all this new terrain was created.

Paul Ford: At the same time. You get all this new music, you get labels, you get Spotify, and so artists,

Rich Ziade: Right.

Paul Ford: don’t get rewarded.

Rich Ziade: Yeah.

Paul Ford: So it’s this very, very complicated ebb and flow and you know,

Rich Ziade: Sure, sure.

Paul Ford: but if you– what I’m gonna say is that like, you can’t solve the macro economy. Neither can I. My opinions about the macro economy don’t matter.

Rich Ziade: But you can create new opportunities.

Paul Ford: You should do that for your people. You should say, “Here’s a set of new tools we should get to them and we should master them in order to help our customers”.

Rich Ziade: Mm-hmm.

Paul Ford: And in doing so, they’ll have more optionality, and [00:18:00] that’s the right thing to do. 

ChatGPT Writes the Podcast

Paul Ford: Well, wait a minute, Rich. Wait a minute.

Rich Ziade: What?

Paul Ford: I went to the AI and I said these words:

Paul Ford: “please provide the transcript for a podcast with two hosts”.

Rich Ziade: Oh no.

Paul Ford: “The hosts are named Rich and Paul. The podcast is five minutes long. The host introduced themselves and then explain how stable diffusion and AI technology works. The host provide examples of software that people can use to explore and understand stable diffusion. They make some jokes and have witty banter. Both of them are in Brooklyn New York.”

Paul Ford: So let’s do it.

Rich Ziade: Hey everyone, my name is Rich and I’m here with my co-host Paul. 

Paul Ford: Hey there Rich! Thanks for having me on the show. 

Rich Ziade: So today we’re gonna talk about something called stable diffusion. 

Paul Ford: That’s right, Rich Stable Diffusion is a type of machine learning algorithm that’s been gaining a lot of attention lately. 

Rich Ziade: So what exactly is stable diffusion and how does it work? 

Paul Ford: Well stable diffusion is a type of algorithm that’s used to [00:19:00] process and analyze data in a way that’s more efficient and stable than the other algorithms. It works by using a technique called diffusion maps to reduce the dimensionality of the data, which makes it easier to analyze and understand.

Rich Ziade: That’s really interesting, Paul. Can you give us some examples of software that people can use to explore and understand stable diffusion?

Paul Ford: There are a number of software packages that people can use to explore and understand stable diffusion. Some examples include Psychic Learn, TensorFlow and Pie Torch. 

Rich Ziade: Thanks for that, Paul. It’s always good to know what tools are available for people who want to learn more about stable diffusion. 

Paul Ford: Absolutely Rich, and if anyone out there is interested in learning more, there are plenty of online resources and tutorials available to help them get started. 

Rich Ziade: That’s great to know, Paul. And just for our listeners out there, we’re recording this podcast from beautiful Brooklyn, New York.

Paul Ford: That’s right, Rich. It’s a great place to be, especially if you’re into machine learning and data science.

Rich Ziade: Definitely Paul. Well, thanks for joining me on the show today and for sharing your expertise on stable [00:20:00] diffusion.

Paul Ford: No problem, Rich. It was great to be here, and I look forward to talking with you again soon. 

Rich Ziade: Sounds good, Paul. Thanks again and have a great day. 

Paul Ford: You too, Rich. Bye for now. 


Paul Ford: Okay, so calm down.

Rich Ziade: That was awful.

Paul Ford: Yes, it was terrible. It had no soul. It was robotic. It’s, it’s a, it’s a robot. It’s a parrot. It’s madlibs.

Rich Ziade: Very helpful, Paul. You’ve calmed me down. You’ve taken me to a more peaceful, relaxed place.

Paul Ford: Go play with chat GPT. Go play with the image generators. You owe it to yourself. And frankly, they are good tools for, for business.

Rich Ziade: They’re fun. They’re also fun, and you should look into them. I mean, they’re coming. Don’t, don’t look away. 

Paul Ford: Don’t forget computers used to be people who did math.

Rich Ziade: Right, exactly [chuckles].

Paul Ford: Now, now they’re machines.

Rich Ziade: Now they’re machines. ZiadeFord.com. You’ll find all our podcasts. The, uh, Ziade and Ford Advisors podcast is in all the usual popular podcast places. Spread the word. Reach out. How do they get in touch with us, Paul? We love topic ideas. We [00:21:00] love giving advice.

Paul Ford: Send an email to hello@ziadeford.com or check us out on Twitter, et cetera, et cetera.

Paul Ford: You know how to get in touch.

Rich Ziade: Have a lovely day. 

Paul Ford: Bye!

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