How generative AI 10X’d this solopreneur’s output

generative AI solopreneur

Could artificial intelligence make you MORE human? Help you become your best self? And, maybe, 10-15X your output?

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In this TechFirst we chat with author, flow coach, and entrepreneur David Passiak, who has gone way down the generative AI rabbit hole and made tools like ChatGPT his CMO, CEO, CRO, chief strategy officer, chief content officer, and more.

He says it’s 10X’d his output, but in some ways it’s even more than that. 10X’ing what you can do it one thing, but enabling what you could never do (like design, or software engineering) is yet another level of enabler.

We also get a little deep and talk about what it means to be human in a world where everything is gaining intelligence.

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Transcript: generative AI and solopreneurs

(This is AI-generated and not perfect!)

John Koetsier: Could AI be the tool that helps you become your best you and maybe make you the most authentically human you can be? Hello and welcome to Tech First. My name of course is John Koetsier.

Today is super different. Usually we’re chatting with some CEO or innovator engineer about new tech. Today we’re talking about how to use that tech and maybe how that tech Changes us and changes our capabilities.

We’re talking about AI and I have a long time internet friend. We’re connected all over the place, but never met in person. His name is David Paciak. He’s an author, multiple author. He studied religion, meditation, enlightenment. He has jumped all in, into the AI rabbit hole. He’s created some very cool stuff.

He’s been training people on using AI. Hi, David, and welcome to the show. Thanks so much for having

David Passiak: me, John. It’s a pleasure to be here.

John Koetsier: It’s a pleasure to have you. It’s long overdue. I’m super pumped about it. Let’s start with something super basic. What do you use AI for?

David Passiak: I’ll tell you I started using AI at the beginning of this year when I was developing a, an app called Flow Coach.

So I built an app. I built a system that recommended different types of mindfulness and flow practices. And I found that I was able to use AI to teach myself how to build a responsive mobile app. Then I was able to use AI to create a flow coach AI to start recommending those practices. And then I used it for all of my marketing, my sales, my product stuff, and really used it for just about everything.

And I found that in the course of the last, seven, eight months I was able to accomplish more by myself than I could have with the team of 10 to 15 people. And I say that because I would just, I would have an idea and I would be able to instant, be able to instantly implement it. And when you have that type of instant.

Instant feedback, instant implementation. It was just so incredibly empowering that I decided to really go all in. And I found that I was building flow coach in public. And I was, as I was building it in public, people kept saying, how are you using AI? How are you using AI? How are you using AI?

And I realized that this system of different types of meditation and flow practices, that’s always going to be there, but I need to focus on the thing. That’s really the most top of mind for people. And I’ve also found it to be super empowering in doing this work. And it’s something that I’m really passionate about sharing.

John Koetsier: I love what you said about the, you had an idea and you could implement it immediately. Nothing is a multiplier to your personal productivity and personal ability to create and to build and be able to act and create what you’re thinking about and dreaming about yourself. And that’s been a gap. It’s been a huge gap for so many people who maybe aren’t engineers or maybe not designers that are there.

Maybe they don’t write very well, but they have a great idea. And I think that’s been. A little different space, but that’s been one of the things that has driven no code and low code spaces quite significantly because you can do something, build something, make something, tweak it, change it, iterate it.

And you don’t have to ask permission. You don’t have to convince a boss. You don’t have to convince anybody and you don’t even have to pay a developer or designer.

David Passiak: Absolutely. It’s been really fascinating going on this journey also, because I started off my career as a religion scholar, and I used to study…

John Koetsier: And now you’re an AI. It’s a natural progression.

David Passiak: Well, I’ll tell you, I used to study these movements. They would, they scholars refer to them as great awakenings. And what I found in my studies is that you actually, when you look at these movements of great awakenings that have happened throughout history, they tend to coincide with major shifts in how people utilize technology.

So you think of a recent example, like you can’t think of. The civil rights movement independently of black and white television beaming images into people’s homes. You can’t really think of the 60s counterculture independently of the shift towards color television and color movies and and large, large album covers and things like that.

And now what’s interesting is we’re in this period where there’s. There’s so much hyper innovation in how we share and how we do things, it’s really starting to change the nature of who we are.

John Koetsier: That’s fascinating. I want to dig into this concept of Great Awakenings. It reminds me of the printing press the Gutenberg press, the Gutenberg Bible and this revolution, the reformation of the church against the global, global Roman Catholic church.

Is that another example? Another example of technology

David Passiak: enabling a shift? Yeah, that’s another example. And when historians look back at, for example, the adoption of Protestantism after the Gutenberg Bible, they found that there were correlations between higher economic growth and adoption of that, because people were learning how to read.

They were becoming more literate. They were starting to think for themselves. That led to the creation of more different types of business innovation. So absolutely along those lines.

John Koetsier: So, what’s super interesting about this is it perhaps helps us situate the AI revolution that’s happening right now.

Is this another time, is this another Great Awakening moment?

David Passiak: I think it absolutely is. And I think for example of my own experience I developed after my studies, I developed a dialogue based approach to innovation, which I’ve been teaching for the last about 20 years. And I think one of the reasons why I did so, was able to have such success with using AI is because of these dialogue based methods.

But I mentioned dialogue because the amazing thing about AI is we’re able to use natural language, we’re able to just talk and explain. The things that we want to do, we’re able to develop those ideas into products, into services, we’re able to do marketing, able to do, to develop apps, and we’re already able to do that, and we’re just at the beginning of this revolution, and I think that the, when I think about this idea of a great awakening and a broader shift in consciousness, it’s like, what You have to think, what does society look like when AI reaches mass adoption?

There’s this, there’s that famous quote from Jack Dorsey that the best technology just disappears into the background, right? So, there was a time in history where electricity and running water and the automobile and all these things that we take for granted were revolutionary.

There was a time in our lifetimes when the internet was revolutionary. Well, what happens when… We are able to have these types of natural language conversations with almost everything in our environment. What is, what does that do? How does that shift your conception of what it means to be human when you’re able to interact with everything in your environment?

Right, it completely blows your mind, right?

John Koetsier: Door, why did you open? Yeah. Window, why are you closed? Yeah. Washing machine, why are

David Passiak: you plugged? Yeah, exactly. thing is, I think that right now, because we’re just at the beginning of this really kind of fundamental shift most people are thinking about it in terms of technology.

So, for example, people think ab the way that AI is most commonly taught is they think of it as AI in terms of natural language type of stuff, like ChatGPT and Claude and Bard, these types of models. People tend to think of it in terms of I’m engineering prompts, right? The refer to it as prompt engineering.

When you have that, what I found is that when you have that mindset, I have to engineer the right prompt, you start to not communicate naturally. You start to get, get blocked. And I found that when I was able to let go of that and not think of how am I going to prompt engineer, but how am I going to communicate in the most authentic and meaningful way that I can.

That’s when the real breakthroughs came for me in terms of creativity, innovation, and productivity. And this as a writer, so, writing and editing are two different types of, they’re two different skills, right? So a lot of times as a writer, you want to write in a kind of stream of consciousness flow where you get all your ideas out there and then you go back and edit later.

And I found that’s the actual, that’s the approach that tends to work best for creativity, productivity. And innovation is you write in a stream of consciousness, you get all your ideas out, and then you use chat, GBT, you use the AI tools to help you to refine those ideas. So you end up having these tremendous outputs, but because you’ve done all this input initially the outputs reflect your original idea.

So you’re not doing what I call outsourcing who you are. I think when you’re doing these copy paste approaches. You’re relying on AI for all of the idea generation. And that’s when I think people get into a lot of trouble. 

John Koetsier: I’m holding two quotes in my mind right now.

And in a sense they’re opposing in a sense they fit hand in glove. One is the one that you mentioned from Jack Dorsey, which is the best technology disappears into the background, right? That’s powerful. I’m not sure exactly how it’s phrased, but that’s what I’ve got in my mind.

Second is from Arthur C. Clarke who said that super high tech, super high technology is indistinguishable from magic. And I’m wondering where I sit after those and I’m wondering, I’m thinking about talking to my house and talking to my wall and talking to everything around me that has some level of intelligence.

It’s an interesting world.

David Passiak: Yeah, especially when you start thinking of things like mixed reality and augmented reality. So, like I think of, I remember a few years ago when there was that Pokéman Go craze and people were, running around and trying to unlock these Pokémans and stuff, that was like a one small blip, but you can imagine in the future where your entire environment is interactive, where there’s potentially game mechanics.

You think of like, there’s this idea of social influencers now we’ll imagine if you can just be an influencer walking around in real life, there could be an opportunity for real world engagements to be ways to make money or to wait, be ways to earn things from brands. There’s, could be a whole level of digital sponsorship type of stuff that could be layered on top of people.

There could be all sorts of, amazing different types of game mechanics that could. Lead people to want to interact more with each other. There’s just there’s a seemingly like limitless potential. And when you think of a world that’s where we’re always constantly interacting and the sense of what’s, quote unquote real and what’s imaginary or magic, those lines start to become really blurred, right?

If you were to, if you were to go to someone in the Middle Ages and shown them something like, something as simple as a refrigerator, and the idea that you could save your, you could save food and you could have like, you could get things from around the world, that would have been seen as magic.

These types of things that I think it’ll be the same thing with this stuff and, a hundred years people will look back on this time and we’ll be fascinated that we ever, humans ever drove their own cars or they did some of the things that we, that we do today. I

John Koetsier: Really do want to go back in time and show them something like this.

That would be amazing. I’d probably get, burned at the stake or something, but it would be amazing. Okay. We’ve been super high level and I think we’re going to get back there as well, but there’s also people who are going to say, okay, well, give me some details. Give me some specifics. Talk to me about the tools that you’re using, obviously chat GPT.

What other tools have you been using? To let AI be your CMO, your CEO, your strategy officer, all that stuff.

David Passiak: I’m primarily using ChatGPT. I also have been experimenting with with Bing and with the Opera browser, with different things that had GPT, chat GPT integrated into it. I’m using different tools to, I think, for example, like, let’s say you’re having a let’s say you have a sales call that’s coming up.

Well, you can use AI to do research on your prospect. You can record the sales call. You can then feed those transcripts into. AI and identify where the strengths and weaknesses were the things that came up in that call. You can then quickly create a proposal. You can also use those tools to generate and quantify how far you are in terms of closing a deal and feed that into your CRM.

And then there’s ways in which you can utilize this to more effectively track sales, to track client relationships. Is that

John Koetsier: all connected and hooked up right now, or is that you being the connector between all those things? Because I can assume there’s a variety of different technologies for generating a transcript, and then, sure you can feed it into GPT 4 with Code Interpreter, you can upload a file, which is a transcript, and you can ask it to do a bunch of stuff, but then it doesn’t speak to a CRM or anything like that, correct?

David Passiak: Correct. Yeah, right now it’s been me doing that manually, but I would imagine with all the investments that Salesforce is making into AI and all these other CRM tools that you’ll see that integration. And I think with Microsoft, with all this stuff that they’re going to be rolling out as well, you’re going to see full seamless integration between what you’re doing in AI and how it’s going to fit into the flow of your business.

John Koetsier: It seems like a good segue and a good time. You recently did a webinar. You talked about chat GPT for leaders. Yeah. And you said, Hey your AI, you’ve got your AI CEO, you’ve got your AI CMO, you’ve got your AI CRO, your chief AI chief operating officer. Yeah. What’s that look like in practice? Cause you’re one guy and you’ve got the, you’ve got the C suite team working for you.

What’s that look like?

David Passiak: So there’s there’s a new feature that’s come out in the last about three weeks called Custom Instructions in Chad GPT. And most people think of utilizing Custom Instructions as just explaining who they are in a very kind of simple way. What I found and this is based on my experience of training the Flow Coach AI, you can actually get into some really advanced instructions using Custom Instructions.

So I think, for example. When I’m doing AI assisted writing and strategy, I’ve created a bunch of different short codes for how I write. Like I have like, hashtag expand will be to expand an idea. I do hashtag synthesize to help bring something together. Hashtag landing page. Cause I’m often creating webinars or creating things, creating lead magnets or stuff like that.

And then I want to quickly. create a landing page around those things. That would be one example of how you might use it for writing.

John Koetsier: So just to understand what you’re saying there, you’ve put instructions about doing that in your special instructions, and then when you’re actually writing a prompt, then you put in hashtag expand or hashtag landing page and GPT 4 will just make one for you.

David Passiak: Now, GPT will then generate all of that, all the text that you would need for that. Yeah. Not in terms of generating an actual like code for a website, but more in terms of like, I need landing page copy.

John Koetsier: I’m sure we’ll build a website for you too. If you asked for that as well. I think

David Passiak: you, I think of this idea of using custom instructions.

Also what’s interesting about custom instructions is that they they act like a form of memory. So one of the things that’s, one of the challenges that you have now with some of these models is they have limited memory. So if you go back to a previous conversation you have to start from scratch.

But with the custom instructions, it’s those custom instructions are archived in that particular chat window. So you can, I’ve been using it for, I’ll have a a chat window for each client. I’ll have a chat window for each project or each aspect of a project. And then I’m able to go back and and quickly access those.

And so when you start getting into things like custom instructions for marketing or custom instructions for sales, you could have. The AI trained to know how your sales process works. You could have it know how you identify something as being 25 or 50 percent towards closed, or, the way that I think of it, you only have 1500 characters so you have to be strategic around how you do that but there’s a tremendous amount of of.

like a seemingly endless number of possibilities. You can also use it for things like, you could be on a diet or you could have some type of health regimen and you might create one specifically that’s that will recommend recipes with it, with certain types of ingredients and with certain calorie ranges or help you to create workouts.

But the nice thing about the custom instructions is then you have these individual tabs that are archived your individual chat windows that you can go back to. So it’s been developing advanced workflows like that combined with a lot of I’ve also taken all the best practices that I’ve been teaching for the last 20 years around dialogue based approaches to innovation and integrating those into Into the system as well.

So creating templates for landing pages, for emails, for video sales letters, for actually creating templates for how you might do like a lean startup method or different types of innovation models. It’s really fascinating what’s possible. Because AI is AI is so good at at pattern recognition.

So you give it these patterns, you give it these models, you give it these frame of reference, and they can execute very well. Where it’s not so good at is when you start multitasking. So I think that the biggest problem that people get into with AI is they’ll get into something and then they’re so used to this kind of multi tab working environment where they’re just constantly multitasking and jumping from task to task.

That’s when you get into trouble because you go on a tangent for 7 or 8 exchanges and you want to come back to your project. And it starts getting the AI model confused. It’s you’re starting to train it on two or three different projects and want to come back. And then people get frustrated. It’s like, well, you’re sending it mixed messages when you do that.

John Koetsier: So you use multiple chats and then when you go back to a chat, let’s say that’s on your marketing or something like that. Do you say, Hey, remember what we talked about? Or do you ask it to look up that stuff? Or

David Passiak: does it, I usually ask it to provide a summary of our conversation. And then I will copy that summary and paste it in.

And basically it’s like reactivating the conversation.

John Koetsier: Interesting. Interesting. Very good. You asked for that summary at the end of a session. Yeah. Yeah. That makes a ton of sense. And you can paste that back in and it knows what it’s very cool. I was just thinking custom instructions. If you’re doing a an AI CMO this is our brand identity.

We’re sassy female 35 to 47 or something like that. Right. And there you go. And then you can have a brand identity. Super, super interesting. Interesting. So. It’s it’s been amazing to watch on the sidelines and see what you’ve been working with, what you’ve been building, what you’ve been doing.

And it’s been really interesting because at first it always seemed like such a contradiction for me because you’ve always been about humanity, meaning spirit in a sense, and now you’re diving heavily into technology. Let’s go back up to that level again. What does it mean to be human? In the age of AI.

David Passiak: Well, I’ll tell you about six or seven years ago, I interviewed Martin Ford who wrote the rise of the robots. And he gave this very bleak vision of a jobless future. And this was before the mass adoption of AI, it was an international. I’m sure you’re probably familiar with it.

And I remember after interviewing him, I felt just completely like scared. I was like, Oh my God, like, the jobless future. And I was writing a book. I was writing my book, empower how to co create the future. And I was really worried about, okay, what is the future going to look like? And I had this.

I had this kind of like this sort of shrinking sense of fear and part of why I develop the system of flow practices around FlowCoach is that I thought what are the things that people are going to need in this future, whether where AI is totally abundant everywhere, well, they’re going to need different types of meditation, mindfulness, flow practices, because they’re going to need to have some type of balance, sense of balance with technology.

But what I found when I actually got into utilizing these tools, it wasn’t about, you can talk about productivity, you can talk about innovation, creativity, you can talk about all the types of things that are relevant to business leaders, the types of things, everyone who’s listening to this.

You’ve got an audience of, tech entrepreneurs, certainly all of those things are important. I’ve been working with those audiences, for the bulk of my career, but the most impactful and transformative thing was just the sense of empowerment. That when you’re able to accomplish in a couple of hours, something that seemed impossible to you previously I always had a vision when I was building the system of mindfulness and flow practices that I was going to need to raise.

Millions of dollars. I would probably need to find a technical co founder. I had a vision of building out an AI model and I was able to just do all of that myself. And when you’re able to do these things that, that you previously thought were impossible, and now you can not only do them, but you can do them in a matter of hours or.

It’s just it’s that sense of empowerment that really blew me away and trying to balance it’s been, it’s been interesting. I think of on the one hand I do believe that AI is going to replace a lot of workers. A lot of workers do. Fairly repetitive work, and I do think it’s going to create a lot of challenges for humanity.

So I certainly am not just a sort of techno utopian optimist who’s not aware of all those potential threats that’s, that Martin Ford described and so beautifully in his book. But at the same time, what the conversation that I’m not seeing is about how incredibly empowering these tools can be using just our natural language.

And so I’ve found that as I’ve been teaching people who are who are, different types of coaches are working in everything from tech entrepreneurs to different types of coaches, there’s a sense of like, oh my gosh, I can’t believe I can develop my own ideas. I can’t believe that I’m able to use these tools to put something out there and to manifest this kind of vision that I wanted to put out into the world.

And it’s that kind of balance when I think of, to go back to your original question around what does humanity look like in the future? On the one hand, there’s this tremendous amount of empowerment. And self actualization, the types of things you might associate with something like a great awakening at the same time there is going to be a dis, a certain segment of people that are really going to be struggling and we need to think about how to account for that.

It could be that there’s some type of universal basic income. It also could be that as augmented reality reaches mass adoption, people might be doing things in the world to. To earn money I think AI and augmented reality and the combination of all that stuff could potentially spark real life use cases for cryptocurrency in the future and tokenization of actions and smart contracts and things that that I’ve also been passionate about working about in the past as well.

John Koetsier: It reminds me of a cartoon that I’ve shared previously. And on the one, you have a guy riding on a bus, same guy, two frames, same boss, same guy. And in the first frame, he’s all negative and sad and it’s dark. And he says, AI is going to take my job. In the second frame, he’s looking out of the bus and it’s a sunrise and it’s light.

And he’s happy. He’s got a smile on his face. His AI is going to take my job.

David Passiak: And

John Koetsier: yeah, there’s two ways of looking at it there and obviously it’s not just about the person. It’s going to be about the society and how we structure ourselves, how we organize ourselves, how we meet everybody’s needs, how we provide meaning and purpose and work or how work the definition of work changes over time.

That’s all going to be a big piece of that. And frankly, the United States. Is really in tough there. I think the European nations are probably a little bit ahead of where, they can make AI and technology and automation work for everybody. But that is super interesting. The other thing that I was thinking of as you’re talking is Steve Jobs definition of a computer.

And he called it a bicycle for the brain, right? It just enhance capability. Yeah. And clearly that’s what’s happening here. It’s five X. It’s three X. It’s 10 X. What you could achieve. In fact, in some ways it’s infinity X what you could achieve because there’s some things you just could not have done.

You could not have created. The app or the website, or you couldn’t have coded and I’m not talking about you personally, you specifically, but as somebody, some art that you’ve created with mid journey or stable diffusion or something like that, you just, you could never have made that. And you probably couldn’t have paid for that.

And it’s just enabled something that was magical.

David Passiak: Yeah, and we’re going to see, I think, there’s, when I try and pull back, I think from the birth of the modern era has in many ways taught us to be more robotic. So we go to, a lot of school is focused around standardized testing. and rote memorization and regurgitating information.

It’s not teaching us how to think. It’s actually teaching us how to be more robotic. And what’s interesting is now we have this opportunity to do totally personalized, totally customized learning. We’re able to to educate our children in ways that were never possible before at scale. The classical, like there’s, there was a classical education Where there would be, tons of different tutors would educate someone and train someone on classical books and teach them how to engage in dialogue, teach them how to do all these types of, interesting skills and thinking about creative problem solving and stuff like that.

We can now utilize AI to have personalized education at scale. And at the same time, the conversation now is about how is not about how amazing these tools can be to help kids. It’s how can we prevent them from cheating. Because there’s still this view that education is about rote memorization instead of actually learning how to think and preparing people for the real world.

I remember seeing a thread on Reddit the other day, there was a guy who was in Vienna and he said, my, my school just. Just completely banned any use of chat GPT and it’s fascinating to think of being in a modern university and completely denying people access to using the tools that are going to define the rest of their lives.

It’s really, it’s a kind of pivotal moment, right?

John Koetsier: There have always been those who burn the heretics at the stake. Yeah. The ones with new ideas, right. And there will always be such. Wow. This has been pretty interesting. It’s been pretty fun. I’ve enjoyed the conversation and I guess we’ve got to land the plane here somehow.

And I’m not sure any of us knows the future. In fact, I’m pretty sure none of us do know the future, but I do hope that we can co create the future with some of these tools that we’re. Getting access to, and I hope that we create a wonderful future out of it. There’s certainly lots of potential, as you mentioned, for dystopias to come out of this as well.

David Passiak: Yeah. The thing that I would emphasize on a kind of going towards a closing note. Would be to not think about AI as a technology and really think about more in terms of how can I develop collaboration skills? So how can you learn how to engage in dialogue? How can you think of things like first principles thinking and creative problem solving and critical thinking?

How can you start to interact with the tools in a way that feels natural? It’s interesting, I think in many ways. The types of skills that are the most useful for the future are the ones that go back to this more kind of classical education model. The other thing I would emphasize is that a lot of times I see leaders are so caught up in the technology, that they forget that they actually have all these trans, all these transferable skills already.

So an experienced leader knows how to engage in dialogue. They know how to solve problems. They know how to break a project into different steps. They know how to do all of these different things. But because they’re so focused on the idea that I have to learn a new technology tool, they’re forgetting that they have all of these skills that they can already use with the technology.

And I think that the more that they think of AI, and I advocate this idea of an AI C suite, not only because it’s. Of the functionality that you want to unlock, but I also truly believe that AI can function like a collaboration partner. It can function like a co founder for leaders.

More than just this kind of oversimplified view that it’s like a glorified virtual assistant. It can actually do a really… Really strong, powerful strategic tasks when you’re able to engage in dialogue and go along what your thoughts there.

John Koetsier: Reminded me of is how I’ve always seen people engaging with technology that is new to them yeah, and so for instance adults who maybe Seniors who haven’t used smartphones or computers or whatever and what they do and how much fear they have of making a mistake or doing something wrong or not understanding or knowing.

And so they want, as opposed to kids who come along and what do they do? They start playing, they try stuff. There’s no fear of failure. Oh, that didn’t work. What else will, what can I do? And I am fascinated. I’m not saying it’s a. Slam dunk. And they’re not saying there is not some minefields in that territory, but I’m fascinated by what we’ll find as we start to see kids, young kids engage with LLMs and chat GPT and GPT four and five and six and 10 and see how they use it, what they do with it and what they build with it.

I think we’re going to see, I think we’re going to see some crazy, amazing things. I’m sure we’ll see some insane nonsense as well, but I’m sure we’ll see some. Seven year old create a company, GPT nine and a product that, that sells a million or a billion dollars or something like that. It’s going to be a wonderful, fascinating, crazy future.

Absolutely. Thank you so much for this.

David Passiak: time, David. Thanks so much, John, for having me.

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