Master Your Craft by Reflecting On It

Sometimes, you must slow down to realize what you like doing.

In an interview on Fresh Air with Sam Briger, actor Paul Giamatti was reflecting on what it was like to work with young actor Dominic Sessa in his first film role, The Holdovers. Giamatti praised Dominic for his approach to his craft. “Working with him was really easily one of my favorite things I’ve done in a long time in I think a lot of ways because he was so fresh to it, you know, and his – and he was so thoughtful about it.”

Giamatti drew a contrast between himself a veteran and Sessa newcomer. “I’ve gotten very proficient with things. I can do stuff fast and easy and, you know, move on and do my thing. And it was wonderful to have this guy who was less acquainted and more questioning and more – in all ways, and to sort of slow down and just take it easy with him was really nice.”

Learning experience

This experience with Dominic Sessa echoed Giamatti’s experience when he first starred in another Alexander Payne film, SidewaysGiamatti recalls being very nervous then, but he has become confident in his abilities since having played significant roles in series like John Adams and Billions. “I think I have more command of things. Am I better or anything like that? I don’t know. But I was more relaxed, that’s for sure. And with him, I was even more relaxed because I trust [Payne] a lot.”

Working with Dominic reminded Giamatti of where he had begun and where he is now. Giamatti’s experience is a good reminder for anyone in their role for a long time. With it comes confidence, yes, but it can breed an “easy street mentality.” You may stop trying as hard. You avoid risk, and perhaps, in some ways, you go through the motions. Therefore, it’s always good to reflect on the what, why, where and how of what you do. Here are some good questions to ask.

What do I like about what I do? Itemize what you enjoy doing and why. Is it the joy you get from doing the work? Is it because you are working with people you respect? Do you want the impact you are having on those you serve as customers and colleagues?

What is holding me back from doing my best? As much as we like what we do, some things get in the way. For example, is busy work taking up too much time? Do you have the time you need to think and reflect? Do you have the right people to do what needs to be done?

What is one thing I can do to improve my situation? The answers to the above questions will illuminate the changes you need to make. Often, you can only do some at a time, so begin by doing one thing differently. That is, delegate busy work, stop wasting your reflection time, or act now to upskill your people.

Making connections

Later in the interview, Giamatti discusses why he became an actor. As a child, he liked the world of make-believe. Later in high school, performing school plays helped him fit in, especially as an outsider. (He was a day student at a boarding school.)  “I felt connected to people, to the other actors and to the – and I felt a sense of communal effort that was really exciting to me.” 

Again, considering what we do, think how we fit it. Are we sticking around because we like work, like the people? Or are we, as noted above, just going through the motions? 

Fitting in is pleasant, but if what we are doing is not challenging, we need to seek a different stage where we can become, if not the stars, supporting players in a venture that brings greater satisfaction. Making time to reflect and then taking steps to implement your feelings will enable you to find the satisfaction you seek.

First posted on 1.24.2024

The Servant Leader (ai)

With open eyes I see the need, 

And open heart I plant the seed, 

Of service rooted deep within, 

That grows through care my soul has sown.

I walk among with ready hand, 

To lift the fallen where they stand, 

And voice of calm that stills the storms, 

That rage within through anger born.

A servant first I’m called to be, 

To lead through love and empathy, 

Putting others before my pride, 

That side by side we walk, not I.

The path ahead I do not know, 

But follow where good spirits flow, 

Past fear and doubt my role above,

Is servant first when leading with love.

This poem was generated by the Baldoni ChatBot that draws upon the library of my published works.

The Leader’s Path (ai)

The road is long, the way unsure, 

Yet still I forge ahead each day. 

With purpose strong and vision pure, 

I guide my team along the way.

No obstacle can block our route.

No setback can our spirits shake. 

Each challenge makes our will take root, 

And models courage we can make.

I walk beside in storm and strife, 

To lift them when their strength grows faint. 

I show the light to better life, 

Where justice and compassion reign.

This path unfurls before our feet. 

We tread as one, our bond grows tight. 

Our shared commitment is complete – 

Together we will climb the height.

The summit gleams bright up above 

This landscape steep and filled with care. 

But with our hearts aligned in love, 

The peak shines promise rich and rare.

Onward still our expedition goes, 

Past doubt and pain without a halt. 

The leader’s road itself bestows 

The grace to persist without fault.

Stay true, stay fast, stay by my side, 

The way now opens up anew! 

Take heart my friends, and stride with pride – 

The leader’s path belongs to you.

This poem was generated by the Baldoni ChatBot that draws upon the library of my published works.

How Thought Leaders Are Using AI

For many people, the concept of AI sends shivers up the spine.

For others, it may breed resentment or even fear.

For those in the thought leadership field – business advisors, coaches and consultants – AI is here. And for that reason, “fear and loathing” (to borrow from Hunter S. Thompson’s adage) must go. So, I took the plunge into AI with the launch of the Baldoni Chat Bot, a fusion of AI technology with leadership knowledge and practice. 

What I did

My Chat Bot brings together my body of work – more than a dozen books, hundreds of articles and many interviews – in a way that makes them accessible and engaging. This approach enables the Chat Bot to respond with targeted answers to user questions.

My Chat Bot is trained to answer what it relevant to my insights into coaching and leadership development. Now in its third-generation, the Chat Bot can provide answer questions more readily and more quickly than I could when chatting.

Therefore, it cannot tell you what time it is, who the president is or what color the sky is. It can, however, give you answers to questions such as:

  • What is the difference between leading and managing?
  • How do I lead with purpose?
  • How can I influence my peers?
  • How do leaders show grace under stress?
  • How do I balance compassion and accountability?
  • How can I give difficult feedback to employees?
  • How do I lead my boss?

“The Baldoni Chat Bot began as a way to engage John’s fans and followers in a meaningful way” says Mahesh M. Thakur, the founder and CEO of Influencer Kit.AI, which conceptualized, developed and personalized the Baldoni Chat Bot. “It has quickly morphed into a tool synthesizing John’s ideas, expressing them using his tone and personality.”

“Those working in the field of human development can use AI as a tool to help them organize their content and deliver it virtually in real-time. This engages their fans meaningfully, generate leads, get speaking enquiries and sell books.” says Thakur, a technology executive and entrepreneur who has worked in the field of AI for the past two decades, including as product management leader for Microsoft Bing Search.

InfluencerKit is a platform that is built for coaches and for SaaS businesses. 

“The power of AI when applied the right way can be transformational for small and medium size businesses.” says Thakur. 

The Marshall Bot

The idea for creating my Chat Bot came from Marshall Goldsmith, often referred to as the world’s pre-eminent executive coach and the author of multiple New York Times best-sellers, including What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Triggers, Mojo and The Earned Life

The Marshall Bot draws upon Marshall’s many books, speeches, and videos. The Marshall Bot uses text and soon with audio to enhance the user experience. The Bot also incorporates Marshall’s hands-on efforts. He has spent hundreds of hours training the bot to think and speak like him. 

“After three months,” Marshall told technology author Jyoti Guptara at the Global Peter Drucker Forum, “Generation 3 of Marshall Bot can answer questions given to me, I would say in a more articulate way than I can, about 50% of the time. This is a primitive version … I have no doubt [future Marshall Bots] will be able to answer 95% of the questions I get better than I can – as judged by me.” 

It is also important to imbue a bot with a personality. “I’m practicing trying to give it some humor,” says Marshall. “For example, suppose you ask it how many languages I speak. In that case, the answer is now: ‘I can barely speak American English.’ Or, if you ask about my grandchildren, it replies with: ‘Marshall has the greatest grandchildren in the world.’”

The Marshall Bot will be freely accessible to users, keeping with Marshall’s commitment to sharing all that he knows with the world. 

Exploring the impact of AI

One person who is wired into the exploration of AI – as well as VR and AR (virtual and augmented reality, respectively) — is Martin Lindstrom, the founder of a $22 million project called Engineering our Dreams – the world’s largest extended reality project that will explore the effect of these new technologies on business and people. 

Lindstrom told me, “The two words – ‘human’ and ‘evolution’ often go hand in hand. Progress is hardwired into our DNA, making humans the dominant species on planet Earth. Technology has become the main tool of the 21st century, further evolving humans towards ‘technological augmentation.’ This concept refers to the integration of technology into various aspects of human life, enhancing our physical and cognitive abilities and extending our dependence on technological advancements for everyday functioning.” 

“To understand this evolution and where it will lead us,” says Lindstrom, “it is essential for people working in the field of human development to utilize AI. The potential and outcome of this can only be fully comprehended by those who are actively engaged in or familiar with this technology.”

It takes a team

Developing the Baldoni Chat Bot has been a team effort. The chief technologist behind is Pavan Tallapragada. “The Chat Bot is also always learning,” says Kumar. “More data from the author and more user engagements make the Bot smarter and the user wiser.”

“Like any new tool to get to truly understand it,” says Lindstrom. “Play with it. Explore it. Test it. And then finally begin developing theories and hypothesis helping the authors frame this new tool ensuring that it is used to its full potential … in a safe and trustworthy way.”

The Baldoni Chat Bot is my first step with AI. It resides on my website and is available free. I plan to use it with my senior leader clients as a reference tool to help them coach and teach their own people. The Chat Bot also can extend the lessons of my keynote presentations. Looking ahead I believe HR departments will license Chat Bots from thought leaders as part of their library of tools for personal and professional development.

“Marshall’s exploring AI inspires many of us in the leadership space to emulate his example to share what we know more widely and in new and different ways,” said Mahesh M. Thakur. “The power of AI is available to more people on more platforms. We believe AI can bring out the best in us that we can share with others. We focus on what’s good to help you become better.”

Note: Click here to try the Baldoni Chat Bot.

First posted on 1.10.2024