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The Future of Learning in Leadership with Darja Gutnick, CEO of Bunch
Hi everyone, it’s Jenn DeWall. Welcome to this week’s episode of The Leadership Habit Podcast. And on this week’s episode, I sat down with Darja Gutnick to talk about the future of learning. Now, before we go into the show, I just want to remind you that every single month Crestcom offers a complimentary free to the public webinar. And coming up this month in February, on February 14th, we will be talking all about building resilience and cultivating self-love for success in the workplace. Now, this is something that I feel like I need and maybe you’re going through some challenges and maybe you transition to a new leadership role or you’re kind of doubting yourself. Come on over to the webinar, let’s see if we can give you some tools to overcome some of the obstacles that you’re facing.
Meet Darja Gutnick, Co-founder and CEO of Bunch
Jenn DeWall: All right, now on to the show. I sat down with Darja Gutnick to talk about the future of learning. And then let me tell you a little bit more about Darja. Darja is an academic turned founder. She is the co-founder of Bunch and she works to redefine learning at work as the host of the Teams at Work podcast, the author of The Weekly Briefing, she reaches over 50,000 millennial and Gen Z professionals Weekly. And Darja and I sat down to talk about and understand what the future of work will look like, as well as the skills that we need to be learning today and the new tools that are on your horizon to being your best self. So enjoy
Darja, I’m so glad that you’re here today. I am pumped to be having a conversation on the future of learning. There is so much going on. People might be listening to this from the head space of what do I need to know to be ready for the future? Or how could I educate my teams? What do I need to know for myself? Or even heck they might be part of the layoffs that we’re seeing right now. What do I need to do to make sure that I can be hire-able? We’re gonna go there and you shared our shared an article before that we’re gonna also talk about that has been trending this week. But Darja, before we jump into it, I love a great origin story. So if you could just go ahead and introduce yourself to the audience. I know they heard a little bit about you and the opener, but I love to hear it from the guests themselves. So if you could tell us a little bit about who you are and how you came to be.
Darja Gutnick: Totally and glad to be on the show. Thank you so much for having me, Jenn. And hey everyone who’s listening my name is Darja and I am a psychologist by training. But always dabbled in the like entrepreneurialism. So I grew up with an entrepreneurial mom who has a restaurant business and a real estate business. So quite like down to earth, nothing with tech and digital things whatsoever. And it was kind of pretty normal to me, I think to serve customers and to think about customer value and things like that. But I always also had an act for people and people structures, people dynamics and things like that. And so I turned out to be always between these kind of like harder business worlds as a former consultant. And and then the soft side of things like as a psychologist.
And I also did the certification in org development and team building and leadership team climate development. And ended up doing that as a consultant at at the back of my first startup. And to be honest, Bunch, the company that we’re building today is and I, my co-founder I co-founded is basically kind of a result of me as a coach noticing that the formats we are offering as leadership developers on the market are not up to date to what consumers and the new generation of leaders, managers, and professionals need. We see digitalization and convenience and on-demand services kind of taking over in many parts of our lives, right? Like from Uber to Netflix, to other, other applications that are kind of like delivering what you need at the right moment in time. But when we think about org development, professional development, leadership development, we were still stuck in these like it’s workshops, webinars, long form programs, lots of time commitment and not as much on demand, not as much in the moment and not as much contextualized.
And so what we basically went for with Bunch is to say we provide a like truly digital, like digital first gamified in the moment tool for managers and for professionals to scale themselves up. And the last point that I want to make is that it was also really, really important to me to serve to the individual. As someone who’s worked with businesses all my life and like kind of starting my career in HR always positioned me in on the kind of the stakeholder map with like the other business executives and employees and so on. And I always had this feeling that if we don’t focus on the individual employee enough, we’ll get a bill for that later. So like if we as service providers, if we as coaches, if we as consultants approach the business stakeholder as a company only and like don’t actually start with the needs and the psychology of each individual professional in the workplace, we’ll really cut short in the solutions and the services we provide.
And I’ve seen too little on the market in the HR tech space companies and products that were really, really focused on the individual. So when we started Bunch it was really important to us to say like, we start with you as a person in the workplace with you as a human and what your needs are and what you are looking for. And then we build from that towards let’s say enterprise and business value and so on, so on. So that’s kind of how we ended up building Bunch, which is a an AI leadership coach which helps professionals particularly millennials I think, but overall professionals to upscale key skills in just two minutes a day.
The Future of Learning – AI, Apps and More
Jenn DeWall: I love that. So is it kind of like the duo lingo of leadership, you know, if you want to learn new yeah. A new language, you can invest in this and do it two minutes a day, what like, exactly. So I love the short form, right? And I, I love gamification. I appreciate that as someone that, whether it’s my Apple Watch or a Peloton or other apps that I use, I am absolutely into habit tracking. It is kind of obsessive, right? Like I can get the irk if I don’t do it. I’m like, oh gosh, I have to do this. I’m gonna lose my streak. And it’s amazing exactly how 10 years ago I didn’t care what a streak was, but now I really care what a streak is. So we’re gonna be talking all about the future of learning and I love that you shared that.
We’re gonna be talking a little bit more about Bunch and how you kind of entered that space because I love the service that you offer. But before we dive into it, I know you had sent an article and shared, and I think it’s a great article to talk about. There’s great dialogue. I have points of view on it, you have points of view and it’s, I think it’s just helpful for everyone to be able to hear. But we’re talking about the current state, today is February 8th, 2023. So just to know when this is recorded, we’re talking pretty real time of some of the changes that we’re seeing in the news on LinkedIn about big tech company layoffs. And do you wanna just share a little bit with our audience about the article that you sent with me?
The Tech Industry, Layoffs and the Learning Landscape
Darja Gutnick: Yeah, exactly. So we obviously have been going through this like consequences of market correction as a founder in a company as, as someone who received venture funding. We’ve known about the kind of upcoming like difficult time as we might call it economically since the beginning of 2022. Actually our first conversations with our shareholders around we gotta like pre prepare for the winter. Like it’s going to be tough, we need like wrong runways in actually April, 2022. And I think a lot of companies have been kind of trying to wrap their heads around what does that mean for us? What do we need to do now? How do we protect ourselves and our workforce to get through this prices period that is up and coming in, in Amer in a more stable or foundational way. And so it’s not surprising for me as a business owner and as a founder that we see waves of layoffs because we’ve had a bull market for a long time, specifically tech companies since Covid have been hiring quite aggressively.
We’ve been always on the like kind of other end of that as a small startup because we had to compete with these massive packages. Like we’ve never been able to compete with Googles and Facebook’s passages and, and it’s always like this as a small business, but I think in the last couple of years it just took a whole different like level of not only I think salaries, it’s just like the benefits and the additional kind of structures that were built around it. So it was not so surprising to me to see that companies go back to asking the question, do we really need all of this? Is it like the most efficient way to run the business? Do we, how much workforce do we actually really need? And so this isn’t surprising per se. However, what I found, interestingly, I wanted to dig into this with you when I read for the first time, I think this morning or two yesterday and morning that tech companies are speaking up about how they decide on the layoffs and who is being laid off and how the restructuring is happening behind the layoffs because it’s not small amounts of people, right?
Like it’s 10, 15% in some of the companies. It’s like massive amounts of people. And sure we can talk about how tech companies want to like let go of people that are not as performing in their contexts and things like that. But I think that’s kind of really obvious to a degree. And probably most of you out there kind of know this already, but what I think was new in this conversation recently is that I think it was Mark Zuckerberg first who basically said, we want you as a middle manager to either go back to building and become an individual contributor because you’ve been a great engineer before. You’ve been a great designer before. You’ve been a great product person before and we want you to go back there or you leave. And I think this is a very new perspective that I at least don’t remember from the crisis in 2028 in 2008 and 2009 because back then it was just kind of like random layoffs, whatever, we are just getting more efficient and it stopped there.
The Future of Leadership and Structural Change
Darja Gutnick: But now we are seeing an actual structural change or thinking around how much structural support does an organization need? How much managerial support does an organization truly need in 2023 with all the technological development we have happening with ChatGPT, et cetera. And I’m seeing companies being more aggressive about, well maybe we want to invest in individuals and kind of like stuck tools around them, make them more performant. And maybe we wanna move away from like managerial structures as much as we’ve been building on them in the past. And I’ve found that as a psychologist and also someone who serves middle managers <laugh> effectively. Really interesting because I was wondering, wow, what does that mean for our users now? And like a whole different world? Like do these people go to other, let’s say more traditional companies that still actually rely on a lot of middle managerial structures and are looking for new talent, right? Like talent with digital skills, talent with tech skills. Or are we going to see that across the board? Is this like a tech industry only thing or not? And yeah, so the these were like the first thoughts I had and I was wondering what you think about
Jenn DeWall: It. Yeah, and we talked a little bit about this and I mean, okay, if I take out the fact that people’s jobs are being lost, like I obviously have sensitivity and empathy towards that from where I sit, like living in OD or organizational development and leadership development, I have been wanting organizations to reorg for a very long time. And I know, I know I’m not alone. Like this is not a new concept for the people that are in that space. I have been wanting that because when you have individuals that are in front of you that are doing, let’s call it forced leadership development, they don’t really want to be a leader. All they want is the paycheck that comes with it. And that’s the only way for many companies that people could actually climb and be successful. And so we, whether or not we’re capable or whether or not we even want to, which are so important to behavior change, we’re thrown into that role of people leadership.
And then of course you see the turnover ramifications of that because people we know lead bad managers, not necessarily the organizations. And so I don’t necessarily, you know, I get, I I like that they’re starting to think differently. Why are we limited in how we actually exhibit or the pathways that we create for success for people? Why aren’t we allowing someone to be a great technical leader? So it’s really the difference between being a technical leader and a people leader. And yes, it’s about doing time that organizations are starting to say we value your technical expertise and we’re not gonna add the constraints and limitations and challenges of people leadership. Cause there’s often people that come into it and they’re like, Jenn, I hate this. Like I don’t wanna be, you know, everyone’s babysitter. I don’t wanna do insert all of the complaints of being a manager.
That’s what leadership is. That is what it’s, and so I get that you don’t wanna do it, but also they’re kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place because how do you get the compensation? How do you get the title when most organizational hierarchies are very limited in how we value someone’s strengths. And as that article said, you know, we’ll we’ll promote them into people leaders, so then we lose all that institutional knowledge in productivity and speed that they have and we are then trying to do it and then they don’t even wanna develop the next people. They don’t know how to develop it if they’re not giving leadership development. So I am here for the change. I don’t, I mean I know that that article kind of attributes to Elon Musk, but I guarantee that there are organizational development professionals that are like, finally, finally, this is hitting mainstream because we see this issue every single day we go into a learning space.
Middle Management Vs. Individual Contributors
Darja Gutnick: This is super interesting and I do think that it’s probably a quite a polarizing like point of view even though I to a certain degree agree with you or I can see that other side definitely. I, I had to like fight my first reaction of defensiveness when I read it because I’m like, oh no, like they’re already so squeezed. Like our whole takeaway, and this is a very biased perspective of a service provider to managers. We have over 70,000 users on the platform and like all we are hearing is that they don’t have enough support, they don’t have enough training, they don’t have enough mentorship, they don’t have enough feedback. And they’re so squeezed already, as you said, it’s their jobs. I agree with this 100%. And oftentimes our advice is kind of resulting in the same one, take charge, own your thing, it’s staff, but here are like tools you can use and so on.
And now with basically, I mean we’re not gonna get rid of old management. Like this is still gonna be managers, so these managers are gonna stay, they will have more pressure <laugh>. That’s one consequence. I think obviously it’s not like there’s gonna be like 15 times more investment in their coaching and mentorship now, right? Like they probably will be left with whatever they had before. Plus they just have more direct reports right now and like kind of more organization to deal with. And then the other kind of half or however many will be looking for new jobs and will be asking themselves exactly these questions. Like do I go back into this? Was this a good step to begin with? Am I an actual manager or not? And when thinking this further, I actually thought, let’s say the majority of these people says no, I go back to ic in like Facebook’s case or whatever, just for,
Jenn DeWall: and I C – just for our audience – I C is an individual contributor.
Darja Gutnick: Yes, exactly. Exactly. So just, just I will be a team member again. Does like, I’m not sure we have the tools yet and I don’t know in detail meta set up here. I have been researching though for like selfish, like my own individual reasons because despite of us having a small team, we also have people on the team that are like brilliant technical contributors that are really genius at what they do and that are also trying to understand where it’s gonna, where’s my career going to go? Like and do I go into management after, do I stay in this space where I am right now where I’m like developing really cutting edge technology and like how does my career look like? And when I was researching this and I was finding like career ladders for engineers and from Uber and things like this, if you compare, so we have these two pathways, right?
Like tech companies typically have this like individual contributor progression track for engineers in particular, not for anyone else as far as I know. By the way, just for engineers, like designers or product managers, they can only be two things. Product manager, senior product manager, or they go to management. That’s it. But for engineers, we found like staff engineer, principal engineer, like we found some other things to recognize that they’re actually like really leading their field even if they don’t have direct reports. Yeah. But I had the feeling that it’s very thin there, you know, like staff in principal engineer basically there is like a few of them in every organization. Like in Uber, I don’t know, maybe there is like five principal engineers and like 20 staff engineers or whatever. But that’s basically it. And then there is a few tech leads and then like senior and middle management middle, mid-level engineers, engineer engineers.
But there is not actually that many tools to help your people understand if you are an individual contributor you are being recognized, you’re being valued, you are being respected, you have authority in your opinion. Like and I was wondering like I think to a degree those individual contributors stay around, right? Like for a long time acquire knowledge about the company, acquire context, acquire a lot of really good stuff that helps them execute on every like daily on the day-to-day.
Jenn DeWall: How do we make that visible? How do we actually make this kind of like what is the workflow component?
Darja Gutnick: Yeah. Within the organization, if I am not going to climb the management letter, which now got even more timely and there is just like not gonna be so much space because we’re flattening the organizations. How do we recognize people? How do we help them feel like they’re progressing in their careers if they’re stuck on the same levels basically? And like I think there’s a lot of exciting work to be done for OD professionals to define that. But I definitely think there isn’t that much out there right now.
The Future of Learning and Leadership in the Gig Economy
Jenn DeWall: It’s, well, I think it’s because organizations just haven’t done it. They just had traditional organizational hierarchies that promote people leader, people leader. And so we all have to change our perspective and I guarantee that person that hates people leadership that just wants to go back to technical is finally like, yes, please let me focus on my strengths. Let me leverage my experience, don’t make me lead with my deficits. Which yeah, you know, sometimes when we have great technical, and this is going to sound like a very general statement and know that it’s latent with bias, but you know, some people your personality style might gravitate more towards technical R rules and that’s where you are going to be able to thrive and be your best self. And as much as we flex into different styles and we all need to do that, I can’t live there and feel fulfilled or happy or productive or successful because we’re probably struggling more than maybe the person that has that as their skillset.
I love this conversation. I’m curious to see the way that organizations adapt because it’s going to require, you know, compensation analysis of how do you comp these individuals? How do you reprogram people to even be more inclusive of individual contributors because they are the loneliest ones in the workforce. 70% of individual contributors report feeling lonely. And so how do we make sure that they feel a part of something if they are not going to be a part of a team or leading a team. Like there’s so many like little things or ripple effects that are going to happen as a result of Exactly, eventually reorging it. So let’s, let’s dive in now thinking about that future, knowing that there’s going to be a shift. I mean another curiosity would be, oh my gosh, the gig economy, how’s that gonna play into it? But I know we don’t have that much time <laugh>, but going into now the future of learning, what do you think? So you alluded to this a little bit
Darja Gutnick: Actually. Wait, wait, wait. But on the gig economy part, just like, yeah, I agree. It’s a rabbit hole. Let’s not like fall into it. However,
Jenn DeWall: <Laugh>,
Darja Gutnick: It makes the gig economy so much more attractive because if I am stuck in a company where I can be promoted and the management thing is like off the table right now and I am kind of like, well unless they figure out like a better comp package, unless they figure out how to make me feel seen and heard, how to make my voice in contribution, feel seen and heard, guess what I’m gonna do? I’m going to become an individual contributor, paid bigger money by my freelance clients. Which by the way, there is more than ever now again because it’s like much easier to cancel a freelance contract than it is to like, you know, get rid of an employment contract for a business. And so I will get contribution for recognition from my customers because if they love my work, they’re gonna tell me in a nice email saying, we love your work, we wanna book you again.
So like these little fit feedback mechanisms that really play a massive role in how a person decides upon their career choices and how they progress through the different seasons of their career are really, I feel underestimated and under like, overlooked or have been overlooked. And now we finally have to pay attention to them. I think otherwise we will continuously to see like the migration from people from like full-time employment into, into the gig economy and like alternative ways of employment, which I’m also very supportive of for different reasons. But like, I think it would be also a bummer if we ended up with kind of everyone fighting for themselves. So we can’t like organize ourselves around mission shared missions anymore. I also don’t think gig economy is for everyone. I think a lot of people still prefer full-time employment for different reasons. And I think we really have to figure out how to recognize people beyond the usual, you know, management ladder.
Jenn DeWall: You know, it’s interesting because we’re talking about two of the major areas that are, that have been disrupted, you know, heavily within the last few years and more heavily going forward what, what work looks like and then also what education looks like. We know that, you know, universities, everything has been upended in terms of whether it’s the shift in human behavior, the resistance to pay, you know, the expense. I mean, I am 40 and I still have student loans, so there’s a reluctance for me going into a PhD to even think, well how much money do I have to spend for that? And looking for alternative ways to be able to afford it so I can acquire that knowledge. Because for me, taking on a hundred thousand dollars in debt on top of my M B A debt is a lot. But then also within work, like, okay, if I don’t get to, I think there’s this, there’s an individual that we interviewed, her name is Dr.
Sarah Beth Burke, and she talks about being more than your title. And I think that her concept has a lot of legs. You’re seeing more and more people really want to lead with their strengths mm-hmm <affirmative> and want to feel seen and want to make an impact in that way. And so it’s shifting kind of what meaningful work looks like. There’s so many exciting things about how, what’s coming on the future, but I also know there’s a lot of intimidation with that stuff, right? Like cuz then it’s like how do we adapt? How do we change our organizational efforts? Like these are not small lifts, like it’s going to impact so much.
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AI and the Future of Learning
Jenn DeWall: Let’s, let’s dive into that future of learning. What do you think? So knowing, I mean I I know it where our attention spans are so small now we’re we dropped what, five seconds in the last 20 years from 13 to eight seconds or something and yeah. What, what does that look like if we’re thinking about software development, what what does the future look like?
Darja Gutnick: Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. I I think there’s a few things out there. So one we’ve been kind of already hearing about always I feel like it it, but it was kind of one of these like very niche nerd skills almost that people kind of knew is important, but it never really made the like big coming out, which was like a meta skill basically like learning how to learn new things. I remember running a study two years ago with our user base where the very first one where we were basically asking like, what do you think makes a great leader? Like list the attributes, adjectives, whatever comes to mind. And we had a lot of kind of, you know, usual suspects like emotional intelligence the ability to communicate like a vision and a direction very well, humility and so on.
But what we are seeing now is actually with ChatGPT in particular, it’s so blatantly clear that things can change within a whim and it doesn’t actually make sense to kind of invest in building up really complex hard skills like they might be replaced, like that activity you need to do might be replaced or might be at least heavily kind of assisted by technology and by ai. So it’s just so, so important to understand how you can actually integrate new tools, new tooling and new technological developments into your workflows very quickly. And anything that is complex and requires creativity and trust building, especially over remote environments and like over distance is just so, so, so important. So I think what we’re seeing is the skill to learn new things is kind of leading the pack, so to say when it comes to managerial skills and competencies.
And then the other important things are really like emotional intelligence and the ability to build trust, the ability to listen, the ability to communicate with conviction as well. I think this is kind of what of what we, what we see in terms of what actually is the content that people are looking for. But at the same time when we talk about formats and how people learn, I think nothing too surprising to be honest. When we started Bunch a few years back, it was already kind of visibly coming, but I think now everyone, everyone knows it. Anything that is on mobile or in any other way very conveniently accessible to you always trumps everything else. So like we see lots of e-learning and this is a very old term, we don’t actually use it in like EdTech anymore, but like the market reports <laugh>, they use it still.
There’s this category of like e-learning which is basically everything digital. And I think we started with like web-based formats ude me and LinkedIn learning and these type of things, right? And now we moved beyond that and we moved into highly personalized, highly individualized, on demand, mobile first, with integrations into like teams and Slack and other things, formats that are really, really important and contextual to you. And then of course short formats still are like bite size learning is a, a very big trend that I think we are all seeing like stronger and stronger picking up with Bunch. It’s literally part of our core value proposition. Like become a better leader in two minutes a day. It’s very sticky. It’s one of the reasons why people download the app and it’s kind of scary actually how simple things have become. Not in terms of how simple or how easy it is to create content that actually teaches people things in that short amount of time.
It’s very hard. But consumers are looking for highly personalized guidance that can fit into their day-to-day meaning between meetings in a break before they log into Zoom on commute and really builds around them and does not require the consumer to build around the offering. So how we learn should really follow our overall habits and be as convenient as possible. So if I kind of want to headline it, I think it’s all about convenience because those people or those services and products that really can make it as easy as possible really do kind of win with I think professionals today.
Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh, absolutely. I mean conveniences, it’s all of us, right? We have short attention spans, we want everything fast now, which can sometimes we’re, and what they’re seeing with the younger gen generations translate into is that hard is bad, hard is bad.
Darja Gutnick: Hard is bad.
Jenn DeWall: What consequence do you think that has to how we learn if we’re like, well if it’s not easy then I don’t wanna do it. Altruistically Yeah, yeah. And I, which is great, but then what, what are blind spots that could potentially be created?
The Future of Learning in the New Normal
Darja Gutnick: I totally agree with like the general, you know, I know what you mean with hardest bad or like I can relate to it a lot of course, but I don’t think it’s entirely true. So what I learned about our users and also from actually a recent market report that I read from Gartner happy to send that through and link it in the show notes. I found it really interesting actually. Everyone is extremely curious about themselves and where their journey journeys going. So the majority of people in the workplace wants to learn more about themselves and how to improve. So we actually see more adoption of a growth mindset than we’ve ever seen before. So as a society and as a humanity, we actually evolved a little like we moved forward on that scale of we are here to learn, we want to mature, we want to adopt to new environments and actually make progress overall and contribute to something meaningful.
We’ve seen this with like, you know, millennial studies, like people want impact, people want purpose and so on. Like that journey continues. So I don’t know whether we are necessarily concluding people don’t wanna put in the effort, you know, it’s more that they wanna know more about themselves, they want to have meaningful journeys, they want to contribute to something bigger, but they don’t wanna do meaningless work to get there, if that makes sense. So one this report that I’m referencing actually phrased it as something like they’re so curious about all these like offerings and it’s so dramatic and tragic for this l and d market because there are so many offerings when it comes to psychometrics, when it comes to learning formats, when it comes to content. There is so much out there, but this like connection between you as a professional and this content that lies around somewhere in Google or in some book or somewhere else, it’s just too tough for you to find it.
Darja Gutnick: So you actually wanna know more about yourself and you want to learn and there is the content out there but like you don’t get together and it’s actually holding a whole industry back is how they wrote it. And I think it’s absolutely true. So I don’t want to, and I disagree with the like quiet quitting BS and things like this that we like have titled it, like I think we are misunderstanding these new generations. For them it’s really about ROI on time. It’s not that they don’t wanna do the work, they just wanna be hyper efficient in what they do and they want to really understand, maybe they understand more than we did before in previous generations. That time on earth is very, very, very limited. Everything is about to go down, right? Like there’s this wars on the horizon all the time and then there is climate change and there is pandemics and what not happened in the last five years.
So I think as a young person in the professional environment, you learn one thing. It’s like you can’t trust us, this may be over any moment. So they’re really trying to understand how can I fit everything into my day? How can I fit everything into my month and my year? Because I can’t plan 10 years in advance. I can’t plan 20 years in advance so I plan a year in advance or so, and therefore within that year my like hobbies need to fit and my partnership needs to fit and my work for the purposes I believe in need to fit my whatever volunteering activities and I also want to progress in my career. So I think it’s more about being efficient rather than not wanting to put the effort, if that makes sense.
Can We Learn Leadership from Artificial Intelligence?
Jenn DeWall: Yeah. And I, the only reason I struggle with that is I go back to my 20 year old millennial self and there’s a little bit of ego, like I already know everything. Like I got this or I know what I don’t need to know. And like that was the initial resistance with millennials coming into the workforce in general, right? Like feeling like, oh I already know this because I have technology so I’ve already got this and I don’t have to like have the actual real life experience Yeah. To understand what this looks like in action with complex human emotions and decision making. And so I think about that of like, that was almost what got me into trouble in my twenties of feeling like, oh, like I, I don’t have to like have the actual like case study example in my life. Like cuz I can just learn it and then I know better.
Jenn DeWall: And so like that’s, I think of myself of being like Jenn, like this you’ll ha really have to be mindful of your blind spots because the information is available but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have learned it yet. And I, cuz I again as someone that loves to learn, that’s al that’s always the trap that I found myself in. It’s like getting into this like I can get really educated and then I would get a reality hit of like oh okay, but I wanna talk about how AI will or like chat ChatGPT and what that looks like. So I know that Bunch leverages the power of ChatGPT and you know, you will tell me because it’s two minutes a day and I love that. I love making learning accessible for people. Absolutely. I have some reservations only because of what I’m sharing about myself, right. And how I learn and that there are blind spots there and we only rely on one way of kind of learning this information. But let’s talk about the, for those let’s level set. ChatGPT for some people is still a, what was that now? What are those acronyms? <Laugh>? So what is ChatGPT?
Darja Gutnick: So chat ChatGPT is actually an application that OpenAI which is the company behind GPT and GPT-3 and similar applications developed to make their language model, which is GPT-3, usable, accessible and interactive for the common person on earth. So like they open it up so that we can actually interact with the AI model that lives behind it, which is called GPT-3. And that model has been in development for a few years and it basically is an algorithm that as far as I know soaked in lots and lots and lots of knowledge like everything that was there to know until 2021 end of year if I believe, if I remember correctly. So it’s actually a little bit like not up to date anymore. If you ask it like very funny questions from 2022, it won’t know and it will tell you like, I don’t know, I only go until 2021. But ChatGPT is just the actual like product that is a chat-based interface, chatbot, whatever you wanna call it that lives on top of this language machine learning model that OpenAI developed.
Is Using a Chatbot Just Cheating?
Jenn DeWall: Yes. And for those that may have seen the news, I feel like, I’m not sure how it’s portrayed on the news in Germany, but here in the United States they’re showing the, oh my gosh, what’s going to happen to high school students because they can put in a prompt that’s, you know, how to, you know, discuss, I don’t know how to talk about the history of the United States or whatever that actually, that’s probably a dicey question, but like <laugh>, any general question that they have to, you know, ask about they could actually kick back and write a paper on. And so, you know, teachers are nervous, a little nervous about copying or how the effort that will happen. And so that’s I think how that’s how it’s portrayed on our media right now is this big thing for teachers to look out for and for parents to be mindful of in terms of the workarounds to actually, like sometimes doing the work. Yeah so you can do really sophisticated things. It can write blogs. Any question that you want you can put in there and it’s cool. Yeah, it’s flipping amazing. But we also have to talk about what the opportunities are still within the platform because I think, actually tell me this, why did it just blow up in the last month for the normal person and me, myself being a typical person that’s not necessarily immersed in the tech space? Because everyone is talking about it right now.
Darja Gutnick: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean GPT-3 was, this is a great question by the way because we talk about this to little, like GPT-3 was around for three, four years. I think the first time we heard about it we looked into it was 2020 beginning of the year or so. So like they’ve been working on it for a really long time and they’ve been starting to write about it in in end of 2019 I believe. So the language model isn’t like fresh, it’s actually been in development for a few years. So that, let’s put it like, let’s split it for simplicity reasons into like tech and user experience. Okay, so the tech isn’t new, in fact the tech is like from the sixties, like the idea of training language models, it’s very all like sixties probably too far. I think it’s was the eighties, it was like the, the birth period of these like language models and machine learning as an idea and so on.
And that is, there is papers that go back to like 84 or so that basically describe how G PT three could work in like simple terms. So we actually work on this for a long time. This is not super new. We didn’t have the processing power so far to actually make it all work. So one important change on the tech side of things that happened in let’s say the two thousands, it’s like we just became more bullish on using more of the earth’s resources to build more processing power <laugh> and we are able to like run more powerful machines on top of that which are needed for these language models to be trained. That’s one part, but that’s not the innovation that happened in November, 2022, in November, 2022. And I think that gets recognized too little. What the team has released from OpenAI is an actual very mainstream adopted, very polished without many rough edges product that lives on that technology of ChatGPT-3.
Darja Gutnick: So when we for instance train Bunchy, which is our AI ChatGPT powered coaching assistant that interacts with our users, the majority of the development work does not go into the tech development again. Like that has been done already by other people and it’s like years of layering and layering of information intelligence. But what’s really tough is to make sure that that agent that you are developing in training responds in a way that the human doesn’t feel offended, it feels it can trust the information. It feels it’s not being biased towards one of the other specific direction and can interact with it and actually uses it in the day-to-day life. When we think about AI in like kind of let’s say 2015 till 2020 period, whether it was a big like UpSpring already, right? A lot of issues have been evolving around the UX and how clunky some of the applications were, how they, you can’t, the black box of ai, you can’t explain why it’s recommending you something, it just gives you a result. So chat ChatGPT worked a lot around those rough edges. It actually puts a lot of effort into helping you understand how it came to the conclusion. And the way they’re doing it is there is different agents for different jobs within that chat interface. So you actually just read one text, right? For you, this is one thing you interact with chatt,
Jenn DeWall: It’s the foundational piece. Where do they get the information from? Like how does it know? Like how did it start? Or get the information. Like how does that starter, like did they pick an ency? You know, not that they did Wikipedia thing, they did that do this, but it, you know, where does that start? You know, how did that information start
Darja Gutnick: This is a great question, but I assume I actually would need to look it up in to, to know in precision, this is an assumption that I’m speaking out right now, but I assume this is publicly available. Basically Googleable information around like the world that is out there. So I don’t think this is like we’re talking archives and like encyclopedias here, but like we’re definitely talking Wikipedia knowledge and other articles like anything that is accessible on the internet publicly can be scraped and accessed by anyone really in the world. And so you can actually, unless you have like, you know, like login or pay walls and other protecting mechanisms, there is a lot like majority of their internet knowledge is publicly accessible and can be actually found by anyone. And so I assume that they scooped a large part of like the world’s knowledge that is online accessible, which is why it takes a lot of time because it’s a lot of information that needs to be pre-processed and trained. But that is my assumption I would need to to look it up <laugh>
Jenn DeWall: And I love that like even with Bunch that like it’s taking all of that information that is available on the internet stuff that you don’t see because it doesn’t align with your personal algorithms and now it’s in a new place where you can access that with a highly personal prompt and then it’s iterative. Right? And you can correct me any of the ways that I don’t understand this. I am not an expert in this
Darja Gutnick: <Laugh> <laugh>. No, no. All good. This, this is actually really interesting. So chat two PT from OpenAI has one problem currently, which is what Google is trying to like bank on so to say to Outcompete. So chat two PT was first they came forward with this very like just accessible to everyone and their mom type of product like go on this like url, type in whatever you want, get response. And by the way, for everyone out there like this costs a lot of money to run. Like they are sinking tons and tons of cash into every one of us being used to it. So like I bet there is a like getting used to it period where it’s like publicly available and it’s like open and whatever. Now they’ve actually launched a premium version which is like 20 bucks a month. You can pay premium for ChatGPT and it comes with like better availability, faster responses and other benefits.
But basically what the, the limitation that it has it, it doesn’t actually connect you two things online, right? Like it just tells you hey tell me about leadership podcasts out there and then it will like find Jan and compress or like other people out there but it will not link you to the show because they don’t have access to Google’s door basically. So Google is working on Sparrow, which is basically ChatGPT for Google, but that then does include all the links and it actually meshes the format so it actually talks to you but then it gives you like bum, bum bum the three hits that are most relevant for you. And there you go to Google. So we will, we, it’s really interesting this year around AI because we’ll see a bit of a fight between chat ChatGPT and Google.
How Competition in Tech is Shaping the Future of Learning
Darja Gutnick: Microsoft is doing superbly well. It wins the game every time. It like watches what like other people on Google is doing and then it just like pushes them all out of the water by like doing some cool enterprise like gimmick of like everyone who has Windows now has like teams and then goodbye Slack <laugh> and things like this. So like it will be really interesting to see whose technology we really actually end up adopting long term. But the overall missing piece is really like where did these search results lead you to and coming back to the students, right? If you write this article right now, if you’re like in a good school you still need to actually find all the source information <laugh>. Yeah because it’s referencing get lot of papers and you need to go back and go to Google and like, oh my God, if you don’t find the paper you’re like oh I need to change that part now.
So it’s actually not as like convenient yet. But like with the Google thing it will be super convenient. And so what we do with Bunches for us it actually solves a very particular problem. Part of the Bunch offering is that you have this 24 7 coaching hotline, it’s transactional coaching so that you typically use case, I have a meeting coming up with my boss tomorrow I need to give them feedback. I don’t know how, I’m a little bit nervous, what should I do? And then we coach them through using a few coaching frameworks. Basically rel like chat-based coaching relative straightforward. We have tons of transcripts that we use to train panchi our AI powered assistant coach to basically learn what tone of of voice we use, what questions we use and so on. And she then pulls in our tip library, she then pulls in our podcast episode, she then pulls in our content that is basically our proprietary IP to link the user back into those content pockets where they can learn more about something.
And I think this is actually the really interesting use case for most like let’s say vertical or niche kind of applications. Like if you have a very topical application, let’s say you have a recipe database or something like that, the real like cool use case is to go in if you don’t wanna search for whatever reason, if you just wanna say I wanna do this like Pastor Bologne, like you get a little chat with someone and it actually just links you to the right two recipes that are like the coolest ones for you in that moment. And it just shortcuts the search, you know, going for the database, whatever. So it’s actually aux improvement mostly. Like it makes it just so more accessible to find the right information at the right time. And how people use it really kind of not only depends on this OpenAI technology, but like the UX around it, what use cases it serve, does it link into additional resources or not big difference and like how we can actually work around that and limitations there.
Leaders Still Have to do the Work – Ethics and AI
Jenn DeWall: I mean I love it. And my last question, knowing that we have to add, you know, I love the, again, the information. Heck yes. We get to learn so much and it’s so personal and relevant to us and as I sit here I’m like, oh my gosh. And I, I tried to look up some of the, the other side of ChatGPT because I can see all the benefits of how it works. And then I was looking up, okay, like what, what are the unintended consequences of what that is? And there’s, you know, there’s there and there’s still working through this, there’s a ton of bias on there. I just read something about they had it right, you know, job descriptions and the job descriptions came back incredibly sexist. And so there still is that, so what would be a recommended, we have that, what else do you think someone needs to do to make sure it’s actually relevant in the, in the real world too? Because I, I think there’s still a space for that human interaction to talk about what that, you know, information means. But how do you, how would you advise someone to take that but then also make sure that they’re on the right path in terms of their own comprehension?
Darja Gutnick: Yeah, I mean I think there is no easy answer here. And I think we’re back to like ethics in AI type of conversations. Where there isn’t like any easy answers in shortcuts. And we talk about this all the time as well. Like we started of course training Bunche with our internal resources and there is limited perspectives. Like we don’t, for instance have a person of color coach and therefore we reach out to our community of authors and content creators right now, but there are people of color and our coaches and pull them in and basically say, well we now need to actually do reviews with these people because we are not otherwise we’re presenting so many points of view. And this is, I think what it will come down to. Like I actually think in some ways AI makes a case for diversity because the only thing we can do, do as humans is to offer a unique point of view.
And that is really important from like not only a, you know, ethical perspective but also from a business perspective because we have a market with many people inside of it. So we will have different needs in order for us to actually keep tabs on those needs. We need to keep diversity in our points of view. And the big problem with the AI as it is today, it’s, and it all is statistically based, statistics always have regression to the mean. So it always will kind of try to hit something that is like correct for 70% of the cases we correct for 70% of the people and we’ll always have the underrepresentation problem. So we’ll we keep, we have to keep kind of course correcting constantly because we’re trying to achieve the impossible. We are training a statistically based algorithm that regresses to the meme by definition, like it is trying to hit the average and satisfy everyone and with that produce personalized services and make kind of like satisfy personalized n needs and personally different needs. So it’s an interesting kind of it requires an interesting collaboration between the algorithm, which is typically the picker. So like they pick the content, the recommendation, right? Like they choose what to present to you and one point in time and the content database, which is basically needs to be fed through diverse points of view because otherwise you’ll end up with just bias stuff and
Jenn DeWall: Confirmation bias has to live in there, right? Because I
Darja Gutnick: Exactly. Like bias
Jenn DeWall: Though every space for like the counterpoint within it of saying, okay, here’s the stuff, but now here’s something you might also want to consider. Like, is that part of the technology too to help
Darja Gutnick: Exactly understand, to give you a very specific example, like, and again, I don’t have all the answers and I’m not even an expert in the field. I think there are people that are really focused on ethics and AI and like I’m just trying to keep up with it and kind of read their content. Yeah. But what we are doing basically is we validate topic selection and strategies when we produce new content, when we add to the library in Bunch, we of course we have like this content analytics process where we go through like what is actually being read, what is being saved, what is being abandoned, what is being searched, what is actually talked about in the media, what is being searched on Google? And there’s like all these different sources. And then we kind of like synthesize, synthesize, synthesize into like what challenges our users have.
And then we come up with a short list. Now that short list like almost never includes inclusion, like how to build an inclusive team is not a top of mind challenge for managers. Just just like unfortunately the truth. So every time we do this exercise, I sit there and I’m like, I’m not going to like accept that now, right? I’m going to prioritize inclusive content anyways, <laugh> and add it into the job free topics. It’s not our number three topic. Like we’re basically picked two topics that are validated by user demand plus how to build an inclusive culture and we just keep feeding it in. And you know, the funny part is sometimes those pieces of content are the most successful ones. But if you would go by the majority, like the majority of management is not looking for how to make teams more inclusive on average.
Of course we have user challenges coming to us. Like how do I address this type, like racist comment, how do I deal with this bias situation? How do I deal with that? And this is like it’s a really difficult yeah, kind of moment. I think for me as a founder always where I’m like, yeah, I’m going against my customer’s needs here. I’m doing this. Yep. I’m taking a political stand, therefore you will help after race inclusive content. But I don’t, I like, I don’t have any other solution, you know, like I know there’s a bias if I don’t actually offer this topic, we’ll never like upgrade our knowledge on it. And I will continue to have users writing me about how to address racist comments and they don’t know how to give that feedback to their managers and we won’t move forward. And so that’s kind of, I think we are looking like we, we are all using pragmatic solutions in the field. There isn’t like one shortcut or kind of best ideal solution or ideal kind of playbook to deal with this overall. But I think it’s really important to have advisory boards, ethical boards, just stakeholders in your development process that represent different points of view. I think that’s like the main takeaway. If you’re developing AI technology and you are not working with diverse points of view, you are creating more problems in the world than you’re making a positive impact in my opinion.
Face to Face Conversations Will Always Be a Part of Leadership
Jenn DeWall: Yeah. And if you’re a leader, you’ve got to get out there and actually have conversations with people. You can’t rely solely on one thing or check your sources, you know, do your best to make an informed decision. Check the counterpoints. Try to be aware of your own biases that might come into play and develop your own self-awareness because you know, that’s, it can, again, I’m saying this from a 20 year old self that had not great self-awareness, but a high learning desire and there is still a place where, you know, ask other people, have conversations with people, you know, there’s so much information available to us. Darja, how can people learn more about Bunch? How can they get in touch with you?
Where to Find More From Darja Gutnick
Darja Gutnick: Totally easy. Actually. I am to be found on LinkedIn with my name Darja Goodnick. If you want to unplug it into the show notes, super happy to hear from everyone and just add me on LinkedIn drop a little note and I’ll, I’ll definitely respond. Super active there. And of course on the Bunch side it was really important to us that everyone can get access to this knowledge and information. We are all about democratizing leadership knowledge, therefore you can download it for free on the App Store. If you go to the app store and you just enter Bunch Coach or Bunch Leadership or Bunch Work, you’ll find us and you can download it. There is a premium plan, but you don’t have to use it. You can totally also stick to the free version and check it out and let us know what you think!
Jenn DeWall: Yeah, I love it. Go out there, learn, learn, learn, learn. I mean, if you’re not growing, you’re dying. That’s one of my favorite quotes. Darja, thank you so much for being on the show. I really appreciated the conversation. I know I asked questions cuz I still am learning this and I’m like, I have, I have no idea. There’s so much here to like understand. So I just appreciate you even having and bearing with my level of not comprehension and just intrigue. And I just, I really enjoyed the conversation and thanks for getting it started for people to know, hey, another tool that’s out there and b, what to be prepared for in terms of how the workforce is changing. I really appreciated your expertise and your insights and just thank you for coming on.
Darja Gutnick: Thank you so much for asking amazing questions and first principle questions are always the best ones. So thank you so much Jenn, for going all the way in and digging into it with me.
Jenn DeWall: Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode of a Leadership Habit podcast. I have so many questions about really understanding Chat. ChatGPT. I get that it’s going to give us so many great ways to learn new ideas. And then also I wonder what will that mean for human intervention? What will that mean for our relationships? What does that mean for how we even learn now? I hope you enjoyed this conversation and if you want to check out and learn more about the app that Darja and her team has created, Bunch, you can download the Bunch AI Leadership Coach for free on the app store. And of course, if you know anyone that might enjoy this conversation that’s living in the learning space and is curious about the changes that are coming down the pipeline, share this with them. And if you like this episode, don’t forget to leave us a review on your favorite podcast streaming service. And of course, if we can help you with your leadership development needs to have those conversations to develop and give you the tools and skills to thrive for the future of work, head on over to Crestcom.com. We would love to have a conversation with you about how we can help develop your leaders. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.