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In this episode of Sidecar Sync, Amith and Mallory tackle the topic of professional development in the AI era. They emphasize the importance of continuous learning and adapting skills due to AI's rapid evolution. The discussion also covers how HR should handle these changes, highlighting the need for transparency and strategic planning to integrate AI and address employee concerns. This episode offers valuable insights for anyone interested in understanding professional development's changing landscape due to AI advancements.

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Amith Nagarajan: What I would say is different now is that, you know, fundamentally we're not just shifting how we do the work. We're actually changing what the work is. So that's what makes this transformation far more significant in my mind and harder to predict. So therefore, it actually makes professional development even more important because we have to be training ourselves continuously to know what the tools can do.

And to then understand where the value can be added by all of us because these tools are getting better. Welcome to Sidecar Sync, your weekly dose of innovation. If you're looking for the latest news, insights, and developments in the association world, especially those driven by artificial intelligence, you're in the right place. We cut through the noise to bring you the most relevant updates, with a keen focus on how AI and other emerging technologies are shaping the future.

No fluff, just facts and informed discussions. I'm Amith Nagarajan, chairman of Blue Cypress, and I'm your host.[00:01:00]

Hi, everybody. And welcome to the sidecar sync. This episode is one that we've been looking forward to and really excited about. The topic is all about professional development in the age of AI how do we help our teams grow, learn?

How do we attract the best people? How do we retain the best people all through engaging in new forms of professional development in the age of AI. Super pumped about that conversation. Before we get going in the pod, let's thank our sponsor.

Mallory Mejias: Today our sponsor is the AI Learning Hub for associations and non-profits, if you aren't familiar, the AI Learning Hub offers flexible on demand lessons. So you can learn AI at any time, whenever it fits into your busy schedule. Not only that, but we consistently add new lessons to the bootcamp based on the latest AI advancement. So you can be sure that you're keeping up-to-date with what's going on in the AI space. You also get access to weekly live office hours with AI experts so you can ask them all your questions. [00:02:00] And finally, maybe the best part you get access to a vibrant community of fellow AI, enthusiasts. So you can connect on your AI journey, share your challenges and learn and grow together. You can get more information on this and the bootcamp itself at

Amith Nagarajan: If you're enjoying this podcast, we'd appreciate it if you share this podcast with your friends and colleagues, also consider leaving us a review and subscribe wherever you listen or watch.

Mallory Mejias: Hello, everyone. My name is Mallory Mejias. I'm manager over here at Sidecar. And as Amith mentioned, we have another special episode planned for today. We are diving into the topic of professional development in the age of AI. First and foremost, we're going to talk about the skills you should look out for within your team. When you're hiring and ultimately how professional development will be changing due to AI. Next, we'll be talking about how to cultivate talent. Finally, we'll be wrapping up our discussion, addressing AI adoption concerns on your team. [00:03:00] AI is reshaping the professional landscape and staying ahead means adapting quickly. In this topic, we're zeroing in on the urgent need for skill evolution in the face of AI's rapid advancement.

 With AI automating routine tasks, the demand for uniquely human skills, like creative thinking, emotional intelligence, And strategic decision making is soaring. When we talk about the future of professional skills, we're not talking about AI technical skills. Only. We're talking about a fundamental shift and what it means to be a professional in an AI driven world for individuals it's about career survival and growth for organizations. It's about staying competitive and innovative. And I'm Ethan. I want to break down the essential skills needed now and in the future so you can begin to cultivate these competencies for you and for your team. So Amith my first question for today:

How is the rapid advancement of aAI altering the landscape of professional development?

Amith Nagarajan: Well, in so many ways, it's changing everything in our society and learning as a [00:04:00] general statement uh, will never be the same and mostly in a very exciting way because the opportunity to personalize the way people learn is greater than ever. And that's, I think, the thing that will really advance both learning in an educational setting as well as in career development so much further than ever before.

So it's an exciting time. And obviously, because of AI tools, the things you need to learn are different.

Mallory Mejias: Is this new era of AI match any previous technological eras that you've seen in your career?

Amith Nagarajan: Well, there's certainly been major shifts that I've witnessed and participated in where you see, for example, back in the 90s with the dot com boom and the era of the Internet beginning. people rushing to understand what it meant. What does it mean to be able to distribute your content, your product in some cases digitally over the web?

How can you take advantage of this in your business? What does it mean for your job? There was definitely a lot of activity at that point in time. There were people there [00:05:00] were new careers that launched, you know, really out of thin air, like people who did web design. That was the thing that didn't exist in the early nineties and by the end of the 90s and early 2000s, it was a big deal.

There were companies that were formed out of that, obviously, to the same thing started to happen. With e commerce, really in the early 00s, is when that started to take off in a more mainstream way. Obviously, there were some e commerce companies early back in the nineties. And the same thing happened with mobile and the late 00s, with the iPhone and other smartphones.

So you've seen this happen in the past where there's been a technological shift. That's led to a need to retool the workforce in some significant way. Uh, Even originally when computers entered the workforce and people were using things like word processors instead of typewriters or writing by hand. So we have some experience as a society.

What I would say is different now is that, you know, fundamentally we're not just shifting how we do the work. We're actually changing what the work is. So that's what makes this transformation far [00:06:00] more significant in my mind and harder to predict. So therefore, it actually makes professional development even more important because we have to be training ourselves continuously to know what the tools can do.

And to then understand where the value can be added by all of us because these tools are getting better. They're already pretty impressive in many, in many areas, but more important than that actually is where they're heading, which is with, you know, we talked about a lot on this pod. Every six months, there's roughly a doubling in AI power, and so it won't take long to get to the point where AI will be doing a lot of things that it can't do today. So how do you anticipate that? And how do you plan for that in terms of the skills that you want to learn in your career? And the things that you help your team learn. That's really what I think is so critical about this shift.

In the past when you think about the Internet or mobile, those things took a long time. Comparatively, they weren't. There wasn't a six month doubling. Moore's law was going on, of course, but ultimately the [00:07:00] shift was more of like reframing the way work was done as opposed to changing the fundamental substance of the work itself.


Mallory Mejias: Do you think with this six month doubling that demands that folks in HR or even individuals that they have to re evaluate their own professional development every six months?

Amith Nagarajan: I think that people need to have the mindset where they're open to reevaluating professional development whenever there's a major shift. So, you know, if something like Microsoft Copilot comes into your office environment and all of a sudden, You know, many of the things that you would do by hand are now totally automated or 80 percent automated, it requires you to rethink a lot of the mindset around the skills and the tools, and even perhaps the educational backgrounds that are most important for your company to get your work done. It also should cause you, as a culture and people professional in the HR realm, how do you think about getting the most growth for your people?

So, let's say, for example, you have a call [00:08:00] center. And your call center fields increase from your members, people calling about your events or membership or perhaps trying to find content. And let's say you've got a dozen people or 50 people or whatever. The number is might be one person that is primarily engaged in that type of customer service.

Well, It's it's very, very likely that there will be opportunities to automate many of those aspects. Not all, but you know, 70 80 90%. Even 50 percent would be a significant impact. So what do you do with these people? And how do you help them learn skills that will position them for success with you?

Hopefully. But even if not with your organization, how do you invest in those people so that they're more capable in general? And I think that's a really important responsibility for H. R. leaders to be thinking about. I've always had this philosophy that, you know, ultimately what I'm trying to do with teams at my companies is help them achieve the best version of themselves, whatever that is.

And one of my former companies, we used to have this exercise called the [00:09:00] painted picture, which is a tool that people use sometimes to envision the future of a company. where they'll say, Hey, in two years or three years or four years, something like that, you're kind of not super short term, but not long term.

Let's write down your end state. Where do you want the company to be? Not so much like the plan of how you get there, but it's more of a visioning exercise, kind of like a vision board where you say, This is what I'd like my company to look like three years from now. And the same thing can be done for an individual.

You can say three years from now, this will be the way my life looks. This is what I'll be doing professionally. Perhaps you even have an element of that that's personal in nature. That's up to the individual. But as an HR professional, actually cultivating that type of thinking where you're helping people not think about how to get there necessarily, not yet anyway, but thinking first, what's the end state after a few years?

And so my, my perspective always has been, how do I help each person achieve their ideal vision for themselves through a painted picture or a similar exercise? Even if that means [00:10:00] that they might end up working somewhere else. And that's where a lot of companies choke. They say to themselves, well, what if that person's professional development ideal state, you know, is to be a video game designer?

And they're a programmer at a B2B software company that makes, you know, CRM software for associations, which is what my old company did. And I actually had these scenarios come up where You know, you had a developer that had this lifelong dream to be a video game designer. That's awesome, but clearly they're not going to be working at my company long term if that's what they want to do.

Yet, if I as the leader still help them find a way to grow down that path. I think it's incredibly valuable for two reasons. One is that's really what leadership is about is helping people achieve the best version of themselves. And that's, of course, some people might say, Oh, that's really nice, like idealism.

But what about the bottom line? When you do that, when you invest in your people in that way, they perform better, they work harder, they get more done. And by the way, the diversity of the [00:11:00] learning that they do, even in a path that may seem totally out of context for your business, it's Can in fact make them stronger at what they do day to day.

I've seen this over and over and over again And occasionally you do have people that grow through this process and they eventually leave your company and that's fine Because eventually most people do leave a company or an association And so the mindset around it coming back to AI is if you're going to have a massive shift in your workforce, not all of your current team members are going to be with you, but you should invest in them as if they will be with you forever and help them grow in that way.

And that's again, a bit of a philosophy thing that I'm sharing here, but I think it's really important to attract and retain the best people that you have that mindset. And I don't see that too commonly in the association market or really in business in general, but I think it's a big opportunity now as we explore how to rethink professional development in the age of AI.

Mallory Mejias: That's really interesting, Amith, as someone earlier in my career, stepping into a managing position. I struggle with that a hundred percent. I, you know, if you have someone great on your team, if you [00:12:00] have good talent, it seems like you want to put your claws into them a little bit and keep them as happy as long as possible.

possible because you want them to be on your team, helping your organization. How did you make that shift? Or at what point in your career do you feel like you made that shift to growing people?

Amith Nagarajan: I mean, in a way, I did it implicitly all along the way. It was always fun for me to help people learn new things, help them take on new skills. I had a knack for finding people who even early on in my career, I started doing, I started building software companies back in the early nineties and even early on, I'd sometimes find a developer who had really good communication skills and I'd asked that person to Join me on a sales call and lo and behold they turned out to really love that in some cases not all And they went on to be a sales engineer instead of a software developer and that was a very fruitful career for some I just kind of always thought a little bit more creatively perhaps about Where people might fit and I like experimenting I like it when people have this mindset around curiosity which, by the way, is a really important trait for the AI [00:13:00] world is to be curious more so than ever, perhaps.

But, and then when you find people that have these areas of curiosity and you help them explore them, it's interesting. And, and they might find out that they really don't like the thing you're exposing them to. That's cool. And you pull back from that. So I guess I've been doing it all along. I think when I formalized it was probably about, I don't know, maybe 15, 20 years ago.

It's been a while. And I found it's incredibly powerful and kind of weird too for people because people come into a company where you're doing this stuff And they're like that I just joined a cult or something This is like really weird and why are you guys trying to help me develop myself more holistically, you know?

What is this and ou get over that pretty quickly because what happens is I found from a development perspective people have two personas Sometimes more than that, but they have two distinct personas. They have their personal, you know, persona, how they are and the way they behave outside of work. And then they have their work or professional persona.

In fact, in some of the personality style assessments like DISC, which I'm a big fan of, they [00:14:00] actually talk about natural versus adaptive state. Whereas your natural state is the way you behave when you're not being paid by someone to behave differently. And the adaptive state is the way you act typically at work or at school in the, in the structured environment. And there are natural differences and that, that makes sense to some extent. But at the same time, if you can create an environment where people are able to flow into more of their natural state more readily, you get more out of that person, they're happier, which means they get more done, they think more creatively, they're a lot more loyal and, you know, ultimately they grow in a way.

So it's, it's super symbiotic, it's exciting. To do it that way. But it takes, it takes a big cultural commitment to that. You can't put those words on a piece of paper, throw them on a plaque in the boardroom, say it's a value of the company or one of your principals, and then hope it works because you have to really believe this stuff.

But coming back to curiosity for just a minute, to me that's what excites me so much about AI, is I've been doing software development for a long, long time, and never before has there been a period of [00:15:00] time where your curiosity can directly lead to a path where, you know, novel solutions pop out for solving business problems like so quickly.

It's basically like being at Toys R Us, you know, it's just incredibly fun.

Mallory Mejias: Curiosity is an essential skill. It sounds like, but what are the other must have skills you see in an AI dominated workplace?

Amith Nagarajan: Well, so I think that the curiosity trait is super important. I don't know how you can cultivate that, you know, some things are pretty well baked into people by the time they're in the workforce. So if someone just isn't curious, can you help kind of revitalize that? I think, you know, as children, we're all pretty curious.

You know, we're curious creatures. We learn by exploring, you know, in various different ways. Can you bring that back out in people? And I think it's just a really interesting question. And I think the answer is yes, you can. To an extent, there's different degrees of curiosity. Now, from a skills perspective, coming back to your question, I believe that the number one thing people have to be [00:16:00] exercising constantly is a skill is actually learning itself. So a lot of times people get stuck in this rut where the most they've ever learned is when they were in school or maybe the first couple years of their career when they were learning their trade, learning their craft, so to speak. And then they kind of just rinse and repeat.

You know, so if you're an accountant, you got a four year degree, maybe your CPA you went through a few years in practice, maybe in public accounting, then maybe you moved into corporate accounting. And you've been doing a lot of the same stuff for a long time, and maybe you'll learn a little bit, but a lot of people, a lot of people fall into the habit of just kind of the rinse and repeat, and they're not pushing themselves.

So I think part of it is this growth mindset, which actually is a skill. It's a mindset, but the way you get a growth mindset is by adding new content to your brain. So something as simple as a habit like this. What if you encouraged your team? Every day to read for 10 minutes. Not for an hour, not for, you know, hundreds of pages, but just read for 10 minutes on [00:17:00] anything, any book.

It could be a business book. It could be a technology book. It could be fiction. It doesn't really matter. Most adults in the United States of America don't read much. I think the average number of books read per person is something like .5. I read a statistic on that a few years ago. Don't quote me on the exact number, but it's essentially a very low, low reading rate.

And that's You know, that's a terrible missed opportunity. So if we can encourage our people to read, that leads to a lot of things, right? Because you're introducing new content into your brain, and that in turn stokes this creative process uh, which in turn basically creates a growth mindset. People realize how much they can learn only once they start learning.

So to me, that's the number one thing, is how do you create that growth mindset in individuals?

Mallory Mejias: I was thinking through an example as a research for this topic. And I'm sorry for all my listeners. Most of my examples have to do with marketers because that is me. So pardon for this one, but I was thinking through marketing and marketers knowing HTML and how that's something that is [00:18:00] generally nice to know as a marketer.

It's not essential, but hey, if you have those HTML skills, they will benefit you in the future. And so I'm wondering what your argument is Amith for how AI familiarity, AI education is essential for professionals as opposed to. It's nice to know for now, maybe in a few years, it'll be essential.

Amith Nagarajan: Well, I think your example is great because all of us are marketers, you know, in some way there's, there's different levels of marketing. We all do. And so a specific tool like html or specific skill like html. You know, I think of it as, as something that's kind of this foundational element. You may not use it every day, but if you understand a little bit of HTML, it makes your broader understanding of the web and of websites and marketing in general so much stronger.

You might not go and create the HTML on a web page, but the next time you're creating a marketing campaign and you're thinking about a landing page, just the fact that you understand that Is going to shift the way you think about not only what you're going to do, but potentially the capabilities that exist.

So, when I think about HTML and [00:19:00] I translate that to like AI tools, I'd say, okay. So maybe you don't need to know about every AI tool. And certainly, I mean, I don't know about every AI tool. I know about quite a few of them. But what I do understand is that when I find a tool or when I find a capability, like a fundamental primitive idea, right?

Like the ability to translate language. I'd call that a primitive capability of AI at this point. It's like a building block. I know it's there. I don't necessarily need to know how it works, but I know it can translate language. I don't need to know how image generation works, but I know that it's there, and I know roughly what its capabilities are, what it's good at, what it's not so great at.

And by having those building blocks, then when people ask me to solve a problem, I have a tool set. I know that I can use those tools in solving a problem. Whereas someone who doesn't have that familiarity, and again, I might not personally use Midjourney or DALI. But I know a little bit about how they work.

You, Mallory, you're a lot more familiar with those image generation tools than I am or probably ever will be. I think they're [00:20:00] fascinating. I just haven't gone into them that much. I just kinda know what they do at a high level. But in working together, if I say, Hey Mallory, can we do a project like this?

And I know that that's possible. As a leader, I'm actually asking you to do something that's not only reasonable, but I'm also potentially pushing you in a way that I wouldn't be able to do if I had no idea what those tools were about. So that's why some of that fundamental knowledge is really good.

To give you another quick example uh, with software developers, I push people really hard to go deep into the guts of software, even if they're going to be a high level application developer. So when I talk to younger people who are You know, in college or entering the workforce, I always tell them, look, go up and down the stack, which is the term software developers used to say, like all the way from the user interface down to the hardware, essentially, because even if you never plan to do so called lower level work or back end work or any of these other things that some people don't enjoy doing, if you understand the fundamentals, it's gonna make you better at what you actually [00:21:00] go and do from that point. Or if you don't even want to do software development anymore, you want to be a project manager or a business analyst. Having a little bit of that background is so powerful. And that's one of the reasons that I'm leading a group of CEOs specifically on AI learning where we meet up and have a monthly session to talk about AI.

The CEO conversation isn't so much about the AI tools one by one. It's not about, hey, how do you learn to use HeyGen to do video avatars? You know, that's a very specific skill set. There's other ways to learn that. But the reason I'm working with these CEOs is to say, let's now think, okay, we have these capabilities we didn't have a year ago.

We're probably gonna have more capabilities that are even more stunning a year from now. How do we think about our business strategy because we know these tools exist? That's the key to it. So top level leaders, whether you're a CEO, CMO, whatever officer you are, or if you're a board member, or really anyone for that matter, you look at it from the viewpoint of not that you're gonna go do the thing, but that you [00:22:00] need to understand how to use the thing at scale.

Mallory Mejias: That's an interesting point, Amith, so going back to the HTML example probably six months ago or so I sought out to learn like some basic HTML and CSS, and I believe I used a, a website called free code camp, something like that. I'll drop it in the show notes. It was really useful if you're not technical and you just have a basic interest in wanting to learn that stuff.

And I will say I was a little bit defeated at the end of it. I didn't go through all the way the course, but I knew it decently, but I'll never probably use this in marketing, but I really like your angle of even understanding the building blocks, even understanding what's going on behind a landing page or on a web page is helpful.

And you're right, and that's honestly a perspective I hadn't taken till you just said that.

Amith Nagarajan: Well, I have teenagers at home and the teenagers, you know, by the time they're in the workforce, whatever they choose to do, you know, the probability of people writing programming code the way they do today, or they have for, for a number of years, it's pretty unlikely. It's going to be very automated and there will still be programmers, I'm sure.

What they do. I'm not actually quite certain, [00:23:00] but I'm still encouraging my kids to learn the basics of software development just because I think it's a good fundamental skill. And some domains actually help you learn how to think differently. So if you're doing something in the artistic realm, your ways of approaching creativity are probably gonna be different.

Even if you go and then right. So you go work with mid journey or you go use other tools to create an image or video. It'll affect the way you think about copywriting the next time you do something in a different area. Yeah. So with software development, I go to that a lot because that helps people think about problem decomposition or, or problem solving.

It's like solving complex puzzles in a way. So it's, it's just a good way to think a good framework for thinking. So I think a lot of, a lot of domains might end up being that where you don't necessarily need to do the accounting. You don't necessarily need to write the legal brief yourself, but if you don't understand those fundamentals, it'll affect your ability to do the bigger picture stuff.

So, understand what the tools do is therefore really important, but then that fundamental knowledge is still key. When you're thinking about it, going back to our topic of [00:24:00] professional development it doesn't mean you stop having accountants learn more advanced accounting. You still do that. The domain knowledge is still very important, but you have to couple that with, Okay, well, here's how we can work smarter.

These are the tools that are out there. Here's how to think about those kinds of tasks in an AI oriented world.

Mallory Mejias: So we can agree that professional development is certainly changing in the face of AI. And we've talked a little bit about skills to look for on your team, that element of curiosity. But now we want to move on to the idea of cultivating that talent. In the AI era. In the AI times that we live in currently, the responsibility falls on businesses to adapt and to lead the way in team development.

So how can you best equip and grow your team? That's where we want to focus this next part of the conversation. The key to thriving in an AI driven world is an organization's ability to provide the right resources and support so that your team can navigate and excel in an environment where AI tools and workflows are becoming the norm.

Part of growing the individuals on your team means having a [00:25:00] means to measure their performance. And this takes on a new meaning in the age of AI. It's critical for organizations to redefine how they evaluate success and productivity in a landscape where AI can complete more routine, simple work in a fraction of the time.

Finally, it's important to mention that a lot of the talk around professional development centers around cultivating a culture of growth and learning. As AI evolves, so should the skills and capabilities of every team member positioning the organization for adaptation and long term success. Amith, my question here is that in your book, Ascend  “Unlocking the Power of AI for Association” you talk about how essential it is to have bottom up change, especially in the face of AI, being that it's changing the actual work that we're doing.

Like you mentioned earlier, however, professional development projects are often top down coming from HR. So what do you see as the balance between cultivating this bottom up change, but then also having that top down leadership?

Amith Nagarajan: I think you have to lead by example, especially in a time of rapid [00:26:00] change and you as the, whatever level of leadership you're in, you have the ability to affect others, even if you're if you don't have any direct reports, but the idea of showing leadership through your own actions, taking a course, learning something, talking about it, you reading a book, whatever it is you choose to do.

Even listening to a podcast, that's something that gives you some professional development. You can share it um, in terms of the bottom up and top down dynamics. So in the book, we talk a lot about how they're both critical and the sense of top down being a typical thing people do with PD  Where they'll say, listen, You know, we might have a budget or we might have like a responsibility in terms of hours of learning that we mandate our team to have.

So you might say, well, you're required to do these two courses. Every year, maybe some compliance type courses and then you might also say, in addition to that, you have to do four hours of training or eight hours of training. Some organizations, this is typically bigger associations, will have a structure like that, and that is a mandated thing, and, and that can be effective because you want to ensure [00:27:00] there's, there's some degree of consistency.

You obviously have to provide resources for people to then go do that that actual training work. The problem with it is, is it takes away choice. And so, when people are given encouragement but not necessarily a mandate, a lot of times they'll find their way to content that is different and perhaps more interesting for them.

So I think that, that's why you want to have both. You want to both encourage and in some cases mandate things from the top down. And then you also want to look for opportunities to find people in your organization. at every level who are interested in the subject that you're trying to push forward, in this case, AI and seed them with resources over invest in those specific people and then help them be the catalysts for others to get excited about it.

So hopefully people are asking for more training as opposed to you forcing them to take it. Um, you know, I'll give you an example. Is that a group that I've spent quite a bit of time with They were telling me the other day that they offered all of their employees, [00:28:00] and I think they have about 100 people the AI Learning Hub that we offer at Sidecar.

And I think about 10 people or something like that took up the offer. So it's only 10 percent penetration into their workforce, which might seem really bad. And so, there was a little bit of disappointment that only 10 people out of roughly 100 have actually signed up for this. But you have to remember that everyone's busy, you know, people are working day to day in their jobs doing whatever it is they're hired to do.

And so taking on a course, even if it's only three or four hours of content and, you know, things like that, it's, it seems like a lot to add. So there will be people who might be interested, but just don't want to add something to their plate because they're overwhelmed by their day to day. But actually 10 people out of 100 from an initial pass and offering a resource like the boot camp is great because then you can say, okay, now let's spend 30 days really engaging those 10 people, whoever they are, make sure they're really well supported and maybe even form a little group to have them chat, bring in lunch or do a brown bag thing, you know, over over zoom if you're remote and get those [00:29:00] 10 people really excited about what they're learning.

Then go back 30 days later and say, okay, we've had a pilot group. Check this resource out. We really like it. Okay. Now we'd like to have everyone complete this in the next 90 days or something like that, where you are pushing something top down. But you're not giving people a year, but you're not giving them like a week.

You're saying something that's kind of reasonable, but make it fun, too. So that's that's still kind of the top down side of it. The bottom up part of it, though. That's really important is to also say to the team. Listen, We want you to go out and learn the things you find interesting. So bring other ideas to us and let that happen.

And one of the most critical things about bottom up is just basically telling people it's okay. You know, a lot of organizations are so rigid, they're so structured, they're so bureaucratic, that people might want to learn something, but they think they have to go through so many backflips to get approval for You know, spending a few dollars or even independent of money, just taking a course that they don't feel empowered to go do it.

And so making it okay, making it [00:30:00] encouraged is really the first step.

Mallory Mejias: What if you're encouraging your staff to be curious, you're encouraging them to learn new skills, adopt that growth mindset, so on and so forth, and no one's biting. Uh, It's definitely kind of a complicated conversation, but what would you say then if there's an issue with the culture there or people just, they're not interested, what would you do?

Amith Nagarajan: I would try to come in with that softer approach first, but briefly, because I'm not going to be willing to wait around six months or 12 months for people to kind of figure out that path. We're working in a world where AI is doubling in capabilities every six months, so literally every quarter you have a 50 percent improvement in AI capabilities. The world doesn't care about our problems inside each of our associations. They don't. It's just not the reality that we live in. So, we're facing all of our different challenges but outside, the demands are high and the demands are increasing in terms of what people expect from you.

And so, my point is simply this. I would give it a short period of time for adoption through kind of opt in and then I'd mandate it [00:31:00] because this is important enough where I think that the HR leaders and the CEOs as well of all of these associations need to say, listen, this is a fundamental shift in the workforce.

It's a fundamental shift in the skills that are important for basically every job. And we have to be a contemporary workforce. We have to invest in our people. We have to allocate the time and get everyone learning. And so, you know, I'm a fan of there's this particular book that I talk about from time to time with my ceo group called the hard thing about hard things.

Ben Horowitz is the author. It's a fun book to read. It's kind of part of Silicon Valley lore. It's about a startup tale and all the challenges. And anyway, the author talks about two different And, Types of CEOs, a peacetime CEO and a wartime CEO. And the essential difference in that part of the book is that a peacetime CEO has more time on their side.

They can be more collaborative. They can spend more time engaging with broader groups of people, [00:32:00] sometimes iteratively, to try to get to more consensus or consensus like outcomes. Whereas the wartime CEO is dealing with a crisis, essentially, of whatever kind. And that wartime CEO has to be much more decisive. Cycle time for decision making has to be shorter. And sometimes there isn't time or opportunity for highly collaborative decision making. Sometimes you just make a decision because you as  leader, which is, you know, what you're paid to do is to lead. And sometimes that means making difficult decisions with either imperfect data, because that's the only kind of data we have and also make decisions that sometimes go against.

the consensus. People might say, listen, Amith, we do not have time to do an AI training thing this year. We just have, you know, this big annual conference coming up. We're behind on that. We've got, you know, eight other obligations. The board meetings coming up in two months. We're gonna have to spend hundreds of hours just in the board deck, and that's where you need to stand up as the leader and say, listen, I understand that, but this is a fundamental [00:33:00] societal shift and a workforce shift.

We have to do this and to demand it. And that also might mean, by the way, that you take something off their plates. You find something that you can defer or kill. I'm a big fan of the stop doing list, which is to say every year, certainly, and even every quarter to look at your organization, or if you're an individual contributor, look at your own list and say, what do I spend my time on and what can I stop doing?

Because you'd be amazed how much extra time you end up with. If you kill off things that are sucking energy from you, plus you'll probably be a lot happier too. So, coming back to the question of bottom up versus top down and the whole idea of when do you mandate it versus when do you create an opt in environment I think they're both appropriate, but I would not be patient.

 Patience is not a virtue when it comes to an environment like this where things are changing so fast.

Mallory Mejias: To elaborate on that stop doing list, this is something I experienced recently in my own workflow, having a tool at Sidecar that was causing a lot of strife and taking a ton of time to do things and [00:34:00] Amith, you looking at me and saying, well, why, why don't we just swap it to another one? And it was such an easy solution, but I realized I had been so ingrained in, well, we've always done it this way.This is the tool that we use. We can't switch tools, but really it was just a snap of a finger. Unsubscribe to that tool, got a new one and it made my life in the sidecar team's life much easier. So it's definitely worth considering maybe every quarter, maybe every so often, what can I stop doing? But Amith, I want to dive in a little bit more to this idea of cultivating the growth culture versus mandating, because in my mind, if you go the culture route and you're really trying to get everyone on your staff involved and excited about learning and growing together, you can easily start to see maybe those team members that you have that don't fit that culture. On the flip side, to me, if you mandate something and you say everyone has to do it, it might be a little bit more difficult to decipher which team members are not kind of like a part of your core culture.

So what do you think about that?

Amith Nagarajan: Well, I think that that's [00:35:00] definitely the case that, you know, mandates definitely they push things forward more aggressively, but not necessarily more effectively. It depends on the circumstances and part of what I'd say about it is I would. Unless there's something like truly critical to the extent like the building is burning down, you have to throw the fire alarm and say, everyone needs to leave now.

And that's not a request. You're getting out of the building. That is not the level of urgency that AI is at. AI is obviously very important, but it's not. It doesn't need to be a fire drill today. Now, if you wait a year, it probably will be a fire drill. But what I would say is it's a fairly urgent matter.

It's an important thing. You know, it's like, oh, there's a hurricane offshore and we have three days to prepare. It's more of that type of emergency. And so yeah. I think there's time right now to give people some opt in opportunities, but I wouldn't give it like associations might say, well, we'll opt in for 2024 and then 2025 we'll mandate it.

That's the typical cycle time. A lot of people are used to you just don't have time working for you that way. And I would say, give it 30 days, give it 90 days at the most and then push. And then also, by the [00:36:00] way, let's say you're like that association leader I mentioned earlier, who had 10 out of his 100 employees opt in, go to those 10 people and say, Hey, what are you learning?

What are you most excited about? How can we get more of our colleagues? in on this. Like, try to figure out if there's obstacles that you're not aware of. So that you're not tone deaf when you make the mandate. You sometimes still have to make the mandate. People are just like, Hey, I've got the annual meeting starting in three months.

I'm so busy. How can you be mandating three hours of AI training or whatever, right? But that's what you do. Sometimes that's just life. And you know, this is the time where you've got to kind of buckle up and go for it. To be successful.

I know it's easier for me to say that than for you to do that. But I really believe that you end up in these cycles. Sometimes we have to push a bit harder than you're used to. There's one thing I wanted to add to the conversation about cultivation of talent, skills, traits. One of my favorite authors, Jim Collins, who I've read most of his books and I talk a lot of his a lot about his work.

His work has been formative in my career as an entrepreneur. One of his quotes that I love is that he basically says [00:37:00] the soft stuff is the hard stuff, and what he's talking about is soft skills versus hard skills, and I think that's more true than ever, particularly in an AI era where hard skills, like doing things that are computationally intensive or logic driven, are the things that AI is good at or will be good at soon the soft stuff where you're understanding your people better, understanding personality styles, understanding the psychology of the group. That's stuff that's super interesting and very unlikely for AI to be particularly good at super soon. I know that there's proxies to that where there's, for example, there's AI therapists that are available that you can go talk to right now online. I don't know how good they are, but You know, what I would say is that the domain of where I think humans are going to be much, much better is the soft skill arena and not enough emphasis goes there. So while I encourage you all to certainly invest in AI skills training and AI awareness training as much as the skills, I think soft skills training is really, really valuable. A good example that is we at across our [00:38:00] companies have historically used this assessment I mentioned called disc, which is a personality style assessment. And by itself, as a standalone tool, it can be informative for an individual.

For example, an individual can say, oh, I'm a high D that's dominant on the DISC. Dominant, influencer, supporter, and I think C is conscientious type. So those are the different personality style types in DISC. Very similar to Myers Briggs. Very similar to a number of other strength finders. A number of these other assessments.

They all have overlap. What I like about DISC is how simple it is. Everyone has some element of each of those four traits. And so just taking the assessment is useful because people kind of learn about themselves. What's way more powerful though is when you do it as a group. And then you talk about each other's styles, and then you activate it throughout the work that you do.

I'll give you a quick example. So, if I'm a high D, that means that I'm a dominant style personality. That means that I do not like a lot of chit chat necessarily. I typically like to just focus on results, get things done. Doesn't mean that I don't like people, it just means [00:39:00] that's how I, my operating style at work is knock things out, knock out the tasks. I tend to be aggressive. I tend to also have certain stock emotions to certain things that happen. So for example, when a high D gets bad news, the emotional reaction from a high D is almost always anger. High Ds are almost always angry when they get bad news.

Now, in comparison, on the flip side of the scale, high Cs, these are people who are very detail oriented. conscientious types. They typically are in supporting roles, sometimes in leadership roles, too. And these are folks have an emotional reaction if they're a high C. If a bad event occurs, their emotional reaction is fear.

So if I'm a high D and I'm working with someone who's a high C and something bad happens and I get angry and they get afraid, that's a bad mix. If we don't understand each other. Right? It's a really bad mix. So just being aware of this is powerful. And then there's all sorts of exercises you can do if you really thread [00:40:00] this into your organization.

For example the other thing that happens with high D's and also high I's, I's are the they're the folks who are, they're called, it's called influencer type. It's basically people who are the people persons, you know, they love to talk, typically extroverted. If you fill a room with 10 people, the D's and the I's spend 95 percent of the time talking.

So, one of the things I've done in the past is, you put a tent card in front of everyone, and you put their DISC score, and you make the C's and the S's speak first for every topic. And so you're using that insight into, hey, these folks are typically in the background, let's get them out there, because guess what?

Just because they don't naturally talk more doesn't mean they don't have awesome ideas, right? So, I'm sharing a bunch of stuff on disc specifically, but the more important concept is soft skills like this are extraordinarily powerful. Especially in a time when so much change is happening. So that's where I'd focus.

If I ran the HR team at an association, I would certainly put a hefty dose of AI awareness and AI skills training in the agenda, encourage it, and then mandated if I needed to probably would need [00:41:00] to you know, in a short period of time, and then I'd also double up my effort on the softer skills training and try to help people improve their EQ essentially.

Mallory Mejias: I like that. I want to mention a tool that I experimented with in the fall of last year. I believe it was called Crystal Knows. I don't know if you remember that one, Amith. We talked about it for our leadership summit and it's a plugin you can add to your browser and then it uses publicly available information and an individual's LinkedIn profile. To tell you what their, their disk profile is. And the ones that we did as experiments were pretty accurate. I'm not sure if it was confirmation bias and it was more like, Oh, sure. This person definitely seems like they were that, but I mean, if you were definitely like high dominant and anyway, it's a really neat tool to play around with whether it's accurate or not. Definitely check it out. And it uses AI.

Mallory Mejias: All right. Our last topic of the,

day is addressing AI adoption concerns. Employee concerns about job security and the threat of automation are escalating. We want to wrap up our discussion today by talking about the role of HR in addressing and alleviating [00:42:00] these fears. It's a delicate balance, acknowledging the valid anxieties employees have about potential job loss while also

illuminating how AI can complement and enhance human work rather than replace it.

HR is tasked with managing the transition, but also steering the narrative around AI from a narrative of displacement to one of opportunity And growth.

If we're looking at the glass half full, we can focus on the positives such as the elimination of mundane tasks and the creation of new, more engaging roles. Essentially creating jobs where humans can be more human. But if we're looking at the glass half empty, it's important to recognize and openly discuss the reality that in some cases AI adoption could lead to job restructuring or even job loss.

On the one hand, we need to implement strategies that prepare the workforce for AI integration, while on the other hand, we need to be mindful of the potential

for job displacement. But we're hopeful through proactive planning, training initiatives, and transparent communication that HR and leaders can help and ensure a smooth transition into an AI enhanced workplace. [00:43:00] how do you see HR or leadership of an association or non profit facilitating that dialogue around AI's role in the organization's future?

Amith Nagarajan: I think the term transparency, the most important one that's true for all levels of leadership is don't bs, you know, put it out there and tell it like it is you don't help anyone by sugarcoating it. You know, if you know that your call center is likely to be 50 percent reduced in the next 12 months, you Don't tell people that it's not going to be.

Now, if you don't know for sure, you don't announce it before you know for sure. But the point is, is don't go to people and say, no, no, no, no. All your jobs are totally secure. We're not making any changes. And then three months later, you say, Oh, guess what? Half the call center is gone. That's a great way to lose trust.

And so I think that you have to level with people and to say, listen, we're in an uncertain time. We do not know what's going to happen next. We do know that these are the major trends that are happening. We do know this is where we are strong as an organization. We also know where we have problems that we need to address.

And this is what we're going to go do about it. And by [00:44:00] the way, along the way, our goal is to help you grow in your careers. Some of the jobs that are currently done at this organization may cease to exist at some point in the future, but it's our goal to help each of you grow in a way that will position you to be successful here or somewhere else, right? Those are not the exact talking points I'd use, but the point is, is that if you are not real with your people, they will instantly detect that. That's one of the things that in the domain of, you know, human capability over AI, we have really good BS detectors. And a lot of employees are naturally skeptical about leadership.

That's unfortunately the case in many workforces, is that a lot of people, like, look at the organization and say, Well, Yeah. Is that really what they mean? Is that really what they think? Or is there something totally else, you know, totally different going on? And so obviously as an HR leader or an organizational leader, there's a balance there.

You can't disclose truly confidential information, but transparency is key. So I would just openly talk about what's happening in the world. I would talk about your organization's scope in the world, meaning [00:45:00] what you do now and what you need to do. And part of that also is educating your people. And what's happening in your profession.

So, you know, say, for example, that I'm a bar association. My members are lawyers and the legal profession is, you know, incredibly impacted by AI there's gonna be all sorts of fundamental changes happening in the field of law. And so what we as the bar association have to do, therefore, is to not just do what we currently do better.

Of course we need to do that. We need to make our processes more efficient, deliver more member value in the products and services we currently offer. But we need to think more than that. What we need to do is say, listen, this is what's happening to law, not about our Bar Association, this is what's happening to the legal profession.

Therefore, these are the kinds of services that lawyers will need in a year, in two years, in three years. Anticipate some of those future state needs. And then talk about how do we build those services? How do we build those products? How do we make ourselves an indispensable resource to the [00:46:00] future of the profession rather than just making our current services better?

Because that by itself is basically like saying, Hey, I have incredibly powerful, very inexpensive fax machine. It's awesome. You should buy one. Except nobody needs to use a fax machine anymore, right? So what you want to do is develop what will replace the fax machine because that's what's going to happen to a large number of your current products and services.

That's just the reality of it. So why did I bring that up in the context of transparency and the dialogue addressing employee concerns? Your team has to know you realize this. Your team has to understand it. And by the way, they're the ones talking to your members all day. They can probably tell you a lot about what members will likely need.

Way more than you probably give them credit for. Because you think, hey, I have a member services rep who, you know, is talking to members all day long. They're on the lowest level of the org chart. What do they know about our strategy? Well, it turns out, actually, that they'll probably know a lot. Because if you go talk to them and say, hey, what do you think our members might [00:47:00] need?

What do you think would make their jobs You know, better as members and make our services more valuable. Maybe not all of your member services reps, but I bet you in a team you will find some interesting ideas coming from folks like that. It doesn't happen frequently enough. So in any event, if people understand the direction of the organization, they'll feel more likely that their contributions or their potential contributions to it would be accepted.

So, that's part of it. And then ultimately, again, be real because you do not know the answer. I don't know the answer to this stuff. And it doesn't mean you want to go to the world and say, Hey guys, we got no idea what's going to happen next. Good luck. That's not it. You're saying, listen, this is, this is our reality.

This is what we know. This is what we're going to do. And we want you to help us along the way. That's the kind of approach I think you have to take in this scenario while also being strong and being decisive and moving forward. You don't spend a year talking to people about what they think. You gather that input quickly and then you move forward.

So anyway, that's, that's my point of view on what the [00:48:00] HR team can do to help increase that transparencies to have those conversations.

Mallory Mejias: So I want to challenge this statement that we've all heard, and I think we've even said it on the podcast in the past, and that's AI won't necessarily replace human jobs, but humans who don't know AI will probably lose their jobs to humans who do know AI. So I want to challenge this a bit and say that. Even if we have an organization, let's say this imaginary organization, even if every human staff member at that organization learned AI to a pretty good degree, there would still be job loss. At least this is what I think in my opinion, because AI is just changing work in general. Amith, what do you think about that?

Amith Nagarajan: Yeah, I mean, that's a lot of what I was thinking about in the prior points about transparency is that that's true. And I don't think you should go to your workforce and say that we're not going to have any reductions in staff. We're not going to have any changes to jobs because that's, that's false.

Like if, if you really believe that you're going to have a hard time. going forward. You know, I will not need to automate 100 [00:49:00] percent of a job to eliminate jobs because, you know, it's like, take that 10 person member services center again. You can say you can automate 50% of the work. You can't remove any particular one individual 100%.

But that doesn't mean you need 10 people working half time. What the economics will force out of the equation is that you're going to have five people working full time with AI. And so yes, there won't be as many people in that work, in that job. Now, do you have five other jobs to those other five people?

Or is there other work that they can all do now that AI has freed up some of their time? To add more value. That's a great question, right? But it somewhat becomes one of these like HR isms to employees when they're saying, Oh, no, no, no, no, no, you won't be eliminated. You'll be doing more important work once we automate that task.

And I've been hearing this for 30 years. You know, in my prior life, we would automate all sorts of things at associations. It wasn't a proper, but it was essentially pretty advanced automation where we take a business process that was super clunky and manual and we automate a [00:50:00] large portion of it. And some people would say, oh, no, no, no, we'll find value added work for you or some other term like that. And the reality was, in many cases, they didn't have any idea what that work would be. And so even if they try to artificially maintain that job for a period of time, it doesn't last long. So, you have to be real about it.

I do believe there is a ton of opportunity for value added work, just to be clear. But organizations have to have some creativity to figure that out. If it's a zero sum game and you think that this is the work you're going to do, it's this thing, and it's not an expanding pie, so to speak, then yes, there will be job loss.

So, I think it's really important that transparency is maintained, and don't get ahead of your skis. Don't go out there and say that things aren't going to happen that are negative events, when you don't have any knowledge that they can't. A lot of people do that because they're just buying themselves time.

They're like, it's crisis reaction time. Just make something up to, like, put the fire out. And the reality is, is that that's just going to come back to bite you.

Mallory Mejias: I want to talk more about this idea of organizations rethinking their structures and particularly [00:51:00] this example. Maybe we have an association that's always had two marketing coordinators and one marketing manager and maybe that one of the marketing coordinators leaves, gets another job, whatever. And so they're thinking automatically, Oh, we, we should hire another one because we've always had two marketing coordinators.

Do you think HR and leadership has to be pretty proactive right now in these situations to think through what team members are absolutely essential for their business?

Amith Nagarajan: I think it's a really great question, and I think you have to look at it. This is where the bottom up input can be really helpful, where the marketing manager probably has a much better idea of that question. Or the answer to that question than the CEO does or the HR leader does. So I think having that level of cultural engagement is really important.

You know, you can do something that says, Listen, we're not going to let anyone go, but we're not going to hire anyone else. So if there is attrition, then we're not going to replace those positions. And we're going to look for automation. I think that's kind of like a partial answer to the problem. I think what you need to do is say, listen.

If we were going to build this organization from [00:52:00] scratch, clean sheet of paper, what would our chart look like? How do we organize ourselves and how many positions of each type would we have and what would these people do? That's your, what they, a lot of times people would call the 2B model, right?

Your future state. And that 2B model, it's important to envision that without the bias of where you currently are. And if that's your ideal future state, The question is, let's say you have 50 seats on that future state and you have 60 people right now figure that out, right? And it might not even be that 50 of the current 60 are the ones that you need in those 50 seats.

You might be in a situation where actually only 40 of the people out of your 60 are good fits for the 50 seats you need to fill in the future state of the organization. And actually 20 of the people you currently have aren't a fit, not because you don't have enough seats, but because they're the wrong fit.

And to me, one of the biggest issues with fit is going to be this growth mindset. Is someone willing to learn new things? And people will give you lip service and say that they are, and then they won't do anything. You will see that with people. And I don't think it's the the mission of an [00:53:00] organization to, you know, provide lifelong counseling, even if they're unwilling to change.

So you have to make some hard decisions sometimes. To me though, it's about the value side and it's about the willingness to, to learn. Obviously ability to learn to, but to me, that's the big part of it. So I would say that, you know, you should have a vision of where you're going to go in terms of first that external view, what types of products and services do you offer and then map that to a capabilities list of people, possibly even a future state org chart, and then think about where people fit.

So that if there's a natural attrition that occurs, you can say, well, that person actually was going to fit in this key role over here. We do need to backfill it versus, oh, wait, that position probably was going to transition out over the next year or two anyway. So we don't backfill it and we look to either reduce the work there, automate more, figure out our way through it.

By the way, one tool that's available to every organization on the planet that most associations in my experience aren't yet leveraging, at least not as scale. is the idea of the gig economy, where you can [00:54:00] leverage part time freelancers to get a lot of work done. So, one scenario in your example of a marketing coordinator leaves, do you backfill and hire an FTE?

You might say, well actually I'm going to go on Upwork, which is our favorite tool for finding freelance talent globally, and find someone to help out, and see how much help do you really need. Or hire a company to help you do do something that isn't a permanent solution necessarily that will help you experiment more.

It also lets you experiment with different kinds of skills. You know, your marketing coordinator role might have perhaps copywriting and also video production. And perhaps someone who does both isn't necessarily the best at both of those skills. And so maybe you hire two part time freelancers that are each experts in that one area.

So, there's a lot of creative solutions out there. The biggest thing is to just actually think ahead and say, Where do I want to end up? And then try to make incremental progress towards that.

Mallory Mejias: Yep, that's something that they talk about in the book Exponential Organizations, and I think it's a really interesting perspective. On the flip side, if you are trying to hire a new FTE to your team, what do you think, Amith, [00:55:00] about creating AI positions that you hire for, like a marketing AI lead, perhaps, or AI strategist position? Do you think it's a good idea to start incorporating AI into the position titles, or do you think it's just going to be so ingrained in all positions that It's not worth it?

Amith Nagarajan: You know I hear about people thinking about hiring a Chief AI Officer or AI roles in particular departments like Marketing or whatever the case may be. I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand I like the emphasis on AI. I think that for now it's good to put as much emphasis as you can as possible towards such a transformational shift.

At the same time, I actually think it's a really bad idea because I think it takes away the onus from everyone else to become competent at AI so if I'm the chief AI officer, then everyone leans on me. The CEO can say, Oh, I've got a person for that. I don't really understand AI and how it affects my strategy. The chief marketing officer doesn't need to become an AI person.

So I think there's there's pros and cons to it. [00:56:00] I think if you do go down the path of a dedicated AI person in a given role, whether it's organizational, like a chief officer or departmental, like a marketing AI person, that's fine. You just need to make sure that you don't take the gas off of everyone else becoming AI capable. So to me, that's the downside to it. But I think you can manage it. Right. I think organizations that have the budget to go after a position like that and can hire the right person for it, it could be transformative.

But it has to be like extra you know, fuel essentially. It can't be like instead of getting your people that are there now to do anything. So let's say I have a executive team of eight people. I've got a CFO and a COO and a Chief marketing officer and a chief information officer and so forth. I've got this usual C suite around my boardroom as the CEO and I say, well, they're all real busy.

So let me go hire an AI expert and I'm gonna make them the chief AI officer. I get the board to approve the budget. I go find someone who's, you know, interested in the job. I hire them and I expect results. And in most situations, I [00:57:00] don't think that would work well because, you know, you've seen this happen a lot with chief digital officers over the last five years.

Before that, you even saw Chief, you know, Chief Mobile Officers. I've seen that title lots of titles in the past around e commerce specifically. And you're splintering off a piece of responsibility that actually affects everyone. And so, it undermines the need to change everyone's job. And so, I think AI is that transformative that in most cases, it has this big risk of undermining the need to drive change everywhere.

But if you're already committed to that and you add to that, A chief AI officer or something like that, or even a fractional person, hire someone from the outside or hire a consulting company to help you. That's all great. That's additive emphasis on AI. I just wouldn't want to take away the onus on everyone else to become quite quite knowledgeable about this stuff.

Mallory Mejias: Very interesting. I thought that you were going to have the flip side of that answer. I actually didn't know your opinion on this, but that, it makes a ton of sense.

Amith Nagarajan: Yeah, I think it's like a lot of things in life, Mallory. It's just one of these things that you have to, you know, you can look at certain [00:58:00] things. You know, shades of gray and it depends on the organization is the short answer. And really the culture of the organization. Is the big thing here. If you have a culture in your organization that is, you know, rooted in, you know, you could say it's steeped in tradition.

I might flip that coin around and say that means really, you're, you know, frozen in time through inertia. And so, and there's different mixes of that, right? Some traditions are good, but some are just there. And so if your culture, is looking at change as, you know, something it needs to have a response to allergically or an autoimmune response to, you know, change coming in.

And it kills that off, which is a lot of cultures in this market. You've got a deeper problem than anything to do with AI because ultimately, people have to drive AI people have to drive your transformation. And you've got to start there. You got to start with making sure your culture is healthy on that.

You're ready to drive change, whatever that change. Maybe it might be AI might be something totally unrelated, but that to me is the biggest part, which is why I think this topic of this podcast is so [00:59:00] critical that now more than ever before, the HR leaders in the association space has such a key role to play to develop their teams to grow the organizations to build this growth mindset.

So, to help empower people with AI skills as well, and that will be a groundswell of support for driving change because people who are in the habit of learning learn more and they in turn drive change and H. R. Teams and H. R. Leaders have an incredible opportunity here to do exactly that by focusing on AI learning Okay.

Mallory Mejias: Well, on the topic of professional development and growing your team, there are tons of great AI resources out there for you to do that. Many of which are free. You can listen to this podcast, of course, but there are tons of other great AI podcasts out there, free AI courses. And of course, we want to remind you that we have the sidecar AI Learning Hub as well. As a reminder, that is flexible on demand lessons that we regularly update. You get access to weekly office hours with live experts. And you also get access to a full, flourishing [01:00:00] community of fellow AI enthusiasts within the association and nonprofit space. And on that note, you can sign up as an individual, but you can also sign up your whole team.

All the staff at your organization for one flat rate based on your organization's revenue. We have a few teams that have done that thus far, and we've gotten some great feedback. So if you're interested in learning more about that opportunity, please go to Thanks for your time, Amith.

Amith Nagarajan: Thanks for tuning into Sidecar Sync this week. Looking to dive deeper? Download your free copy of our new book, Ascend, Unlocking the Power of AI for Associations, at It's packed with insights to power your association's journey with AI. And remember, Sidecar is here with more resources, from webinars to boot camps, to help you stay ahead in the association world.

We'll catch you in the next episode. Until then, keep learning, keep growing, and keep disrupting.

Mallory Mejias
Post by Mallory Mejias
January 18, 2024
Mallory Mejias is the Manager at Sidecar, and she's passionate about creating opportunities for association professionals to learn, grow, and better serve their members using artificial intelligence. She enjoys blending creativity and innovation to produce fresh, meaningful content for the association space. Mallory co-hosts and produces the Sidecar Sync podcast, where she delves into the latest trends in AI and technology, translating them into actionable insights.