Hello, ChatGPT. Can You Help Me Set Goals for 2024?
Using ChatGPT is like talking to a human. To get better, more specific answers, ask a follow-up question. For example: Can you walk me through the steps to monetize my newsletter?
Here are today’s highlights:
A California startup is using AI to reinvent the evening news, including eliminating human news readers.
One in four office workers studied spends the equivalent of a full workday (almost nine hours) each week just on e-mail.
Have you checked to see if your business might qualify for a grant?
When the chain Joe’s Crab Shack eliminated tipping, customer satisfaction actually went down.
Here’s how one owner used ChatGPT to help her set goals for 2024: “This is what I told ChatGPT: ‘I want to set professional goals for myself in 2024. Here is a little bit about me. I am a solopreneur who focuses on improving HR. I have three main methods of doing this. I write about HR and employment law for multiple clients. I present webinars that largely focus on U.S. compliance and using AI in HR. And third, I give keynote addresses. I have a large social media presence, with 44,000 followers on LinkedIn and 32,000 on Facebook, with 12,000 newsletter subscribers. Can you give me five goals that will help me increase my revenue for the upcoming year?’”
“Here are some prompt ideas to get you started: Copy and paste an employee's performance review and then ask ChatGPT, ‘Can you please give me four SMART goals for this employee?’ NOTE: Do not include the employee's name.”
“My business does X, and has Y number of employees. I want to expand into Z. Can you suggest three ways for me to do that?”
“I want to increase revenue by 10 percent. I've tried X, Y, and Z, and have been unsuccessful. Can you give me three additional ideas?”
“Ask follow-up questions: Remember, using ChatGPT is like talking to a human. So, to get better, more specific answers, just ask an additional question. I went with this: Can you walk me through the steps to monetize my newsletter?” READ MORE
And now, brought to you by digital avatars, the nightly news: “Early this year, a California startup called Channel 1 plans to launch the first TV news network driven by artificial intelligence, with stories read by lifelike, animated digital avatars rather than real people. The AI-powered reporters are just window dressing, according to Channel 1′s founder Adam Mosam. He’s mainly using AI to build TV newscasts customized to each viewer, and featuring reports from around the world, in any language you wish. Still, his plan has gotten the attention of labor leaders and broadcast veterans who wonder if Channel 1 is the first step in eliminating hundreds of well-paid on-air jobs.”
“Channel 1′s on-air ‘personalities’ won’t be entirely fake. The company uses human actors whose bodies and voices are digitally scanned to create near-perfect avatars. When a scripted news story is fed to the avatar, it speaks the words in the human actor’s voice.”
“‘It’s both frightening and entertaining at the same time,’ said retired Boston sportscaster Bob Lobel, who spent nearly three decades on WBZ-TV. ‘Think of the hundreds of thousands of dollars you wouldn’t have to pay these people sitting at the anchor desk.’”
“Channel 1 plans to launch through a smartphone app. It also hopes to set up shop as a dedicated channel on streaming services like Pluto and Crackle. The service will use a social media-like algorithm to assemble news broadcasts tailored to the tastes of each viewer. Thus an American interested in news from France could see news reports being shown in Paris, but narrated in English.” READ MORE
A lot of employees say they are tired of work: “Office workers seem to have retreated into a pervasive atmosphere of fatigue. ‘I just feel that I am tired of working,’ a representative post on the /r/work subreddit reads. ‘I am tired of meetings, brainstorming, expectations, dealing with people, figuring out neverending problems.’ The most notable change of these tumultuous years, the ability to spend more time working from home, hasn’t been a cure-all. Something’s still wrong, above and beyond the usual challenges of office life. Everyone’s tired. What started with the Great Resignation has become the Great Exhaustion.”
“A recent report from Microsoft found that users of its office-productivity software now spend close to sixty per cent of their time using digital communication tools—e-mail, chat, and videoconferencing—with only the remaining forty per cent left for ‘creation’ software, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.”
“One in four workers studied was trapped in an even grimmer communications spiral, spending the equivalent of a full workday (almost nine hours) each week on e-mail alone. Meanwhile, time in online meetings increased by more than 250 percent between February, 2020, and 2022.”
“Seven out of ten people surveyed by Microsoft complain that they ‘don’t have enough uninterrupted focus time during the workday.’ This deluge also blurs the line between work and home. When your in-box grows at a rate that’s faster than you could ever hope to keep up with, it’s difficult to shut down and recharge. Work becomes inescapable.” READ MORE
Small businesses often overlook the many opportunities to obtain grants: “The Playbook has compiled a list of small-business grants that business owners can apply for in 2024. We have also included subsidized loans, government programs and other resources for small-business owners. This page will be updated regularly with additional business grant opportunities in 2024.”
“Hello Alice has set up a new small-business recognition and grant program in an effort to push back against a lawsuit filed by America First Legal challenging one of its grant programs. Visitors can nominate a small business, making it eligible for $1,000 grants and additional publicity and support in the form of a small-business accelerator.”
“This grant, sponsored by sustainable paper towel brand Papaya Reusables, is offering its own grant in support of Women’s History month. Women-owned small businesses can apply for the grant until March 31, 2024. Applicants will need to talk about their company’s greater mission and how they would use the grant.”
“Grants.gov is a federal government website that collects and lists various grant opportunities for businesses, nonprofits, and local governments. Often the grants are in niche areas or targeted to specific places or technologies.” READ MORE
In New York City, mom-and-pop pharmacies are thriving: “Nationally, there are fears of growing pharmacy deserts, defined as areas where a lack of drugstores makes it hard to get a prescription filled. But in New York City, where the total number of pharmacies actually grew slightly over the past year, there is a robust mom-and-pop pharmacy industry that could possibly pick up the slack. Of the 2,964 pharmacies registered with the state as of November, only about 15 percent were one of the three major chains. The large number of local pharmacies in New York City makes it an outlier among the nation’s urban areas.”
“At one of the few chain pharmacies still open in the South Bronx — a Rite Aid on Southern Boulevard — just about everything except for the greeting cards is behind plexiglass barriers and sealed with a lock. The Kit Kats. The Pringles. The soda. The dog toys.”
“Yet near a subway station on that same bustling shopping street, four mom-and-pop pharmacies are doing brisk business. Their unlocked shelves are filled with merchandise. The pharmacist and technicians are on the phones, answering calls in Spanish and English from patients whose names they often know.”
“‘I’m the kind of person who likes to speak to the patients,’ said Dr. Rana Makki, supervising pharmacist at Bronx Specialty Pharmacy, a few doors down from the Rite Aid, explaining why she works there instead of a chain.” READ MORE
A homeless camp is removed, and a Phoenix sandwich shop regains hope: “Joe Faillace looked out the front windows of his sandwich shop [last] month and barely recognized the neighborhood where he has worked for almost 40 years. There were no tents within view, no emergency sirens, no campfires, no drug users slumped over on his patio or the sidewalk. Instead, he saw customers walking down quiet, clean streets toward his restaurant in time for a lunch rush that now doubles his average daily sales from early in the year. ‘The difference over the last six months is something I never believed was even possible,’ he said. ‘It’s an entirely new place. Every day feels like a miracle.’”
“The transformation is in fact the result of a fractious, litigious, and arduous process that has consumed much of downtown Phoenix since Sept. 20, when a Maricopa County judge ordered the city to clear away its largest homeless encampment, a tent city of more than 1,000 residents known as The Zone.”
“[Faillace’s] wife and longtime business partner, Debbie, decided to leave the restaurant in the spring and move to a house in Prescott, Ariz., a few hours’ drive away. Joe hopes to rebuild his customer base over the next several months, sell the restaurant to recoup his retirement money and join her in Prescott sometime next year.”
“‘She couldn’t stand being down here anymore with all the bad memories,’ Joe said. ‘This has always been our place, so it’s a whole new world doing it without her. It’s weird. It’s lonely. But at least now I’ve got customers.’” READ MORE
The boom in “guilt tipping” has a lot of people confused about the current state of tipping etiquette: “Recently, I spoke with Michael Reed, a butcher at Bob’s Quality Meats, a shop in Seattle. ‘It’s a field where it’s not customary to tip,’ he told me, on his day off. Reed has worked in what he calls ‘retail meat’ for twenty years. It’s more occupation than passion, but he’s proud of the personal touches in his butchery. Immigrants describe, and receive, home-country cuts that don’t have English names. Reed knows which customers have bad teeth, and he slices their steaks thin. In 2021, Bob’s installed a new checkout system: the swiveling tablet. The shop set its own tipping options—from three per cent to ten per cent. ‘I didn’t think it would generate a significant amount,’ Reed said. ‘I turned out to be wrong.’”
“There were some complaints. One person ranted on Facebook. But, wordlessly, compromises formed. Graces were extended. Reed would get a buck or two when he deboned a chicken. He wouldn’t when he handed over a slab of bacon.”
“Reed’s daughter, who is 19, was a tipped employee, too. She worked at Starbucks, where, she noticed, her tips were bigger when she wore makeup. One night this summer, her Chevy Cruze got towed at a local ice rink.”
“She and Reed went together to the impound lot: forms, cashier, the tablet. They owed more than nine hundred dollars, including a ‘convenience fee,’ the spiritual cousin of the tip. Reed swiped his card. On the screen, additional gratuity options appeared. ‘A tip?’ Reed said. ‘You must be out of your mind!’”
“To study how the new tip options affected customer behavior, [Michael Lynn, a marketing professor at Cornell] conducted research with a laundry-service app, which randomly suggested different gratuity amounts. He found that the more the company asked for the more customers paid. Ratings and retention were unaffected. (When the chain Joe’s Crab Shack eliminated tipping, customer satisfaction actually went down.)” READ MORE
Last year was devastating for restaurants in Los Angeles: “Citing inflation of prices for ingredients, utilities and rent, labor costs, staff shortages, business kneecapped by the entertainment industry’s months of strikes, lack of government aid and a saturated dining market, to name a handful of reasons, dozens of restaurateurs [chose] to close their businesses before 2024. Though many chefs reopened their restaurants after pandemic-spurred shutdowns and pivots, restaurateurs are still recovering, with some still facing back rent and other bills deferred from 2020. According to the National Restaurant Assn., the cost of food is far more expensive than pre-pandemic levels. ‘As of November 2023,’ the trade association recently reported, ‘the Producer Price Index for all foods remained more than 25 percent above its February 2020 reading.’”
“‘The cost of repairs — anything that’s connected to labor — is really severe,’ said République and Bicyclette chef-owner Walter Manzke, who closed both Petty Cash Taqueria and Sari Sari Store this year. ‘It’s hard to comprehend the invoices you see, and you don’t have a choice when you have to fix the stove. …” READ MORE
Britain’s economy isn’t working: “Up and down the country, complaints about the lack of investment in Britain are reaching a peak after more than a decade of low economic growth and wage stagnation. There’s an ‘overriding sense of things not working’ in the economy, said Raoul Ruparel, the director for Boston Consulting Group’s Center for Growth and a former British government special adviser. That includes a lack of affordable housing, weak public services including transportation, and long hospital wait times. With the economy expected to essentially flatline this year, two ideas to reignite it have stood out: Accelerate electrical grid upgrades and make it easier for new construction to win planning approval. Analysts and lawmakers hope that these initiatives can unlock investment in infrastructure, cut carbon emissions and deliver much-needed productivity growth.”
“In the past five years, the number of applications to connect to the electricity grid — many of them for solar energy generation and storage — has increased tenfold, with waits of up to 15 years. The underinvestment is restricting the flow of cheap energy from Scottish wind farms to population centers in England and adding to the delays for those with high power needs, like laboratories and factories.”
“In November, the government announced measures to speed up planning approval for major projects and impede NIMBY-ism. The moves would, among other things, give communities financial benefits for approving grid infrastructure projects in their area and shake up the first-come-first-served queue for grid connections to remove stalled projects.”
“The country needs to overcome a ‘desire to maintain a chocolate box image of Britain, which is nice for tourists coming in and looking at the quaint old villages,’ said John Armitt, the chair of the commission. ‘There has got to be more to Britain in the future than that.’” READ MORE
THE 21 HATS PODCAST
This Is What It Takes to Build a Business, Vol. 2: This week, we take a look back at the conversations we had last year, highlighting some of our happiest, smartest, funniest, and most difficult exchanges. Along the way, we discuss topics such as escalating salary demands, how much profit a business should make, a new way to sell a business, the problems with ESOPs, how to sell cookies on LinkedIn, breaking a million dollars in annual revenue, escaping the valley of death, and the pain of having to fire a long-time employee.
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Thanks for reading, everyone. — Loren