AI — big picture & small steps to save the world in 30 years.

Harris Kalofonos
6 min readMar 9, 2021

Big picture thinking, small steps doing.

Photo by Touann Gatouillat Vergos on Unsplash

I knew nothing about AI for a very long time. My background was in sports. From a very young age, I worked at the Olympic Games. Ten thousand plus athletes, two hundred plus counties, billions of dollars in the making and the world watching. What I learned; to see the big picture while taking small steps. At my first Olympic Games in 2004, I would drive around high net worth donors of team USA in Greece. For to get that job, I was trained to know every detail of the Games operational plans. Yet, in the end, I was only driving people around Athens feeling like an ambassador for Greece in a car. Some years later, and while on a white sandy beach in Greece, I read in the paper that the county had an influx of 400,000 plus visitors from the US, a 35% increase from the previous years. I remember at the time feeling that maybe my small steps had something to do with it.

Two decades later, and after five Olympic Games, two kids, and moving to the US in 2007, I started in late 2018 a branding company with some cool guys in Colorado. The companies we started helping had nothing to do with sports. Yet everyone needed what the Olympics taught me well, big picture thinking, small steps doing. In branding, you need to see the horizon and then plan step by step to get there, and if you cannot see the horizon, you better be able to imagine it.

“In branding, you need to see the horizon and then plan step by step to get there, and if you cannot see the horizon, you better be able to imagine it.”

First Impression

AI left me a terrible first impression, as judgment days felt very real in the terminator movies while watching them as a teenager back in Greece. Years later, Facebook and Google added to the sentiment of the first impression. But, it all changed when AI paid me a personal visit some time ago. It was a personal/business visit as a client with an incredible AI solution came to us asking for branding assistance. What did we knew about AI; nothing! So we took a deep dive. Read everything shared with us about the company, watched their presentations, and listened to several podcasts. And two weeks later, my initial sentiment about AI was replaced with amazement, as I learned all about algorithm configurations and computational infrastructure capabilities. Yet the question still stands how we can help them? Once again, my Olympic days experience revealed the answer during a cold white night in Colorado. While reading about climate change and how Bill Gates, from all people (another past villain/present hero), was laying out his plan to save the planet by getting us to zero carbon emissions in 30 years, I had an “aha” moment.

Connecting the dots

Here it goes; the strategic position should come through an educational ecosystem of messaging stating, illustrating, animating, in short, that the company’s AI solution is as essential to people as electricity and money.

What can electricity do for you? What can money get you? People do not care about features; everyone asked what it can do for me? Eddie Merphiy in delirious back in the 80’s had some great tag lines on all this. Anyway, we never ask what paper we print money on or how many watts our lamps have. We ask what I can get with X dollars or what will it take to power XYZ activities.

“AI solution is as essential to people as electricity.”

Connecting the dots — The company’s AI solution will lead the way to breakthroughs that are imperative for humanity’s survival to solve. Problems that range from individuals augmenting their perforce, teams working better together to companies and goverments discovering innovations that address climate change and space exploration. Our collective sense of responsibility towards humanity leads us to built AI solutions beyond what exists today. And as we have arrived at the stratosphere from a conversational standpoint, and before we head back to earth, we ask ourselves, to who do we talk about this first. What is our target audience of early adopters that will bring change? As the question and solution are bold, so should our attitudes as the immediate target audience should be the all 4,2B millennials and Gen Z’s on the planet and influential b2b players.

So, how one goes about setting the foundations of a different mindset to awareness and engagement rules. A strategy with tactical’s aiming to unearth existing perceptions, while leaving one open to receive realities in a way that feels he or she made the discovery, thus motivating to share with others? How do we develop an educational ecosystem on AI impact? Some quick thoughts revolve around; a. Setuping infrastructure of the conversation b. augment not just share customer stories, c. focus on WHY, not the WHAT features of the AI product or service, d. divide conversation into relatable parts, e., engage peoples existing perceptions

Making it real with a small step — Immediate Relevant Example: As our response to our duty towards humanity, our solution encompasses and impersonates all people’s rights as declared in the 14th amendment. Rights like privacy originated from the 14th, are embedded in the design and use of our solution, empowering you with your fundamental rights.

“Rights like privacy originated from the 14th, are embedded in the design and use of our solution, empowering you with your fundamental rights.”

Let’s put it all in a napkin

The formulas below intend to illuminate the path for strategic & tactical clarity

Another new hero brings life facts that we all should know one way or another, yet our perception about them are miles away from reality. Hans Rosling, in his book Faithfulness is asking us questions that make you stop and see the world a bit differently. And if the answer toucher us, we will pay attention; if the answer affects us, we will lean in; if the answer moves us, we will move. Think about it, if you know you need x much air every day, yet in 5–10 years, we will get x less than what we need to breathe; you will move. You will want to do something about it.

The following chart is a made up example to illustrate the point;

“Think about it, if you know you need x much air every day, yet in 5–10 years, we will get x less than what we need to breathe; you will move.”

Thanks to business gurus and companies like McKinsey, many of the answers already exist regarding what branding and messaging tactics are needed to capture imaginations. Millennials and Gen-Z wants, as depicted in the illustration below, cannot be more clear.

Questions for change-makers & techies

For all you pioneer out there working on AI solutions trying to save the world or make a leaving, my questions are;

  • How do you become an authority on AI?
  • How do you capture our attention and imagination?

The branding/messaging answers already exist, and the horizon is clear beyond features, but can you see the big picture and connect the dots of the small steps needed to get there?

As a great Greek poet once said; ‘we owe it to those who came, are here and are to come.’

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Harris Kalofonos

Managing Director — Goodvoice Group | Connecting the dots of past & present experiences | Founder, YCA