Hello there. Welcome to the Recode podcast. This podcast exists to support the stories and the content of my new book titled, "RECODE: 8 Mind Hacks for the Small Business Owner." By the way this podcast is brought to you by Alta Media, Inc. Thanks for watching. Hello, everybody, and welcome to this episode of The Recode Podcast. Today, I have a very interesting guest in the studio. His name is Rick Figueiredo. I met Rick many years ago when he worked at one of my clients, one of the clients that i insured business out in Westchester County, New York. Every time I walked in his office to talk about insurance, we would just get off on 17 different conversations, and I'm like, "What a great guy to chat with." Rick, first I want to welcome you to The Recode Podcast.
Thank you, Emmanuel. It's my pleasure to be here.
I look forward to asking you lots and lots of questions so I'm going to try to not have it sound like rapid fire, but I know that…
[Laughter] …you have a lot of great ideas, and I want to talk to you about some of the new projects that you're working on now. So, do our guests a favor and just kind of tell us your story career wise, how did you get here.
Sure. Yes, it's been interesting for sure. So, when you and I met, I was working for a company called Forza Forni, a brick oven manufacturer in the restaurant equipment space. I did that for about seven years. Funny enough, I started that while I was actually still finishing up my bachelor's degree. Came out of retail management before that, but I grew that company or helped grow that company. I had a great team there that I helped put together, but I was looking for something a little bit more. I wanted that challenge, right? Guys like you and me, we don't have enough to do, right? We always need that extra thing.
That's true. It's never enough. [Laughter]
Right? I'm sure, your wife like my wife, is always kind of saying, "Are you sure you want to take on one more thing?"
But long story short, I always have my eye in the tech world. I'm a techie, right?
I've always been fond of it, but I never thought that I could get a foot in the door especially at a management level because, typically, they want people that have been in that industry or exposed to that industry to a certain degree. Long story short, I ended up applying and meeting who is now my boss and CEO, Dave West, and we spoke for about a year while I was still at that previous company, and we just had great conversation. I almost forgot that I was interviewing. It stopped becoming an interview and it became kind of just dialogue, and he gave me the opportunity to come in as a senior executive, which I was very fortunate, especially not having been exposed to the tech sector. Being a techie and being a tech executive are two very different things. I learned a lot in my, what, year-and-seven-month journey at this company, Civicom. I've learned a lot and every day is a new learning adventure and I'm learning. I'm not a developer. I'm not a software engineer by any means, but every day I'm learning a little bit more, and it's keeping me hooked. I'm enjoying it very much.
Is Civicom just a B2B or more B2C or both?
Definitely B2B. Everything's on the B2B wholesale front. The only bit of B2C we do is in our Transcription division. So, we have a transcription service so we do get some college students to take advantage of that, some professors, some individuals, but for the most part, it's a wholesale business that we interface with.
Interesting. Well, I want to dive a little deeper to talk about the one of your products from Civicom because I am a customer of one of the products, but before then, you mentioned now you're in a leadership role. This podcast is all about leadership and challenging leaders to grow and be better and be intentional about their leadership style. What's your leadership style like? Tell us about that.
That's a great question, and to make a very long answer short, it's ever evolving, right? I look at leadership as a journey. You don't ever reach it. It's not like you get to the finish line and say, "Oh, I'm a senior executive. I'm a CEO. I'm a principal of the business. I've done it. I've become a leader." No. In my opinion, that doesn't exist. Leadership, it's like being a husband in a marriage. It's like being a father. You're never complete. You're always striving to be better and do more, in my humble opinion. So, I look at leadership as a journey, but to try to answer your question further, I like the servant style of leadership, Robert Greenleaf style of leadership. I'm a big fan of that model, and I get a lot of heat for it, especially from some of the older school really traditional rough and tumble leaders.
Yes. I have gone to grief for it. It's like, "No, you've got to carry a big stick and talk swiftly," type of thing, and I've debated that at length, so I believe - it's my approach. I like that servant style of leadership combined with kind of a transformational approach. I look at leadership - and I could talk to you for hours on end about the topic by the way. It's been my life's my obsession.
That’s good. [Laughter]
It's actually what I did in my graduate in. I have a master's of Science in Organizational Leadership. That's how much I obsess over it.
Oh, good stuff.
I look at leadership as growing your people. It's almost like that coaching model. My goal is to take someone who doesn't even see the potential in themselves, but that I see and help them grow themselves into being what they'd never thought was even possible. To me, that's the best gift as a leader. It's the most inspirational aspect of leadership for me, in seeing someone grow…
…in their journey, and this beautiful thing happens on a transactional level where they're actually helping the business, and there's a capitalistic benefit to it as well. So, I think, for me, it's checked all the boxes. I've had tremendous success at multiple companies with the approach, so I'm not changing it just yet. It's working, but I do tweak it from time to time.
You don't know how good you just made me feel. That is the leadership model that I live by. I believe in the servant leadership and in our leadership team at Alpha Direct Agency, it's the same message. You're here to serve. These are not your subordinates. No. These are the people you're here to serve. We do an activity at the top of the year when we have our manager retreat, and every manager has to pick a hero. Their hero is whoever is on the team that they need to pull up, so it's the reverse. So, they're your hero, you focus on them, personal, individual life, work-life training, whatever they need, bring it to the light. Create the support that they need, and maybe that's why my employees stick around. They never leave. We're always celebrating somebody's 10th anniversary.
I think that's beautiful.
I'm trying to figure out what to do when they get to 20. I might buy them a plane or something. I don't know. [Laughter]
Right, right. That's so you.
So, I'm really glad to hear that you have such a depth and experience in the leadership space both theoretically, but also being able to practice it is very interesting.
Yes, and I think the practicing element - and I debate this as well because there's the scholastic mindset, and I think the scholastic academic approach is important, but it's not the end-all, be-all. I tell people all the time, "You can go get your MBA. You can go get an MSOL, which is what I have, or any other, a BBA, whatever. Learning it in school and in the classroom session is important and there are a lot of benefits to it, but it's not the end-all, be-all." At the end of the day, I think what makes a good leader is continuing to refine one's approach, and you only could do that in practice. You're bound to make mistakes, right? You're going to try certain things that don't work, but the key is pivoting on that and modifying it and adapting. Good leaders create a culture which it sounds like that's what you have. You have a really powerful culture. You probably even have an ownership mindset culture throughout your staff, which again, beyond making it a happy workplace, right? I'm sure and I've interacted and interfaced with your employees. I've never met anyone or met a team that's so happy and uplifting. They want to talk to you. They want to engage with you, and they have that mindset I think, so you've done a great job. Kudos to you.
Thank you. I'll take the pat on the back. We've been recognized as a great place to work by the GPTW organization twice now. 2020 pandemic, a really rough time to even look at a recognition like that, but sometimes it makes me emotional that when you realize the enormity of what I'm associated with. I look at these people and I just say, "How did this all happen?" I feel so fortunate that in a world where everybody's talking about looking for employees, I have a waiting list of people that want to work at Alpha Direct, and I have to say, "Okay. This team is pretty solid. We need to think about who, before we open that door and let just anybody in." So, thank you for saying that. All right, let's pivot a little bit to pagealive. So, by the way, you have a podcast that just launched. Why don't you tell us about it first before I ask a question?
Sure, thank you. Yes, I just launched the first episode yesterday. It's called The Future Is Human podcast, and it's a podcast that's focusing mainly on digital transformation and technology, which kind of leads me to pagealive. We teased it a little bit on the first episode. I didn't want to get too into it, so on the first episode - and I won't give the whole episode away. I'll let people chime in and listen to it, but I interview our CEO, Dave West, who's a fascinating mind. He's very humble, and I tried to get him to talk about his background a little bit, but he's the type of guy that doesn't like to even remotely sound like he's tooting his own horn, but he's a Harvard Business School graduate, had tremendous successes in the world of consulting, in the world of technology. If you're familiar with Juicy Juice, the Nestle Juice, he was the guy who launched that. He was the general manager of the division back in the '80s, so he's had a quite a bit of success, but that's all a long-winded way of me saying he had this vision for this product pagealive. I've had the honor and pleasure of carrying his vision and seeing it through development and now into production and in the mainstream marketplace. Pagealive, in a nutshell, is a live video chat widget for your website. Essentially, Zoom for your website. It's a video conferencing opportunity right on your website, which the key is, it allows your customer, your audience, your website visitor to interact with a real human being, which in today's world feels like a lost art. There are a good amount of companies that appreciate it. You are a great example of a company that appreciates that human-to-human interaction and seize the benefits. We can talk all day about all the benefits that come out of it from increased conversion and increased customer satisfaction, but ultimately, that's what people want and that's what I'm convinced, and that's why we titled the show, The Future Is Human, because there's so much conversation in technology about AI being the end of the world and everyone - all this catastrophic conversations like well, if you boil it all down, human beings are at the center. We're not developing this technology for millions or for our pet dog. At the end of the day, it's for our human-centric lives and experiences.
I think it's phenomenal. So, when I saw the title, The Future Is Human, I'm like, "Oh, that's got to be one of those purple cow situations that’s good and talks about" - every time we talk about the future, we talk about the human society for being God-centric and then human-centric and now, it's already - with AI now, it's completely computer-centric and AI-centric, but to be able to stand up in these times and say, "Hey, the future is human again," at first I'm like, "Ooh, okay. I see where you're going with this," but it makes a lot of sense. So, does it bother you that in the world where we're going more text messaging and emailing and less human communication or contact, you guys are now officially one of the few that are saying, "Well, humans will continue to be relevant. We'll always be going to be part of it," and giving us that one more way to communicate by video. Do you feel like you're going to be bumping heads with the AI world and where we're headed?
Funny enough, at first, I had some - I don't want to say skepticism, but I'll call it skepticism in the sense where it's an AI - AI is in every conversation. You can't turn on the news or read an article without some mention or reference of AI. It's embedded in almost everything that we do, right? However, funny enough, and I'll give this quick anecdote and story. One of our customers, and we're actually in the process of speaking to another, is an AI company. So, one of our customers is actually an AI content generation company, and funny enough, they don't want to use AI to communicate with their customers and audience. We're in a conversation with a second AI company, and I won't name names for their privacy, but I thought that was a good indication to me that, "Okay, we are relevant." Statistics and reports show - I was reading a report the other day, 36% - and this is just one. There's been different metrics or different numbers thrown out, but 36% of people that interface with a chatbot, meaning an AI chatbot on a website are trying to get to a human being. Now that's not a huge number, but that's a big enough number for me that shows they're only interfacing, they're only clicking on your AI chatbot to try to get a human being, and I can think of many times where I've been on the phone with maybe a utilities company and I'm on that IVR call tree, and I'm just hitting #0 trying to get to a real human being. I think everyone that I've spoken to is like, "Oh, yes. I know of a time where I've had that experience." Ultimately, there's a lot that AI you do, and don't get me wrong. I'm a proponent of it. I use ChatGPT nearly every day for a number of things. You know what I don't use it for? Trying to buy something. I don't use it when I'm trying to interface [Laughter] in a situation where I need a real person because there are things that are human at the core. I'll give you a quick example. Trust. You're in an industry and there are many industries that require trust, but the world of insurance, how do you sell insurance without establishing trust? I don't know the answer to that and I don't know that you can. Establishing trust with an AI is, in my humble opinion, impossible. People don't trust it. It's not the same thing especially when you're making a commitment like an insurance policy or financial services related transaction or even buying a car, buying a home, and the list goes on and on.
Yes. Speaking about trust, I bought a home in the Dominican Republic, a condo, and when I listened to your podcast last night, when you made a comment about that I was like, "Yes, I'm pretty comfortable doing a lot of things remotely online. I just can't imagine just buying a property and sending a wire through a bot? No. I still want some human being involved in all of it." Like you, I use ChatGPT from time to time. My son is looking to start a pet grooming business, and I asked ChatGPT to find me the best loan sources in North Carolina. He's special needs so are there any programs for special needs business owners. Within minutes, I had a business plan printing out of my printer. It was fantastic, but at least, at a basis we had data that we can now build around the rest of the plans without needing to go to Google and click multiple links and read because I asked it to pull the best resources and the top seven, the top five, and it got me there, so I don't want it to go away. I want it to continue to evolve. I'm not as scared of it as it first appeared or sounded.
Yes, I agree with that. I just want to be clear. AI, there's a time and a place for it. There are a lot of opportunities to use it like you just suggested, but I think there will always be times where humans want to deal with other humans. That's what we're doubling down on as far as pagealive is concerned.
Yes. I'm glad you invited me to be on the pilot of pagealive. I really appreciate that. One of the coolest things we're going to do with it now, speaking of human contact and human connection, we just purchased another insurance agency. Over the years, we've purchased smaller agencies. These owners want to do something else. We purchased them and bring the client to be part of our company. The one we're purchasing now, that's a great way. We're going to use pagealive from our website to give them one more way. You can text. You can call us. You can walk into any of our offices in three markets. However, you can also just go to our website. Tap, tap, tap, and a real person is going to show up and talk to you. Especially since we're completely new to this book of business, it's a great way for the customers feel like, "Okay, I met these guys." I think the pagealive link - and I want to talk about it some more and if possible, advertise it to other insurance agents to consider, and the reason is I don't have to send a link or a code or a number or nothing. It just the customer generates…
…the conversation when they're ready, and as seamless as it is, click a button, one of my staff gets paged, we're right there and we're talking to you. So, I can't wait to see how this makes a difference in integrating the new customers into our book.
Yes, and that's one of the things I love about it. There's very obvious benefits to both the customer, but also the business itself. It's a win-win. The customer gets satisfied, they get their question answered, and on the business side, on the capitalistic business side, you're increasing that transaction and you're creating a customer for life. One of my visions for the product or the service offering and my expectations is that over time - and this isn't going to happen overnight - but over time I expect the pagealive word and badge to be almost kind of a bit of valor to a website where it provides that emblem or that accolade like, "Oh, this company has pagealive. I can trust them. They have nothing to hide. They don't mind me talking to them." It's like looking back 20, 30 years ago and when you used to call a company, every company would answer the phone and if they didn't answer the phone you'd be like, "There's something wrong there. [Laughter] They're not answering the phone." Now it's like you have to fight tooth and nail to even get a real person, so…
Usually, you find the phone number. How about that? You see it displayed.
That bothers me. That bothers me, and I think we're going to make a comeback, I really do, because at the end of the day, consumers - and there's so many. I can go on and on about the reports that show this, and that's what's wild, the market research exists. The research shows us that people don't like that, that customers don't like the fact that you're hiding a phone number, that you're making it virtually impossible, and I won't name the names of the worst ones out there, but think of the utility and telecom companies, right? I get the impression they don't want to talk to you, and how bad…
…for business is that.
Hey, but the whole idea, like your CEO was saying yesterday when I listen to the podcast is it's supposed to make the companies more profitable. They're managing the call queue and…
…things like that. I can't stand that. At Alpha Direct, we refuse to do that. I tried it at one point in my career. It didn't last a week. I took it off because the customer said, "Take that crap off." [Laughter] I literally took it off because I realized the customers just want to talk to us. What's with the, "Press 1. Press 2," on the phone tree? So, we went right back at Alpha Direct and I actually made that one of our value props. We will never have a phone tree at Alpha Direct. I don't care how large we get, and in fact in one of the episodes I…
…advertised our phone number and I want to do it again. If you're listening and you want to try this for yourself, (212) 568-5700. Dial for yourself. No phone tree. A warm voice always, and by the way when you get there, say hi to my employees. Don't hang up on them. [Laughter] They're trained to answer the phone with a lot of energy and a lot of passion. Answer the phone. Speak back to them. Say something nice, encourage them, but this is what we do all day and part of our philosophy is the phones must be answered on the first ring. I came up with a thing that says, "Hey, if it's the second ring, it's one ring too late." The customer…
Yes. I love that.
Because it is a disappointment. If you could pick it up on the first ring, the customer is not even expecting that so the expectation is high and you take the service expectation to a whole new level, and so far so good. It's been good for us. Customers actually called me after they talked to my employees and said, "Where do you find these people? I mean they're spectacular." Who wants to talk to someone who sounds dead on the phone? That's just not [Laughter] me.
Right. No, it's not.
If you're going to pick up that phone, be active, be alive, and be present. That's what we say. So, you have made me feel good on so many levels. You're telling me I'm doing this right, yes, like I didn't know before…
…but it doesn't hurt to hear it, and it's to reinforce it of course. What are you reading now, Rick?
To be honest with you, I'm not reading anything at the very moment because I've been doing a lot of podcasting, both consuming and introduced, but the last book that I read is a book called Good Profit by Charles Koch and the Koch Industries, and it was a book that was actually recommended to me by my CEO and it covers a number of things from culture to scaling businesses to different business principles, and all of which Koch Industries, which is a multibillion-dollar conglomerate, has done and implemented. So, I'm a big fan of - and I was listening to one of your other podcast episodes where you kind of touched on this topic of - I think it might have been your first episode where you read a book about a big company and it's like, "How do I find that relevant to a small- and mid-sized business?" and that's the challenge where I read a book - and we talked about this – in my company, we do these things called book klatches. So, we read the book together and then we actually digest it as a group kind of like a book club, but within the business circle, within the executive circle and we learn from each other. Yes, we learn from each other in that regard. We'll pose questions, and one of the challenges that we realize is how do we take something that a multibillion-dollar conglomerate does and scale that down for us? We can't afford to do what they're doing, but maybe we can break it apart, and it helps to do that as a team in my experience.
Right. Oh, that is so powerful. The reason I make that comment and why I wrote Recode is to bring that information] that, "Hey, look. I was able to take that information and bring it down to small business owners like me," and I couldn't find - it wasn't relatable. There are a lot of books about a lot of data about a lot of things that small business owners go through, but the most popular ones are about Starbucks and Apple and Walmart, and these guys are gigantic conglomerates, but one of the things that came out of me reading about these companies, and I never stopped and I'm actually still reading about a lot of companies, is I realize that we worry about the same things. We just have a much smaller wallet size, but it's the same people, marketing, operational stuff, and funding. How do you pay for everything? So, once I realized that I would always make my business plans about those four categories to make sure that I'm hitting all the bases and, "Okay. Maybe I can't advertise on TV, but maybe I can make a whiteboard ad," and it looks like a TV ad and I could put it on and it cost me $5.00 on Fiverr. Maybe I can't hire a marketing department or a marketing manager, but maybe I can hire a social media expert and pay small fees on a monthly basis to still be relevant. Maybe I can't make a logo that costs $5,000.00, but maybe I can make one logo, pay $500.00 for it and make one that lasts a lifetime so I never have to change it as the company evolves. So, those things really helped me feel like I was on the right path, and I didn't think about it as small business, I just thought about it as a business. One of the things I've learned as a business owner is if you can't see your business in the future, then it's difficult for you to plan for the future. You're just living for today…
…but if you always think, "Hey, what are we going to look like in 36 months? What are we going to look like in 10 years?" and if you know what those goals are and just stay a dreamer, somehow you walk in that direction one way or another because then on an annual basis, you're bringing your team along that continuum to the vision that you had. I'm reading a book called Scary Smart. Scary Smart is by…
That's an interesting title.
…yes, it's by Mo Gawdat. His name is Mo Gawdat. Scary Smart is all about AI, and he is one of the reasons why I feel a little better these days [Laughter] about AI, and what it is doing to us and what, more importantly, it can do for us. Mo does a fantastic job of scaring you and then he walks you through how we can get control of AI. Not totally, but he paints a picture of us humans being the parents of AI, and so one of the ways that we can get AI to not take us out is to teach AI how to be good children by modeling better behavior. I don't think we're doing such a great job, however, [Laughter] comma, I think it's a work in progress, but if we all know this collective information then the point of singularity where he talks about where we have totally lost control, we can delay that or we can at least not get there because it's not at a good place where we can just pull a plug. That's the way we used to think of it, but it's a very powerful book and I recommend it.
Yes. I'm definitely going to check it out especially as both a techie and a leader, and I think leadership, not to beat a dead horse, but I think one of the points I forgot to mention earlier is leadership comes with beyond being a blessing, it comes with it a lot of responsibility, and that's something that I think we all need to be mindful of as we start to implement more and more AI and things like quantum computing. One of the things that worries me - I'm not worried about AI just yet, but once we start to integrate things like quantum computing and it starts to get to a point where we haven't experienced and don't necessarily quite understand, it's going to take responsible servant leadership to do it right.
I like what you said about what worries you, so that's going to be my next question. When you look at our future as humans, what worries you about our future?
Poor leadership. People that fall into the leadership roles for the wrong reason, both at a really large holistic scale from a political scale to even business reasons. We know a lot of people in business that probably shouldn't be in business and they got into it for reasons, and we know a lot of politicians like that, too. So, that's what scares me about the future of tomorrow. That's what scares me about my son and my daughter's future is people in business, people in politics for the wrong reasons. The reason I think that's important to note is because, like I said, leadership is the biggest responsibility that you can have shy of being a parent, and it almost is like parenting. You're leading that next generation and the current one and so on and so forth. I'm just not convinced that certain people in power – and leadership is power to a great extent - they don't have everyone's best interests at heart. Oftentimes, there's a lot of selfishness, and as you know, being the leader that you are, leadership like parenting requires one to be selfless, hence the servant leadership concept, and that's a hard pill to swallow. It takes a lot of growing up to be able to swallow that pill.
Sadly, you're very correct. So, we had another guest on the podcast who referenced the same thing. That's his biggest fear is that leadership is really not what it used to be, and he talked about trust and that's always the last question I ask every guest, but before we get to that, I want to echo what you just talked about. So, for me, I worry about the world where I'm a senior citizen and whether my son would care because his generation would be running things or maybe my grandson will be running things, and would they care. Would they care? Would they have a sense of urgency about things? About legislating around healthcare and the things that I would care the most about at that time, but also this morning, I was looking at the news. I caught a little bit of news when I got out of the gym this morning and they talked about a shortage of pilots, and I started wondering if we can't get pilots, and my kids and grandkids are fond of the gig economy and they only want a gig once in a while and just take a pause, will we still be able to get from point A to B? Will we have pilots? Would younger kids, our kids, our kid's generation, our grandkids be interested in being pilots? Would that be a pretty much lost career? I don't know. So, some of these things have started to cross my mind like, "We need to find a way to get a hold of these things." I guess in the future, maybe AI will fly the planes completely. I'm not sure.
Well, that scares me.
[Laughter] It's sort of about 80%. You're probably right. Now – but…
I think that you're right.
…possibly that might be the solution, but again, the more we give artificial intelligence and computers all the power, we're sort of giving away our value as well. There is a book called Sapiens written by…
Oh, a good book.
…Yuval Harari. Yes, it's a great book. He talks about that transition, and he made me laugh in a section of the book where he says, "At some point, man is going to be in a museum and it said, 'This is man. He ran the world from this period to this period, and at this point man is irrelevant. He gets a paycheck and his stipend and moving on."" [Laughter] I don't want to see that error, but sadly we're headed there.
Yes. I think in some ways, we can argue that it's probably inevitable. Not to get religious, but a number of religions talk about that existential crisis, the end, and the end is usually derived by man. Man often enough can - and by man I mean human - is often enough its own worst enemy and will be probably its own demise unfortunately, unless major change comes about.
Of course, and again we are in the driver's seat of that change, so it comes back to leadership and trust and all the things that you talked about. So, Rick, it's been a half hour. Where does time go? So like…
Is it really? Wow.
…we always do, we sit down and we just open the floodgates…
…[Laughter] so I have to ask you this question - and I like to ask every guest because it allows me to also think about that based on their response. So, what would be your answer that have had the opportunity to grow up in the old world, the world where we had newspapers, where we had read them by hand, and we went to the library to research physically, not on the phone, and now I live in the new world where I could just tell my phone to remind me something in an hour rather than have a secretary or a person or a human do that, is there anything that's in the old world that you would love to bring over to the new world?
Oh ,wow. That is a big question. Anything in the old world that I'd like to bring into the new world? There are so many. There are probably a lot of things. Most of them probably for nostalgic reasons. I do think for the most part, technology and innovation has made our lives better, right?
One of the things that came to my mind is actual photos, like printed photos, for the simple reason when I think of printed photos I think of my childhood and looking at those, but there's something to be said about having a digital album of infinite - my supercomputer that I walk around within my pocket has thousands, probably tens of thousands of images I can pull up in any moment, but I don't know. I haven't given it too much thought, but admittedly, I do think that the way we're heading as far as innovating is making our lives better and that's just one example of it. One of the things that I'd really hate to see go and is on the way out is gas cars. I'm a car enthusiast in my core, and don't get me wrong, I think electric cars are very cool. I've been this close to pulling the trigger on a Tesla, and every time I'm about to do it I'm just like, "I'm just not" - I have an insecure guilt of doing it, but one of the things that…
…I'm going - I probably am. I already have the solar panels on the house. We did that well over a year ago in anticipation of that, but I will say I'm going to miss that because it's going to be nostalgic for me growing up, having family, friends with things like muscle cars, and it probably sounds weird but that smell of gas pre-catalytic converter, I'm going to miss that. That's going to be something I miss once it's fully electric out there.
I hope it never goes away. If anything, hopefully we have the choice of getting one or two, keeping them if we want to because like you, I'm a car enthusiast, and I think you're right, get the Tesla or any electric vehicle. I had one for three years. I enjoyed the Model S. I got bored with it too at the end because the downloads were not as efficient, it started to fail, but for what it represented - I bought it in 2019 - it was a great car. I enjoyed it. I had a long drive to work into Manhattan at that time, and it was just great to - I turned the self-driving on within five minutes of sitting in the car. I just wanted to break and let it do most of the driving. My current cars do it as well these days, but it's very interesting. I also wanted to reflect on something you talked about which is also AI related. I was pondering some of the ways that AI, as you referenced, will continue to make our lives easier and better, even professionally. In the insurance business that I'm in, I started to think about, "It would be really cool to not have to read 85 pages of a declaration to find coverage or to use Control-F to look for key terms." It would be interesting to say, "Hey, ChatGPT, show me the seven pieces of this insurance contract that I should bring top of mind to the client," or when you're signing a record deal, "Hey, GPT, tell me where this contract I'm getting screwed over." [Laughter] You just got to show me those things, but if you think about how that world is going to play out in the legal environment, in all - we're all signing contracts that we don't read these days. Mentally we're trained to just hit Accept. In the future to be able to have a say so and say, "You know what, I don't like this lease. I don't like the terms on Page 14" - I do understand what it would do to an attorney who would typically make money off of that service, but I'm looking forward to where those things become table stakes cause we could just ask our phone to get them done.
Absolutely, and I agree with that. There is some concern - and I've heard the argument where AI and technology is going to make us dumber or stupid because we no longer need to go to the library to do a piece of research and absorb that information, and I don't necessarily agree with that. I think what it's doing is it's buying our time back, and time, I think, is one of our most valuable resources because we can never get it back. A minute spent is a minute spent. That's never going to come back, but if we can save time breaking down a contract like you said, I don't think it's going to dilute those services like an attorney for example. I think in some ways it may make those people even more valuable because at the end of the day, a simple contract I may not have an attorney review, I may just have put - and I've done this believe it or not, and I won't say in what cases, but I've taken legal agreements, put it into ChatGPT and have asked it, "What is this missing?" What it spits out is pretty impressive. It'll say, "It's missing this clause, this clause. This clause can be improved by A, B, C, D," to the point where - and I have some legal experience - I was impressed, but in other ways like a home contract, I would probably still want an attorney to review that even after I put ChatGPT.
Yes, absolutely. Well, listen. We've talked about all the important things that tell me you're in the right place, Rick. We talked about leadership. We talked about AI. You're leading in the tech space. You are exactly where you need to be.
I appreciate it.
Keep doing great things, changing the world, and making the world a better place. I thank you for making this time to chat with us. Any final words before I wrap up the podcast?
My pleasure. No. I'm grateful. I'm grateful to you. It's been a great friendship that we've had and a professional relationship, and I appreciate it, and I can't wait to see where goes beyond this. Can't wait to have you on my podcast, so well, I'll see you on that one.
Absolutely. I look forward to it. Well, you remember you gave me some tips on getting this podcast so how am I doing? [Laughter]
You're doing great. Hey, you got me listening to multiple episodes so you're doing your thing. Can't wait to tune into more.
Well, thank you so much. Thank you again for joining us. Well, ladies and gentlemen, this is the end of this episode of the Recode podcast. If you haven't grabbed a copy of the book “RECODE,” find it on Amazon, and once again, remember the audio book will be out shortly. Thank you for listening.
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