Three things brands should look for in a conversational AI

Welcome to the broken-hearts club.

Does anyone remember Manti Te’o? Ten years ago he was the best thing happening in college football. A linebacker at Notre Dame known for his dominant tackling and an ability to score on defense, Manti was an NCAA darling. Off the field, he was an Eagle Scout and named a National Scholar-Athlete. On the field he won just about every award a defender could win while also placing second on the Heisman Trophy list; only one other defense-only player in history had made it that high on the list. Manti still might be the best college football defensive player ever…


What Silicon Valley can learn from the DMV.

Not too long ago I walked into a bar and handed my driver’s license to the bouncer. He skimmed my details, handed it back, folded his arms, and looked out into the cosmos. “You better get that renewed: it’s almost expired.” I read the details on my ID for the first time in years. Damn. He was right. Time to go to the DMV. I kept a straight face but threw an imaginary fist pump. Man oh man I love the DMV.

When you tell people you’re going to the DMV they usually look at you like your dog just…


If you’re hoping to move beyond good PowerPoint slides and start influencing here’s the takeaway: a good rule-of-thumb is that an analysis isn’t done until you have a rule-of-thumb.

There’s a joke us nerds like to tell about ourselves that starts with a dairy farmer looking to improve his milk production. He goes to a physicist for help who stares at her chalkboard for a second and asks, “Is it reasonable to assume your cows are spherical and uniformly filled with milk?” The joke is funny because this handwavy approach to problem-solving is exactly how a real physicist in real…


A perfect analogy can be a dangerous thing. If you get too attached you’ll be tempted to let the metaphor drive the story instead of the other way around. Sacrificing clarity for cleverness will leave your audience convinced of your wit and confused about the point.

In high school I had an English teacher named Mr. Mckay. He was an amiable coffee-breathed Irishman who made us hand-write essays until our fingers hurt. To say that his vocabulary was colorful would undersell the man’s talent. His brogue-tinted monologues ran on a high octane mix of expletives and wisdom. Although he swore…


After years of frustrating results I’ve learned to recognize when I’m complaining about my audience. It’s an important signal. In those moments I remind myself that I need to tell the story for my audience, not in spite of my audience.

Kids can be challenging. I don’t know a group of humans that’s quicker to stage passionate protests against sleeping, eating, or going potty. A parent stumbling across invisible tripwires on the wrong day can find themselves sitting on a pile of ruins that used to be called their evening . You’ve been at the grocery store and seen the…


Your audience’s attention is guaranteed to meander and there’s nothing you can do to stop that… The only thing you can do is be ready for them when they wander back.

When I’m with my friends I love to play the “did you know when I was younger…?” game. Once we get going one of my favorite cards to play is the religion card. My religious views could probably be described as comfortably atheist. I use the word “comfortable” because for me religion is like soccer, billions of fans but not my thing. Most my friends seem to know this…


The moment business leaders sit down, while you are firing up your PowerPoint presentation, their cart is as empty as it’s going to be.

Life is getting busier. Early mornings, kids, and dishes often leave me with only about an hour in the evenings before my eyelids start getting heavy. That hour is sacred. It’s the only time I have to write or draw or just stare at the wall and decompress. That balancing act of responsibilities and interests has forced me to budget time differently. Without realizing it I’ll go several days or even weeks without watching Netflix. Weird…


Telling Stories Starts with Telling Stories

Nobody loves data, they love a good story punctuated with data, a stiff exclamation mark at the end of a colorful sentence. If your customers are asking for details instead of insights that’s a good clue that your story broke down somewhere and they are trying to write their own.

Several years ago I was sitting in a well-light conference room on UC Davis campus eating free pizza, joking with my friends, and excitedly waiting to see that week’s seminar speaker. The guest was a former faculty member that had recently been elected to…

Tyler Weeks

Physicist, Artist, Poet.

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