June 18, 2024

Meet the professor: Ashley Gross from Get Promoted With AI

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Ashley Gross, CEO of The Prompt Community, is one of Section’s favorite professors. Every lecture she gives gets glowing reviews – She just talked about how you can get promoted using AI and she’s gearing up to lecture for our AI for Business Mini-MBA starting July 8.

Get to know her in our no-holds-barred interview, then sign up to learn from her directly.

Give students the Ashley synopsis – what should they know about you?

I don't fit in the box. I've tried for years and it just doesn't work, so now I've embraced it. I used to feel this internal pressure – I was supposed to graduate with my degree in biology, but I really hated statistics. So I gathered my credits, translated it into an associate's degree, and went right into marketing for a corporation.

I started using AI back in 2020 and saw the immediate ROI. I understood the value it brought to my life, and realized I want to build these LLMs. I leaned into that without expectations for where it was going to go.

But because of that, I ended up going back to school to finish my degree in information technology and got nine IBM data science certifications.

So how did you get started with AI in the first place?

In 2020’s quarantine, I had serious cabin fever. Communicating for me is like riding a bike for other people. If I don't do it for a little while, I get rusty. So after some serious imposter syndrome, I found Jasper AI and used it to apply tone consistency to my emails.

After that, I thought: ‘Whoa, what else can this do?’ It was before anyone was talking about AI, so I didn't have any expectations or pressure on what I should do with it. I started trying everything with it – like asking it for recipes based on what was in my fridge if I didn't feel like going grocery shopping that day.

I started playing around with these low-frills, no-pressure use cases that gave me little bursts of instant gratification – and then used that as a foundation to build off.

How did you jump into teaching AI?

In 2022, my CMO came to me and said, “The board wants to see what AI can do and how we can be a scrappier marketing department”. I grabbed a legal pad and started writing down what I envisioned, how I was going to roll this out, and how I was going to teach it. It took off from there.

I approached it as: I'm a human trying to talk to other humans about this technology.

The technology was kind of like the meat in the middle. I asked coworkers what they didn't like about their jobs, had them take videos of their workflows, sent those videos to the AI vendors, and asked them to fix the problem without changing the workflow. And then from there, it was just teaching people basic AI hygiene.

I took my team through a 30-minute prompt engineering course and set up my own office hours, and it was very much like I was a professor of my own university. We had great adoption rates, and within two months we had over 25 use cases.

What’s your approach to addressing hesitancy around AI?

AI scares people because it changes everything they know about themselves. People use identifiers – such as where they work, what they do professionally, their experience. When AI came out, it disrupted all that.

Instead of trying to approach people as their 9 to 5 personas and saying, “Hey, you're a product marketer, you could cut your time in half”, I said, “Hey, you have T-Ball every Thursday at 5 p.m. and you almost never get out of work meetings because people end up booking your time. Why don't we find a solution for that?” We ended up finding a couple of AI apps that integrate with the Chrome browser and add meeting buffers and set cut off times.

People aren't their 9 to 5 identities, they're human beings.

Use AI to find a benefit that means something to them personally. Those instant gratification moments are really, really special and super important for mass adoption.

What do you think is the most compelling thing about AI right now?

Oh man, it’s going to  change everything. Previously, if you were in one career and wanted to switch, you would have to start over and it would take you a long time to get to the same place. If you switch careers with the help of AI, you don't have to take years to do it.

Talk about disruption – that is disruption. Take a second to think, “What have I always wanted to do that I didn't think I could do, and now I might be able to do?” Hobbies that you haven’t been able to pick up until now, or a side hustle or two or three. That's probably the most mind-blowing thing for me – the vast amount of opportunity.

It sounds like you’ve made a career shift with AI. Tell us about that.

I created my own GPT to apply for generative AI strategy roles a year ago. Those roles, in that phrasing, didn’t exist. But when I actually explained the role I was looking for, people could find related openings. So I built my own custom GPT, put in 50 pages of what a Generative AI Strategist does, what my experience was, and a resume. Then I sent out my resume and in my cover letter I said, “If you'd like to prequalify me for this position, feel free to ask my GPT whatever you want to know about me.”

Now I do that for any speaking engagement that I do. My custom GPT has my bio, my photos, any accolades or awards that I've ever won, and a talk track for 10 different topics. I don't have time for these little email interactions, but with that you don't need them and it's a fun experience.

What are you most interested in imparting on people just entering their journey with AI?

Just because it's AI doesn't mean you don't have to ask the right questions.

I ask ChatGPT, Jasper, Gemini questions such as: “How are you mitigating bias?” and “Show me an example of when your LLM didn't mitigate bias and what you're doing to prevent that from happening again in the future”.

User accountability is half of it. Be aware of your skill sets and what you're doing. But also hold these vendors accountable and be unapologetic about it in the most respectful way possible.

Ready to catch Ashley live? Check out the AI for Business Mini-MBA where she’ll be talking even more about using AI to get a better role or new gig.

Greg Shove
Section Staff