If you have played with Chat GPT, an artificial intelligence writing tool, one thing immediately comes to mind: you wouldn’t want to be a copywriter right now.
ChatGPT is a large language model that can generate human-like text based on the input it receives. It is unique in its ability to complete a wide variety of language-based tasks, from answering questions to writing stories and poetry, with a high level of coherence and relevance. Additionally, it is constantly being trained on new data, which makes it capable of understanding and responding to a wide range of topics and conversational cues.
ChatGPT generated that little paragraph above.
Same thought for illustrators when you play with Stable Diffusion.
The featured image of this post was produced by Stable Diffusion’s AI when positively prompted by the term ‘Pathfinder’ and negatively prompted by the term ‘Playbook’.
What, my dear reader, does this have to do with startups and the skills of a Pathfinder?
A lot, it turns out.
Think about the humble spreadsheet software first popularized in the 1980s that is now ubiquitous. Spreadsheets automated many tasks previously done manually by accountants, which put a lot of them in the unemployment line.
At the same time, it created new opportunities for accountants with skills in spreadsheet software and data analysis, as well as a greater need for oversight and interpretation of the data produced by these tools. Overall, while the use of spreadsheets has led to some changes in the accounting profession, it has also made accountants more valuable and versatile in the business world.
In the short term, people in roles that are defined by a set of tasks that can be quantified and repeated are in serious danger of getting replaced by AI. We didn’t think writing or art was one of those tasks, but for some basic versions of it, here we are. (Again, the previous paragraph about accountants was drafted by ChatGPT, with light editing by us.)
So as business leaders and entrepreneurs, what do we do? Researchers at the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab came up with a number of insights that will be helpful for business leaders. One conclusion that jumped out at us was the finding that tasks that require soft skills will increase in value.
For example, figuring out which target market to address first with a new product; being able to understand the needs and skills of individual team members and harness that productively; having the emotional intelligence to meet with and form relationships with employees and clients, will all be valued more than other rules/process-based roles and will require (at least for the foreseeable future) people.
Each role requires a different set of hard, or vocational, skills to be successful, but we’re seeing a commonality in the soft skills, or what we call the deep skills, required to be successful in those roles not (currently) under threat from AI.
These are the deep skills of the Pathfinder. The person with, among many other things, the mindset to deal with ambiguity, a curiosity that allows for creative solutions, and is excited and motivated by the need to create or build something new.
The Pathfinder is the type of person that we have found has the best chance of success as the first sales hire in a startup. But it’s much broader than that. In larger organizations, a Pathfinder will have more success expanding into new markets. In self-management companies everybody needs to be a Pathfinder.
To identify Pathfinders within your organization, or to recruit Pathfinders, wouldn’t it be great if there was an assessment tool focused on the mindset/deep skills of a Pathfinder allowing you to get the right people in the right roles?
We have good news.
For the first sales hire of a B2B tech startup we already have The Right Five which covers both the deep and vocational skills required to be successful. You can watch a demo here.
For every other type of Pathfinder, we’ve decoupled the deep skills from The Right Five assessment and will shortly offer this as a standalone online assessment through The Pathfinder Company. Stay tuned for more details.