The Business of Meetings – Episode 169 – Are You Ready for AI? with Jim Spellos
Today, we have the great pleasure of speaking with an old industry friend and true industry luminary, Jim Spellos!
Jim is the President of Meeting U. He holds a wealth of knowledge, matched only by his captivating personality, that can guide individuals and companies in navigating and harnessing the power of technology. He joins us to share his insights and expertise, dispel fears, and equip listeners with the confidence to apply technology effectively.
Meeting U is a company dedicated to demystifying technology and empowering its users. In today’s exclusive interview, we embark on an insightful journey of exploring the intricacies of AI technology. We discuss its seamless integration into our lives and touch on the age-old question of whether we should fear its advancement. Jim also shares the inspiring story of his journey to good health.
Get ready for a thought-provoking conversation as we dive into the world of tech and beyond with the extraordinary Jim Spellos!
Jim stumbled into the hospitality industry by chance, just like many others. After college, he worked at a physics organization, doing basic copy editing tasks under the guidance of his boss, a brilliant man who had worked on the Manhattan Project and held the esteemed position of Dean of Nuclear Physics at Columbia University. It was there that Jim’s journey took an unexpected turn. About a year into his job, his boss offered him the responsibility of handling meetings, assuring him that it was a straightforward task. Little did Jim know that his next assignment would be overseeing a gathering of 1,500 people in New York. Determined to rise to the challenge, Jim embraced the opportunity with gusto, marking the beginning of his 20-year-long career in the meeting industry. Simultaneously, his boss introduced him to a new technology—an IBM PC, the only one in the organization. Intrigued, Jim began exploring the possibilities and taught himself database management. That marked the beginning of his second career as he transitioned into teaching and became a go-to expert in the industry. Over the years, Jim’s passion for technology and teaching led him to join NYU as an instructor specializing in event technology. By the late 1990s, he realized that teaching technology could be his calling. In 1999, he embarked on a journey that continues to this day.
Things were different back in the 1980s
During the 1980s, the landscape of events and meetings was distinctively different. While there were occasional events that required Secret Service involvement, such as gatherings with Nobel laureates, most of the meetings were comprised of everyday individuals.
What should we be thinking about AI technology?
We need to embrace technology as a tool that can be used for both positive and negative purposes. Technology, including AI, is neither inherently good nor bad because its use and application determine its impact. On the positive side, technology has advanced medical research and scientific understanding, allowing for the processing and utilization of vast amounts of information. However, it also has the potential to influence people’s beliefs and narratives.
Some jobs may be lost, and some gained, as technology evolves. AI, like ChatGPT, is a tool that can process information quickly and engage in conversations, which can blur the line between human and AI interaction.
The impact of AI on the industry
The hotel and large business sectors already understand the power of AI for analyzing customer data and improving decision-making. However, the future influence of AI on the meeting industry is still uncertain.
In the future, organizations will utilize compartmentalized AI to scrape and combine information to create personalized content. However, it will be essential to address any biases in AI systems.
AI as a complement to human intelligence
AI should be seen as a complement to human intelligence because it allows the generation of nuanced and valuable insights when used together with human input.
Productivity for business owners
Jim realizes the potential of AI for business owners but acknowledges its imperfections. He explains that AI, like ChatGPT, is generative and does not access the internet for information. It operates on what it has learned from a specific dataset and predicts the next word based on context and the question asked without having comprehensive knowledge. So, to utilize AI effectively, it is crucial to ask the right questions and not expect AI to possess all-encompassing knowledge.
There is currently a shortage of coders. Jim focuses on teaching people to use low-code tools that allow them to build apps without extensive coding knowledge. However, those tools will not eliminate the need for coders because quality control, nuanced tasks, and proper integration still require coding expertise.
A most exciting time
Jim is enthusiastic about the current tech landscape and considers this time the most exciting time for consumers since the emergence of search engines 25 to 30 years ago!
A challenge for business owners
It is challenging for business owners to scale their organizations when involved in day-to-day tasks. That is why they should focus instead on raising capital, understanding marketing and sales, and finding the right people to handle those areas. Jim believes management issues are not only technology-related but also a constant challenge across generations. Business owners need a good understanding of technology and its potential to guide their teams in utilizing it effectively. It is also crucial for them to provide the necessary resources, whether internal or external, for their teams to learn and implement new technologies.
A delicate balance
A delicate balance is required for business owners to allow their teams space while staying involved enough to provide guidance and direction based on their knowledge. Jim encourages business owners to be aware and informed about technology but avoid excessive micromanagement.
Jim holds a certificate from Cornell that does not directly relate to meetings and events. He recognizes the challenges of obtaining certificates and diplomas and acknowledges their value.
Jim’s health journey
Jim experienced health issues that involved battling heart disease and struggling with excess weight over the past seven years. Through extensive research and scientific findings, he discovered the immense benefits of embracing a plant-based lifestyle that includes more than just dietary choices. It also involves stress reduction, sufficient sleep, and a holistic approach to well-being.
Engaging with the plant-based community
Jim engages actively in the plant-based community. He collaborates with organizations and delivers presentations on his own transformative experience. He is particularly excited about the Jewish Veg Jumpstarters, where he guides participants through a 21-day program focusing on the health advantages of a plant-based lifestyle and its impact on society and the environment. Jim and his team provide the participants with essential resources, scientific evidence, and mentorship, empowering them to adopt positive changes and incorporate them into their lives according to their preferences.
Jim’s passion for promoting healthy lifestyles
While Jim thoroughly enjoys teaching technology, he is also passionate about promoting healthy lifestyles and educating others on the importance of proper nutrition. Inspired by his personal journey, he has merged his tech expertise with health information to create an app that features 400 plant-based recipes.
The importance of pursuing passions
Jim firmly believes in the significance of pursuing passions and embracing diverse interests. Rather than limiting oneself to a single endeavor, he advocates for integrating various aspects of life to cultivate a fulfilling and enriching existence. Whether it involves teaching technology, advocating for healthy living, or exploring other areas of interest, Jim remains dedicated to making a positive impact and empowering others to lead healthier and happier lives!
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Connect with Jim Spellos
On his website