X marks the spot where my long relationship with Twitter died. I had the coveted blue tick when it could not be bought. I was able to get Shashi Tharoor to launch my first book, No Money Marketing, through a Twitter invitation. I made friends like Tinu Cherian, Nakul Shenoy, Ashok Lalla, and others back in the day when a Tweetup was what you did when you travelled to a new city. I even hosted one at home in Bangalore!

The brand change to X removes all those associations. Though for a brand transformation it is very untidy that the url remains Twitter.com. And the Why is just not answered. Yeah, yeah, we’re out to build a super app and that’s called X. There’s only one Twitter but there are tons of super apps – I wrote about the fight for this space earlier.

Back to the Y

I’m an independent director on the board of CreditAccess Grameen, India’s largest Microfinance institution. It’s a listed company with the mission to provide access to credit for lower income families. When you’re clear why you do what you do and that why is directly linked to a positive outcome, it gives a sense of purpose, of mission.

I don’t think we should crowdsource the “why we do what we do” for any organization. Or for our personal lives. So when the CEO of Twitter (or is that X?) says in a memo that

And everyone, is invited to build X with us.” they’re admitting that they don’t know why they do what they do.

The one thing AI cannot do

I recently had a horrible experience with a last minute upgrade on KLM- Air France. We’re a family group split across 2 PNRs. Both of us were on the app at the same time. The first one to sign in got a price 3x the other one. Yes, of course it is “dynamic pricing” and no human is involved. But when we reached out to a human there was no possibility for intervention either.

Why would you do this to your customers?

Air India – the OG AI – has launched an inflight magazine, namaste.ai Woohoo! So clever. Its inaugural issue is about their great legacy and the founder, JRD Tata. Who reads inflight magazines these days? For an airline that is dealing with delays and poor customer communication to focus its energy on an inflight magazine with .ai tagged on shows that they haven’t the faintest clue how they could use AI to make their customer lives better. Or, worse, WHY they should do so!

Ask ChatGPT “I’m the CEO of an airline dealing with flight delays, what should I prioritise” and it comes up with an excellent list of 10 actions to take. (Magazine isn’t one.) If you ask it to detail out HOW to do it, more help comes through. What’s missing is the WHY. Why should you fix it? Why shouldn’t you just taxi along for the next 100 years?

AI can tell you What to do and How to do it. It cannot decide Why you should do it.

What can people do to co-exist with AI

I asked ChatGPT what I should do if I wanted “fun’ projects. It dutifully came up with 10 marketing engagements that it thought might be ‘fun’. When I shot them down as ‘boring” it came up with ideas like “experiential marketing stunts” and “reverse marketing”. All were practical. But the filter for whether I’d do them or not is the ‘Why”.

If you’re trying to figure out how your job will change with the rise of AI, break it up into the why, what and how. Over time you should be doing more of the “why” than the what and the how. As an organization, your staff should be tasked with the “Why” – when to override the AI driven algorithms, and what task to assign AI.

As humans as per Glasser we all want security, relationships, power, freedom and fun. You need to understand why you do what you do – or your organization does – from this context.

I hope you enjoyed this artisanal newsletter. I will be off on my holiday tonight. Feeling awkward as I sit next to my spouse and his seat that cost 3x more than mine. Thanks, AI.

Have a great week!

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Jessie Paul is the Founder and CEO of Paul Writer, a firm she founded in early 2010 to raise the bar for marketing in India. Previously, as Chief Marketing Officer of Wipro’s IT business and as Global Brand Manager at Infosys, Jessie has been recognized for her contribution towards putting the Indian IT industry on the global map. With over 18 years in services marketing, including a stint with Ogilvy & Mather Advertising, Jessie is considered an expert in brand globalization and has been named one of the most influential business women in the Indian IT industry.

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