The Power of Authenticity: Committing to Real Human-Created Content

By Sarah McVanel, Chief Recognition Officer, Greatness Magnified

You may have noticed that we’ve started writing about how much of the research or writing was supported using artificial intelligence at the bottom of our articles. Why? Because you might have noticed the proliferation of AI-generated content. You may be wondering: How do you know if an article is written using AI? How can you tell if an expert wrote an article versus a machine? And why does language modelling write so many articles? Here is our stance: What you get from us is written by real humans because we believe you deserve to trust the human behind the idea.

Whether it’s on LinkedIn, blogs, or even media coverage, you may have noticed how generic and vanilla a lot of content is. Is it adding much value to your life? When humans wrote about “the 5 hacks for X,” it didn’t cut the mustard, and oftentimes, it only diluted the value of the written word; it’s gotten worse with many of those now being written by AI.

Sometimes it’s funny. When my hubby Mark and I drove our daughter Simonne to the airport last month for her summer work exchange in Australia, we were quizzing her on Australian sayings. Did you know a liquor store is a “Bottle-O”? Here’s the example they used for the term: “I’m going to the Bottle-O. May I bring back anything for your friends?” Who says that? And if you were using the colloquium, would it sound like a British granny said it?

We were in hysterics with the culturally misaligned examples of their slang. Their examples didn’t capture the casual flare we know and love in our Aussie peeps. It’s no laughing matter, though, when someone is researching serious topics like handling a breakup, giving difficult feedback to a peer, or navigating intergenerational tension.

Sometimes, you need a real human expert to guide you through today’s big, sticky challenges.

How You Can Know If Content is AI-Generated

How can you know if our stuff is AI? We tell you, and spoiler alert: it won’t be much. You can go right down to the bottom of every article, and we’ll tell you exactly what percentage is used for us versus machine. It’s kind of like the calorie count on a can of soup. If you chow down on our expertise, we want you to know how much of it is us and how much of it is additives. You deserve to know what you’re absorbing – food or information!

image of Sarah McVanel doing a TikTok about Chat GPT and how AI helped her write a list

Click the image to watch the video

We’re not suggesting all AI is bad. We find it to be super helpful at times. It helps us develop lists (such as our 50+ Ways to Practice Self-Care resources we now have for you as a downloadable resource; we started with a ChatGPT query and then added our Greatness Magnified flavour and experience). That said, we believe you deserve to be given a dose of what we know when you sign up for our newsletter.

There is an even bigger reason, though. 

If I’m going to stand in front of you on the stage, I need to have put in the miles (kilometres for you, Canadian friends) of practice in delivering, building and creating what I bring to you. One of the best ways to get that practice is through the dedicated practice of putting my thoughts out on the “page” (computer). I need to do it with as much vigour, depth of thinking, and creativity as is necessary to ensure that some of it bubbles up to make me better for you every time I take that stage.

I need to earn those 45 to 90 minutes you’ve gifted me. I better make investing your time, attention, and resources worthwhile.

A Time Exchange

Your time is the most precious resource you have. If I haven’t done the work to earn it, I don’t deserve it. And that means if all I’ve done is ask ChatGPT to “write me an article about how to appreciate people for health and safety week,” have I earned the right to have you read it? And then, have I earned the right to speak at a safety conference? 

Have I put in disproportionately more time to think, consider, and encapsulate the best ideas from my experience and what I’ve learned from working with my human clients and trying to solve the issues of days gone by? If you’re a room full of experts, I’d better stay committed to becoming more of an expert in my niche expertise every week to earn the right to be there in front of you when you invest in it. 

Sometimes, the time exchange of AI is more than worth it; AI will allow our world to iterate, invent, and create things faster and beyond our wildest imaginations. Please know I’m not disparaging the huge value we’re already getting as a human species from the world of AI.

When the currency is “thought leadership,” you deserve someone who has done some serious thinking well before you even pick up the phone to book your speaker. 

Digital Sarah – Not for us.

Even when I recently experimented with “Digital Sarah,” the words feeding into my digital rendering were all mine. The visual was AI, but a human created the ideas shared. (By the way, thank you for the feedback that Digital Sarah thoroughly creeped you out. We’ve cancelled her. Not all experiments work!)

Let’s also consider what would continue feeding into those language models if the only thing being produced was language-modelled content. It might just become a house of mirrors—the ones where one mirror reflects another and goes on and on and on for what seems like infinity. Okay, even I know that it’s not exactly like that. When the internet has been thoroughly combed, wearable technology, bio intelligence and other forms of data will be feeding AI (If you’re interested in this, you may wish to watch Amy Webb’s killer speech by googling her name and “South by Southwest Conference”). 

Let’s face it: Most of us want to know if a human is behind an idea.

If we reach a point where we outsource media, corporate, and self-help writings to AI, our greatness will be minimized. 

The Upsides and Downsides of Outsourcing 

Think of it like this: You can have a personal shopper buy birthday gifts for your family and friends, but when they open that slightly generic gift because there was no way the personal shopper could have known that this week your daughter decided she liked the colour orange and was over glitter, there’s that icky moment where you realize this possibly magical moment of connection was blown. And if you planned to take the credit for buying it, and it’s obvious you didn’t, doesn’t that hurt the relationship? It may be true that you were just too busy to shop for the family but know that outsourcing comes at a cost, particularly if we take credit for someone else’s ideas. By all means, use personal shoppers! Just be transparent about it.

Thought leaders: be transparent. Are they your thoughts?

When the currency of trust falls into arrears, getting out of relationship debt is virtually impossible.

Outsourcing the work to a person or a machine is fine; as long as the person is consuming it, it doesn’t feel like you are the one behind it. My hubby Mark teaches high-school business and would accuse a student of plagiarism if they pulled an essay off ChatGPT and took the credit as original work. Why would that be any different if a thought leader didn’t give credit to the source (machine learning)?

Your Speakers as Thought Leaders

Now that I’ve poked the bear with this article, join me next week as I explain even further why you should expect nothing less than original ideas from us professional speakers on the stage, in your inbox, and in LinkedIn newsletters.

Stay tuned…

Looking for a few more tasty nuggets about AI? Check out these blog posts:

Disclaimer/Humble Brag Moment: 100% of this content was human-generated (by us folks here at Greatness Magnified). We are committed to authorship integrity and will inform you what percent, if any, is AI-generated.

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

– Mother Teresa

Deb Rakonjac

Organizational Development, Purolator Inc.

"Sarah nailed it!  She worked with the planning group to learn about the organization, the audience, the desired key messages and integrated it seamlessly into her keynote. Her energy was contagious! We received rave reviews of this portion of our event and Sarah was able to speak to all members of our organization in a way that motivated them to recognize others everyday. Our executives were extraordinarily pleased and integrated FROGging into their recent board meeting. Purolator is grateful to Sarah for dropping the pebble and we continue to see the ripples from this session across the organization. Working with Tami was phenomenal and the supports were easy to integrate to ensure the session went well. Thanks to you both!!"
Douglas D Swift

President & CEO, Swiftco Inc.

"I have had the Sarah experience in numerous settings: As a keynote, around a table with several other business owners, one on one over coffee, chatting with others at a conference reception, dining with a small group of colleagues. No matter the setting you always get the same Sarah: engaging, attentive, interested, inspiring, motivational, genuine. And always with an infectious smile. Do yourself, your company, your association a favour. Get the Greatness Magnified (Sarah) experience. The payback is priceless."
Judy Kucharuk

Director, Marketing and Special Events, Encana Events Centre

"Funny, full of energy and incredibly motivating – all words to use when describing Sarah and her passionate stage presence. We were fortunate to have Sarah join us as a speaker for Spark Women’s Leadership Conferences and her presentations about leveraging greatness hit the core of our objective at SPARK: “A rising tide lifts all boats”. I would not hesitate to recommend Sarah to other organizations that are searching for a well-prepared, well-organized, thoughtful and passionate storyteller."
Shelley VanVeen

Learning & Development Manager, Libro Credit Union

"Sarah brought so much energy and enthusiasm to our International Women’s Day event at Libro! Her message was uplifting, thought-provoking and truly appreciated by our team. Dealing with Sarah was wonderful – she was open, professional and willing to work with us to customize her message to incorporate our culture and connect to our topic and participants. During the session, she was a pro with a powerful message and a fantastic delivery. We had wonderful feedback from all that attended and can’t wait to have Sarah back for another session in the future!"
Sylvia D’Intino

Executive Director, Community Living Hamilton

"THANK YOU so very much for leading the engagement activities today! You’re a constant professional, with an amazing attitude and always seeing the great in everyone. I am grateful for how you have helped us this year to transform our in-person staff recognition events into virtual and on-location events. Our staff feel more inspired, appreciated and motivated after they hear you speak, and I know our amazing in-house team here looks forward to designing engaging appreciation events with your support."
Melissa Chaulk

Manager of Professional Development

Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

"We work hard at CDHA to give our members a wonderful conference experience, so we were thrilled to have received resoundingly positive feedback on Sarah's opening plenary keynote. It was the highest attended of the entire conference for both dates!"
Jamie Campbell

Director, The Center for People in Organizational Development, Sheridan College

"Smart, challenging, innovative, committed, dependable, and reliable, I highly recommend her for all your recognition needs. I have brought Sarah into my last two organizations to help build a culture of recognition and celebration. The focus on appreciation is more important now than ever."

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