Podcast Interview: Executive Insights on AI

Executive Insights on AI’s Impact on Marketing 

Generative AI is Transforming More than Just the Way We Work. How should executives respond to rapid AI adoption? Level Agency CEO Patrick Patterson and Mod Op CTO Tessa Burg recently sat down to discuss the generative AI revolution in marketing teams. From the “Sh*itty first draft” to implications for cybersecurity, executives need to understand what these tools can – and can’t –  do to help them gain an edge in marketing. It raises big questions that aren’t often talked about: How are organizations retooling core business processes to drive value, and what could the marketing agency business model even look like in 5 years? 

Give us a little background on yourself. 

Tessa: I started more on the developer and I.T. side and then very quickly got to know the marketing department and saw that they were making a lot of decisions, so I wanted to get more into that world. I love customer data, and that took me down the road to learning more about user experience and how data can really inform an awesome process and then bring in the tech. And that’s still a process that I use today. So, I’ve always sat between the development world and technology and marketing and trying to be the bridge between the two to create a great experience that’s measurable and helps us learn. 

Patrick: A little bit about me. So, I was a math and computer science major. I like to say, I went to the dark side that is marketing in 2005. I brought this technology and all this data driven decision making angle to marketing. This is before the term performance marketing even existed. And it was like inventing fire in the marketing departments.  

From that to business intelligence to now kind of this newer revolution around technology and automation and A.I., it’s been a really exciting journey for me as a technologist to be in this marketing world. […] It’s a little bit of a wild, wild West situation. And so, if you love product, if you love creating things, if you love creating proof of concept, [marketing] is a great place to be because there’s budget for testing and there’s appetite for testing and learning. 

Why is it important for executive leaders to understand how to incorporate AI into their everyday work processes? 

Tessa: There are two paths that I think executives should be excited about and aware about:  

One, you should be excited that this can revolutionize your team’s growth paths and their careers. If you really embrace what it can do for your team and you start to lead by example, then they won’t be scared to get started.  

I think the other side executives need to be aware of is the risk and the doors this can open, like with I.T. This can open some vulnerabilities in your stack so make sure that you’re putting in the right training and change management processes as you start to empower people to use these tools.  

There’s a level of acceptance that this will change the way we all work. … But also, you have to do it judiciously and always have an eye on what the risk can be, and [ask] “how am I managing that while not taking away and setting blockers that slow progress?” 

There’s no, you know 20-year study that McKinsey did that we can pull from that is going to help us with risk management and risk mitigation for this… But everyone’s talking about this. And then we realize, we’re in this 1% bubble of doing this.  

There’s this first step of education on what it can do and what it can’t do. You know, in whatever room I’m in, executives, creatives, marketers, technologists, there is a bias or belief of what it can and can’t do. […] 

So there has to be this top-down permission to try.  And that comes with education and understanding: This is what it is. This is what it’s not. Because that’s almost equally important.  

I think a lot of the people who don’t understand “what it’s not,” have also not invested any of their time in education. And that is so important.  

We also see that with our clients, when they ask questions like, “You’re definitely not using this for any of our work, right?” It’s an interesting question… like… why not? What is your concern with that? Let’s start there and maybe we have to do some live demos, some live training, but it is so important to give people that space so that it’s not coming from a place of they won’t change. It’s coming from a place of caution and need for process and education. 

How are you thinking about creating those spaces for people to learn and break down some of those barriers to enable people to try it?  

Tessa: Our first step was we wanted people to know that we were going to embrace A.I. in all its forms, including Generative-AI (Gen-AI). 

So, we published responsible use guidelines. It’s not legally binding, but it says, “Hey, we want you to go out and try this. But when you do, here are some precautions you have to use. And, as a reminder, here are some of our cybersecurity and data security principles and compliance rules we already follow that we have to continue to follow, recognize, and bring consciousness to when we are using Gen-AI.”  

The second piece that we did within those responsible use guidelines is talk about how these tools were created and the type of data that they were trained on. That’s extremely important because sometimes you do get caught up in having fun and you’re so impressed with the output. But we added a layer of testing whatever you use.  

We don’t use it for final client deliverables. We see the strongest results from Gen-AI in researching, vetting and getting a first draft out. I saw in a Harvard Review study, and one of my coworkers said the other day, it’s like a second brain. You know, it’s making your quality higher and pushing you. That is where the power is.  

But we don’t want people fall into the trap of: I’m using this to create “the thing.” Whatever you create […] has to be vetted by a diverse set of your team so we can check for biases [and] ensure that it is delivering the quality expectations that we have for all of our work. 


I think that’s spot on. It’s great for that first draft, it’s great for brainstorming, it’s great for ideation.  

Then there’s a middle part that is human.  

And then actually I like it at the end part, which is QA and editing, because it’s really good at that, too.   

But that middle human part of taking that draft into, okay, I had a blank page before. I don’t have a blank page now. Let me get it to something that’s great and then make sure I hit the brief right.  

Give us your “Hot Take”: Where will AI be in 2 years?   


Before we get into the hot take, let me just say this… I think in a year from now we’re going to look back on this conversation and the technology we have, and it’s all going to be laughable, right? We’re going to look back to this moment when the technology will never be worse than it is today because it will only get better… This is phase zero, right?  

I’ll give a somewhat hot take, maybe medium lukewarm take: but I don’t think prompt engineers are going to be a position in companies. I think AI systems are going to get so good at understanding what we’re asking for that you’re not going to need a prompt engineer to get amazing output from it.  


I think the roles that will emerge [… are] one: change management; and two: innovation and security. And I put innovation and security together because they have to go together.  

Maybe that’s totally biased of me, but you have to start getting smarter about what you are building. [Like] the strategy to see how the way we string the output of the apps and the output of the data from the apps together to deliver something of tremendously unique value to our clients. 



5 Ways to Activate Your Second Brain with Generative AI:  

  1. Brainstorming and creating the “Sh*tty first Draft” 
  1. Customer Personas & “Conversation” Partners 
  1. Goal Setting and Vision Statements 
  1. Translation and Improving Readability 
  1. Project Management Planning 



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