AI and the Future of Work

Host Dan Turchin, PeopleReign CEO, explores how AI is changing the workplace. He interviews thought leaders and technologists from industry and academia who share their experiences and insights about artificial intelligence and what it means to be human in the era of AI-driven automation. Have an idea for an episode? Want to recommend a guest? Send proposals to
  • Episode Number : 33

    Deborah Hanus, Sparrow founder and CEO, joins Dan Turchin to discuss how improving the complicated maternity, paternity, and medical leave process makes life better for employees. Deborah shares her vision for the company, why the problem exists, and what it was like raising two rounds of funding as a solo founder.

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    Listen and learn:

    • What inspired Deborah to start Sparrow
    • Why leave policies are so complicated and how COVID-19 has made the situation worse
    • How leave policies create gender bias and how Deborah recommends companies fix the problem
    • Why leave is tightly connected to job satisfaction and quality of life
    • The world Deborah hopes exists when Sparrow is wildly successful
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  • Episode Number : 32

    Tiernan Ray has published articles in every major tech and business publication over his 25-year career. This week, he joined Dan Turchin on the podcast to discuss what it means to practice responsible journalism at a time when audiences and advertisers are fickle and we’re contending with a pandemic, social unrest, political turmoil, and backlash against social media for promoting hate.

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    Listen and learn…

    • Why journalistic integrity matters even as fact-checking departments at organizations like Barron’s are being eliminated.
    • How the pandemic has created opportunities to tell stories about scientific topics that weren’t previously exposed to mainstream audiences.
    • Why it’s important for writers to not allow their social media brands to influence their presentation of facts.
    • How leaders like former Cisco CEO John Chambers, Applied Materials CEO Gary Dickerson, and Five9 CEO Rowan Trollope are managing company culture as “serendipitous moments for collaboration” go away.


    Follow Tiernan on Twitter.

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  • Episode Number : 31

    This week, we discuss the future of smart homes with Alex Capecelatro, CEO of Working from home has made smart home assistants business essential. They save us time researching, play mood-appropriate music, and help us meditate when quarantine life has an off day.

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    Alex and are navigating the new world of work like all of us. But unlike most of us, they’re doing it while being scrutinized for collecting personal data, trying to maintain international supply chains, and competing with pandemic stalwarts Amazon and Google. Listen and learn why just had its best quarter ever and raised a new round of funding. Hear how Alex is creating a culture well-suited for growth in uncertain times.

    Topics discussed…

    • What is the future of the smart home?
    • How is addressing the problem of data privacy? Why did his team develop a “Snapchat” feature?
    • What is Alex’s leadership style and how has it changed as the company has grown?
    • What would Alex do differently if he started over today?
    • How was Alex able to close a round of funding in the middle of a pandemic?
    • What is it like being David slinging stones at Goliaths Amazon and Google?
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  • Episode Number : 30

    Kenn So is on the investment team at Shasta Ventures, one of the most respected enterprise software investors in Silicon Valley. He evaluates AI-first companies every day and has a few opinions about what’s working and how to get your AI company funded.

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    On this week’s episode, Ken shares his perspective on venture capital, AI, and what the best pitches have in common.

    Listen and learn…

    • How the best SaaS companies are evolving their operating plans in lean times.
    • Why AI explainability matters.
    • What is AI bias and what are innovative companies doing to address it.
    • Why it’s ok that AI innovation is slowing down while AI accountability is catching up.
    • The biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make when managing in a crisis.
    • How diversity in the VC community directly impacts innovation.
    • The pitch that made Kenn say “wow!”
    • What Kenn learned backpacking around the U.S. before starting his venture career.
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  • Episode Number : 29

    Bill Davidow is an icon in the venture capital world having made his first $5,000 venture investment in the 1960s before starting Mohr Davidow in 1985. This week’s episode of AI and the Future of Work is a fascinating discussion with Bill about his new book “The Autonomous Revolution: Reclaiming the Lives We’ve Sold to Machines”.

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    This is a rare opportunity to learn secrets from one of the greats who helped launch the 8086 chip at Intel before planting the seeds that became today’s venture capital industry.

    Bill on how today’s autonomous revolution relates to the previous agricultural and industrial revolutions: “If we could figure out a way to adjust in an era of scarcity we should be able to adjust in an era of abundance.”

    Listen and learn…

    • What Silicon Valley was like in the 80s and how it has changed.
    • The future of labor and why we’re measuring productivity the wrong way.
    • What Bill means when he says we’ve locked ourselves in algorithmic prisons.
    • How Bill proposes we mitigate the impact of AI bias.
    • What are the attributes of the best entrepreneurs Bill has coached.

    This is a special one. Enjoy!

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  • Episode Number : 28

    On this week’s podcast, we interview Shannon Burns, internal developer tools manager from Slack.

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    Shannon’s been adjusting to a new style of management during the quarantine. Let’s just say the pace hasn’t slowed down for her and her team but she’s adapted her leadership style to help everyone stay productive while also acknowledging how the pandemic has affected them personally.

    Listen and learn…

    • What makes Slack’s culture unique that might surprise you.
    • Why a manager’s new role is helping team members work less hard… and how Shannon does that.
    • How Shannon’s team gathers requirements in lieu of traditional whiteboard sessions with developers.
    • Shannon’s favorite Slack features (that you’re probably not using).
    • How Shannon has been hobbying her way through the quarantine to stay sane.


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  • Episode Number : 27

    How AI and Humans Will Work Together to Build a More Human Future of Work

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    In this turnaround format, Leeza McKeown and Dan King interview Dan Turchin!


    • Dan’s backstory – starting to help augment the human experience.  (What are his goals?)
    • The benefits of AI for a frontline call center agent.  (Timely…. 600% increase in need for employee IT support for home workers.)
    • How to think about optimizing your “digital labor” resources.  (There is a class for business leaders who want to master this.)
    • What is the first question Dan asks in each virtual meeting & who does he look up to as leaders in the time of COVID-19.
    • Why “building back better” is a realistic goal, because we were built for this.
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  • Episode Number : 26

    We enjoyed our discussion with Charlene Li, analyst and best-selling author of The Disruption Mindset, so much last December that we invited her back to discuss the impact of the pandemic on leaders, culture, and the evolving nature of work. Charlene’s advice for disruptors is more relevant than ever.

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    Charlene’s advice to leaders who have themselves been disrupted: “Now is the time to be a better leader. Take this opportunity to get to know the whole person – where they live, their families, their hobbies. These intimate work interactions allow us to be more empathetic.”

    Listen and learn…

    • How Charlene has made use of time spent not traveling and speaking at live events
    • What’s the single most important skill for managers leading in periods of uncertainty
    • The new definition of work. Hint: it’s no longer defined by physical space.
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  • Episode Number : 25

    In this week’s episode of AI and the Future of Work, Slack Senior Vice President of Engineering Allan Leinwand shares how he’s leading his teams through the pandemic and what it means within Slack when CEO Stewart Butterfield says “we were made for this.”

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    Allan helped develop, launch, and manage some of the most-loved technology products in history, including Cisco’s routing products, Zynga’s social gaming backend, ServiceNow’s platform, and of course Slack.

    Listen and learn…

    • What it’s like to develop the app that quite literally makes it possible to WFH.
    • What teams that build iconic products do differently than others.
    • What technology trend will define the next decade like cloud and AI have defined the past decade.
    • How Allan defines his success as a leader.
    • What leaders need to do now to keep employees productive and create cultures that are stronger on the other side of COVID-19.
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  • Episode Number : 24

    On this week’s episode of AI and the Future of Work, we discuss the future of post-pandemic consumer behavior and AI in retail with Breinify CEO Diane Keng. Breinify develops a predictive personalization engine used by brands like BevMo! to understand how we buy and optimize the buying experience. She’s building a great culture and learning fast as a first-time founder and CEO.

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    Listen and learn…

    • How Diane thinks about company culture and how she keeps her team motivated in the face of uncertainty.
    • How AI is delivering a better consumer experience and how to use data to predict behavior without violating consumer privacy.
    • How Breinify uses data signals to identify “moments that matter”.
    • Diane’s superpower and her advice for the next generation of female founders.


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  • Episode Number : 23

    In this week’s episode of AI and the Future of Work, Dan Turchin discusses Silicon Valley culture pre and post pandemic, SaaS metrics, and the mistakes that get CEOs fired with Dave Kellogg, Silicon Valley luminary, investor, advisor, and CEO.

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    Listen and learn…

    • What’s the single most important metric for venture-backed SaaS companies… and why you’re probably calculating it wrong.
    • What makes a great high-tech culture and why Dave is particularly proud of one slide that summarizes his philosophy on building successful teams.
    • Why most CEOs fail because of one specific way they mis-manage board expectations.
    • Dave’s biggest regret and how he has learned to overcome it as a leader.

    Dave’s excellent blog:

    Twitter: @kellblog

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  • Episode Number : 22

    In recent weeks, we’ve been discussing what leaders do in a crisis. This week, we share an update from a discussion last November with Tess Posner, CEO of AI4ALL.

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    In the past six weeks, AI4ALL has…

    • Released a new Open Learning course about AI and COVID-19 for students and educators.
    • Published a sentiment analysis and NLP curriculum.
    • Made more than 65 hours of AI curricula and teaching guides available for free at
    • Transitioned many 2020 high school summer internships online.
    • Shifted its entire team to fully remote work.
    • Tess is a force of nature. We need more leaders like her who see opportunities in the crisis not to help themselves but to help others first. In Tess’ case, she’s on a mission to bring AI education to high school students around the world.

    In this episode, listen and learn…

    • What’s the future of AI education for high school students?
    • How can we mitigate the impact of AI bias in hiring?
    • How high school students are solving real world problems with AI.
    • How a natural disaster inspired Tess to launch her career in AI education.
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  • Episode Number : 21

    In this week’s episode of AI and the future of work, we discuss enterprise bots and natural language processing with CEO Randy Womack. Randy is a 30-year Silicon Valley enterprise software veteran who has built successful teams and products at amazing organizations like SuccessFactors (now SAP) and Castlight Health.

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    Listen and learn…

    • What is an employee experience platform and how do great companies think about employee experiences?
    • Why was Randy an early advocate for remote work and why do distributed teams outperform others? Hint: it’s not what you think.
    • What do tattoos and blue hair have to do with company culture and what are the attributes of the best company cultures?
    • Why is Marc Andreessen right about the need to build… as long as we don’t build keyboards.

    Thanks to Brian Ascher from Venrock for the introduction to Randy.

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  • Episode Number : 20

    This week, we discuss the human toll of the pandemic on day 35 of the shelter in place order. We also discuss what life on the other side will be like. We’re learning from organizations like TaskRabbit whose CEO Stacy Brown-Philpot shares her organization’s journey with Bob Safian on Reid Hoffman’s Masters of Scale.

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    We’re re-publishing an episode that originally aired last August with former ServiceNow Vice President and next level leader Craig Pratt. In it, Craig discusses…

    • Lessons for leaders looking to make an impact in or outside careers in technology
    • Why empathy and intuition are timeless skills that transcend technology and will never be replaced by AI
    • What inspired his career in technology from humble beginnings as a golf caddy
    • Fear is subsiding. Hope is returning. We’re strong. We’re resilient.
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  • Episode Number : 19

    This week, you’re stuck with my voice sharing my thoughts on the situation. We’ll get back to interviews about AI next week.

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    It’s a confusing time for all of us. There’s no way to comprehend the magnitude of what is happening right now.

    In this podcast, I discuss…

    • What’s ahead for company culture as second curve effects hit the workplace.
    • Why organizations are more like organisms than machines.
    • How strong organizations are growing stronger using new technology to embrace what makes them unique.

    Please react with your own thoughts and coping mechanisms. We’re all in this together.


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  • Episode Number : 18

    This week, we’re sharing a conversation I recorded a few weeks back with Shane Carlson and Laura Araujo on their Techno Biotic podcast. It was before the pandemic so, shockingly, we didn’t share work from home tips and there was no discussion about toilet paper hoarding.

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    Shane and Laura geek out weekly about the intersection of post-humanism, technology, and culture. In this discussion, we cover:

    • What it means to be human… augmented by machines.
    • What human skills transcend technology… and which will be less valued in the future.
    • What can employees do now to embrace technology change… instead of fear it.
    • What is the actual state of AI… and where is it headed.

    Hope you enjoy!

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  • Episode Number : 17

    We’re joined by Barclay Rae on this week’s episode of AI and the Future of Work. Barclay has consistently been named one of the top 20 influencers in IT Service Management. He’s an accomplished speaker, consultant, and author having recently contributed to the ITIL 4 content library. Barclay joined us to discuss the impact of the pandemic on service management and what leaders should know about the future of work.

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    In this episode, hear Barclay discuss…

    • How remote work is forever changing company culture.
    • Why the best technology leaders are really the best people leaders.
    • Why IT must stop “shouting from the basement” to be perceived as leaders.
    • The common traits of the most effective (and dysfunctional) organizations.
    • What’s new in ITIL 4 and why the concept of sustainability is critical for organizations interested in delivering better employee experiences.
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  • Episode Number : 16

    This week, we’re re-sharing an episode that originally aired August 2019 because it’s more timely than ever. In it, Jordan Husney, founder and CEO of remote work pioneer Parabol talks about the future of work in remote teams.

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    Listen and learn…

    • About Jordan’s entrepreneurial journey
    • Why he started Parabol
    • How to hold distributed teams accountable
    • Why cultures that support remote workers attract and retain better talent
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  • Episode Number : 15

    Ash Rust, startup entrepreneur and pre-seed investor, discusses what he looks for in founding teams, why the best founders succeed, how he evaluates companies, and what opportunities he’d fund if he saw the right pitch.

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    Listen and learn…

    • The three common attributes of the best startup CEOs
    • What Ash looks for when coaching entrepreneurs
    • The best pitches Ash has heard recently… and a few bizarre ones
    • “The one that got away” Ash missed
    • Ash’s advice for a younger version of himself

    Learn more about the amazing companies Ash discussed at Sterling Road.

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  • Episode Number : 14

    Reza Nazeman, serial CIO from Microsoft and McKinsey and current CIO of SAP Concur, discusses the evolving role of IT in the era of automation and why thinking business first is how he adds value as a technology leader.

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    Tune in to learn…

    • How Reza got his start in Germany and earned his way into roles of increasing responsibility
    • What are the attributes of a great culture and what McKinsey and Microsoft get right (and wrong)
    • Reza’s philosophy on hiring and grooming leaders
    • What skills will never be replaced by AI
    • What “CIO” really stands for
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