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Efficiency unleashed: Leveraging better goal-setting and AI, with Earth Reiser (Topgolf Callaway Brands)

February 11, 2024 / 14:37 / E51

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Earth Reiser, Director of Strategy and Innovation at Topgolf Callaway Brands, offers advice on goal-setting, the importance of having a strategic vision as a business, and how to bridge the gap between this vision and actionable objectives. She also shares why she's excited about the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), discussing how she leverages it in her work today, and its potential for increasing organizational efficiency.

01:06 The Importance of clear goals 
04:06 The balance between top-down and bottom-up goal setting
06:09 The power of sharing goals 
07:51 The promise and opportunity of AI
11:12 Examples of using AI in professional settings

Jasmin: [00:00:00] It's that time of the year, goal-setting time. You're probably thinking about helping your teams set ambitious goals while being encouraged to increase efficiency. Our guest today is here to help, offering advice from her many years of experience leading empowered teams. Earth Riser, Director of Strategy and Innovation at Topgolf Calvary Brands, discusses bridging the gap between strategic vision and actionable objectives.
Jasmin: Then, she offers a glimpse into how she's leveraging AI and why she's excited about its potential. You're listening to People Changing Enterprises. [00:01:00] I'm your host, Jasmine Guthmann, and please enjoy this episode with Earth Riser. How do you think about goal setting for your teams?
Earth: It's incredibly difficult, and having that North Star as an organization. Having that visibility into what you are trying to achieve as a business, I think is incredibly important to goal setting. And when you have a very clear and articulated North Star, I do think goal-setting gets easier. I think it's easier for any department to say, Oh, that's where we're headed.
Okay. Here's what we can do to help us get there. But when you don't have that, then what do you do? And in huge organizations and multi-billion dollar companies, it's really hard to hear from your CEO, like what is exactly our vision sometimes. And so [00:02:00] that's where you think it gets a little bit more challenging
I think that's where I really look to our business partners to help drive what we're trying to do for the year. So when I think about our product and technology organization, as we're coming into this new year, the first thing is what are you trying to achieve this year, not just from a revenue perspective, but what are the areas of opportunity you believe you have to improve your customer experience and ultimately your bottom line, whether that's, you know, we're really focused on loyalty this year, or we really want to focus on omnichannel. We want to improve customers experience coming from online to in-store to in-store to online in a multitude of ways. Then you can, as a team, set your priorities and objectives to align with what the businesses are trying to achieve.
And that's where I think [00:03:00] when you have an organization that supports maybe a lot of different brands, how technology often does, you support marketing, support customer service, you support all the things people need to do. You can then align yourselves to helping them be successful, which helps your company be successful as a whole.
Then on the side of that, I think you also have to have what are your technology goals. And those, again, should be driven from what others are thinking about and doing, as well as how can we then improve. The long run to get them to a place that they maybe haven't said they wanted to be, but you know, they're going, which is often the superpower of product teams, right?
We can see it's coming before it's come. And usually your goal should be set around what's coming. As well as [00:04:00] how are we going to align to make our teams that we work with successful today.
Jasmin: So I'm curious, from your point of view, how much of the goal-setting responsibility is bottom-up and how much is top-down?
Earth: I think early on in my career, top-down was important to me because I needed that guidance. What I found was that you rarely get the level that you need to set really good goals. And so as I've experienced different environments and have been a part of studying strategic vision as well as aligning goals to those strategic visions.
It has occurred to me that it is less important for those goals to come from the top down. I think it's the vision and direction is incredibly important to be aligned on. And oftentimes that needs to come from somebody higher, but setting those goals wouldn't even have an [00:05:00] idea of what the vision is, is possible at the individual contributor level.
It is more important for people to think about how do I make a difference and set those goals for them than somebody else telling them, this is what your goal is for the year.
Jasmin: And it also creates agency, right? And a sense of, hey, I can actually have an, not just an influence, but a real impact on where we're heading as a company.
Earth: Yeah, yeah. As a leader, you know, I say this is where we're headed. And then it's up to my, you know, my, I always feel we're calling them employees. They're my colleagues, you know.
Jasmin: Horrible term, right?
Earth: My colleagues, then we set our goals with how we can impact that. But it is up to us as leaders to say, here's where we're going.
And then it is up to us as individual contributors to say, this is how we're going to get here. And then I think the most important part of that [00:06:00] conversation then is, are we aligned? Are we aligned on where we go? Are we going? And then are we both aligned on the, those are the things that will help us get there.
And I'm a big fan of collaborating and doing goals together as an entire team so that everyone can be inspired by each other's goals and what they're trying to do. It might change how they're thinking about their own goals. When goals are done. In silo, I think you lose a lot or if, if I don't know what your goals are as my boss or as my colleague or as your employee, like, I don't know how to support you.
I don't know how to help make you successful. And so having those be something that are shared. Very openly on a confluence page. So everyone can see like, what are you doing this year? What do you how are you gonna be held accountable? I think makes a really big difference and it's something that we talk about on my team Quite a bit and if I were to give advice to somebody that was interviewing for any job or [00:07:00] anything I would tell them you should ask what that person's goals are for the year because are you aligned to what that person has to achieve?
Because what they have to achieve is going to be what you're probably going to have to align to. Is that something you really want to do? Is that going to be right for you?
Jasmin: That may be the most brilliant question to ask in an interview that anybody has ever shared with me. Because it tells you everything you need to know. Everything, because if the answer is, Oh, I don't know, or I don't know, still, you know.
Earth: That tells you a lot if they don't know what their goals are
Jasmin: Or if the goals are fuzzy, or if there is no North Star, I wish I had known that question. And a few of the last interview processes that I have been in over the last decade.
Earth: Yeah, goals are super important.
Jasmin: There's one more thing that I really want to get to. On the topic of efficiency. Tell me a bit about why you personally are excited about AI.
Earth: Oh, gosh. [00:08:00] I love it. Yeah, it is, for me, it is so related to just efficiency. And actually I will back up a little bit.
I do think this level of AI that we have today at our fingertips, it feels similar to when I got to play Oregon Trail for the first time in school. It felt really special. You knew that it was new. You knew that it was, like, this was going to be in your life for your whole life and maybe you didn't even know at the scale you were going to use it at.
I certainly didn't know a computer would be what I looked at every single day for my entire life when I was playing OreganTrail. And I'm so glad that the computers have gotten way better, even though I miss a floppy. It feels like just as such a special moment that we are experiencing the start of something that is going to evolve so rapidly and quickly and be a part of our everyday lives in ways [00:09:00] that we'd never expected in the next 20 years.
And I felt privileged as a human that I get to experience that twice in a lifetime. You know, even my daughter and her friends, the way that they're introducing AI in ways that are unexpected to me. Have just been incredible. So, I'm just really excited about what's happening and where we're at and how I think it's going to change everything in the future from the point of an Oregon Trail perspective already today.
I use it for so much. I use it to help me draft. I'll share a funny story. Sometimes when I'm feeling a little heated or frustrated, Yeah. I will use AI to help simmer down what my response might be in a situation.
Jasmin: Are you serious?
Earth: Yes. So I think everybody has heard the practice of, you know, sometimes just write the email that you want to write so that you just [00:10:00] get it out.
You never hit send, but you got to get it out. But then what I do is I'll sometimes take that email and I'll give it to chat and I'll say, please make this nice. What it does is it actually strips out the things that don't matter, the feelings, right? It takes out the heat and it just says, it basically says, Earth, this is what you should have said in the first place.
And I just say, thank you. Thank you for that. Because now I can respond how I should respond, which is with a clear voice, clear direction and clear commentary without feelings or frustration, which are completely valid in every single human has. And I encourage every single human to have those and write those emails.
But I also encourage you to use chat GBT to help find that clarity you're looking for in those moments of times when you feel like you [00:11:00] have just kind of lost your piece of mind that you have usually on a day to day basis. So that's like one way that I personally have kind of giggled at how I'm using ChatGPT.
As a product person, I'm using it to help write user stories. I use it to explore new ideas, even for reviews. I used ChatGPT to say like, okay, here are all of the things that I accomplished this year. I'm going to say with the caveat that I excluded anything that was personal and or directive of the company that I worked for, obviously, privacy champion. And important to know when you are working with Cha GPT, even the paid versions of it, I should be cautious of what you put in there, but it really, I think, just helps you draft your mind very quickly so that you can then provide the editorial commenting that you need. As a marketer, this happens all the time.
You [00:12:00] send something to somebody that says, I need you to write x, y, and z, you send them a quick brief, they send it back. You rewrite it, you're like, da da da da da, yes, this, no, that, scratch that, arrange this, and then you have this new beautiful piece of content for your website. I feel like ChatGPT does this for you in your life for almost anything you can imagine, and it just creates, it's taken things that would take me hours today, job descriptions.
Form an entire new organization and I needed to write job descriptions from associate to senior level positions and that would have taken me just a week to do and it took me half of the day and then I could go do something even more important. I could use my, not that building an organization isn't one of the most important things that I am doing in my career at this point, but I would rather spend time with my employees setting goals.
I'd rather spend time with my business talking about pain points. I'd rather be looking at what my customers are doing [00:13:00] and thinking about so that I can then better help my teams move forward and do all those same things too. I think, you know, the thing I love about technology is that unless you are the division that is developing it, you are already behind and I will tell you, I will always be the first to start using it because I can’t imagine anything more fun. Terrifying, but also fun.
Jasmin: Totally agree. I think that's the fantastic opportunity that we all have because I don't think there's a lot of people that can say, Hey, I've witnessed, I've shaped transformations as big as we are experiencing right now.
Earth: Yeah, I think that's why we choose technology, right? Is we are agents of change. We love change. We experience change on a daily basis. And if things don't change, we tend to change them ourselves.[00:14:00]
Jasmin: Thanks for listening to People Changing Enterprises. This show is brought to you by Contentstack, the leading composable digital experience platform for enterprises got a question or suggestion. Email us at If you like the show, please leave us a rating or review on Apple Podcasts.
We'll be back next week with a new episode, helping you make your mark.

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