Nyenrodians: This is the Way!

Food for Thought Pre-PPS conference dinner

Last week I was in Amsterdam for several events. This included the Food for Thought Dinner put together by PROS and Horvath, then the conference for Professional Pricing Society, and lastly a guest lecture at the Nyenrode Business University, which is what I want to recap a bit here.

This opportunity was made possible through the invitation by Prof. Desiree van Gorp, who is part of Nyenrode’s Faculty Research Center for Entrepreneurship, Governance & Stewardship. I’ve become acquainted with Desiree through my work at UC Berkeley. Prof. van Gorp has a reputation for being a great curator of people, and she brings many world-class leaders and experts together, and to Nyenrode.

Nyenrode Business University logo

However, wrangling with my packed calendar and scheduling for any event has never been easy (even for my colleagues within PROS), and we started planning for this 5 months ago in early July. After way too many back-and-forth emails, we finally settled on Dec 5, but it will have to start early in the morning at 8:30am. Because I will need to dash to the airport before 11am in order to catch my 1:45pm flight back to SF, and then catch another flight back to Taiwan.

This is an extremely tight schedule with little buffer for any mishaps. However, despite all our efforts, we can’t predict the future, even for something as simple as the weather. The day before the lecture, I received a message from my airline saying that my flight had been canceled due to heavy snow in Munich that shut down its airport. Eventually, I was re-routed to Istanbul, which lengthened my journey to 22+ hours, and I missed the flight back to Taiwan. Although this disrupted my plans and created much stress while I got my travel sorted, I managed to make the best of it. This is the way!

Learning from Women Leaders

Because my return flight was canceled, I was able to stay through the entire session and learn from all the other speakers. This includes Prof. van Gorp, who stressed the importance of starting with the problem, the culture of experimentation, and that often overlooked human factor when implementing AI in any organization. And most importantly, we must use this powerful technology responsibly.

The topic of ethics and gender bias came up a few times during the Q&A session. I mentioned that I’ve written 4 blog posts on dealing with AI biases, so I just want to hyperlink them here to provide easy access.

  1. Step1: Acknowledging that Your AI is Biased
  2. Dealing with Inherited Biases Within Your Training Data
  3. Dealing with Emergent Biases in Operational Models
  4. Fixing the Root Cause of AI Biases
Nyenrode GenAI guest lecture speakers: Andreea Bulisache, Desiree van Gorp, me, and Juliette Goetzee
Nyenrode GenAI guest lecture speakers: Andreea Bulisache, Desiree van Gorp, me, and Juliette Goetzee

Then we were illuminated by Andreea Bulisache, who is the Founder of Stratified Advisory and ex-Microsoft National Tech Officer for the country of Romania. Andreea shared an excellent decision framework that helps decision-makers choose the right types of AI for their business problem. It’s very concise, yet covers all the important decision criteria for executives. Although I focused my talk on GenAI, there are many AI tools out there that are not GenAI. Moreover, not every problem is best solved with GenAI.

Last but not least, we all got some practical tips from Juliette Goetzee, the Managing Director RELX, a 140+ year-old publisher. Leading the AI transformation in a traditional enterprise is very challenging. In some respects, it’s harder than building an AI startup from scratch, because there are so many legacy, shareholders, employees, processes, etc. Juliette showed us how to address the AI adoption challenges as a cultural transformation and gave us some tried and tested use cases where every company can start using GenAI right now. One of my big takeaways from her story when building an GenAI feature is that not everyone is willing to pay for such a feature, because people may expect it to be free (e.g. search engines, social media, etc.).

Because my flight was canceled, I had the privilege to learn from 3 amazing women leaders. When you get a lemon, make lemonade! This is the way.

The Nyenrode GenAI Guest Lecture Recorded Live Stream

If you missed this event, or want to re-experience the energy and inspiration, you can always watch this YouTube recording of the live stream that was broadcasted through Linkedin Live. It’s very professionally produced with excellent editing that switches between the cameras and the slides, so it’s relatively easy to follow.

Besides, there were many interesting questions during the Q&A session. And because I was rebooked for a much later flight, I was able to stay for an extended Q&A and provide more in-depth commentaries along with Juliette and Andreea.

So take a look. This is the way… It’s the best way to review what you’ve learned.

Some Personal Observations

Nyenrode GenAI Guest Lecture on Linkedin Live
Nyenrode GenAI Guest Lecture on Linkedin Live attended by 900+

First, I was quite surprised by the level of interest and demand for this guest lecture. Desiree told me that within 1 day, there were so many signed up that it reached the capacity of the largest auditorium (~350 capacity) on campus. There were a total of 650+ registrants for this lecture and Nyenrode could not physically host all of them even with additional simulcasts. That’s why they decided to make this an online lecture via Linkedin Live, which was surprisingly, also very well attended by 900+ virtually.

Although I have delivered similar talks in the US, people weren’t as enthusiastic about it. I suspect there is some of that Silicon Valley Elitism or American Exceptionalism at play. Moreover, it’s well known that Americans don’t value education as much as Europeans do.

Another interesting observation is from questions that were asked during the Q&A session. Although this is not a big sample size, I felt that Europeans are much more concerned with the societal impact of this technology than the US. There were many more questions about ethics, bias, responsible usage, environmental impacts, and the job implications of GenAI. Whereas the US audience tends to focus more on the implementation know-how, business impact, and creative uses of this tech.

This is the Way: To Get the PDF Slides as Promised

Since we live in the digital age, it’s easy to get a copy of the PDF slides. And normally, I am pretty good at making that available after the lecture. But because my flight was canceled, I was rebooked on a later, more circuitous, and lengthier flight. So I have much work to catch up on upon returning from this disrupted trip. Hence, you must give me a little more patience this time.

But I always keep my promise. Because… This is the way!

So here is the PDF slide deck.

This is the Way: To Better Understand GenAI

You might have noticed that I am still very much an academic and a teacher at heart, even though I’m working in the industry. I am still very passionate about teaching and pedagogy, and I am always exploring ways to accomplish the best learning outcome for my audience. And the best outcome is to have all of you understand GenAI so well that you feel comfortable to experiment with it and be able to understand and follow its current development.

Because the subject of GenAI is so complex, the content so dense, and each concept depends on the previous, I often found that the audience learns better when they can stay focused and follow along with my reasoning. That is why I often suggest people to pay attention and don’t worry about taking notes. Keep in mind that it’s more important to understand something than to simply be able to remember it. By taking copious notes, you can definitely remember the content better, but it often distracts you from understanding it fully.

Moreover, my slides are NOT designed to be read, because even reading the slides can distract you from fully comprehending the logic behind the narrative. Instead, it’s designed to be presented. There aren’t many bullet points or text for you to read, so it forces you to follow along, think, and reason with my narrative. This will facilitate a deeper understanding of the subject.

Now you have it! It’s your turn to spread the love! This is the way.

The Nyenrode Family
The Nyenrode hoodies for the speakers

On my journey here, I heard that Nyenrode is like a big family. And I am thankful to be invited and welcomed by so many Nyenrodians. Thank you for the Nyenrode hoodie too. It kept me very warm on my long flight home.

Now that I am back to SF, I am going to rely on all of you to spread this knowledge to other family members, so we can all be prepared for this generation of AI. However, since my slides are not designed to be read (they are mostly images and diagrams), it’s not conducive to full comprehension without hearing the narrative at least once.

So when you do share, don’t just email them the PDF. They won’t get much out of it just looking through the PDF alone without the narrative. Instead, it’s best to direct them to this blog post, where I’ve compiled all the resources together. That way, everyone can get everything they need here, even if they need to watch the lecture (whether it’s a refresher or for the very first time).


I have always enjoyed my speaking engagements in the Netherlands (whether it’s in industry or academia). I found that the Dutches are generally quite curious and inquisitive. And there is nothing more enjoyable for a teacher than to have inquisitive students who are eager to learn.

So, Nyenrodians, I hope you enjoyed this guest lecture as much as I did. I hope this GenAI lecture on steroids helped boost some of your AI muscles by making you almost an expert on GenAI. Now that you know enough to be dangerous, please do something with it. Because you still need to train your AI muscle frequently by practicing the knowledge. Without practice, even muscle on steroids will still shrivel over time.

So, good luck! This is the way… Because it’s the way of the future!