Creating an Alexa skill with a unique personality: Remote Buddy

I’m super interested in designing Alexa skills right now. I want to combine my technical conversation design skills with creative writing to create engaging voice experiences.

When I got started with Alexa skills, I found mostly Alexa tutorials for developers. So I’m documenting conversation design process for curious Alexa conversation designers.

This is the first of four Alexa skills in development.

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Harsh words, harsher realities

“You’re out of time. If you can’t already write a piece of code to find the longest palindrome in a string, you probably won’t be able to do so before the automation revolution deals a body blow to your banking job sometime around 2022. Cathy Bessant, the chief technology and operations officer at Bank of America, said as much in conversation with Bloomberg last month. If you’re a bank employee who’s technologically illiterate, Bessant said it’s no good rushing to do a few coding courses on the side. You’re too late: things are moving too fast. “The kind of skills that we’ll need have to be taught beginning at a much earlier age,” said Bessant. “Whether you can train the same worker at the same time you’re changing their job remains to be seen.” – Can’t Code? The only other thing that will save your job

Immediate thoughts: 

Does this include executives and leadership?

Are they doing any work to train their best and brightest in these skills?

Where will these bankers go now?

Does it even matter since this is the new reality:

“Huy Nguyen Trieu, the former head of macro structuring at Citi, told us he knows of a team of just four algorithmic traders who now manage 70% of the trades that were done by 140 people in 2010″

Luckily there’s a sliver of hope for bankers in form of soft skills:

“Not for nothing has Goldman Sachs president David Solomon been extolling the virtues of a well-rounded education that incorporates public speaking and communication. Just as banks need geeks, they’ll also need exceptionally charismatic individuals to act as the face of the new automated reality.”

Maybe I should launch a new workshop as part of my power skills series: How to Charm the Pants Off of Your Audience and Save Your Job

Adventures in awkward storytelling

I’m working on many projects right now: I’m consulting, writing, and building. Eventually everything will be under one big reveal but I’m not there yet. So when someone asks me what I do I have a ton of flexibility in how I answer. I love the challenge of trying out new professional narratives in casual networking situations.

Last week I bombed hard as I was telling a new professional narrative. At a dinner party with my partner’s coworkers, someone said to me “So I hear you’re working on some coaching stuff.” I winced a bit. I’m not coaching. In fact, I’m trying to avoid coaching. So I tried out a new story:

Me: I used to coach but not anymore. Now I’m doing some consulting, working with career services to upgrade their curriculums for international students. But that’s just for right now because I’m launching a school to prepare students for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Him: Awkward silence and polite smile. 

Imagine it’s a fine summer evening and you’re enjoying some delicious ceviche talking amongst the group about the fresh scallops and vacation. And then someone tells you their working on preparing people for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

WTF does that even mean?

He had no idea. I don’t blame him. I don’t even know why I said it. A polite silence ensued. He walked away. I went back to eating my ceviche and wallowed in the awkwardness.

Then I made a mental note: spend a little less time on the interwebs reading reports of robots taking over all the jobs and more time talking to real people.