Meet Helen Todd, your podcast host and the human behind Creativity Squared.
Co-founder and CEO of Sociality Squared, Helen has an insatiable curiosity about people, what connects us, what impacts us, and what the future holds for us.
Discover the inspiration for Creativity Squared, why she’s so excited about A.I., and get a sneak peek into all the fun that’s in store.
Stay tuned for the first interview with the wildly talented Harry Yeff dropping 4/20. ChatGPT says to hit the subscribe button wherever you’re listening so you don’t miss the most thought-provoking conversations on creativity & A.I. every week!
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Creativity Squared explores how creatives are collaborating with artificial intelligence in your inbox, on YouTube, and on your preferred podcast platform.
Because it’s important to support artists, 10% of all revenue Creativity Squared generates will go to ArtsWave, a nationally recognized non-profit that supports over 100 arts organizations.
This show is produced and made possible by the team at PLAY Audio Agency: https://playaudioagency.com
Creativity Squared is brought to you by Sociality Squared, a social media agency who understands the magic of bringing people together around what they value and love: http://socialitysquared.com
Meet the Host Episode Transcript
Theme: But have you ever thought, what if this is all just a dream?
Helen Todd: Welcome to Creativity Squared. Discover how creatives are collaborating with artificial intelligence in your inbox on YouTube and on your preferred podcast platform. Hi, I’m Helen Todd, your host, and I’m so excited to have you join the weekly conversations I’m having with amazing pioneers in this space.
The intention of these conversations is to ignite our collective imagination at the intersection of AI and creativity to envision a world where artists thrive.
Hi everyone. Wherever you are, however you’re tuning in and at whatever playback speed you may be listening at. Welcome. Thank you for spending a little bit of time with me today. Hi, I’m Helen Todd and I’m the human behind Creativity Squared. I’m really excited about this new project, exploring how creatives are collaborating with artificial intelligence, and to have you join in on the fun.
Before I release the first interview with the wildly talented Harry Yeff, I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself so we can get to know each other a little better, especially if I’m new to you. In addition to getting a feel for who I am and my background, you’ll hear why I’m launching this podcast and why I’m so excited about the exponential possibilities with AI and creativity.
You’ll also hear what’s in the pipeline for Creativity Squared, including how this platform is committed to supporting artists and a preview of some of the guests who will be joining. With that said, out the gate, I have a confession. I’m not an expert on AI, and we’ll be learning it together. Thank you for coming along on this journey.
For those who do know me, you know I have an insatiable curiosity about people, what connects us, what impacts us, and what the future holds for us. Ironically, I grew up in east Tennessee without TV in Dolly Parton’s hometown of Sevier County, at the foothills of the beautiful, Great Smoky Mountains. I was talking with my brother just the other day about how living somewhat off the grid in some ways really let our imaginations flourish beautifully when we were younger.
Since those days, I’ve traveled all over the world, spoken internationally, and called New York City home for 11 years. And then in 2020 when the world came to a stop, I did the all-in pandemic move. I bought a house and adopted a rescue dog, Chex, who’s my wonderful four-legged companion and will likely be making some appearances on this show.
I landed in Cincinnati, Ohio, where I went to undergrad at Xavier University and where my brother and his family live. When I was in grad school at Emerson College in Boston for my master’s degree in integrated marketing communications, social media was just opening up as an industry beyond an app for college students, and it was a natural space for me to enter.
I had used AIM Instant Messenger for those who remember AIM, MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. Then in 2010 in New York City, Sociality Squared was established. It’s the social media agency I own and run. 2010 was the very early days of the social media marketing industry, and Sociality Squared was actually one of the first dozen social media agencies to ever exist.
And it was either a Vitamin Water campaign or one that I helped design that was actually one of the first ever multi-channel social media campaigns because we incorporated radio into it. The industry has changed a lot since then, but one of the things that really got me excited then as I am now, is how cutting edge and pioneering social was in ushering in the social web.
It’s hard to imagine the world without social media, for better or for worse, and I do have some notes on that, but social media at its best is what I love. It’s about connecting people to one another and to what people value and enjoy. It’s about extending and strengthening our offline relationships online.
Through Sociality Squared, I’ve gotten to work with some amazing clients over the years from Fortune 500 companies to international brands with clients like, Like a Camera, I’ve also gotten to interview some really amazing creatives and photographers like Andy Summers, D-Nice, Bruce Davidson, the late and amazing Mary Ellen Mark, Ralph Gibson, Seal, and so many more.
I feel so privileged and humbled to have gotten to meet and connect with these amazing people. And this is one of the reasons why I’m actually really excited about this podcast too, cuz I get to pick the brains of more amazing creatives and pioneers in the space and learn from them. And we’ll all get to learn together as we’re exploring what this AI means in our lives.
And when it comes to creativity, I believe we’re all creators, and creativity is a big part of my life through the work that I do at Social Squared. And beyond the company and client projects, I always have some side projects that I love dreaming up and working on and thinking about. And one is actually a self-published kids book inspired by my niece Lucy, who’s an amazing little creator.
She’s 11 years old and always has art projects and is working in different mediums. My mom is also an artist and co-owner of a gallery in Gatlinburg, Tennessee where I went to high school. So art has always been a big part of my life since growing up, and I love expression in all forms and in the broadest definition of the word.
I also love the creative process. I love museums, galleries, attending art festivals like Art Basel, Venice Biennale, and Burning Man. I take film classes and art classes when I can at schools like John C. Campbell, where my mom has actually taught in Brasstown, North Carolina.
I’ve even organized panels about creativity too. My first ever social media week panel that I ever organized was on the creative process, and over the years, goodness, I’ve organized more panels than I can count on topics ranging from social media to keeping your brand human into the importance of accessibility and inclusion to the power of storytelling.
Speaking of conferences, I’ve been going to South by Southwest since 2009, have spoken there five times and have been an advisor for the conference for seven years. I love South by Southwest and it’s a part of the story about why I’m launching this podcast, but I’ll get to that in a second.
First I wanna talk about my introduction to Chap GPT. When I first really saw the potential for AI personally was back in October. I mentioned that I always have side creative projects that I love thinking about and marinating on. And one of the more recent ones that I’ve been dreaming up is a mini-series. And to be fair, most of it still lives in my head and across a massive Google Excel spreadsheet mapping out four seasons.
But when it comes to actually writing the script, that blank page struggle is all too real, which I’m sure a lot of artists and creators can relate to. Back in October, a friend of mine who works at OpenAI was generous enough to give me a demo of ChatGPT3. At the time, we used my mini-series to set up the first scene, and the prompt wasn’t complicated by any means.
It was basic characters, set-up, and some direction, but nothing very advanced by any means. But within seconds, the scene was mapped out with the actions and the dialogue all there, and I was blown away. It was really an aha moment for me that opened up my imagination about what’s possible with these tools.
And I got really excited about what I could do with ChatGPT and collaborating with it, about my script, and the blank page didn’t seem as intimidating. And I think at the time I was like, oh, I’ll give myself two years to write this and we’ll have one of the first miniseries that will ever be text-to-video.
However, that’s not gonna happen. The text-to-video technology is moving way too fast and is already in experimental stages. And while I still love working on this idea in the background, I’m launching this podcast instead. But that was really one of the first aha moments for me for the power of these tools.
And then after that demo, I was so excited. I went to my team at Sociality Squared on one of our team calls to share what I had learned. And another aha moment came as I was talking about it. All the writers on the team were like, oh yeah, Helen, we’re already using those tools.
So the tools were already being embraced. And the more I talked about it to other colleagues, I saw the groundswell about what was happening. And then of course, you know, ChatGPT took over the news with being the fastest growing app with over a hundred million users as well, and kind of took over the world in some ways.
But back at Sociality Squared, we’ve already really embraced the tools and are still refining how to best bake them into our processes, which we’ll be sharing some of the practical applications with you too through Creativity Squared.
One thing that’s really exciting to me about these tools is how they open up exponential possibilities when it comes to unleashing creativity to more people on the planet in ways that we’ve never seen before in human history.
And I love that it’s opening up new modes, mediums, and forms of expression.
If the iPhone turned a whole generation into photographers, these new AI tools are opening up new creative outlets for us and the next generation. We have yet to see what Citizen Kane was to film when it comes to these new tools. Something that fundamentally challenges the perception of what can be achieved and makes us rethink the possibilities of the art form itself. And I can’t wait to see when we do.
And I also recognize that this technology is also a very big unknown, and unknowns can be really scary at times. And with this platform, Creativity Squared, we’re going to be exploring everything, what to be excited about, and also the aspects where there are very valid concerns. There are very specific moral and ethical questions that we’re all asking and need to figure out together. In addition to those, I definitely wanna explore all the amazing creative, off the wall, exciting, fun, inspirational things that are happening in the space too.
I mentioned that I love South by Southwest, and AI was all the rage this past year in March, and after a three year in-person break due to the pandemic, I was so excited to be back in Austin at South by Southwest. And I wanna share a few of my biggest takeaways from the conference, especially as it relates to this project. But to be fair, every session and conversation incorporated or brought up AI and ChatGPT3.
As part of South By Southwest, I always hosted dinner to bring friends and colleagues together around a table to have more of those intimate conversations. And two themes emerged at that dinner and just really were my two big takeaways from the conference. The first is that this AI technology is going to be disruptive in ways that the word doesn’t do it justice. People are comparing it to the Gutenberg Press. And as I mentioned before, it really feels like the early days of social media where there’s this new disruptive tool that’s going to impact our lives in ways that we fully don’t understand and comprehend yet.
And the other takeaway is that in the midst of all this technology, we can’t forget about our humanity and the importance of human-to-human connection. And that community is more important now than ever before.
And there are two sessions that I also wanna highlight that really stood out to me and are informing this podcast to a certain extent. The first is from the amazing futurist Amy Webb, who, her session is always a favorite at the conference, where she releases her annual future report with predictions about what’s to come. And in it this past year, she said, it’s the end of the internet as you know it. So when I say disruption, the internet and life as we know it, is really on this precipice of seismic change.
The other session that really stood out is Greg Brockman, who’s the OpenAI co-founder and president, and OpenAI is the company behind DALL-E and Chat GPT. And when he was pushed on some ethical questions on stage, like artist attribution, he said this: This is a really important conversation to have.
Fundamentally, we as a company want to provide information and show what’s possible and let there be a public conversation about these topics. I don’t think we have all the answers, but we think it’s really important to be talking about. So these creators of these tools that are impacting humanity in ways that we can’t even really fathom yet have not figured out everything that needs to be figured out.
So that’s one reason for this podcast. My intention for Creativity Squared is to be an active participant in the conversation. I want to use this platform to help ignite our collective imagination at the intersection of AI and creativity to envision a world where artists thrive.
And as important as it is to navigate and be asking all the hard questions around the morals and ethics related to these tools and very valid concerns, which we will be asking, I also believe it’s equally as important to use our imagination and dream up and envision the world we want to live in, where these tools are actually helping artists in humanity. I’m in the camp that we can’t forget who these tools are being built for, which are people, and that they should be helping the betterment of all of us.
So talking about Creativity Squared, I also wanna give you a little preview of what’s in the pipeline that me and the team have been working on and are so excited to share with you and the world. So, Creativity Squared as I mentioned, will be exploring how creatives are collaborating with artificial intelligence.
The first interview is dropping 4/20. Hopefully an easy date for everyone to remember. And I’ve been super busy working on everything. And Creativity Squared will live in your inbox, on your preferred podcast platform, and on YouTube. I’ll be doing weekly interviews with amazing pioneers in the space.
And in addition to that, we have a lot of other fun and cool things planned. One is an NFT collection that will be launched with the first interview. Each episode’s cover art will be turned into an NFT for premium subscribers to collect. They’ll also serve as tickets to exclusive content and events that we’ll be hosting in real life.
Because it’s so important to give back and support artists, supporting artists is a core pillar of this project from the outset, and I wanna make sure to put my money where my mouth is. So I’m committing 10% of all revenue generated to Creativity Squared, whether from premium newsletter subscribers, VIP, founding members, advertisers, or however which way money comes to this project, 10% will be going to an organization that supports artists.
And that organization is ArtsWave. It’s based here in Cincinnati that supports over a hundred arts organizations and artists. So by supporting this project, you’ll also be supporting ArtsWave.
We’ll also be doing some really exciting things, testing these tools. So in addition to hearing how all of the guests are using them in their work, you’ll get to see them come to life through the production of this podcast as well. And one that I’m really excited about is one of the guests who I just interviewed actually has a company that creates custom synthetic avatars, and we’re gonna be creating a digital double of myself.
So if you don’t know what that is, you’ll definitely wanna sign up and listen to that interview and see my digital double come to life, which will be released later this year. And one thing I definitely wanna share with you today is a sneak peek of the guests who will be joining Creativity Squared in sharing the amazing work and insights that they’re doing in this space.
I’m so excited about all of the guests that we have lined up for you. But for the sake of time, I’ll just preview a few of them. The first interview is with Harry Yeff, who’s also known as Reeps One and Reeps100. He’s a London-born neurodivergent artist and technologist specializing in voice and tech-based expression.
He has so many accolades and one is that he’s a world renowned beatboxer. He’s worked with companies like Bell Labs to train their AI machines and then beat boxed with his second self. He’s extremely talented, fascinating, and a deep thinker. So you’ll definitely wanna listen to that interview, which is released on 4/20.
The second interview is with Jey Van-Sharp, who is a dear friend of mine. We joke that he’s my panel husband cuz we’ve done so many panels together. But he is a Venezuelan kid, raised in New York City and is part of the My Uber Life Consulting Group, which is a global consultancy that he co-founded.
And My Uber life specializes in providing innovative solutions to help geniuses, creators, celebrities, executives, and companies navigate the complexities of modern business and achieve success in their endeavors. But I love Jey and all of our conversations that we have, and so excited that we recorded this one, and we’ll get to share it with you as the second interview.
Another guest I’m super excited to have is Joanna Peña-Bickley. She’s a design technologist and known as the mother of cognitive experience design and a pioneer in AI generative design. She’s currently the director of product design at Uber Eats, and she’s worked at other companies, you know, that you might have heard of, like Amazon and IBM.
She’s created truly amazing and groundbreaking inventions. And she’s also created her own ethical framework that she’s been working out of that we’re gonna talk about, and I’m so excited to share with you. She’s also a strong feminist and dedicated to helping raise voices in the space too.
Last but not least is an interview with Chad Nelson, who I had so much fun talking with. He created the first ever animated short using DALL-E which premiered on DALL-E’s one year anniversary on his and OpenAI’s Instagram channels. He brought us through the whole creative process and how these tools have changed the trajectory of his career and how he’s thinking about creativity and AI as well.
And there’s so many more amazing guests who will be joining in the coming weeks that I’m so excited to share with you. But for the sake of time, I’ll end the preview and sneak peek there. But definitely sign up for the newsletter and tune in. And this Thursday, April 20th, the first interview will be dropping, which you won’t wanna miss. Thank you for listening this long, and thank you for being along for the journey.
Theme: But have you ever thought, what if this is all just a dream?