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John Alsopp

Introduce yourself
I'm John (two fun facts – men of my generation have a 20% chance of being called 'John', and basically no one gets named John anymore –it's like Ethel for men.)

Any podcast you are currently listening to, or a book you are reading?
I literally just finished American Prometheus, a biography of Robert Oppenheimer that formed the foundation of the recent film. The movie makes a lot more sense if you've read the book. I also listen to a large number of podcasts, as I'm really more of an unpaid Uber driver for my children these days than anything else, so podcasts are what I do in the car. Some that come highly recommended are Empire – a history of various empires. Also, The Rest is History – if you are remotely interested in anything to do with history, it's amazing. I honestly could go on for hours, but one professionally focused one I really recommend is Latent Space, which focuses on AI from more of a product engineer perspective.

What do you do outside work?
As mentioned above, I have kids – four kids aged 10-17, who do a lot (sport, performance) so my life outside work revolves around them. I've done quite a lot of volunteer work over many years – as a surf lifesaver in a different life, teaching primary school ethics, helping run little athletics in the local area, and coaching my daughter's football teams. But at this stage of my life, [outside of work] my daughters' lives are where my focus is outside work.

What do you do for work?
I co-founded and now run Web Directions – which is to cut a long story short a series of in-person and online conferences for web and digital professionals. Like most small businesses, that involves doing a bit of everything.

What is your favourite tool or resource, and why?
Currently OpenAI's platform (both ChatGPT and their various APIs). I genuinely believe large language models and generative AI will have a profoundly transformative impact on, well pretty much everything.Whether or not OpenAI will be the ultimate winner in this, their platform makes it really easy and inexpensive to experiment – which everyone regardless of their role should be doing. Seriously, drop everything and start experimenting if you haven't already.

Toughest work moment?
Try running in-person events when a global pandemic arrives.

Most rewarding work moment?
When people tell me that our conferences have had a transformative impact on their careers or even more so life.

Your one-sentence work-related advice
Show up. The adage "90% of success is just showing up" really has a lot of truth to it.

Your one-sentence hiring-related advice
Don't hire people like you.

Connect with John on LinkedIn and Twitter/X.