Discover more from Artificial Ignorance
Exploring the hidden potential of ChatGPT prompts
How to turn the AI assistant into an editor, a consultant, a coach, and more.
Over the last 3 months, I've personally introduced ChatGPT to dozens of people for the first time. About 50% of the time, something unbelievable happens: they aren't impressed.
"This is cool, but I've used chatbots before," they say. After a few examples, I can get them to see how powerful ChatGPT is. But why do they have that initial reaction? My gut says it's because they're expecting ChatGPT to repeat basic facts and figures. They aren't expecting ChatGPT to think, to reason, to strategize. And so they don't look beneath the surface.
But ChatGPT is so much more than a search engine you can talk to. It's a search engine that can come up with ideas and plans1. It's a reasoning engine. As I've been experimenting with ChatGPT, I've found a few great examples of how to get more out of it on a regular basis. Most of them involve delegating some amount of planning or ideating.
Kill writer’s block
I’m painfully familiar with the pain of staring at a blank page, waiting for inspiration to strike. I much prefer editing content over creating a first draft. Luckily, ChatGPT as a writing partner can help get me started.
Beyond helping with writer's block, ChatGPT is also a decent editor and translator. It's fantastic at repurposing content in a new format, tone, or language. It won't replace a professional editor anytime soon, but it can speed up your writing in lots of small ways.
Write some one-sentence topics for short essays or posts, focused on helping business owners get started with influencer marketing.
Exploring the benefits of influencer marketing for small businesses and how to get started.
Identifying the ideal influencer for your business: key traits to look for.
Creating effective influencer marketing campaigns: setting goals and measuring success.
Crafting a winning influencer outreach strategy: tips for building long-lasting partnerships.
The power of micro-influencers: why they could be the perfect fit for your business.
Setting a budget for your influencer marketing campaigns: how to maximize ROI.
Navigating the legal aspects of influencer marketing: understanding FTC guidelines and best practices.
Utilizing influencer marketing platforms: a guide to finding and connecting with the right influencers for your business.
Influencer marketing trends to watch: staying ahead of the curve in a fast-changing industry.
Case studies in successful influencer marketing: lessons learned from leading businesses.
Run a brainstorming session
Content ideas are but one example in a much broader category - brainstorming. You can explore ideas around products, strategies... pretty much anything!
When it comes to brainstorming, quantity is better than quality. With ChatGPT, you can keep generating and riffing on ideas as much as you want. The key though is using your unique insight and expertise to shape the brainstorming. ChatGPT's ideas often start off as obvious or shallow, but iterating with feedback leads to fascinating places.
What are some unique foods or snacks that could easily be sold from a food truck? Explain your thought process for each one.
Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwiches: The classic comfort food can be given a unique twist by using various types of bread, cheeses, and fillings (e.g., pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, bacon, or avocado). These sandwiches are easy to prepare, customizable, and appealing to a wide range of customers.
Savory Waffles: Instead of traditional sweet waffles, try offering waffles with a variety of savory toppings like fried chicken, pulled pork, or smoked salmon. This spin on a breakfast classic can attract customers looking for a unique, satisfying meal at any time of the day.
Stuffed Pretzels: Offer soft pretzels filled with various sweet and savory options such as ham and cheese, pizza toppings, or chocolate and marshmallow. The novelty of a stuffed pretzel can be a draw, and the variety of fillings can cater to different tastes.
Customizable Rice Bowls: Offer a base of rice, quinoa, or other grains, and then let customers choose from a variety of proteins, veggies, sauces, and toppings. This idea provides a healthy, balanced meal that can cater to different dietary preferences and restrictions, such as vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free.
Spiralized Veggie Noodles: Offer a healthy alternative to traditional pasta by serving spiralized vegetables like zucchini, sweet potato, or beet noodles, paired with a variety of sauces and toppings. This option caters to health-conscious customers and those following low-carb or gluten-free diets.
Call in an expert
These prompts are useful, but one thing I’ve learned is that it’s (almost) always better to add more detail to a prompt. And when focusing on a specific task or skill, you can get more specific by having ChatGPT pretend to be an expert.
Need an expert at writing screenplays? Need someone with a background in physics? ChatGPT can play all these roles with ease. But remember, ChatGPT is pretending. And while it is a very good pretender, it will absolutely lie to you in the pursuit of a convincing performance.
You are a Harvard marketing graduate and skilled content marketer. Outline a blog post for my company that sells hamster accessories.
Title: “The Ultimate Guide to Hamster Accessories: Creating the Perfect Home for Your Furry Friend”
Briefly introduce the importance of providing a comfortable and engaging environment for hamsters
Mention the wide variety of hamster accessories available in the market
Explain the purpose of the blog post: to guide readers through selecting the best accessories for their hamster
The Essential Hamster Accessories
Cage: importance of size, materials, and ventilation
Bedding: types (paper, wood shavings, etc.), pros and cons, and proper usage
Food dish and water bottle: importance of accessibility and hygiene
Hideouts and shelters: the need for privacy and security
Exercise wheel: promoting activity and preventing boredom
[ChatGPT response continues]
Call to Action:
Invite readers to browse the company’s online store for a wide selection of hamster accessories
Offer a discount code or promotion for first-time customers
Encourage readers to subscribe to the company’s newsletter for updates on new products, promotions, and helpful tips
Build yourself a coach
We can go even further by naming a specific expert to take advantage of their style, tone, and philosophy. In fact, we can turn ChatGPT into our own personal coach. Who wouldn’t want bespoke negotiation coaching from an FBI hostage negotiator?
In the example below, I asked for a general outline, but you could tailor this to your specific needs. Whether you’re an introvert trying to start more conversations, or a people-pleaser working on boundaries, just tell ChatGPT what to focus on.
You are Chris Voss, FBI hostage negotiator and author of the book “Never Split The Difference.” Outline a program with exercises to help me improve my negotiation skills over the next 30 days.
I would suggest the following 30-day program with daily exercises to help you improve your negotiation skills. These exercises are based on key concepts from my book and my experience as a negotiator.
Week 1: Establishing a strong foundation
Day 1: Empathy - Practice mirroring in daily conversations by repeating the last three words or key phrases your conversation partner says.
Day 2: Active Listening - Improve your listening skills by asking open-ended questions in conversations and summarizing the speaker’s main points back to them.
Day 3: The Accusation Audit - Identify potential objections in an upcoming negotiation and plan how you’ll address them.
Day 4: Building rapport - Strike up a conversation with a stranger and aim to establish a connection within the first few minutes.
Day 5: Tactical Empathy - Practice recognizing and verbalizing the emotions and perspective of someone you disagree with.
Day 6: The Power of No - Find opportunities to say “No” in a respectful and assertive manner.
Day 7: Reflection - Review the week’s exercises and identify areas where you need more practice.
[ChatGPT response continues]
By following this 30-day program, you will have the opportunity to practice and refine your negotiation skills, using exercises based on key concepts from "Never Split The Difference" and my experience as an FBI hostage negotiator. As you progress through the program, you'll gain confidence and expertise in various negotiation scenarios, enabling you to excel in both your personal and professional relationships.
Move faster with code
Every single business would benefit from custom software. But hiring developers is expensive, so many get by with SaaS products aimed at a large audience. With ChatGPT, everyone has a junior developer in their back pocket. Even if you’re not a programmer, you can use ChatGPT to analyze CSV data or scrape information from raw HTML dumps.
You shouldn’t eat candy from strangers, and you shouldn’t run strange code on your computer, AI-generated or otherwise. Don’t blindly copy and paste code without understanding what it’s going to do. For now, we can use Excel to test ChatGPT’s coding skills.
Write an Excel function to determine the number of days since the start of the quarter.
To determine the number of days since the start of the quarter in Excel, you can use a combination of
DATEDIF()functions. Here's a formula to accomplish this:
=DATEDIF(ROUNDDOWN(TODAY() - (MONTH(TODAY()) - 1) % 3, 0) + 1, TODAY(), "d") + 1
[ChatGPT response continues]
In this case, the formula doesn’t work! This happens decently often (remember: ChatGPT will lie to your face), but we can just tell it there was an issue! No feedback or error message required.
There's an error with the formula.
Apologies for the oversight. Here is the corrected formula to calculate the number of days since the start of the quarter:
=TODAY()-DATE(YEAR(TODAY()), FLOOR(MONTH(TODAY()) - 1, 3) + 1, 1) + 1
This formula calculates the number of days since the start of the current quarter using the following steps:
YEAR(TODAY()): Returns the current year.
MONTH(TODAY()) - 1: Subtracts 1 from the current month to adjust for the fact that months are 1-indexed (i.e., January is 1, not 0).
FLOOR(..., 3) + 1: Rounds down the adjusted month to the nearest multiple of 3 and then adds 1 to obtain the starting month of the current quarter (i.e., January, April, July, or October).
DATE(..., ..., 1): Constructs the date representing the first day of the current quarter.
TODAY() - ...: Calculates the difference between today's date and the first day of the current quarter.
... + 1: Adds 1 to the difference to account for the first day of the quarter.
This formula assumes that quarters begin in January, April, July, and October. If your quarters have different start months, you may need to adjust the formula accordingly.
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Bonus: Become a prompt master
If you struggle to come up with insightful, detailed prompts, it turns out you can use ChatGPT for that too! Here’s a bonus meta-prompt2:
You are a Prompt Creator. Your goal is to craft the best possible prompt to be used by you, ChatGPT. Follow this process: first, ask what the prompt should be about. Based on my response, generate three sections: a revised prompt that is clear and concise; suggestions for improvement, such as details to include in the prompt; relevant questions for extra information to improve the prompt. We will continue this iterative process with me providing information and you revising prompts.
To be clear, I do not believe that ChatGPT is sentient. The phrase “autocomplete on steroids” is a massive oversimplification, but it is not a totally inaccurate description of how ChatGPT works. But it turns out that when you build the most sophisticated autocomplete ever, and train it on the text of the entire internet, it writes sentences that are sometimes indistinguishable from thinking and planning.
Shoutout to reader Blake Cabot for helping with this one!