In this episode of Signal in the Noise, we explore Dan Nestle’s journey to his role at LIXIL, Americas, a company dedicated to providing clean water access for all. We discuss the importance of content leadership and measurement, how “data in the formula” is the answer, and how AI tools—both generative and discriminative—make a difference. He emphasizes continuous exploration and the crucial role of human critical thinking.

Our guests are Dan Nestle, Communications leader and host of his podcast, The Trending Communicator. Signal in the Noise is hosted by Daniel Gaynor, Head of Strategic Solutions at Signal AI. 

“[If you] create very good, relevant content that is attractive to people and meets the need at the time, they will engage with you.” – Dan Nestle

Below is just a snippet of the entire conversation. Check out the Spotify channel to listen or the YouTube channel to watch. This transcript has been edited for length and clarity.

Daniel Gaynor: Every company wants to increase recycling, reduce waste, and fight towards a more circular future. I’d be interested in such a congested narrative, and given that you’re working across a global organization and multiple brands, how do you try to bring that purpose-driven, sustainability-focused story to life?

Dan Nestle: Well, it’s a puzzle that I don’t think we’ve really solved yet, but we’re getting there. Right now, we do a really admirable job and certainly do our best to have great content lead the way across the platforms that we’re on. As you know, the whole situation with social platforms and choosing where to place your content is ongoing— I wouldn’t call it a battle, but it’s certainly just a shifting environment. Algorithms change, audiences change, tastes change, and it’s hard to stay on top of that. Of course, the way we stay on top of that is certainly with a lot of measurement and understanding, trying to get an understanding of what topics are surfacing.

… 

Telling that story isn’t always relevant to what audiences want to hear in the moment. We’re competing all the time for eyeballs and mindshare with whatever the recent news is, with the cool stuff happening in technology. Not that we don’t do cool stuff because we do, but when you’re trying to get coverage or put out some content, if there’s an announcement from OpenAI, you’re drowned. That’s the state of affairs, and we’re doing it mostly organically now. We’re counting on a steady drumbeat and decent content to build our reputation. We try to tie the brands and our products into the content that we put out when it makes sense to do so, and it usually does.”

“Algorithms change, audiences change, tastes change, and it’s hard to stay on top of that. Of course, the way we stay on top of that is certainly with a lot of measurement and understanding, trying to get an understanding of what topics are surfacing.” – Dan Nestle

DG: You recently wrote a post for Page Society about a variety of tools that you like to use. If you’re listening to this, your chief comms or head of comms, or you’re in marketing, and you just want to take the additional step of experimentation, walk me through your framework and your favorite tools.

DN: In terms of my favorite, I guess it depends on the day. But I have to say if you just want to get the most out of your time with generative AI, just pick one of the big platforms and stick with it. Practice and experiment with your prompting until you get it, you know, to do the things you want to do.

I would start by subscribing to Chat-GPT, for example, and just trying to break it. Do whatever you can to understand how to communicate with AI. When I train people in this, the first thing they need to do is break out of the mindset they already have around using query tools. 

For lack of a better word, people’s first instinct when they see an open bar is to treat it like Google and search. So the very first thing that you need to do is understand that this is not Google. This is not anything that you’ve ever dealt with before. 

You’re actually starting a conversation, and I encourage you to believe that you’re starting a conversation with a person. So have those conversations. When you get over that concept and understand that you’re actually having a conversation with a person, you have to understand you got to tell the person what they are. 

Otherwise, you’ll be talking to a generic know-it-all who will try to give you a broad sample of their knowledge in a way that impresses you. Nobody likes a know-it-all. 

So tell the AI what it is, give it a role, and then go from there. If you can do just that basic part and see what happens, that’s, I think, a very first, a good first step. Then you have to understand that the only way—or not the only way—to get the most effective use or results is to treat it like a conversation, keep asking questions, and keep drilling in. 

“Tell the AI what it is, give it a role, and then go from there… The way to really get the most effective results is to treat it like a conversation, keep asking questions, and keep drilling in.” – Dan Nestle.

So again, with Google. You may ask, hey, what’s the best restaurant near me? You get the answer. You scroll through the results and go away. 

With AI, of course, you shouldn’t be asking where the best restaurant is, but maybe you want to be asking, help me create a recipe for chocolate cake. Act as a chef, or even better, act as a French pastry chef.

The more detail and context you give it, the better. And then you start this conversation back and forth with the AI until you refine it to the point that this is what I’m going to take away from the conversation, lest you think it’s just simply about creating recipes. 

Once you understand that it can talk to you that way, start to really look into what’s under the hood.”

Signal in the Noise is a podcast dedicated to helping today’s business leaders navigate the complexities of decision-making by leveraging data and groundbreaking technology—first and foremost, artificial intelligence (AI).