Personal Branding in the AI Era: Navigating Complexities in the Digital Era
Dinis Guarda, Founder & CEO of ztudium
Join Harshit Gupta, Director of Business Alliances at Wytlabs, in an engaging episode of Wytpod as he interviews Dinis Guarda, Founder and CEO of ztudium, focused on Industry 4.0, metaverse, AI, and blockchain. Dinis shares insights on ztudium’s mission, its impact on technology, challenges in ESG, and the future of marketing trends, emphasizing the importance of personal branding and the balance between technology and problem-solving. The conversation delves into the complexities of governance, the role of AI in disrupting industries, and the need for continuous learning and adaptation in the ever-evolving tech landscape.
Ztudium is a technology big data Business Intelligence Digital network for Finance, Markets and Business with a 360 degrees focus on Innovation and Social Media DNA.
Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of WYTPOD. My name is Harshit, and I’m the Director of Business Analysis at WYTLabs. We’re a digital agency specializing in SaaS and e-commerce SEO. I’ve got Dinis Guarda with me today. He’s the founder and CEO of ztudium Group, a global maker and R&D creator of Industry 4.0. So metaverse, AI, and blockchain tech. A big welcome to you, Dinis. I’m so happy to have you with me today.
My pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Let’s start with what inspired you to establish ztudium Growth. What is the overarching mission that drives the company’s work in emerging technologies?
I love to solve problems. One of the things I learned is that, First of all, I like to research innovation, keep updating myself, and find new ways of looking at what is happening. I keep all this writing and defining and studying things. From the angle that I touch different things, one of the things that is important for me is to understand the trends and the different parts, and I’m a very curious person. One of my models is probably Leonardo da Vinci. I like to learn to create and to innovate. ztudium is the Latin word. It comes from the Latin word ztudium, which gave the word studio in English. I just put a Z because it’s the last letter of the alphabet. In the sense that it’s a platform, a research that solves problems for the university of the world. Of course, ztudium was the room of the university in Latin where people used to study. It’s a continuous study to solve problems and actually to find new solutions for things. That’s ztudium. The products we’re trying to build are platforms that solve problems for our times and use technologies of our times.
And of course, the technologies of our times are blockchain, AI, metaverse, and all these different things.
That’s interesting. Can you highlight a specific example of how your student groups? Innovative tech solutions have made a tangible impact on business or industry.
We’re starting to have more and more impact as we mature as a company. There’s still a lot of work to be done because, of course, one of the things we’re trying to do is a lot of the things we’re doing are becoming quite advanced, both in terms of technology, in terms of UI UX, and in terms of a lot of things we build. But at the moment, we’re starting to make some breakthroughs in the way we look at technology like smart cities and combining experiences. We created a concept of the ABCs of cities, so cities’ ABCs, the ABC of business ABC, and the ABC of sports. A lot of things we What I like to do is, okay, one of the challenges that I look at the internet is very fragmented. When you want to find things on the Internet, if I go to India and if I want to visit the city, it’s very difficult to find all the information. I have to go to 10 different websites. Sometimes I get some crazy surprises because one website tells me to go to one place, another website. For instance, I have a case, I always use two cases.
One of them was I was traveling to Egypt and I booked a very good hotel on the booking.com, but I forgot to look at the location. Suddenly, the hotel was in the middle of the desert. I didn’t want to stay there because I didn’t go to Egypt to stay in the desert. I want to go or stay in a suburb. I want to go and stay in a place where there are museums or there are things. These were 40 minutes away. So I arrived there and said, No way I want to go to another place. But I had to go and then call someone, Okay, where is the center of Cairo? I don’t know where is the center of Cairo. If I’m traveling, and Even if I go to Google, Google has fantastic things, but very easily I get lost. And Google, of course, solves a lot of the problems of trying to organize the internet and finding things on the internet. But the internet is still something new. Sometimes you think about AI, you think about all the things, but a lot of basic things, for instance, finding business information, finding information about doing business in one country, finding the information about even going to a museum and finding the right approach to go to the museum, or then going to a new city and get lost because you don’t find the right place where you want to go or because there’s a street that is 5 kilometers and you think the street is not so big.
There are a lot of details that as we get physical and digital together, I think, especially Actually, if you see the metaphor of, I would say that Star Trek is probably the best one. I want to build a lot of things that Star Trek and our common imagination have, but they still don’t exist in day-to-day life. That’s the problem we try to solve, both in technology and both in platforms.
How does the company strategy leverage AI, blockchain, DLT, and the approach of transformation for the car business?
I think initially Because I have an academic background and I’m an author as well, I made a mistake, then as I became more business savvy and spoke with a lot of experts and got fantastic partners, one of the things I learned is that, okay, I’m not talking to people like me. Each person is different. For us, you understand technology, I can go technical, but 90% of people don’t have a clue. They know how to use a phone, and probably they will be making a phone call using WhatsApp and three apps. That’s the standard. People use three apps even if they have thousands of apps. That’s normal. They use photography, the email, and probably they search on Google, and they might do one for payments or finance and one for entertainment. They probably use YouTube or a social network. That’s it. It takes around 5-10 apps. That’s the maximum people use. I’m trying to, Okay, how can we still not change this fantastic opportunity that we have? Normally we look at the problem, but I want to look at the solutions.
How we do this is that we solve problems for people in society.
That makes sense. The concept of a global online community is very intriguing. How does your company envision this community contribution to the success of businesses and professionals?
Yeah, that’s an interesting one. I believe that at the moment, especially with what is happening in touch digital transformation, especially with artificial intelligence, as well as special computing. The velocity is going to be bigger than ever in the history of humanity, and the sense of disruption will become the new normal. So yes, things are going to be disrupted, but you just scope and move forward with it. But effectively, there will be probably still in our generation that you’re going to be like you see in a lot of science fiction films, that you’re going to be interacting with machines. At the moment, even when I interact with you, I’m using a lot of technology. You are in one part of the world, I’m in another part of the world. But this is going to be just going to a much bigger level. The opportunity is that this is going to create thousands of new types of jobs. But at the same time, a lot of people will have a big challenge to cope with these changes because this implies that you have to change the way you think, and the way you study, and implies that you have to continue changing yourself all the time.
Even in families, and the ones we love, sometimes people cannot understand these things, and they will be great. I think that’s the sense that if you look someone wrote something, I love you, Val Noah Harari, the author, and they wrote something interesting. In the past, the religions would tell you Who to fight, how to behave, and all different things. Now, they tell you which culture or I would say if you’re using the technology operating system you are from. If you are Hindu, you have an operating system of Hindus that comes from thousands of years. If you are Christian, you have an operating system of 2,000 years. If you are Egyptian, probably you have a lot of different operating systems between the Egyptian culture and the Muslim culture. It depends on where you’re coming from. You have to adapt towards your culture. I would say that if you put us and they make a parallel with machines, each of us has an operating system, and this operating system needs to be rebooted. The challenge is that our education systems were not done for a continuous reboot. They think that you go to school, study for a couple of years, get a degree, and get a job for life.
That will not happen. I think we’re going to have a big challenge in how we cope with this continuous disruption, innovation, and continuous education. The part of the work I’m doing in ztudium is not just on the technology, but also on the thought leadership. That’s why my two-channel, and why I write books, is because I want to, first of all, myself learn and continuously learn, but also to make sure that the people around me can continue learning. It’s very difficult because a lot of people, even after their 20s or 30s, don’t want a chance. They want to keep the way they are, and that’s not easy, and they’re going to have serious problems. But at the same time, if you keep learning, if you keep adapting to these fantastic tools, some of them will be harming and creating some big issues. But it’s not different. That’s why if you look at the first industrial revolution, changed the entire ecosystem of Europe. It didn’t change the entire world, but it changed the entire ecosystem of Europe and destroyed the entire society the way it was. They kill most of the complex and they create all the problems, but they create as well a lot of fantastic.
As well, on a positive note, at the beginning of the 20th century, there were 1 billion people on the planet. Now, there are seven, almost eight. That means we multiply ourselves eight times on a big scale, 8 billion times, let’s put it that way, in the space of 100 years. As well, at the beginning of the 20th century, with the Spanish flu, around 200 million people died. During COVID, which was much worse, not even a fraction of that. There are a lot of great things, but sometimes our perception of reality is quite blurred and quite biased, to say less.
I would love to know because, concerning Metaverse studio, it has been more in with your Metaverse studio. It has been all the cutting edge of how we are an additional twin. Could you share some examples of a standout project or achievement? That’s the big domain.
It’s a good question. A very important thing is how we define the metaverse. I more and more think about special computing because, at the end of the day, we have AI and special computing. The metaverse, of course, the concept is full of innuendos because some people love it, some people hate it, and some people don’t even understand what it is. But a lot of vision is the metaverse in this space. The etymology comes from the book or a space that was created for the book. But it’s definitely, I would say there the immersive experiences. At the moment, there’s me and my digital twin who is here in the photo that you’re using, and I’m looking at your digital twin, I’m not looking at you. This concept of the digital twin, of course, for now, is still a bit blurred because people don’t even know what is a digital twin. But digital twin is, okay, yeah, I’m interacting with your version of yourself in the camera, which is already a digital twin. At the moment, there’s a digital twin of the video, there’s a digital twin of data, and there’s the digital twin of where you are, even if you are virtual talking here.
At the end of the day, everything is already a bit of a metaverse if you look from that perspective. At the moment, we create these spaces where we interact with each other face-to-face or virtual. These spaces are going to be more and more sophisticated, and that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to do a metaverse technology. I call it metaverse enterprise and metaverse digital twins that combine experience to amplify and create digital transformation and physical versus digital continuations and seamless experiences. I don’t want this to make it too complicated. As I was saying in the beginning, I just came out of a meeting with my team that is building the software, and the point is, that I will make it so simple that people can use it. It’s like an iPhone. People use iPhones because they’re simple to use. The products have to be simple, and the more simple, the more people use them.
That makes sense. I understand your group is active in ESG and sustainability initiatives. How do these efforts align with the broader goals of businesses and the government?
Yeah, that’s a big question that touches a lot of different areas. What I think in terms of ESG is that, first of all, most people are still not prepared for the concept of ESG. Esg is quite complex because of its environment, sustainability, and governance. When it comes to governance, it’s very sensitive because 90% of people have, again, their operating system. Even in India, if I’m if I’m Brahm or if I’m another different cast, I have different ways of looking at the world. This is not just me, it’s my background. For instance, if you are Christian, you have the Jewish Christian way of sin, guilt, and all that stuff. If you are Muslim, you have all the different ways. There’s effectively a huge component of the complication around the governance and everything around the governance that I think is still very complicated because if you do business in India or if you do in Russia, of course, it’s different. If you do it in Nigeria, you’ll be much more aggressive. If you do it in Norway, probably be much more relaxed. Or if you do it in France, you have a different approach, or in Portugal, or Spain, or Brazil.
The challenge is that ESG is the environmental part everyone knows that is important, but no one knows about it. They just know, okay, there’s something wrong because the weather is changing all the time and more than ever. Then all has changed, but now it’s becoming faster as well. The sustainability, yes, we all know that we need sustainability, but okay, is this circular economy? Of course, if I’m in India, for instance, India has the most advanced things in the world, but there are still around 200 million people who are on the verge of poverty. But that is changing. Probably in five years, there will be a middle class, like Brazil changed and became all middle class. The challenge is, okay, what defines and defines my sustainability? But I don’t have money. Of course, I don’t care about sustainability. I care about every money. There are a lot of complications in terms of ESG. But the fact is that any company that wants to be sustainable needs to do this. But it’s very difficult, for instance, if you have a team of people from around the world. For instance, the way I manage someone from India has to be different from the way I manage someone in France or Portugal, and the UK, or China.
This is a big complication because then the ESG becomes very local and global. Okay, politically, correctness is fantastic, but then it becomes the problems that you have in the US economy that politically correctness became a problem that is dividing more than uniting. The idea of ESG is uniting, not dividing. It’s quite a complex topic. But of course, in the fundamentals, I created an ESG index precisely to look at these things. I believe that all of us have to learn and try to cope with it and go step by step. But we need to be as People are having a bit of common sense. Every business needs to look at this very seriously. So environment, sustainability, and governance, especially governance, because the governance is the most difficult. At the end of the day, someone has to pay the bills. We can all be very sustainable, very governance, but if everyone is in debt and the one is paying the bills, we’re going bankrupt. You need to find the balance between pushing the boundaries of innovation, pushing the boundaries of sustainability, and the environment, but at the same time, creating reality in terms of business reality in terms of solutions.
Makes sense. Because ztudium Group has been recognized as a thought leader in the digital transformation world, what principles guide the company’s thought leadership in a rapidly evolving tech landscape, on your end?
I think you have to have a sense of humility to keep learning. I think that’s the most important thing. There’s a sense of persistence and resilience. At the same time, you need to find great people. It’s not easy because sometimes you find great people, they want to talk but not to act. Sometimes you find people that just want to go in the right. That’s the biggest challenge is how you make the bridge between all the different people and you keep building a brand, a series of products that keep growing and keep managing. But all the companies that succeed in history are created by people who are very persistent and very resilient. Innovation is very important, but it’s about persistence and resilience. For instance, if I was not resilient, I would not achieve 5% or even 1% of what I achieved. There were moments, of course, of a lot of difficulty. But the most important thing is to surround yourself with people who believe in what you’re doing. I think my mistake is sometimes you have to find the people you find. It’s not easy to find people that think like you.
Sometimes that’s one of the things that happens with a lot of entrepreneurs they’re seen as very authoritarian or very crazy because they believe in what they’re doing. You have to be crazy, you have to be a bit idiot. I call it idiot because you have to have a lot of ideas, but you are an idiot in the sense that you have to persist on your ideas as well and be a bit silly. But at the same time, you have to be realistic. The challenge is really How do you do this? That’s what I’ve been trying to do in ztudium. I think my success and the success of ztudium is getting great people, I hope it’s not easy, assembling and then aligning our goals and passion together. That’s the most difficult because some people have a lot of energy, but they are very few. It’s all about the energy you have because you can have fantastic ideas, but if you don’t want to work, there’s nothing you can do. A lot of people as well, they want to be successful but not doing the work. I always say, Okay, no matter how intelligent you are, that’s irrelevant if you don’t work very hard.
You can be very wealthy. Even a very wealthy person has the same challenge as someone who is not wealthy at all. Because at the end of the day, yes, you have more money, you have more interest dollars because you’re wealthy, but if you don’t persist, forget it. As well, your health probably will create more problems for you because you have as well a lot of sense of… If you have the money, you think, Okay, I already have the money. I don’t need to do so much work. I think this has a lot It’s a different part. I try to create a frugal culture that is not about craziness. I’m more and more focused on people, but I’m focused on getting things done. That is the golden rule. If you are with us, if you are in the ztudium, yes, not everyone can go, and I’m It’s not intended because we are quite an ambitious company. What we achieve is because, yes, we don’t stop, we keep going, and we keep making mistakes, but learning from that and moving forward. That’s the key element. If you do fantastic products that can change the world you cannot be sleeping.
You have to work very hard and work smart to get it done.
That’s why. What are some of the common challenges businesses face when adopting emerging technology? How does your group help them overcome these challenges?
Immersion technologies, the other day, let’s look at areas like blockchain on AI. Ai has been going for 100 years, but suddenly in the space of two years, it just made a massive revolution because we managed to create a platform or two that assembled this and, of course, had enough volume to reach a lot of people. Some products take decades to become mature and products that take months. It’s the same in a company. Sometimes you have a lot of products that you need so many products. For instance, if we look at Nokia, it started by making toilet paper, and it became one of the biggest mobile makers in the world. Then it went bunker on the peak of its success. Now, again, the brand has been continuous, but in a completely different way. If you look at IBM, it’s more than 100 years and it’s still renovating, but they have the challenge as well because when you are in the peak, it can only go down. You have to keep more. I think emerging technologies at the moment of disruptive technologies, there’s a lot of ways. We have to create supervision and control how we go forth.
There are a lot of challenges because, at the moment, any AI system quite advanced is already more advanced than we as humans. The point is, and we cannot have illusions, yes, AI is much more powerful as intelligence than as humans. That’s the way how we use these AIs to create better and create a new species of humans, or we’re going to be replaced by them like dinosaurs. I hope not, but I’m working towards avoiding that. A lot of the emerging technology I do is how we create solutions that get the best out of this. Pragmatically, we solve problems because we have to solve problems. There’s a fantastic quote from one of the big makers of AI that I always use that I love, Suleiman. One of the things he says that is amazing is a former director of AI at Google. I always forget his name, but I’ll give you the name because I think he deserves to be quoted properly. It’s one interesting thing he said is if you’re building an AI that can disrupt or destroy humanity, the only way to avoid that happening is to create another AI even more powerful than the other one.
We need to create and keep creating. For us, if we have a dictator who tries to destroy humanity, the only way we can do this is can find better ways and better narratives. In history, Maybe even from all the empires, they always went up and down according to the people. I believe that we have to be very persistent, very resilient, and try to keep creating solutions for all of us. It’s more God at the quotes or part of the quote that I base here. I always like to quote people properly, and he deserves it because he’s a great thought leader.
Okay, Dinis I’m going to be a little bit biased because we are a marketing company, so I’m going to go ahead and ask something related to that. We’re looking ahead, what emerging trends do you foresee in marketing, and specifically, how should businesses prepare for these changes?
There are a lot of trends, for instance, in terms of marketing right now is the way, for instance, you integrate a lot of AI tools, integrated with search, integrated with immersive experiences. But At the end of the day, it’s about the funnel. Okay, what is the funnel? What do you want to reach? Sometimes, even for me, I forgot that. As well as the relationship you build with your customers and your clients. I would say that the technology is almost irrelevant because it’s a mix of different technologies. It’s not just AI, it’s not just metaverse, it’s not just analytics or blockchain. It’s a mix of everything. If you’re doing it in terms of marketing I think the marketing right now is a hybrid. You need to create attention. It’s all He bought attention. If you look at Elon Musk, he creates, at the end of the day, his attention. He creates attention to a Tesla, to Starlink, and X. And they bought X as part of some personal vendetta, whatever the stuff. But at the end of the day, he’s This is the biggest marketing tool for good and for bad.
It depends on the way you use it. I think it depends right now a lot on how you build your brand. But I would say that the biggest trend is personal branding. You have to have total control of your brand and your digital ID. That’s the biggest trend that I think everyone is forgetting. It’s not the trend so much about innovation. It’s a trend that you have to have control over. It’s very difficult because, for instance, if you are in marketing, you have to do it in LinkedIn, you have to do it in Facebook, you have to do it in X, you have to do it in TikTok, and you have to continuous work on that. How do you create attention in so much noise? That’s the biggest challenge. You have to be a thought leader, you have to attract the attention of your clients, and then you have to have one or two exceptional skills. It might be that you’re great at talking with people, then nurture that skill because it’s a great skill. And it might be just talking to people online. Some people are amazing. For instance, I’m not the best one. Even manage my community, which is quite big.
And I should because I have a great community of people around the world who respect me, but I should be more attentive. But I’m too much of a geek, and sometimes I get the geek side. So I think a lot of the things in marketing are how you work on the journey and the funnel. For instance, you can use a lot of AI tools, and that’s the biggest thing, of course, is the AI tools. That’s fantastic, amazing AI tools, but you just need two or three, you don’t need 50. Unless you are a complete geek and you’re working in some software like me. But even me is not me. I have my team and they work together. I think in marketing, you still need to have basic SEO. You need to have basic stuff about the branding. For instance, one of the challenges that everyone forgets, everyone, is what’s your keyword. And it’s a very basic stuff. Normally, your business is one keyword. If your brand doesn’t rank, if your CEO doesn’t rank for the keyword, people will not find you. And you’ll spend money to rank for your keyword, which is a paradox.
For instance, one of the things that I always joke about is companies that have $10, $20, $50 million, and sometimes $100 million that have a terrible website. The other day, you have to have an authority, a brand, digital presence. It starts with one keyword or two for you, for your products, or for the audience you’re targeting. Then what are the channels you’re going to put that brand on? Then, yes, you create attention with AI. You create attention. AI is tools like voice tools, recognition, digital twins, and a lot of different tools for image creation and creating images. For instance, ChatGPT is amazing, whether you like it or not, because it saves you a massive amount of time and research. But at the same time, you need to know how to use it, and you need to be intelligent because you can just go and copy-paste. They will be just stupid. For instance, my team sometimes does exercise and they copy-paste. Don’t copy-paste, man, don’t copy-paste. You have to adopt it. Otherwise, you become a bot. One provocative thing, but I tell my team and my friends is, Okay, you want to be a bot or do you want to be a person?
Because at the end of the day, if you’re going to be a bot, you’ll be replaced by bots. And this is a big challenge, probably for humanity, because a lot of people want to be bots. They want to be told what to do. There are only two jobs, a job that tells machines what to do or a job that you tell machines to do for you. So that’s the biggest challenge right now is the trends, really, AI, digital transformation tools related to AI, and how you create attention, especially on the marketing. You asked me about marketing. But for instance, I think the channels and the funnels are becoming more difficult. But at the same time, if you create a voice above the noise, people will respect you. I think personal branding around social media and thought leadership with reach the best SEO and marketing you can have, but you need to be as well. For instance, one of the challenges that I find is on the analytics side, most people forget the basics. For instance, I have people who are very good at SEO, very good in CRM, and they forget the basics.
The basic is, Okay, what is your audience? What do they want? This is the biggest challenge. Even me, I’ve got sometimes because I have so many layers is, Okay, it’s very basic. People want one thing that solves a problem for them. That’s it. So your tools and your digital marketing are to reach that. The easy you can do it, don’t overcomplicate. I think one of the challenges with trends is that sometimes they create a layer of complexity and you become obsessed about the technology and not about the problem you’re trying to solve.
Yeah. I’m going to have a cheap word there. A lot of companies even have seen, you don’t walk on there. A very basic thing, creating the buyer persona and stuff like that, and then building the foundation for the customer. That’s a big challenge. All right, Dinis, we’re coming to an end, and I would love to have a quick rapid-fire with you. Are you ready for that?
Yeah, go ahead.
If given a superpower, what would you choose? Would you rather be able to speak every language in the world or be able to talk to animals?
Languages, okay. If you could travel back in time, what period would you go?
I like the time I live.
Was the fastest speed you have ever driven in a car?
Okay. How many hours of sleep do you need?
I oblige myself from 7-8 every day. Sometimes I cannot, but in general, because elf is the most important. If you don’t sleep, you don’t have an elf, you cannot work.
Now, coming to your very last question, what’s your last Google search?
I think I keep repeating a lot of keywords. Normally, it’s keywords related to work and research. Sometimes I want to see how much Google knows about the topic. I would say probably the keyword I’ve been obsessed with is digital twins because Google doesn’t know much about it. I’m trying to understand how much people don’t know about it.
I’m sure Google will understand if you push down a lot of content around it. They’ll have a good answer. Thank you so much for all the wisdom, all the lessons, and the info that you have shared in today’s discussion. I appreciate your time there with me. Thank you so much.
No, my pleasure. Good luck with all your efforts and your company and business and the efforts as well.
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