FinTech Interview with Simon Berg, Founder of Ceros

FTB News DeskJuly 2, 202422 min

AI as a Collaborative Companion // Simon Berg Discusses the Future of AI & How to Maximize the Tool
Simon Berg, Founder of Ceros

Simon Berg is a creatively obsessed serial entrepreneur with a knack for thinking outside the box in all that he does. After he dropped out of school at 16-years-old, Simon began working for a creative production agency and became a master of craft across both print and digital, which served as a catalyst for his 20-year, ladder-climbing journey to CEO of the same agency: FMG (Now BORN Group). As CEO, Simon led the charge to sell the agency in order to build and grow Ceros, a technology platform he incubated while at FMG. He sat as the founder and CEO of Ceros for over 12 years, and honed his expertise in AI and creativity, with over 30 years of experience in the advertising and marketing industry. Simon currently serves on Ceros' board and supports its new CEO, while continuing his own journey that’s fueled by a passion for creativity. He lives in Connecticut with his wife Doville,

Tell us about your background and what drove you to work in your current field.

I left school at 16, not out of a desire to start working immediately, but because the traditional educational system felt constrictive. The challenges were not just academic; my childhood was overshadowed by the strife at home, where the constant discord between my parents created a chaotic environment. In that turmoil, creativity became more than an escape, it became a means of survival.

This wasn’t merely about discovering a passion; it was about preserving a part of myself that the pressures of a typical path could have easily extinguished. My professional journey began in creative production, a field where I could transform my ideas into reality and empower others to explore their own creative potential.

As I climbed through the ranks, from my initial steps at FMG to my leadership role at Ceros, my career was more than about ascending a corporate hierarchy — it was about proving that adversity could be a catalyst for innovation. My tenure at Ceros was driven by a core belief in the vital role of creativity and its power to inspire and transform.

Recently, I made the significant decision to step down as CEO of Ceros. This move was guided by the same principles that have always directed me — authenticity and a deep understanding of my own capabilities and the needs of the company. Recognizing that Ceros required a different type of leadership to thrive, I chose to pass the mantle to someone equipped with the precise skills needed for its next chapter. This transition marks not an end, but a transformation — an opportunity to explore new paths and continue advocating for creativity from a new perspective.

As I continue to serve on Ceros’ board and support our new CEO, my journey remains fueled by a relentless passion for creativity, a trait that has defined my entire career and will continue to define my future endeavors.

Why should creatives embrace AI as a collaborative companion rather than something to fear?

To put it bluntly, AI is here, and ignoring it isn’t just unwise, it’s a potential professional peril. The apprehension many feel stems from a perception that AI challenges the essence of what makes us human: our innate creativity.

Creativity isn’t exclusive to artists or musicians; it’s the fundamental trait that distinguishes us as a species. Our ability to imagine and create out of nothing is our unique gift. And yes, that can make AI seem like a threat. However, if we start viewing AI not just as a tool but as a collaborator, the entire scenario shifts.

Right now, as I articulate these thoughts, I’m collaborating with Gemma, my AI assistant. This interaction isn’t just functional; it’s transformative. Gemma isn’t just processing my words; she’s enhancing my creative expression.

Embracing AI as a collaborator is akin to forming a dynamic duo, like Batman and Robin. Sure, sometimes AI might come up with better ideas — just as any team member might. But that’s the beauty of collaboration. It pushes you, challenges you, and ultimately elevates your creativity.

By integrating AI into our creative processes, we enhance our capacity to innovate and execute, making the world a richer, more imaginative place. That’s the future I see with AI — where our creative spirits not only survive, but thrive through collaboration that knows no bounds.

Why does creativity matter in an ever changing AI-focused world?

Our world is facing a barrage of unprecedented challenges between climate change, societal shifts, economic upheavals, and energy crises. Each one of these issues is a path we’ve never trodden before. In such a landscape, creativity isn’t just useful, it’s crucial. It’s our most dependable guide through these uncharted territories.

Creativity allows us to imagine solutions where none seem apparent, to innovate beyond the limits of current knowledge and technology, and to see opportunities where others only see obstacles.

As AI continues to evolve and reshape our world, it too presents a sort of frontier. One that’s ripe with potential, but riddled with complexities. Here, creativity becomes more than a skill; it becomes our survival strategy. It’s what enables us to interact with AI not just competently but profoundly, ensuring that as we harness this powerful technology, we do so in a way that solves real-world problems and enhances human life.

What do you predict for the future of AI + creativity as more and more companies look to use it?

The union of AI and creativity isn’t just a trend; it’s the next industrial revolution. Only this time, it’s for ideas. As businesses increasingly harness this dynamic duo, we’re not just witnessing incremental changes, we’re standing on the precipice of a creative explosion.

So, what’s my prediction? Two years from now, there will be two types of companies: those that have harnessed AI and creativity to redefine industries, create groundbreaking customer experiences, and tackle the world’s most daunting challenges—and those that go bust!

Simon, how do you see AI enhancing creativity, and what is its current role and functionality in the world?

AI enhances creativity by helping you unlock new ideas and pathways we may have never thought of on our own. Quite frankly, AI helps you get started! It can be used as an extended team member or a creative collaborator, to evolve existing creative ideas alongside us, rather than just take over creative work entirely. And this is exactly how its current role in the world should be viewed as — a collaborator! Not something to fear or a threat.

If you have that mindset, you will be way behind the advancements happening at every business right now in the world. AI pushes you, challenges you, and elevates creativity in unthinkable ways.

Can you share how you transformed Ceros through strategic decisions based on AI and technology?

My vision for Ceros was driven by a core belief that unlocking creativity matters. And that creativity is a special recipe that only humans have, and it’s magical.

When I really started to understand and utilize AI, and see what it could do, it was like a lightbulb went off. I thought, ‘what if we could combine this incredible technology with the raw creativity of humans?’

I knew that if we tapped into how creative humans are and we mixed this with incredibly collaborative technology, this would be something that no one has ever seen or experienced. It would really empower brands to create richer, more engaging experiences with their content and tell better stories. And that’s how Ceros got to where it is today!

How do you inspire people to be creative in all aspects of their work?

The four C’s are the simple framework to creativity, and have guided me throughout my entire life. These are Curiosity, Connections, Courage, and Celebration. If people embrace these things, it should inspire them to be more creative within their lives and work.

Curiosity is about being genuinely interested in the world around you. Remember, everything you see was created by someone no more intelligent than you. So, get curious, get playful, explore, and learn.

Connections are crucial. Look for links where others see none. Find those bizarre, seemingly crazy connections and combine them in unique ways to manifest something truly novel. That’s creativity!

Find the courage to share your creative ideas with the world. Be courageously honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses. Overcome your fears, doubts, and uncertainties, and take action.

Celebrate your creations! Enjoy how others interact with and experience what you’ve made. This joy will take you back to step one, making you curious and reigniting your curiosity about your next creative endeavor.

There is often a stigma against CEOs, especially in tech. How did your genuine, human approach help counteract this perception?
Being human is at the core of who I am. I’ve always stayed true to myself and been transparent about my motivations for building Ceros and managing the business when I was the CEO.

But a human approach isn’t just about being vulnerable, transparent, and authentic. This alone won’t do it. And being strong willed, determined, focused and tenacious alone won’t do it. You’ve got to put them both together to balance the soft and the hard. And that’s a good spot for me, I exist quite well there.

This has allowed me to have deeper connections with others and build more trust than I could’ve ever imagined. And the more trust you build with others, the more likely they are willing to communicate and trust you back.

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FTB News Desk


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