5 Things I Asked Guy Kawasaki and What He Replied

Posted on January 7, 2009. Filed under: blogging, Marketing, Observations, Social Media, twitter | Tags: , , |

Guy Kawasaki, American venture capitalist and ...

A few weeks ago I decided to go out on a limb and see if I could get the person I admire most in Marketing to take part in a very brief interview with me.

Obviously you know that person was Guy Kawasaki. Guy has a reputation of being accessible, but he is also extremely busy, so I figured you don’t know unless you ask. To my surprise and delight he agreed. To make things simple for both of us, I conducted the interview via email. What follows is that exchange:

~

Me: Recently, Chris Brogan & Seth Godin received a lot of negative comments for their particular positions on business. Are you ever concerned with how your thoughts in one of your books or on your blog will be received and what is your advice for writers who might be on the receiving end of this type of negativity?

Guy: I’m always concerned, but I usually go ahead anyway. You never really know if “everyone” is pissed or just a few nut cases. If you run your business or life based on making sure that absolutely no one disagrees with you, you’ll fail at both.

~

Me: William Zinsser in ‘On Writing Well’ says authors should write for themselves, that thinking of the “one” reader will drive them insane who do you write for?

Guy: I write for anyone with $19.00 plus shipping and handling who wants to change the world.

~

Me: You shrug off the suggestion that you are a ‘rockstar’ in the business world. How would you describe your role in business for those who follow your thoughts, comments, blogs and Tweets?

Guy: In my book, no pun intended, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, John Chambers, etc are rockstars. I’m more of a fairly well-known lounge lizard who cannot lay claim to a mega billion hit. My personal mantra is to “empower people” with my speeches, books, blogs, tweets, and Alltop.

~

Me: In Reality Check you discuss survivorship, that aloneness can kill. Do you see Social Media platforms such as Twitter as a way of new entrepreneurs surviving, not necessarily in the sense of finding funding or partners but just being able to share the human state with others, or is Twitter a way of these people avoiding the Reality of doing?

Guy: Twitter is many things to many people. There is no single definition of Twitter. For some, as you mention, it is a way of sharing the human state. For others, it’s an escape. For me it’s a weapon–a way to reach hundreds of thousands of people.

I like to think of my tweets as a push version of StumbleUpon intermixed with ads for Alltop. I have to push out very interesting tweets that have nothing to do with Alltop in order to keep my audience just as PBS needs great content or people won’t tolerate the telethons. Some people vehemently disagree with this utilitarian approach to Twitter. They would like my high-content tweets but no Alltop ads.

That’s like telling PBS to put all their shows on one channel and run the telethons on another. There is no right and wrong with Twitter–there is only what attracts or repulses your followers, and everybody’s followers are different.

~

Me: Reality Check gives quite a lot of pages to behaviors ­ sucking up, sucking down, schmoozing. All valuable skills. You give the example of your own interests should someone meet you in person. A lot of Social Media users seem to talk a lot more about their own uses of the platforms than they do about themselves. Given you have so many Twitter users following you what type of Tweet is most likely to catch your attention?

Guy: I know you mean this in a philosophical sense: What common ground can you create? Honestly, though, I have a very pragmatic answer. I almost never look at the timeline of the people I follow–the volume is simply too great.

However, I monitor every instance of the terms “Alltop,” “Guykawasaki,” and “Guy Kawasaki,” and these tweets are almost guaranteed to catch my attention. Many people approach social media such as Twitter, email, Facebook, and MySpace as a hobby, diversion, or fun. These services are what they do in addition to their job.

For me, it’s different. Twitter is my job–albeit a fun job–but a job nonetheless

~

Given the opportunity what would you have asked? Who would you like to ask 5 questions of?

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5 Things Reality Check Taught Me

Posted on January 6, 2009. Filed under: Business, Management, Marketing, Observations | Tags: , , , |

Cover of

I took part in the Alltop promotion by signing up and allowing the site to send Tweets out under my name. I did this for a few reasons, I thought it was a neat way of marketing something and I wanted to see if it worked, I like Guy Kawasaki’s approach to business and figured this was a way to be a part of something he was setting up and because I couldn’t see the harm in it. I believe I got all of those reason correct. What I also got, which I wasn’t expecting was a free copy of Reality Check, Guy Kawasaki’s book.

I am on my second time through it at the moment. Now I am a voracious reader, but to be honest, I don’t much go in for business books. I see them in the bookstores, I see them at the airports, I even occasionally see someone reading one of them. For the most part I have always felt they were part of the “must be seen to be doing” effect. Like owning certain gadgets, or other brands.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not disrespecting business writers or business books per se. I am sure many of them have a lot of value. I just prefer to get my business knowledge by doing rather than reading. Of the few business books that I have read, which include things like “In Search of Excellence”, Reality Check is a stand out book. Most notably because it isn’t a business book. Although it is sub-titled, quite cleverly, The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition, I would have sub-titled it (with a nod to Dr Reuben’s book) “Everything You Wanted to Know in Business School – But Were Too Afraid To Ask”.

I have never been a fan of B-School. There, I have said it out loud, go on get over it. Perhaps its a cultural thing, the MBA has yet to really catch on in the UK (we are perhaps more like Missourians – we are the Show Me country). I’d rather hire someone who has actually done it than someone who has sat and listened to someone who hasn’t and then taught them how it might be done.

That’s not to say I haven’t encountered some very smart people who have MBA’s, Guy Kawasaki has one! But it is my belief those people were smart before they went to B-School, not because of going to B-School.

So having set the stage, what did Reality Check teach me?

  1. Its cheaper than an MBA and a lot more useful: Ok so I have already shared my thoughts on MBA’s, not going to beat that subject. Reading a book that so encompasses the business mind set like this, that takes you from concept to launch to daily operations, do you really need $000’s of student debt and two years out of your life, why not read this book and then invest that money in yourself and your idea. You will learn a lot more from reading the book and then actually doing than sitting in a classroom.
  2. It isn’t just about the technology: My company is a service provider, we don’t develop or produce technology (although that is my background – yes I am a geek). So does any of the start up part of this book really apply to me and my company? Yes absolutely. Just because the references are to technology ideas, the principles that Guy shares in the book apply to any organization of any size, from a tech startup to a florist. The product you are developing is going to go through all the same stages.
  3. Whether You Believe You Need Funding or Not, You Need To Know How VC’s Think: A lot of focus in business writing concerning VC funding centers on the next great “killer app”. Well if you aren’t in the business of producing the next great killer app or you have a big enough bank account of your own to bank roll your idea why do you need to know about VC’s. In my opinion what Guy shares about VC’s is not just about investors in the traditional sense, its about anyone investing in your company, and that most certainly includes your customers – especially your early customers. Treat them like VC’s, talk to them in a way that recognizes the risk they are taking and be aware that they are quite likely experienced and can smell Bull-Shiitake from a considerable distance.
  4. Why Money Isn’t All That Important: Ok we all know this is a lie, money is the one thing every business, especially new businesses need buckets of, or at least that is the conventional thinking. Guy points out how that paradigm has changed, how he started Truemors & Alltop for less than the average “traditional, VC funded” startup spends on having their business cards designed. Guy shares that it cost him approx $10,000 to start Alltop. How many credits at B-School would that buy you?
  5. Entrepreneurs are everywhere: This is the really interesting part of the early chapters of the book for me. It recognizes that not everyone either wants to or has the drive to go out and start their own business. However, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t think and act as though their piece of whatever organization they work in isn’t their own enterprise. Invest in it, not with money but with time, attitude and approach. If more organizations encouraged rather than stifled their Intrapreneurs, as Guy calls them, then they would find a resource that would truly help them Outsmart, Outmanage and Outmarket their competition.

Of course to some this will simply seem like a lovefest for Guy Kawasaki, it isn’t, though I happen to think he is one of the smartest marketers in the world, mainly because he is so honest about how and why he does things. Don’t believe me, come back tomorrow and read the five things I asked Guy Kawasaki and what his response were.

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Is Social Media the latest lifeline in a downturn economy?

Posted on December 10, 2008. Filed under: blogging, Business, Marketing, Social Media, twitter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

A life preserver icon.

In times of economic uncertainty people instinctively look for some way in which to add additional value to their position, either within an organization or within the broader business environment.

The Rise of The ‘Expert’

In 2007/2008 SEO & SEM became attached to almost any position that vaguely involves some form of online activity. Marketers, PR, copywriters, web designers, web developers everyone suddenly claimed that they had the secret sauce that would enable your website to be on page one of any search any results remotely connected with your business.

The second half of 2008 has seen a shift of this toward Social Media. With the rise in popularity of Social Media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn & Facebook and their increasing use by corporates as a communication tool employees and freelance individuals are shifting their attention to becoming Social Media ‘experts’.

This is not all that surprising. It happens with the advent of all new technologies and for that matter non-technology trends.

The Cool Kids

There have been some interesting conversations on Twitter regarding the craze for gaining a high number of followers and achieving this by following as many people as possible. Indeed Gennefer Snowfield (@acclimedia) made the astute observation that the trend for applications like Tweetdeck that allow the management of large quantities of followers is a reaction to this method of using Twitter.

This method is perhaps being inspired by the perception of Social Media “rockstars” like Chris Brogan, Guy Kawasaki, Robert Scoble & others who are seen as having large numbers of followers and that there is some correlation between having a large following on Twitter and the degree of ‘expertise’ in Social Media. Therefore if you are to be seen as a Social Media ‘expert’ you should have a large number of followers and to achieve this you should follow a large number of people.

This is where unfortunately the ‘Social’ in Social Media gets over-emphasized and the Media part gets practically ignored. Social Media isn’t high school. It isn’t about being like the cool kids. Chris Brogan et al are not the Senior year whilst the rest are all Freshmen.

However, this type of behavior is to be expected in uncertain times. In the late 90’s everyone wanted to append the title ‘Webmaster’ to themselves. Not just because it was cool, but because the trend in business was to start using the Internet and in particular the web as a new method of communication. Social Media is the new channel. So individuals with no marketing communication experience are suddenly becoming Social Media ‘experts’.

Just as there are those who have and continue to present themselves as being SEO ‘experts’ without anything more than a slim veneer of search engine knowledge so I believe we will see a rise in the number of Social Media ‘experts’. Of course this is all possible because even someone with a shallow level of knowledge can be convincing in a room full of people with no knowledge. 2010 will see the shake out of those people, but 2009 will be their year. As more and more organizations wake up to the way communications between provider and consumers are happening and start to invest in Social Media and realize that they need help but can’t afford the A listers so they will turn to whatever resource they can find, either internally or amongst the budget providers.

I actually don’t see too much wrong with this. Of course there will be some charlatans, and Caveat Emptor will always apply. Organizations that don’t carry out some form of due diligence when hiring consultants of any nature share the responsibility if they implement bad advice.

Embracing The Talent You Have

What I think will continue to happen will be the rise in the numbers of Social Media participants who are conducting self branding campaigns. Jeremiah Owyang posted an article about how corporations respond to employees who develop personal brands. Given that there are over a million blogs created daily in the US the likelihood that a large or even medium sized organization doesn’t already have several bloggers amongst its workforce is fairly slim. Instead of restricting this activity why not nurture it? Provide training, hone skills, develop an integrated communications strategy that includes these individuals.

Does your organization encourage or discourage your Social Media activity?

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No Bull Shiitake: Why I follow Guy Kawasaki

Posted on November 12, 2008. Filed under: Observations, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , |

Guy Kawasaki

There are lots of tools and articles that provide recommendations of people to follow on Twitter and elsewhere in the Social Mediaverse.

But few provide the why. For new users and experienced alike, finding new and interesting people to follow is part of the excitement of being engaged in Social Media / Networking. Only yesterday I spoke with someone who considered themselves what could best be defined as an “intermediate” level user, who had never heard of Chris Brogan, and was very grateful that I could provide a recommendation for both Chris’ blog and to follow him on Twitter.

So why do I follow these particular people? Engagement. For me there are a few people who not only provide great material but actually bother to engage with their followers in a way that humanizes the conversation. In effect brings the “Social” emphasis to the fore.

Yesterday I wrote about the metrics that are often applied to determining who the “Influencers” are in Social Media and how flawed I believe those metrics to be. I also proposed a new measure – Engagement Factor, based on the level of “conversation” occurring between these Influencers and their audience.

Chris Brogan wrote on his blog about how he uses Twitter at volume. He talks about the four keys to his use of Twitter as being:

  • Be Helpful
  • Be Informative
  • Be Human
  • Be Responsive

He goes on to mention that being helpful is sometimes particularly difficult, with 20,000 follows if only 1% direct message him asking for help, he receives 200 requests in a day. If his only task in life were to answer those requests he might just make it, but of course that isn’t his only job, he has a full time job and is a prolific writer, so sometimes people get disappointed.

Yesterday I direct messaged Guy Kawasaki, twice, he responded both times. Again this is someone that has more than 20,000 followers. I asked him to take a look at yesterday’s post and give me his thoughts – how many requests does he get like that a day? But he took the time to review it, and point out that my proposed metric didn’t account for direct messages (I had covered that in the post) which was a fair comment, he also mentioned that he replies to around 50 – 60 DM’s a day.

Darren Rowse, the author of Problogger, is another who actually takes the time to respond to direct messages. What unifies these writers is that they all espouse the need for engagement in Social Media, they talk about it on their blogs, they talk about it on Twitter, they teach it to their paying customers, but most importantly they actually practice it. That for me is the reason to follow someone who the Social Mediaverse dubs a “rockstar”.

Take these things in context, just because you DM, email or @reply to one of these people and they don’t reply doesn’t mean they aren’t engaging with you. Before you hit send, think about your message. Is your message simply a method of getting you attention?

Guy Kawasaki in his recent post on attracting more Twitter follows says:

Send @ messages to the smores. They probably won’t answer you, but that’s okay. All you want to do is appear like you have a relationship with them to enhance your credibility. The theory is, “If she is tweeting with @scobleizeer, she must be worth following.” Bull shiitake logic, admittedly, but it helps. To bastardize what a famous PR person once told me, “It’s not who you know. It’s who appears to know you.”

If this is the strategy you are following, then don’t be surprised that they don’t answer you. If you are expecting an answer then think about what it is you are asking of them. You want them to review your blog – whats the content really like, what is the fit between your blog and their writing?, You want them to come to your event – whats the reason you want them to do that? In other words, just because they are the “rockstars” who promote engagement don’t imagine for one minute that engagement is a one way street. If you can’t be bothered to do your research and engage with them ask yourself why they should engage with you. At a recent Tweetup in Austin, Robert Scoble talked about why he left LinkedIn, he was tired of people simply wanting to connect with him so he would introduce them to someone beneficial in his network. That isn’t engagement that’s exploitation.

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