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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

image via Amazon
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