Guy Kawasaki was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1954, and would go on to graduate from Iolani School in 1972. Guy went on to attain a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA. Guy is the chief evangelist of Canva, an amazing online graphic design tool with the goal of democratizing design, allowing everyday people design graphics for social media, flyers, posters and more. Guy Kawasaki is also on the board of trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation, a brand ambassador for Mercedes Benz USA and an executive fellow of the Haas School of Business. Previously, Guy Kawasaki was the chief evangelist of Apple, a company that Guy had worked with previously. If all of that isn’t enough, Guy is also a prolific author and has written books that inspire people all over the world, and I include myself in that pool. Some of his most popular titles include The Art of the Start 2.0, The Art of Social Media and Ape: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur. Guy Kawasaki is also involved in (whether it be investing or advising) in many other companies, including; Evernote, Paper.li, uStream and more. Please enjoy my interview with Guy Kawasaki…
What are you reading at the moment?
No Man’s Land by David Baldacci. I mostly read mysteries and thrillers by authors such as David Baldacci, Lee Child, Barry Eisler, John Grisham, and Alex Berenson. Generally speaking, if someone isn’t killed in the first five pages of a book, I probably won’t finish it.
I seldom read non-fiction. I only do so when I’m writing a book to either research the competition or find something to steal. My favorite non-fiction book of recent is Absolute Value by Emanuel Rosen because it explains how to do marketing in a post-social media world.
What is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life? What impact did it have?
The book that has had the biggest impact on my life is If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland. It helped me become a writer by freeing my spirit. I may have never written a book if I had not read this book.
What books do you feel are important reading for people on your career path and why?
Besides If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland, people should read Influence by Robert Cialdini because persuasion is a required skill for everyone. Entrepreneurship is simple: you’re either making something or selling something. Everything else is bullshit.
Is there a book that you’ve read more than once? What is it and why did you revisit it?
I read Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore a few times. It’s because, to this day, I don’t understand why the best product doesn’t always win. Moore’s book explains how there is a chasm between early adopters and main street that is where most companies fail.
Can you remember your first demonstration of entrepreneurial ability?
I left Apple to start a company called ACIUS. It published a Macintosh relational database back in 1987. Basically, I believe my own hype about the Macintosh software business and took the plunge. Since then I’ve started a couple more.
What two pieces of advice would you give a young aspiring entrepreneur?
First, focus on finishing a minimum viable, valuable, and validating prototype, not fund raising. The purpose of a company is to create customers, not raise money. Second, don’t ask people to do something that you wouldn’t do. This will keep you from erecting barriers to success. Also, entrepreneurs should start building a social-media following the day that they decide to start a company. It takes a least a year to gain a following, so you can’t do things serially. Life is a parallel process for entrepreneurs
The book I’ve recommended most is If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland.
How do you write a book?
I spend two to three months creating an outline and then I spend six months completing the outline. Then I self-edit for three months. The key to writing is not writing, it’s editing. It’s like pounding and honing a piece of steel until you have a perfect samurai sword. My tool is Microsoft Word. I have not found anything better to go from idea to finished manuscript than Word.
What book do you feel humanity needs most right now and why?
Humanity doesn’t need a book right now. It needs action—or at least resistance. In America, in particular, we need to resist trampling upon civility and the rights of minorities. Everyone reading this article should ask themselves what they are going to say if their grandchildren ask them, “What did you do when Donald Trump was elected?”
What kind of book do you hate?
I hate self-published books that position authors as thought leaders. The authors did this to get more speaking engagements and consulting contracts. It’s easy to recognize these books: The Blow Way by Joe Blow published by Blow Press. A book is an end in itself. It’s a work of art. It’s primary purpose should not be to provide a means to an end.