Guy Kawasaki – An Interview

About Guy Kawasaki

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a huge Guy Kawasaki fan. While he may be most famous for his pioneering, inspired-by-none style of marketing with which he leads Garage.com, he is also a superb writer and business thinker.

A few of his books include The Art of the Start, Selling the Dream and Rules for Revolutionaries.

Often when reading Guy Kawasaki’s books, I find it hard to sit down. His insights are absolute treasure to entrepreneurs.

More recently, Guy Kawasaki has proven that he’s just as good a blogger as he is a business pioneer. His blog at Blog.GuyKawasaki.com, holds a wealth of information for readers. Posts touch on topics from Blog Stats and Butts to some cogent advice on Recruiting.

Seven Questions & Seven Answers

John Scott: Mr Kawasaki, thank you for taking the time to talk with us. You are of course famous for the pioneering approach to IT business, with which you’ve had monumental successes.

Putting the fame and fortune to the side for a second, I’d like to ask who are you? What drives you on a personal level, and what makes you happy?

Guy Kawasaki: My personal mantra is “empower entrepreneurs.” I like to do this with my funding activities as well as through the transmission of knowledge via speaking, writing, and blogging.

My most treasured activity is time spent with my family. I view being a father and husband the most important roles that I have – orders of magnitude more important the venture capitalist, writer, or speaker.

John Scott: Outside of religious discussions, “evangelizing” is a word most often associated with Guy Kawasaki.

In your own words, what is evangelizing?

Guy Kawasaki: That’s scary!

Evangelism is the processing of getting people to believe in a dream as much as you do. A “dream” can be a product, service, or organization. Fundamentally, for evangelism to be effective, this dream has to make the world a better place.

John Scott: How important is branding? Every day businesses are launched, some fail, some succeed. Is branding going to be a deciding factor in most Internet business models?

Guy Kawasaki: “Branding” has taken on too much of a role as a specialized craft performed by voodoo artists.

A good brand is created through the actions of dozens, if not hundreds or thousands of people. It starts with the product itself: Is it good? Because branding crap is hard.

Then there’s marketing: explaining the product.

Sales: distributing the product.

Evangelism: spreading the good news of the product.

Service: making sure the product is “whole.”

When all of this comes together, then your customers accept and reinforce what you’ve done, and a brand emerges. Branding is certainly not what occurs when a bunch of marketing MBAs decide late on night in an ad or PR agency.

John Scott: The Internet is littered with broken businesses such as WebVan, eToys and Pets.com. What is the biggest mistake you see being made in Internet business models?

Guy Kawasaki: Only two parameters really matter in marketing: the uniqueness of the product and the value of the product to the consumer.

Think of a graph where you measure uniqueness on the vertical axis and value on the horizontal axis.

If you produce something of great value but so does other companies, then you are low and to the right. Here you compete on price. If you produce something of little value but only you do it, you’re high and to the left.

Here you are just plain stupid. If you produce something of little value and there’s not of competition, you are low and to the left. That’s where dotcom companies were: producing something of little value, but with much competition doing the same thing.

Where you want to be is high and to the right–like George W. This is where your product is unique and of high value. Unfortunately, many Internet companies were in the wrong corners.

John Scott: Bootstrapping is another word often associated with Guy Kawasaki. What does bootstrapping mean to the Internet startup?

Guy Kawasaki: It means that you haven’t been able to raise $5 million with a PowerPoint presentation, but you still believe in what you’re doing. So you live on soy sauce and rice, borrow everything, work out of crappy space, ship right away, and work like a dog.

John Scott: In your latest book, you talk about the importance of being a “Mensch”. Please tell us what a “Mensch” is and why I should be one.

Guy Kawasaki: A mensch is an ethical, trustworthy, and kind person who does the right thing the right way. It is the highest form of praise.

One should strive to be a mensch because it is the best way to live: as a person who helps others for the sheer pleasure of helping others.

John Scott: If there was one piece of advice you could give to an entrepreneur – besides of course reading every word of The Art of the Start – what would that advice be?

Guy Kawasaki: Never ask people to do something that you yourself wouldn’t do. This applies to sales, marketing, evangelism, product design, pricing, support, whatever.

If you wouldn’t do it, don’t think any customer would.

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