A REAL Business REALITY CHECK with Bestselling Author Guy Kawasaki
April 20, 2009
Bo didn’t know diddly on this one. I found a book you could judge by its cover: “Reality Check,” by bestselling author and entrepreneur, Guy Kawasaki.
The back cover of this book should be required reading for authors, writers, marketers, PR professionals, and anyone that wants to understand how to draw people into your story with well-written, eloquent simplicity.
I picked “Reality Check” up, flipped to the back and was completely drawn in.
BEFORE I READ IT
How in the world can you cover 11 topics on the back page―and do it well? Topics like pitching, venture-capital aptitude, speeches, evangelizing, business plans, board meetings, PR, innovation, e-mail, customer service, and schmoozing. Impossible! But Guy does it impossibly well.
AFTER I READ IT
Then I read it. I soon realized why Seth Godin said, “Buy two copies of this book. One to rip pages out of, mark up, copy, and tack on the wall, and one to give away to your clueless colleague. Oh, better make that three copies. Four?”
Guy Kawasaki has long been a favorite of mine but not because of all the public accolades or business success he’s had. Not because I think he’s one of the best at using Twitter for business or because he has over 100,000 followers. Just two reasons really. The first reason is his writing style. It’s easy-to-read, helpful, irreverent, completely devoid of corporate gobbledygook, sometimes hilariously funny, always positive, and it’s actually easy to put into action the things he suggests. The second reason? He’s incredibly accessible and responsive. If you contact him — he will contact you back Via Twitter or e-mail.
So, since Guy is accessible and responsive, I decided to contact him to talk about “Reality Check.” He agreed.
Not many people know this, but Guy and I have A LOT IN COMMON. For example, he recently had a billionaire shine his shoes … just to get his business.
Some guy named Richard Branson wanted him to fly on his airline. What’s that got to do with me? Well …
I’ve shined the hooves of Donkey O’Tee, the worst-selling author of the now infamous (but widely used) business book, “How to Pompously Obfuscate on Purpose.”
Guy Kawasaki is also the co-founder of Alltop.com, an online-magazine rack of popular topics on the web.
It’s excellent. I use it everyday for business and news research. If you’re looking for a resource to discover new sites and expert content – Alltop is the place to start. What could I possibly have in common with Alltop? Well, I just started a new business with a similar name. ALLMOP.
FOR YOU OR YOUR ASS
My startup company offers retro hairpieces. MOPS. They can be worn on you … or your ass. (Get your mind out of the gutter. This is a family publication! Ass refers to Donkey O’Tee … see above). VCs can contact me at email@example.com. I’m hoping to get coverage on Alltop for ALLMOP someday. I’m not pitching Guy. I’m just saying.
Guy Kawasaki is known for his golden touch as an entrepreneur. Some of the companies he’s been affiliated with include; SimplyHired, iStockPhoto, Garage, Tripwire and many others. A more complete list is at the end of this article.
And me? I’m known in some circles (mostly crop) as the …
Since we’ve credibly established that connection, closeness, and uniqueness of purpose, let’s get to the interview.
ENTER GUY KAWASAKI.
Guy is also the author of nine books including “Reality Check,” “The Art of the Start,” “Rules for Revolutionaries,” “How to Drive Your Competition Crazy,” “Selling the Dream,” and “The Macintosh Way.”
He has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.
Steve: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. You’re known here in the Heartlands (Midwest America) as an irreverent, funny, straight-shooting, storytelling, story-selling business communicator. Easy to read and understand. What writers or storytellers have influenced or inspired you?
Guy: My long love affair with brief, direct, and no-bullshiitake material started in high school with my English teacher. He pounded all the bad grammar and passive voice out of me. Other great influences were Peter Drucker, in particular, “The Effective Executive,” and Brenda Ueland, “If You Want to Write.”
WORDS DRAINED OF MEANING?
Steve: Why do you think business communications (e-mails, presentations, speeches, corporate brochures, etc.) are so lame and full of corporate gobbledygook? What is it in business that inspires writers to blast out highfalutin words drained of meaning and value?
Guy: It’s human nature. For some reason, we think that more is more instead of less is more. Maybe it’s because we were cavemen and always needed more food, water, firewood, and clothing. Now that we have these, we need more PowerPoint slides and bull-shiitake in case there’s a long winter or a sabertooth tiger eats someone in your tribe.
(You knew this was coming. I mean, could I pass up an opportunity like that? Cavemen, sabertooth tigers, and bull-shiitake? Note the clarity in detail of the bull-shiitake.)
Steve: Forgive me. I have CDD (Cartoon Distraction Disorder).
WHAT MAKES AN EFFECTIVE E-MAILER?
Steve: I can’t concentrate or write without toons. Moving on. The bain of my business existence (except the working part of my business life) is e-mail. What makes a person a good communicator with e-mail? An effective e-mailer? One that causes you to open and read your e-mail?
NO CC’S, BC’S, DC’S, OR BS
Guy: The key to effective e-mail is brevity in two senses. First, the ideal length is five sentences. If you can’t say it in five sentences, you don’t have anything to say. Second, the fewer people who get an e-mail the better. When I see e-mail sent to several people, I always assume that someone else is taking care of it. And if I am cc-ed or bcc-ed, I assume the person is a Bozo and also ignore it.
TWITTER IS WRONG
Steve: Isn’t that also the key to using Twitter effectively―brevity?
Guy : No. Brevity is enforced on Twitter. The key is to answer the right question. The question Twitter poses is, “What are you doing?” That’s totally wrong. It should be, “What’s interesting?” Your cat rolling over isn’t interesting unless it was dead yesterday, and there’s been a miraculous resurrection. The length of the line at Starbucks isn’t interesting too unless you’re standing behind the Dalai Lama.
SHARING IDEAS. INFORMATION. INSIGHTS. INSPIRATION.
Guy: This is why the best tweets contain links to interesting websites that you’ve found. The more a person tweets links, the more effective he or she is as a Twitter user.
Steve: Sharing is the key. Sharing good ideas, info, and inspirations. That’s what I look for too on twitter. Links to good sites or content that I’ve not discovered.
PITCHING 10-20-30 RULE
Steve: You’re the inventor of the 10-20-30 PowerPoint rule for pitching. How did that come about?
Guy: I’ve listened to thousands of pitches. I can count on one hand the ones that worked well. Most were long, boring, and ineffective. Hence, I came up with the 10-20-30 rule of 10 slides, 20 minutes, and 30 point fonts. If people stuck to this rule, they would be better than 95% of the people pitching.
Steve: I have a modified version of that rule. I use 60 fonts. It cuts the text and bullet-points down 90%.
” Blogger= Someone with Nothing to Say Writing for People with Nothing to do.” – Guy Kawasaki
Steve: I almost fell over when I read that in your book. I’d get burned in effigy (or maybe not in effigy) if I said anything like that.
Steve: However, it was shortly followed by “Think book, not diary.” Is your book “Reality Check” an extension of that?
Guy: A blog and a book are in a sense extensions of tweets. These too should provide the answer to “what is interesting?” If your blog isn’t interesting and is merely you blathering about your identity crisis, no one will read it. Ditto for a book.
Guy: “Reality Check” is meant as a reference guide to entrepreneurship and business. Every chapter is bite-sized and meant to change/improve your actions.
THE LINK BETWEEN PARTNERS AND STRATEGIC
Steve: A vocabulary reality check for you. What should you do if the two most popular words in your company are partner and strategic (from the checklist in your book?
Guy: I have two recommendations: Start working on your resume, and join LinkedIn.
Steve: You have a checklist in “Reality Check.” One of the questions is, “Are you making meaning?” Are you, Guy Kawasaki, making meaning?
Guy: I sure as hell hope so. My mantra is to “empower people.” I hope to do this with my writing, blogging, tweeting, and speaking. Interviewing too, I guess.
Steve: What do you mean by “meaning?” (Occasionally I go sideways and ask something serious. This is non-CDD related). Victor Frankl, in “Search for Meaning” said meaning could only be found in three places: your work, your relationships (love/family), and the way you react to events that you have no control over. For him, it was being in a concentration camp. He found meaning, even in that environment, through overcoming and surviving. Joseph Campbell (“Hero with a Thousand Faces”) said something like, “It’s not the search for meaning that matters, it’s the experience of meaning that matters.”
When you say, “Are you making meaning,” what’s your definition?”
CREATE GOOD―END BAD
Guy: Making meaning means that you are either creating and perpetuating good things, or you are trying to end bad things. In short, you are changing the world.
My current obsession to make meaning is a news aggregation site called Alltop. We organize “all the top” stories by topic and provide them in a very clean, scanable manner that ranges from Adoption (http://adoption.alltop.com/) to Zoology (http://zoology.alltop.com/).
You readers might want to check out topics like these:
- Alltop News http://news.alltop.com/
- Alltop Finance http://finance.alltop.com/
- Alltop Innovation http://innovation.alltop.com/
- Alltop Leadership http://leadership.alltop.com/
- Alltop Social Media http://socialmedia.alltop.com/
- Alltop Marketing http://marketing.alltop.com/
- Alltop Steve Kayser: http://www.alltop.com/stevekayser (Editor inserted this questionable and unendorsed link)
JUST ONE MORE THING
Steve: Thanks Guy. I do have one final thing I’d like to mention. A minor point of contention. You used to have a donkey on your Alltop logo?
I’m sorta glad he’s gone because my writing partner, Donkey O’Tee, was convinced your Donkey was trying to upstage him, hence …
One Trick Donkey
I mean, your Donkey was good. Kicked Ass. But he was a one-trick donkey. Look at his apparel – his clothes – nothing. Unlike Donkey O’Tee who has been featured on DQ Magazine.
And … he have didn’t have the “intellectual” cred of being a worst-selling author -
And your donkey really had no artistic range. Donkey O’Tee has Shakespearean range. He can play the good donkey or …
Okay. End of story on that. But before we go …
A Special Thanks to Neenz Falefine
One sign of a great organization is how the people act when the boss isn’t around. In that regard, Alltop is TOPS. Every time I’ve ever contacted them they’ve responded quickly. Accurately. Professionally. Courteously. And all the other “ly’s” you might want to add. Especially Neenz Faleafine. Check her out on Twitter.
ALMOST THE END:
Hmm. I think I forgot something. Oh … the special super-secret code words to win a copy of “Reality Check.”
What do you think it is?
The Animotorized Version of This Story
That story stretched the cartoon capabilities of me and Tom Hortel – the great Zenovator of toons. That’s Tom on the rack.
THE REAL END:
Guy has a more detailed bio on his website with the ‘Real Guy Kawasaki Story.”
More About Steve Kayser?
First of all, if you read the complete article above, why would you ever want to know more? Is the economy that bad? Have you nothing better to do?
More in Common?
Me and Guy have a lot in common – having two bios is just one more thing. Below is the “Real Story” of Steve, using the rules of writing from the worst-selling book “How to Pompously Obfuscate on Purpose,” by Donkey O’Tee.
The Real Story of Steve
Steve Kayser is an award-losing business writer. He’s also the founder of Squareballs Enterainment, a non-leading edge, next-to-lost generation, un-scalable (but eminently sellable), not seamlessly integrated (although certainly unseemly), robusted (once or twice at most), rigidly inflexible, world-class (minus the “cl”), geometrically challenged (totally true), inchoate “Thought-less Leadership” prepubescent publishing empire dedicated to stories that challenge the shape of the mind. At least his – or anyone else that got through that sentence and thinks they know what they thought was said and can say what they thought was thought when what was said was thought.