1 February 2015

7 Lessons From Guy Kawasaki They Won't Teach You At Business School

Chief Evangelist of Canva, a graphics-design online service. Executive fellow at the Haas School of Business at U.C. Berkeley. Entrepreneur and former advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. Author of 13 books, including the best business book ever written: The Art of The Start, which has now been fully revised and expanded for the first time in a decade (available here from March). If you are an entrepreneur, or you want to become one, or you are simply interested in business and entrepreneurship, and you haven't read this book, go buy one! To give you and idea, here you can watch Guy presenting the book in 2006. Guy Kawasaki is one of the most enchanting business minds of our times. Because of his experience, he has so many valuable lessons to teach us. A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to meet him in London at an event organized by 3-beards.  

Here are 7 lessons I've learnt by reading his books and by following him online in the last years. 7 business lessons they won’t teach you at business school.  

(1) Make meaning 
The best reason to start a company is not to make money, but rather to make meaning. [Tweet this] There are three ways to make meaning:
  • Increase the quality of life: Spotify lets you find your favourite music in a second. It increases your quality of live. 
  • Right a wrong: Canva makes design simple for everyone. Why has Melanie Perkins started Canva? Because she thought that going through the pain of learning how to use Photoshop to create nice designs was wrong. Hence, she fixed that wrong.  
  • Prevent the end of something good. You see something beautiful which is being ruined and you can't stand that. So you start up to prevent that.
If you start up solely to make money, you won’t make meaning and most probably you won’t make money either. But if your goal is to make meaning, you’ll eventually make money too. As Richard Branson says, "do good, have fun, and the money will come.”

(2) Make a mantra 
Do not make a mission statement for your organisation. Make a mantra instead. Let’s compare the two with an example. 

Here is (or was) Wendy’s mission statement: 
The mission of Wendy’s is to deliver superior quality products and services for our customers and communities, through leadership, innovation and partnerships.

As Guy puts it, “this is a useless kind of statement. It is too long, not unique, not memorable.” If you go to the Wendy’s website now, you’ll see at the top of the page four words: Quality is our recipe. That’s a mantra! In fact, that’s a great mantra. It explains every employee and every customer what  they stand for.

Another examples of good mantras:
  • Spotify: Music for everyone 
  • Canva: Democratize design  
  • Nike: Just do it! 
(3) Jump to the next curve
“Don’t be content with doing things 10% or 15% better. Do things 10 times better”, Guy says.

Here are two examples:
  • The laser printer: The printing business jumped to next curve when the laser printer was invented. At the time, a printer company wouldn’t be happy with simply introducing more typefaces. It would shake up the industry by jumping to the laser printer curve.  
  • Amazon: Jeff Bezos didn’t go from 250,000 books in an analog book store to 300,000 books in an analog book store. It went to 2.5 million books in a digital book store. He jumped to the next curve.
(4) Don’t worry, be crappy 
Having the above in mind, you then need to get going and ship. Ship, learn, and test. Then repeat. Don’t wait for your product to be perfect, because it will never be. In fact, your product doesn't have to be perfect—it has to be better than before. “Lots of things made the first Macintosh in 1984 a piece of crap—but it was a revolutionary piece of crap”, Guy says. 

(5) Follow the 10/20/30 rule
The 10/20/30 rule is for presenters. It goes like this:
  • You should be using no more than 10 slides in your presentation
  • You should be able to deliver it in 20 minutes 
  • You should not be using a font smaller than 30 points. Yes, 30 points!
Even though I don’t follow this rule strictly, I do like it. I don’t follow it strictly because I don't believe in a one-size-fits-all approach. However, the 10/20/30 rule does a great job at pointing out that when it comes to presentations, simplicity is king.   

(6) Hire better than yourself 
You must have heard this hundreds of times: "As an entrepreneur, you should hire A players." Guy goes a step further. He suggests that A players hire A+ players. You should hire better than yourself. As he goes, “B players hire C players, C players hire D players, and D players hire E players. If you start hiring B players, you’ll wake up one day being surrounded by Z players.”  

(7) Be a mensch 
This is my favourite. It’s not a lesson in business, but rather a lesson in life that you can apply in business. A mensch is someone who’s admired and trusted—someone whose opinion is sought. There is no higher praise than being recognised as a mensch. There are three ways to become one: 
  • Help people who cannot help you: Help for the pleasure of helping.
  • Do the right thing, the right way: This is about morality! There are certain "absolutes" in life we must always adhere to.  
  • Pay back society: Entrepreneurs are blessed with the ability to create great things. Therefore, they have a moral obligation to pay back society. 
Ultimately, at the end of your life you'll not be judged by how many things you own—you'll be judged by the answer to this simple question: “Did you make the world a better place?”. [Tweet this]



The links in the above presentation work best if you open it directly in Slideshare.  
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Photo: Me and Guy Kawasaki in London