Tag Archives: Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki: The First Step Is to Simplify the Goal that Gives You Meaning

Guy Kawasaki, former ‘chief evangelist’ at Apple, recently gave a colorful talk at TEDxBerkeley called The Art of Innovation.

Occasionally, Guy uses such colorful metaphors, particularly in the titles, that a humble translation may help. So here are few thoughts on Guy’s message and how to remember the key points:

1.  ‘Make meaning.’

This is number one because it’s the starting point. You need to be pursuing a real purpose, not just trying to make money. Paradoxically, the innovators who pursued a clear purpose … all made good money. And even when they didn’t, their life had meaning.

2.  ‘Make mantra.’

Translation: Guy says you should reduce your mission to 3 or 4 words – make it a mantra. He says his is “empower people.” eBay’s is “democratize commerce.” But don’t write out a long, boring mission statement and think that’s enough. The reason to have a short mantra is to make sure you really believe in your mission.

3.  ‘Jump to the next curve.’

Easier said than done. It means don’t just try to tinker. Incremental innovation is not really innovation.

“True innovation occurs when you jump to the next curve — or better yet, invent the next curve.”

4. Great products are DICEE: Deep, Intelligent, Complete, Empowering and Elegant.

The key word here, really, is intelligent. According to Guy, “intelligent means the company understood your pain and what you needed.” Translation: to innovate, have deep empathy and spend the time thinking about what your customer or client really needs.

5.  ‘Don’t worry; be crappy.’

Translation: This is an update of ‘Real artists ship,’ the phrase Steve Jobs popularized at Apple. It means don’t get nervous at deadline time: finish and deliver.

Note of course that it comes after you have already gotten your purpose right (point number 1). If your purpose is clear, it’s okay to ship even if there are a few glitches.

6. “Let a hundred flowers blossom.”

Translation: You might set out to innovate “x” and it turns out it’s better used for “y.” Let it become a product used for “y.” Let the ideas evolve. Life, and innovation, are organic. Be flexible.

7. Don’t be afraid to polarize people.

Translation: don’t try to make everyone happy. Pick your group. Make them happy. Don’t worry if you make the other side unhappy. Actually, that’s a good sign.

8. ‘Churn, baby, churn.’

This is the flip side of ‘Real artists ship’ and ‘Don’t worry, be crappy.’

If you did ship and it’s not quite right, then get to work. This is the feedback process, and the feedback process is constant today. 24/7 if you listen to it. Appreciate the feedback. Correct course if you must. Then ship a better product. Keep improving.

9. ‘Niche thyself.’

Translation: a modern version of ‘Know thyself.’ It means focus on what makes you or your product unique.

It’s also the corollary of point 7 (you can’t make everyone happy). Since you can’t make everyone happy, make the people you serve very happy.

10. ‘Perfect your pitch.’

According to conductor Ben Zander, most people have pretty good pitch; it just hasn’t been developed yet.

The same is true in the art of preparing a pitch or presentation. Most people got corporatized into preparing dull powerpoint presentations.

Guy says there are three musts: First, personalize. Demonstrate why you care. Second, sell dreams not products. Explain how what you’re selling can change lives. Third, see Guy’s 10-20-30 rule. It’s right on.

And of course, since Guy promised 10 main points, he offers an 11th. This one may be the most important:

11 . ‘Don’t let the bozos grind you down.’

If you’re honest, admit it: there are bozos in your life. If you let them, they can grind you down. Guy explains who the real bozos are. Whoever they are in your life, if you let them grind you down, forget about innovating.


These are eleven great points. Many thanks to Guy for presenting them in such living color.