Guy Kawasaki is the Co-founder of Alltop.com, an “online magazine rack” of popular topics on the web. Previously, he was the chief evangelist of Apple. Guy is the author of many best selling books such as Enchantment, Reality Check, The Art of the Start, and most recently, What the Plus,which is all about Google+.
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- “Don’t take any crap from anybody.” – Guy’s mother
- Guy goes quite abstract with his version of what constitutes failure.
Entrepreneurial AHA Moment
- Guy has had 5 true blue success moments in his life. He shares all 5 with us, and delves deep into his latest.
- Guy is a writer so he is most excited about his latest book: APE. You’ll have to listen to find out what it’s all about!
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- Android: A Linux-based operating system designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices.
- Google +: Aims to make sharing on the web more like sharing in real life.
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John Dumas: Hire Fire Nation and thank you for joining me for another episode of EntrepreneurOnFire.com, your daily dose of inspiration. If you enjoy this free podcast, please show your support by leaving a rating and review here at iTunes. I will make sure to give you a shout out on an upcoming showing to thank you!
John Lee Dumas: Okay. Let’s get started. I am simply thrilled to introduce my guest today, Guy Kawasaki. Guy, are you prepared to ignite?
Guy Kawasaki: Yes, I am. You couldn’t stop me if you tried.
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs] Alright, man. Guy is the cofounder of Alltop.com, an online magazine rack of popular topics on the web. Previously, he was the chief evangelist of Apple. Guy is the author of many bestselling books such as “Enchantment,” “Reality Check,” “The Art of the Start,” and most recently, “What the Plus!” which is all about Google+.
I’ve given Fire Nation a little overview, Guy, but why don’t you take a minute? Tell us about you personally. We want to know about you and then what you have going on in business right now.
Guy Kawasaki: Sure. I am – God, I’m a lot of things. Maybe I can’t hold down a steady job.
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs]
Guy Kawasaki: Basically, I am from Honolulu. I went to Stanford. I entered law school and quit after a couple of weeks after Stanford. I got an MBA from UCLA, and then I went into the jewelry business, believe it or not. And after the jewelry business, I was recruited into Apple as Apple’s Second Software Evangelist. I worked for Apple for about four years. Then I went off and started the company. I became a writer and a speaker. I returned to Apple as Apple’s Chief Evangelist. Then I left Apple again to start an investment bank. And then I’m now sort of a writer, speaker, a little bit of an investor. That’s it. That’s my life in 30 seconds.
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs] I love it, Guy, and we’re definitely going to delve more into that later. You’re giving a guy like me hope because listen, I was in the Army for eight years as an officer – four years active, four years in reserves – and then I got out. I tried law school for a semester. It didn’t jive with me. I went to finance, I went into insurance, I went into real estate. I just tried a bunch of different things and I just wasn’t quite finding my stride. So people like yourself, I love it, Guy. You keep on just swinging the bat, doing some great things. I really appreciate it. It’s going to resonate so well with Fire Nation.
Guy Kawasaki: From the outside looking in, it looks like it’s easy and a success path, but at any given moment, none of us know what the hell we’re doing.
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs] So true!
Guy Kawasaki: I don’t want anybody to get the misconception that any of these is planned because it’s simply not true.
John Lee Dumas: I love it, Guy. So listen, let’s start now with what we always start with at Fire Nation, at EntrepreneurOnFire, which is a success quote. We like to get the motivational ball rolling, kind of crawl inside your head and see what motivates you or just some kind of mantra that sticks with you. I love your mantra, Guy. We talked about it a little bit in the pre-interview, but go for it. Tell us what you have for Fire Nation today.
Guy Kawasaki: Sure. Well, basically, my mantra is something my mother taught me, which is don’t take any crap from anybody.
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs]
Guy Kawasaki: That’s how I live my life [Laughs].
John Lee Dumas: I love that, Guy!
Guy Kawasaki: The last time I took any crap was Steve Jobs, and that was it [Laughs].
John Lee Dumas: That was it. That’s very interesting. I’m actually in the middle of reading his biography right now, so I know what it means when you get that penetrating Steve Jobs stare, and it kind of scares me even though I’m only reading it.
Guy Kawasaki: [Laughs] Well, you get over it. Don’t worry.
John Lee Dumas: So Guy, take this down to the ground level for us because this is about your life and your journey as an entrepreneur. How have you actually applied your mother’s mantra in your life at some point?
Guy Kawasaki: I seem to always be working or doing something that’s contrary to the status quo. I support causes that are contrary to the status quo, contrary to the majority. It started with Macintosh, which honestly to this day is the minority operating system. You just can’t let the bozos grind you down. I’ve done it with Macintosh. So when you start a company, it’s also the same case because when most people start a company, even their friends and relatives are telling them it can’t be done, it shouldn’t be done, it isn’t necessary, blah, blah, blah. I supported Barack Obama very publicly and took a lot of crap for that. So that’s just how it goes.
John Lee Dumas: Because he is a Hawaiian native, isn’t that correct?
Guy Kawasaki: Yes. He is. Well, not if you believe the conspiracy theorists.
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs]
Guy Kawasaki: According to them, he was born in Afghanistan and he’s Taliban, but that’s a whole different discussion. But yes, he is from Hawaii. He went to the second best high school in Hawaii. I went to the first best.
John Lee Dumas: Nice! Well, just to make sure we don’t steer into politics because believe it or not, we wouldn’t have much to argue about because I’m quite of the same leanings as yourself. But let’s transition to our next topic, which is failure. Guy, EntrepreneurOnFire is all about the journey of entrepreneurs, and my journey has been riddled with failure, challenges, obstacles. Every entrepreneur faces this on so many levels. Can you take us back to a time in your journey when you faced a challenge or you really had to overcome a massive obstacle that you think would be very beneficial to share with Fire Nation?
Guy Kawasaki: Well, the biggest obstacle I ever encountered – and you could make the case that I failed – was of course Macintosh, which is successful today, but it’s still not the predominant operating system. I don’t know, it was hovering around 5%. Maybe it’s 10% today. But mathematically, you could say that by a score of 10 to 1, Guy has failed, but it depends on how you measure success, right? Part of it is how you define success. That’s one of the key lessons you should learn in life. Porsche probably has, I don’t know, a half percent market share. Would you say Porsche is a failure? I wouldn’t [Laughs]. So I think that’s one very important lesson about failure. I have encountered failure many times. I’ve written 12 books. Not all of them have been successful. One of the advantages of living in Silicon Valley is that failure is not a big deal out here. It’s not like this crushing experience that ruins you and your reputation for life. Most people don’t really care, and one of the things I learned through life is that it’s not how many times you fail. It’s if you succeed just once. All you have to do is succeed once.
John Lee Dumas: That’s quite a famous Mark Cuban quote actually, is that you only have to be right one time. He was right one time and he’s a multibillionaire because of it.
Guy Kawasaki: [Laughs] Well, the key to remember in that situation is you only need to be right one time, but if you start believing your own BS and that it’s all you, then you may be right one time and be an orifice for the rest of your life. So if you are lucky one time, you should realize that there’s a difference between lucky and skill. I would not say Steve Jobs’s success was determined by luck. That was pure skill. But there are people who are one time huge successes that are luck and have never repeated what they did.
John Lee Dumas: Absolutely. Guy, again, we like to take things down to the ground level. Do you have a specific challenge or obstacle that you really think would just be beneficial to share with Fire Nation?
Guy Kawasaki: I’m writing another book. It’s my twelfth book. It’s called “APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur,” so it’s how to self-publish. I’ll tell you, every author has doubts. I don’t care if you’re James Patterson or John Grisham or Isabel Allende or J.K. Rowling. Every author has doubts about whether their next book will be successful. I mean that’s just the way it is. I mean if you didn’t have doubts, you’d either be a psychopath or you’re an idiot. I mean that’s the only two choices. So you just have to live with that.
John Lee Dumas: I couldn’t agree more. It’s one of those innate things that we are born with. We are born with fear of heights. We’re born with an innate sense of self-doubt. That’s one thing that keeps our sense of survival alive. We have to always be afraid of what’s around the corner because that keeps our senses sharp and we don’t become willing to accept whatever is the norm.
Guy Kawasaki: It would be interesting to know, does Donald Trump have any self-doubt? I don’t know.
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs]
Guy Kawasaki: [Laughs]
John Lee Dumas: That is a great question. So Guy, let’s go to the other end of the spectrum now. You’ve been really generous and shared with us your philosophy of challenges and how to react to them. Let’s go to the aha moment, that light bulb that comes on. At some point in your journey as an entrepreneur, I’m sure you’ve had just this light bulb that’s come on and you said, “Wow! This is really going to resonate well with me, with my fans, with my audience.” Can you take us to that aha moment and share with us your progression through it and how you turned that into success?
Guy Kawasaki: There have been maybe four of those moments in my life. One was when I met my wife.
John Lee Dumas: Wow!
Guy Kawasaki: The second was when I became a Christian. Third was when I saw Macintosh. Fourth was when I first started playing ice hockey. And I’ll add a fifth. The fifth time was when I first understood Google+.
John Lee Dumas: Let’s talk about that, Guy. Let’s talk about your aha moment with Google+ because that is so relevant, and I just would love to hear your journey through that realization, getting into the thick of things, creating your book, and then turning that into a success.
Guy Kawasaki: The reaction to Google+, I was coming from a world primarily of Twitter. On Twitter, you’re limited to 140 characters. The pictures are not displayed in line, they’re links. That kind of thing. There’s no real threading. You have to keep searching for yourself to see if someone responded to a message. When I saw Google+ for the first time with threading, with a lot of white space, with embedded video and embedded pictures, it was a Macintosh-like moment. It was so different from Twitter that I said, “Wow!” I mean, this is the future of social media. It was religious!
John Lee Dumas: That is quite a descriptive moment, Guy. Thank you for sharing that with us. What was the next step that you took to say, “Hey, I need to create something more about this. I want to create ‘What the Plus!’ the Google+ book”?
Guy Kawasaki: I’m at that stage of life where I just do things on a whim. I saw a lot of parallels between Google+ and Macintosh. So with Macintosh, it was a better computer used by far fewer people, and the experts said it would fail. Hmm, sounds familiar!
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs]
Guy Kawasaki: Google+ has a much better system, very few people using, and the experts said it’ll fail. So I said, “Huh! I’m beginning to see a pattern here.” I wrote a book called “The Macintosh Way About Macintosh,” and so I wrote a book called “What the Plus!” about Google+ because I wanted to evangelize, to proselytize, to promote what I thought was a better way to do things.
John Lee Dumas: You’ve named a couple of really great features about Google+. If you could just narrow down to one thing that just really excites you about Google+ right now, what would that be?
Guy Kawasaki: I love the white space. I just like it. It reminds me – Google+ is like the Apple Store of retail.
John Lee Dumas: Yes. Spoken like a true MacMan guy.
Guy Kawasaki: Google+ is the Apple Store of social media is what I meant, right? So it’s light, it’s clean, it’s logical. I look at the Facebook Timeline – are you very familiar with Facebook Timeline?
John Lee Dumas: I am. I’m familiar with both.
Guy Kawasaki: Okay. So you look at the Facebook Timeline, right? So you start on the left side and say, “Okay. That’s the most recent post.” Then you look down. That’s the next most recent post. Then you look down. That’s the most recent post. Then you say, “Uh-oh! Wait, the next one is to the right. Uh-oh! The next one is to the left. Uh-oh! The next one is to the right,” and so it’s like maybe I have a simple brain, but can I just go down the page chronologically and not have to be jumping all over the place, wondering when I’m encountering advertising and when I’m looking at posts? I mean is that too much to ask? On the other hand, Facebook is free, so they can do whatever they want, but it’s not my aesthetic.
John Lee Dumas: No, I hear you, Guy. I actually had a similar moment on a different level when I finally made the switch over to Mac from PC because I just grew up in a PC family. It was just the easy computer that my family had. So that’s what I knew, so I went through life with it, but I’ve always been drawn to Mac for different reasons. Then finally, I made the plunge. When I went to buy my Mac and there were only a couple options per, I was just like, “Man, I love this!” because the thing I hated most about buying a PC was the unbelievable amount of options and add-ons and upsells and I hated that process and I loved the simplicity of buying a Mac. And that’s exactly what I’m seeing with Google+. It’s like Facebook is having all of these upsells and these different add-ons in the left and the right, and Google+ is just there.
Guy Kawasaki: I think the most preposterous thing about Facebook – and again, it’s a free service so they can do whatever they want – in a sense, it’s like if somebody asked you to dinner at their house and you go to their house and you say, “I don’t like what you’re serving,” you’re a [Unintelligible], right?
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs]
Guy Kawasaki: This is that guy’s house. It’s his dinner. If you don’t like it, leave! But anyway, so I understand that logic, right? With Facebook, people say, “Wow! There’s a billion people on Facebook and there’s 100 million people on Google+. So I went to Google+. I typed in the people’s names of who I got drunk with in college and none of them were there!” So Google+ is a ghost town, and yet – I mean, for one thing, maybe you don’t want to hang out with the people you got drunk with in college at this point. So that might be a logic. I think it’s just a different way of doing things and I would argue better. So it is a different house and it is a different way of looking at things. It’s for pursuing your passions. Not necessarily the people that you already know. It’s just like if you bought a Macintosh early in 1985, ’86, ’87, and if you bought a Macintosh, you said, “Well, I can’t run any MS-DOS programs. This place is a ghost town.” Well, yes, that’s right. There’s no MS-DOS in Macintosh [Laughs].
John Lee Dumas: So true, Guy, and I just really love this comparison between the two. You’ve made one. I’ve made a couple. I mean it just really is a very good analogy and it just makes a lot of sense, and I just keep getting more and more excited with the features that Google+ is adding like their Hangouts and things along those lines. There just seems to be more and more that’s being added to it every single day.
Guy Kawasaki: Don’t forget that this is the real brain fryer of Facebook, which is there may be 10 to 1 in numbers of people, but only 10% of the people who follow you, friend you or circle you, or whatever verb you want to use, only 10% of those people see a post. So let me explain. So let’s say you have a thousand people who are your fans on Facebook. These are your friends, family or whatever, right? So you post something on your wall and you think that all 1,000 people can see it. Now obviously, if they’re asleep, if they’re traveling, if they’re not on their computer, you understand that they won’t see it. But generally speaking, you think, oh, I sent it out. A thousand people can see it if they’re at their computer, etcetera, etcetera, right? That happens to not be true. With Facebook, there’s this thing called EdgeRank and Facebook has decided that of the thousand people, these people have liked your post, commented on your post, shared your post. So these people are interacting with you, and so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you interacted with Guy, you get to see his post. If you don’t interact with Guy, you don’t get to see his post. So you really haven’t posted to a thousand people. You’ve posted to the 10% of the people who interact with you.
Google+ by contrast, if you have a thousand people who circled you, all 1,000 people can see it. So one of Facebook’s solutions to that is well, if you want all 1,000 people to see it, then you have to pay. Again, I’ve been invited to dinner. It’s a free dinner. I shouldn’t complain. But that just strikes me as a great differentiation for Google+ versus Facebook. So if you want everybody to see you on Facebook, you have to pay. If you want everybody to see on Google+, you don’t have to pay. I mean, what am I missing here?
John Lee Dumas: I love it, Guy, and I’m really curious to see the progression of both Google+ and Facebook as they just continue to be these two behemoths slugging it out because Google has so much backing it and Facebook is continuing to go with the momentum that it’s had. So this just really made me think on a lot of different angles. It really opened up my eyes a little bit. I know it did the same for all of Fire Nation listeners. I would love to keep just hammering this topic home. And we’ll get back to this, but I really want to transition a little bit because I have a question I do want to ask you. Have you had an I’ve made it moment?
Guy Kawasaki: So I’m going to tell you the best I’ve made it moment story, and I guarantee you that 10 years from now, when you’re bigger than CNN, you’re going to look back and you will still say that Guy’s I’ve made it moment is the best one in the 10,000 interviews we’ve done in the history of this podcast.
John Lee Dumas: Man! You are the master at setting the table, Guy. Go for it!
Guy Kawasaki: [Laughs] Okay. So about 15 years ago when life was good and I didn’t have too many kids, I drove a Porsche 911 Cabriolet. Okay? So I’m in Menlo Park, I’m in my Porsche, I’m at a stoplight. I look over to my left. I see this car with four teenage girls in it. They’re looking at me, they’re smiling at me, they’re laughing, and I’m thinking I have made it! I’m a famous Apple software evangelist, I’m a famous venture capitalist, I’m a famous writer, I’m a famous speaker. I have made it! Even teenage girls know who I am and recognize me on the street, right? So then one of the girls makes this motion of roll down your window. Clearly, she’s not a Porsche owner because you don’t roll down a Porsche window. You push the button and it goes down. But that’s another story.
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs]
Guy Kawasaki: So she gives me this motion of roll down the window. So I rolled down the window. She sticks her head out to me, and I’m thinking now she’s going to just tell me what a great person I am. And she says to me, “Are you Jackie Chan?”
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs]
Guy Kawasaki: [Laughs] So now, I spent the last 15 years of my life with a goal. A very simple goal. My goal is that someday, in Hong Kong, Jackie Chan is riding his Rolls Royce, pulls up to a stoplight, sees four teenage girls in the car next to him laughing, smiling, giggling, asking him to roll down his Rolls Royce’s window. He puts down his window, and the car says to him, “Are you Guy Kawasaki?”
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs] Guy, I am going to say without reverence we’ve had some amazing guests on this show. Amazing guests. Nobody even comes in a close second to your I’ve made it moment.
Guy Kawasaki: [Laughs] I told you!
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs] So Guy, I want to be really respectful of your time, so we’re going to continue on now to the next topic, which is your current business. You have so many exciting things that are going on right now, but can you just share with Fire Nation one thing that is really exciting you about what you, Guy Kawasaki, are doing?
Guy Kawasaki: Well, at any given moment, my focus is on whatever I am writing. And right now I’m writing this book, as I said, called “APE.” So that is taking up 110% of my attention. That’s just what I do. I make most of my money speaking these days, but the irony is I make most of my money speaking, but I spend most of my effort on writing, and I make far more money on speaking than writing. So my priorities are exactly the inverse of what they should be.
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs] If your only goal was financial.
Guy Kawasaki: If my only goal was financial, yes.
John Lee Dumas: So Guy, have you ever heard of the acronym for focus?
Guy Kawasaki: No.
John Lee Dumas: FOCUS – Follow One Course Until Success.
Guy Kawasaki: Okay. I like it.
John Lee Dumas: Yes. You seem like you are a very focused guy. It’s one thing that I really pride myself on. I love to be able to sit down and just really focus on each task until I complete it. So that’s something that you have going for you. I know that APE is going to come out with the same kind of verve that everything else has come out that you produced, so I just really look forward to that. What is your vision for the future? Do you want to continue to be focused on writing these great books? Are you going to be transitioning more or less into speaking or something totally different?
Guy Kawasaki: Really, I can’t predict. I didn’t ever think I would be sort of a fulltime writer and speaker like I am. I wish I could tell you that I sit down or I have this life coach and we go over a 5 year plan, a 10 year plan, etcetera, etcetera. Really, for me, it’s just not true. I just react. One day, I fall in love with Google+ so I write a book. So what happened is I wrote a book called “What the Plus!” about Google+. I self-published it. I discovered what a pain in the [expletive] self-publishing is. It’s so freaking complex and everybody tells you different things, and these different things aren’t slight shades of grey. These different things are 180 degrees directly opposite. So based on the What the Plus! Experience, I decided to write APE. I just sort of go through life like that. In a perfect world, in 5 years, I just would not be working at all. Some people need to work and to have public attention and all that. I really don’t. I would be just perfectly happy to play hockey and be with my kids. Really. I don’t need the attention. I don’t need the spotlight. I don’t need nothing. I would be very happy just disappearing. Playing hockey and being with my kids.
John Lee Dumas: Except you still need to have that Jackie Chan moment.
Guy Kawasaki: Oh yes [Laughs].
John Lee Dumas: So Guy, we’ve now reached my favorite part of the show. We’re about to enter the Lightning Round, and this is where I get to ask you a series of questions and you come back at us, Fire Nation, with amazing and mind-blowing answers. Does that sound like a plan?
Guy Kawasaki: Okay.
John Lee Dumas: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Guy Kawasaki: Fear.
John Lee Dumas: What is the best business advice that you ever received?
Guy Kawasaki: Never ask somebody to do something you wouldn’t do.
John Lee Dumas: Oh, I love that. What’s something that’s working for you or your business right now?
Guy Kawasaki: The key to my success is I’m willing to grind it out. So I don’t have any quick secrets. I just grind.
John Lee Dumas: Do you have an Internet resource like a Google+ that you’re just in love with right now that you can share with Fire Nation?
Guy Kawasaki: I love Android. I have an Android tablet and an Android phone. I think Android is better than iOS.
John Lee Dumas: Alright! What is your favorite business book that you’ve ever read?
Guy Kawasaki: It’s not really a business book. It’s a writing book. It’s called “If You Want to Write” by Brenda Ueland.
John Lee Dumas: Awesome! This is the last question, Guy. This is going to wrap up the show for us for all intents and purposes. It’s kind of a tricky one. Take your time, digest it, and then come back at Fire Nation with an answer. If you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world identical to earth, but you knew nobody. You still have all the experience and all the knowledge you currently have, but only $500 in your pocket, a computer with Internet access, food and shelter is taken care of. What do you do in the next seven days?
Guy Kawasaki: I’d get on Google+ and write a book.
John Lee Dumas: Sometimes people try to make things just a little too complicated, but it’s all about taking action. So you would get on Google+. You’d write a book. How would you find the subject matter for this book?
Guy Kawasaki: Well, I would write this great story about how I suddenly appeared with 500 bucks and all my experience. That’s kind of a unique story. You have a great story, man! It’s the Blair Witch Project on steroids.
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs] So if you avoided being locked up in some insane asylum, then you would probably be on your way to really having a lot of great circles on Google+.
Guy Kawasaki: I would freaking own this insane asylum. Don’t you worry about it.
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs] Oh, Guy, we’ve had some great laughs today, and you’ve given some awesome actionable advice to Fire Nation, and we are all better for it. Give us one parting piece of guidance, then give yourself a plug, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Guy Kawasaki: Well, my parting piece of advice is my mother’s. Just don’t take any crap from anybody. Life is too short. I want people to go change the world. Whether they change it with reading my book or watching my speech or not is not that relevant. The key is I want them to change the world.
John Lee Dumas: Awesome stuff, Guy. Thank you for being so generous with your time with us, Fire Nation. We definitely salute you and we’ll catch you on the flipside.