Guy Kawasaki at Avaya Evolutions: Humor, Insight and Innovation

Guy Kawasaki

It’s not every day that you sit down to listen to a keynote address, thinking, “Hey, I really like this guy – He’s funny! I actually did laugh out loud!”

But then again, there’s something really likable and unique about Silicon Valley venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki, who recently spoke at the Avaya Evolutions event in Toronto.

The former Apple Chief Evangelist, who leveraged his charisma to help establish Macintosh computers, is also the author of 12 books, including the recent “Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions.”

His glowing Amazon reviews include rare endorsements from the likes of Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

So, what makes Kawasaki so engaging?

Maybe it’s his humor:

“I worked for Apple as Apple’s Software Evangelist,” says Kawasaki. “I [was in] in the Macintosh division. [It] was probably the largest collection of egomaniacs in the history of America.”

He continues, “We had a great travel policy: Any flight over two hours qualified for first class. My interpretation of that was that the two hours begins when you leave your apartment.”

…Or maybe it’s his candor:

“I’ve been in the tech business for about 30 years,” Kawasaki says, “and I’ll tell you that other than speakers from Avaya and a handful of companies, most tech speakers suck. And they not only suck, they go long, which is a bad combination.”

Thankfully, Kawasaki is neither dull nor long-winded, and he actually has some really compelling things to say, culled from his years of experience rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest names in tech.

Kawasaki has a knack for creating memorable, pithy maxims out of what could be bland, complex business strategies.

Let’s look at just a few.

  • Decide to Make Meaning

“Decide to make meaning – as opposed to money,” he says. “In Silicon Valley, many companies start with the goal of making money, and I’ve noticed that those companies typically fail. The companies that succeed typically had a much deeper purpose – They wanted to change the world.”

He says the best motivation for innovation “is to make meaning to change the world.”

  • Make a Mantra

Do you know your company’s mission statement? It’s probably 50 words long, according to Kawasaki.

He suggests making a mantra instead.

“In the United States, we focus on making ‘mission statements,’” he says. “This is the fundamental flaw of mission statements: Nobody can remember them! If you want to be innovative, make a mantra. Why does your innovation exist?”

He says it should be summed up in just two or three words.

  • Don’t Worry, Be Crappy

“When you are a curve-jumper, it’s okay to have elements of crappiness,” Kawasaki says.

When the Apple Macintosh first came out, it had a number of limitations, being something new and different. It was a learning experience, Kawasaki explains, but at least they did it.

“Don’t ship crap, but if you are jumping the curve, it’s okay to have elements of crappiness to it.”

There’s a lot more good stuff where this came from. You might say Kawasaki is full of it – I think he’d get a kick out of that.


To watch Guy Kawasaki’s complete Avaya Evolutions keynote, click here.

You can also download the complete podcast here.

Photo credit: Scott Beale via photopin cc

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