Brandon Uttley recently had the pleasure of speaking with author and technology evangelist Guy Kawasaki, on the eve of his new book Enchantment: The Act of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions. Shortly after the book debuted, it made the New York Times bestseller list.
Below is an excerpt of the interview:
BU: Sure. Tell me, how do you define enchantment?
GK: I define enchantment as a process of developing a foundation of trustworthiness, likeability and a great product so that you can move people, change their hearts, minds and actions and create this long term, mutually beneficial relationship between you and the people.
BU: Sure. Do you think it’s hard to be enchanting?
GK: Well, that is a tricky question. If I say it’s hard, people might not try. If I say it’s easy, they might not buy the book. How about it’s hard without the book?
BU: Absolute, good answer. Because it seems to me that at least the 80/20 rule, 80% of companies are just run of the mill and 20% are enchanting?
GK: I think it’s more like 99/1.
BU: Yes, why is that?
GK: I think that many of the companies don’t aspire to changing the world. Many organizations are founded on the concept of making a buck as opposed to making a difference. When you’re making a bunk, believe me, you could enchant people accidentally, if anything.
BU: Sure, Rockefeller was good at it.
GK: Yes, but when you’re trying to change the world the bar is higher. I could make the case that the more innovative and more impactful what you’re trying to do, the more you would need enchantment. The more mundane and the more simple and boring, the less you need enchantment, so if you really want to change the world and really kick butt, you need to go beyond simply closing a sale. You need to get people’s hearts and minds into it.
BU: Sure, but for fiber optic cable, you’re saying that’s probably not going to be enchanting?
GK: Well, in a sense, anything is possible to be looked at through an enchanting lens. Fiber optic cable, if it enables people to have a much greater connectivity, if it enables people to have real time video, to no longer have to mail in or get DVDs, if it enables them to impact the world and watch revolutions as they happen, fiber optics can be very enchanting.
BU: Right. Good point. In the book, you talk, of course, a lot about your time at Apple at Chief Evangelist, and Apple is easily one of the most enchanting companies of our time—probably of all time—but it wasn’t always the case there. Apple hit a lot of road blocks. What do you think turned the tide and made Apple such an iconic brand?
GK: Apple started off with a very interesting DNA, two guys in a garage wanting to create a personal computer that mere mortals could use and afford, so the DNA was enchanting from the very start. I think the dark days of Apple was the ’87–’90 timeframe. At that point, Apple was supposed to die. According to the experts, Apple was supposed to die every 10 years. So much for experts.
What turned it around was really Steve coming back and those colorful iMacs. Strawberry, cherry, blueberry and tangerine, those colorful iMacs captured and enchanted people’s imagination.
The very interesting thing is that HP, Dell, Gateway, IBM, or Lenovo or anybody could have gotten a tangerine, blueberry, cherry colored computer, right? It’s not like everybody else could only have access to beige plastic and Steve got this magical plastic that was able to be in other colors. Anybody could have done that.
BU: It was so revolutionary, because I guess before it was like Henry Ford. You can get a car, but it’s going to be black.
GK: Yes, you can get a computer as long as it’s beige. Yes.
BU: Yes, that was awesome. As an entrepreneur, I want to be like Apple, I want to be like Nike or Starbucks or any of these legendary brands.
GK: Virgin America?
BU: Yes, of course, but it seems really hard at times if you’re a small fish, if you will. What do you say to those small fish in terms of how to start off enchanting and stay that way?
GK: I’ll tell you something. If you look back at the history of many of these mega successes, when they were starting, it was two guys or two gals in a garage. They thought they would create this cool computer that in the best case, they could sell a few hundred to the home brew computer club, or they could sell a few widgets or do a few things.
Lo and behold, one thing led to another, things exploded and often the people who create these huge successes are probably the most surprised of all. It never occurred to them. They thought there were 100 nerds in the world who wanted to buy a personal computer and there are millions of people.
The message to two guys or two gals in a garage is there is a process of starting something. It takes off, you nurture it and it grows. You wake up one day and you’re in charge of an Apple.
If people have this illusion that there are two kinds of companies: one company, you start and say someday I’m going to be $20 billion dollars, and the other kind says I’m just going to stay small peanuts. Frankly, that doesn’t happen.
In the venture capital business there are people who say they need to raise $50 million dollars, because they’re going to create the next Apple, Cisco, Yahoo or Google. Do you know what? Those people always fail, because first of all, the miracle has to happen. They raise $25 or $50 million dollars. Then when you have $25 or $50 million dollars, guess what? What is the first thing you do? You hire MBAs, you hire ad agencies, you run Super Bowl commercials, you run PR firms and the PR firms assign oriental art history majors from Wellesley to be your account rep, right?