Tag Archives: Guy Kawasaki

We’re Awash In Too Many Words — It’s Really Better To Get To The Point

We are awash in too many words.  We need to learn to shorten our sentences, shorten our messages, get right to the heart of our messages.  We need to get to the point, quickly, clearly, and simply.  Because, we all have too many other words to read.

This is the growing consensus of a whole bunch of folks.

For example, Andrew Sullivan’s blogging style is described as a short, to the point, opening sentence and then a pull quote.  (I’m sorry – I do not remember where I read this description his style – but I read his blog, and it is accurate).

For example, many mission statements are too long. Way too long.  So long that no one remembers them, that few actually learn them.  A lot of people are saying this.  Guy Kawasaki, in The Art of the Start, puts it this way:

Make Mantra.  Forget mission statements; they’re long, boring, and irrelevant.  No one can ever remember them – much less implement them.  Instead, take your meaning and make a mantra out of it.  This will set you entire team on the right course.

In the article, The Eight-Word Mission Statement by Eric Hellweg, Hellweg puts it this way:

To combat this, Starr insists that companies he funds can express their mission statement in under eight words. They also must follow this format: “Verb, target, outcome.” Some examples: “Save endangered species from extinction” and “Improve African children’s health.”

Mulago’s approach is refreshingly sparse, and really helps to clarify the thinking. It’s a great “forcing function” as well. As Starr spoke, you could almost see PopTech attendees workshopping their mission statements, trying to get them down to under eight words in this format. It can be quite hard to do.

How long is your company’s current mission statement? Do you think you could get it down to under eight words using the “verb, target, outcome” format? It’s a good exercise to consider running, if only to start real conversations at your company about what you’re doing, to/for whom, and toward what outcome. Fascinating approach.

For example, consider the “Takahashi Method” for presentation slides.

Takahashi uses only text in his slides. But not just any text — really big text. Huge text. Characters of impressive proportion which rarely number more than ten, usually fewer. The goal, he says, is to use short words rather than long, complicated words and phrases.

There seems to be a growing understanding that we are awash in too many words.  Fewer words, stated clearly and simply, may be a true key to modern communication success.

Business Lessons from Guy Kawasaki

Business Lessons from Guy Kawasaki (excerpted from the Corner Office Interview, NY Times)

Guy Kawasaki on one of his many adventures

Guy Kawasaki is a one-man business idea factory.  We link to his blog on our blog roll, and I follow him on Twitter, and I have presented synopses of two of his books, The Art of the Start and Reality Check (which Bob Morris called the best book he read in 2008).  Here are some excerpts from his terrific interview in the NY Times Corner Office (Note:  Bob usually posts about the pieces from the NY Times Corner Office, and will probably do so again with this one.  But I liked it so much that I decided it would be more than ok to give our readers a double dose of Kawasaki).

On the centrality and primacy of sales:

You truly have to understand how to take care of your customers.
I learned a very valuable lesson: how to sell. Sales is everything. As long as you’re making sales, you’re still in the game. That lesson has stuck with me throughout my career.

On Steve Jobs and his brilliance:

I learned from Steve that some things need to be believed to be seen. These are powerful lessons — very different from saying we just want to eke out an existence and keep our heads down.

On hiring:

The most important thing is that you hire people who complement you and are better than you in specific areas.
…make yourself dispensable — what greater accomplishment is there than the organization running well without you? It means you picked great people, prepared them and inspired them. And if executives did this, the world would be a better place.

On clear and simple, easy to understand, to the point communication:

business schools should teach students how to communicate in five-sentence e-mails and with 10-slide PowerPoint presentations. If they just taught every student that, American business would be much better off.

On work ethic:

…success in business comes from the willingness to grind it out. It’s not because of the brilliant idea. It’s because you are willing to work hard. That’s the key to success.

On execution:

The issue with consulting is that if you go straight to work for a consultant (after college graduation), you develop this perspective that the hard part is the analysis and the decision. In reality, that’s not the hard part. The hard part is implementing the decision, not making it.


You can purchase my synopses of both The Art of the Start, with handout + audio, on our companion web site 15minutebusinessbooks.com.  The synopsis for Reality Check should be available soon.

Two Great Business Challenges – Getting Started, And Finishing What You Start

There are two great challenges to face on the path to business success.  They are:

Challenge #1 – Getting Started.

Challenge #2 – Finishing what you start.

There are mountains of projects/ideas that got started, and were never finished.  There are other mountains of projects/ideas that never got off the ground.  (I have about a dozen really good books in me that I never have actually started.  I suspect you know the feeling…)

So, to achieve business success, you have to successfully face this simple yet difficult challenge:  getting started.  Here’s what Guy Kawasaki said about it in his book The Art of the Start:  The Time-Tested, Battle Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything.

Talk and bravado are cheap.  Saying you’re willing do something doesn’t mean that you will do it.

The hardest thing about getting started is getting started.

So – what are you waiting for?  What do you need to start?  Now, get started!

And after you have actually started, you can then focus on finishing.

Coming Soon from Guy Kawasaki: The Art of Enchantment: How to Woo, Influence, and Persuade.

OK – Now we have an outline/complete table of contents (in process) of a new book, on-line, from a terrific author, before it is fully finished, before it is available for sale, asking for input from the entire universe.

It is from Guy Kawasaki, and I have presented two of his previous books, The Art of the Start and Reality Check {Bob Morris’ choice for the best business book of 2008)  at the First Friday Book Synopsis.  (My synopsis for The Art of the Start is available for purchase on our companion website, 15minutebusinessbooks.com).  The book title:

The Art of Enchantment:  How to Woo, Influence, and Persuade.

Read the current version of the table of contents here.

This is impressive!

Malcolm Gladwell — One of Newsweek’s Top 10 New Thought Leaders

Newsweek has a great series of short articles on the top 10 new thought leaders. I read about this on Twitter from Guy Kawasaki.  He wanted us all to read about Steve Jobs by the Fake Steve Jobs.  Yes, Kawasaki is correct – it is priceless.  And Kim Kardashian wrote the piece about Twitter.

Gladwell near his home in New York City (from the Newsweek web site)

But I especially liked this piece about Malcolm Gladwell, written by the two Steves, the Freakonomics guys.

Lightning doesn’t strike twice—it strikes three times. Or at least it did in the case of Malcolm Gladwell, the man who singlehandedly invented a genre of nonfiction that has hatched a thousand followers. His first book, The Tipping Point, took a very simple idea—that “little things can make a big difference”—and cobbled together a great variety of stories, all related with care and flair, to argue the validity of that idea. Using the same crazy-quilt architecture, he followed with Blink, which explored the science of first impressions, and Outliers, which limned the secrets of successful people. With each book he intrigued us, challenged us, charmed us, and, most of all, engaged us. His taste is impeccable; he may be the greatest storyteller alive. He can make us care, deeply, about a subject as apparently banal as ketchup. What is his secret? It may be his devout embrace of the soft sell, the antithesis of the chest-thumping triumphalism that marks most business books. “Good writing does not succeed or fail on the strength of its ability to persuade,” he declares in the preface to What the Dog Saw, a new collection of his New Yorker articles. “It succeeds or fails on the strength of its ability to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone else’s head.”
The fact is that it’s Gladwell’s head we seem most interested in peeking inside. If you don’t enjoy reading him, you probably don’t enjoy reading very much at all.

My personal “Bests” — from business books I presented in 2009

In 2009, I presented twelve book synopses at the First Friday Book Synopsis (as I do every year).  At the bottom of this post, I list the books by month. (Remember, my colleague Karl Krayer presented a different book each month).

Here are a few “bests” — my selections —  re. the books from the year:

• Best theme for the year:
• It takes passion, deliberate practice, and 10,000 hours of effort, to get really, really world-class good at something.  The three books with the details and the motivation are:
• Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell.
Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else by Geoff Colvin.
• The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything
by Ken Robinson.

• Most enjoyable/engaging books to read
• Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell.
• The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson.
• Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition by Guy Kawasaki.
• Panic: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity by Michael Lewis (Editor).  (The chapter by Dave Barry on buying a house is absolutely laugh-out-loud funny!)
• SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.  It is worth reading just for the parable of the horse manure.

• Most practical business read…
• Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition by Guy Kawasaki.  This one is worth keeping and re-reading for its practical advice.

Were there any books that I could have just skipped?  I think I gained value from all twelve, although I do think the Suzy Welch book, 10 10 10, though worth reading, could have been nearly as effective as an essay.

Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers

• The best book I presented this year…
And now – if you made me choose only one, and that was the only one I could read for the year – the year’s “best” – I think I go with Outliers.  But I would be unhappy at having to choose only one.


Here are Randy’s presentations from the First Friday Book Synopsis in 2009.

January, 2009:
Outliers: The Story of Success
by Malcolm Gladwell. Little, Brown and Company (November 18, 2008).

February, 2009
Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition
by Guy Kawasaki
Portfolio Hardcover (October 30, 2008).

March, 2009:
Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else

by Geoff Colvin (Author)
Portfolio Hardcover; 1 edition (October 16, 2008)

April, 2009:
Panic: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity
by Michael Lewis (Editor). W.W. Norton & Co. (November 17, 2008).

May, 2009:
The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything
by Ph.D., Ken Robinson.  Viking Adult.  (January 8, 2009)

June, 2009:
10-10-10: A Life-Transforming Idea by Suzy Welch. Scribner (April 14, 2009).

July, 2009:
The Genius Machine: The Eleven Steps That Turn Raw Ideas into Brilliance by Gerald Sindell. by Gerald Sindell.  New World Library (2009).

August, 2009:
The Future Arrived Yesterday: The Rise of the Protean Corporation and What It Means for You by Michael Malone. Crown Business (2009).  

September, 2009:
Womenomics: Write Your Own Rules for Success by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay.  Harper­Business/HarperCollins.  (2009).

October, 2009:
Free: The Future of a Radical Price
by Chris Anderson.  Hyperion.  2009.

November, 2009:
What Americans Really Want…Really: The Truth About Our Hopes, Dreams, and Fears
by Frank I. Luntz.  Hyperion (September 15, 2009).

December, 2009:
SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance
by Steven D. Levitt (Author), Stephen J. Dubner (Author)
William Morrow. (2009).


Many of these presentations, with audio + hadnout, are available for purchase at our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.