• July 2012

Guy Kawasaki Gives Us a "Reality Check"

By Hope Katz Gibbs
Be Inkandescent

With the goal of providing “hardcore information to hardcore people who want to kick ass,” entrepreneur and author Guy Kawasaki penned “Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition.”

When this nearly 500-page tome hit bookstores in 2008, he called it the “tweaked, updated, and supplemented compilation of the best of everything I’ve done and seen that pertains to starting and operating great organizations.”

He amended that statement, slightly at least, when he released Enchantment in 2011.

Nonetheless, this encyclopedia of information remains a must-read for any entrepreneur. From the “Zen of Business Plans” (chapter 17), to “The Psychology of Influencing People (chapter 53), and “Ten Questions ‘with’ Jackie Onanssis (chapter 63), we dip inside the mind and experiences of the man who started his career at Apple Computer, Inc.

The Reality Check Checklist

“In reality, no one can implement all the recommendations in a book,” Kawasaki knows, which is why he provided a simple 10-step list “to set you on the right path for the journey.”

  • Are you making meaning?
  • Does your project jump to, or create, the next curve?
  • Is your product Deep, Intelligent, Complete, Elegant, and Emotive?
  • Do you have a mantra for what you do?
  • Do you have a 10-slide pitch with no font smaller than 30 points that you can give in 20 minutes?
  • Have you figured out a way to take your product to market with no budget?
  • Are you helping people who cannot help you?
  • Can you blow away any audience with a demo of your product?
  • Would you hire “imperfect” job candidates who love what you do, as well as people who are better than you are?
  • Are you only asking people to do things that you would do, too?

Here’s the skinny on Kawasaki’s big ideas:

The Reality of Starting: “Here’s the fairy tale. Two guys or gals in a garage come up with a great idea. They approach investors who quickly fund the idea. They launch on time to universal acclaim and unprecedented customer adoption. The company is immediately profitable and goes public more successfully than Google. Then, the company innovates and thrives for decades. Fairy tales don’t happen, but this section explains what does happen in those first years of starting up, which entails a lot of floundering and flailing.”

In this section you’ll learn about: Flounders at Work. The Inside Story of Entrepreneurship, The Art of Entrepreneurship, The Art of Commercialization, and Mantras for Dummies.

The Reality of Raising Money: “The closet real-world analogy to raising money, whether you are seeking it from venture capitalists, angel investors, or the three Fs (friends, fools, and family), is speed dating. That’s right: In five minutes, people decide if they are interested in you. This isn’t right, and it isn’t fair, but it’s reality.”

In this section you’ll learn about: The Investor Wish List, The Art of Getting the Attention of Investors, The Art of Executive Summary, The 10/20/30 Rule of Pitching, The Top 10 Lies of Venture Capitalists, The Top 11 Lies of Entrepreneurs, The Art of Raising Angel Capital, The Inside Scoop on Venture Capital Law, The Top 16 Lies of Lawyers, The Venture Capital Aptitude Test

The Reality of Planning and Executing: “If you think that raising money was the hard part, you’re in for a surprise. Raising money is easy and fun. The real work begins when you have to deliver the results you promised. Execution separates great companies from great ideas. This section explains the reality of planning and executing.”

In this section you’ll learn about: The Paradox of Strategy, The Zen of Business Plans, The Art of Financial Projections, Financial Models for Underachievers, The Art of Execution, After the Honeymoon, The Art of Bootstrapping, The Art of the Board Meeting, How I Built a Web 2.0 User-Generated Content Citizen-Journalism Long-Tail Social-Media Site for $12,107.09

The Reality of Innovating: “Many people think that innovation is easy—you sit around with your buddies and magical ideas pop into your head. Or your customers tell you what they need. Dream on. Innovation is a hard, messy process with no shortcuts. It starts with making something that you’d like to use that makes meaning, and it gets both easier and harder from there.”

In this section you’ll learn about: The Art of Innovation, The Seven Sins of Solutions, The Myths of Innovation, The Sticking Point, The Lies of Engineers, How to Kick Silicon Valley’s Butt, The Purest Form of Engineering—Woz

The Reality of Marketing: “Everybody wants to be the vice president of marketing, because you get to do the fun stuff: shuck and jive with the beautiful people, create fun marketing campaigns, drive German cars, and pierce parts of your body. If only this were the reality of marketing. More accurately, marketing is the process of convincing people they need your product or service. That’s not so easy. This section explains the reality of marketing.”

In this section you’ll learn about: Stupid Ways to Hinder Market Adoption, The Name Game, The Art of Branding, Frame or Be Framed, Get a Clue About the Global Youth Market, The Lesson of Tam’s Art Gallery

The Reality of Selling and Evangelizing: “Though many people disagree with me, my theory is that “sales fix everything.” This is because as long as you have sales, cash will flow, and as long as cash is flowing, a) you have time to fix your team, b) the press won’t say much, because customers are paying you, and c) your investors leave you alone, because they don’t want to jinx your success. This section examines selling and evangelism. I grouped evangelism with sales because it is the purest form of selling—that is, getting people to buy into your product or service as much as you do.”

In this section you’ll learn about: The Art of Selling, The Art of Distribution, The Art of Evangelism, DIY PR, Straight from the Press’ Mouth, Forget the Influencers After All?

The Reality of Communicating: “Entrepreneurship is an outward-focused activity. It requires that you communicate with others using e-mails, presentations, speeches, panels, and blogs. Every one of these modes of communication is a skill that entrepreneurs need to master. When consultants tell you that you need special training to master these skills, don’t believe them. All it takes is reading this section—and practicing for 20 years.”

In this section you’ll learn about: The Effective E-Mailer, The Zen of Presentations, How to Get a Standing Ovation, As Good as Steve Jobs, Speaking as a Performing Art, How to Be a DEMO God, How to Kick Butt on a Panel, How to Be a Great Moderator, The Art of Blogging

The Reality of Beguiling: “The word beguile has a bum rap. Most people think of it as using trickery, flattery, or deception to get what you want. A better and more positive take on the term is ‘getting the job done by creating win-win situations.’ I’m not sure that nice guys finish first, but the beguiling ones sure do. This section explains the reality of what it takes to get what you want by giving people what they want.”

In this section you’ll learn about: The Psychology of Influencing People, The Art of Creating a Community, The Art of Customer Service, Power 3.0, The Art of Schmoozing, The Art of Sucking Down, The Art of Sucking Up, How to Suck Up to a Blogger, The Art of Partnering, The Top 10 Lies of Partners, Ten Questions “with” Jackie Onassis

The Reality of Competing: “At some point, you will compete with other organizations. Actually, if you don’t compete with anybody for very long, it may mean that you’re trying to serve a market that doesn’t exist. I’ve had to compete with IBM and Microsoft, as well as many startups as CEO later in my career. This section contains the lessons that I learned while doing things both right and wrong.”

In this section you’ll learn about: The Art of Defensibility, Counterpoint—Patents and Defensibility, The Art of Driving Your Competition Crazy, How to Remain Sane

The Reality of Hiring and Firing: “Hiring and firing are black arts for most people. Few people are trained for hiring—instead we are led to depend on our gut. Few people are trained for firing—instead we are led to believe that companies never make hiring mistakes and always develop their employees properly, so you’ll never need to fire anyone. The reality is that hiring and firing are difficult processes, and this section will make you better at both.”

In this section you’ll learn about: The Art of Recruiting, Real-World Recruiting, Thirteen Questions with Libby Sartain, Career Advice for This Century, Everything You Wanted to Know About Getting a Job in Silicon Valley But Didn’t Know Who to Ask, Nine Questions to Ask a Startup, How to Get a Job on craigslist, How Not to Hire Someone via craigslist, The Effort Effect of Carol Dweck, The Art of Laying People Off, The Art of Firing

The Reality of Working: “In the beginning, companies are like a clean sheet of paper, post-Zamboni ice, or a groomed ski slope—nothing but opportunity and upside with a chance to make meaning and change the world. Then the reality of work sets in. Building a successful organization is hard—damn hard, actually. This section examines the non-fairy-tale, real-world version of work.”

In this section you’ll learn about: Work as a Prison? How to Not Choke, Mavericks in the Workplace, Ten or So Things to Learn This Year at School, Why Smart People Do Dumb Things, How to Prevent a Bozo Explosion, Are you an Egomaniac?, The No-Asshole Rule, Is Your Boss an Asshole?, The Top 17 Lies of CEOs, What’s your EQ?

The Reality of Doing Good: “The final section of this book explains the reality of doing good. It’s included because I believe that at the end of one’s life, you are measured not by how much money you made, how many houses you own, or even how many books you wrote. Instead, you are measured by how much you’ve made the world a better place.”

In this section you’ll learn about: The Six Lessons of Kiva, Social Entrepreneurship, Making the Transition from the Corporate to Nonprofit World, The Art of Surviving, My Hindsights in Life

Don’t stop now! Click here to buy Guy Kawaski’s Reality Check.

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