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Guy Kawasaki’s million-dollar tips to new innovators

Posted by Karen on July 22, 2014

Guy Kawasaki,  chief evangelist of Canva, a graphics-design online service, former advisor of Google and former chief evangelist of Apple, couldn’t believe he was opening a TEDxBerkeley.

He really didn’t have to be so humble. As a member of the founding generation for today’s technology landscape, Kawasaki has a glorious resume that is more than qualified to inspire younger generations. Tonight, his talk just once again proved that every word came out of his mouth worths million dollars.

Guy Kawasaki speaking at Zellerbach Hall (Source:

Guy Kawasaki speaking at Zellerbach Hall (Source:

Kawasaki’s talk gave 10 valuable tips to the new innovators.

First, making meaning. “Making meaning means you change the world,” said Kawasaki, “if you noticed that if you change the world, you will happen to make the money.” On the other hand, if you start off with the sole desire to make money, “you will probably fail.” He gave the examples of Apple wanted to make computers, Google wanted to provide information, EBay wanted to change commerce, YouTube wanted to share videos. Too bad that we don’t know any failure examples, because these business failed and disappeared.

Second, make mantra. Ask yourself “why should I exist?” It is not a mission statement that looks like has nothing to do with your business. It should be the most down-to earth goal a product is invented to achieve. “Try to find 2-3 words to define why the business exists.” Kawasaki suggested, “Don’t make mission. Make Mantra.”

Third, jump to the next curve. Do not make it slightly better, but make it a lot better. Kawasaki gave the example of the evolution of ice producing business from “ice harvesting” to building an “ice factory”, and finally, invented refrigerator that anyone can produce ice at any time anywhere. He said: ”Great innovation occurs when you make the jump.” Indeed, if Apple didn’t make the jump from making regular computers to tablets, our lives today would be so different.

Forth, roll the dicee. Here, Kawasaki talked about the five qualities of great innovation: deep, a product has many features and functionalities; intelligent, understand your customer’s problems;  complete, the wholetality of the product; empowering, it makes people more creative, more productive; elegant, cares about user interface.

Fifth, don’t worry, be crappy. it’s OK to have crappiness in revolution. Everything has crappiness to it. An innovator shouldn’t make worrying about being crappy a barrier to share the product.

Sixth, “let 100 followers blossom” is a phrase Kawasaki “stole” from Chairman Mao. No one can anticipate how or what the users buy your producer for. “Positioning and branding ultimately comes out to what the consumer decide, not what you decide.” Kawasaki said, “Don’t be proud. Take the best shot in positioning and branding.”

Seventh, polarize people. Great product polarizes people. For example, Kawasaki talked about Tivo as a great product, how people either love it or hate it. “Don’t be afraid of polarizing people.”

Eighth, “churn baby, churn”. Need to be in denial as an inventor. Ignore those voices of “it can’t be done”, “shouldn’t be done”, or “won’t be done”. Go ahead and do it. Listen to people when developing it. Continue to change it and change it and keep evolving it.

Ninth, unique/value chart. Kawasaki used a simple two-by-two chart to explain different kinds of products: compete the value and price when the produce is not unique; a unique product without any value is just “plain stupid”; the “worst corner” where the product is not unique, not valuable like the .coms; and finally the “upper right hand corner”, where the product is unique and valuable, where the innovators really want to be.

Tenth, perfect your pitch. An innovator must know how to make a perfect pitch. Kawasaki gave two suggestions: one is customize the introduction. Start with something that is customized to the audience. Two is follow 10, 20, 30 presentation rules. Finish the pitch with 10 slides, in 20 minutes, in 30-point font.

Finally, as a “bonus”, Kawasaki talked about “bozosity”. There are many influential people with big names that want to give you advice. They are not necessarily smart. Too many examples proved that extremely successful people missed historical business opportunities because they are there because they are lucky. “Don’t listen to losers!”



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