Guy Kawasaki: How to Become Enchanting

UPDATED: October 17, 2011
PUBLISHED: October 17, 2011

About This Guy

Guy Kawasaki’s career has taken some intriguing turns.

After graduating from Stanford in 1976 with a degree in psychology, he dabbled with law school then earned an MBA degree at UCLA while learning how to sell at a fine jewelry company. About this time, he fell in love with the Apple II and started working at an educational software company. In 1983, Apple hired him even though he had little computer or technology expertise. He left in 1987 and returned in 1995 with the continuing evangelistic mission of maintaining and rejuvenating the Macintosh cult.

In 1997, he co-founded Garage to provide matchmaking services for angel investors and entrepreneurs. It first upgraded to an investment bank that helped entrepreneurs raise money from venture capitalists and then in the dust of the dot-com bust, reinvented itself as Garage Technology Ventures, a venture-capital firm focused on making direct investments in early-stage California and Western state technology companies. In addition to Enchantment, he’s written books that include Reality Check The Art of the Start Rules For Revolutionaries How to Drive Your Competition Crazy Selling the Dream and The MacIntosh Way , as well as blogs (“How to Change the World”) and columns. Kawasaki set his sights on new media communication as co-founder of Truemors, a free-flow rumor mill website that NowPublic acquired in 2008, and Alltop, an “online magazine rack” that collects and posts the headlines of the latest stories from sites and blogs it considers the best.

Why is it so easy to come off as pushy, grumpy, cold or just annoying?

The first step toward enchantment is likability “because jerks seldom enchant people,” writes Guy Kawasaki in his new book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions .

Kawasaki says likability requires making a good first impression with:

A big, natural “George Clooneyesque” smile.

 A great handshake.

The right attire—not too formal or too casual, but at the same level as the person you’re meeting.

Simple, unambiguous words, speaking in the active voice and keeping it short.

Being accepting of others so they accept you; recognizing that everyone has strengths and weaknesses, as well as issues in their lives you may not be aware of.

Getting close to people through frequent contact. “Presence makes the heart grow fonder,” Kawasaki writes.

Refraining from imposing your values. “The best enchanters savor the differences among people’s values and use an inclusive model.”

Pursuing and projecting your passions. “Finding shared passions breaks down barriers,” he says.

Creating win-win situations. Kawasaki tells a story about actor Steve McQueen’s first wife, Neile, who traveled with McQueen, Paul Newman and James Garner to a car race in 1963. On the way back, she had to go to the restroom, so they pulled into a service station. The line for the ladies’ room was long, so she told the women ahead of her there was a car full of movie stars parked nearby, and they all scrambled. “This was a win-win-win: Neile got into the bathroom, the girls met some famous movie stars and the men got back on the road in less time.”

Adopting a “yes” attitude. “A yes buys time, enables you to see more options and builds rapport,” Kawasaki writes. “By contrast, a no response stops everything. There’s no place to go, nothing to build on and no further options are available. You will never know what may have come out of a relationship if you don’t let it begin.”

On this, a normal hectic day of multiple webinars, interviews and tweets, Kawasaki answers a series of questions related to his book and career:

SUCCESS: There is a fine line between deep-seated enthusiasm and overbearing self-promotion, and you tread that line pretty well….

Guy Kawasaki: Some people might disagree with you [laughing].

How do you draw the line where people accept rather than reject you?

GK: Some of it comes from the fact that you are not purely trying to sell books; you are trying to help people. One way, they may read your book, but there are other ways. I provide a lot of advice and tips that neither sell the book nor cannibalize the sale of the book. People have a hard time figuring me out. On the flip side, I figure if you are not pissing people off using social media, then you are not using it right, because if everybody just loves you, you are not pushing it enough.

You talk about the importance of building an ecosystem and how to do so in the book. Why is this type of community vital?

GK: The whole point of an ecosystem is to isolate you from the fragility. If you have resellers, webinars and conferences all around you, it means you are more stable; you are not standing on a single leg. You have multiple support structures. That’s a very key way to make enchantment endure. If you look at Apple, with all the developers writing iPhone, iPod and iPad software, that makes Apple that much stronger.

In the book, you also talk about the imperative of being a baker who bakes the pie, rather than an eater who slices it up for his or her personal benefit. What do you do with the eaters?

GK: You don’t have to win them all over to succeed. Most people would rather deal with a baker than an eater. The world is not a zero-sum game, and everybody can succeed. The people who are bakers attract other bakers, and the rising tide floats all boats.

And you talk about the need to show genuine smiles in meetings and presentations….

GK: The first thing people see when you walk into a room are very fundamental things, like how you dress and how you smile. With dress, I recommend that you dress equal to your audience, not above or below their norm. The second is your smile, and there are two kinds. The first is a fake smile, where you are only using your jaw. The second is the Duchenne smile [named after the French neurologist, Guillaume Duchenne], where you use your eyes. This is difficult to fake. In fact, what you want to see here is crow’s feet. Crow’s feet are a good thing. You can never have too many crow’s feet. Anybody who thinks you shouldn’t smile in business is a loser.

Can entrenched companies become enchanting and reach into our hearts?

GK: One of the best ways for an entrenched company to become enchanting is to have a near-death experience [laughing]. There’s nothing like a near-death experience to make you want to improve your product and get more friendly.

So, with your current book, how would you update your colorful quote from Rules for Revolutionaries, “Eat like a bird, poop like an elephant”?

GK: [Laughing] Well, let’s see, it would be: Eat like a bird, poop like an elephant and smile like a crow.

Are you still playing hockey? The family keeping you busy?

GK: I skated today. I have four kids now, so I’m very busy. It never ceases.

Alltop [an “online magazine rack”] is going well?

GK: I can’t say I’m going to retire on it, but considering we haven’t spent much money and we have the equivalent of one full-time person working on it, it’s doing all right. It could always do more, but it could always do less.

So is the Guy Kawasaki ball of twine getting bigger or smaller? Have you been cutting off pieces of knowledge as you wrote 10 books or just winding new string on the ball?

GK: There’s a sequence here. For the two and a half years between writing books, I’m rolling up the twine. In the next year that I’m writing, I’m rolling out the twine. It seems to be working that way.

To read more about Guy Kawasaki, see the November 2011 feature The Art of Changing Hearts and Minds