This year, I would love to share with you this ... A Man of Influence Guy Kawasaki
Love how he lives his life with ASS ..."Being too old to learn something new just doesn’t occur to me."
At 61, Guy Kawasaki’s life is much documented. He has changed design as the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. He is on the board of trustees of the Wikimedia foundation and is an executive fellow of the HAAS School of Business (UC Berkeley). He was also the chief evangelist of Apple. He is the author of The Art of the Start 2.0, The Art of Social Media, Enchantment, and nine other books. Jonathan Jackson spoke with Kawasaki about his thoughts on innovation, hard work and achievement.
ME: HOW DID YOUR CHILDHOOD INFLUENCE THE WAY YOU APPROACHED BUSINESS AND ENTREPRENEURIALISM?
GK: It’s hard to trace a direct path from point A to point B, but I grew up in a lower-middle-class family in a tough part of Honolulu. I never thought I was poor – I never went hungry or without clothes, but we were hardly rich. My parents made a lot of sacrifices so that I could have a great education.
So I don’t have the inspiring “got off the boat with only a bag of clothes” story, but my parents drilled into me the lesson that the way to get ahead in life was education and hard work. What more can you ask from parents than an education and an appreciation of hard work?
ME: YOU FOUND YOUR WAY TO APPLE DURING A PHASE OF EXTRAORDINARY INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY AND YOU SAY THIS OPENED YOUR EYES = WHAT WERE THE KEY LESSONS YOU LEARNED HERE?
GK: Getting a job at Apple was pure luck because my college buddy hired me. On paper, I had neither the right education or work experience. What enabled me to succeed was that I loved Macintosh, and I worked my ass off.
The most valuable lessons I first learned at Apple was that people could start companies with great products, change the world and make a lot of money. This was eye-opening. Coming from Hawaii, my horizon and the scope of the definition of success was much smaller.
ME: HOW DID THIS EXPERIENCE ENABLE YOU TO BUILD YOUR OWN SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS?
GK: The Apple experience raised my expectations of what I could do with my life. If I stayed in Hawaii and if I never worked for Apple, there’s no way that I would be what I am today.
ME: IT WAS AT THIS POINT THAT YOU STARTED WRITING. WHAT WAS IT THAT ATTRACTED YOU TO PUTTING PEN TO PAPER?
GK: Writing my first book was a cathartic experience. I was in a situation that was driving me crazy, so I wrote a book about how things should be – but weren’t for me. I never planned on being a writer. I thought I had, tops, one book in me. I’ve written thirteen so far.
ME: WHAT TRAITS DO YOU THINK MAKE CERTAIN PEOPLE SO SUCCESSFUL, NO MATTER WHAT THEIR BACKGROUND?
There are many paths to success – as many as there are to failure. And many people fail to include luck and being in the right place at the right time. The reason I’m successful is that I work hard – I have ASS: attention surplus syndrome.
I love to work. There are people who are smarter than me. There are people who work harder than me. But there are few people who are smarter and harder working than me.
ME: BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY ARE NOW INTRINSICALLY LINKED. WHAT HAVE BEEN THE MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS IN YOUR OPINION AND HOW DO YOU SEE BUSINESSES UTILIZING TECHNOLOGY IN THE FUTURE?
The two major developments have been the democratisation of computers and the democratisation of knowledge. The result has been the internet and social media. I hope that this means the world becomes more of a meritocracy.
ME: YOU ARE A GREAT PHILANTHROPIST. HOW DO BUSINESS MIX ALTRUISM WITH PROFIT?
GK: I’m not a great philanthropist. Bill Gates is a great philanthropist. This isn’t exactly what you asked but I see many businesses that try to convince people to buy their product or service because the business is donating part of its profits to a charity.
Some advice: people don’t choose a product or service because you may donate your profits to charities. Create a great product or service, make a boatload of money, and then donate it personally – in order words, do what Bill Gates did.
ME: IN A LIFE IN WHICH YOU HAVE ACHIEVED SO MUCH, HOW MUCH MORE CAN YOU LEARN AND HOW MUCH MORE DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE?
GK: I took up ice hockey at 48 having never skated before. People thought I was nuts. People still think I’m nuts. I’m 61 now, and this summer I took up stand-up paddle boarding. Being too old to learn something new just doesn’t occur to me.
What drives me is two things. Firstly, I have four children, so I have four tuitions to pay. Secondly, I’m building my eulogy – as opposed to my resume.
I want my eulogy to be that I empowered people to change the world.
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