These 50 Guy Kawasaki Quotes Will Make You a Better Entrepreneur

“For example, how much do you think a senior vice president of Microsoft who came from McKinsey knows about starting a company?” — Guy Kawasaki

“Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of APE, What the Plus!, Enchantment, and nine other books.” (Amazon)

“He is a marketing specialist, author, and Silicon Valley venture capitalist. He was one of the Apple employees originally responsible for marketing their Macintosh computer line in 1984.” Guy Kawasaki via Wikipedia.

Lemme share a little about how Guy Kawasaki’s work has influenced me.

I first read Kawasaki’s The Art of the Start in 2004. I was introduced to the book in Hawai‘i by my business professor, Greg Gibson. Gibson liked Kawasaki’s work because the principles are actionable, sound…and because the guy is from Hawaii. (I live on Oahu.)

After reading the book I started a mentor venture capital company as a student. Not knowing what I was doing, I gathered mentors and followed Guy’s advice. Further, Greg and I (and others) built an international program that eventually became institutionalized and endowed at BYU-Hawai‘i (now known as The Mark and Laura Willes Center for International Entrepreneurship) helping people start companies worldwide (focusing on the Asia Pacific Rim). The program influences thousands.

I’ve used the principles Guy teaches from his various books to start, scale or streamline several businesses and even write my own books.

These 50 quotes are ones that have influenced me in someway and helped my journey over the last 13 years in business, life, social media (and in an effort not to be a “bozo).” (Although, I’m sure many would say I’m the biggest bozo of all (and I’d take it as a compliment).

I’ve taught at many colleges as a guest lecturer or teacher on entrepreneurship and love to share the 10/20/30 rule. It’s saved my neck many times in business. I also use and always recommend Canva to make your stuff look legit.

I’ve made a lot of money using the the 10/20/30 rule paired with Canva — so have my clients and students.

In fact, in a recent “business plan” competition, the 10/20/30 pitch was all we required to qualify in an effort to ditch all the BS. “Best business plan comp in years” was the feedback.

My consulting clients and students LOVE “the shortest marketing plan” and we save tons of hours using this tool.

Thanks, braddah. 🤙🏾

50 Guy Kawasaki Quotes that Will Make You a Better Human, Entrepreneur, Founder (and Make your Startup actually Start Up)

“Doing, not learning to do, is the essence of entrepreneurship.” — Guy Kawasaki

1. Evangelism is selling a dream.

2. Simple and to the point is always the best way to get your point across.

3. Do not write to impress others. Authors who write to impress people have difficulty remaining true to themselves. A better path is to write what pleases you and pray that there are others like you. Your first and most important reader is you. If you write a book that pleases you, at least you know one person will like it.

4. If you don’t toot your own horn, don’t complain that there’s no music.

5. People deserve a break. The stressed and unorganized person who doesn’t have the same priorities as you may be dealing with an autistic child, abusive spouse, fading parents, or cancer. Don’t judge people until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. Give them a break instead.

6. Defy the crowd. The crowd isn’t always wise. It can also lead you down a path of silliness, sub-optimal choices, and downright destruction. Enchantment is as necessary for people to diverge from a crowd as it is to get people to join one.

7. Everyone is better than you at something. If you have a tough time accepting others, it’s probably because you think you’re superior to them. However, you’re not superior to every person in every way.

8. Organizations are successful because of good implementation,not good business plans.

9. Want to change the world? Upset the status quo? This takes more than run-of-the-mill relationships. You need to make people dream the same dream that you do.

10. The biggest daily challenge of social media is finding enough content to share. We call this “feeding the Content Monster.” There are two ways to do this: content creation and content curation.

11. The purpose of a pitch is to stimulate interest, not to close a deal.

12. Call me idealistic, but the genesis of great companies is answering simple questions that change the world, not the desire to become rich.

13. Everyone would love to have a large and growing market, perfected technology, and infinite capital. Under those conditions, anyone can be an entrepreneur. The question is what you are willing to do and can you do when the conditions are far from perfect.

14. The goal is to emulate what I call the “NPR model.” NPR provides great content 365 days a year. Every few months, NPR runs a pledge drive to raise money. The reason NPR can run pledge drives is that it provides such great value. Your goal is to earn the privilege to run your own “pledge drive.” A “pledge drive” in this context is a promotion for your organization, product, or service. If you are familiar with American radio or TV networks, the question is, Do you want to be NPR or QVC?

15. Don’t stop paying attention to a project because it gets boring.

16. Also, like the Holy Grail, the business plan remains largely unattainable and mythological. Most experts wouldn’t agree, but a business plan is of limited usefulness for a startup because entrepreneurs base so much of their plans on assumptions, “visions,” and unknowns.

17. The goal of recruiting evangelists is to build a community around your product. Companies that have such communities include those in the following list. Take a look at what they do, and adapt their programs to your needs.

18. Meaning is not creating a cool place to work with free food, Ping-Pong, volleyball, and dogs. Meaning is making the world a better place.

19. If you make meaning, you’ll probably also make money.

20. CREATE A VIDEO. An enchanting, enticing, and energizing less-than-two-minutes video is the most important component of your project. Make it great, because it’s going to make or break your project. TELL A PERSONAL STORY. Your video, e-mails, and social media posts should tell a story. The best kind of story is a personal one. For example, how you undertook the project because you had an unmet need, such as a better way to fix flat bike tires (see the patchnride project on Indiegogo).

21. So you hire minimum viable people, and much like improving your minimum viable product, you improve your minimum viable employee.

22. What’s more important than making a startup attractive to investors in a beauty-contest format is to make them viable in real life.

23. According to Celtic myths, there were once magical vessels that “satisfied the tastes and needs of all who ate and drank from them.”* These myths led to the legend of the Holy Grail. The modern-day equivalent of the Holy Grail is the business plan.

24. The next step is to create a three-to-four-word mantra that explains the meaning that your startup is seeking to make. For startups, the definition of “mantra” from the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language is perfect: A sacred verbal formula repeated in prayer, meditation, or incantation, such as an invocation of a god, a magic spell, or a syllable or portion of scripture containing mystical potentialities. Here are five examples (some hypothetical) that illustrate the power of a good mantra to communicate the meaning of organizations: Authentic athletic performance (Nike)* Fun family entertainment (Disney)* Rewarding everyday moments (Starbucks)* Democratize commerce (eBay).

25. If you can’t describe your business model in ten words or fewer, you don’t have a business model.

26. The purpose of most keynotes is to entertain and inform the audience. It is seldom intended to provide an opportunity to pitch your product.

27. Investors are looking for people who can implement ideas, not only come up with them.

28. I admit it: I’m scared. I can’t afford to quit my current job. Is this a sign that I don’t have what it takes to succeed? A: It doesn’t mean anything. You should be scared. If you aren’t scared, something is wrong with you, and your fears are not a sign that you don’t have the right stuff. In the beginning, every entrepreneur is scared. It’s just that some deceive themselves about it, and others don’t. You can overcome these fears in two ways. First, the kamikaze method is to dive into the business and try to make a little progress every day. One day you’ll wake up and you won’t be afraid anymore — or at least you’ll have a whole new set of fears.

29. You should always be selling — not strategizing about selling. Don’t test, test, test — that’s a game for big companies. Don’t worry about being embarrassed. Don’t wait to develop the perfect product or service. Good enough is good enough. There will be plenty of time for refinement later. It’s not how great you start — it’s how great you end up.

30. Resharing is caring!

31. Sharing good stuff is 90 percent of the battle of getting more followers. Almost everything else is merely optimization. End of discussion.

32. Life is too short to deal with orifices.

33. So what?

34. If you are a guru or an expert, people will know it. If you aren’t one, no one is going to believe you.

35. Q: Should I share my secret ideas with anybody other than my dog? A: The only thing worse than a paranoid entrepreneur is a paranoid entrepreneur who talks to his dog.

36. My hypothesis is that the more an entrepreneur insists on a nondisclosure agreement, the less viable the idea.

37. A real business is one with something to sell — not one where people have business cards and letterhead.

38. BE BRIEF. Brevity beats verbosity in social media. You’re competing with millions of posts every day. People make snap judgments and move right along if you don’t capture their interest at a glance. My experience is that the sweet spot for posts of curated content is two or three sentences on Google+ and Facebook and 100 characters on Twitter. The sweet spot for content that you create, such as blog posts, is 500 to 1,000 words.

39. How long should our business plan be? Answer you’re looking for: “You shouldn’t write a business plan. You should get customers.

40. The next step is to find some soul mates to go on your adventure — think Bilbo Baggins in The Fellowship of the Ring. However, people love the notion of the sole innovator: Thomas Edison (lightbulb), Steve Jobs (Macintosh), Henry Ford (Model T), Anita Roddick (The Body Shop), and Richard Branson (Virgin Airlines). It’s wrong.

41. How about first ensuring that people within a twenty-mile radius like the food before worrying about scaling the restaurant?

42. Do you think we need a real CEO? Answer you’re looking for: “Maybe, someday. But probably not right now. What you really need right now is a great product.

43. Today brands are built on what people are saying about them on social media — not on what companies are saying about themselves.

44. Faith, not facts, moves mountains.

45. Once again, the key to evangelism, sales, presentations, and now ecosystems is a great product. In fact, if you create a great product, you may not be able to stop an ecosystem from forming. By contrast, it’s hard to build an ecosystem around crap.

46. Most organizations feel warm and fuzzy toward their ecosystem as long as the ecosystem says nice things, buys their products, and never complains. The minute that the ecosystem says anything negative, however, many organizations freak out and get defensive. This is dumb. A healthy ecosystem is a long-term relationship, so an organization shouldn’t file for divorce at the first sign of discord. Indeed, the more an organization welcomes — or even celebrates — criticism, the stronger its bonds to its ecosystem become.

47. Entrepreneurship is at its best when it alters the future, and it alters the future when it jumps curves.

48. I aim to fight as if I am right, and listen as if I am wrong — and to teach my people to do the same thing.

49. Entrepreneur is not a job title. It is a state of mind of people who want to alter the future.

50. Patience is the art of concealing your impatience.

As Guy would say,

Greatness is won, not awarded.
Remember that nobodies are the new somebodies.
Better to fail at doing the right thing than to succeed at doing the wrong thing.

What’s your favorite Holy Kaw!-ism?
Comment below, por favor.


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