Transcript of Knaster Interview, Part 3
On Guy Kawasaki (transcript)
Note: Transcripts have been edited for readability and are not word-for-word reflections of the audio sections.
M: You're a close pal with Guy Kawasaki, or at least you know him well enough that you could call him at home and he probably wouldn't hang up on you. Guy was the original Evangelist for the Macintosh -- that's what he's best known for -- and in my eyes he's been milking that for years and years and years. He's now running Garage.com.
I saw an ad of theirs in the movie theater the other day. It was three phrases. I may not get them exactly right, but this was the intent: it was "start up..."
S: "Kick butt..."
M: "Kick butt. Cash out."
S: Right, I've seen that, too.
M: What do you say about that? Start up, kick butt, cash out. It's so easy, Scott. All you gotta do is start up, kick butt, cash out. That's all you gotta do! This is the Silicon Valley, where the streets are paved with gold, there are no women, but the guys are really smart, and you start up, kick butt, cash out, and it could all be yours. A million dollars, it can be yours.
S: You know, the women think there are no guys.
M: And they're close to right.
S: Because the guys are working all the time.
Well, first of all, I really like Guy a lot; I'm a big fan of Guy. And he's got a new book...
M: He's always got a new book.
S: His new book is called Rules for Revolutionaries. I've been reading it, and it turns out -- this comes as a big surprise to me -- that Guy turns out to be a great writer. Because I knew Guy for several years before he wrote a book, and I did not picture him as a writer. But he has a great gift -- he is a fantastic speaker, and I knew that -- and he writes like he talks. When you read his writing, it sounds like him, it feels like him. So when you see him in person, you know what an entertaining, riveting speaker he is. And he can transmit that into a book, which not everybody can do. A lot of people can be engaging speakers and speak like human beings, and then they write something, and it says "wherefore, I went to the..." and something's happened to them in between. And Guy has mastered the technique of avoiding that filter.
So I really like Guy a lot and think Garage.com is a very neat idea.
M: But one of the things that's always bothered me -- and I don't know Guy personally, so take that as you will -- but of course that doesn't keep anyone who has any opinion about the computing industry from talking about anyone else in the computing industry....
S: You're the one. You're the one who doesn't know Guy.
M: I am the one. Actually, I was the first person who was hired into Developer Services at Apple Computer without being interviewed by Guy Kawasaki -- which I guess shows how the company went downhill at that point.
M: But the thing that's always bothered me about him, but he's sort of a -- to use the classic 60's expression -- he's an exploiter of the workers. He's the kind of person that goes out and is really heavily self-promoting, but isn't doing a lot of work himself. I mean, you're working harder right now -- I would argue -- that Guy is as figurehead at Garage.com. Knowing absolutely nothing about what's going on at Garage.com.
S: I think you've got the wrong impression.
M: Okay, let's set it straight. This is your chance -- you've got the entire Internet riveted to why that's wrong.
S: First of all, the best thing about Guy is that he is completely, 100% what-you-see-is-what-you-get honest. I think that's what I liked about him in the first place. He was my boss for several years, and whenever I wanted to know the truth about anything, I would just ask him. And he never lied to me, he never withheld information from me. Sometimes there was stuff he couldn't tell me, and he would say so -- "yeah, there is something going on there and I can't tell you about it yet." But he was wonderful to work for because of his honesty.
There's a Yiddish word that Guy uses which is "mensch." Guy talks about other people being a mensch -- well, he's a mensch. He would never say it, because he is one. That just means he's an honest man, somebody you can respect.
M: Mensch is sort of a "good guy."
S: He's a good guy, yes. As far as working, he works at learning the products that he's involved with -- demonstrating them, selling them, promoting them. His work is maybe less tangible because you can't say, "there's a line of code he wrote," or "there's a brick he laid on a building," but he works tirelessly at promotion and schmoozing and making relationships.
He's the best person I've seen at making and keeping relationships, and he has such good will capital with people. When he started ACIUS and I was there with him, it was a chance to cash in on a lot of the favors that he had done for people over the years. When we were at Apple, and Apple was flying high in the mid 80's and Guy was in charge of developer relations, Guy was in a position to do favors for a lot of developers. It helped the developer, and it helped Apple. And he did it relentlessly. Because it was good for Apple, and because he's that kind of guy -- he likes to help people.
So suddenly we're at ACIUS, we're nothing. Now we need help. It was remarkable to see Guy call people up and say, "would you mind doing this favor for me" or "could you help me in this way," and people were falling over themselves to help Guy out, because Guy goes out of his way to help other people. And they helped him when he was at ACIUS and I'm sure people are helping him now at Garage, but he's built up a lot of good karma in his life by helping other people out. That, more than anything else, is why people like to hang out with him.
I have run into a lot of people who do criticize him, similarly to the way you have, that he's self-promoting or "what has he really done lately?" and I think he has had more and less productive times in his life, but he's never stopped being honest, and I don't think he's ever stopped working and trying really hard, plus I really admire that he sticks his neck out and tries things he probably has no business trying. He's not afraid to try it and see what happens. You know, he wasn't a writer, and he became a writer just out of nowhere. Now he's the author of marketing and business books. That's really insane for me to think that he was this Evangelist guy in the late 80's, and now he's practically a mainstream business author. So, I am a big fan of Guy.