Saturday, December 13, 2008

Why You Should Buy Guy Kawasaki's Latest Book

In late 1993 or early 1994 I saw a PrintShop created flyer on a library bulletin board announcing that Guy Kawasaki was coming to a local senior citizen center in Torrance, California. I had seen Kawasaki speak at a couple of conferences and have given away countless copies of his groundbreaking book, Selling the Dream. What the hell could one the world's best business evangelists be doing on a Tuesday night in Torrance?

I had to go and find out.

Guy arrived to speak to the local Macintosh User Group in a dingy multipurpose room. Although he had led marketing for the Macintosh launch at Apple Computer, Kawasaki, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were out in the wilderness during those years.

I remember Guy starting his presentation by saying, "I'm here to demonstrate a new program called Claris Em@iler. I know that you're an intelligent audience so I intend to demonstrate each and every feature of the software." Kawasaki was so damned entertaining that nobody seemed to mind missing an episode of Chicago Hope.

At the end of his killer demo, Kawasaki said, "Claris Em@iler will ship in about six months and cost around $100. I will sell it to you tonight for $20 (or $40 - I can't remember). I need to leave for LAX in 8 minutes at which point the sale offer ends forever. I take checks and cash."

You had to duck to avoid injury from the tsunami of money flying towards him. I worked as a consultant and author for Claris at the time and knew I could get a copy of the software for free, but that didn't make me immune to his salesmanship and I too surrendered the cash. I have never seen a more effective display of sales and marketing.

I used Claris Em@iler everyday for eight or ten years.

When I taught grant writing, Kawasaki's Selling the Dream was an invaluable text. I've enjoyed many of his other books as well.

Tonight, I went to the local bookstore to shop for holiday and birthday presents and found Guy Kawasaki's brand new book, Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition. The book is fantastic - like a witty how-to manual for life.

I was going to give the book to my spousal equivalent as a birthday present, but it's far too practical, like a gift of socks or can-opener. No one wants a practical gift for their birthday!

Before one of my handful of loyal readers accuses me of hypocrisy, allow me to explain myself. Sure, I have been an outspoken critic of school leaders seeking wisdom from schlocky pop business tomes. Guy Kawasaki's work is fundamentally different from books by Thomas Friedman or Daniel Pink.

I wrote
What business gurus like Don Tapscott, Daniel Pink, Malcolm Gladwell, Stephen Covey, Tony Robbins have in common is that none of them actually ever ran a business prior to hitting the bestseller list offering business advice to others. Most of them have never been the night manager of a Seven-Eleven let alone launched or managed an innovative business venture.

They are fancy talkers.

That is their skill. Several are evangelicals. Faith or pseudoscience, along with a dose of prosperity theology, is used to advance their arguments.

Their audience is adults who dream of being rich or increase their personal productivity. Neither goal is analogous to the education of children.

Kawasaki does not write about that which he does not know and cannot do. He has launched startups, blogged, given speeches, created web sites, written books and successfully marketed products. Perhaps his most successful product is Guy Kawasaki. His books are full of common sense advice, inspirational stories and practical strategies and tactics for realizing one's potential. Kawasaki is self-deprecating, hilarious and a good guy.

He doesn't resort to junk science or fear to get our attention.

Although the book includes strategies for inventing a product, marketing, evangelism, securing financing, getting a job in Silicon Valley, hiring and firing, it also offers practical lessons in blogging, public relations, public speaking, effective panel discussions, making compelling presentations, email etiquette and much more.

Guy Kawasaki's books are not get-rich-quick schemes. They inspire us achieve our dreams and be our best. That's why the new book is perfect for CEOs, school administrators, classroom teachers and community organizers. I'll also be buying a copy for an ambitious 17 year-old friend of mine and using it as a course text in the near future.

Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition. is like an anthology of Kawasaki's greatest hits. It's a quick read that you will want to consult for years to come.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Blog Netiquette Question

I seem to run a foul of secret blogger rules of conduct with regularity. An experience six weeks ago has stayed with me and I'd love to read your thoughts on the matter.

On May 6, I wrote, Isn't It Ironic?, in this blog. I asked why edubloggers, particularly edtech edubloggers, don't discuss fundamental educational issues, like the fraud and miseducative practice associated with the US Federal Government's national reading policy.

Many of the most popular, hired and prolific members of the EduBlogosphere (particularly the edtech bloggers) spend a great deal of time, word count and airplane mileage talking about the importance of literacy - old literacy, new literacy, media literacy, superdooper 21st Century Web 2.0 literacy and "literacies" yet to be invented.

Literacy dominates my esteemed colleague's thoughts about education. Therefore, I find it shocking that there is so little [read: none] discussion of the news that the federal Department of Education has concluded that Reading First, the $6 billion shock and awe approach to literacy education at the core of No Child Left Behind, has FAILED to improve the reading comprehension of American students.

Why the silence among EduBloggers? Is this issue unimportant? Should we ignore the calamity created by Reading First just because it doesn't mention Twitter, Apture, Ning or other made-up words?

I was criticizing the absence of outrage among the edubloggers I read and wound up incurring the wrath of the blogosphere instead. Non-Americans were defensive in their comments when I was clearly not talking about them. Independent school teachers and educators from affluent school districts protested that they are not affected by Reading First - unless of course you count them as citizens who pay taxes or care for their neighbors.

In the spirit of civility, I did not name the specific bloggers and pundits
who were curiously silent on important matters of policy and pedagogy.

I'm wondering if that was a mistake?

My attempt at discretion apparently led to widespread confusion. For that I apologize.

Should I have called out the specific educators with a gap between rhetoric and action?

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Possibility of Doing Good AND Doing Well

The recent Sturm and Drang over the Associated Press' concern about their stories being excerpted in blogs and on web sites without compensation has been continued in blogs [1] [2] by Will Richardson.

Some well-fed fully-employed bloggers long for a Utopian world where all intellectual capital is free. They use the technical breakthroughs of the Web as evidence that expertise and intellectual capital are devalued in a world in which "content" can be had by the barrel at no cost.

Such a view ignores the value of art, culture and civil traditions while viewing the world entirely through the eyes of economists. The answer to runaway capitalism is not Marxism.

I just read a terrific new article about how good old fashioned hard work, competent management, respect for artists and emerging technology is being used to make opera more profitable and accessible.

New York's famed Metropolitan Opera Company is improving the bottom line and increasing its relevance without defaming, devaluing or disrespecting their employees or compromising the quality of their "product." In fact, they are honoring hundreds of years worth of artistic tradition and its importance to Western culture, by building upon those traditions and reaching new audiences.

Surely, there are some lessons here for education.

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Friday, May 30, 2008

A Writing Teacher Discusses the NY Times "Blogger Girl"

Putting blogger, Emily Gould, on the cover of last Sunday's New York Times Magazine set off a firestorm among the chattering classes of traditional media and the blogosphere.

The Los Angeles Times discusses the controversy and whether Ms. Gould's blog-fueled fame/exhibitionism is worthy of such prized New York Times real estate.

Marcia Meier, director of the Santa Barbara Writer's Conference, writes in the Huffington Post, "At Least She's Writing..." in an article that makes arguments Will Richardson might share.

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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Help! I don't know how to blog!

I'm often at a loss in how to "participate" in the "community" that is the "blogosphere."

I struggle constantly with the problem of what I call "the quick and the unread." If you don't respond to a blog quickly, almost at twitch speed, your comments have little chance of being read. Taking the time to thoughtfully respond to a blog often results in the original blog being supplanted by a new one. Once the blog you wish to respond to gets pushed down the page, the likelihood of discussion rapidly approaches zero.

My current dilemma is this.

Lenny writes a blog full of facts or advice I dispute. Squiggy leaves a comment on the blog, but provides a response I disagree with.

What should I do when I disagree with the premise of a blog or the facts within and one ore more commenters provide feedback that should also be challenged? Do you respond to the blog AND the comments? If so, should this be in the same comment or in multiple posts? Will other readers be confused by more than one point being made in a comment?

Add to this scenario the fact that many bloggers view criticism as "being mean" regardless of the merits of an argument. Other blog readers simply ignore complex arguments or those longer than a couple of paragraphs.

Should I ignore the other person's blog entirely and write a blog on my own site? How many readers will I lose by moving the conversation?

I'm confused.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2007

What I Hate About Blogging - Part 1 of a series

There are any number of things I read in other people's blogs that I would like to respond to. However, I must carve out the time needed to craft a thoughtful response.

The nature of the user interface of blogs is such that "he who hesitates is unread." If you don't response quickly, you've lost your chance to engage in the discussion. Once a few readers post replies, people stop reading.

As soon as the author posts the next blog, the collective memory of the community abandons the previous topic. It's 4:03 AM and I must surrender to sleep soon.


Engarrafamento photo by Fernando Lins

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