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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Monday, October 20, 2008

Care to Really Understand Federal Education Policy?

In my humble opinion, Jo Boaler's, recent Education Week column, Where Has All the Knowledge Gone?
The Movement to Keep Americans at the Bottom of the Class in Math
, is one of the most important pieces of education journalism in some time.

Is this just a coincidence? Can President Bush really have been so badly advised as to ignore almost all of the research that could have informed the report, or was there something more deliberate at work? How acceptable is it for a government to control the forms of knowledge that are released to the public?

Dr. Boaler is a former Stanford University Mathematics Professor who clearly and succinctly documents how "science" and "research" are used as a blunt weapon by the United States Department of Education. Boaler describes how the President's National Mathematics Advisory Panel was constrained from publishing the best advice for improving mathematics education. Such ideological interference in mathematics education is consistent with the Reading First mess at the center of No Child Left Behind.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Bookstore Adventures - Part 1

I just returned home from one of the major book superstores near my home. While waiting to pay for a boxed-set of Flat Stanley books for a five year-old coming to visit, I overheard the following conversation between the bookstore cashier and a nervous acquaintance of his.

Customer: Did you get the email I sent?
Cashier: No, why?
Customer: I did a speech on evolution.
Cashier: Not for it I hope?
Customer: Of course not.
Cashier: Where?
Customer: At ____ (the local community college)
Cashier: I thought you stopped going.
Customer: Nah (with a shrug)

Cashier: A lady was telling me that I had to read this great book by Christopher Hitchens
Customer: Who?
Cashier: He's this dude who wrote a book, "God is Not Great."
Customer: Shakes head

Cashier: Do you ever read anything from the other side just to see what they think?
[Gary thinks to himself: Things may be looking up.]

Customer: Not really

Now, I'm all for religious tolerance and the free exchange of ideas, but by people who can support their arguments with evidence. After all, I'd hate to live in a country where scientific decisions were being made by lethargic part-time community college students.

The shy creationist exits the store and I wonder if I should say something to the cashier.

Frankly, I can't resist.

I approach the cashier and say, "You really ought to read Hitchens. He's one of the smartest guys around. You don't have to agree with him on every issue. In fact, I think his support for the War in Iraq is dead wrong." The cashier admitted having seen Hitchens on Hardball. Perhaps he'll actually consider the perspectives of people who don't agree with him. That's the kind of citizen, neighbor and bookstore employee we need.

Note: The full title of Christopher Hitchens' best-selling book is, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. The complete title is required if one is to begin to understand the author's thesis.

Click either book cover for more information or to purchase.

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