Guy Kawasaki’s Required Reading
Apple’s former chief evangelist talks about the books that most contributed to his success.
If you’re old enough to remember Apple 1.0, you surely remember that Guy Kawasaki was the company’s “chief evangelist” (one of the first of the weird job titles that don’t seem so weird anymore, with people today getting jobs as digital overlords, creators of happiness, and retail Jedi). In 1987, Kawasaki left Apple to found, lead, and invest in high-tech companies.
Now a name brand in his own right, Kawasaki is an author, speaker, consultant, and social media star. He’s got more than 6.7 million online followers and more than 480 million views on Google+. He also serves as the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. No wonder he’s always smiling.
In 1990, Kawasaki published his first book,The Macintosh Way: The Art of Guerilla Management (Scott Foresman). And since then, he’s written 11 more, including The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything (Portfolio, 2004) and, most recently,The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users(with Peg Fitzpatrick, Portfolio, 2014).
I often see Kawasaki’s books on lists of other people’s favorite books, and that led me to wonder what his all-time favorite business books might be. Here are his top four picks and his comments about them:
If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit (Putnam, 1938), by Brenda Ueland.
“This book, by a writer and journalist from Minnesota who passed away at age 93 in 1985, explains how to unshackle yourself from doubt and naysaying, even when the source of these hindrances is internal. Although it was written for writers, you can apply its philosophy to any skill: programming, designing, cooking, whatever. This book changed my life because I doubted my ability to write. In short, it empowered me, and I’ve never looked back.”
Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Technology Products to Mainstream Customers (HarperBusiness, 1991), by Geoffrey Moore
“Moore pierced my naive belief that the best product wins. The best product doesn’t always win—if this were true, Macintosh would have 95 percent market share. Just because you can get early adopters to buy your product, it doesn’t mean that the rest of the market will. Since the book was written, the speed and flatness of the Internet has changed how information spreads, but the lesson that every product faces a chasm is timeless.”
Uncommon Genius: How Great Ideas Are Born (Penguin, 1990), by Denise Sherkerjian
“Sherkerjian examined how the MacArthur Award winners achieved their genius status in this book. The bottom line is that they worked long and hard, so this book taught me the value of gutting it out and being resilient. Are there more important lessons in life than learning that hard work has value, and that geniuses are made, not born?”
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (William Morrow, 1984), by Robert B. Cialdini“Cialdini explains how to influence and persuade people using principles of social psychology. The book should be required reading for every entrepreneur because of the lessons it can teach about reciprocation, and because too many entrepreneurs have insufficient appreciation of how interpersonal relationships work. I guarantee that you’ll be a more influential and persuasive person if you read it.”