Reality Check by Guy Kawasaki

I have been an admirer of Guy Kawasaki for over 20 years, since I first saw him in person at a local Macintosh user group back in his Apple days.   I liked the way Guy talks straight without any of what he calls “bull shiitake.”   I remember reading and using some of Guy’s Guerilla marketing techniques articles way back in the 90’s.  So when I got a chance to get a free copy of his book “Reality Check” in return for clicking some buttons that told me I would be tweeting ads for Alltop, Guy’s newest online venture, I was all over it.   That’s me being transparent and admitting I did not pay for the book.  I did not make a promise to review it, however.  I’m doing that because I want to.

Just so we’re straight here, I never had any intention of tweeting Alltop or anyone else’s ads on Twitter and I never entered into any contractually binding agreement to do so.  I just pushed some buttons that supposedly gave  them what they needed  to do it on my behalf, and as I pressed the buttons I was thinking “I don’t think so.”  I unfollow anyone who tweets ads.  But hey, I have some tech knowledge.  One of Guy’s snippets of advice is to play your own strengths.   My strength is technical,  so I jammed it.  Life isn’t fair.  Guy says this, Gates says this, and all real adults know this.  I look out for my own piddling little numero uno as well.    The alltop stuff from third parties seems to have stopped altogether on twitter anyway, so maybe Guy also saw the light and realized it was a shiitakey idea, or maybe the promotion just ended.  Who knows?

The book is organized into a lot of little chapters.   Each one is a quick read, because, like Hemingway, Kawasaki prefers direct simple sentences.  It is easy to get lured into the “well of course, it’s just common sense” trap, since the prose is easy to read and understand, but the reality is that common sense in practice is in kind of short supply these days, and people “get it” in the abstract but don’t apply it to themselves.   I suggest reading a chapter or two at bedtime, then rereading it and thinking about your own life.  Especially the chapters that apply to you.  Believe me, there are some chapters in this book that apply to everyone.

I think rather than paraphrase or yak more about this, I’ll just quote a few excerpts and let you see if this book is for you.

Here’s a good one from “The Top Eleven Lies of Entrepreneurs”

“No one else can do what we’re doing.” If there’s anything worse than the lack of a market and cluelessness, it’s arrogance.   The world is full of smart people, so you’re kidding yourself if you think you have a monopoly on knowledge.

Here is Guy’s take on what the worst backgrounds for venture capitalists:

The three worst backgrounds for a venture capitalist are management consulting, investment banking, and accounting.  Management consulting is bad because it leads you to believe that implementation is easy and insights are hard, whereas the opposite is true in startups.  Investment banking is bad because it leads you to believe that you can reduce a company to cells on a spreadsheet and that entrepreneurs should create companies for Wall street, not customers.  Moreover, investment bankers are oriented toward doing deals, not building companies.  Accounting is bad because it leads you to believe that history not only repeats itself, it predicts the future.

Lest you think it is all about starting an enterprise, let me assure you that it is not. Guy has a chapter on making speeches.  He points you to Majora Carter as a perfect example of a great speech, and proceeds to analyze what is good about her speech.

Guy’s 10,20,30 plan for a slide presentation has become a classic. It’s in there. He tells you in no uncertain terms about assholes:  how to tell if someone is one, what to do about it, and how not to be one.  He takes potshots at MBA’s throughout the book, not dissing the MBA degree itself, but a common attitude of 22 year old MBA holders:  “Oooooh, I have an MBA,  All bow!”

Guy’s aim in writing this book was to condense a career’s worth of blogging, articles, speeches, etc. into a single book weighing about a pound.  In short, Reality Check achieves it’s aim.   You get pretty darn good value per ounce with this book.  Thumbs up, Guy!

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