[LeWeb] 6 Pieces of Advice from Guy Kawasaki for Budding Entrepreneurs

Dec 10, 2013
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LeWeb Day 1-18

The following is a guest post from Heather Russell, CEO of Rinkya & a thought-leader in the London Startup Scene. You can follow her on twitter at @heatherarussell

I’ve heard A LOT about Guy Kawasaki over the years. Probably more than I wanted to hear yet EVERYTHING Guy has wanted me to hear whether I liked it or not. I’ve never had the opportunity to see him on stage because I’ve heard lukewarm reviews.

A brand that seems as if it has saturated the market (unlike the #smalltowels in his Paris hotel room), Guy Kawasaki actually gave some pragmatic observations and useful advice for entrepreneurs. I’ve once again fallen victim to the lemmings syndrome. Here I am being guilty of going against even some of the most important advice I give entrepreneurs myself.

# 1 DON’T LISTEN TO OTHER PEOPLE, FIND OUT FOR YOURSELF

In this world of entrepreneurship, we come across a barrage of bullshit. Many of us just starting out, with stars and bitcoins in our eyes believe ANY and ALL of it.  Have “mentor” on your CV? “Social media evangelist”, “ninja”? “Silicon Valley douchebag” title? These young hopefuls are sitting there, with baited breath to listen to you smell your own farts.

Guy drops some of the gems that you young entrepreneurs should be feverishly writing down and chanting as your daily mantra.

When asked about his social empire, “I don’t want anymore friends, I have too many.

If I didn’t know you and we were siting next to each other on a plane, I wouldn’t say one word to you in 10 hours.”

A bold, narcissistic statement, but then I sat back and thought about what that really meant. Guy understands his limitations. He knows he cannot scale himself. Here begins the first entrepreneur lesson of many that are identified in his talk.

#2 KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS.

“I want to earn the right to promote by providing great curation. If you aren’t pissing people off on social media, you probably aren’t trying that hard.”

Pissing people off means you’ve reached critical mass. Probability says you cannot make everyone happy all of the time. If everyone is happy, you ain’t big enough yet.

#3 PISSING PEOPLE OFF IS INEVITABLE

Guy had some hidden pieces of advice scattered throughout his interview, but regarding entrepreneurship directly, he says he loves it and gave us 3 pieces of really sound advice.

“The most important thing is to create a prototype. Most forecasts, business plans, power points are bullshit.
If you build a prototype and people like it, you may never have to do anything else.”

#4 GET THAT MVP (Minimum Viable Product) OUT FIRST

“Europeans should create products or services that are so great, the US wants to copy them. You guys have better ideas than us, don’t limit yourself to the stupid American ideas, use your own ingenuity.”

We’ve been locked in the mortal battle of Silicon Valley vs the world since the Apple II entered the scene. With the inception of the internet and the paradigm shift into social, the world has become much smaller and we are discovering the propensity for innovation and possibilities for greatness in all corners of this vast Earth. Silicon Valley is not the motherland anymore.

One of my biggest arguments with Le Web is here we are in Europe talking about America. Hey, I’m American so I’m not complaining much, but we’re in Europe, why aren’t we talking more about what’s in Europe? “You should be nationalism blind” Guy says. As Kawasaki’s first visit to Le Web, he takes the #SVDOUCHE out of the equation and directly engages with the Europeans in the audience. A win for an American Le Web virgin!

#5 BE LANGUAGE, GENDER, NATIONALISM, RACE, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, RELIGIOUSLY BLIND.

“Never ask anyone to do something you would not do.
You don’t ask your employees vendors or customers to do something you won’t do.”

Whilst Guy’s example of not providing 25 fields for your customers to fill out on your site wasn’t the example I would choose, we get the point. I would say that this important piece of advice encompasses much more than just user experience, but also fundamental ideologies as well. Don’t force your customers to go to Church every Sunday because you do. Projecting yourself upon your customers shows your inability to be good at sales and your limited view on the world.

#6 SEE THINGS THROUGH YOUR CUSTOMER’S EYES.

Finally he says something that is the culmination of everything you should be doing in your entrepreneurial career.

“The richest vein of Sequoia’s investments is 2 guys/gals in a garage or dorm room that are building a product they want to use.

This is very different from going to a conference listening to 50 year old white men, saying ‘this is the future’ and then go build a product.

You then hope like hell that you aren’t the only people in the world who want to use it.”

Uber’s Travis says the same thing “Entrepreneurs have 100 ideas. Pick the idea is the one that matches you”

#7 BUILD THE PRODUCT YOU WANT TO USE AND HOPE IT SOLVES A PROBLEM

Also go back and see #1.

This is a graduation from the normal “Follow your passion” advice most often given to entrepreneurs.

Put your head down, build your product and be passionate about getting things done. Stop listening to bullshit and start lighting your own farts instead of sniffing them.

Finally, may I offer a final piece of advice for Guy, best said by Douglas Adams. “A towel, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.”.

You can contact Guy Kawasaki at guy@motorola.com
He doesn’t want to be your friend, but maybe you can send him a big towel. #smalltowels

Great job, Guy!

Photo courtesy of Heisenberg Media

Guy Kawasaki Talks Entrepreneurship at Le Web 2013