Q&A with Guy Kawasaki on Content, Market Research and the Democratization of Entrepreneurship


Guy Kawasaki is the author of What the Plus!, Enchantment, and nine other books. He is also the co-founder of Alltop.com, an “online magazine rack” of popular topics on the web, an advisor to multiple startups, and Apple's former chief evangelist.

From Reality Check (my personal favorite among Guy's books) to his near-omnipresent approach to social media, Guy's work has always inspired me. I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Guy during my years at Samsung (not too long ago). Guy's emails, always brief and insightful, were definitely some of the best ones I ever received from a Samsung fan.

I recently had a chance to catch up with him: In this interview, Guy shares his thoughts on Google+, creating valuable content, startups, Silicon Valley, his upcoming book (APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur), and more!

 

Social Nerdia: You've been a big supporter of Google+. Now that Google's social layer is over a year old, what do you think Google needs to focus on to take it to the next level?

Guy Kawasaki: This is a marathon, not a sprint. Google needs to just keep chugging ahead, feature by feature. It took Macintosh twenty-years to get where it's at today. I'm not saying it will take that long, but one year is about one fifth of the event. Having said this, I wish that I could share posts from other products and use a "Tweetdeck" of Google+. If you want to see my Google+ evangelism in action, please check out:

http://eepurl.com/n1auX

Social Nerdia: From AllTop to your personal social media presence, your name is often associated with high quality content. What is the key to consistently creating and curating valuable content over a long period of time?

GK: I operate under what I call the NPR Model. NPR provides great content year in and year out. Several times a year it runs a fundraising telethon. Nobody likes these, but you tolerate them because of the quality of NPR's content. 

Social media is a means to an end for me: to tap into the wisdom of the crowd and to promote products to my followers. I am willing to spend enormous amounts of time to find high-quality content to earn the right to do this. 

Social Nerdia: You advise or invest in multiple startups, including USTREAM, Paper.li, SlideShare and StumbleUpon. What's your favorite part about working with startups?

GK: I love seeing how entrepreneurs solve problems and make people more creative and productive. This love started with Macintosh and continues to this day. 

Social Nerdia: Silicon Valley has been a source of technological innovation for many years. How has it changed since your days at Stanford and how do you think its role in the tech industry will change in the next decade?

GK: If anything, it's gotten more innovative because the costs of starting a company are so much lower than before. Costs are so low that venture capitalists are less necessary because sites like Indiegogo can provide seed capital. I love the democratization of entrepreneurship as a mega trend.

Social Nerdia: As a husband, father, blogger, author, venture capitalist, speaker, advisor, hockey enthusiast, and so much more... you keep yourself quite busy. How do you prioritize opportunities and what do you like to do when you simply need to take some time off?

GK: Your question implies that I do prioritize things well. It's not clear that I do. The secret to my success is that I am willing to grind it out. There are plenty of people who are smarter than me. There are not so many who are willing to grind it out like me. 

Social Nerdia: You've written over 10 fantastic books and people seem to frequently ask you about your "next book." What's your process for deciding when and how to write a new book?

GK: It's eleven, but who's counting. :-)  My next book is called APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur -- How to Succeed in Self-Publishing. The one before this was What the Plus!. I write a new book when something interests me or a publisher offers me a huge advance. Either condition works. 

Social Nerdia: What advice would you give to people who aspire to change the world?

GK: Build something that you want to use. Prototype your product or service as quickly as you can. Don't write a business plan, create a pitch, or craft a financial forecast. Get it out there. See if people will really use it. For God' sake, don't do market research. 

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