Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Guy Kawasaki in Minneapolis

I went to see Guy Kawasaki speak at the University of Minnesota a couple of weeks ago on January 19, 2007. I wasn't able to get a seat in the main auditorium at the McNamara Alumni Center but I was able to see a simulcast of his presentation at the 3M Auditorium at the Carlson School of Management. I decided to post my notes from the talk here as a way of keeping track of them for myself and I figured that a few other people out there might be interested. I haven't taken the time to edit these notes carefully but you should be able to get the main points.


  • Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Minnesota
  • University of Minnesota Venture Center
  • Haberman and Associates
  • James J Hill Library
  • STWA Ventures

“The Art of the Start”

Apple 1983-1987, software evangelist.

Started Several Software Companies

Returned to Apple

Now a Venture Capitalist

Learned that most high-tech CEOs suck as speakers

They have no concept of time – start late, go long.

Top 10 format for speeches:

  1. Make Meaning
    1. What is the reason a startup should start? To make meaning. To change the world. If you start off this way you will also make money. If you start with “lets make money” you will attract the worst kinds of people. MBAs, Investment Bankers, etc.
    2. You will be acquired, go public, or die. Those are the only three choices.
  2. Make a Mantra
    1. Don’t make a mission statement. Use a mantra instead.
    2. Mission statements are “BS.” They’re too long and don’t get to the core essence of the company.
    3. A mantra should be 2-3 words. Wendy’s - “Healthy Fast Food”, FedEx - “Peace of Mind”, Nike – “Authentic Athletic Performance”, Target - “Democratize Design”.
    4. The test for the mantra is that everyone in the company can repeat it.
    5. Dilbert Mission Statement Generator website.
    6. Use a mantra to get to the point where you need a mission statement.
  3. Get Going
    1. Don’t try to be perfect.
    2. Think Different – product or service that I would like to use.
    3. Polarize People – don’t intentionally piss people off but don’t be afraid to polarize people.
    4. Find a few soul mates – the concept of people doing it by themselves is not accurate. Find a team of people that balance each other off. Three is the perfect number.
  4. Define a Business Model
    1. Five years ago you didn’t need a business model. Now you do.
    2. There are examples of companies that don’t have business models that are successful but these are the exception.
    3. Be Specific. Who is my customer? How do I get my money out of her purse?
    4. Keep it simple. The business model is not the place to innovate. The product is the place to innovate.
    5. Ask Women about the idea and business model. Men have a fundamental flaw in that they want kill things. One of the places where this desire to kill things is that it’s OK for men to kill another company, product or service. Women don’t have this flaw.
  5. Weave a MAT (milestones, assumptions, tasks). Starting a new company is a blank slate. You need to:
    1. Establish milestones. Finish design, ship product. Big things!
    2. Assumptions of business model. What things are you assuming about your business model? How may calls can you make a day? How many new customers can you contact a day? Then test them.
    3. Task. Tasks are things that allow you to accomplish a milstone or test an assumption. These are the smaller things.
  1. Niche thyself
    1. Chart.
    2. X-axis: Value of things to customer
    3. Y-axis: Ability oto provide unique product or service
    4. Upper right corner is the goal.
    5. Lower right – price
    6. Upper left – stupid
    7. Lower left – Dotcom (stupid and no value)
    8. Upper right – this is where to be. Only we can make it and has high value. Just like our president – “high and to the right”.
  2. Follow the 10/20/30 rule of pitching
  1. 10 Slides – Power Point

    1. Title
    2. Problem
    3. Solution
    4. Business mode
    5. Underlying magic
    6. Marketing and sales
    7. Competition
    8. Team
    9. Projections
    10. Status and Timelines

    Delivered in 20 minutes. You may have 1 Hour but you should be able to pitch in 20. Remaining time for Q & A.

    30 point font. Not 20, 14, or 12. Fid out who the oldest person in the audience is and take their age and divide by 2.

  2. Hire Infected People
    1. You should hire people who are infected with a love of what you do. They might not have a perfect background but that isn’t as important as loving what you do.
    2. Ignore the irrelevant. Does the person “get it” – what you doing? If yes, then go for it. If not, then pass by them.
    3. Hire better than yourself. If you don’t this is called the “bozo explosion.”
    4. Apply the shopping center test. Go to the mall and if you see someone that you’re interviewing that you really like. You have a couple of choices. 1) rush up to them enthusiastically and say hello, 2) Avoid them but don’t leave. 3) get out of there. If you’re not compelled to do #1 then don’t hire the person.
  3. Lower the barriers to adoption
    1. Flatten the learning curve.
    2. Never ask people to do something that you wouldn’t.
    3. Embrace your evangelists. These people want to help you because it will make the world a better place.
  4. Seed the clouds
    1. How do you get sales? Sales fixes everything.
    2. Let a hundred flowers blossom. You might not know exactly who your customer will be. If this happens, non-targeted people start buying, first thing to do is take the money. Then figure out why they’re buying.
    3. Enable Test Drives. Allow people to use the product.
    4. Find the True Influencers. This not always the CXO level of an organization. Find the mid-level people who are the true influencers.
  5. Don’t let the Bozos Grind you down.
    1. The dangerous bozos are the ones that look “like they know what they’re talking about.” Don’t let these people be overly-influential in your thinking.

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