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#22 Guy Kawasaki: How Real Innovation Happens

Future Forecast host Isabelle Ringnes speaks to Guy Kawasaki, a quotable author, a keynote speaker and a renowned evangelist, about his time at Apple (he worked there twice with Steve Jobs), when to listen to the customer and what true innovation means. Listen on iTunes


The good news

Guy sees himself as bringing “the good news.” He is a chief evangelist at online design company, Canva, and earlier in his career he worked at Apple in a similar role, twice, when Steve Jobs was holding the reins. His job title is fitting because technology is seen as the new religion, and Guy attracts consumers to new products, which starts with great internal innovation and development, he says.


When asked about Steve Jobs, Guy eagerly explains that Steve was a true visionary with true passion. These attributes are quite overused, but Steve matched the definition entirely. He was different and made his firm management style work. Guy is quick to say that others should not follow Steve’s leadership style, as it will make them seem too harsh.


Apple virtues

At Apple only excellence matters where the best people are hired, whatever their background. Guy shares one of Apple’s main success strategies, which centers on when customers are listened to. This is not about figuring out customer wants and needs per se, as that could backfire. Guy reveals that innovation is more likely to happen when developers are motivated to create great products. Innovations should be sent to market for people to buy and try. Only then, should company leaders pay careful attention to customer feedback and make improvements accordingly. Customers send feedback when they want their advice heard and actioned, so especially at this stage in the process customers could give invaluable insights on the user experience.


Guy referred to Kodak’s struggle to adapt its photographic operations, even though it had developed the latest technology and it had great inventors onboard. Its leaders lacked true vision; they did not think that the digital technology would be adopted en masse, and assumed that the company’s market position was powerful enough to tell customers what to do.


Applaud social media

Technology is everywhere you look, but the successful use of social media remains ambiguous; yet there are almost 3.5 billion active social media users worldwide. Guy emphasizes that you must join the social media revolution to build a brand, but that you need to add value with your content. It needs to serve a purpose and answer the question “what do people want to read?” Content should not focus on “what you want to say,” says Guy. The people who have a huge following online have mastered the social media art. Guy compares a piano prodigy to a social media buff and says that it does not matter what is produced; when something is created that speaks to people it has to be commended. 


Guy’s golden tips

People need to learn in life before they can stand out. However, Guy stresses that this does not mean that great entrepreneurs need to work for an investment bank first, because in his opinion the most innovative creations come from garage start-ups. You need to have a clear vision and perseverance; know that the grass is not always greener on the other side. “Instead of searching for greener pastures you should make the pasture you are in greener.”


  • Listen to the next episode of Future Forecast to hear Guy Kawasaki share his unique insights about his time at Apple and his invaluable tips on what it takes to become a successful innovator and what situations to avoid:


Posted by Emily Northway