On Friday, Nate and I attended a presentation given by Guy Kawasaki. The event was held at the McNamara Alumni Center at the University of Minnesota. There were approximately 500-600 folks in attendance - pretty much a full house. Additional attendees watched a simulcast at the Carlson School of Management on the left bank.
Kawasaki is a pretty engaging speaker, and he included a good helping of humor and self deprecation with the mounds of useful ideas he presents. The crowd was a mixed bag of success, superficial success, those sucking up to success and those simply hoping for success. There was not a ton of new information for me as Kawasaki echoes a lot of the writing about startups that can be found on the ‘Net. I have not read the book this speech was based on, The Art of the Start, but I imagine it is worthwhile if not groundbreaking.
On with the brain dump:
A mantra is more important than a mission statement. An example given for Target: “Democracy of Design.” Kawasaki’s point is that a mantra is more powerful because it’s inspiring and it’s something that can be remembered, unlike a mission statement. Scrawlers: “Writers read. Writers write.”
Get going. Don’t wait for the perfect moment.
Polarize people. You’re on to something if the public has a love-hate relationship with your product (e.g. the Mac).
Think different. Don’t try to recreate someone else’s success.
Work with soul mates. Surround yourself with people who will help pick each other up.
Your business model should be simple, especially when presenting to potential investors. When getting user feedback, ask women. Kawasaki was very adamant that women have a strong say in the design of a product. I won’t get into it, but he talked a lot about the man’s innate disposition to kill. It was a humorous segment of the presentation, but there is a grain of truth in there I think.
Recognize these important pieces of success:
- Milestones - something you can tell your spouse (e.g. “We shipped today”).
- Assumptions - test your assumptions. Many people don’t actually verify their assumptions.
- Tasks - these are designed to get you closer to a milestone or test an assumption.