Posted on February 22, 2011.
Guy Kawasaki is the co-founder of Alltop.com, an “online magazine rack” of popular topics on the web, and a founding partner at Garage Technology Ventures. Previously, he was the chief evangelist of Apple. Kawasaki is the author of ten books including Enchantment, Reality Check, The Art of the Start, Rules for Revolutionaries, How to Drive Your Competition Crazy, Selling the Dream, and The Macintosh Way. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.
Cindy Romaine, SLA President 2011, caught up with Guy at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, where he was talking about his new book Enchantment: the Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions. The ideas he brings forward in the book seem particularly relevant for information professionals right now.
This year, at the Consumer Electronic Show, you introduced ten ideas from your new book Enchantment: the Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions. I came away from your talk convinced that librarians and information professionals need to learn about enchantment and take that lesson to heart. Using a broad brush, tell us what Enchantment is about.
Did you hear the story that a reporter asked Tom Clancy what his new book was about and he said, “It’s about $26.00,”? Mine is about $14, street. Actually, my book is about learning skills to become more enchanting so that you can delight your customers, employees, and bosses.
One key point you mention in Enchantment is achieving trustworthiness, which requires a knowledge of our users. What’s the best way to gain that knowledge and trust?
There isn’t a “best way” to gain knowledge and trust. Rather, the process requires an array of skills. The starting point of becoming trustworthy is that you trust others. There is a definite order here: first, you trust others and then they trust you. Then you need to be a baker, not an eater. A baker makes a bigger pie so that everyone’s slice is larger. An eater just tries to get as much of a finite pie as possible. Finally, trustworthy people are transparent and give for intrinsic, as opposed to quid-pro-quo, reasons.
In an era of diminished resources and limited bandwidth, it’s tempting for information professionals to hunker down and focus on their core competencies. Yet in your new book, you share your idea of “defaulting to yes.” How does that work?
Defaulting to yes and focusing on core competencies are not mutually exclusive. Defaulting to yes means that when you meet people, you’re always thinking, “How can I help this person? If she asks for help, I will try to help.” Whether you help along the lines of your core competencies or not isn’t the key. What’s important is that you want to say yes and help.
I would think this is how librarians think anyway. Isn’t your default attitude to help people find information? Librarians can skip this part of the book.
This is me enchanting my boss. What does it look like?
Like it or not, the key to enchanting your boss is to drop everything when your boss asks you to do something. This can produce sub-optimal prioritization of tasks in the “big picture,” but it works. I never said enchanting people would be easy.
As you’d be the first to admit, not everyone has your phenomenal chutzpah. So, some of your prescriptions may seem a bit daunting. Can anyone be an enchanter? Please expand on this a little.
Enchantment is a matter of degrees, not either/or. Almost everyone can be more enchanting. Enchantment is like fitness: almost everyone can be more fit. Imagine if people were either fit or not fit, and there wasn’t anything you could do to change that.
I’m intrigued by your concept of reciprocity. In fact, I’ve been drawn into it, in asking you for this blog post—a great bit of mental jujitsu, by the way. What do you mean when you advise people to say “I know you would do the same for me?”
Reciprocity is what makes society work, and when society doesn’t work, it’s often because someone has violated the basic principle that if people help you, you should someday help them back. My hero, Robert Cialdini, is the person who taught me that when people thank you for doing something, the optimal response is “I know you would do the same for me.”
This phrase communicates three important points: first, I believe you’re an honorable person; second, we both know I did something significant for you; and third, someday you should repay me. That’s a lot of meaning packed into a simple phrase.
Cindy Romaine & Guy Kawasaki
In your book, How to Drive Your Competition Crazy: Creating Disruption for Fun and Profit you encourage people, when investigating their competitors to, “by all means, suck up to a research librarian.” We certainly appreciate the plug! Can you explain what you meant there and provide an example of your relationship with research librarians over the years?
Research librarians at the time I wrote that book held the keys to the golden castle of all the knowledge that was written down on paper. Mere mortals had a difficult time acquiring this knowledge without help. I can remember using the Reader’s Abridged Guide to Periodical Literature for hours in my youth.
Fast forward to today. There’s probably more knowledge than ever, and it’s more accessible than ever but the reinvented research librarian holds the key for using the Internet in the most effective manner. Many, but not all, people know how to use Google and Wikipedia, but Google and Wikipedia do not provide all of human knowledge. Some of that knowledge is locked away in private databases and some of that knowledge is difficult for a novice to find. That’s where research librarians still hold the key. They are the ultimate information curator no matter what hocus, pocus you hear about the “semantic web.”
You have your hand in many pies—writing, speaking, and running your company Alltop.com and Garage Ventures. How has a librarian or information professional helped you along the way?
Honestly, I don’t do much in-depth research for my writing, speaking, and running Alltop.com. The nature of my work is grinding it out and sucking it up. I’m the Mike Rowe (Dirty Jobs) of technology.
What’s your advice for a new college graduate just entering the workforce as an information professional?
The bottom line is that the Internet is the greatest threat or greatest promise ever to an information professional. On one hand, it democratizes information–bad news, does this mean information professionals are no longer necessary? On the other hand, there is so much information that it’s harder to find good, credible sources–good news, does this mean information professionals are more necessary than ever? A new college graduate should understand this dichotomy and, I think, has to reinvent what “information professional” means.
Get enchanted! Find Guy Kawasaki’s new book at his website: Enchantment: the Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions.