What Matters Now: Evangelism by Guy Kawasaki

Over the course of the holidays, I am taking the opportunity to disconnect a bit and get a started on brainstorming for the New Year.  To help you do the same, I am sharing some of my favorite posts from the new eBook, “What Matters Now” that was compiled by Seth Godin.  You can download the eBook in its entirety here.

Evangelism by Guy Kawasaki

The future belongs to people who can spread ideas.

Here are ten things to remember:

  1. Create a cause.  A cause seizes the moral high ground and makes people’s lives better.
  2. Love the cause. “Evangelist” isn’t a job title. It’s a way of life. If you don’t love a cause, you can’t evangelize it.
  3. Look for agnostics, ignore atheists. It’s too hard to convert people who deny your cause. Look for people who are supportive or neutral instead.
  4. Localize the pain. Never describe your cause by using bull shiitake terms like “revolutionary” and “paradigm shifting.” Instead, explain how it helps a person.
  5. Let people test drive the cause. Let people try your cause, take it home, download it, and then decide if it’s right for them.
  6. Learn to give a demo. A person simply cannot evangelize a product if she cannot demo it.
  7. Provide a safe first step. Don’t put up any big hurdles in the beginning of the process.  The path to adopting a cause needs a slippery slope.
  8. Ignore pedigrees. Don’t focus on the people with big titles and big reputations. Help anyone who can help you.
  9. Never tell a lie. Credibility is everything for an evangelist. Tell the truth—even if it hurts.  Actually, especially if it hurts.
  10. Remember your friends. Be nice to the people on the way up because you might see them again on the way down.

Guy Kawasaki is a founding partner and entrepreneur-in-residence at Garage Technology Ventures. He is also the co-founder of Alltop.com. Previously, he was an Apple Fellow at Apple Computer, Inc.

What Matters Now: Business is a Game by Tony Hsieh

Over the course of the holidays, I am taking the opportunity to disconnect a bit and get a started on brainstorming for the New Year.  To help you do the same, I am sharing some of my favorite posts from the new eBook, “What Matters Now” that was compiled by Seth Godin.  You can download the eBook in its entirety here.

Business is a Game by Tony Hsieh

Everything I know about business I learned from poker: financials, strategy, education, and culture.


  • The guy who wins the most hands is not the guy who makes the most money in the long run.
  • The guy who never loses a hand is not the guy who makes the most money in the long run.
  • Go for positive expected value, not what’s least risky.
  • You will win or lose individual hands, but it’s what happens in the long term that matters.


  • Learn to adapt. Adjust your style of play as the dynamics of the game change.
  • The players with the most stamina and focus usually win.
  • Hope is not a good plan.
  • Stick to your principles.


  • Never stop learning. Read books. Learn from others who have done it before.
  • Learn by doing.  Theory is nice, but nothing replaces actual experience.
  • Just because you win a hand doesn’t mean you’re good and you don’t have more learning to do. You might have just gotten lucky.


  • To become really good, you need to live it, breathe it, and sleep it.
  • Be nice and make friends. It’s a small community.
  • Have fun.  The game is a lot more enjoyable when you’re trying to do more than just make money.

Tony Hsieh is the CEO of Zappos.com and the author of the soon-to-be-published book Delivering Happiness. Tony’s (longer) blog post is Everything I Know About Business I Learned from Poker.

What Matters Now: Things to think (and do) this year

I find the best ideas often come when you have completely disconnected from work.  Instead of worrying about a “To Do” list, your mind has a chance to actually wander a bit.  That is what I am hoping for the next three weeks as I “disconnect” a bit.  For the first two weeks, I am going to be taking some vacation time and spending it with family and friends.  Then for the third week, I am going to be kicking off the New Year with a trip to LA for business and then a stopover in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronic Show.

In order to kick start my thinking over the holidays, I am going to be doing quite a bit of reading.  At the top of list is an eBook that was compiled by Seth Godin called “What Matters Now.”  As Seth describes the project:

Now, more than ever, we need to shake things up…Here are more than seventy big thinkers, each sharing an idea for you to think about as we head into the new year.

I had a chance to start reading through this collection over the weekend and if anything, Seth undersells how good these “big thinkers” are.

So with that, I wanted to try something different.  Since I’ll be spending the next three weeks letting my mind wander, I want to give you some inspiration to do the same.  So every couple of days, I am going to post one of the ideas from “What Matters Now” that really struck me.  Hopefully they will inspire you the same way they did me.

In the meantime, you can download the eBook in its entirety here.

See you in the New Year!

What is the definition of a Brand?

If you ask ten people on the street define a “brand”, you are probably going to get ten different answers.  But if you ask ten people in marketing to define a “brand”, I guarantee that all ten answers will be vastly different.

So I was a little surprised when I read Seth Godin’s post on “define: brand” where he offers this definition of a brand:

A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.

My surprise is in how closely Seth’s definition matches with one I would have provided. After all:

A brand is NOT a :30 second TV commercial.

A brand is NOT a “breathtaking” new logo.

A brand is NOT a coupon, BOGO, or special offer.

A brand is NOT what you hear in a focus group.

A brand is NOT a brand character, brand purpose or brand equity pyramid.

A brand is complicated and simple at the same time.  Which is why Seth’s definition is so perfect.  “A brand is a set of expectations, memories, stories…that account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product over another.”

I guess that is why a Brand Manager’s job is never boring.

Even a Brand Manager needs their 10,000 hours of practice to be great

Bob Lefsetz gets it.  And I’m not just talking about the music industry but business overall.  He gets what it takes to be great in your industry of choice.

In his most recent letter, Bob rallied against a music industry that seems focused on young “prodigies”… overnight success stories who might have the talent, but haven’t put in the time or practice to really become great.  His argument is based on Malcolm Gladwell‘s “Outliers” as he writes:

Innate talent, pure desire, they’re not enough.  Sure, Mozart started writing music when he was six, but he didn’t compose a masterwork until he was twenty one, after he’d put in 10,000 hours of practice.  How can you have accumulated 10,000 hours worth of practice if you’re not even close to twenty one?  Turns out that’s the rule.  You’ve got to have 10,000 hours

He goes on to write that it is NOT about age.  It is about determination:

I’m not saying you’ve got to be old to make it, maybe you just have to be doggedly focused.  Not only on making it, but rehearsing, getting it right.  The music industry has lobbied against this. It has not encouraged its stars to practice.

And it is in that last sentence that Lefsetz makes a comment that Brand Managers should pay attention to.  Those that are great in their industries, be it sports, music or science are not great based on talent alone.

They are great because of the time they have put in time to being great.

Why does that matter to marketers and Brand Maangers?  Why does it matter to our own careers?  Well think about your competition, the Brand Manager running your biggest rival.  Chances are the two of you have a pretty similar education background.  And more likely than not, you both have similar resources at work.  So how can you get an edge…how can you be the better Brand Manager?

If you believe Gladwell and Lefsetz have it right, you will get that edge through practice and focus.  You will get that edge by throwing yourself at the task of being a better marketer.  Lefsetz hints at how you can do this when he talks about Millenials and their use of technology:

Maybe the conventional wisdom is right, today’s kids do have a short attention span.  Then again, they play videogames for hours, they surf online for days on end.  That’s why your teenager is a computer expert, why he can run your machine at what appears to be light speed.  Because it’s second-nature to him.

To make the comparison back, this means you need to make marketing second-nature by practicing, by putting in your 10,000 hours.  You won’t get there in your day-to-day job activities.  You need to go above and beyond.  So with that in mind, here are a few ways Brand Managers can find their 10,000 hours of practice:

  1. Start blogging: Seth Godin wrote that “Blogging makes you a better marketer because it teaches you humility in your writing.”  I’d add that blogging is the best practice in marketing you can find.
  2. Dive into Social Media such as Twitter: Twitter gets a bad rap from people that don’t fully understand it.  For me, Twitter is practice.  When I connect and talk with other marketers through Twitter, it is like being at marketing batting practice.
  3. Volunteer your marketing brain power: I’d argue that spending 2 hours helping a non-profit with their marketing will teach you more than staying at work an extra two hours.  And you get the added benefit of doing some good in the process.
  4. Read everything and anything: Knowledge is power and the best form of practice.  Make RSS your best friend and read what the best minds in business think on their blogs.  Get involved in the conversations through comments.  Read the top business books each year.
  5. Meet new people: Take advantage of breakfast, lunch and coffee breaks to meet new people in your industry.  Go to industry conferences and actually make use of them to network.  Shake hands, have drinks and keep on practicing.

These are just a few of the ways I’m trying to get my 10,000 hours of practice at being the best at marketing that I can be.  What would you add to the list?  How are you practicing to be a better marketer and Brand Manager?

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