Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging and Outmarketing Your Competition Hardcover – 19 Mar 2009
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About the Author
Guy Kawasaki, who helped make Macintosh a household name, now runs Garage Technology Ventures, a venture-capital firm. He has held his workshop, "Boot Camp for Start-ups," around the world. Kawasaki is the author of seven previous books, including Rules for Revolutionaries. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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However, Guy Kawasaki is a career self-promoter. He has made a living for many years repackaging standard business advice in an entertaining format and peddling it as new to the legions of people seeking a business success formula.
More power to Guy for making a living at it, but it doesn't alter the nature of what is between the covers here: old advice, with a lot of it being nothing more than commensense.
Two irritating things about Guy's otherwise excellent writing style. He has a real problem with gender pronouns. Even in academic writing that tends to be excruciatingly politically correct, I've never seen anyone go to such extremes in using "she", "her" and other feminine pronouns. It's creepy, weird and utterly unnecessary. Certainly She would understand if Guy backed off a bit. Then there is Guy's cuteness with a couple of euphemisms: for example, he takes the common expletive for bull manure and adds "-takke" to it. Once may cute, especially among your 4th grade classmates. A couple of dozen times and it is truly annoying and leads you to believe the author may be a fourth grader.
As for Guy's advice . . . well, there's a reason why so many self-help and business success books are perennial bestsellers: people want guidance and advice And guy provides it in a witty, entertaining manner.
But virtually all of it has been served up hundreds, if not thousands, of times before by other authors. Some of what Guy offers up is pure nonsense without a shred of evidence to support it: it is just politically correct, like his overuse of the feminine. For example, he directs that companies "diversify" in their hiring, implying that if your workforce isn't statistically proportionate, you are doomed to an early end in a "Bozo Explosion". While it may be politically correct, the proposition is not supported by evidence.
Straining for material, Kawasaki resorts to interviews with other authors and academics, not a few of whom are cranks. One parses a conspiracy theory that would give a tinfoil hat wearer a run for their money.
Finally, Kawasaki tries to cover the waterfront with his advice. And the plains. And the mountains too. And the oceans. Everything. If you're looking for millions to start your company, Kawasaki has advice. If you're looking for a job, Kawasaki has advice. If you're the boss of a successful company, Kawasaki has advice.
The quality of the advice in every area, however, is suspect. First, much of it is common sense. If you have to buy as book to learn common sense, you have a problem. A lot of what Guy writes has been written about a zillion times before.
Take, for example, some of his advice about getting a job in Silicon Valley. Show up early, Guy says. "Get to your interview at least thirty minutes early because (a) you might hit traffic . . ." Actually, I think Guy means to say leave for your interview early because you might hit traffic, if She is not watching over you. Point is, who needs to buy a book to learn this? I love this line: "Answer the first question "How are you?" with a great response. For example, a great response is, "I feel great. I'm really anxious to learn more about this job and tell you about myself, so that we can determine if we're a good match". Very impressive: I'm sure the interviewer will be bowled over by your sincerity.
As one of his later chapters, Guy has one entitled "Are You an Egomaniac?" I think Guy is - and he appears to make a good living from it.
On the whole, 'Reality Check" is no worse than then some advice books and perhaps is valuable to simply reassure people that common sense is still a valuable commodity. But for business success tips, Guy doesn't offer anything you haven't seen before. I'd suggest holding off on this one until it is remaindered or just get it from the library.
I, too, was one of the Twitter people who got a preview of the book in digital form and literally laughed out loud -- at the local coffee shop - yeah, I looked stupid. But it was worth it.
I thought it was going to be a short book. At least it seemed that way because I flew through the digital version fairly quickly. So when I saw how big it was (460 pages, 94 Chapters - each one is just a couple pages long - so don't freak out) I thought I'd never get through it. But can I just tell you that it is BY FAR the most entertaining, informative, true-to-life rant on what's good and bad about the world of entrepreneurship, business, presentations - and more.
All the things everyone of us has wanted to say out loud - but has never had he guts is in there. I have so many favorite chapters I don't know where to begin.
Since I have this rule about NOT working with A-holes, I'll start with that one. (That would be Chapter 87, pg. 401) First he describes an A-hole (so you can test to see if you are one), then he goes on to outline some quick and easy strategies of dealing with A-Holes - and so on.
Other favorite chapters are the one's I've themed as "Lies." Throughout the book Guy outlines the Lies different groups tell each other: Lies CEO's tell, Lies Venture Caps Tell, Lies Entrepreneurs tell. These are rants to be sure - but what makes this book so utterly wonderful is that Kawasaki tells you how to avoid them and how to set yourself up for success -- please, for everyone's sake (I can almost hear him say)
In the preview version (I'm not sure where it is in the big book - perhaps it was edited) he basically says that VC's are sick of people asking for money when they haven't already gotten customers (just promises). The quote went something like "Just once I'd love to have someone ask for money so they can expand and grow because they have too many customers and are out of capacity."
See what I mean? The language is so simple. The message so true and so real, that even I can remember something I glanced over MONTHS ago.
To me, that's the sign of a great book.
And now, a confession. I didn't want to like Guy Kawasaki - or his book. I don't go for all this web and book celebrity stuff. Everything is so automated and fake anymore, I guess I'm getting cynical. But Guy Kawasaki practices what he preaches. He connects, he participates and he is good at what he does - and doesn't see why the rest of us can't be good as well.
Like I said Guy Kawasaki is an evangelist -- and a good one too.
Truth - I've read hundreds of books on entrepreneurship, marketing, careers, yadda, yadda, yadda. Heck, I've even written one of my own (Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love). And, you can pretty much tell within the first 20 pages the difference between books written by people who've "studied" entrepreneurship and those written by people who've "lived" it.
The first offer great advice...that works in a vacuum. The latter reveal what it's really all about. They speak the truth, based on what the writer has lived and breathed. As a lifetime entrepreneur and writer, that's the book I want to read. And, that's the book Guy has delivered.
Wisdom - 461 friggin' pages of it...and it's not 300 pages of juicy stuff and 161 pages of self-serving fluff. It's ALL juice! What do I mean by that? It's not about theory. Reality Check delivers you into the conversations, presentations, strategy sessions, critical decisions and actions that nearly every budding entrepreneur wrestles with.
Then, Guy serves up actionable, specific, aggressive do's, don'ts, tips, tasks, strategies and scripts based on real live experience sitting on both sides of the funding table, the boardroom table, the podium...and the plywood garage table.
I stopped taking notes and dog-earing pages when I realized I was doing it on every page!
Style & Humor - If you're looking for dry, professorial, textbook style writing...go away, that's not Guy's style. And thank God for that. Like all of Guy's books, this one is irreverent, edgy and engaging. And, Guy sense humor really comes through in this one, too. Enough to keep a 500 page tome fresh to the end. In fact, the Foreword 2.0, written by Dan Lyons a/k/a Fake Steve Jobs, had me laughing out loud and e-mailing people to strong-arm them into buying the book just to read the intro.
Look, you can keep reading reviews or you can just buy the darn book now. Which you choose will very likely determine whether you're a real entrepreneur...or you just like reading what people who write about them think.
* You think Guy Kawasaki is awesome and can't get enough of his thoughts and humor
* You like some business insights sprinkled into a light-hearted, meandering, irreverent look at business success
* You like a Dilbert-style treatment of startups
You won't like this book if:
* You're looking for actionable advice
* You get bored of hearing "orifice", "bozo" and "bullshiitake" every couple of pages
* You're expecting to hear things you haven't heard before about startups
I like Guy Kawasaki and really enjoyed "The Art of the Start", but couldn't finish this book because:
* It seems to contain "The Art of The Start" almost in its entirety so the first series of chapters is a nearly a complete rehash of that book.
* The book reads like a collection of blog posts (95 of them!) and I got tired of reading bullet lists of business advice over and over and over again.
* His advice ranges from how to dress for an interview, why you shouldn't report workplace harassment, what Jackie Onassis would do in various situations, how to schmooze, how to write e-mail, and why epidurals are a good thing for women delivering babies (seriously). I just couldn't make it through all the random thoughts like being on time to interviews, how to greet people at meetings, and why egomaniacs are really OK.
* There was a chapter on "the no a**hole rule" and "is your boss is an a**hole" which really didn't do much for me. Likewise, reading about how to "prevent a bozo explosion" didn't provide me with any takeaways.
* Most chapters are "the art of something" or "the zen of something" which really didn't make much sense because the advice is so light that you don't really walk out with anything actionable.
On the positive side:
There are some good chapters on business strategy and innovation, but they are short and basically just lists. You'll get more bang for your buck by reading a more targeted business book on the topic you're interested in.
Unless you really, really, really love Guy and don't mind hearing random thoughts, I'd recommend reading "The Art of the Start" and watching some of his You Tube videos.
Having been in business myself for most of my life...
However this is certainly a book that makes a lot of since to me over all....
From the 10-20-30 rule of power point presentations... to the "Marks of Mavericks" list...
lots of advise from a guy who has been there and done that that seems point on...
I think the most important concept in the Book is the Bozo Explosion idea...
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