I became a big fan of Guy Kawasaki when I heard him speak at last year’s SXSW conference. I’ve followed him for quite a long time on Twitter quite simply because he tweets randomly interesting things! In my mantra for social media content of positioning yourself and your brands as ‘interesting, relevant and useful’ to your target audience, Guy Kawasaki mostly ticks the ‘interesting’ box as my own reason to follow him. Positioning himself that way meant that I had an existing good feeling towards the Guy Kawasaki brand, and therefore was enticed to attend his talk, where he then positioned himself as ‘relevant’ and ‘useful’, thus fulfilling all three of my must-haves for engagement, and meaning that as a consequence I will most definitely be investing in a copy of his new book when I return to the UK (and recommending it here too of course!)
Through his talk he outlined his ten top tips for how to be ‘enchanting’ in order to achieve the things that we want, or to ‘change the world’. In this post I will summarise what he said and challenge you to think, as you read on, about how these might apply to you both personally, professionally, and as an organisation. The key point underpinning all of this is that becoming enchanting to people is all about achieving their trust.
1. Achieve likability
This isn’t about faking likability, but showing genuine likability. For Kawasaki, this is the difference between someone who smiles just with their jaw and someone who smiles with their eyes. He recommends dressing appropriately for an audience (not trying to out-dress them which suggests you think you are better than them, or underdressing which suggests a degree of disdain for your audience) and mastering the perfect handshake. Map this to your organisation, I question how likable your front-facing staff can sometimes be. Do they smile with their eyes (or with their voice when they answer the phone), do they genuinely care?
2. Achieve trustworthiness
Trust others first. Amazon is a good example of company that places trust in their customers: you can return a kindle e-book up to 5 days after buying (a time frame in which most people could have already read the e-book). This means that their customers trust and feel loyal to them in return. In universities do we ever really trust our students? Kawasaki encourages us to think not in terms of how much we can take from a relationship but in terms of how much we can give. When we meet new people, make ‘yes’ your default position. I’m not sure that university structures allow us to do this, but perhaps they should. Let’s think, for example, of how universities engage with businesses. If we listened to their needs and just said ‘yes’ instead of starting out by saying ‘we can do this, this and this for you’ (the ‘take’ mentality even though it sounds like giving), then we might discover more creative ways in which to do business and establish a relationship of trust and mutual respect.
3. Get ready
In a business context, Kawasaki urges us to have great products – those that are deep (something really great – given that his background is in working for Apple, Kawasaki knows all about having great products!), those that are intelligent (“wow, what a clever product”), those that are complete (this is about everything, not just the product – the packaging, the aftercare, the purchasing experience), and that are empowering (for example, a mac isn’t just functional, it also makes you feel more creative) and elegant. And when it comes to marketing our products, make our communications short, sweet and swallowable (not something that the HE sector is particularly good at I’m afraid). He also encourages doing a ‘pre-morterm’ to pretend that your product has failed, brainstorm all the likely reasons why, and then eliminate them one by one.
Tell a story. Give it the human angle (see part 1 of today’s blog posts from SXSW on this very subject). Remember that these days nobodies are the new somebodies. Anyone can be an influencer for your brand and the success of your project so you need to be engaging with all of them, not just the editors of the big newspapers (though they remain important). Talk about your product in ways that people can understand. Don’t just focus on the score from the student satisfaction survey – put it into a story, make it real for them…
Overcome resistance. Think about how you can provide social proof that your product is great and used by many (Kawasaki here used the example of the proliferation of white ear-buds when the iPod launched). Enchant all of the influencers along the way, not just the top bosses. For university decision making this therefore might not just be the student themselves and their parents, but it might also be grandparents or friends, or just someone they happen to listen to (and trust) online…
Don’t use or rely on money in order to ‘sell’ your product. If you pay someone commission or an affiliate fee for selling a product, people are less likely to trust them in this transaction. And invoke reciprocity: when someone says thank you, don’t say “you’re welcome”, say “I know you’d to the same for me”. And let them pay you back for things that you do for them: it makes them feel good and keeps the relationship of reciprocity going…
Great enchanters know how to present. Customise the introduction to your audience. Sell your dream ie Steve Jobs pitches iPhones as a lifestyle item, not a sum of parts.
8. Use technology
Use technology as an enabler, not a barrier. Remove all technology barriers. Technology should enhance the experience and provide added value to your audience. If you use your social media presence to provide information, insights or assistance, then you will make yourself enchanting. Engage with people. Engage fast, and engage with many people (not just the ones you think are important). Engage often – social media is not the thing to do whenever everything else is done, it should be embedded in your ongoing communications.
9. Enchant up
Always enchant the people that you work for: if your boss wants you to do something, then drop everything else to do it. And prototype fast: if your boss asks you to deliver a powerpoint presentation for them to present from in 3 days time, send them a rough outline within an hour.
And always deliver bad news early and with solutions.
10. Enchant down
Enchant those who work for you. Above all else never ask anyone to do anything that you’re not prepared to do yourself. Enable them to master new skills, work autonomously, and give them a sense of purpose. Empower them.
I’ve barely done Guy Kawasaki’s talk any justice at all in this blog post. It’s very much a summary of the points he covered, and I’m sure nobody communicates these points better than he, so you might be better off buying the book.