Guy Kawasaki's book, The Art of the Start, is making the rounds of the blogosphere and Jane feels privileged to be among those bloggers chosen to review it.
We must introduce this review with a caveat: Jane does NOT feel that reading a book, or many books, is any substitute for real life experience. We are writers ourselves--so it may seem blasphemy to say so...but the value of reading a book on how to start a business (or anything else, according to The Art of the Start) is in its application out THERE--in the world, where the people are.
We advise you, dear reader, to buy Kawasaki's book and make notes, turn page edges down for review later on, and keep it by your side as you ponder the ups and downs of your business venture. BUT, do not expect it to be a substitute for going out and...making mistakes.
Mistake making is a powerful learning experience. We think someone should write a book on that.
Jane is happy to say, however, that you will make LESS mistakes if you take the time to not only read The Art of the Start, but to discuss it with your mentors, advisory board, and, even your Mother.
Let us begin this review with a quote from Chapter 11, The Art of Being Mensch:
"The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." Samuel Johnson
This quote continues to resonate with us, days after we have finished Guy's book. Notice how Jane did not insert "woman" or "she" or "her" anywhere into the quote? Because we don't need to. This quote is not about gender. It's not even about business. It's about the human condition, something we wrote about over the weekend. Guy included it in his book because he knows, and you should know, also, dear reader, that we are measured daily by our connections to those around us.
In Chapter 2, The Art of Positioning, Guy advises us to "Seize the high ground." Jane feels particularly tuned in to the advice contained in this section. This is where Guy tells us,
"Entrepreneurship isn't war, so you don't describe your enterprise in warlike terms."
We applaud this thought. Please, save us from more war talk.
In Chapter 8, The Art of Recruiting, Guy says,
"If there is one thing a CEO must do, it's hire a management team that is better than he is. If there is one thing a management team must do, it's hire employees who are better than it is."
This is a hard thing for most entrepreneurs to do. Jane experienced this problem over and over again, when she was but an employee. She watched several CEOs of several start-ups hire cheap labor...and then wonder why nothing was working the way he or she thought it should be working. Guy advises, "Hire 'A' Players," and Jane agrees. They're out there. Ask around. You'll find them.
Chapter 10 was our favorite chapter of the whole book; The Art of Rainmaking. As Guy explains in the opening paragraph,
"A Native American rainmaker is a medicine man who uses rituals and incantations to make it rain. For startups, a rainmaker is a person who generates large quantities of business. Like medicine men, entrepreneurs have created their own rituals and incantations to make it rain."
On page 196, Guy shows a list of activities a rainmaker should be engaged in to generate good leads. Activities designed to engage discussion because they are done face-to-face. Number three on his list is, "Getting published."
Hmmmm...we advised you earlier in this post, dear reader, not to depend to heavily on books, however...we do know, from personal experience, that being published is a better attention getter and a more useful calling card, than the traditional business card, no matter how fancy or two-sided, or folded over it is.
The other reason Jane feels this chapter stands out head and shoulders above the other chapters, is because it addresses the gatekeeper, and/or key influencers, in business. These are the people who can make or break your sales call. Guy puts it better than anyone else we've ever read. He states that,
"To make it rain, you have to learn how to suck down to umbrellas. They are called secretaries, administrative aides, and sometimes even data base administrators III."
We must end here. You must buy Guy's book to learn what "sucking down to umbrellas" really means. Whether you are a start-up, or have been in business for many years; whether you're contemplating entrepreneurship or have tested the waters and are confident you can at least doggie-paddle through them; this book will help you jump over dozens of hurdles that await you on your path to success. It's an easy read, it covers the basics, and more, and it's given in the spirit of helping. Guy has taken the quote we opened this post with, to the max.
What's not to like about that?