The book was Guy Kawasaki’s Reality Check: A compilation of his best work, intended to serve as a comprehensive business start-up manual, an update of his previous publications, and a scattered best-of writings collection.
Kawasaki was one of Macintosh’s first marketers, famous for creating Apple evangelism through ads such as his 1984 spin-off.
His idea, in a nutshell, is that you should try to change the world with your product. Don’t hold back. Don’t be modest.
Moreover, simply from browsing his work, he is undeniably quotable and insightful, a sort of philosopher for ADHD-driven capitalism.
Riding down the escalator, I couldn’t help but notice the foreword, titled Foreword 1.0 followed by Foreword 2.0, both written by “Daniel Lyons, aka Fake Steve Jobs”.
Explaining the reason for publishing an updated Foreword 2.0 for the first edition of the book is a sort of foreword to Foreword 2.0:
What follows is the best foreword in the history of business books. It came about because shortly after Dan wrote the first foreword, he announced that he was discontinuing Fake Steve Jobs. I begged him to write one last piece as Fake Steve Jobs – what an honor that would be for my book! Fortunately, he agreed, and so Reality Check has not one but two forewords.As you can imagine, I was intrigued, and proceeded to read the 2 forewords. At first they seemed somewhat interesting. Lyons (or whoever) opens by describing Silicon Valley as “the American dream on Red Bull and steroids.” He proceeds to discuss how unique Kawasaki is, essentially asking the reader to take his word that he’s a great guy.
It was Foreword 2.0, however – “the greatest in the history of business books” – that thoroughly turned me off. In it, Lyons brags to the reader that he hasn’t read the book because he doesn’t read books. Elaborating: “I wish this book had been around when I was starting Apple in 1976. I’m sure I wouldn’t have read it, but still it would have been nice if it had been around back then…”
A more played out joke in Foreword 2.0 is that Lyons associates Kawasaki the person with Kawasaki the motorcycle company. In fact, this takes up the majority of Foreword 2.0’s two and a half pages, as Lyons tries to applaud Kawasaki but keeps coming back to motorcycles.
I’m not one to take life too seriously, but there is an underlying current to everything intellectual – I’d expect, least of all, a marketer such as Kawasaki to realize this: That you may glamorize or skew the presentation of any product, but the central piece nonetheless remains the product.
The foreword left a particularly bad taste in my mouth because too often in life people are prone to overlook the underlying content due to less important factors – like when people are more concerned about their ego than the truth, or when leaders become more concerned about power than their driving mission. Had Stalin really been pursuing communism for the common good of his people, then he would have remained in tune with their condition. Bill Gates is not famous because he harnesses the strength of thousands of employees; he is famous for his insight that personal computers may be of use to the average individual, and then acting on that. People come and go, and controlling them is easy; but the truth stays the same.
The distinction between such matters – although hardly clear-cut – is widely recognized in society. It’s reflected in the Biblical distinction between the wheat and the chaff:
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. (Luke, 3:16-18)There’s a sense of not only superficiality, but tragedy when one gets lost chasing the chaff, which is merely the outer cover of the kernel that humans inevitably seek.
Underlying the notion of marketing evangelism, or the bit that I understand of it, isn’t making your product out to be more than it is; rather, it is convincing people of its true worth and its wide-reaching potential impact. The point is not to do this in a kitsch manner – “buy this Hallmark card, it’ll change your life” – but to remain genuine, albeit while pushing the envelope. Afterall, insofar as typing on and programming a computer maybe a daily extension of one’s mind, an alternative operating system really might get you to “think different”.
But opening a book with a person joking around about how he hasn't read the book, but loves the guy, even though his name sounds like motorcycles, certainly does the exact opposite for Kawasaki what “think different” campaigns did for Apple.
I hardly need to expound on the tongue-in-cheek idea of evangelical capitalism - with it's implication being that rifts between commercial operating systems rival those between religions. But in the spirit of not selling ideas short, good products really can change lives for the better, even if they don't quite live up to the salvation of the human soul. Such ideas, if they are to be one's focus, deserve to be treated with a fair amount of respect.
Media (in order of appearance)
Photo: (1)Cover of Guy Kawasaki's 2008 book, Reality Check; (2)EC-24MAR08 , 05/24/2008, by HYPE; (3)After the harvest, 10/08/2007, Lincolian(Brian);(3)Apple_logo_Think_Different, 12/16/2008, Ballistic Coffee Boy; (4)Baptist Church, 11/18/2006, Thomas Hawk.
Video: (1)1984 Apple's Macintosh Commercial, Sean Collier's channel. Sphere: Related Content