TUAW Bookshelf: Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki
Guy Kawasaki, for those of you who don't know, was an original Macintosh evangelist and when the Mac debuted, he went to software developers, advocating that they write software for the new platform. Over the years Guy has been a loyal devotee of Apple and heard numerous startup pitches (and invested in a few). He's written some fantastic books on creating startups, beating the competition, selling others on your idea and more. Guy's latest book "Enchantment" is available starting today (find a seller on this page) and I have to say, if you're starting a company or wanting to reinvigorate an established business, it is worth a look.
I've read a few "business" books in my day, plus a few "self-help" books with a business angle. Enchantment is sort of a redux of the best and brightest of those books, including the classic Dale Carnegie "How to Win Friends and Influence People" and Robert Cialdini's "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion." Enchantment, as you might imagine, refers to bringing customers under your spell. It sounds a little sketchy, but as Kawasaki points out, winning customers through cheap tricks and deception will end badly in the long run. Integrity is key.
Perhaps those of us who take for granted how Apple just "gets" the needs of customers and pushes features that make sense will read this book and say "well, DUH" -- but these things are not self-evident. Far too many businesses think that by cramming a million bullet points down the throats of investors and customers via PowerPoint and social networks, they too can become a success. Enchantment is the antidote to this thinking.
Instead of a bunch of parlor tricks, Enchantment is full of case studies, scientific research and Guy's experience with enchanting potential customers. It's not a dry book by any means, as Guy's personality and positivity shines through in the writing. It's a very personal book as well, as there are frequent nods to Apple, Guy's own passions and proclivities, plus some very engaging personal stories from guests at the end of each chapter. The subtitle for the book is "The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions," and I have to say that the book delivers.
Enchantment starts with making sure you are personally prepared to enchant people. As an amateur magician, I have to say I like the approach here -- you aren't being deceptive, you are making sure that you are being genuinely "real" for your employees, investors and potential customers. But the notion of bringing people under your "spell" is a compelling one when done in an honorable way. If you'd like to see how enchanting you are according to a test Guy created, check out this 23-question quiz.
The first few chapters focus on authenticity, trust, and a thorough explanation of what enchantment really means. I'll go ahead and tell you that if you are the type of person who buys into the used car salesman approach to getting customers, you will not enjoy what is said here. Guy's message is all about integrity, and the first few chapters are quite clear about what that means and how it should permeate everything you do to ensure true enchantment. There's a rule in hypnosis that you can't get someone to do something they wouldn't normally do (at least, not without a lot of work and some rather slimy approaches). Enchantment follows the same notion, pointing out that if you resort to underhanded ploys you may win customers, but not devotees. There's a huge difference.
Once you are personally ready, the remaining chapters cover the implementation of your plans and how best to pitch potential supporters of your business, be they investors, customers or simply cheerleaders. The chapter on "How to launch," alone, is like a mini-book with the latest thinking on getting your very first supporters.
There are also chapters on making enchantment endure, and how to overcome resistance. Something I find refreshing is the final chapter on how to resist enchantment. Let's face it, not all who would presume to gain your trust are themselves trustworthy. Guy gives you some practical advice on avoiding common pitfalls in business by being smart and savvy.
Two more chapters of note: one on enchanting your employees and one on enchanting your boss. These may seem out of place, but I found them relevant to any middle managers who want to operate with the highest integrity and treat their coworkers with respect and make them happier.
Kawasaki spends some time talking about specific tools, like Facebook and Twitter, email and blogs to spread your message and enchant followers. While there are nuts-and-bolts tips here, he goes a bit broader so that the information stays fresh. After all, today's Facebook could be tomorrow's AM radio. Then again, with a reference to the Verizon iPhone (which didn't exist when the book went to print), any book with tech references will have a shelf life shorter than one without.
An excellent bibliography and copious footnotes will have you digging into further study if you are so inclined.
This isn't a recipe book, but more like a guidebook for your business conscience. By following Kawasaki's advice, you will learn how to gut check things like all of your marketing efforts. You'll learn some best practices for building a vibrant community who will become your personal army of awesomeness (think about the Apple fanbois who kept the company alive in the 90s).
There are a lot of light moments, powerful stories and some powerful advice that Guy has learned over years of experience. He shares all of this in Enchantment and does it in less than 200 pages -- a short but highly effective read. When compared to other business books, I'll stop short of saying the book is transcendental, but I will say it's one of the most pleasant, positive and smart business books I've read in quite some time.
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