Guy Kawasaki - chief evangelist, canva & apple; serial entrepreneur, venture capitalist, book author, podcaster of the Guy Kawasaki's Remarkable People podcast

Ep 39: Guy Kawasaki [Chief Evangelist, Canva & (formerly) Apple, Podcaster, Writer, VC, Entrepreneur)

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Welcome to Episode 39!

Our guest for STIMY Episode 39 is Guy Kawasaki. 

Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva and the creator of Guy Kawasaki’s Remarkable People podcast.

He is an executive fellow of the Haas School of Business (UC Berkeley) and an adjunct professor of the University of New South Wales. He was the chief evangelist of Apple and a trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation.

He has written Wise Guy, The Art of the Start 2.0, The Art of Social Media, Enchantment, and eleven other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University, an MBA from UCLA, and an honorary doctorate from Babson College.   


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    Who is Guy Kawasaki?

    Guy Kawasaki is a third generation Japanese American who was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. There, his life took a turn in sixth grade when his teacher convinced his parents to put him in Elawani – a college prep school – which set him on the path to Stanford and some of the amazing companies he worked at thereafter including Apple and Canva. 

    • 3:09: Growing up in Kalihi Valley
    • 4:17: Harold Keebles – one of the toughest teachers Guy ever had
    • 5:11: Stanford in the 1970s
    • 5:45: Why Guy quit law school after 2 weeks

    From a Jewellery Store to Apple

    In 1979, Guy began his working career at Nova Stylings: a jewellery manufacturer where he learned the art of selling. 

    • 6:59: Working at a jewellery manufacture company
    • 7:26: Why Guy describes sales as hand-to-hand combat
    • 9:28: Getting into Apple through nepotism
    • 10:22: What it was like working at Apple in the 1980s
    • 11:24: How Apple was set up then
    • 13:29: Why Guy quit Apple for the first time
    • 15:00: Why Apple rejoined Apple in the 1990s, when everyone thought the company would die
    • 15:41: What a Chief Evangelist does
    • 16:11: The Evange-List
    It was just pinch me. I mean, it was like going to Disneyland (Apple) every day and getting paid for it. This was the best and the brightest, the leading edge of Silicon Valley taking on IBM. You know, working for the one and only Steve jobs.
    Guy Kawasaki - chief evangelist, canva & apple; serial entrepreneur, venture capitalist, book author, podcaster of the Guy Kawasaki's Remarkable People podcast
    Guy Kawasaki
    Chief Evangelist of Canva (formerly, at Apple)

    Now: Canva, Podcasting, Clubhouse & Surfing

    We wrap up this STIMY episode by covering some of the big things that Guy now spends his time doing, which include being the Chief Evangelist of Canva, running his Remarkable People podcast, running AMA rooms on Clubhouse and surfing!

    • 18:02: How Guy first got involved in Canva
    • 19:29: Guy’s role in Canva 
    • 21:19: Building brand awareness
    • 22:54: Getting into podcasting 
    • 24:33: Getting Jane Goodall as his first podcast guest
    • 28:08: How Guy first got onto Clubhouse
    • 29:32: How Guy decides who to let onto the Clubhouse stage in his AMA rooms 
    • 31:02: What Guy thinks Clubhouse needs to achieve to go mainstream
    • 32:19: Why Guy keeps giving out his personal email freely

    If you’re looking for more inspirational stories of people in the VC/entrepreneurial space, check out:

    • Austen Allred: Co-Founder of Lambda School – a Y-Combinator backed coding school that lets students learn coding for FREE using the Income Sharing Agreement (ISA) scheme, where its graduates pay back only after they earn over $50k/year. Past graduates have worked for Fortune 500 companies including Google, Facebook, IBM etc. 
    • Kendrick Nguyen: Co-Founder of Republic – one of the top 3 equity crowdfunding platforms in the US
    • Rahul Chaudhary: MD & Heir to the 160-year-old Chaudhary Group, a family empire headed by his father, Binod Chaudhary (Nepal’s first & only Forbes billionaire)
    • John Kim – Managing Partner & Co-Founder of Amasia (thesis-driven VC on climate change & sustainability), vlogger, musician & serial entrepreneur
    • Dr. Finian Tan – former Deputy Secretary of Singapore’s Ministry of Trade & Industry, and Chairman & Co-Founder of Vickers Venture Partners, a $3 billion deep tech VC firm based in Singapore
    • Cesar Kuriyama – Tech entrepreneur & Founder of 1 Second Everyday
    • Malek Ali – Founder of BBM 89.9 (Malaysia’s premier business radio channel) & Fi Life 

    If you enjoyed this episode with Guy Kawasaki, you can: 

    Leave a Review

    If you enjoy listening to the podcast, we’d love for you to leave a review on iTunes / Apple Podcasts. The link works even if you aren’t on an iPhone. 😉

    Send an Audio Message

    I’d love to include more listener comments & thoughts into future STIMY episodes! If you have any thoughts to share, a person you’d like me to invite, or a question you’d like answered, send an audio file / voice note to [email protected]

    External Links

    Some of the things we talked about in this STIMY Episode can be found below:

    Guy Kawasaki - chief evangelist, canva & apple; serial entrepreneur, venture capitalist, book author, podcaster of the Guy Kawasaki's Remarkable People podcast

    STIMY Ep 39: Guy Kawasaki - Chief Evangelist of Canva (formerly, at Apple), Podcaster, Book Author, Venture Capitalist & Serial Entrepreneur

    Ling Yah: Hey everyone!

    Welcome to episode 39 of the So This Is My Why podcast. I'm your host and producer, Ling Yah, and today's guest is Guy Kawasaki. Guy is the chief evangelist of Canva, creator of the Guy Kawasaki's Remarkable People podcast, 15 times book author, executive fellow the Haas School Of Business and adjunct professor of the University of New South Wales.

    He was also formerly the chief evangelist of Apple, having worked in Apple in the 1980s and nineties with none other than Steve Jobs himself, and was also a venture capitalist and serial entrepreneur.

    In this episode, we covered the highlights of his career, including why he joined Apple in the 1990s at a time when everyone thought Apple was going to die. His thoughts of creating a brand name for himself and his companies, why he loves podcasting so much and his thoughts on clubhouse. How he uses it, where he sees it going, and the special Guy Kawasaki algorithm he employs when deciding who to call up on stage in his AMA rooms.

    Now, are you ready? Let's go.

    You have done so many things in the past 66 years, so I thought we would cover what you are not. So you are not Jackie Chan. You are not Robert Kiyosaki. Nope. And I saw in your Clubhouse bio, you actually stated, not the author of rich dad, poor dad, not a guru, not a thought leader, not a visionary, which is such an unusual thing for someone to put in a clubhouse bio where everyone is like, Oh, I've done 1,001 things before I turned 20.

    So why did you feel the need to put that in your bio?

    Guy Kawasaki: It would be an overstatement to say that I felt the need to do it. I just wanted to be different because I think there's a lot of bullshit on Clubhouse. And I just wanted to be the antithesis of someone who's trying to pretend to be an influencer, visionary, guru, whatever.

    I don't want any part of that.

    Ling Yah: Completely understand. So what you are is a third generation Japanese American, and I read in your book that, you know, your great-grandparents immigrated to Hawaii at the end of the Meiji period. And I wonder as a third gen was Japanese values and culture as something that was very prominent in your life, growing up.

    Guy Kawasaki: Very prominent probably is a strong word, but certainly my parents taught me about education and humility and respect for elders. And of course, if they were alive, they might be disagreeing right now. But also the concept of noblesse oblige, which is not Japanese, but the concept that if you're fortunate, you owe a debt to society.

    So that definitely came from our parents.

    Ling Yah: And what was it like growing up in Kalihi Valley?

    Guy Kawasaki: Yeah, it was a poor semi rough place, but you know what? I didn't know that we were poor. We weren't at the level of poverty of not enough food, no clothes, no books, you know, things like that.

    So hell I didn't know we were poor until I went to college and I saw what rich people really is.

    Ling Yah: So you ended up going to Kalihi Elementary and the trajectory of your life changed because of the advice of your sixth grade teacher. Could you share a bit about that story and

    Guy Kawasaki: Okay. So the public school system in Hawaii back then was challenging and not a lot of people went to college and continued on.

    And so my sixth grade teacher convinced my parents to take me out of the public school system, put me into the private school system because she thought I had too much potential.

    And luckily she convinced my parents, my parents made the sacrifices for me to do that. So that enabled me to go to a college prep school, which enabled me to go to Stanford.

    And that's where I met the person who brought me into Apple and the rest is history. So you could make the case that without that sixth grade teacher, Oh, you probably wouldn't want me on your podcast.

    Ling Yah: What was it like in Kalihi school? I believe Harold Keeble had a tremendous impact on your life.

    Guy Kawasaki: Yes, you sure have done a lot of research. So Harold Keeble was my English teacher and he was by far the hardest teacher I've ever had in my life. And so what I've come to figure out is that as you look back on your life, The teachers that were the hardest on you probably taught you the most and were the most valuable, and that same thing goes with bosses.

    And so I owe a great debt to Harold Keebles. The English teacher, Trudy Akaw was the other teacher at Kalihi Elementary and Steve jobs, you know, three of the hardest people I ever worked for or studied under.

    Ling Yah: And do you know at the time, what you want it to do? Why do you choose psychology?

    Guy Kawasaki: I still don't know what to do. Honestly, I kind of picked psychology because it was an easy major. That's the truth. So I tried premed for about one week and I had a great time at college. I loved college.

    Ling Yah: What was Stanford like in the 1970s?

    Guy Kawasaki: Well, it's completely different, you know?

    First of all, being Japanese American in the 1970s meant that you were considered a minority student that had to have special accommodations in terms of admission and you know, all that other kind of stuff, as opposed to now where Asian-Americans are suing because the standards are too high for them.

    Back then it was very different. I don't think I would get into Stanford today. But back then I was considered an oppressed minority and I loved Stanford. It was a great experience. It opened my eyes to what could be done in the world.

    Ling Yah: So after Stanford, why did you choose law school for two weeks?

    Guy Kawasaki: Well, there's two parts to that question. Why did I choose law school? Because my parents really wanted me to go to law school. My father was a politician in Hawaii and he had never even gone to college. So he was making laws not having gone to college or gone to law school. So it was his dream for me.

    And I quit after two weeks because I just couldn't stand law school. I just hated it. And another kind of turning point in my life.

    Ling Yah: Was it a difficult decision to decide to quit and then tell your parents?

    Guy Kawasaki: Yes. You have to understand, you know, back then Asian Americans, education was everything.

    And I agree with that actually. But still, to disappoint them after all it took to get into law school than to quit after two weeks but at least I figured out I didn't want to be a lawyer quickly. Sometimes it takes people decades to do that.

    Ling Yah: So how do you decide to go from law school to the MBA?

    Guy Kawasaki: Well, I really loved business. I wanted to be in business and back then, an MBA was the sort of entry to going into business. Now. I don't think that's true today, but back then, if you wanted to be in the management track, you had to have an MBA.

    That's not true today. Particularly that's not true in tech.

    Ling Yah: So during the MBA, you got your first job at a jewelry store run by a small Jewish family.

    Guy Kawasaki: A jewelry manufacturer. And I worked there part-time because I needed money. and then I worked there after I graduated and was in sales and marketing.

    So I went from jewelry to high tech and I will tell you that. That's not a logical path, but it was a very, very good path because in the jewelry business, I had to learn how to sell. And evangelism is a form of sales.

    Ling Yah: You've described sales as something of a hand to hand combat, which is quite an unusual equivalent.

    Why would you describe it that way?

    Guy Kawasaki: Well, today, so much of sales is about SEO and AB testing, you know, does the blue link work better than the red link? And what size font and what font works best on your homepage? None of that was true back then. And back then, it was you call on the jewelry retailer and you try to get an order out of them.

    It was very different. It was personal selling in person.

    We sold to Tiffany and Cartier and all the fine jewelry stores and they would just pound on you. I mean, I learned how to get pounded on.

    Ling Yah: And what about Marty Gruber?

    I believe he really taught you a lot. What was he like?

    Guy Kawasaki: Marty gruber was the CEO of the jewelry firm and he really embraced and helped me learn how to sell. And if it wasn't for him, maybe I wouldn't be so evangelistic, but you know, I owe a debt to him for helping me learn how to sell.

    Ling Yah: So while you were doing jewelry, you were also working at a software company and you were services as Director of marketing.

    Guy Kawasaki: yeah, I left the jewelry business to go into Edgware because I fell in love with technology. I got an Apple two, I think, and I fell in love with technology and I just wanted to be in the tech business, not in the jewelry business. And I was rejected by everybody. Except I finally found a small educational software company out in San Fernando Valley.

    And they only hired me because the only sales and marketing exec there got into a car accident. So they literally needed somebody back then.

    If it weren't for that car accident, I might not have gotten into the software business.

    Ling Yah: So did that experience affirm your love for software?

    Guy Kawasaki: Yes. it affirmed my love for just anything tech. And I wasn't there very long when that company was bought by a large company out of Atlanta. And I just did not want to go to Atlanta.

    And at the same time, my friend from Stanford, Mike Boich, recruited me into Apple. And that's why I got into the app.

    Ling Yah: Wasn't Mike Boich the person who introduced you to Apple 2?

    Guy Kawasaki: Yes. He introduced me to Apple II, got me into Macintosh all of that. So, yeah. the thing, the lesson there is that nepotism is a good thing.

    It wasn't for nepotism seriously. If it wasn't for nepotism, I would not have gotten into Apple. There's no way. There's no way I would've gotten in through the front door.

    Ling Yah: You wrote in your book wise guy, that Steve Jobs told Mike, you can hire Guy, but you're betting your job on him.

    Guy Kawasaki: Yeah.

    Yes, yes. So that that's a ringing endorsement, huh? That's literally what he said.

    Ling Yah: And I wonder, what was it that Mike saw that. He was willing to put his career on the line for you?

    Guy Kawasaki: Maybe he didn't know that that was going to be the choice when he recruited me. That happened at the end.

    Well, we had known each other for four years by then. So you know, when you're young and you're just out of college, you don't know what the hell you're doing. And so sometimes did you get lucky

    Ling Yah: And what was it like going to Apple?

    Guy Kawasaki: It was just pinch me. I mean, it was like going to Disneyland every day and getting paid for it.

    This was the best and the brightest, the leading edge of Silicon Valley taking on IBM. You know, working for the one and only Steve Jobs. I mean, how much better can it get than that? And coming from the jewelry business fundamentally from Hawaii without a computer science degree, et cetera, et cetera, this is like, fairy tale land.

    Ling Yah: So Apple back then was the place that everyone wants to get to.

    Guy Kawasaki: I don't know about everyone, but because Apple has gotten more and more popular obviously, but you would not be embarrassed by going to work for Apple that's for sure.

    Ling Yah: I found it so interesting that you would describe it as Disneyland, as you just said, but you've also described it as a place where it has the largest collection of egomaniacs in history.

    Guy Kawasaki: Well, yeah, I mean, those two things are not necessarily in conflict, but yeah, we had a lot of strong ego, but you had to have a strong ego to work for Steve.

    Ling Yah: And what was Apple like that in terms of division? I think there was Apple 2, the peripheral division and the Mac division. And you were in the Mac division, so you've got special treatment.

    Guy Kawasaki: Yeah. but because we work for the co-founder but the truth is that the Apple two division was paying for the bills because Macintosh was not yet finished.

    So it was hindsight, it was unfair to the Apple II division because they were making all the money. We were spending all the money and yet we considered them, you know, sort of.

    Down an order in the pecking order. So, yeah. But that was, just one indication of the degree of arrogance we had in our division.

    Ling Yah: I think there was a joke, wasn't it? How many guys from Mac it took to screw on the light bulb?

    Guy Kawasaki: Well, yes. And the answer is one because the universe revolves around you.


    Ling Yah: And obviously we need to talk about Steve Jobs and he expected excellence from everyone every day, or you get fired. And I wonder what it was like working in an environment where someone was so demanding.

    Guy Kawasaki: Well, you know, I mean, compared to now you would say it's very traumatic, but it was so exciting and protecting the employees in terms of legally and just sort of psychologically. It was not what it is today. It was a different time, okay. But I can't tell you that I would like to erase that from my past or that I regret working there. I mean, it was a great time.

    Sometimes you just look back and it was like the hardest times are the best times. And that's true of the Macintosh division.

    Ling Yah: Apple didn't have the most press friendly relationship, but you were out there meeting everyone.

    Guy Kawasaki: Well, yeah, I mean, Apple was such a darling of Silicon Valley that everybody wanted time with the Apple executives.

    Now I was obviously not at the top of the pyramid, but whenever people ask me, I helped them because I don't know, that's just in my DNA.

    And with hindsight, it was very fortunate because many of those people who are entry-level journalists back then, they are now very powerful journalists or, after a few years were very powerful so this is before social media.

    So there's only two ways to get the word out, which is PR and advertising and advertising is expensive.

    Ling Yah: So you ended up resigning for the first time in 1987, to found this Mackintosh database company called ACIUS a day after your promotion.

    What was it about this company that had you convinced.

    Guy Kawasaki: Well, it was several things. So one is it pissed me off that another database company held a gun to Apple's head and said, you cannot publish this because it would compete with them. So that offended me morally. And then I listened to my own hype about the great opportunities in Macintosh software.

    And so it was just time to go and start your own company. I had been there about four years by then. It's too bad. If I had stayed that time or the next time I'd be much richer.

    Ling Yah: Did the reality meet the hype that you were generating?

    Guy Kawasaki: I would say that company was kind of a single or a double, but it certainly wasn't a home run, so probably.

    Just financially. No, no, it wasn't that big a deal, but you know, that's how it goes in entrepreneurship.

    Ling Yah: So you did a lot of things outside. You were writing a book, you were speaking consulting,

    Guy Kawasaki: This is post Apple. Yes. Post Apple. I was speaking and consulting and writing and all that stuff. Yes.

    Ling Yah: Did you feel like you had found what you wanted to do at the time?

    Guy Kawasaki: Well at any given moment, I always feel like I found what I wanted to do, but I just find different things later.

    So I'm 66 right now. I'm chief evangelists of Canva and I'm a podcaster and I just love both those things. And so you know right now. Yeah. But who knows? I will never work for another company. That's for sure though.

    Ling Yah: And I wonder, you know, the second time you went back to Apple, why did you decide to do that?

    Because it was a time when Apple many thought it was going to die.

    Guy Kawasaki: Yes. I loved Apple and I wanted to ensure the success of Macintosh. They made me an offer. I couldn't refuse. I mean, it was, all the things just sort of aligned. It was a great job.

    I was an Apple fellow and the chief evangelists of Apple and knock on wood, very fortunate for me, that Apple has become even more successful. So it's very good.

    If you go to my LinkedIn profile and this is the former chief evangelist of Apple people take that very seriously. So it's a good thing Apple succeeded after that, because otherwise they'd say chief evangelism, what? Who's that?

    What is that company?

    Ling Yah: So what is it like the day-to-day job of an evangelist looks like? I think for most people they look at it and go, I've never heard of this title before.

    What does it mean?

    Guy Kawasaki: Well, there was Jesus before me. Evangelism comes from Greek words. That means bringing the good news. So what an evangelist does is bring the good news.

    I brought the good news of Macintosh, how we would, it would make people more creative and productive. I am bringing the good news of Canva. How Canva makes everybody a better communicator because it has democratized designs. So everybody can make beautiful designs with Canva.

    Ling Yah: And so that second time when you were at Apple, I believe that evangelist was something that was prominent.

    Guy Kawasaki: Yeah, it's gosh. So many people are probably not familiar with this term anymore. It was a list server.

    The way a list server works is people subscribed to an email list. So it's opt in and then every. Day, I think we would send out an email about good news about Macintosh.

    So, you know, new products, new services, and the new products and services of companies, because my perception was that there was so much bad news about Apple.

    If you just read the newspapers and magazines, you would think everything was bad. So I decided to create my own channel called evangelist and only put out good news.

    Today, you know, every influencer has 25 million, but believe it or not back then that was huge. There were not many lists with 44,000 people on it and almost by definition, all true believers in Macintosh.

    Ling Yah: And so why do you decide to leave Apple again for the second-

    Guy Kawasaki: To start another company. To start another company?

    There is a pattern here. Yeah.

    Ling Yah: So in the meanwhile, you also started writing books. You've written 15 so far, and some might say you've written in 15 different books are 15 books on the same thing.

    Guy Kawasaki: You can say that. Yes.

    Ling Yah: I mean, why do you think people say that.

    Guy Kawasaki: I don't know because I've covered the topic of entrepreneurship, marketing, evangelism, social media, kind of over and over because it is a component of many of the topics that I cover.

    So it's a fine line, you know? So on the one hand, you're going to be accused of just repeating yourself.

    On the other hand, if you're not consistent, you can't say in one book that social media is important, other than the next book saying it's not important. Right. So you can't do that either. So that's the tricky thing about when you write 15 books. You have to maintain consistency, but not look like you're simply copying and pasting the old stuff.

    Ling Yah: And so the big thing that you're doing right now is Canva. And I would love to know how you first heard about Canva and got involved with them.

    Guy Kawasaki: Actually it was someone who worked with me named Peg Fitzpatrick. So she was creating the graphics with Canva, for Twitter and.

    Canva noticed that I was using Canva. So they tweeted me and I responded and I asked Peggy if I should help them. And she said, yes, and the rest is history.

    So it was because of Peg Fitzpatrick, really, that Canva found me.

    Ling Yah: And then you responded and they said, oh, we're going to be in the States and let's meet up.

    And what was that conversation like?

    Guy Kawasaki: The conversation was amazing. It was, you know, this is what we do. This is our vision. This is how we're going to empower people. And I loved it. I love democratizing stuff to taking that something that only a photoshop expert with expensive software and training to do, and not anyone could do it just like before with Macintosh, I love taking it out of the hands of MIS and IT departments and now anyone can use a computer by themselves.

    So I'm big into democratizing things.

    Ling Yah: And what was Canva like then, because I use Canva a lot and it's changed over time. Now you can use video. It's just so powerful, but you joined Canva when they were only two years old. So what was it like then?

    Guy Kawasaki: It was, there are days when we would get 500 new signups and we would be just celebrating it and now we get.

    Tens of thousands of new signups every day. I've been there about seven years. It's been quite a ride.

    Ling Yah: I believe your job was to get some of the key hires for them.

    Guy Kawasaki: So one of my chief roles was that as Canva grew, they needed to get the A list talent.

    And because I'm fairly well-known in high tech. When it came to closing candidates, I often made the call because this may sound a little arrogant, but you know, when a candidate gets a call and it's Guy Kawasaki, who he's heard of, or she's heard of or read or something that helps close the candidate to decide to go to Canva, honestly.

    Ling Yah: I mean, you had a 70% success rate, so that's really high.

    Guy Kawasaki: Well, I mean, I, you know, it's also the fact that I was recruiting for something very good.

    You don't get 70% success rate recruiting for a crappy company. Trust me.

    Ling Yah: And what about the culture at Canva. I believe in your interview with Melanie, you said that they were all relentlessly pursuing perfection.

    Guy Kawasaki: Yes. Like Toyota. Yeah, I've never worked with the group of people who more relentlessly pursue perfection in everything they do.

    So, there are companies that are engineering driven. There are companies that are operations driven. There are companies that are manufacturing driven cost driven. But Canva, every part of the company wants to just do the greatest job they can. I've never worked with people like that. It's really unusual.

    Ling Yah: How did they do it?

    Guy Kawasaki: I don't know. It's magic. They got pixie dust in the water and Sydney and I don't know it's magic. I've never seen it happen. You know, quite frankly, you just have to give credit to the three founders. It's Cameron and Cliff and Melanie.

    Ling Yah: Do you think that you had anything to do with the way that the teams are set up?

    Guy Kawasaki: The way they're set up? Probably not. No. I'm, you know, my focus was always external. It was always about building brand awareness, credibility, customer acquisition. I wasn't managing anybody inside.

    Ling Yah: Are there specific things that you always used to build that kind of brand awareness, because clearly you are fantastic at building your own brand and that you trust the company.

    Guy Kawasaki: Well, but you know what, let me tell you something.

    So I don't think about quote unquote building my brand. So I think that the way a person builds his or her brand is to affiliate or create something great.

    In my case, I've been lucky. I've been affiliated with MacIntosh and affiliated with Canva. So I don't wake up in the morning thinking how can I increase my brand awareness, my thought leadership, et cetera, et cetera.

    I don't think that Elon Musk or Steve Jobs gets up in the morning thinking about that too. Right? So Steve Jobs used to get up in the morning thinking how to make the best computer, how to make the best iPhone, iPod, iPad, retail experience. And if you do that, then guess what people have respect for you and consider you a visionary thought leader, you know, amazing person.

    So I would be astounded if he ever gave much thought to positioning himself as a thought leader, same thing with Elon Musk, same thing with Richard Branson. I don't think they care about that kind of stuff. Becoming the leaders in the famous people that they are, is a consequence of the competence that they have.

    It's not something that they decided to market.

    Ling Yah: Speaking of Richard Branson, you had a meeting with him where he got down on his knees and convinced you to join Virgin.

    Guy Kawasaki: Yeah to fly on Virgin, yeah. He polished my shoes. I've never seen anything like that. Just when I told them I was at United airlines global services. So it's the highest category of United customer and I was at, and then he asked me if I flew Virgin, I said no. And he got on his knees and started polishing my shoes.

    Ling Yah: That's amazing. And so now you are doing a podcast of your own called, remarkable people, which I love. How did you get started in podcasting?

    Guy Kawasaki: I got started in podcasting. There's two sides and one is I figured out that I had access to a lot of remarkable people and I could create a podcast where I could help people learn how to be remarkable by listening to other remarkable people. So, you know, I had that ability and good fortune.

    Another version of the story is that I was on a book tour and I asked these business podcasters, you know, about their business model. And they told me their business model and their business model is so much better than an author's business model. I said, you know, why am I killing myself, writing books?

    I should just become a podcaster. And. That's the other side of that decision.

    Ling Yah: The name of the podcastRemarkable people. I think it went through several iterations?

    Guy Kawasaki: Too many iterations. At the time I was going around and talking about my book wise guy.

    So I thought about naming it wise guy, the problem with naming it wise guy is that that implies that it's all guys wisdom and it's not guys wisdom. In fact, it's very little of guys wisdom, mostly it's my guests wisdom. And so Wise Guy did not really work.

    And then we thought, okay, so how about, you know, the wisdom of remarkable people, but that just is too long and not memorable.

    So yeah, it just became remarkable people and believe it or not, I bought that domain, remarkable for a couple thousand bucks. And we're off

    Ling Yah: You were going to call it DUH as well, which I thought was great.

    Guy Kawasaki: Well I seriously considered calling a duh. D U H? Like, you know, duh, this is why Jane Goodall is so great or done.

    This is what she learned, but people talk me out of that.

    Ling Yah: So speaking of Jane Goodall, she was your first guest on fourth, December, 2019. And you have an interesting story of how you got her onto the podcast.

    Guy Kawasaki: Yeah, it's a lesson in life because someone in Palo Alto who ran the TEDx knew of me. I didn't know this person, personally, she just knew who I was.

    And so when she got Jane Goodall, she invited me to be the interviewer of Jane Goodall. And of course that's a once in a lifetime opportunity. Although my case is now four times in my lifetime, but at that time it was the first time in my lifetime. And of course I jumped at that and that's how Jane and I became friends.

    Ling Yah: Amazing. And once you launched the Remarkable People, did it take off the way that you thought it would?

    Guy Kawasaki: No, no. I thought that I would have millions of subscribers by now and I don't, I have tens of thousands. So I freely admit I have not yet figured out how to get millions of subscribers, but I am not alone.

    Not, there's not a lot of people who have figured out how to get millions of subscribers to a podcast. Some of it may just be that you're there early, but I will tell you that there is no doubt in my mind that my pod guest, my guest list and the quality of my interview is as good as anybody in podcasting and you can dispute that. I can thank you for agreeing.

    So it's not because of the quality of the podcasts. It may be my marketing, but if I had to choose between lousy marketing and a great podcast or great marketing and allows you podcasts, guess which one I would choose. So yeah, I'll deal with it.

    Ling Yah: So, what is your schedule? Because I understand that that is the thing that you're doing apart from surfing.

    Guy Kawasaki: Well, yeah, so I just got finished surfing. So you know, basically I wake up at six 30 or seven. I drink a cup of coffee. I eat a banana and peanut butter sandwich. I just started working on email and podcasting and social media.

    I go surfing, eat lunch. Go back to work, eat dinner, go back to work. And I also do a lot of guest appearances like this, where I'm on somebody else's podcast, because this is good for the marketing of remarkable people.

    Ling Yah: And you said before to Jennifer Acker that podcasting has really added meaning into your life and you were born to be a podcaster.

    Guy Kawasaki: I am. I love the preparation. I love the interview. I love the editing and I hope that it shows in the podcast.

    It's just so delightful to be able to get to so many famous, successful people. Although not everybody on my podcast is famous. You have to be remarkable.

    You know, my podcast is called remarkable people. Not famous people and not rich people. It's called remarkable people. So you can be remarkable and not rich and not famous. And I just enjoy discovering these gems.

    Ling Yah: So, what is that criteria for remarkable? Cause I heard even in Clubhouse, some people will pitch themselves to you and be like I'm remarkable. Let me on.

    Guy Kawasaki: Yeah, well, a very good rule of thumb is very few people who pitched themselves as remarkable are remarkable. Cause, I mean, if you're Jane Goodall, Jane Goodall, doesn't call you up saying I'm Jane Goodall. I'm remarkable. Let me tell you why, okay. So that eliminates 90% of the people right there who asked to be on the podcast.

    In fact of the people who asked to be on the podcast, I think only one has ever been on it. A lot of times. A book publicist asked me and typically a book publicist who was working with a top notch author. That author is remarkable. So that just works out to our mutual benefit. They want exposure for their new book and I need somebody on my podcast.


    Ling Yah: And have you seen any impact that your podcast has had on society?

    Guy Kawasaki: That's an interesting question. I can't tell you that I can prove that the world is a better place or, you know, climate change has stopped. No, I cannot, but I have constant feedback about how the podcast has informed and inspired people.

    Ling Yah: And so the next thing I'd love to talk about before we wrap up is clubhouse. So you are a very frequent user on Clubhouse. I've loved your sessions. How do you first get on Clubhouse?

    Guy Kawasaki: You know, people have been telling me for months to get on Clubhouse, and I just kept saying, you know, I don't need another social media platform.

    I don't understand. And you know, it was supposed to be like this hot thing about Silicon Valley VCs, That doesn't move my pulse get the next hot thing with Silicon Valley VCs.

    And then finally Jeremiah Owyang just twisted my arm into doing it. I started listening to a few and then I decided, well, you never know what, if this is really successful, it's a land grab.

    You ought to start now because it's going to be too late once it's established.

    And so my activity on Clubhouse is largely defensive in the sense that I want to be there and I want to have critical mass just in case it succeeds. And if it doesn't, it doesn't, that's wasted effort, but who knows?

    The worst case would be if it does succeed. And I got to start when it's too late, that I don't want to do. It's very hard to add followers and awareness on a social media platform. After it's succeeded, you've got to start before it succeeds.

    Ling Yah: But I think that's one of the things, right. Because there are always new platforms coming up and you have to decide which platform is deserving of my time to invest in this early stage.

    Guy Kawasaki: Yeah. I mean, you know, I'm not even on Tik TOK really. So. Yeah. you know, I have finite hours in the day and interests, so yeah.

    Ling Yah: So you run AMA rooms and you were recently in Guy Raz's How I Built This room. And I've noticed in your AMA rooms, especially, you always bring females up and use your special Guy Kawasaki algorithm of the hardest to pronounce names.

    Guy Kawasaki: Well I interviewed someone, his episode appeared this week and he was the chief of staff for Jeff Bezos. he was telling me stories about the inside of Amazon. And one story was the department had very poor gender diversity.

    And so they came up with a clever idea, which is that at Amazon, you know, people get the resume and then they decide to call the initial screening call and not everybody gets the initial screening call. It's based on your resume and cover letter.

    So this department in order to increase gender diversity called every woman, and that obviously. Increase the pipeline of women for that department.

    And so I heard that story and I said, you know, guy, that is a very clever idea. So what you should do is on Clubhouse, you should only call on women.

    And so when I started on AMA and clubhouse, I tell people, listen I think women's voices have been suppressed for too long. So in my little speck of the universe, I'm going to do what I can to reverse that.

    So I only invite women. If you're a man, you will not be asked on stage and I will not give you the mic. And so be it.

    Ling Yah: Have you gotten any backlash for this?

    Guy Kawasaki: No, not really. And you know, if I do get backlash and someday I might, I would simply say to them that, listen, you know, now, you know how a woman feels. Your voice can't be heard.

    Well, tough shit. So that's how it is.

    Ling Yah: And what do you think Clubhouse needs to do to breach that gap in putting, say us the early adopters and mainstream?

    Guy Kawasaki: Well I think right now, Clubhouse is a little too much of marketers talking to other marketers.

    So I think it's too much marketers talking to marketers and we need like, chess clubs and cooking clubs and hiking, and I dunno. Transgender and, you know, whatever we need, like a myriad of tiny little clubs and rooms representing all the kinds of interests around the world.

    And it's not just marketers talking to other marketers about how to get rich quick, because there's too much of that on Clubhouse right now. That comes back to my profile, you know why I say, I don't know how to get rich quick, and I'm not a thought leader, guru or visionary.

    Ling Yah: And so one of the things that questions I've noticed you get quite often is will Canva ever host its own Clubhouse room

    Guy Kawasaki: I hope so. I mean, I think it's necessary and a good bet because I think that Canva has tens of millions of monthly active users. So I think a Canva clubhouse would be quite popular and It would fit in with the kind of people who use Canva. Of course, I can't get a club for myself or Canva.

    They don't answer my email. So what can I do?

    Ling Yah: Another thing I've noticed is that you give your email so freely all the time in your AMA rooms, it's in your book and I wonder why that is the case. Some people are so protective of it, but you just say it out all the time.

    Guy Kawasaki: You know, I say it out all the time.

    I even put my cell phone in my email signature. So my cell phone's out there all the time. And I can tell you hardly anybody calls and hardly anybody writes. So in any given clubhouse session, there's hundreds of people. And I say, okay, my email is guykawasaki@gmail and maybe two or three people write in to me.

    So they self-select.

    Now it's true that I'm a 66 year old man. I'm not sending a 19 year old hot woman, so that might have something to do with it, but it's never been a problem for me maybe cause I never been hot.

    And I think the upside of actually making contact with me is easy, far exceeds the downside of, you know, so I'll get some weird email and pitches and stuff.

    I just reject those. So it's not that hard.

    Ling Yah: So I'd love to wrap up with this question, which is, I have read your books, been in your Clubhouse rooms, you know, your talks. And I've noticed that you have shared your story so many times, but every time you've managed to keep it so fresh. And so like you're saying it for the first time and I'm just amazed.

    Because I would read your books and go, Oh, she just sat that in cup house so many times, how do you-

    Guy Kawasaki: Listen, I’m consistent. Right?

    Ling Yah: How do you keep it so fresh? Because I would imagine after so long

    Guy Kawasaki: know, maybe I'm just full of shit. I don't know. I mean, that's just what I do. That's just what I do.

    Ling Yah: Well, thank you so much, Guy.

    Guy Kawasaki: You're very welcome.

    Ling Yah: I love to end all my interviews with these questions. So for the first one, have you found your why?

    Guy Kawasaki: About six times. Yeah. Which is kind of an answer in and of itself. There's many times I thought I found my why and then I was wrong.

    Ling Yah: And what kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?

    Guy Kawasaki: The legacy is happy kids and the thought that my writing, speaking, investing and advising and podcasting and Clubhousing has empowered people.

    Ling Yah: And what do you think are the most important qualities a successful person should have?

    Guy Kawasaki: Grit. The ability and desire to work hard, trumps everything.

    Ling Yah: And read Angela Duckworth's book.

    Guy Kawasaki: Yes. Yes.

    Ling Yah: And where can people go to connect with you and support everything that you're doing?

    Guy Kawasaki: Well, I would like them to listen to my podcast because I think my podcasts can literally change their lives. And that's at remarkable

    I'm on all the social media platforms or not all, but you know, I'm Guy Kawasaki on LinkedIn, Guy Kawasaki on the Instagram, Guy on Facebook, which is, think about that.

    How many people have a three letter Facebook name?

    And then my email is guykawasaki@gmail.

    Ling Yah: And that was the end of episode 39.

    The show notes and transcript can be found at And also a link to subscribe to this podcast's weekly newsletter.

    Featuring all kinds of inspiring things and interesting things I found over the course of this week.

    And stay tuned for next Sunday, because we will be meeting a copywriter and animator duo, who have forged a unique partnership teaching personal finance in comic form via Instagram. Their content has gone viral and it's incredibly practical, insightful and relevant.

    And we also talked about the realities of being content creators and what it takes to forge a career of your own.

    Want to know more?

    See you next Sunday!

    Do you want exclusive, weekly updates on new STIMY episodes & a chance to submit your questions for upcoming guests? Sign up now!

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