Kawasaki Offers Leadership Tips, Apple Insight

Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki

Renowned entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki explored leadership and innovation at a sold-out luncheon Nov. 3 in Westmont’s Global Leadership Center. Kawasaki’s speech, part of the Mosher Center’s series on Moral and Ethical Leadership in American Society, offered practical ways to influence and persuade people and change their minds in a moral and ethical way.

Kawasaki said one of the keys to success is being likeable. He told the story of meeting with Richard Branson in Moscow, who asked him if he flew Virgin Atlantic Airways, which Branson founded. Kawasaki said he wasn’t willing to jeopardize his Global Services standing with United Airlines.

“At that moment, he got down on his knees and started polishing my shoes with his jacket,” Kawasaki said. “So that’s the moment I started flying with Virgin Airlines.”

Kawasaki serves as the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool, brand ambassador for Mercedes-Benz since 2015, and an executive fellow of the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. As the chief evangelist at Apple, he worked with Steve Jobs to launch Macintosh. He left Apple in 1987 to start ACIUS, the Macintosh database company that published 4th Dimension. Kawasaki returned to Apple as an Apple Fellow in 1995, and in 2013 he joined Google as an adviser to Motorola. He has written  “Art of the Start,” “The Art of Social Media,” “Enchantment” and nine other books, covering a range of topics, including social media, and self-publishing.

Kawasaki says trustworthiness is another important trait of a champion. “You have to trust others before you can expect them to trust you,” he said. He explained that he never thought Zappos would be successful selling shoes to women who couldn’t see, smell and try on the shoes first. “Why did Zappos succeed?” he asked. “Because women trusted Zappos. And why do women trust Zappos? Because Zappos has the world’s best return policy. They pay shipping both ways. You don’t like the shoe, send it back, they will pay.”

Kawasaki and President Gayle D. Beebe

Kawasaki and President Gayle D. Beebe

Kawasaki emphasized the importance of innovation. He described how the ice-harvesting business gave way to ice factories, which gave way to refrigerators. “No company went from ice harvesting to ice factory to refrigerator,” he said, “because most companies define themselves in terms of what they already do. If you truly want to innovate, you need to get to the next curve.”

Following his presentation, Kawasaki sat down with President Gayle D. Beebe and reminisced about his days working with Apple and co-founder Steve Jobs.

“The company that did the most for Macintosh and arguably saved Apple, was Aldus Pagemaker, which created a market called desktop publishing.” He said. “If it was not for desktop publishing, Apple would have died. Imagine the world without Apple. Wrap your mind around that.”

After a pause, he jokingly continued, “You would have phone batteries that last more than half a day, GPS would actually work and Siri would understand what you say.

“I know we’re at a Christian college and this isn’t exactly C.S. Lewis-level reasoning, but one of the reasons I believe in God is there is no other explanation for Apple’s continuous survival.”

Kawasaki describes Gates as an inspiring visionary such as Walt Disney and Elon Musk. “I think the world is a lot less interesting without Steve Jobs,” Kawasaki said. “Right now, he is telling God what to do. He is also working on Universe 2.0, so if you didn’t like Universe 1.0, stick around. Having said that, I can tell you Universe 2.0, designed by Steve Jobs, is going to be late, it’s going to be expensive, and none of your cables are going to work.”

The Mosher Center also sponsors the 2018 Lead Where You Stand Conference June 6-8 at the Global Leadership Center with keynote speakers Doris Kearns Goodwin, David Brooks and Lynda Weinman. Tickets to the three-day event, which include all materials, parking and meals, cost $499. Registration will open soon online at westmont.edu/lead.