Rules for Revolutionaries

The Capitalist Manifesto for Creating and Marketing New Products and Services
by Guy Kawasaki
with Michele Moreno
ISBN: 088730995X

Kawasaki’s book is ostensibly aimed at would-be visionaries looking for business guidance, so they can rule the world. Or something like that. Really, the audience for the book is bigger than that — it is a book for motivated folks who want to kick ass while avoiding stupid mistakes other people have made. And to not sell their souls to the devil or Microsoft in the process. (Kawasaki was/is a famous Apple evangelist.)

The book reads more like an annotated syllabus than a detailed how-to manual. This isn’t necessarily bad — it just means that though the work gets talked about, the real effort happens elsewhere. There is homework (Kawasaki lists required reading at the end of each chapter) and calls-to-action work (“make evangelists, not sales”) and the bizarre-sounding yet ultimately sensible work of eating like a bird and pooping like an elephant. Yes, he really says that. Yes, he really does make sense by the end of that chapter.

Much of what Kawasaki says seems like common sense:

  • On hiring — “Wrong people drive out right people and not vice versa!”
  • On the churning model — “It means constantly revising the product with two goals in mind: making customers happy and staying ahead of the competition.”
  • On figuring out if you’ve got something revolutionary on your hands — “[another] way to determine if you’ve passed the order of magnitude test is to see if you and your colleagues have come to depend on the new product or service for your own success.”

Commons sense to the kind of people who understand or want to understand what it means to not just eat, but love their own dog food, anyway. This is not everyone; this probably isn’t even most people. However, it may be most people who work in technology, or sales and marketing, or have entreprenurial tendencies.

As someone whose job title will soon include the word evangelist, I was particularly interested in the chapter on evangelism. According to Kawasaki, the difference between an evangelist and salesperson is whose interests they have at heart — the evangelist has the other person’s, and the salesperson has their own. Evangelism, in other words, really is for true believers. (Which I knew.)

So, if you are need of a better plan than Brain ever comes up with for taking over the world, or simply have never read a “BusinessWeek Bestseller” but have been at least mildy curious about the genre, this book that will yield at least a few good ideas and some resonant head-nodding. If your interest is more serious than that, and you are looking more for advice you can quickly grab on the go than for meticulously presented case studies, then this is probably for you, too. Recommended.

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