Guy Kawasaki on books every businessmen should read5 min read

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photo: Thomas Hawk

Apple evangelist and startup legend recommends

“Influence: Science andPractice” by Robert B. Cialdini

–from Kawasaki’s personal blog

The book of this series also recommended by Charlie Munger, mentioned in Warren Buffett: Best Business Books

Dr. Cialdini, Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University, writes this book around one basic problem and solution: how to get people to say that magic ‘yes’ word. His experience in advertising, fundraising, and sales gave him the necessary yes tools, to be passed on to others. This is distilled, easy-to-read research centered around persuasion and compliance. The six psychological categories work in pairs. Consistency breeds reciprocity, social proof (or socially informed influence) only really works with likeability, and authority is bolstered by issues of scarcity.

 “The Effective Executive: TheDefinitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done” by Peter F. Drucker

–from Kawasaki’s personal blog

Also recommended by Jeff Bezos

Though published in 1967, Drucker’s best-seller still has wisdom to share on management theory and implementation. Since effectiveness is a learned skill and not an inherent gift, all that’s needed for effectiveness is practice of the right principles. From systematic management of the most valuable resource (time), to expanding on strengths (rather than weaknesses), leaders must banish the spirit of generalization and channel their team’s efforts toward a few priorities. This gets organizations out of the problem-solving trap, opens up new avenues to explore, and allows executives to distill fact-based evidence from opposite viewpoints into a decision with a deadline.

“The Pumpkin Plan: A SimpleStrategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field” by Mike Michalowicz

Guy Kawasaki

Also mentioned in Best Marketing Books According To Seth Godin

Ordinary businesses built by ordinary people – can grow into extraordinary enterprises. Michalowicz, also known for his other best-seller The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, approaches business with the eye of a pumpkin farmer. To get beyond the ‘sell it – do it’ cycle of frustration, entrepreneurs can move beyond long pointless hours with a few methods: plant, weed, nurture. Focusing on the good pumpkins, and casting out the bad, allows business owners to harness the true strength of their business: the best customers. Pass over quantity for quality, and find the business sweet spot.

“Uncommon Genius: How GreatIdeas are Born” by Denise Shekerjian

–from Kawasaki’s personal blog

After interviewing forty award-winners from the McArthur Foundation Fellowship, Shekerjian saw some common key characteristics: resiliency, environment massaging, an ability to hone personal talents, instinctive risk-takers. By blocking out the lure of swift resolution, and minimizing research-oriented tasks, prize winners such as Peter Sellars and Derek Walcott leaped past obstacles that leave most creative types in the dust. Other important topics, from despair and madness to travel and instict, all play a role in making dreams come true.

“Crossing the Chasm: Marketingand Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers” by Geoffrey A. Moore

–from Kawasaki’s personal blog

While some marketing examples may be inapplicable, the concepts are still evergreen. Being disciplined in establishing a targeted customer beachhead with early adopters, before expanding to take over a larger marketing share with everyday consumers, is still relevant to high-tech launches. Momentum is still key in harnessing the early adopter’s desire to help in the product’s ongoing creation. So is guarding against ‘vapor vare’, or the marketing launch of a product with severe developmental issues. Since no age has conquered the desire to beat down visionaries’ ideas with pragmatism, this book remains a valuable tool.

“Inevitable Illusions: HowMistakes of Reason Rule Our Minds” by Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini

–from Kawasaki’s personal blog

We may guard ourselves against optical illusions, but mental illusions of cognition are more difficult because they keep us from following the path of reason, says Piatelli-Palmarini. Biases and mental sand-traps can turn intuition astray, but there are ways around the seven sins of cognition – including the confidence that comes with reasoning from a wrong premise. From avoiding mental shortcuts leading down blind alleyways (heuristics), to calculating the unknown and escaping the pessimism tunnel, to the importance of framing statistics, any fan of Malcolm Gladwell’s work such as Blink or The Tipping Point will also want to read this book.

“Mastering the Dynamics ofInnovation” by James M. Utterback

–from Kawasaki’s personal blog

A dominant design’s purpose is to become so useful that industries and individuals alike take it for granted. Market dominance is difficult to predict, and becoming part of the landscape of design may be even harder. It is a complex blend between what consumers truly want and the refining process of competition. Using complex assembly examples from the late 19th century, from gas lamps to fluorescent lighting and all of the various stages of the computer (beginning with the Remington typewriter), the author shows the interrelated nature of product and process. Essentially, this book displays innovation theory worked out in historical and business examples.

“The Innovator’sDilemma” by Clayton M. Christensen

–from Kawasaki’s personal blog

Also recommended by Mark Cuban, Malcolm Gladwell, Steve Jobs, Andrew Grove, Evan Williams

Out of Harvard Business School Press has come a ‘must’ on the business book list – Christensen’s explanation of why technology changes can derail established companies. He points out the strengths of the companies who use best management practices (listening, aggressive investment in customer demands) but get side-swiped by the paradigm shifts that inevitably happen when disruptive technologies emerge. The cheaper and simpler technology of disk drives, for example, became increasingly more convenient to customers, who then demanded enough to establish that technology in the marketplace – above its competitors.

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