Maybe it’s because he said he doesn’t want any new friends. Maybe it’s because his last name is the name of a motorcycle company. Maybe it’s because we share a hobby of not speaking to people we’re seated next to on airplanes. Or maybe it’s because everything he says completely resonates with my perspective on the tech world right now. No matter the reason, I want to be best friends with Guy Kawasaki.
Guy Kawasaki is a Silicon Valley author, investor, business advisor, former Chief Evangelist at Apple, and future best friend of yours truly. He was one of the first speakers at LeWeb Paris, and started by proclaiming, “If you look at the past, it’s impossible to predict the future” as the perfect antithesis to the theme of the conference. During his half hour conversation with LeWeb founder Loic Le Meur, Kawasaki used this framework to describe the future of entrepreneurialism, social media, and general technology.
He is the kind of guy who just “gets it.” He is certainly not the kind of person who entertains bullshit, cutting straight to the point when advising entrepreneurs to focus on developing a kickass prototype instead of trying to waste everyone’s time with Powerpoint pitches that are based more on fancy guesswork than reality. When it comes to tech culture he has a refreshing eye-roll attitude, even quizzing the audience about how many would realistically want to walk around wearing a Google Glass on their face. The result was pretty low.
During his time on stage we learned that he is a believer in the power of great content as a vehicle for brand propagation, following the NPR model of only asking for something after providing an amazing, unique experience to consumers. This deviates from the oh-so-standard norm of companies demanding evangelism up front only to fall flat on the promises they’ve made to the marketplace. He views social media as a means to an end, not a platform for accumulating superficial meta-friendships that distract from what’s meaningful in life.
What ultimately resonated most with me was his response to a question asked about his position on women in the tech world. In an industry full of men and dominated by males, his answer was deeply refreshing:
“If you limit yourself to men only you make it so much harder. Why would you set up artificial barriers for your company? It’s stupid to me. I don’t care what gender, religion, orientation you are. Just show me a great frickin’ prototype.”
So even though Guy Kawasaki isn’t in the market for new social acquaintances, I am happy enough to have his message as a template to follow when it comes to identifying what’s important in the development of a company. Perhaps one day we will be seated next to each other on a plane, and our friendship will develop when we both say nothing.