Guy Kawasaki: Q&A Session

Q&A Session: Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki Q&A Session is happening on May 22nd 2019 at 9:00 AM PST (12:00 PM EST)

Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online, graphics-design service, and an executive fellow at the Haas School of Business at U.C. Berkeley. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is the author of The Art of the Start 2.0, The Art of Social Media, Enchantment and 10 other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.
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Guy Kawasaki – Transcript

Q&A Session with Guy Kawasaki @ Canva

May 22nd, 2019

What is your best tip for spurring creativity?

Best method: putting yourself in the shoes of your customer. Second best method: experiencing a corporate near death

What’s the worst advice you’ve ever received that actually sounded like great advice at the time?

Quit Apple

With a lot of competing priorities what framework do you use to ensure you are working on the most important things

I don’t. I do everything and afterwards, if successful, I say that I knew what was the right priorities

What industries/markets are you eying these days that you find advantageous and bullish on?

Well, online graphics —

What book would you recommend to someone building a career in marketing?

Absolute Value –

Is there any book you would consider a must-read?

Besides my own? 🙂 – If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland

What kind of advice would you give on starting a SaaS? What’s the thing to watch out or be careful for?

Focus on the prototype

Today, with the power of social media posts and public reviews, how can a company make sure that the voice of “evangelists” is louder than those of the “detractors?” and what are ways that small/growing brands can start using evangelist strategies? Thanks again!

Make good shit

What first steps would you take if trying to aid 8 regional offices around the world in staying ‘on brand’ when they care very little about brand? Besides using Canva…we already are.

You took the words right out of my mouth. I would fire the first person who doesn’t stay on brand.

Share your thoughts on Messaging Platforms like Slack. (Since we are in Slack)

Never seen Slack used like this. Quite clever. My issue with Slack and others is that there’s one more place to check stuff. Not Slack’s fault per se.

Who are some people you are following, learning from? What podcasts do you listen to..or general people that you are learning from?

I listen to Fresh Air, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Freakonomics. I don’t really follow/pay attention to others on social media. I view my role as a curator of news–particularly, political. So my main tools are Google News and SmartNews

What is your biggest professional failure, and the lesson you learnt from it that you could share with us?

I really should not have quit Apple. Lesson: the grass isn’t always greener. Take care of the lawn you’re on.

When do you think that the combination of AI/Tech will take over creative design? i.e. we search for stock photos but what if we gave a machine a creative brief and they in return give us a creative asset? Is this or will this be the next big thing?

I guess that could happen, but to me, art is art. I hope this doesn’t happen in my lifetime.

Do you follow a morning/evening routine? If so, what’s the most important item for you in each?

I wake up, make breakfast for my son, take him to school, then answer email and do social media until it’s time to get him.

What is your advice to Indian marketers? Where can we improve?

My advice wouldn’t be any different for Indian entrepreneurs as any other .

What are your thoughts on brands that develop assets (color schemes, typography, icons) that change based on their usage, as opposed to the usually perfect consistency most brands enforce?

Not my cup of time. I like consistency.

My Girlfriend ask how can she get a Job in Social Media in your Company?

Do great work and move to Sydney

If your goal was to create a profitable service business (like a marketing agency) that doesn’t require your ongoing involvement long-term what key steps or pieces would be necessary to accomplish that? Additionally to have the ability to sell the business in the future are there additional steps/pieces that are needed? Thanks!

Hire people much better than yourself and set them free

As a tech-heavy consultancy specializing in a very small niche of search marketing for franchises, social media seems like the most challenging thing in the world (I mean how interesting is local SEO?). Any recommendations for how you might start to build a following and earn engagement in such a bland industry (or any bland industry)?

Post good shit

What are the *top 3 universal marketing rules* to follow, regardless of market, customer profile, location, language, etc.

Make good shit. Post good shit. Make sure your support isn’t shit.

How do you think video is going to change business evangelism over the next few years?

I think it already has. Video is the new graphics. It’s compulsory.

So much of marketing seems to be copying others and the approaches of the past, how do you keep your ideas fresh?

You have to know what to copy. That’s the key.

What is your favorite book?

If You Want to Write plus anything by Lee Child.

What may be the key potential takeaways for marketers from your new Wise Guy book that features “Miso soups for the soul” (I love miso soup!)?

Key takeaway for marketers: always add value to earn the right to promote.

What was the biggest challenge you faced when you were at Apple?

Getting companies to finish their Mac software!

Where is Canva going next?


I run a venture backed tech startup, obviously always busy. My wife also runs her own business. We’re expecting our first baby at the end of August. I know you have a big family and a crazy schedule. Any advice on balancing family and business?

Work your ass off. There is not magic solution. It’s going to be a challenge. But worth it.

Could you share us your secret mantra behind your investments?

Most of my assets are with an investment advisor. I never dabble in stocks. My early-stage investments are purely emotional and gut–ie, what I fall in love with. Loved G+. I think Google gave up on it too early. With what happened to Facebook, G+ could be sitting pretty now.

If you’re launching a high end product where the brand story is a large part of the value should you do a kickstarter or seek private funding?


How can a non american based startup seek capital/investment from the US without having to relocate or open an office in the US.

Very hard. Canva did it, but this is harder. You better have a really compelling product.

How do you go about keeping your focus on the big picture without getting sucked into daily tasks and issues?

I don’t know. It’s not something I’ve mastered.

Who or what inspires you on a daily basis?

Nothing. I don’t need external inspiration. I just grind out the work.

What projects (if you can speak toward them) or industry trends are you excited for in the near term?

Canva, Mercedes, and Privy are main projects right now.

Advice/or tips for managing expectations with management?

Under promise and over deliver!

Any suggestions for Social Media Marketing agencies on how to prove RoI better?

Always try to add value to people’s lives. It’s not about what you want to post. It’s about what people want to learn. Earn the right to promote by adding value.

With all these years of experience could you tell us “is there a secret sauce” or is it just pure grit, determination and a bit of luck?

90% luck and 90% work. Yes, I know that adds up to more than 100%

My question is how do you find investors for individual projects that you’re working on? Specifically, I’m seeking tech investors. And then how do I find the leads to market the project to? We can’t just subscribe people to our newsletters:blush: what’s been a successful approach? Thank you in advance.

You find people with credibility like other CEOs, corporate finance attorneys, professors. Get them to intro you. Cold calls never work.

What method or resources would you recommend for those interested in marketing who otherwise don’t have access to a formal education in the field?

Read Enchantment

I work in journalism marketing and fundraising (an NPR station, and now, ProPublica). As a big reader of journalism, do you wish the industry were doing anything differently? In how it presents itself, funds itself, etc.?

Wish I had an answer for you. NPR and Wikipedia prove that if you add value, you can successfully ask for money.

Advice on channeling motivation for the next big jump in your career?

Not sure what you’re asking. There’s only 3 motivations: money, doing good, and mastery. Pick what works for you.

If you could choose between hyper-intelligence, or obscene wealth, which would you choose?

Neither, I’d pick family time.

I’m just about to follow your 10 slide pitch deck process. Is it still the best route to go when designing a pitch deck?

Yes, for sure. 10-20-30. BTW, you can make your presentation in Canva and then save to PPT format.

What do you do as the Chief Evangelist at Canva? Just curious how a day as Chief Evangelist looks like

Evangelism comes from a Greek word that means “bringing the good news.” I spread the good news of Canva. That is, how it enables anyone to make great graphics. So my job is to make people aware of this in any way that I can.

What do you consider your single greatest professional achievement? i.e. what work are you most proud of?

Probably evangelizing Macintosh. But overall, my greatest achievements are staying married and my kids.

When you were starting out in your career, what do you wish you would have made a higher priority?

I wish I knew more about programming and engineering not so that I could be an engineer, but so that I could tell when they are lying.

How many of your business meetings do you think are a waste vs. productive?

90% productive because I hardly do any. It takes an act of God for me to meet with people.

Any thoughts on how one can get better at articulating the value of a product or even oneself?

Always think of a graph where the vertical axis measures Uniqueness and the horizontal measures Value. All of marketing boils down to having something Unique and Valuable. The upper right corner.

Ask and you shall be given! One more question – you mentioned NPR model on adding value. Care to elaborate on it please?

NPR/Wikipedia model: provide such great content that people feel obligated to donate money. This is in Wise Guy too.

How do you feel that the Internet has impacted employment? Are there particular benefits to living in a city with a lot of opportunities for say, digital marketers and other creatives, versus exclusively remote work? Is moving to a city like that necessary?

Too big an issue to answer. Too many variables–eg, lifestyle choices. Some like cities and face to face. Some like remote and flexibility.

Isn’t IP protection an issue with Kickstarters?

If listing your product on Kickstarters means it’s no longer viable, you don’t have a product.

You’ve seen a ton of companies. Any example where majority of employees _don’t_ get sucked into the meeting vortex (always being in a ton of meetings)?

Honestly, it’s been about 22 years since I worked in a big company. BECAUSE I hate meetings.

What advice would you give to someone starting a company in an emerging market, assembled from a ragtag group of inexperienced but passionate people, that offers multiple services and products? Most of the time, is pairing down the business to a single product crucial for success, regardless of how well it’s being managed?

The issue is HOW you pare (not pair) down. If the market clearly signals what it wants, then that’s good. But you may pare down and be wrong. Or you may pare down right and then you can declare victory. All these methods can work. There is no right answer.

How do you handle “office politics” on your teams, or across teams?

I don’t have an office. It’s just me in a coffee shop or on an airplane.

Thanks for joining us today! Which aspects of digital marketing do you think are often undervalued by most and should be made more of a priority?

I think that email is under-appreciated because it’s old tech. But it may still be the best.

How do you see the progress of AI and Automation in Marketing supporting agencies and their growth as opposed to “taking jobs away”

AI and automation can do the boring, repetitive stuff. I believe marketing is and will be an art for a long time.

here do you think the future of video marketing is heading? Specifically youtube since on average 40 minutes is spent on youtube, as opposed to 35 for facebook and 25 on snapchat.

No question that video is the future. It’s just so hard to make great video….

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