Kawasaki and the Art of Innovation

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of attending a Business Leadership Seminar organized by a couple of major technology companies, in Mumbai.  This particular event was remarkably different from others in two respects: 1. Renee Mauborgne of “Blue Ocean Strategy” was one of the key speakers at the event, and 2. Guy Kawasaki was the keynote speaker, scheduled to speak on the Art of Innovation!

Now, I would’ve travelled all the way to the other end of Mumbai, at 8 in the morning, to hear any one of them speak in person!  And, here I was getting two for the price of one!!! 

Needless to add, the trip downtown was well worth the time.  Both Renee and Guy were outstanding.  And we, the audience, were left completely enthralled.

Since that day, I’ve been meaning to take the time to write a post about my key takeaway from those two speakers.  While the one on Blue Ocean will have to wait, I’d like to be able to share the essence of Guy’s speech, here…

I googled and discovered that Guy Kawasaki has posted the key points of the Art of Innovation on his blog, for the benefit of his readers.  It’s an educative post that speaks about some of the rules you need to follow, if you want to stay ahead on the Innovation Curve, and includes just gems as “Don’t Be Afraid To Polarize People” and “Think Digital, Act Analog”.

But, a bunch of words posted on a page cannot adequately capture the thrill of listening to Guy deliver his presentation.  It’s such a pleasure to hear the man speak! 

So, I was even more delighted to discover that someone (Zentation) has taken the time and effort to put together a page that not only captures his delivery via video, but also captures the actual slides he presented, so that you can get the full experience!  I’ve been through this version, and it includes 99% the content that I had the benefit of witnessing in Mumbai. 


Kawasaki: The Art of Innovation (blog post)
Zentation : The Art of Innovation (video and slides)

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  1. Hey Naveen, even i listen the speaker Renee Mauborgne in one seminar last year (at Taj lands end Bandra) It was amazing and the sae day after coming back i read about Blue Ocean Strategy online. Also about Guy Kawasaki, i heard about him during my MBA. Its great to listen to these speakers.

  2. As a venture capitalist Guy funded Gator, the original spyware/adware company. As far as I’ve seen he’s never repented and called it an experiment gone awful. Since then I haven’t bothered reading or listening to him.

  3. * Editor’s Reply *

    Michael, thanks for pointing that out. You make an interesting observation:

    Should we judge an excellent speaker, who also happens to be a venture capitalist, based on how successful his funded ventures have been?

    I’m not sure that’s such a great idea. Especially because the success of new ventures is dependent on so many variables, many of which may be beyond the control of the venture capitalist.

    In my opinion, Guy Kawasaki knows more than a thing or two about making effective presentations, and about innovation. That’s what matters to me. I focus on what I can learn from, not on all the mistakes a man may have made through the course of his life.

    P.S. If you follow his “Art of Innovation” speech, the last point Guy makes is on “bozosity”, giving an appropriate example of how he himself has made BIG mistakes in his past!

  4. Normally I’d agree, if the issue were business failure.

    But the issue with Gator wasn’t failure. It was actually very successful until the web community came together to collectively shut it down. Put simply, Gator was an unethical company. To reiterate, their original business model was to replace the advertisements that run on people’s websites — people who create content and attract users — with Gator’s ads. This robs the content creator of the financial reward for their work and redirects that to Gator. As if that weren’t bad enough Gator then used questionable methods to deploy the software that replaced the advertisements; software that was oftentimes downloaded and installed inadvertently by novice users and was unnecessarily difficult to remove.

    Business failures happen, and the best venture capitalists have many stories of ventures that did not work. If they don’t they aren’t taking adequate risk. But there is a line between innovative business model and outright scams. For example, mugging people may be a great business model if one looks at financial success but we outlaw it for a reason. Kawasaki and Gator either came very close to or arguably crossed that line.

    There are many companies in Silicon Valley and the Internet community that will not associate with anybody who had anything to do with Gator; having a Gator affiliation in one’s past is a career death sentence for everybody except Kawasaki. Somehow Kawasaki has managed to remain relatively unharmed, probably because he had a sterling reputation before, he’s charismatic, and very bright.

    Guy’s “bozosity” is about businesses making mistakes in operations or execution, but doesn’t seem to address a complete ethical meltdown at the business model level. Assuming he monitors posts about himself it’d be interesting to see him address these issues. How about it Guy? Tell us the story behind how you came to fund Gator and, in retrospect, what you learned from that decision.

  5. * Editor’s Reply *

    Excellent points, Michael. I must confess I was not aware of these details with respect to Gator.

    I agree with you on the ethical meltdown at the business model. I don’t condone it, and neither should you.

    I’d love to hear Guy’s response to it, too! Maybe you should post this comment on his blog and see if he responds? Keep me posted…

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