CEO offers top 10 list for revolutionaries

LONG BEACH, Calif. — It might not have been as funny as a David Letterman top 10 list, but Letterman’s probably won’t make you rich.

In the final keynote at BorCon, Borland Software Corp.’s 12th annual user conference, Guy Kawasaki delivered his top 10 list for revolutionaries to a packed house. To be a revolutionary, he said, you must know the difference between revolution and evolution.

“(It’s) not about doing things 10 per cent better, or 15 per cent better, or 25 per cent better,” said the author of Rule for Revolutionaries. “It is about jumping the curve, changing the world. It is about paradigm shifts, it is big leaps. It’s not about duking it out on the same curve — that’s evolutionary.”

And that is rule No. 1 according to the CEO of Garage Technology Ventures, an investment bank that helps companies raise $2 million to $10 million in their first or second round of financing.

Rule number two: Don’t get hung up on whether the product or service is perfect. In Kawasaki’s words, “Version 1.0 means never having to say you’re sorry.”

Kawasaki cited the example of the first laser printer. It was slow, expensive, and could only print on 8.5 by 11-inch paper and on one side, he said, but the quality was better than anything out there.

This is not a licence, however, to be “crappy” forever. Kawasaki said while the product will never be perfect, it can still be improved.

While there are tremendous challenges on the technology front, those looking to shake up the world face no greater challenge than on the human side, and the biggest hurdle is inertia. People are pretty happy with the status quo, according to Kawasaki, and aren’t looking to rock the boat.

To overcome this you’ll need evangelists. Kawasaki said that at the start of a revolution it is more important to have people spreading the word than making sales.

At it’s core, he said, a revolution is about making the world a better place, and you’ll need people to turn technology into that cause.

After that, Kawasaki advised, let what you’ve started take on a life of its own.

“You will often see that people will use your revolution in ways you did not anticipate. Not only that, it may be people you did not intend to become your customers, and lots of people freak out when they see this. They say, ‘The wrong people are buying my product and they’re using it for the wrong reason.'”

Let them, he argued. A sale is a sale.

The next step is to learn as much as you can and share the knowledge. What’s important in this process, he said, is to not rely on experts. Get out and do your own research and fact-finding.

Kawasaki said companies must think digital, but act analogue. By this he means the technology must create a personal touch. This goes hand-in-hand with never asking someone to do something you yourself would never do.

He used the example of a Web site with great content, and “all you have to do is fill out a little registration form with 65 fields of personal information. You wouldn’t do that, so why does that company ask you to do that?”

Lastly, don’t let anyone crush your dream. Kawasaki said it’s easy to dismiss the unsuccessful naysayers, but you must also dismiss the successful ones. He used a personal example to prove his point.

Five years ago he was asked to interview for the CEO position at Yahoo! He declined, saying it was too far to drive (an hour away) and he didn’t see how you could make Yahoo! into a business. He acknowledged he wouldn’t have necessarily won the job, nor would it necessarily been as successful. But he said he is sure about one thing.

“I would have been there long enough to invest one year of options. So by my calculation that’s a US$2 billion mistake.”

Vive la revolutione.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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