The tech and marketing guru offers stories from his life and career.
Born in Hawaii in 1954 and noted as the evangelist for Apple’s Macintosh in the 1980s, Kawasaki (The Art of the Start 2.0, 2015, etc.) is now “chief evangelist” at Canva, the graphic design website. In this book of inspiration and advice, he describes his working-class youth as the grandson of Japanese immigrants, his education at Stanford, and highlights from his years as an entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and marketer. Organized around nearly a dozen themes (“Education,” “Apple,” “Values,” etc.), the book consists of short anecdotes about life decisions followed by nuggets of wisdom drawn from each story. Results vary: The anecdotes are entertaining, reflecting varied experiences, from learning how to sell at a jewelry company to career-defining work under Steve Jobs to the joy of raising his children to his love of sports. The wisdom bits are often trite or cloying: “Seek opportunities.” “Respect authority.” “Do the right thing.” “Help people and be generous.” And so on, with tiresome predictability. Kawasaki’s candor, however, is refreshing: “Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than smart,” he writes of a Stanford friendship that led to his Apple job. And: “It’s very hard to evangelize crap.” There is also payback for Hillary Clinton’s “hubris” in rejecting his offer of social media help in her presidential campaign. Kawasaki is direct, funny, and sometimes contradictory. “Be humble,” he writes in a book with more than 20 photos of himself with others. His soft side is balanced by fearless practicality on the key to success: “Life is sales.” There is a genuine desire to share lessons learned and help readers get ahead. Do what’s right (he resisted Trump), find challenging teachers, avoid paranoia, and set goals, even superficial ones, if you want to succeed.
Kawasaki is a likable guy, but this one is best browsed to avoid saccharine overload.