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Wise Guy

Back in 2013, while I was working as Human Resources Director for the City of Medford, Oregon, I was pleased to be asked to be an early reader of an interesting publication called APE: Author-Publisher-Entrepreneur by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch.  This was an amazing guide for budding authors and even experienced ones seeking to move into the digital age. Of course, that meant I got added to Guy’s collection of followers, and this year, he asked if I’d like to join a group of reviewers for a pre-publication copy of Guy’s 15th book: Wise Guy, to be released Tuesday (Feb. 26) by Penguin Random House/Portfolio Books.

Guy says Wise Guy is his most personal book, and is not a traditional memoir but a series of vignettes. It reflects a wide range of experiences that have enlightened and inspired him.  He tells stories from his childhood in Hawaii, his education at Stanford and UCLA, his first job in the jewelry business, work for Steve Jobs at Apple, and his adoption of surfing at the age of 62.

Guy, who served, as he puts it, two “tours of duty” for Apple (from 1983-1987 and 1995-97), writes extensively and distills his experience there into 11 points of wisdom:

• Only excellence matters.
• Customers can’t tell you what they need.
• Innovation happens on the next curve.
• Design counts
• Less is more.
• Big challenges beget big accomplishments.
• Changing your mind is a sign of intelligence.
• Engineers are artists.
• Price and value are not the same thing.
• But value isn’t enough.
• Some things need to be believed to be seen.

While expressing that he “made a mistake” at not returning for a third tour when asked by Steve Jobs to run Apple University, he clearly says if he had stayed at Apple, he wouldn’t have started companies, become a venture capitalist, advised dozens of other entrepreneurs and written more than a dozen books.

The points distilled from his years at Apple are instructive, but they are only four pages of this easily read 260-page book though the book contains more on his Apple years. Guy covers everything from moral values to business skills to parenting. As he writes, “I hope my stories help you live a more joyous, productive, and meaningful life. If Wise Guy succeeds at this, then that’s the best story of all.”

In addition to his story telling, I found most enlightening his 10 lessons in the chapter he calls Postpartum:

• Get high and to the right (be unique and valuable).
• Adopt a growth mindset (among others, he recommends Carol Dweck’s book Mindset, which is a fascinating work of its own).
• Embrace grit (achieving success is hard work).
• Smile (there’s no such thing as being too nice).
• Default to yes (say no only after contemplating information)
• Raise the tide (life is not a zero-sum game).
• Pay it forward (do good works and make the world a better place.
• Examine everything (healthy skepticism not negativity)
• Never lie, seldom shade (lying takes too much time and energy).
• Enable people to pay you back (fostering self-worth in others).

I thoroughly enjoyed Wise Guy, and enthusiastically recommend it.

Here is where you can buy it:

Posted in Booknotes, Main.

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