Good Book, No Overdue Fine!

Summer reading that can help your revolution…

I was looking for a specific title on the shelf in the business section of the library, but a familiar name across the spine of the book caught my eye. I thought – hey – Guy Kawasaki – that’s one of the bloggers I follow, I wonder what he’s writing about there. Pulling the book from the shelf, I scanned the contents. In this book, Guy lays out the “rules” one has to break in order to succeed in creating a revolutionary product. Aside from generally enjoying Guy’s writing style, this topic interested me because of a side project I’m working on.

And so I left the library with Guy Kawasaki’s “Rules for Revolutionaries” in hand, anticipating a great read. I wasn’t disappointed!

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With no overdue fine

If you have followed my book review history, you’ve noticed two things; 1) I use the local library system, and 2) I have trouble scheduling my reading and book borrowing habits. This time, I must have done something right because I was able to borrow the book and finish it without running over my time limit. Of course, I don’t regret giving money to support the library when a book is overdue, and yes, I do try to return things when I am done so that other people can enjoy them, but it’s always nice when I can return things without incurring a fine!-)

Subtitles, subtitles…

Guy’s book carries the subtitle: “The Capitalist Manifesto for Creating and Marketing New Products and Services”, and to understand the theme of the book, you have to look at Guy’s history. He came into his own as an evangelist for Apple with a devotion to the (then) new Mac line. He penned this book in 1999 as a summary of do’s and don’ts for those looking to make an impact. He takes his insights from the things that worked (and didn’t work) at Apple as well as looking around for signs that the situation there was not unique.

People have been introducing new products and services since the beginning of time – the question is what fruit are you offering and why should anyone be interested?-)

Create like a God – section one

The first third of the book covers Guy’s opening rule – the thing that you are creating has to be great!

It doesn’t matter if you are putting out an incremental improvement for an established product. That just isn’t significant enough. It has to be better than that – you have to break new ground. Once you have this innovative product, you have to a) get something to the market quickly, and b) be ready with successive updates to this product to keep it fresh and moving forward.

Command like a King – section two

The best new products will still fail if the strategy behind them goes awry. The leaders of a revolution need to pave the way – make sure the product is easy to use, find evangelists in the real world that get the idea, and stay lined up for success.

This last item is a difficult area to learn from, but the thinking is that if other companies have failed because they tried to make their product appeal to every person in every situation, you should observe that lesson and not repeat it yourself!

Work like a Slave – section three

Learn all you can, leave your mark, be excellent at what you do, and treat people well. It’s not difficult, and it sums up Guy’s advice from the “There’s a lot of hard work ahead” point of view. What he says isn’t necessarily different from what anyone else says, but his emphasis is that regular companies (ie – most everyone else) don’t do all of these things. They take power away from workers, and stifle the flow of ideas and excitement. To be a revolutionary, you need to tap into these things and utilize them, not suppress them.

Price, what’s that?

Reflecting on the overall message in this book, I thought of something that isn’t part of that message – price. While cost and price is always a factor, revolutionaries are less sensitive than others. If the current version of widget XYZ is $100, your new improved version is constrained in price by the opportunity people have of buying the old version.

If your product is charting new waters – the price depends on what it is the product does and its perceived value to the buyer. And that’s where it’s going to succeed.

Footnote – one year of Timely Insights on the Net

While August wasn’t a good month for publishing on the site, it looks like we’ve successfully reached our one-year anniversary. I’d like to give a nod to John for everything that goes into keeping the site up and helping me turn some crusty ideas into articles.

[Steve makes my job easy. Always a pleasure working with him. – Ed.]

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