In his new book, Guy Kawasaki calls it “enchantment.” The general idea is if you want to change the world, you have to get people on your side. And if you want to get people on your side, you have to delight them. Enchantment is about how to do that.
We recently chatted with the former Chief Evangelist at Apple about the art of enchantment, and what it means for making ideas happen. It turns out that – aside from making a fantastic product – it’s very much about something pretty basic: being a good person.
What role does sharing your dream with your potential customers or users play in the success of a company?
The pillars of enchantment are likeability, trustworthiness, and greatness. Greatness refers to the quality of your product, service, idea – in other words, your cause. Sharing your dream is a key part of enchantment for two reasons. First, you can’t assume that people know how great your cause is. You need to share knowledge about it to help people understand it. The world doesn’t beat a path to your door even if you created a better mousetrap.Second, the goal of enchantment is deep, long-lasting, and delightful engagement. These qualities are not the result of mere transactions. Apple shared the Macintosh dream of empowerment, creativity, and productivity. When you buy a Macintosh, it’s not a sales transaction. It’s embracing a way of life. This is why Apple enchants people and other computer manufacturers “close a sale.”
I get the impression that Apple didn’t have that dream of empowerment and creativity from Day 1. How did the company grow into that approach?
Like most great tech companies, the origin of Apple was probably closer to “let’s build what we want to use” and “it would be cool if” than a bigger dream of empowerment. Or, maybe even more accurately, perhaps Apple’s customers have decided that this is what it means to them. Ultimately, a company’s customers position it.
A lot of what you talk about in Enchantment seems to be about reciprocity and accessibility.
By definition, it’s hard for people to know that you’re likable and trustworthy without engagement. I suppose marketing and advertising could fool people for a while, but long-term enchantment is unlikely without engagement.Don’t get me wrong: soul-bearing, looking-into-the-eyes of everyone isn’t possible – or completely necessary. Simply answering emails, tweets, comments, and updates within 24 hours will make you better than most people.
Enchantment requires simple courtesy and civility. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately for readers of my book, such courtesy and civility aren’t very common anymore, so it’s easy to stand out.
Can a great product be successful without a larger vision?
Sure, the whole vision thing is overrated. Most entrepreneurs don’t have a grand, long-term vision for the product or service that they’re building. At the start, the right attitude is, “It would be cool if…” rather than “Someday this will all be ours.” Megalomaniacs are seldom enchanting or successful.
People with grandiose and complex visions bite off more than they can chew. Or, to use another analogy, they try to boil the ocean. They should start by boiling a pot of water better than anyone else in the world and work from there. I doubt that Richard Branson had a vision for the Virgin “Group” when he started out. I bet he just wanted a better airline, and he kept rolling along.
After you’ve achieved something magnificent, feel free to retroactively claim that you had the vision all the time. You’re entitled to that, but deep down inside, we both know that you achieved more success than you ever imagined.
You speak quite a bit about digital communication (Twitter, Facebook, etc). What’s your take on the power of enchantment in a face-to-face context? Is it superior to the written word?
Face-to-face is both more powerful and harder than the written word because people’s expectations of others are higher in person. However, this assumes that you can write decently and in a timely (24-hour response time) manner. The written word’s great advantage is that you can reach more people faster – Twitter and Facebook are the prime mechanisms to achieve this.
How do you make a great face-to-face pitch?
The keys to a great pitch are brevity, graphics, and a demonstration. First, my recommendation is that a pitch observes the 10-20-30 rule: 10 slides, 20 minutes, and 30-point font. Second, you should use graphics – charts, diagrams, and photos – to illustrate your points. Third, a demonstration is worth a thousand slides. I could make the case that you shouldn’t try to pitch anyone until you can also do a demo.
Generosity, reciprocity, humbleness, joy, passion… all of these things come up in the book. If I didn’t know otherwise, I might think I was reading a book about just being a great person – and not creating a great company. Do you think it’s possible to have a great company without a charismatic leader?
A company is a collection of people. It reflects the personality of its employees. If a company employs dislikable people, it will be a dislikable company. If a company hires likable people, it will be a likable company – unless top management is dislikable and pollutes the behavior of employees.
It’s entirely possible to have a great company without a charismatic leader. In fact, the word “charisma” is not used once in Enchantment. The danger of a charismatic leader is that beneath the surfaces lies a narcissistic, insecure person who craves attention from sycophants. This type of leader is likely to surround himself with miniature versions of himself, which opens up another set of problems.
I don’t advocate drinking Kool-Aid and cults of personality – the goal is simple likeability and trustworthiness. If you want to attach one word to the type of leader that’s necessary, it’s “mensch” not “charismatic.” A mensch is gentle, likable, trustworthy, and has other people’s best interests at heart. That’s not how you would describe a charismatic leader.
What about “self-enchantment”? How can you keep yourself enchanted as you pursue a long-term, difficult project that does not have a clear finish line?
Sounds like you’re describing life in general. Enchantment of others, or yourself, is a process, not an event. It’s like fitness: you don’t stay fit without continuous effort. Maybe it’s an Asian thing: simple to learn but a lifetime to master.
The best way to keep yourself enchanted is to enjoy the process. We had a saying in the Macintosh Division: “The journey is the reward.” If you can embrace this attitude, you’ll be enchanted and enchant others for a long, long time.
How Enchanting Are You?