Guy Kawasaki’s latest book is What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us. The book teaches you how to make Google+ useful.
The first time I had Guy on was 2008. He spent a lot of time telling me about how much he liked Twitter. At the time, frankly, I thought Guy must be retired, has a lot of money and time to spend on Twitter. I didn’t get the business use of it. Of course since then I do, so now I’m going to really stop and listen when Guy talks about Google+.
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Guy Kawasaki, What the Plus!
Guy Kawasaki is a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and author of What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us
Andrew: Three messages before we get started.
If you’re a tech entrepreneur, don’t you have unique legal needs that the average lawyer can’t help you with? That’s why you need Scott Edward Walker of Walker Corporate Law. If you read his articles on Bentropy [SP], you know that he can help you with issues like raising money, or issuing stock options, or even deciding whether to form a corporation. Scott Edward Walker is the entrepreneur’s lawyer. See him at walkercorporatelaw.com.
Do you remember when I interviewed Sara Sutton Fell about how thousands of people pay for her job site? Look at the biggest point that she made. She said that she has a phone number on every page of her site because, and here’s a stat, 95% of the people who call end up buying. Most people, though, don’t call her, but seeing a real number increases their confidence in her and they buy. So try this. Go to grasshopper.com and get a phone number that will make your company sound professional. Add it to your site and see what happens. Grasshopper.com.
Remember Patrick Buckley whom I interviewed? He came up with an idea for an iPad case. He built a store to sell it, and in a few months he generated about $1 million in sales. Well, the platform he used is Shopify. If you have an idea to sell anything, set up your store on shopify.com because Shopify stores are designed to increase sales. Plus, Shopify makes it easy to set up a beautiful store and manage it. Shopify.com.
Here’s the program.
Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart. And Guy Kawasaki, whom you see on camera right now, his latest book is “What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us”. The book teaches you how to make Google+ useful. Guy, you’ve got to hold it up. You’re a good brand marketer. You can do that here.
Guy: I did hold it up. You missed it.
Andrew: I want you to feel comfortable. There you go. He is a venture capitalist who is known for his business books on start-ups, his time at Apple as an early evangelist, and for founding alltop.com. The first time I had Guy on was 2008. He spent a lot of time telling me about how much he liked Twitter. At the time, frankly, I thought Guy must be retired. He has a lot of money and time to spend on Twitter. I don’t get the business use of it. Of course since then I have, so now I’m going to really stop and listen when Guy talks about Google+. Guy, welcome back.
Guy: Thank you. Thank you for having me back.
Andrew: I did a Google search for you in preparation for this interview, and of course on the right side of the screen I see your Plus information, which we’ll talk about, and I also see that you’re worth $30 million. Is that true, or is it an understatement?
Guy: That’s news to me. That’s a random comment in Facebook. That’s what you’re talking about, right? Somebody said that, right?
Andrew: No, actually …
Guy: I don’t know how they came up with that number, or was there documentation of that number?
Andrew: Well, here we go. They have your Google+ information up on the screen, they link to Google+.
Andrew: They show all your books because you’re really good at using Google+. It integrates well with your search results.
Andrew: They’ve also got a line here, net worth $30 million US according to celebritynetwork.com.
Guy: Well, I wish I was worth $30 million. If I were worth $30 million, I would not be doing this interview right now.
Andrew: You wouldn’t? You’d be playing hockey.
Guy: I’d be sitting in Kona someplace.
Andrew: How much are you worth? First, the real question.
Guy: Less than that.
Andrew: Less than that. Uh, you said in the last interview …
Guy: Not enough. How’s that?
Andrew: You told me you were doing pretty well for yourself. I don’t want to spend too much time on your net worth, but you told me about the iStock deal, how when the founder sold the company, even though he didn’t have an official agreement with you.
Andrew: You guys were good friends. He took good care of you.
Guy: Yeah. That’ s true, that’s true.
Andrew: How much are you making from this book? Here’s a guy worth $30 million selling me a book. I was ready to pay you 12 bucks at least for this book. It was like $2.99.
Guy: I keep telling you, I am not worth 30 million bucks. It’s much less than that. On this book, what do I make? I don’t know, 2 bucks a copy or something like that.
Andrew: And how many would you say you sold?
Guy: Also, the eBook version. You get 2 bucks on 3 bucks at Amazon. There’s a limited market for a book on any social media network. I did this book more for fun, just because I loved “What the Plus!”
Andrew: You do love Google+, and you’re good at it.
Andrew: Do you have an example … I want to win myself over, frankly. I want to love Google+.
Andrew: But I’m not fully there, and I want my audience to love it the way you do. Do you have an example of a business benefit that’s come your way, or you’ve noticed somebody else get, because of being on Google+? I think that’ll hook us in.
Guy: Well, I mean, you mentioned it yourself. You did a search for me. You follow all my Google+ stuff on the right side. That’s because Google sort of owns search and it’s putting Google+ results in there. You may not care about the social networking aspects of it, but the SEO aspects of it are huge. For a small business, I think it’s a no brainer at this point. Don’t ever forget, it is Google. It’s not two guys in a garage with a million dollars. Sergei has a million dollars in his ashtray and that’s (?) car he uses once a month. Google+ is something to take very seriously.
Andrew: You know what? Actually, in your book, I got the Kindle version, so I’m on location 1260 for people have the book and want to see this, you talk about how to optimize for social search. Can you give the audience here a couple of suggestions of what they can do so when someone searches for them, good stuff will come up the way that when I search for you, the results are full of good things that you want me to see.
Guy: My whole SEO strategy can be summed up in three words, which are write good shit. That’s it. I think Google is in the business of finding good stuff, so you don’t have to go and try to figure out and divine and use black magic to figure out what Google’s looking for. Google’s looking for good stuff. For crying out loud, write good stuff and Google will do its job. Google has, I don’t know, 10,000 PhDs over there working on this. You think you’re going to out think them? I don’t think so. Just write good stuff. They’ll find you. Life is good. That’s all the thinking you really need to do.
Andrew: You talk about what are some ways to write good shit and to actually post good shit. In fact, you say photos do especially well.
Guy: Yes. I think every post on Facebook and on Google+ should have a picture or a video. Literally everyone I do has one. There are sort of two pictures. One is you could put a link in your post and that’ll suck in the picture automatically, but you really don’t have much control over which picture it sucks in. Sometimes it’ll suck in an ad. I always do a manual screenshot or picture or I go to Wikimedia and find a picture that has a generous rights usage. I always post the picture. I think it’s absolutely necessary.
Andrew: What else can I do if I want to start to publish stuff that people plus as they do with your stuff?
Guy: You need to consistently or post five or ten stories a day. People may get mind boggled. How do you find five or ten good things a day? Luckily, I’m the co-founder of a website called AllTop and AllTop has aggregated news topics by their RSS feeds. We organize it by the topics such as adoptions, zoology, business, social media, science, you name it. Whatever you want to position yourself as an expert in, you go to that topic of Alltop. It’ll show you the last five headlines and you’ll find stories. I do that every night. I definitely eat my own food, here.
Andrew: You know what? You have a couple of other places where you go for content, which I’ll talk about in a moment. But you say you do it every night. How much time would you say you spend on this?
Guy: The process is, believe it or not, at night, late at night, I have a Nexus 7 and so I go to AllTop. I go to npr.alltop. I go to autos at Alltop, science.alltop, photography.alltop. I find a few stories. What I’ve done with Google+ is I’ve created a circle with just me in it, so I share to the circle with just me in it from my Nexus 7 at night. When I wake up the next morning, I go to my Google+ account and I find the the things that I’ve shared with myself. I write them up, I find a good picture and I post. The Nexus 7 step is just the filtering. The next day I compose. If you literally had a stopwatch on me and you timed me, I would probably think it’s 20 minutes total. I can do these very quickly. Now, when you start also responding to comments, because I get a lot of comments, then it adds up. But if it’s just the act of finding and posting? You could do it in 20 minutes or half an hour.
Andrew: Twenty minutes, half an hour. You use a service like you recommend in the book, “What the Plus!”, to use a service called Doshare to schedule the post, right?
Guy Kawasaki: Yes, a lot of times I’m traveling and so I may be at, I may be in Europe and California is sleeping. The prime time for me to post is between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. pacific. So I use an extension called Doshare. What Doshare does is it allows you to schedule a post into the future so that way, I don’t want to, not to be racist or anything but I try to never post when Southeast Asia is awake. Because when Southeast Asis is awake that’s when you get the most spam and you get the most stupid one word comments.
Guy: I don’t know. I mean, Southeast Asians post spam and stupid comments, I don’t know. You ask them.
Andrew: I will ask them. I’m an interviewer. I will find a Southeast Asian representative to check in with them on. Alright, so you also say go to Stumbleupon, where else? Holycow, of course, your other website where you post shareable content. Where else can we go?
Guy: Almost everything that Ted, every video that Ted puts out is worth sharing. The NPR.
Andrew: What, I’m sorry, NPR? Will you watch all the Ted videos that you post and the NPR? You just say hey, this is good because it comes from Ted, I like the topic, I’ll post it.
Guy: I watch it.
Andrew: You do?
Guy: Yeah. I don’t necessarily watch from beginning to end because, you know, my analogy in life is online dating. So in online dating there are two extremes. Did I tell you this at (?) last time?
Andrew: No, hit me.
Guy: Okay. So you can define life by online dating. So there are two kinds of online dating sites. At one extreme there is E-Harmony where you fill out 29 questions about your, you know, I don’t know your personal lifestyle.
Guy: Psyche, all that, taste all that, right? Because you’re trying to find a soul mate so you’re trying to build this big psychographic thing. So that’s at one extreme of online dating. At the other extreme of online dating is Hot or Not. You see the person’s picture you decide hot or not, that’s it. Two seconds, right? Social media is Hot or Not. You have two seconds to use a picture and a link and a caption to capture people, that’s it. Two seconds. And so that’s how I offer it.
Andrew: How do you write the little snippet that will get people to actually pay attention?
Guy: You know I think it’s kind of an art. I’m not sure I perfected it. I think things like, whenever you start a sentence with the art of listening, the art of dating, the art of social media, the art of always sells. Also, how to. How to post, how to comment, how to listen, how to make conversation, how to always works. I also think anything that starts with Top Ten. So top ten tips for buying a used car, top ten tips for dealing with an abusive spouse, whatever it is. Those kinds of things I think attract people a lot better then you know some of these made up headlines.
Andrew: You actually have said, where is this, in one of the first sections of the book. Oh here it is. Again, section 2012. I hate the way, can you even make sense of how, oh no, location 60. Can you make sense of Kindle’s location numbers?
Guy: I’ve never used that.
Andrew: I don’t get it. But you go, you say this book explains what the plus makes Google plus as special as Macintosh. Coming from you, the guy who told us why Macintosh was special, who showed us, who spread the word. You think Google is as special as the Macintosh, why? Google plus.
Guy: I do. I do. I think the quality of comments is better. I think that the aesthetics of it, the white space, the way it just flows. You know with Facebook, Facebook, the Facebook I’m buying it’s sort of, okay here’s your post, then over here is advertising and background information, and then your post. And then there’s more advertising, then your post. Then your post is now this size. Then you got to go, post, post, post, post, post, post, post. I mean I don’t like to read this way. I just want to read straight down linear. The timeline always throws me off. And then you have to look for that little arrow to figure out, you know, is that the one that this is referring to? I don’t get that timeline at all. So I think that Google plus, the aesthetics are better.
Andrew: Better then Facebook.
Guy: Yes, well, compared to Twitter. Twitter’s a hundred forty characters, there’s no inline picture. It’s completely different than Twitter.
Andrew: So it’s not as revolutionary as Macintosh, but are you saying that because you want to get some attention from people who are MacFan boys, who have followed you for a long time and say, “You know what? If this is better, I’m going to stand up and listen.”
Guy: That’s not why I did it. I believe it. I think it’s just that much better.
Andrew: If this is better than Facebook, the way MacIntosh is better than DOS.
Guy: I’m sorry?
Andrew: If this is better than Facebook, the way MacIntosh is better than DOS.
Guy: Oh, for sure.
Andrew: OK. Wow. I read your book, my producer read your book and we said, “What should we ask him about?” Here is one good thing that has happened to you from Google Plus: you posted your upcoming book there, as a test, and the feedback that you got, was what?
Guy: Amazing. Basically, I crowd source content editing and copy editing, for both What the Plus and my previous book, Enchantment, and I literally got hundreds of bug reports. I got dozens of bug reports, but they contained hundreds of issues in them. I probably fixed three or four hundred bugs that way. I also added about 50 or 60 new features, at people’s requests. I will tell you that a great copy editor would have found the bugs anyway. The ideas, I don’t think a great copy editor would have found. It would have taken great familiarity with Google Plus, in order to point out some issues. I’m doing it again. I’m writing another book called, A.P.E. -Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur. I’m in the middle right now of going through all of the word documents that people have sent me back, the manuscripts, and they are adding a lot of features. So, it is very, very useful.
Andrew: Do you have an example of one of the errors that people caught?
Guy: Obviously, they caught misspellings and typos and that kind of stuff. I’ll give you an example of a feature they added in the current book that I am working on, A.P.E. One of the topics in A.P.E. is, “Should you translate your book for another country?” What I said is, “It’s hard to make that decision, but here’s the CIA database of the top 25 countries, by population.” China, India, United States, it goes down to 25. This will give you a rough idea that it might be worth translating it into Tai, more than into French, because there are many more Tai’s than French.
Guy: Ahhh, right? But then somebody just read the book and this morning they told me, “You know, Guy, instead of ranking them by population of country, you should rank them by number of speakers.” The total number of Spanish speakers, if you add up Mexico and Spain, may be greater than something else that ranks higher by a single country’s population. I never thought of that. So, I put it in. I put it in both ways; here’s population and here’s number of speakers. I would not have thought of that.
Andrew: That is a great idea. As an individual, just sitting there with your own way of looking at the world, you’re not going to have that burst of awareness.
By the way, as I’m looking at my notes here, I’m also trying to look over your shoulder. One thing that I saw over your shoulder, when you turned around, was a PC.
Andrew: Isn’t that a PC back there?
Guy: It’s a MacBook Pro.
Andrew: Oh, it’s a MacBook Pro. Oh. Are we all trying to catch you using non-Apple products?
Guy: There are no PCs in this house.
Andrew: No PC, but you do love Android, I read.
Guy: Love Android. I don’t use any IOS devices, at all. Zero. Zero.
Andrew: Why? You talked about this, but can you talk a little bit more?
Guy: Until iPhone 5 came out, Android was the only way I could get 4G LTE. 4G LTE, where I live, is 10 to 20 times faster than 3G, or whatever story Apple was telling. Ten to twenty times performance difference is humongous. Finally tethering was a reality. I also love some aspects of Android, like multiple Windows Open with real-time apps running, the so-called Widgets. I love the fact that there is a view where you list all your apps, alphabetically. You don’t have to go looking through folders, because it just lists everything you have. I don’t think you have that on IOS.
Guy: I love NFC. What a concept. I hold up my Samsung Galaxy S3 and boom, I download a PDF; I get music; I can pay for stuff. What a concept.
Andrew: Have you paid for stuff with your phone yet like that?
Guy: Can’t find a place in the United States to do it. I’ve only downloaded stuff using NFC. I also, I don’t have my bag here, but I have Tactile, the little plastic chip thing where you program it so when I want to tether, I just hold my phone to that chip and it brings up the setting dialog without having me to go get it manually. I think NFC is a great thing. The irony is that Apple, which used to lead the world, it just got 4G LTE. I had 4G LTE for a year and it still does not have NFC. I don’t get that.
Andrew: I feel like lately they’ve been leading the world in design more than in substance.
Guy: Maybe. I must admit that I don’t have an iPhone. I have an iPhone, but I don’t use it. My son has an iPhone and he upgraded to iOS 6 and he was telling me that he uses the bus, but now public transportation isn’t on Apple Maps. I don’t know about all of this stuff where it says the Champs d’Elysees is in the middle of Manhattan. I (?) Apple Maps (?) because I haven’t used it. I find it very funny. There are things about Android that I just love. What can I say? Right now the irony is thinking different means you think non-Apple.
Andrew: Yeah. You know what? In the beginning of the interview, I read that the $30 million number, but it was over a URL called Celebritynetwork.com. You are a celebrity. You’re an internet celebrity.
Guy: That, (?).
Andrew: What are some of the benefits that come your way from being such a recognized person that people will try to plus you as soon as they join Google+ and follow you on Twitter?
Guy: Half the people when they see me, they think I’m Jackie Chan, so I have to go and explain that . . .
Guy: (?), so it comes with some overhead. I certainly do get a lot of stuff for free.
Guy: Like whatever. Cameras, whatever. I get unlimited books. You want any book, just let me know. I get two or three books a day to blurb or review or whatever. It actually becomes burdensome after a time because you cannot possibly review as many books as they come in because it still takes a few hours to review a book. Can’t do it anymore.
Andrew: What’s your policy on writing blurbs? Because I see you on covers of books, I see you inside books, writing. It was one person, I forget who it was. You wrote the forward to his book, but in 140 characters, which I thought (?) perfect.
Andrew: It doesn’t put a lot of work on you and that’s all I want to read.
Guy: Yeah. I also did, for (?) Reynolds, a forward that was in a PowerPoint presentation. Basically, my policy is I help my friends.
Andrew: That’s it?
Guy: I help people who’ve helped me. If a book from a stranger really captures me, I’ll do it. Most of the time I turn it down because I don’t have the time to read the book to give it a blurb. I am a big believer in reciprocation, so if somebody helps me, I will help them.
Andrew: I, by the way, would do blurbs for anyone. I don’t even have to read the book, guys, because it’s good publicity for me. Send it over. I will actually make that my blurb. I haven’t read this book, but thanks for giving me the publicity. What else do we need to know about Google+? Here’s something. I didn’t realize this until I read your book, What the Plus! On Facebook, I might have more followers, my fan page might have more followers. On Twitter, I might have more followers. But what you’re saying is, Facebook especially, they’re not all reading the posts, right? What did you discover when you looked into this?
Guy: People don’t understand that this just amazes me. It amazes me that Google hasn’t made a bigger deal about this. The concept is called (?). The way it works is if you have 100 people who have liked you on Facebook, it doesn’t mean when you post something all 100 could see it if they happened to be at your computer. Facebook makes a decision about which 10 or 15 should see it based on their interaction with you, I don’t know, whatever black magic they use. You may think that you are posting to a population of 100, but you’re only posting to a population of 15 and of that 15, who knows who’s at the computer at the moment when your thing flies across the timeline? With Google+, if you’ve been circled by 100 people, 100 people can read it. They might not read it because they’re not at the computer, but they can read it if they were or if they scrolled back. I think that is huge
So people say that Facebook is about ten times bigger than Google Plus, but if something is ten times bigger than Google Plus but only 1/10th can see the post, it’s roughly equal. I don’t get that at all. I mean it would be like, let’s suppose you subscribed to the New York Times, right? You subscribe to the New York Times but the New York Times has decided by watching your eye motion what articles you read, what articles you interact with. So the New York Times even though you subscribe to the whole paper you don’t get the whole paper. You only get what the New York Times black magic has decided you should read. Or another analogy. Let’s say you opt into an email newsletter, okay? So you’ve told the person, yes I want every issue of your email newsletter. That person now uses some black magic and says, eh, I’m going to send you one out of ten of the issues. With my black magic algorithm I’m going to decide which one is most relevant to you. And I would say to that person like, what am I missing? I’m opting in. I told you I want to read everything. Are you an idiot? Send me everything? I just can’t, it just fries my brain about Facebook.
Andrew: I would especially like to see it from close friends, every single one that they do.
Guy: Well now you know there is that theory that with Facebook you can denote that some people are family and close friends so you can specify that. But how many people go through that trouble, right? So like I think the real telling example is let’s say you have 500 friends on Facebook and you know, 364 days of the year you’re just posting dumb stuff, right? So they don’t interact with you, they don’t pay attention or whatever. Maybe 50 of the 500 interact with you, right? Your closest friends. But on one day of the year you have a baby, okay? Do you push that announcement out, we just had a baby. That day you want all 500 people to see it, right? It ain’t gonna happen. I don’t understand that.
Andrew: First time you posted on Google Plus no one responded or commented. You posted again, nothing happened. And then what did you do? Because this is my experience when I go to Google Plus. I’m at the baby stage where you used to be and that’s why I try it and then I give up. What did you do?
Guy: It was completely wrong. What I did was I was only posting to the people I circled, not to the general public. So I had circled 30 people, I posted. I was posting to 30 people, I was getting five comments. I was wondering, you know, what’s the big deal with this? Then Robert Scoble pointed out to me that I’m an idiot, that I’m only posting to my circle, I should be posting to the public. And when I did that the waters parted. So I think the key for people with Google Plus is they get out of the framework that, oh, this is a Facebook replacement, I’m going to Google Plus and I’m going to interact with the same people I went to high school with, the same people I went to college with, the same set of friends. Because the odds are one out of ten of those people are on Google Plus at this moment. So you will not find those people. However, you should have a different perspective. The ideal perspective from Google Plus is I am so sick of my high school friends, I am so sick of my college friends, I’m so sick of my relatives, I have nothing in common with them. I want to find new people who share my passion, my passion for photography, my passion for skydiving, my passion for mountain biking. I don’t share those passions with people I went to high school with ten years ago. These people, you know, they’ve gone and done their own thing, I’ve done my own thing. So I want to find people who love photography as much as I do. So you go to Google Plus and you search for photography and you will find the most amazing people who love photography. You don’t know them yet but you circle them, you start interacting with them, you make friends with them. That’s when the music will go off in your head that yeah I get it now with Google Plus. It’s about your new passions.
Andrew: All right. Here’s another thing that I wanted to ask you about. You say we should give cheerfully, quickly without hesitation, give without expectation of return. So here’s what I’m thinking, Guy. The first time I interviewed you in 2008 there was no reason why you should have said yes. The only thing I think that maybe got you to say yes is for years I was saying thank you for writing those books because I built my business on it. One time as a joke you replied back and said okay give me a percentage of the company instead of yapping about how much you got. But frankly doing an interview with me, I wasn’t going to get you any customers for your, any buyers of your book. I wasn’t going to get you any more exposure. I could have just been a jerk and frankly my interview style at the time was pretty crappy. Anyone who wants to see the progression in my interview style should go see my first Guy Kawasaki interview and my second. And I’m not even sure yet that I’ve given you anything in return for the traffic that you got me from that first interview. What I’m trying to say is, Guy, how do you keep giving to people like me when some of us could be knuckleheads, some of us could be completely worthless, some of us could forget to hit record. And you have to think like a businessman. You have to eventually think of how do I build my business? And I say that because I want to do that too.
Guy: I grant interviews to you.
Andrew: You do what?
Guy: I said maybe you’re the only knuckle head I grant interviews to.
Andrew: You know what? I thought I was really special. I said guy like me . . .
Andrew: . . . understood me. And then I saw, who the hell is that guy doing an interview with that guy over there and …
Guy: I tell you what, I have a theory. My theory is that I don’t know who you are. I don’t know who Mixergy is. It’s a cool name though. So we’re going to spend a half an hour, right? So I’m in the middle of editing. I’m really busy right now. But I figure, you know, maybe a thousand people see this, right? And of the thousand people, some small number will buy the book. But, you know, a thousand here, a thousand there. If I could expose myself to a thousand people everyday, after a year how many thousand is that? That’s 365,000. Now it’s getting interesting. right? Now, if you have this attitude and you keep this attitude for, I don’t know, ten years, 365,000 times 10. That’s 3,600,000. Now it’s getting really interesting. And so if you have 3,600,000, let’s call it 4,000,000. So now if you have 4,000,000 you have to do some kind of hallucinatory math. You say well, what happens if two percent of those people buy your book. Well, two percent of 4,000,000 is 80,000. Now it’s getting interesting. And so, I also believe that today you’re running Mixergy and you’re independent then, whatever. But who knows. Maybe YouTube is going to hire you to run the business channel and when you run the YouTube business channel you better remember, remember that I paid when you were nothing …
Guy: . . . and so guess what? Guy’s going to be featured in the YouTube business channel with 10,000,000 viewers every month, right? And you are my close personal friend now and you’re going to call me and we’re going to do an interview. So I just figure, some day, Wall Street Journal is going to say, “We want to add video and so we hired this guy to do” …
Andrew: We hired this guy. . . they better hire this guy. What about maybe I get bigger than the Wall Street Journal and I don’t need their audience. What about other requests because you must be pinged with tons of requests coming to speak at this conference. Can you tweet this out for me? Can you post this post this on Google+? Can you blog about this? What do you do with all of those?
Guy: I have an attitude that I default to yes. So most of the time I say yes. But, there are some that just involve too much, right? Like, I cannot review every book. I cannot review every business plan and all that. So I just have someone who just responds, I just can’t do it. I’m too busy. And what I found is that when people pitch, I think 99 percent of the time, I get no response whatsoever. So the very fact that I have a virtual assistant that responds saying, no is actually a positive. I can’t say how many thank you notes I get from people who tell me, “I understand why you can’t do it but at least you responded.” Who knew? So, that’s what I do.
Andrew: And that is how you do it, too. I asked an entrepreneur once, “How Guy Kawasaki responds to every email when I can’t keep up with, and he must have ten times more. Do you have someone else answer in your name?”
Guy: The way my email works is, at the server, I have a mail filter that says, “If in address book already, send it through to Guy. If not, put in this separate folder”. Then a virtual assistant goes through that folder and throws away all the spam, which is 95% of it. She sends me the ones that she absolutely cannot answer. Like, I have to make a decision. Do you want to speak there or not? And then there are some that are very easy like, “I saw you speak last week. Can I get your PowerPoint lines?” Well, the virtual assistant can send the PowerPoint lines. And so she takes care of those and as far as speaking, I have four children so I have a new test. My new test is, I will not get on an airplane for free. I don’t care, you don’t care, how strategic you think it is, how good for the long run, how whatever. You know, I’m 58 years old. At this part of my career, I’m at the reaping, not sowing. So I don’t do things for strategic reasons anymore. I do not get on an airplane for strategic reasons. I get on an airplane because I’m making money. That’s it. That’s the only reason. The only exception to that is South by Southwest. I happen to love South by Southwest. I’ll go to South by Southwest for free, but any other time you see me on an airplane you better think I’ll be making money.
Andrew: [laughs] And I think you told me that that’s your best bang for the time buck. The worst was hockey and you spent the most time in hockey. Is that still . . .
Guy: Exactly, exactly.
Andrew: . . . still pretty much it.
Guy: [laughs] I’m going to play today.
Andrew: Of course. What about this? A lot of the people who email you or contact you, you end up getting recruited to be your thunder lizards, as you call them. People who do work or help out somehow. Here’s a note that I got. Someone read the first chapter of your book, thought that you didn’t fully appreciate the challenges that regular people encounter when they’re doing Google+. You did what with her?
Guy: I don’t know what.
Andrew: It’s been awhile since you wrote this book. You put the ball in her court and you told her to write something that fixes this problem.
Guy: OK. I can’t remember. I’ve helped a lot of people.
Andrew: You know what? I have to be honest, Guy. I don’t remember that either. This is a part that Jeremy copied out for us to talk about. The reason I know it’s Jeremy is he reads paper books. He has page 147 there, where I read digital and I would have location 2562. Anyway, here’s the bigger question. I try to do what you say, which is someone says hey, this thing’s broken, I try to recruit them. They’re a thunder lizard. You’re telling me recruit the thunder lizards, don’t look at them as pests. How do you maintain them all? There are all these people who want to help, who are offering their time, who are super smart and especially smart about this thing that they’re complaining about. But if you work with them all, you end up with no time to do anything else.
Guy: Work harder.
Andrew: Do you have a system for maintaining that relationship so that you don’t forget to respond to them, so you can give them feedback on the feedback they’ve given you? No.
Guy: It depends. For example, with this book I’m writing, there are people who send back the manuscript with literally 200 corrections. OK? They’ve spent hours doing that.
Guy: (?) get a response.
Andrew: I see.
Guy: (?) and for me, the core existence is email. If somebody goes to the trouble of commenting on your manuscript and is genuinely helping you, that person deserves an email back. Everybody who sends me back the file is going to get a free copy of the book. That’s the least I can do. It works very well for me. I can’t tell how happy I am with crowdsourcing content editing.
Andrew: That’s another benefit of being a celebrity. I remember Neil Patel told me once that he went to your office to give you free SEO advice. I don’t even know that you needed SEO advice or you needed SEO, but you had the top guy in SEO, he comes to your office and it’s because you’re an internet celebrity.
Guy: Yeah, but I also help him, too. I try to speak for him. I do whatever. Basically, I really do believe in reciprocation. I also believe in paying it forward. If you were to just at any given point, early in your career, if you were to say to yourself man, I don’t have time to answer email. I don’t have time to reciprocate. I don’t have time to pay it forward. I would debate that. I think you do have time because I have time. If I have time, you have time. If you’ve done this literally since 1983 ’til today, that’s 30 something years, over the course of 30 something years you help a lot of people. A lot of people reciprocate back. That’s why stuff keeps flowing into my life.
Andrew: On the opposite side, you tell people in your book, “What the Plus!”, not to be shy about asking for help. What’s a good way to ask for help?
Guy: In an email that’s less than five sentences long. That’s the best way.
Andrew: Keep it short.
Guy: Yeah. A lot of people send me email. The first three paragraphs is their family story. The next three paragraphs are about the potential of their product. Seven paragraphs into the email, I still don’t know what the hell they’re asking. Basically, the ideal email is five sentences. First of all, what do you want? What is it you do? Who the hell are you? Those three, I can (?). The third one, who the hell are you? I don’t really care because who the hell are you only matters if you’ve done something or you work for a company that’s recognizable. Most of the time, if you’re asking for my help, you’re probably not Tim Cook or Phil Schiller or Steve Ballmer or Bill Gates because those people don’t need my help. Most of the time, you’re somebody who I will not recognize. I will not recognize your organization or whatever. I don’t with some people they say, well I only help important people. Well obviously I don’t have that theory. In fact I would probably bend the other way. I like to help people who are not currently important or significant because I am trying to pay it forward. So if you help Bill Gates, I mean, alright you know. But if you help the next, I want to help the next Bill Gates, not this Bill Gates, right? And so I just default to yes and I figure you know it will come out in the wash.
Andrew: Speaking of helping the next Bill Gates, I built my first business reading your business books. You’re not writing business books so much anymore, why not? Where’s the startup books? You actually knew what you were talking about and you kept it simple.
Guy: The art of the start really is the defacto book for entrepreneurs, I mean to this day. And it’s kind of like the elements of style for writing is the art of the start. And so I mean I did that book, you know I’m not writing these business books because I’ve written them already. I have everything in them I have, I don’t have anything else to say and it hasn’t changed that much. I’m writing, author and publish, I’m writing Ape (?) because I fell in love with self-publishing and I realize how hard it is for most people to grasp self-publishing so I wrote that book. I wrote what the plus because I fell in love with Google Plus and I found people were having a hard time comprehending Google Plus. So as I encounter stuff that I love that people don’t get, I write books.
Andrew: You know what, again the first time we talked was four years ago, maybe even five at this point almost. And you said the person who self publishes a book and thinks that he’s an expert is, I forget what you said, it wasn’t a kind thing to say to them. And at the time it was true. But I feel sometimes like I can’t speak as sharply as you because I’m worried what if in five years I feel differently and now I’ve had this statement that people have tried to live by and it’s out there and now I feel like a fool. So I don’t speak as much.
Guy: Well, as you get older, you get used to feeling like a fool.
Andrew: You do.
Guy: You do.
Andrew: And that’s the thing. Just get used to saying what you feel today even if it changes tomorrow because it’s feeling like a fool is part of the process.
Guy: You could embrace something that you should never say anything will not work. Because when people find these quotes where someone said Apple will never be successful as a retailer, or Apple will never succeed with a smart phone. Those kinds of quotes are always when somebody says it can not be done. So you should just not say that it cannot be done. Even if you truly believe it you should just shut up. Always be positive. That will keep you safe.
Andrew: There was this one time that you spoke with Jason Calacanis. I didn’t even see the speech, I think it was at Startup to Startup. But I saw the video before where he was just like goading you. Back when he was, especially in his bulldog phase. And I thought, that’s the way to get attention. Jason’s really getting attention. Guy doesn’t do that. And I was trying to figure out like what’s my style?
Andrew: What do you say to someone who’s like, I was then maybe even feeling like today, which is, be more aggressive towards people. It gets a lot of attention, helps build your credibility, or your celebrity anyway, and then you could leverage that to build companies.
Guy: I think it’s bullshit. I mean I think you should be what you are. So maybe Jason is that way. But I think when you put on an act, the problem with putting on an act is that it takes so much more energy to put on an act. And then you have to keep the act consistent and then you always have to put it on. And so if you just be yourself, whatever that is, it’s just a lot easier because you don’t have to remember to do it. I don’t particularly think that putting on an act and trying to be an asshole and all of that and controversial is a good path.
Andrew: Did you ever get tempted to do that, to say, hey you know what if I start panning things the way that John C. Dvorak does, that maybe people will fight with me but at least they’ll pay attention. I’ll take a strong point of view so that they’ll want to pay attention to that either way.
Guy: I get that theory, that’s just not me. I mean god bless John. If he wants to do that, go for it, but that’s just not me. I mean I, life is too short, I don’t know. Or my life is too short, maybe he has a longer life. I don’t, you know, not my style.
Andrew: Are you still a venture capitalist, by the way? I had that in the intro and I should have checked with you.
Guy: I’m mostly writer and speaker.
Andrew: Why no venture capital?
Guy: Well it’s hard to raise a fund, that’s a very practical reason. But also I don’t like the business, because all the time you’re saying no. You’re always getting pitched and you’re always saying no and even in the 1/10th of a percent of the time that you’re saying yes, you know that you’re going to beat the crap out of the CEO in a year, because he’s forecasting he’s going to do $500 million in the first year; conservatively speaking, you know it’s total bullshit. You know you’re going to have to just nail him in a year. I’m not into nailing people.
Andrew: All right, one final thing, going back to Google Plus, one of the hardest things is just getting people to read what we’re doing and interact with it and if they interact with it, then it feels good and then we do it even more and it just starts to build this momentum. What’s one piece of advice that you have for us for getting more people engaged with what we post so that we get motivated to do more? Sound it out for me in one answer. Make it all useful in one answer is basically what I’m asking, isn’t it?
Guy: Always have a picture and always have a link.
Andrew: A picture and a link?
Guy: You’d be OK.
Andrew: All right, well, Guy, thank you for doing this interview. The book, of course, for everyone who’s watching is “What the Plus? Google+ for the Rest of Us” and, again, if anyone wants to see the evolution of me as an interview, you have to go back and see the first and second interview. Boy, that second interview was so good, and the first one was awkward. Thank you for doing that, and this one.
Guy: You need to put something on the wall behind you.
Andrew: I can’t think of what I’m so uncreative.
Guy: I mean, you know.
Andrew: I was going, like, the John Gruber way if, like, maybe you don’t need any adornment, in fact the books are only there because, like you said, when you publish as much as I do, people send you books, which I love, so, they slowly crept into the photo. What do you think I should put behind me?
Guy: I don’t know, put something, put a [??], you know, go buy Star Trek, you know what Walls360 is? It’s a company I advise, they make re-useable wall stickers; you can take them off and keep putting them on, they don’t peel off the paint, you know? So, go to Walls360.com.
Andrew: And just get a bunch of stuff and put it behind me and then it’ll be interesting at least. Look at you, of course, you’ve got letters from people probably saying “thank you”, you’ve got Christmas cards…
Guy: It’s like my collection of Nikon equipment over there…
Andrew: What’s in the frame?
Guy: I’m sorry, what’s in the frame? This frame?
Guy: Those are two rejection letters from Doubleday and Addison-Wesley. When I pitched my first book, they rejected the proposal. I framed them.
Guy: Because someday I knew that I would be successful.
Andrew: You framed them even back then knowing they…
Guy: Oh, yeah.
Andrew: There’s an inspiring place to leave it. Thank you for doing this interview. Thank you all for watching.
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