Monday, September 15, 2008

Guy Kawasaki speaks about making meaning not money


As a motivational speaker, Guy Kawasaki is blessed with a funky name, a charming smile and sense of humor perfect for delivering slide presentations. Yet he calls himself a "bozo".No wonder, business intelligence and analytics software firm SAS timed his presentation after lunchtime. Kawasaki wowed the Mumbai crowd with his presentation entitled "The Art of Innovation", eliciting plenty of chuckles and applause.In his speech, he gave advice on what he refers to as the Holy Grail for any entrepreneur: coming up with a unique product that has great value. To illustrate this point, he talked about how companies like Nike, Apple, Federal Express and Breitling are doing it.So what exactly are these types of products? A flashlight that can run on different types of batteries and an outdoor watch that comes with a built-in SOS signal are among his examples.But his most profound piece of advice for would-be entrepreneurs: Make meaning, not money."Based from my observation, companies that really are successful change people's lives. Most companies that set up just to make money eventually fail," he told during a short interview after his talk.Kawasaki who was born on Honolulu, Hawaii and considers himself half-American half-Japanese, was appointed Apple Fellow during the 80s. He is credited as one of the earlier "evangelists" responsible for the success of Apple's Macintosh computer. He is also a noted venture capitalist in Silicon Valley as managing director of Garage Technology Ventures. Recently, he founded, a website that aggregates news based on topics.Asked if his "make meaning, not money" ethos applies more (or maybe less) to entrepreneurs in places like the Philippines where there isn't as much access to venture capital, Kawasaki said it applies to everyone, while saying it's now a "different world out there" for entrepreneurs in the technology industry, thanks to open source."Now, because of things like MySQL, Rails, PhP, you can do things so much cheaper than before. It's a great time to be an entrepreneur, you can delay venture capital funding for a longer period, get further and therefore you have higher valuation," Kawasaki said."Before, the first step was sort of try to raise money and build your product. Now you build your product and then try to raise money. It's a very different world," he added.And in the same vein, he had another advice for would-be CEOs: Make a mantra, not lengthy mission statements. And to observe his personal "10-20-30" rule: 10 Powerpoint slides, 20 minutes tops (he takes a crack at Windows for booting up longer thus, less presentation time) and size 30 font (which also applies to his business card below).Also, he took note of bozos (or slang for stupid) who are either out to make money (who, according to him, drive cars and wear clothes ending in "i" like Ferrari, Maserati and Armani) or who fail to see where technology is heading.So why does he call himself a bozo then? He tells his story about how he was once offered to become a CEO of a then start-up but was too lazy to drive all the way to his new office and after looking at the company's website, dismissed it as "just a collection of their these guys' favorite websites".That company turned out to be Yahoo!

Chaiwala at IIM-Ahmedabad

Courtesy: The Telegraph

A humble chaiwala who inspired a website has been honoured with a case study at IIM-A on his business that has all the ingredients that go into a successful venture.
For the past 25 years, Ram Attar Kori has been selling student favourites such as tea, biscuits, egg bhujiya, buns, paan and cigarettes on the footpath outside the campus of the premier business school which has recognised him by “opening” a window through the border wall which allows easier access.
Today, Rambhai, 51, was in the classroom as an “observer”, listening to three management experts who presented a case study on his business model, which, as one of them said, was a humbling lesson on the untold success stories that abound on India’s dusty and bustling streets.
He keenly listened to the discussion on the case study presented by the three: Umesh Neelakantan of the DCMAT School of Media and Business, Kerala, Jaspreet Ahluwalia, assistant professor at the Centre for Management Training and Research, Mohali, and Sonal Katewa, assistant professor, Asia Pacific Institute of Management, Jaipur.
The trio are part of a batch of 38 business management teachers who are doing a faculty development programme at IIM.
“The reason why we chose Rambhai as our case study is that we noticed he had a huge clientele among the students. We learnt that he has been doing business at the same place for the last 25 years. As we have to do a case study as a part of our curriculum, we decided that instead of going to any corporate house, why not study this man who has blended various principles of management without undergoing any formal management training,” said Katewa.
Language was no barrier as Rambhai listened to the presentation on him and his business model.
“I was not supposed to say anything as I was there as a guest and observer,” said the man who had turned out for his big moment shorn of his patent stubble and smartly attired in a new olive green shirt and cream trousers.
Much like Pramod-da of Calcutta’s Presidency College and Arun-da of St Xavier’s, who has “retired”, Rambhai is a legend on campus. He has even inspired a website, which is a platform for free exchange of views, similar to the kiosk he runs where many ideas have been born.
The son of an agriculture labourer from Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh, Rambhai came to Ahmedabad at the age of four. After doing odd jobs, he started his teashop in the early eighties and has not looked back since.
And like any savvy entrepreneur, he isn’t willing to let out the numbers. “Let me say that I earn well enough to look after my needy relatives and educate my 20-year-old daughter, a student of fine arts at CN Vidyalaya,” he said, adding that the IIM experts had promised to help him expand his business. But students say his daily sale would be “at least” Rs 2,000.
Neelakantan said the rationale for doing a case study on the man was to show that “even an institute like IIM-A can learn a lesson from a street vendor”.
“Generally, street vendors are perceived to be tough and ill- mannered guys, but here is a man who is simple, loveable, light-hearted and yet has been successfully doing business outside an elite institute, stationing himself in one place for the last 25 years and maintaining a long-term customer relationship,” said Neelakantan.
Ahluwalia pointed out that even without formal management training, Rambhai was “practically executing all management principles”.
“Like every entrepreneur, he first saw an opportunity to start his own business outside the IIM-A campus, developed a strategy and maintained a system which ensured he got repeat customers,” said Ahluwalia.
Katewa said Rambhai mastered the concept of good customer relations: a popular management concept considered a cornerstone of success for any consumer product. “He has been observing customers. He realised the importance of location, right outside the IIM-A gate,” said Katewa.

Explore India

google maps gazetteer