Meet the Content Innovator: Guy Kawasaki
Storytelling Innovator Series

Meet the Content Innovator: Guy Kawasaki

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For this week’s Innovator Series interview, I spoke with Guy Kawasaki, chief evangelist for Canva and co-author of The Art of Social MediaGuy, a thought leader on all things marketing and creative, spoke about the changes in brand storytelling over the years. Kawasaki offers lessons he learned from his time at Apple, as well as some forward-thinking advice to young marketers. You can read the full interview here:

Q: If you have a great product today, how do you as a content innovator tell that product’s story?

In 1984, if you did a demo of a Macintosh it was so different from MS-DOS and Apple II that the demo was the story. It was that radically different. Fast-forward to today, when at every press conference, during every introduction, some CEO stands up and says, “I have a patent-pending, curb-jumping, paradigm-shifting, scalable, easy-to-use, bug-free product.”

Saying that today has zero impact. So I think storytelling is more important than ever. For example, I’m chief evangelist of a company called Canva. The story of Canva starts with an instructor at the University of Western Australia. She saw how hard it was for people to use Illustrator and Photoshop and how expensive they were. She thought there must be a better way, so she created the online service called Canva. So that’s the genesis story of Canva—very different than simply saying “we have a revolutionary product.”

Q: What are your main key performance indicators (KPIs) as chief evangelist and content innovator?

“KPI” is too sophisticated a label for it. When I first began as an Apple Software evangelist, my job was to get thousands of pieces of software. In that case, it was body count; it was how many SKUs; it was how many pieces of software were on the shelf. It was that simple.

My second stint at Apple was about preserving enthusiasm and the viability of a cult community, which is a lot harder to measure because it was tied up with so many other factors. The attitude then was preservation; Macintosh had a great cult at the time but so many people thought that the company would die and Macintosh would fail. In this case, the KPI was Apple succeeding or failing. Since it’s clear that Apple did not fail, it could be said that I contributed to its success.

Q: You’ve worked at, invested in, and advised some amazing companies. How did they get on your radar?

They usually contact me. True story: I was using Canva, and they took notice, so they contacted me. After that, it’s about falling in love with the product and the company. By far the most important thing is to have a great product or service. But for me it remains an emotional decision. I’ll tell you what kind of decision it is not: It is not something where I pore over a 60-page business plan. Believe me, I’ve fallen in love with losers, too.

Q: After many successful years as a content innovator in Silicon Valley, is there any advice you’d like to offer young marketers?

My advice is to come to the realization that an important part of work is making your boss look good, not making yourself look good. What you have to understand is that if your boss succeeds, you will also succeed. If your boss takes on more responsibilities, so will you. The concept that you can upstage your boss and take their job is flawed. In all my years, I have never seen that happen. Whether you like your boss or not, I think this is the reality.

In your personal life, I would say you should never ask people to do something that you yourself would not do, whether its your friends, family, spouse, or kids. Keep that in mind, and let it serve as a moral compass.

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