Mendoza School of Business

Watch the Justin Bieber movie, and other advice from tech guru Guy Kawasaki

Published: April 14, 2011 / Author: Ed Cohen

People who came to hear technology and marketing guru Guy Kawasaki speak at the University of Notre Dame on April 14 reacted with laughter and surprise when he told them they needed to see the Justin Bieber movie Never Say Never.

In a talk brimming with humor, the popular blogger and former chief evangelist (his actual title) for Apple Inc. was being completely serious.

Kawasaki said the Bieber movie – a documentary about a concert tour by the 17-year-old pop star – teaches important lessons. One is about endurance – the movie follows Bieber on an 86-stop bus tour. The other is about marketing.

Kawasaki mentioned that the film shows Bieber’s staff going out into parking lots at his concerts to give away tickets to girls who don’t have them. The gifts bring tears to the recipients’ eyes. He said companies should ask themselves if they “own” a segment of their target market the way Bieber owns the market of 9- to 16-year-old girls.

“I doubt it. Apple can’t say that, Cisco (Systems) can’t say that, YouTube can’t say that, IBM can’t say that. Nobody can say that,” said Kawasaki.

The movie recommendation came as part of a wide array of advice Kawasaki offered on how to get people to like you or like your product or service. It’s the subject of his latest book (his 10th), Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions.

Among his other recommendations:

  • Trust others, and they will trust you. Kawasaki said demonstrates trust in its customers by giving them five days to return e-books. Zappos, the online shoe merchant, allows customers to try on shoes at no cost. The company pays the shipping both ways on returns.
  • Tell a great story. The key to the successful launch of a product, service or company, he said, is to tell a personal story of your motivations. Apple’s founders thought computers should be accessible to ordinary people, not just universities and giant corporations. A widely reported story – and false, according to Kawasaki – is that e-Bay was created because the girlfriend of founder Pierre Omidyar wanted to sell her collection of Pez dispensers online.
  • Invoke reciprocation. Do something nice for someone and give them the opportunity to return the favor. After the Civil War, Kawasaki said, the people of New York City bought a fire engine for war-ravaged Charleston, South Carolina. The Southerners pledged that if New Yorkers ever needed help they would reciprocate. After the Sept. 11 attacks – 135 years later – the Southerners’ descendants had the perfect opportunity. They bought New York City a fire engine.
  • Sell your dream. One way to convince people that an advancement you’ve made is revolutionary is to compare against the history of ice production, he said. In the beginning ice had to be harvested from lakes in cold regions, or it was available only certain times of year. Later came Ice 2.0, ice factories that made the product available everywhere year round. The advent of refrigerators, Ice 3.0, brought instant access to ice into homes. Your product could be like Ice 3.0.  

Kawasaki also shared a couple of tech industry “light-bulb” jokes. One involved the Macintosh division of Apple, in which he worked. He said members of the Mac team were so arrogant they wouldn’t even allow employees from the rest of the company into their building. This led the outsiders to develop a joke:

“How many Macintosh division people does it take to screw in a light bulb? One. The Macintosh division employee holds up the light bulb and expects the entire universe to revolve around him.”

An anti-Microsoft joke has also emerged, he said.

“How many Microsoft employees does it take to screw in a light bulb? None, because (Microsoft CEO) Steve Balmer has declared darkness to be the new standard.”

Kawasaki’s talk was sponsored by Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, College of Engineering and College of Science, the Student International Business Council, Innovation Park, the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, the Entrepreneurship Society and the Four Horsemen Society.


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