Guy KawasakiA few weeks ago, I was sent a copy of Enchantment, the new book by Guy Kawasaki. By the end of the first chapter, I knew that this was the kind of book you read next to a stack of sticky notes and something to write with—I was going to be taking a lot of notes. Kawasaki’s tenth book deals with “enchantment,” which he defines as “the process of delighting people with a product, service, organization, or idea.” It covers a lot of ground, from the personal to the professional and everywhere in between. The writing is a great mix of bigger-picture themes and specifics, and I even created a to-do list of sorts from the actionable takeaways I found throughout. At under 200 pages, it’s a quick read and I’d recommend it to anyone interested in the complex art and science of persuasion. I asked Kawasaki six questions about the ideas behind the book, and here are his answers.

AllTop and Holy Kaw! have helped you develop a reputation as a digital curator of content from around the Web. Enchantment  features a lot of third-party research, and each chapter finishes with a personal story from someone you know. To what extent did your work in digital content curation inform your writing of this book?

Kawasaki:

Honestly, nothing at all. Writing a book is as different from digital curation as night and day. Digital curation is a series of split-second decisions: good/no good. It can even be done algorithmically.  Writing is process-intensive activity. Think of the master Japanese sword makers to fold layer upon layer of steel, beating each layer into submission. That’s writing.

In your chapter on achieving trustworthiness, you discuss helping others and reciprocity from a strategic perspective. Does social media make the idea of reciprocity more or less important, and how so?

Kawasaki:

Social media puts reciprocity on steroids because now you can reach more people in more ways to do more things for them faster and at lower expense. Positive word about your reciprocity can spread faster than ever. Negative word about your lack of reciprocity can spread faster than ever too. In the old days, if you reciprocated or screwed somebody, how many people could he or she tell? The rest of the folks in the cave? Village? Town? City? State? Country?

Now it’s the world, and the record of what you do is forever recoverable because of Google. The lofty upside and scary downside makes reciprocity more important than ever. This is all good because it makes people think more before they do something that reduces their trustworthiness.

You discuss the concept of influence, and urge readers to expand their focus to “work on all the influencers.”  How should tools like Klout fit into these efforts, and what’s the best first step to take when identifying influencers on a particular decision?

Kawasaki:

Klout and various measurements of influence are fun. I love to see where I score on them, but there’s a computer algorithm behind the calculation. If there’s an algorithm, it can be gamed. Even if it’s not gameable, you have to take a leap of faith that the number of followers, retweets, mentions, whatever really mean something.

So I would use these services as a way to find influencers and then “plant many seeds.” That is, I would contact them all to find out which are truly interested in some kind of relationship. This is the beauty of social media: it helps you find people and then you can contact them fast and inexpensively.

While discussing how to “Build an Ecosystem,” you stress the importance of welcoming criticism, and the reluctance many companies have to doing so. What is the compelling value of opening up like this that these companies just aren’t grasping?

Kawasaki:

There are two primary values. First, surprise surprise, you might learn something. Second, even if you don’t learn something, at least you provide a communication channel for the members of the constituency. You have to be massively successful to pull off one-way communication with your ecosystem. If you do pull it off, imagine how much the results would be if communication were two ways.

You write, “all ecosystems start small.” Are we too quick to give up on building ecosystems when we don’t see results right away? Has the spectacular success of some ecosystems given us unrealistic expectations as to the growth of our own communities?

Kawasaki:

It’s human nature: you focus on the exceptional exception and think it’s the norm. Very few people are Michael Jordans and Wayne Gretzkys–that’s why we all know who they were. If everyone were like them, we wouldn’t be familiar with them. So when you hear that thousands of developers have created hundreds of thousands of apps for Apple in a short time, this doesn’t mean you should expect to do the same.

In your chapter on using push technology, you warn against too much promotion in the marketing mix. How do you define promotion in this case? How can companies add value while simultaneously promoting themselves?

Kawasaki:

I define promotion as a direct action that leads to a sale as opposed to receiving information, analysis, or assistance. Companies can add value and simultaneously promote themselves if their product or service truly improves the lives of their customers. I mean really improve lives, not wishful thinking, rationalization. That’s the acid test.

Let me know what you think of Enchantment in the comments, and be sure to download the great infographic below.

Enchantment Infographic