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on June 19, 2006
If you are interested in the entrepreneurial world, you might find this book an entertaining read. However, if you are an entrepreneur or want to be one, this book is most likely not going to help you.

I have read so many business books (including books on start-ups) and invariably with the exception of a couple of books, those for start-ups are of low value and do not provide sufficient information desperately needed by entrepreneurs.

With so many fluff books on start-up companies and entrepreneurs, there is a great need for more in-depth how-to books. This one certainly has not bucked the trend. It seems that so many of the reviewers are just so proud and honored to speak of Mr. Kawasaki's previous stent with Apple or his garage.com firm (which I still do not think he is sure what their mission is) that they have not given the book a truly subjective and unbiased review.

When reviewing a book for entrepreneurs you should ask yourself the foillowing question:

Does the book really show you how to be successful? Is the information so valuable that you will study it and take notes or refer back to it for future use?

There are very few sources of valuable education for entrepreneurs anywhere. Therefore it is important that the authors of these books provide what is left out in business schools. Traditional business topics are covered well in business schools so there is more room for business fluff books. Despite this fact, there are still many books on traditional business topics.

In contrast, for entrepreneurs, the only source of education is the book market so you should stay away from fluff books or motivational type books, all of which teach you nothing.
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on July 6, 2006
Revolutionary products and companies outperform their competitors by completely changing the way things are done -- not by doing the same thing better. Perhaps the best book on this subject is Rules for Revolutionaries by Guy Kawasaki.

The book is based on 3 principles:

1) Create like a god

"Develop revolutionary products and services by analyzing how to solve current problems."

First, Guy walks you through the 3-step revolutionary thought process that leads to breakthrough product creation. It's very practical, and if followed, will generate amazing ideas for your business.

Next, Guy introduces you to a concept he calls, "Don't Worry, Be Crappy." Simply put, don't worry about perfecting a product before sending it to market. Focus on getting your product quickly to the market, but be ready to make constant improvements based on user feedback. He says effective companies have a circular built-in system for continuous product perfection, rather than viewing the product life cycle as linear. It's not how good you can make your product the first time, but rather how quickly you can respond to feedback after it launches.

Finally, Guy explains DICEE -- a formula for creating great products. If you've ever wondered what makes Apple products so attractive, it would be beneficial for you to examine this formula and evaluate how it can be added to your own products.

2) Command like a king

"Take charge with strategic decisions that break down barriers of product adoption."

For any revolutionary product, there will be barriers to overcome. Here, Guy gives us 5 common ones: Ignorance, Inertia, Complexity, Channel, and Price. The revolutionary entrepreneur anticipates this, and uses one or more of the book's 6 "barrier busters."

Interestingly, after removing barriers to adoption it then becomes necessary to form new barriers to retain users. These "positive" barriers, if developed correctly, can also promote the creation of "customer evangelists" -- people that love your product so much they act as an unpaid sales force for you.

3) Work like a slave

"Relentlessly absorb information from your environment, then spread the knowledge you've gained."

The revolutionary keeps up to date by viewing the situation from different viewpoints, spending time with typical users, and then gaining information from those encounters. Businesspeople that stay (physically) close to their target customers are more likely to produce successful products.

Guy also reminds his readers that if a new concept will be an inevitable long-term success, the best strategy is to focus on gaining market share rather than reaping big profits initially. While obvious in concept, startup cashflow reality often makes companies do the opposite. He uses the example of Apple and Microsoft in the 80's -- Apple unwisely choose a fat profit margin at the expense of long-term market share.

For any entrepreneur wanting to make a difference, I would highly recommend Rules for Revolutionaries. The book is highly readable, and Guy Kawasaki's entrepreneurial experience at Apple Computer and later as CEO of seed capital firm garage.com is evident throughout.
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on April 4, 2005
Kawasaki, formerly with Apple Computer and now founder of Garage.com, a Silicon Valley-based firm that helps start-ups find seed money, is a legend in his own time. Unorthodox to say the least, Rules For Revolutionaries is a sure fire shot of adrenaline for serious entrepreneurs wanting to "rock the world."

Nearly everyone in business wants to say they're an entrepreneur, when in fact their certainly walking a well worn path - they are the status quo.

The book is divided into three sections, whose titles alone spring to life. First, Create Like a God discusses the way that radical new products and services must really be developed. Second, Command Like a King explains why take-charge leaders are truly necessary for such developments to succeed. And third, Work Like a Slave focuses on the commitment required to beat the odds and change the world.

Divided into 10 chapters, Rules For Revolutionaries will energize you and make you feel ready to take on the world:

May this be one of the first books you read in 2005. If you've already read it, read it again (it's already on my to-do list). Finally, if you really are a fellow revolutionary, I'd love to hear from you - just send me an email.

Michael Davis, Byvation

---> To swing for the fence, entrepreneurs must avoid the shark-infested red water and sail into the deep blue sea.
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VINE VOICEon February 11, 2005
Rules for Revolutionaries does a good job of presenting many good suggestions for succeeding with a new product and/or company. It also presents interesting reasoning why numerous companies repeat the same mistakes (called death magnets in the book). The book is well written, with considerable humor and history thown in to make it more enjoyable.
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on April 21, 2001
I was introduced to Kawasaki by a friend as the person that made Apple what it was (and Jobs) and how his concept of 'evangelist marketing' has inspired many people.
So... I brought the book looking forward to learn something amazing... but as a marketing grad, I have to say what a disappointment the book is! The reason is that there are nothing new in Kawasaki's views... its technically word-of-mouth marketing through various different channels.
However, the book is a great refresher for business people to rethink their current practice. The ideas by Kawasaki is nothing new but considering so, a lot of major businesses are not practicing these simple ideas.
The book is smooth and easy to read... and did not consume much of my time. Overall, the book was good and the views and opinions offered by Kawasaki are good... but the fact that my friend overhyped Kawasaki left me rather disappointed...
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on July 6, 2009
I was in a big company for a long time and had little or no luck changing the culture. If I had been able to read this book back then, I might have gotten more done. Now, in retirement, I have an opportunity to start a revolution in a different context. The ideas in this book will make a difference.
If you like this book, read Malcolm Gladwell's new book "Outliers". You might also get ideas from Rolf Smith's "7 Levels of Change".
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HALL OF FAMEon March 5, 2008
Guy Kawasaki is a genius. I mean it: here's a guy who wrote a book back in 1998, who is most famous for being the Chief Evangelist at Apple. Yet his book bypasses tech talk altogether as its focus and succeeds at presenting us with a volume that, even ten years later, is loaded with wisdom that any self-respecting entrepreneur ought to be reading.

The philosophy underlying the rules for revolutionaries sounds quite simple yet it's very powerful: create like a god, command like a king, work like a slave. Each of these parts in his book is further broken down to facilitate digesting it. Since others here have done a find job at analyzing the three main components in the past, I am focusing on the aspects that stood out for me.

Work the edges: Kawasaki borrows the concept of "edges" from architecture to have revolutionaries focus their energy where it is going to be best spent. By edges, he means where one surface or material meets another or changes into another. He says: "The action is not in the centers or areas of sameness," and he is very much right about this. Examples of this are: how a customer service representative deals with a customer, even more so with a customer who is bringing up an exceptional issue; and the user interface of software or product, where the user interacts with the functionality.

"Revolutionary products don't fail because they are shipped too early. They fail because they aren't revised fast enough." He doesn't condone poor product design with this comment. He rather condemns poor product management. In coming up with a recipe for great products, he expands a concept he introduced in a previous book seven years before: DICEE,
-D for deep: the mark of a deep product is wishing it had a feature after you've used it for a while and then discovering that it already does.
-I for Indulging: it is more than what you minimally need and costs more than what you could have minimally spent.
-C for complete: this focuses on the documentation and the customer service.
-E for elegant: without elegant design, people cannot figure out how to use deep products.
-E for evocative: you should strive to create something that some people will love rather than something everyone will merely like.

"Sometimes you have to 'hear' what people would say if only they knew better." How many times, while managing a product, have you heard nice-to-have feature requests that sounded like essential to the people requesting them?

"A significant gulf, the 'chasm,' exists between the market made up of early adopters, and the markets of more pragmatic buyers." Do everything you possibly can to make the chasm as small as possible, which means tearing down barriers for your product users to learn about your product, care about your product enough to change their existing habits, gain access to your product, be able to afford it and learn how to use it.

After you have broken down or lowered the typical barriers to adoption of your product, you should build a cocoon around your customers so the competition can't attack you.

Evangelism starts with a great product or service. With success typically being equal to Facts (features customers want) divided by price, one can increase success by adding more features (increase the numerator) or reducing the Price. Evangelism provides a third method for increasing the numerator: adding Emotions to the Facts before dividing them by the Price.

"Make the optimal solution feasible -as opposed to making the feasible solution optimal." -this is one of the most brilliant phrases in the whole book!

"Ensure backward compatibility for evolutionary improvements to your product. But when it comes to revolutionary leaps, make your product so innovative that people won't care about backward compatibility."

"The more information you give away, the more you get as people come to trust you and see mutual benefits." -who remembers that movie?

"Big titles mean little to revolutionaries. All you care about is that a person 'gets it' and wants to help you." -very true!

"Tolerate criticism. Not only should people feel free to plug competitive products, they should be able to criticize your own... first, this produces good PR because tolerating criticism on a company-sponsored site is unheard of; second, this produces few and voluminous customer feedback."

And last, but not least: "As long as customers are still complaining, they still want to do business."

Now I am reading "Selling the Dream", another one of his books. I am convinced!
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on November 2, 2000
Readers familiar with Tom Peters and similar business gurus probably won't find anything truly "revolutionary" here. But Kawasaki distills some of the best such thinking into one little volume that's a great read... and far less annoying than the dime-a-dozen brag books of ego-tripping CEOs. "Rules" is a tremendous motivator and inspiration (note to managers: if you're looking for holiday gifts for your people, quit looking). Especially fun is the list of "bozoisity" in the conclusion. My only real quibble with the book is its title: true revolutionaries, after all, don't follow rules...
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on January 24, 2006
I really have to say that this is the worst management book I read. [...] Moreover, the book is full of clichés. I kept reading it, expecting that the good part was coming, but there was no good part! I eventually reached the end of the book where he says "If you don't try, you will never know", and "don't let anything grind you down", as if these were very revealing statements. This is what we tell little kids, and we all learned this when we were 5 years old, and I find pitiful that the author has no other ideas to conclude his book with. I would never recommend this book to anyone in any business field.
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VINE VOICEon January 19, 2009
Success is achieved by working with others in small unregimented groups. Akido means using an opponent's strength. Revolutionary thinking requires disposing of old prejudices, dumping idols, changing the frame. Determine what bothers people.

In consumer products successful ones indicate that form follows function, use material truthfully, honor aesthetics, are forgiving, have feedback, permit manipulation. Successful products have redundancy. A product must attract the early adopters and then become a matter of interest to the pragmatic buyers. Overcoming barriers sometimes requires creating a subset of customers.

Do not operate a business under the notion that the budget is king, that communication isn't important, and that infighting is okay. Backward compatibility plagues technology companies. Out-sourcing is short-sighted. High market-share is the result of having a good product.

In seeking information ignore titles and hang with the hoi-polloi. Put yourself in your customer's shoes. Good customer service grows from empowering customers and employees.

Works cited, an index, and notes appear at the back of this book. It is snappy and amusing. Kawasaki appears to be a natural contrarian, a creative thinker.
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