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Customer Review

198 of 234 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Old fluff put in an entertaining format., December 27, 2008
This review is from: Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competit ion (Hardcover)
Guy Kawasaki is a genuinely warm, engaging, intelligent and articulate man. I've had the pleasure of meeting him several times at MacWorld trade shows.

However, Guy Kawasaki is a career self-promoter. He has made a living for many years repackaging standard business advice in an entertaining format and peddling it as new to the legions of people seeking a business success formula.

More power to Guy for making a living at it, but it doesn't alter the nature of what is between the covers here: old advice, with a lot of it being nothing more than commensense.

Two irritating things about Guy's otherwise excellent writing style. He has a real problem with gender pronouns. Even in academic writing that tends to be excruciatingly politically correct, I've never seen anyone go to such extremes in using "she", "her" and other feminine pronouns. It's creepy, weird and utterly unnecessary. Certainly She would understand if Guy backed off a bit. Then there is Guy's cuteness with a couple of euphemisms: for example, he takes the common expletive for bull manure and adds "-takke" to it. Once may cute, especially among your 4th grade classmates. A couple of dozen times and it is truly annoying and leads you to believe the author may be a fourth grader.

As for Guy's advice . . . well, there's a reason why so many self-help and business success books are perennial bestsellers: people want guidance and advice And guy provides it in a witty, entertaining manner.

But virtually all of it has been served up hundreds, if not thousands, of times before by other authors. Some of what Guy offers up is pure nonsense without a shred of evidence to support it: it is just politically correct, like his overuse of the feminine. For example, he directs that companies "diversify" in their hiring, implying that if your workforce isn't statistically proportionate, you are doomed to an early end in a "Bozo Explosion". While it may be politically correct, the proposition is not supported by evidence.

Straining for material, Kawasaki resorts to interviews with other authors and academics, not a few of whom are cranks. One parses a conspiracy theory that would give a tinfoil hat wearer a run for their money.

Finally, Kawasaki tries to cover the waterfront with his advice. And the plains. And the mountains too. And the oceans. Everything. If you're looking for millions to start your company, Kawasaki has advice. If you're looking for a job, Kawasaki has advice. If you're the boss of a successful company, Kawasaki has advice.

The quality of the advice in every area, however, is suspect. First, much of it is common sense. If you have to buy as book to learn common sense, you have a problem. A lot of what Guy writes has been written about a zillion times before.

Take, for example, some of his advice about getting a job in Silicon Valley. Show up early, Guy says. "Get to your interview at least thirty minutes early because (a) you might hit traffic . . ." Actually, I think Guy means to say leave for your interview early because you might hit traffic, if She is not watching over you. Point is, who needs to buy a book to learn this? I love this line: "Answer the first question "How are you?" with a great response. For example, a great response is, "I feel great. I'm really anxious to learn more about this job and tell you about myself, so that we can determine if we're a good match". Very impressive: I'm sure the interviewer will be bowled over by your sincerity.

As one of his later chapters, Guy has one entitled "Are You an Egomaniac?" I think Guy is - and he appears to make a good living from it.

On the whole, 'Reality Check" is no worse than then some advice books and perhaps is valuable to simply reassure people that common sense is still a valuable commodity. But for business success tips, Guy doesn't offer anything you haven't seen before. I'd suggest holding off on this one until it is remaindered or just get it from the library.

Jerry
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Showing 1-10 of 16 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 29, 2009, 9:51:28 AM PDT
Anything put together in an entertaining package is a great motivator. I'm tired of reading the heavy stuff in Harvard Business Review. Good for you, Guy! Continue being a self-promoter if it gives us some motivation.

Posted on May 1, 2009, 3:13:49 PM PDT
Lola. M says:
Thank you for your honest review. I fully agree with your assessment of his writing style.

In reply to an earlier post on May 1, 2009, 7:03:17 PM PDT
Thank you for your kind words. I took a look at your reviews. You write a fine review.

Jerrt

Posted on May 13, 2009, 1:01:57 PM PDT
Excellent Jerry! You pulled the words from my mind. The most impressive and useful information can be gleaned from the wonderful and fantastic and ongoing and never stopping promotion and marketing utilized by Guy.

Posted on Nov 9, 2009, 1:46:23 AM PST
Y. Chang says:
Thank you for pointing out the fact that this is not a creative, but rather repetition of what "many people" probably already learned before. Still, I think it's always fine someone repeated the "common sense" as long as it's 1. acknowledging the prior works, and 2. entertaining. My question is - what books would you recommend or actually make comparison with? I will be interested in reading the "classical".

Posted on Feb 8, 2010, 9:55:57 AM PST
phigirl says:
Thanks for the very helpful review, however I'm in an academic/university setting and yes, I have seen people use "she/her" many times in their writing. Personally, as a female, I know it's just an attempt at being "PC" and don't really care which gender pronoun someone uses.

Posted on May 31, 2010, 9:12:16 AM PDT
whoorple says:
Kawasaki is all about promoting Kawasaki. That's really all anyone needs to know about his books.

In reply to an earlier post on May 31, 2010, 11:35:07 AM PDT
Whoorple:

You got it spot on. Still, on the few occasions I met him, he came across as a good guy and I think he is. But I think you are absolutely right: Kawasaki is selling Kawasaki.

Jerry

Posted on Dec 17, 2011, 7:33:56 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 17, 2011, 7:46:38 PM PST
With all respect Jerry I have to ask: have you actually run a start-up company that needed to seek funds and employ people, for example?

I just don't think the advise in here is that obvious. It may perhaps be obvious when you compare it with the many business books you have read. But if you are reading that many, why waste so much time, when you could be running the business? Knowledge is nothing unless we apply it, and then we truly learn it, and learn it properly.

What we have here is hard learned advise. I think there are many people with their heads in the clouds in at least some aspects of business and this book puts them right. It certainly did for myself and I am greteful for it. Personally I did not notice the "she aspect" at all, as I was too busy making notes of the tips! Whether they are also mentioned in others books does not matter surely? Maybe to a self help junkie who wants always to learn something new, but should really be getting on and applying the material? Who really cares if there is anything new in here or not? I liked the writing style, the book helped me, made me think. If there is a better book, or books - would it not surely be useful to list them? This to me (and I am sure many others) would increase the value of your review. I hate to say it, but is that not common sense?

This book is not an artform, it's not a novel. It's not for students of business studies looking for a Phd. It's just like I said, hard learned advise from someone who has done it. It resonates with me because i am doing it right now. Believe me, it is not that obvious, and I am glad for my "reality check".

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 17, 2011, 7:54:38 PM PST
Matter of fact, Andrew, I have created a number of businesses over the years, the largest of which employed over 50 people and did eight-digit revenues. Of my 55 years in the work force, I have spent a total of perhaps 3 working for others.

As another commented noted, Kawasaki - whom I have met on several occasions and like - is all about promoting Kawasaki.

If his repackaged advice helps you, good for you - but don't get all silly and take my disagreement with the value of his advice as grounds to question my experience.

Jerry
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