Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki – book review

Enchantment is the latest book by Guy Kawasaki, the former chief evangelist at Apple. He is also the founder of Alltop.com (an online magazine rack of popular topics on the web – disclosure this blog is highlighted as one of the Alltop PR blogs) and a founding partner at Garage Technology Ventures. In January Guy asked me if I’d like to receive a review copy, which duly arrived last month. I’d meant to publish a review on March 8 when it was published, but recent events have meant that I’ve been somewhat distracted.

The 140 character review is ‘Full of tips on how to exert influence in the nicest possible ways. You’ll know lots of them, but it’s great to be reminded in context’.

I’m not sure I learnt that much from Guy’s book as a lot of it made me say to myself ‘yes, that’s right’. What it did do is make me think that it’s all very well knowing what I should be doing to ‘enchant’ people, but it’s quite another to do it consistently day in day out. Guy starts out by trying to answer the question ‘Why Enchantment?’ and explaining why the techniques he espouses aren’t meant to be scientifically proven management techniques, but are based on experience, gut instinct, anecdotal evidence and common sense. He also uses the rather clichéd, but still effective, technique of including ‘personal stories’ throughout the book to illustrate and reinforce key themes. Some of them are perhaps a little ‘cheesy’ and American for a more cynical UK and European audience.

The video is an abridged 11 minute video of Guy’s one hour Stamford speech.

The second chapter can basically be summed up as the start of the ‘be nice’ mantra that runs throughout the book. He goes into more detail about smiling, dress, handshakes, language , values, swearing and the value of saying yes. One of the elements I like best about the book is the anecdotes and stories in the actual chapters, as opposed to the cheesy personal stories. His account of the argument between Leo Laporte and Michael Arrington on The Gilmour Gang podcast leaves you in little doubt that he saw Arrington as the bad guy and Laporte legitimately defending himself by swearing. Judge for yourself by watching the encounter:

The second is devoted to trustworthiness, after all you’re never going to enchant someone if they don’t trust you.

It gets more interesting in the third chapter where Guy introduces Gary Klein’s concept of premortems. The idea is that at the start of a project you brainstorm about why it failed – for example you misunderstood the customer’s needs. This way you can start to figure out the solutions in advance and hopefully prevent them occurring in the first place. A great idea if you can make it work and far better than a postmortem where even if you say that it’s not about blame there are still going to be people in the team who want to be defensive or point the finger.

The next two chapters are devoted to ‘How to overcome resistance’ and ‘How to make enchantment endure’, followed by a couple on technology – first push (e.g. presentations and email) and then pull (e.g. blogs and LinkedIn). Then it’s on to two more practical chapters on ‘How to enchant your employees’ and ‘How to enchant your boss’.

After Guy has taught you everything there is to know about enchanting people,  he then devotes the final chapter to resisting enchantment from others.

In summary I’d say:

Pros: Light and easy to read and jam packed with some great tips and reminders to help you be more successful.

Cons: Sometimes a bit heavy on the American management speak and doesn’t really contain much that’s genuinely new.

My recommendation is that it’s well worth buying (and if you buy it by clicking on my Amazon affiliate link I might make thre’pence out of it!)

You can also take a fun web quiz to see how enchanting you really are. Most people score in the low teens, I managed 17 out of 24 – which isn’t bad, but I’d have needed 19 to ‘teach Guy a thing or two’.