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Interview with Guy Kawasaki

April 29, 2008 in An interview

Guyk Guy Kawasaki's "no-bull-shiitake" wisdom and style makes him an endearing and inspiring figure. He is best known to entrepreneurs for his writing and speaking. (His excellent Art of the Start is required reading for all WorkHappy readers.)

He also runs Garage Technology Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm. A couple years ago he started his own blog and posted a flurry of excellent posts that pulled his blog into A-list status in a hurry. Then lately he has started a couple ventures of his own. Last year came Truemors, and this year, AllTop.

WorkHappy.net was included on the AllTop directory for startups, and since I had his attention, I asked him to spare a few minutes for some questions. Here they are:

1. So you busted Steve Ballmer's chops pretty hard. It made a ridiculously entertaining and enlightening interview, did he thank you afterward?

He did, as a matter of fact. Other than throwing my Macbook Air on the ground, he was rather gracious. Time Magazine had me write a profile of him, so I’m going to get the last shot.

2. You've obviously built a very successful entrepreneurial career of your own, including authoring books, and speaking.  But your first claim to fame is having worked for Apple, how did you go from an Apple employee to a Venture Capitalist?

After my first tour of duty at Apple I started a Macintosh database company. Then I became a writer and speaker and then started another Macintosh software company. After that, I returned to Apple as an Apple fellow. Finally, after that, I started Garage.com which became the early-stage venture capital firm called Garage Technology Ventures.

3. So with all the advice you've given on pitching VCs, have you seen an improvement in the quality of pitches to Garage Technology Ventures?

Honestly, they’re not that much better. They are still too long, still using meaningless buzz words like “revolutionary,” and still don’t have credible business models. If only they would adhere to the 10/20/30 rule of Powerpoint: Ten slides, twenty minutes, 30 point font.

4. What concepts are you tired of seeing?

A fill-in-the-blank version of Facebook. That is, Facebook for guinea pig owners, Facebook for senior citizens, Facebook for Loch Ness monster believers. I’m getting anti-social in my later years.

5. When being pitched, what marketing approach most impresses you?

A product that is so compelling that adoption is close to involuntary. It hardly ever happens, though.

6. What are the most popular excuses you see for people who just can't get going on their venture?

They are working on their business plan. VCs fund people or products or services. They don’t fund “plans.” Step one for entrepreneurs is to build a prototype. That’s what truly counts.

7. You've been launching some new Internet ventures of your own lately (Truemors and AllTop), how closely have been able to follow your own advice from Art of the Start? (e.g. What meaning does Truemors make? What's Alltop's business model?)

I try to follow what my book says—at least until I figure out that my books is wrong. Truemors makes the meaning of democratizing information. Alltop’s business model is to attract people interested in narrow topics like food, wine, economics, China, India, and moms and then to sell ads to these self-selected audiences.

8. If AllTop and Truemors didn't have the buzzworthy name of Guy Kawasaki attached to them, what would you do differently to market them?

Not much. A buzzworthy name can only go so far. At an early point, the product is either good or not. It would be harder for someone without my visibility to market either Truemors or Alltop. On the other hand, more is expected of me, so judgment is harsher. Such is life.

9. Who makes the decision about where a site appears in the AllTop order of things?

Most of the time, it’s me. It’s subjective based on factors like the credibility a feed adds to our topic, the quality of the content, and how much we like the person.

10. Many of us at WorkHappy will read anything you write. Is there an author about whom you feel that way?

You flatter me way too much. I will read anything Tom Clancy, David Baldacci, and one other whose name I cannot remember right now. He always writes about snipers. As you can tell, I’m not a cerebral reader.

11. Are you done writing books?

Nope, I have a new book coming out in October. It’s called Reality Check. It contains the best of my blog and latest writing from the past three years.

12. You and John Ondrasik are the only guys I know of who like ice hockey (or at least admit to it). What are the rest of us missing?

Ice hockey is a beautiful sport. It combines physics, ballet, chess, and hand-to-hand combat. It’s hard to learn, and it’s hard to master. It is the only thing that I am not good at that I love.

Thanks Guy!

See also:

Did you know Authentic Jobs now has an affiliate program? Sign up and earn $75 per referral.

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Authentic Jobs launches affiliate program, pays $75 per referral

April 21, 2008 in WorkHappy.net Advertiser

Ajaffiliate As I've mentioned before, WorkHappy is partnered with Authentic Jobs to help employers find top-flight web design and development talent, and to help that talent find work. I've used it several times myself to great success.

(You can see the job listing on the top of the sidebar on every page here on WH.net.)

Last week Authentic Jobs rolled out an affiliate program and they pay $75 if you refer an employer who makes a full time job post (or $25 for freelance posts).

Which is pretty juicy if you've got a website that might cater to this crowd.

The signup and management of this is just brilliant, incidentally. So simple and clean. Payments are made through PayPal and are paid instantly each time a referral listing is purchased. Take that complicated affiliate management programs!

p.s. they've also got a new API you can tie into with this for you technical types.

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Happy Link - Gary Vaynerchuk analysis

April 10, 2008

An excellent post by Jason Fried on the inspiring Gary Vaynerchuk provides an analysis of what makes him successful. Well worth studying.

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Happy Links - Ecommerce Best Practices Edition

April 8, 2008 in Happy Links

I struck gold finding this blog packed with great information for those in online retail. (via)

A few examples:

  • Welcome Email Usability Tips for Online Retailers
    An excellent and thorough analysis of the subscription practices of 118 of the largest etailers. (42% used HTML layouts, 15% offered incentives like free shipping on next order).
  • Registration Usability - 87 Registration Forms Tested
    This report discusses common fields requested during registration and how often they are used (e.g. Required First / Last Name - 54%, Required Birthday - 7%), discusses the ideal registration form length (as simple as possible, natch, but be creative if you need a lot of info), and ends with 13 registration form usability tips (e.g. Avoid hiding important information in graphics that look like ads or buttons that can be overlooked).
  • Losing Customers at the Register: 12 Checkout Blunders
    Examples, dead-end receipt pages, and upselling at checkout.
  • Registration Usability - Permission Email Dos and Donts
    In summary, don't send marketing emails to folks who sign up with you, unless they specifically request it. Otherwise you erode trust and lower open rates. She takes a few companies to task, then offers an 8 step checklist (Don’t pre-check the boxes for subscriptions).

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