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The art of enchantment

Guy Kawasaki

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Want to impact people’s lives and appeal to their hearts and minds? Kawasaki, who helped developed the Macintosh computer brand and now works for graphic-design service Canva and as brand ambassador for Mercedes-Benz, shares 10 ideas for enchanting others and includes an obligatory Steve Jobs story. Presented at the 2017 Annual Meeting.

My topic today is the art of enchantment. This is about changing hearts and minds and actions, which I have to believe is a crucial part of your functionality and your skillset. So this is my first picture, a little bit of my history.

I am from Silicon Valley in California. This is a picture of the MacIntosh Division of Apple around 1984. [visual] I am in the upper left-hand corner. You can barely see me, if you can see me at all. One of my big career mistakes was that I did not stand in the front in this picture. Had I known that Apple would be so successful, I would have stood in the front of this picture, and I would have stayed at Apple. Quite frankly, I could have used people like you, some financial planning back then. But that's all water under the bridge. The most important person in this picture is probably Steve Jobs kneeling in the front. He was a remarkable person. He was very difficult to work for, but he drove me to achieve things I never thought I could achieve. And whenever anybody finds out that I worked for Apple and Steve Jobs, they always want a Steve Jobs story. So I will fulfill my moral obligation.

One day, I was working in my cube, and Steve Jobs showed up with this total stranger. And he asked me, "What do you think of this company, Guy, called Nowhere?" I said, "Well, it's kind of a mediocre company with mediocre product. It doesn't really take advantage of the MacIntosh graphics and color and mouse and all the cool stuff we do, Steve. So it's not a crucial product for Apple. It's not a very crucial company for Apple. Kind of mediocre." And then he turned to the guy and says, "I want you to meet the CEO of the company." So welcome to my life. That's how it was to work for Steve Jobs.

So that's my history. I was the software evangelist for Apple. Evangelism comes from the Greek word meaning bring the good news. So I brought the good news just as many of you bring the good news of peace of mind to your clients. I brought the good news of democratizing computing. So I was at Apple. I started some software companies. I became a writer and a speaker. I returned to Apple as Apple's chief evangelist. Today, I'm chief evangelist of a company out of Australia called Canva. It's a graphics design firm. I'm also a Mercedes Benz brand ambassador. That's in the category of "somebody has to do that." And finally, I'm an executive fellow at the Haas School of Business of UC Berkeley. So that's my background.

But I'm here today to talk to you about the art of enchantment. And this is a skill that I had to learn working at Apple where I had to enchant developers to write software. As an entrepreneur, I had to enchant people to join a startup. I had to enchant people to use a product that had no installed base and wasn't proven. I looked at some bodies of knowledge such as Dale Carnegie's book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. And also a book by Bob Cialdini called Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. I thought they were such great books that I would write the more digital version that took advantage of social media. So that's the genesis of my book.

Now, I always use a top 10 format for my speeches. That's in case you think I'm boring or lousy, you know exactly how many points I have. I have 10 key points for you so you can track the progress through my speech.

Let's start. I think this is no secret to any of you because so much of your work is person-to-person, analog, one-on-one, that the key here is that you need a great smile. Believe it or not, people make judgments instantly about whether a person is trustworthy, whether a person is likeable. And they make it based on your facial expression. There are two kinds of smiles in the world. One is this fake smile where you're sort of holding a pencil between your teeth, and you're trying to act like you're happy. And the other smile is the sincere smile. This is the Duchenne smile, and the mark of a Duchenne smile, the way you can tell a great smile from a lousy smile, is crow's feet. You actually want crow's-feet. So those of you who are concerned about Botox and plastic surgery, I want to reassure you about something: You are not getting older; you are getting more enchanting. You actually want crow's feet.

This is a picture of Richard Branson, one of the most enchanting people in business. [visual] As you can see, he has the Grand Canyon of crow's feet. Richard Branson. Make a Duchenne smile. Step number one.

Step number two is to always default to yes. And by defaulting to yes, I mean that when you meet people, you should always be thinking positively. People who default to no are worried about being taken advantage of, being ripped off, stuff like that. But people who default to yes are always thinking How can I help this person? I have been doing this through my whole career, and I will tell you with total certainty that defaulting to yes, just accruing great karma, always works out. The upside of defaulting to yes far exceeds the downside of possibly being taken advantage of. So always default to yes.

The third thing, the third way to become a great enchanter, a great influencer and persuader, is to become a baker not an eater. The world can be divided between two kinds of people: Bakers and eaters. Eaters see the world as a zero-sum gain. If you eat the pie, I eat less of the pie. The more you eat, the less I eat. If you eat first, I have to eat after you. Bakers do not see the world this way. Bakers see the world as a non-zero-sum gain. Bakers see the world as "Well, I can bake more pies. I can bake cookies. I can bake cakes." Everybody can be successful. This is the so-called "a rising tide floats all boats." And my experience is that bakers are much more enchanting than eaters because bakers don't see other people's gain as their loss. If you want to influence and persuade people, think like a baker. Make more pies, bigger pies. Don't think like an eater.

The fourth way to become a great enchanter is to trust people. And the way trust works is that the burden is always upon you. So the way you become trustworthy is that you trust first. The burden is always upon you. So if you want to be trusted, you have to trust other people first. You trust other people first, then they will come to trust you. The burden is always upon you.

I think a great example of this is Zappos. Think about Zappos. Millions of people buy shoes from Zappos. If you had told me the way Zappos would work is that it would enable people to buy shoes online, I would have told you you're crazy. That you could sell books this way, you could sell CDs this way, you could sell DVDs this way. But shoes? Shoes people want to hold, they want to see, they want to touch, they want to smell. Shoes? No can do. No can do e-commerce shoes. But Zappos has clearly proved this to be wrong. And the reason why Zappos proved this wrong is because it fostered a reputation for trust. And the most obvious way it did this is that it has the world's greatest return policy, which is that Zappos will pay for you to return any shoe you want. It pays shipping both ways. Whereas most companies have this RMA procedure, and you have to jump through these hoops, and you have to be online and get a special number. Zappos, so easy. Print the shipping label, send it back. I know this works because every week, a box comes into my house from Zappos. And every week a slightly smaller box goes back.

In doing research for this speech, I found the world's greatest policy on top of this policy. And I'm going to prepare you for something that's going to happen in about three years. I discovered on Zappos' website that if you buy shoes on February 29 of a leap year, you have four years to return it. So if you remember nothing else from my presentation except this, remember to buy shoes on February 29, and you have four years to return it.

The point here is that Zappos trusted people in advance. People came to trust Zappos. That's the order. Not chicken or egg. There's a very specific order.

Number five is that if you want to be enchanting, if you want to influence and persuade people, you have to accept others for what they are. Have you ever met a person and you can just detect that that person didn't like your gender or your sexual orientation or your religion or your color or your region or your political party or whatever it is? They thought you should change to their standards. Those kinds of people are never enchanting. My recommendation is that you learn to accept others for what they are, not try to change people. Even at an extreme, no matter how much jewelry they have in their face, accept people for what they are.

Number six is when you're trying to enchant people, you need to find something to agree on. Anything to agree on. And I think the world's greatest gift for making this happen is LinkedIn. Because with LinkedIn, you can look up almost everybody you're going to meet, and you can find stuff about them. You learn about their education, they're career. You find that you have companies in common. You're looking for something to break the ice, something to have this conversation about. You both work for Apple or you both knew people who worked for Apple or you both went to San Jose State or you both went to the University of South Florida, whatever it is.

Now, you may be wondering what in the world does this picture have to do with agreeing on something? [visual] The great story is about two Latin American countries. They have this major diplomatic crisis. They meet in a neutral third country. They make no progress for days. Finally, the chief diplomat of one country says to the chief diplomat of the other country, "You know, we need to solve this by Friday because I need to return home on that day. The reason I need to return home that day is because my wife made me promise her I would take her to the opera."

He goes on to say, "I hate the opera, but my wife is forcing me to take her to the opera." The other diplomat, who has agreed with nothing all week says to the other diplomat, "Your wife forces you to take her to the opera too? I also hate the opera. My wife also forces me to go to the opera." So they finally found something to agree on. Based on that dislike of opera, they formed a relationship that led to a solution of the diplomatic crisis. The message is, find something to agree on. It could be a dislike of opera. It could be a dislike of Tom Brady. It doesn't matter what you have in common. Find something to agree on. Adoption. Sports. TV. Literature. Whatever it is, find something to agree on.

Number seven. Think about Dale Carnegie in the 1930s. How could he enchant people? Best case. He brings them into a hotel ballroom, maybe he can send paper letters through the mail. Think of where we are today with social media, with Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Twitter. Think of the ways we can reach people. We are so far beyond phones and faxes and getting on airplanes and driving. Yes, you need a Duchenne smile, but you could also follow up and enhance your relationship with people by using technology. But to use technology, you have to remove the speed bumps.

And one of the major speed bumps we have created in technology is all these processes to get into the tent, to be part of the community. Capture is one example. All of you have encountered Capture, right? We know the purpose of Capture. The purpose of Capture is to reduce the number of customers you have by making them go through such a frustrating process that they give up.

This is a screen shot from Capture. [visual] The first word you enter is holber, not so hard. The second word is the problem. Do you know what that second word is? Do you know what language that is? How many of you have a Hebrew keyboard? So, in this group of people, none of you could get past Capture. That is a speed bump. You need to remove the speed bumps from your product, your service, your practice, whatever it is. Remove the speed bumps.

I'll give you a positive example. There's a company in California called Sungevity. And Sungevity is in the business of commercial installations of home solar panels. For anyone who has ever done any kind of home repair, home improvement, home renovation, you know there's a major speed bump, which is the bidding process. You have to invite these contractors over. You have to be there. They have to show up. It's a major speed bump. But what Sungevity has done, which is very clever, is that they ask you for your address. From your address, they look you up on a satellite photo. From the satellite photo, they can see your house. From the satellite photo of your house, they know which way is southwest. They can see the trees, they can see the size of your roof. From that photo, they mock up the solar panels on your roof. From that mockup, they can figure out how much the solar panel will cost, how big it will be, how much power it can generate. All you have to do is give them your home address. You didn't have to be there. They didn't have to show up. They didn't have to climb onto your roof. That is removing a speed bump.

So in your business, are there ways to remove speed bumps? I think a very good test, and a test that was taught to me when I was very young, is never ask people to do something that you yourself would not do. If you don't want to do Capture, don't ask people to do Capture. Remove the speed bumps.

Number eight is to be sure that you enchant everybody in the decision-making process. I think far too many people assume that it's always the father, and you'd be wrong 80 percent of the time. It's the mother. You should focus on the mother. Sometimes it may be the sister-in-law, sometimes it may be the father, the grandfather, but don't assume you know who the decision maker and key influencer is.

Case in point, in my family, even beyond my wife, I would say the person who influences my decisions the most is my daughter. And I know, and I assure you most men who have daughters would agree with me, your happiness is gated by your daughter's happiness. Which is to say, if your daughter is happy, maybe you can be happy. If your daughter is not happy, you cannot be happy. That's just the way it is.

And as proof of my commitment to my daughter and the influence that she wields upon me, I will tell you that I have been to not one, but two Justin Bieber concerts. Is there any greater proof of a father's love for his daughter than going to not one, but two Justin Bieber concerts?

The message here is: Be sure you enchant everyone. Don't assume it's the father. It could be the wife, the sister, the grandfather, the grandmother or, in my case, the daughter.

Number nine is if you want to enchant people, you have to invoke reciprocation. You have to reciprocate and invoke reciprocation. So this is that great book that I mentioned, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Bob Cialdini. [visual] This carpet depicts a great example of reciprocation. During the 1930s, the country of Italy invaded the country of Ethiopia. And when that invasion occurred, world opinion was really quite muted. The only country that stood up and supported Ethiopia was Mexico. Mexico condemned what Italy was doing. Everybody else remained silent.

Fast forward about 50 years, there's a humongous earthquake in Mexico. Thousands of people died. The people, however, of Ethiopia remembered.

So, this is the book by Bob Cialdini. It's called Influence, and this is the carpet that depicts this war between Italy and Ethiopia. So my message here is that 50 years after this war occurred, Mexico had this humongous earthquake, and the people of Ethiopia, even though they were in the middle of a famine, collected money and sent money back to Mexico. Fifty years later.

There is a similar example in America. Right after the Civil War, the people of New York bought the people of Charleston, South Carolina, a fire truck because they heard that the people in Charleston were using a bucket brigade. The first fire truck was on a ship that sank, so they bought them another one.

Fast forward 150 years. And now there's 9/11. And what do the people of Charleston do? The people of Charleston raised $500,000 and bought the people of New York a fire truck. They reciprocated 150 years later. That's how powerful reciprocation is.

So the message here is that if you want to enchant people, you should reciprocate. You should help. You should expect them to help also. This is a very powerful concept. Indeed, it is probably the force that keeps society together, the fact that people reciprocate. You help me, I'll help you back. I'll pay it forward. You'll help me back some day.

I'm an author of 13 books, and when an author of books tells you to read somebody else's book, there is no greater praise. I think every one of you should read this book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Bob Cialdini.

Number 10 is if all else fails, get on your knees and beg for it. This is a picture where I am with Richard Branson, and we are in Russia. [visual] We're both making a speech at the same conference. We're in the speaker-ready room. I'm sitting there, and he walks into the room and says, "Guy, do you fly on Virgin?" I say, "Well Richard, I'm United Airlines Global Services. This is a level of United Airlines that's at the highest level of their customers. It makes United Airlines tolerable, quite frankly, Richard. And no one really knows how you get to be Global Services with United, so I really don't want to risk my Global Services level, my status." And when I said that, he got down on his knees, and he started polishing my shoes. So this is the very moment that I decided to fly on Virgin America. And Richard Branson, with all his crow's-feet, getting down on his knees, this is the height of enchantment.

Think of this, this is a billionaire. A knight getting down on his knees. And my message here is that you do all these things, but fundamentally, it is about helping people. It is about serving people. It is about doing what's necessary.

I think all of you have a fantastic product. Now, from the outside looking in, sometimes people don't appreciate exactly what they do. They are so close to it. They're thinking in terms of policies and practices and products and stuff. But I think from the outside looking in, what your industry stands for is peace of mind. That when you sell them something, you are selling not a product, not a service, not a policy, you are selling peace of mind, and that is a very enchanting thing to do.

So take these 10 points. I think they'll make you more enchanting. They'll make you more influential. They'll help you change hearts and minds and actions. Just remember, from an outsider's perspective, your fundamental value proposition is you provide peace of mind. And that is the art of enchantment.

Guy Kawasaki, an American marketing specialist, is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic-design tool. He is a brand ambassador for Mercedes-Benz and an executive fellow of the Haas School of Business (UC Berkeley). He was the chief evangelist of Appleand a trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation.

 

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