The Art of Evangelism

by January 31, 2006

Chris Tung provides us with a recap of Guy Kawasaki's recent talk about The Art of Evangelism.

Guy Kawasaki, former chief evangelist for Apple, is witty, engaging and inspirational both on paper and in person. So, when he came to speak about "The Art of Evangelism", I couldn't pass up the opportunity to hear him and his 10 (okay, 11) rules of thumb for evangelizing your product, service or cause.

1. Making meaning makes money

  • We want people who make meaning.
  • Meaning creates value (this might be money), not the other way around.
  • Don't start with the money (pay attention, you "build to flip" entrepreneurs) or you'll end up attracting the two worst kinds of people for a startup: MBAs and VCs (Note: Guy is both. What can I say? He's a funny guy.)
  • You can make meaning by increasing the quality of life, righting a wrong (MS-DOS was an evil that had to be fought), or preventing the end of something good (save the whales!)

2. Make a mantra

  • Why does your product exist, i.e., how does it benefit the customer?
  • Only 3-4 words long: Target = "Democratize design", Wendy's = "Healthy fast food"
  • Wendy's actual mission statement is some gobbledygook about leadership, innovation, community)

3. Niche thyself

  • Showed typical "MBA" chart, X-axis = value to customer, Y-axis = uniqueness
  • Dotcoms (e.g., pet food online) = low value, not unique
  • You wanna be like GW Bush: "High, and to the right"

4. Localize the pain

  • Think local, individual
  • Examples: one person, one computer; prevent your children from getting melanoma

5. Let a hundred flowers blossom

  • Embrace unanticipated customers and uses
  • Don't be too proud, don't freak out
  • 6. Too hard to convert an atheist

    • Look for believers and agnostics
    • Fix for who's buying (this makes them love the product more and become even better evangelists), not for who's not buying, never for those who don't want to buy

    7. Enable test drives

    • Free samples

    8. Provide a slippery slope

    • Easiest way to get into your cause, no hoops

    8. 10/20/30 rule for seeking agreement

    • 10 slides, 20 mins, 30pt font

    9. Don't ask anyone to do something you wouldn't do

    10. Don't let the bozos (naysayers) grind you down

    • Obvious bozos (stupid slobs) vs. dangerous bozos (successful, powerful, rich people)
    • Dangerous bozo example: Ken Olsen (CEO, Digital, 1977): "There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home."
    • Another dangerous bozo: Tom Watson (CEO, IBM, 1943): "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
    • Guy turned down the opportunity to interview to be CEO of Yahoo! back in the 1990s (via Sequoia VC Michael Moritz): "It's too far to drive, and I don't see how it can be a business."

    One more thing...

    • Guy had a blog post two weeks ago called Art of Evangelism. I'm curious as to why the bullet points in his presentation and post didn't match (not that there's anything wrong with that.)
    • Guy is now a VC and founder of Garage Technology Ventures
    • Guy's slides were peppered with low-cost good photos from iStockPhoto, one of his VC companies
    • Guy also ran a demo for his latest investment, Filmloop

    Chris Tung is an Interaction Designer at Yahoo! He currently works in the Search group, but has also lead interaction design efforts on the Yahoo! Video player, client applications and the FIFA World Cup site. Chris records his thoughts at