Guy Kawasaki Says ‘Make Meaning’ Plus These 10 Tips to Master the Art of Innovation

By in Avid Customer Association

When you’re passionate about sharing the best newscast, movie, live performance or song with audiences both large and small, your creativity comes alive. And with creativity often comes innovation.

Whether you’re part of a large organization or an independent artist, we all need a little guidance on our journey to innovate—and Guy Kawasaki, chief evangelist of Canva and one of our keynote speakers at Avid Connect 2015, provided just that for attendees.

So just what did he share? Let me recap Guy’s top 11 tips along the road to innovation.

1. Make Meaning

“Innovating starts with the desire to make meaning,” according to Guy. “’Making meaning’ means that you change the world. If you happen to change the world, you’ll probably make money.”

For example, Guy said, “With Apple, they wanted to democratize computers. They wanted to bring computing power to everyone. That’s the meaning they made.”

If you truly want to make meaning, it’s the first step toward innovation.

2. Make a Mantra

Companies make mission statements, which often come off as boring in Guy’s view. What should we do instead? “Make mantras not mission statements,” he recommended.

Determine what your meaning is and why you exist, then you will find your mantra.

3. Jump to the Next Curve

Most companies stay on their curve aka don’t leave their comfort zone and innovate. To Guy, they are defining themselves based on what they do, not what they provide. “Great innovation occurs when you get to the next curve,” he said.

To get off your curve, “Don’t think about the process or product, but the benefits you provide,” he recommended. “What’s a better way to deliver what you deliver to your customers?”

4. Roll the Dicee

When it comes to great products, Guy said these are the five qualities of innovation:

Deep: They provide twice the meaning. For example, a sandal made by Reef protects your feet and opens beer bottles.
Intelligent: When you look at the product, its design reveals that someone understood your problem.
Complete: It’s the totality of the product, not just one part.
Empowering: They change the meaning of people’s lives, and make them more creative, more productive and more powerful.
Elegant: They show that someone cared about the user interface.

5. Don't Worry, Be Crappy

“It’s OK to ship with elements of crappiness – we ship in silicone valley and then we test,” Guy said.

If you wait for the perfect world, you may never ship your product, he shared. “I’m not saying you should ship crap, I’m saying you should ship things that are revolutionary … that may have elements of crappiness to it.”

6. Let 100 Flowers Blossom

“At the start of innovation, you may think you know exactly what people should do with your product, and low and behold it’s used completely different by completely different people – used in ways you didn’t foresee,” Guy said. “My advice: take the money.”

“Make the product better for the people who are embracing what you do, not rejecting what you do,” he urged.

7. Polarize People

Great products and great innovation polarize people, Guy said. People love or hate products, and don’t be afraid of that.

8. Churn Baby, Churn

Innovators and businesses continue to innovate—they “churn baby, churn.” According to Guy, “This is the hardest step because you need to be in denial and ignore the naysayers who say it cannot be done.”

Once you start to ship your product, you need to listen to people to innovate—then turn them off again.

9. Niche Thyself

Your product must be unique and it must be valuable.

“Engineers create a product that is unique and valuable,” Guy shared. “Marketing convinces the world that the product is unique and valuable—that’s where margins are made, money is made and history is made.”

10. Perfect Your Pitch

Customize your introduction, he said, and you will own your audience. When Guy opened a speech to LG Electronics, he made sure images of an LG washer and dryer were on the first slide. A little work goes a long way.

And don’t forget, he added, to follow the 10:20:30 rule for presentations: 10 slides, presented in 20 minutes, using 30-point font.

11. Don’t Let the Bozos Grind You Down

The more innovative you are, the more the bozos will try to grind you down, Guy shared. “If someone said you are going to fail and you listen to them, you will fail—don’t let them stop you.”


And that, my friends, is the art of innovation from Guy Kawasaki’s perspective. Catch our keynote speakers live at next year’s annual gathering of the Avid Customer Association—register for Avid Connect 2016 today.

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With a background in journalism and a passion for bringing information to the masses, I focus my attention on sharing the latest Avid news with you in my role as the Marketing Communications Specialist. @Timory