Have you ever wondered how you could be a remarkable innovator?

A little bit about my background, I was the chief evangelist of Apple and am currently the chief evangelist of Canva, an online, graphics-design company from Australia. I have authored fifteen books including The Art of the Start, Enchantment, and The Art of Social Media. I am also a brand ambassador for Mercedes-Benz – someone has to do it, right?

I give over fifty keynote speeches per year. My clients include Apple, Nike, Gartner, Audi, Google, Microsoft, and Breitling as well as dozens of trade associations. My speech topics include innovation, enchantment, social media, evangelism, and entrepreneurship. Although events are now virtual and we’re all at home, there’s plenty of opportunities to gather inspiration for your journey.

In this episode of Remarkable People, I’m going to give you a mini-keynote called How to be a Remarkable Innovator. I hope this episode of Remarkable People helps you and your business. And now, How to be a Remarkable Innovator.

In this episode of Remarkable People with Guy Kawasaki:

  • How to be a remarkable innovator
  • What I learned from the toughest teachers and bosses [including Steve Jobs]
  • Why your goal should be to make meaning [not money]

Question of the week!

This week’s question is:

Question: Who are your innovative inspirations? Share on X

Use the #remarkablepeople hashtag to join the conversation!

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Follow Remarkable People Host, Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki:
Hello, I'm Guy Kawasaki, and this is the Remarkable People podcast.
Usually, my podcast features interviews with remarkable people, such as; Jane Goodall, Steve Wozniak, Arianna Huffington, Margaret Atwood, Martha Stewart, Sir Ken Robinson, Roy Yamaguchi, Kristi Yamaguchi, Stephen Wolfram, Gary Vaynerchuk, or iJustine.
But every once in a while, I like to change things up and provide a mini keynote about a specific subject. The goal for these mini keynotes is to help you become more remarkable as easily and quickly as possible.
We're getting towards the fall, and that's when many companies introduced new products, so this episode's topic is how to bring remarkable awareness for a new product.
I've been involved with many, many... oh my God, too many product introductions. Of course, the mother of all product introduction was Macintosh, January twenty-fourth, 1984.
But since then, I've introduced software. I've introduced hardware. I was working for Motorola when it was part of Google and introduced the Moto X phones. And of course, I'm the chief evangelist of Canva, so I was involved with the introduction of Canva.
So as an employee, as an investor, as an advisor, as an entrepreneur, I've been involved with many product introductions, and I'd like to pass on some tactical and practical tips for you right now.
One of my favorite books is called Absolute Value: What Really Influences Customers in the Age of (Nearly) Perfect Information. It was written by Itamar Simonson and Emmanuel Rosen. Simonson and Rosen explain a new approach to planting seeds to build awareness for a new product or service.
Their idea is that the traditional trickle-down lifecycle approach that started when Moses went to see God is less applicable because online information is fast, free, and maybe nearly perfect.
Here's an example that I'm very familiar with. In the old days, people used to wait for a review of a book. The review would come from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, or The New York Times. If you got a good review, people would read your books, and the rest would become history. This chain of events started with the review, the experts who reviewed your book.
Fast forward to today. I don't know anybody who waits for a book review from The New York Times or Publishers Weekly or Kirkus to buy a book.
Now, what you do is you go to Amazon, you see that it has four, four and a half or five stars. You read the first three or four reviews. You click. It's in your cart, and the next thing you know, you own it.
In the old days, you had to wait for the review, then you had to read the review, and then you had to buy the book. Today, you go to Amazon and in thirty seconds, you'll make a decision.
This is a whole new world, and it requires a whole new approach to product introductions. Information no longer trickles down. It disperses fast, free, and far. The ramifications of this has turned marketing upside down in several ways.
First, experts matter less. Many people can evaluate products and spread the reputation almost immediately. I like to say that nobodies are the new somebodies. Few people are waiting for the experts to opine.
It may be, in the case of books, Lonely Boy Fifteen or Tiffany from LA that shapes your opinion of a book and whether you buy it or not. I've been discussing books, but I think this theory applies to many, many products.
Second, brands are less important. When information was incomplete and slow, people depended on brands for quality assurance. Not anymore. Now what matters, whether it's books or cars or computers, is the star ranking and the first few comments.
Number three, past experience and loyalty are both transient. In a perfect world, the producers of what you bought in the past create great stuff in the future. In the real world, sometimes they do and sometimes, they don't. For example, people may love the sharing features of a social media platform, but never use its new messaging service. This means that merit is the new marketing. Not brands, not proxies, merit.
Number four, omniscience and omnipotence are illusions. You can't know who will help you nor can you control people with your marketing and advertising. My recommendation is you blast your product out and then flow with the go. Take your victories where you can get them, and ignore your losses.
So those are the four ways that things have changed. Now let me give you some tips on how to thrive in this kind of environment.
First, plant many seeds. Plant fields of flowers, not flower boxes. This is the strategy of big numbers. The more seeds, the more flowers. You never know which seed will turn into a flower.
Number two, ignore people's titles. I would say that generally, the more impressive the title, the less likely that the person is going to embrace new technology, new products, or new services. They have worked so hard to get to where they are, that they don't want to risk what they have. Also, when you achieve a high position, you start getting people around you. You have personal assistants and secretaries and administrative aids. Now, your information is limited and filtered.
Don't get me wrong. If a CXO wants to help you, take the help, but the presence of an impressive title doesn't mean that the person can understand what you're doing and is willing to help you.
Furthermore, the lack of an impressive title doesn't mean that the person cannot help you. Macintosh was successful because it got into companies through the sides and bottoms, never the tops.
Number three, do things that don't scale. Many times, you think, "Wow, I'm introducing a new product, a new service. But if I do things like special treatment, customized programming, on-site support, visitations, all these special things, I won't be able to scale because if I had to do that for everybody, I can't possibly fill all their needs. This kind of support, this kind of special stuff, we just can't provide that going forward."
But you know what? At the start, you have to do things that don't scale in order to establish a beachhead.
A great benefit of doing things that don't scale is you will probably have much more face-to-face contact with your customers and potential customers. You will learn so much by seeing how people are truly using your product or service. This kind of information is valuable in order for you to make the product that someday is shipping in large volumes.
Don't be afraid of doing things that don't scale. You should be so lucky that you have such success that you're having difficulty scaling. That is what we call a high quality problem.
Number four, de-prioritize short-term profit maximization. You're going to have to pay the price. Put out your product, put out your service, get it into the hands of people, start the buzz.
When I introduce a book, believe it or not, I send out 2,000 copies of my manuscript. I do it in Word, and I send people the entire Word file. A lot of authors and a lot of publishers think I'm crazy, but you know what? The sales that I may lose because some of these people would have bought the book is completely eclipsed by the buzz and word of mouth and passion that this seeding causes for my book. So don't worry about short term profit maximization. Of course, you could make the case that it's easy for me to say because you're the one who's running short of money, but this is why it's easier to be the podcaster than the listener.
Number five. Number five is the flip side of number four which is don't be paranoid. Let people help you. Going back to my book example, when I send out 2,000 copies of a book in Word, if I were paranoid, I'd say, "Well, someone's going to upload it, then everybody in the whole world is going to get it for free, and no one will ever buy it." You know what? That hasn't happened. Or at least, I don't know if it did happen. And I certainly don't know if it really crushed my sales.
Could people upload the file? Could they pass it around? Absolutely. But the upside of getting more buzz, more talk and getting feedback is worth the risk. Don't be paranoid. Take the high road. The rising tide floats all boats.
Number six, one of the ways to truly take advantage of your lack of paranoia and your lack of focusing on short-term profit maximization is to give people the ability to test drive your cause, your product, your service. It's a limited version. It's a version that times out. It's something that doesn't maintain full functionality. What you're saying to people is, "I think you're smart and because I think you're smart, I'm not going to bludgeon you into becoming our customer." Instead, the perspective is, "I trust you. I think you're smart. Try it. And then you decide."
Remember we now exist in the world of perfect, fast, and free information. Yes, if you can get a review by a big publication or a famous entity by journalists, by experts, by influentials, hallelujah, take it. But don't focus all your efforts on that because nobodies are truly the new somebodies. And the way it works is you get your product out there, people embrace it, and they start talking.
Then, guess what? The publications, the experts, the journalists have to cover you.
So which came first? In the old days, big publications, the journalists, and the experts caused your success. Today, make yourself successful with the nobodies and then the journalists and the experts and the big publications have to write about you.
So that's how to have a remarkable product introduction.
And now, it's my favorite part of every episode of my podcast. I'm going to read you some recent reviews.
First, "Guy is relentless," by Seth D. Brown, "When Guy commits to a project, he gives it his best. Remarkable People is another example of his commitment to delivering the best he can in whatever he pursues. His passion and continual improvement are evident throughout. Great guests, great insights, great job."
Great comment, Seth.
Thank you everybody for those comments. If you have a moment, please go to the Apple Podcast app and review Remarkable People. I might read your review someday.
As with many business topics, there isn't necessarily a right and a wrong. There's only what works and what doesn't. I hope by listening to this podcast, you will consider another way to introduce a product or service.
I'm Guy Kawasaki, and this is Remarkable People. My thanks to Jeff Sieh and Peg Fitzpatrick for helping me introduce this podcast.
Until the next episode, be safe, be healthy, wash your hands, stay six feet away from people, and wear a mask. Above all, listen to doctors and scientists, not necessarily politicians.
Mahalo and aloha.
This is Remarkable People.