Making People Remarkable with Guy Kawasaki

In this episode of The Widest Net Podcast, I am joined by the incomparable Guy Kawasaki for a lively and thought provoking conversation about the remarkable people he has interviewed and the impact he would like to leave through his podcast, Guy Kawasaki’s Remarkable People.

Guy Kawasaki is the Chief Evangelist of Canva and the creator of Guy Kawasaki’s Remarkable People podcast. He is an executive fellow of the Haas School of Business (UC Berkeley), and adjunct professor of the University of New South Wales. He was the chief evangelist of Apple and a trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation. He has written Wise Guy, The Art of the Start 2.0, The Art of Social Media, Enchantment, and eleven other books. Guy’s knack for finding remarkable people and companies is the crux of our conversation and his career.

Here’s the full transcript from the episode:

Introducing Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki


Do let me turn off my phone here


Pamela Slim  00:08

All right. And then just I will get rolling right now. It is always a special treat to talk to today’s guest who whether or not he knows it has played a very significant role in the development of my body of work. Guy Kawasaki is the Chief Evangelist of Canva. And the creator of Guy Kawasaki’s Remarkable People Podcast. He’s the executive fellow of the Haas School of Business from UC Berkeley, and adjunct professor at the University of New South Wales. He was the chief evangelist at Apple and a trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation. He has written Wiseguy The Art of the Start 2.01 of my favorites, the art of social media and Chapman and 11 other books. He has a BA from Stanford, an MBA from UCLA, and an honorary doctorate from Babson College. Welcome to the widest net podcast.


Guy Kawasaki


Thank you. Thank you for having me. Pam. Good to see you again.


Pamela Slim  01:04

Good to see you too. So what the morning pages a loss violin is serous wetsuits, sound branding, Porsches, vehicle allocation posts row America, Barack Obama’s Twitter account Russia strategy and Ukraine and ejaculatory responsibility have in common.


Guy Kawasaki


They are all subjects of my podcast. Yes. They are very wide net from my blog. Yes,


Pamela Slim  01:35

you do it is I think you have seen through my tweets, I have become a voracious listener, which is part of why I was interested to have you on the show. Because I’m so interested at the thread of how it is that you choose who to have on your podcast.


The Remarkable People Podcast

Guy Kawasaki


Well, the podcast is called remarkable people as opposed to famous people or rich people. And so I am on a mission to help people learn from remarkable people so that they too can become remarkable. And, you know, I have some household names like Jane Goodall, Steve Wozniak, Neil deGrasse. Tyson, Kristi Yamaguchi, but I also have many people that you’ve never heard of who are in turn, still very remarkable. And I honestly, as I look back on my career, this is the best work I’ve ever done. Because it, it takes a lot to pull this podcast off. First of all, you need somehow access to these people. So you don’t exactly just, you know, send the email to Jane at Goodall See, Jane, how would you like to be on my podcast? So I have access to these people. I also have about 40 years of experience under my belt. So I think I know questions to ask that most podcasters don’t. And I also I want to make it clear that this podcast is called remarkable people. Not a remarkable guy. So if you were to measure how much I talk versus how much my guests talks, it’s about 9010 90 being them. 10 being me. And I just think I have a perspective. And because I’ve been there and done that, in so many instances, I know what to ask. And I try have a very intentional interview style, where I try to never ask what I call dumb questions. And I think if you listen to NPR a lot, there’s a lot of questions on NPR like, Well, how did you feel when you first was the most valuable player of the World Cup? Well, doll I felt great, right? Or did it really bother you when your father murdered your mother when you were 12? Well, daughter? Yeah, I think so. So I try not to ask questions like that.


Pamela Slim  04:20

I noticed that a lot. And this is will either be encouraging or disturbing because as a student of human behavior as a coach, I listen really carefully for your interest level. And just There’s certain times in certain episodes, for sure. Julia Cameron was one where I felt like I was like, tapping into young guy. There was just there was a lightness and excitement and enthusiasm, and I’ve seen you a lot.


Guy Kawasaki


Are you seeing the old?


Pamela Slim  04:54

No, I don’t want not at all because what is interesting at this stage You have your body of work to be doing this in this particular way. And as somebody who you’ve been so visible on stage I’ve, you’ve given so much like feedback and critique to people I have met people who are like crying after receiving sometimes said, right, like very clear, direct feedback, probably never recovered. But there is something about the nature of how you show up for this where I can feel the joy in what you’re doing. And I’m imagining for you just discerning exactly the conversations you have or don’t want to have has something to do with it.


Guy Kawasaki


Well, you know, I, like I said, I really think this is the best work of my life, and I hustle time, you’ll love this. I also think it’s the least appreciated work of my life. And I am convinced that well, you know, let me be honest, it drives me crazy that Joe Rogan gets 6 million downloads, and Meghan Markel gets 6 million downloads, and I get 25,000. I mean, I can’t even wrap my mind around that. So yeah, I have really insipid goals.


Pamela Slim  06:11

Well, and it is not surprising, often, the very best work work that could have an enduring legacy conversations that can be really relevant over time are different from the things you know, if you chose to execute manipulative tactics, the kinds of things that would bring people to the show that would have you know, shock, all conversations are just hitting, as you said, all the famous people that people aspire to, but you make a choice not to do that, which to me is part of being reflective of where you are in your life and your body of work.


Guy Kawasaki


Well, I, I hope anyway, that. Well, this is kind of a it’s kind of a double edged sword. But I think that my podcasts will not be fully appreciated until I die. I guess I’ll never know.


Pamela Slim  07:02

I mean, do you think about that, in terms of your kids and grandkids listening to it over time? Is there is there what, what do you want it to do? Not just now, but also after you’re gone?


Guy’s Legacy

Guy Kawasaki


Well, I mean, I don’t you know, I don’t want my kids, my grandchildren to say so you know, so you’re telling me that grandpa lost the election, but he refused to admit it. And so he caused the riot. That’s what grandpa did. I mean, I don’t want to be my legacy. I want I want them to say, well, Grandpa knew Jane Goodall. And Jane Goodall was this truly remarkable person. And he interviewed her three times. And she shared so much of her knowledge and wisdom, that now we can benefit from, you know, that’s kind of the goal.


Pamela Slim  07:53

Well, and I say, my, my dad is gone now maybe about five years. But part of the comforting thing to me is it reminds me of the way that my dad would also speak up, you have done shows on abortion, you have done shows on a jacket story responsibility, you specifically have had conversations about black lives matter. It is so unique and nourishing and helpful to hear somebody who does have your platform very clearly, interestingly, exploring these topics. And I appreciate that.


Guy Kawasaki


Yeah, there’s, you know, it’s interesting. I take a fair amount of heat for, shall I say, my perspectives? Yes. You know what? Quite frankly, I’m 68 years old. I’m not applying for any more jobs. I don’t need any more jobs. I don’t give a shit anymore. If you are anti Vax, anti women’s right? Anti voting rights, anti democracy, anti LGBTQ, I just don’t give a shit about you. Just run you over, I don’t care.


Pamela Slim  09:12

Well, even many years ago, never forget when I had my viral post that you posted on your blog that I was getting a lot of heat because of my use of Che Guevara is in the image in the blog post. And if you remember that, but you shot back and I was like freaking out about is my first viral post and I was like, God, I don’t know what to do. Should I change it? And you just responded back one quick sentence polarity is good. So it’s kind of consistent. I think you’re consistent. Maybe you’re just a little bit more clear about that. But whatever reason do we have to be sharing knowledge that way? I appreciate it.


Guy Kawasaki


You can’t stop giving a shit.


Pamela Slim  09:48

It’s true. And my goal is just to have that Barbie younger and younger right for speaking out. Not far behind to 56 Well, so in just thinking about but really more communication vehicles and the widest net. I encourage people to choose like a primary vehicle of communication. I call it a beacon to share their thoughts and expertise. Clearly, you’ve embraced podcasting. As you said, this is the thing I remember in back in 2006, when I stumbled upon your TypePad blog, it was actually featured blog on, where I had my blog, and I made the choice to shoot you an email at 10pm. You know, for the Open Letter to CEOs. blogs were hot, like that was the watering hole at your place where things were happening in our blogs, even a thing anymore.


Guy Kawasaki


Not in my book, and I haven’t written a blog post in May, I mean, might literally be 1520 years. i It’s It’s too hard. Well, although I have to tell you, you know, like from the outside looking in, if you think a podcast is simply turning on the record button, turning off the record, but then uploading, and you know, that’s it, man you have got, I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you how my podcast works. So I probably spend four to five hours preparing for each one hour interview. And then there’s, of course, there’s that half an hour of setup. So now we’re let’s say it’s, let’s say five hours of prep, half an hour of getting all the things together when the person is on, you know, making sure the mic works and all that. And then one hour for the actual interview itself. And then I take a pass at the audio. And that is another two hours. So for each episode, I probably put in seven or so hours myself. And then there’s another person who does editing and then there’s a sound editor. And then there’s the marketing of it. So all told, I bet you there’s 15 hours per hour of remarkable people. Yeah, and it’s not that easy. Arguably, you could write a blog post in less than 50. I was


Pamela Slim  12:30

gonna say your argument is not really stacking up now, as you mentioned it but but but but for you for this particular vehicle at this point, what what are the parts that get you so excited that makes you lean into your best work? Well, I


Leaning Into His Best Work

Guy Kawasaki


just I really I just I want people to benefit from the fact that I’m fortunate enough to have access to people like Jane Goodall, right. So, you know, we we would all love to hang out with Jane Goodall. But just because of good fortune, not because I’m any smarter or anything. I just have access to her. And I feel like I should share that access. She’s probably the most remarkable person that I ever interviewed. And I’ve interviewed 160 people.


Pamela Slim  13:24

Yeah, I know. She’s in like, the main audio feature that for the podcast that comes and just another person where you can hear the joy, the young guy joy in your voice, which I love. That part of how I just think about this in the bigger context for you of your body of work is I if I were to shorthand, some of your gifts, I’d say you have exceptional taste and discernment. And it’s coupled with a knack. Well, clearly, but I also have excellent taste, which is why you’re here. But you have that taste and discernment that’s coupled with a knack for getting other people to see the beauty that you see. That does that. Do you believe that to be true?


The Gift of Discernment

Guy Kawasaki


I never thought of it that way. I guess that’s true. I mean, it’s in a sense, isn’t that a form of evangelism? Where? Yeah, bringing the good news to people and helping them see good news?


Pamela Slim  14:22

Yes, and part of what I’ve observed over a long period of time is in order for that evangelism, to really be authentic and for people to feel it to be truthful, and for it to take off. That it has to be something that’s actually good. Like to me that discernment


Guy Kawasaki


is the piece that comes in manualized crap. Yes.


Pamela Slim  14:44

Which is I think, where a lot of people get lost in the sea of just transactional marketing and not really looking at the the essence of it. In your years as a VC like marketing experts, somebody who how many pitches Do you think that you’ve heard through your lifetime?


The Wonders of Medical Technology

Guy Kawasaki


Well, enough to cause me to I’m virtually kind of deaf these days, I’ve kind of lost all my hearing. So I attribute that to my occupational hazard of listening to Shetty pitches for decades. So that, you know, the fact that we can do this, you probably didn’t realize I was deaf till I just said this, right.


Pamela Slim  15:22

I knew it because I listened to your podcast. Yes,


Guy Kawasaki


but, but it’s the miracle of a cochlear implant. And, you know, I don’t even have headphones on because I have a mechanism where via Bluetooth, your audio is broadcast right to my cochlear implant. So there’s no wires on my head. There’s no, you know, headphones. It’s a direct line from my computer to my brain, which is kind of scary. And I’m also we’re using I’m using Chrome anyway. So on my side, actually, I’m not I’m using Safari because I couldn’t get Chrome to work with Zoom today. But usually, I’m using Chrome. And Chrome has built in transcription. But my hearing is good enough where I don’t need transcription from you today.


Pamela Slim  16:17

I am so thankful that was a scary thing. I know, is it? How do you say it tinnitus or like you had for a long time it was


Guy Kawasaki


called Menieres. And Menieres has three symptoms, tinnitus, which is the ringing, hearing loss, and now I’m totally deaf on the right side. And vertigo. So I’ve had an operation for the vertical, I have a cochlear implant for the, for the hearing loss. And I have a you know, the FDA just allowed companies to sell hearing aids, right. And so I have a Sony hearing aid in my other ear, because my this left side is about half gone. But with a Sony hearing aid. It’s usable. So I have so many hearing aid and one side, cochlear implant and the other side. And I know, we can talk.


Pamela Slim  17:16

I am thankful for medical technology for that. Well, and sorry for the horrible pitches that, you know, that led to all that, but it’s in, in thinking about it in the context, I think of discernment of just both how do you recognize something that really would be worth sharing? And also, how do you create something that is worth sharing?


How Do You Know Something Is Worth Sharing

Guy Kawasaki


There’s two answers to this question. So one is the Silicon Valley answer where you say, of course, I have decades of experience. I knew this was a world class team that had a world class technology in a growing market. So that’s the full of shit. Answer that, you know, when you start believing your own bullshit that you can call the future or maybe even create the future. I think the truth is much closer that, for example, with me, I started my career at Apple. And that was because of nepotism. I’m ending my career at Canva. And that’s because a woman who works with me, Peg Fitzpatrick, told me to support that company, that company is gonna be great. Right? Then it’s now been seven years that I’ve been working with Canva. So you know, on, I know how to declare victory, right? So when people asked me what I’ve done, I said, Well, I work for Apple and I now work for Canva. Have you heard of those companies? And, you know, you gotta be pretty out of it to not have heard of at least apple? And now maybe Canva for sure. Right? Yeah. Now having said that, so people think oh my god, god, you’re such a visionary. You’re so smart. You work for Apple, you are for Canva, you work for Google in the middle a little too. You’re so smart. Well, let’s just let me explain something. So Apple was 1984 and Canva was 2014. So you know, that’s 30 years between those two. Let’s just say I hit a few singles. I struck out and popped up a lot of times. I am probably if you count my investments and the jobs I took the companies I started you know all my at bats all my swings. Yeah, I bet you I’m too for 30 but the tour grand slams. But basically, I slug.


Pamela Slim  19:51

Well, when you look at it from a company perspective, and part of what I think of the reason why people are responding to your request As for actually being on the podcast, for example, or like we’ll take your call in, in the recognition of people who are doing remarkable work, yes, investing in companies knowing exactly what the outcome is like, I’m so glad I was so happy that it all turned around for Canva. Because I remember the early days when it was like, not sure if it was going to happen or not. But there is something that I see you said. And if you remember this years ago, at South by Southwest, we were on the panel, a blog to book because with other folks who had been Stephanie Klein, and so forth, and Kathy Sierra was in the front row, I’m still mourning the loss of Kathy, Kathy Sierra and her amazing blog, but she asked you like, how do you get the attention of influencers or people who can help you? And you said, you know, people say, I have the Midas touch, like everything I touch turns to gold. They have it wrong, I only touch gold. And I’ve quoted that many, many, many times ever since.


Having the Midas Touch

Guy Kawasaki


That, you know, that’s, well, that’s the God’s honest truth. I mean, the key to evangelism is to evangelize good stuff. Because yeah, it is hard to evangelize crap, I’m telling you. Now, this sounds like a dozen. But there’s a lot of people who try to evangelize and sell and market crap, and they’re not successful. And they wonder why.


Pamela Slim  21:24

Yeah, and I do think about it just from a part of the way that I took that response. And then I’ve talked about it since is, it does shift the dynamic, and the onus for people who don’t have a platform, right, who are beginning on their journey, or they’re passionate about a book or a product, whatever it is, that so often you can have that feeling of if just I could have, you know, Guy Kawasaki Brene Brown, like invite me on their podcast and everything would just be made and it takes the focus off. But it takes the focus off, really leaning into make your stuff as good as it can possibly be, which to me always goes to the heart of deeply connecting with the customers you’re serving and just doing right by them, which I know you’ve talked about, and it


Guy Kawasaki


all works out. Do you know Brene Brown?


Pamela Slim  22:15

I do. And she read body of work and blurb did I’ve met her at conferences and stuff, but it was pre massive blow up. And so she’s been a little busy. She’s been a little busy these days, but it’s been happy. She said after she read body of work, she was like, Oh my gosh, I finally understood the connection between my time as an academic professor, and they’re doing this other work. And so it made me feel good because it benefited her. All right, well, just to wrap things up. Is there what is next for you in your own body of work besides like surfing and podcasting?


Guy Kawasaki


That’s it. That’s it really no more books or desires? I just I want to I want to interview the most remarkable people in the world. And I want to serve and I want to be a husband and father that’s it. Yeah, that’s it.


Pamela Slim  23:15

And your kids now you don’t have any grandkids yet is that right there? They still liking college or Okay. As I tell my kids, I want to have grandkids many, many years from now, but good. Well, it’s a it’s a good, it’s a good model and a good thing to see where you can get the creative enjoyment. I’m happy Canva has done well by you. So you can really do what you want to do. But it’s


Canva: The Dream Team

Guy Kawasaki


Canva Canva is you know, I have worked with many companies and many dozens of entrepreneurs. I don’t know of a team better than Melanie and Cliff and Cameron I, you know, I people give me too much credit for the help. I’ve given Canva I think Canva Canva, would have done just fine without guide. Don’t kid yourself. Canva the people and the product. Just amazing. This is clearly a case where guy touch gold. Yeah, and turn Canva to gold. I touch Canva it was it was gold. Now maybe it was only 12 carats. And now it’s 24 karat gold.


Pamela Slim  24:34

Well, and that is a thread I’ve seen to have, but you always acknowledged the overall team. It’s never one person who makes it. But I imagine early on to have the backing of you to have some doors open just to feel that support from somebody who can really be more of a mentor, I’m sure was helpful as well as getting the word out. So but I hear you and I’m a rabid user of cannabis. That’s right. Well, thank you so much for spending your time with me. It’s been so helpful. I will continue to like listen than tweet about your show because I love it. That is really why brought you on. I love to listen every Wednesday. I get excited to download an episode and listen to it in the car.


Guy Kawasaki


Okay, and all you men out there remember to ejaculate responsibly. Yes, I


Pamela Slim  25:20

told you after that after that episode, I went back and I talked to my son who’s 17 and then his best friend who’s 19 and and Josh was like, Oh my gosh, at work we were just talking about when is the age when in which we could get vasectomies, which I know you talked about on the episode too, so I was excited. They were already talking about it. So I feel like I have succeeded as a parent. Alright guy,


Guy Kawasaki


thank you and take care all the best to you.


Pamela Slim  25:45

Likewise at you. Thanks.


Guy Kawasaki


Bye bye.

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