Get Inspired – Interview: Guy Kawasaki

Together with my colleague Ramon Vullings, I had the chance to interview some great speakers at the Creativity World Forum (thanks Flanders DC to make this possible). We will give you the full interview that we did with Guy Kawasaki, Tom Kelley, Frans Johansson, Robin Chase and Marco Tempest. And of course we did something special. Instead of asking the ‘regular’ questions to give a summary of their talk or share some things about their latest book, we prepared 21 beercoasters with a question. The speaker could pick a number and decide which question (s)he got.

CWF Guy Kawasaki and Cyriel KortlevenThis is the interview with Guy Kawasaki. You can find his bio at the bottom of the page. And we have asked Guy to write down his personal mantra. You find the picture of his mantra at the end of the interview.

Cyriel: A personal mantra of you, of your life, in a few words. What would be your personal mantra?

Guy Kawasaki: Empower people.

Cyriel: That’s two words. That’s great, not even three. That’s sharp.

Guy: I could just say “empower.”

Cyriel: Thank you and we want to interview in a creative way and have prepared 21 beer coasters with  21 questions. You decide which question you’ll get. You can talk 10 minutes on that question, or you can say “next” and we’ll see where we get.

Guy: Just pick one, I don’t care.

Cyriel: #10: can you tell something about the weirdest or the most special audience that you ever had?

Guy: The weirdest or the most special audience… Let’s think about this… I speak 50 to 75 times a year, so… Oh, I spoke to something called the Surfing Industry Management Association, SIMA. It was in Cabo San Lucas, and it was the best-looking audience I’ve ever seen. (laughter)

Cyriel: All female?

Guy: Half.

Cyriel: Okay, I can imagine that was special. Great. Next question #17: What’s your personal approach to come up with new ideas?

Guy: Usually drive a Porsche. (laughs) I come up with my best ideas driving. Too bad I don’t have a Porsche right now. Actually, I do. I have a Cayenne, but it’d be better if it was a 911. I would come up with more ideas. (laughs)

Cyriel: The better the Porsche, the better the idea.

Guy: That’s right, that’s right.

Cyriel: You should do research on which car you drive, could you have better ideas than another person?

Guy: That would be a good experiment.Guy Kawasaki_CWF

Cyriel: Great, I’ll pick another one. #20: What’s the craziest thing that you ever have done?

Guy: I don’t do very crazy things.

Cyriel: But it could be crazy for you. It doesn’t have to be jumping from a plane, but…

Guy: I don’t do stuff like that. (laughs) I just…

Cyriel: Go for the safe?

Guy: Yeah. Well, it’s not that I’m going for a safe – I’ve got four kids, and I can’t be screwing up.

Cyriel: Maybe getting the kids? (laughs) It’s good that you’ve done it all before, believe me.

Guy: Yeah. (laughs)

Cyriel: Which movie have you already watched more than five times?

Guy: None.

Cyriel: Is there a movie that you really like or say “This really was a very good movie”? Or a movie that the whole world should see? Which is the one movie you would say – for a global audience?

Guy: Let’s see… Rocky.

Cyriel: That’s a classic. Perfect. Great, it’s going really well. I’ll pick the last one. Can you share a “nearling”? Probably you don’t know what a nearling is.

Guy: No, I don’t know.

Cyriel: What’s a nearling? It’s something new that we did with the right intentions, but which has not led to the right results. So it’s in between – if you say 1 is success, 0 is a failure, between the 0 and the 1, that’s what we call a nearling.

Guy: Well, you could say almost every product is that. Right? Because you’re supposed to learn from every product.

Cyriel: Yes, that’s true. It’s how you define success, so that’s good. That’s very true. A nearling is really a success, because we learn something. But a lot of businesses and people in real life say if it’s not a success, it’s all failure. And that’s where this word is trying to bring something out.

Guy: I’ve got to tell you, you’d prefer to have a pure success. (laughs) Don’t get me wrong. You go through life saying, “God, I’ve failed a lot, so I’ve learned a lot” – okay, but that’s not the point.

Cyriel: No, it’s got to get you to success. You need a lot of nearlings to finally get to the right success, but if you don’t do anything you woin’t learn anything. Do you have a nearling in your life or business, saying “I learned a lot from it and then went to the next step”?

Guy: You could say Macintosh is a nearling, because it didn’t achieve domination.

Cyriel: That’s a fantastic example. You still feel it. It could’ve been so great. The world could have been…

Guy: “So much better if only…” That’s Macintosh.

Cyriel: Yeah, absolutely. Perfect. One more question: Do you have a favorite blog or website where you get your inspiration?

Guy: No.

Cyriel: A lot of stuff, or not really one?

Guy: You know what, I don’t really consume stuff. I have a website called Alltop. I love cars. I love cars and photography, so every day, literally every day, I check autos. Alltop and photography. I love to read those. And also, my social media is all about curation. So I consume a lot like that, but I’m filtering. So if you’re asking the question do I get up, I read Mashable and I get excited for the whole day, that’s not true.

Cyriel: All right, we’ll go for #16: What’s the best piece of advice that you ever got?

Guy: Don’t ask people to do something you wouldn’t do.

Cyriel: All right, we’ll take the last one #14: What was the last thing that you took a picture of?

Guy: The sign that I saw in the airport with “No bathing suits.”

Cyriel: Yeah, the sign. Great. Thanks a lot for the interview.

Mantra Guy Kawasaki


Guy Kawasaki is the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of twelve books including Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur and Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions.

He is a special advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google. He is also the co-founder of, an “online magazine rack” of popular topics on the web, and a founding partner at Garage Technology Ventures. Previously, he was the chief evangelist of Apple.

Guy has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College. His years of management experience combined with both his in-depth knowledge of the high-tech industry and social media makes him an all-round innovation champion.

Interested in more inspiration. Check out the following interviews:

Interview Guy Kawasaki
Interview Tom Kelley
Interview Frans Johansson
Interview Robin Chase
Interview Marco Tempest
Interview Fredrik Härén