Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki

I've read many, many business / leadership books over the years and something you come to expect is that the basic message is going to be the same in most cases. Aim to create a good first impression. Care about what the person you're talking to wants out of life. Be clear and understandable. Do something with your time that you honestly care about. It's hard to knock a new book for providing the same information again - after all, these basics haven't changed. What's important is how clearly this current book presents the information to a new audience of readers. I feel Guy Kawasaki does a reasonably good job with Enchantment.

Yes, it can seem sometimes that the items are common sense. Aim to change hostility into civility. Create a positive impression with short, simple, meaningful messages. Be patient with people - they may be dealing with an autistic child or an abusive spouse. Yes, we can say these are common sense - but how many times have we seen people be irritable or lack patience in situations where they could have done better? I think all of us could use to perfect our ability to take in a deep breath and deal with a "troublesome" person in a more serene manner.

I wish Kawasaki had come up with fresh examples. I literally had read about both his "hospital checklist saves lives" and his "Vietnamese mothers find ways to beat malnutrition" examples in the previous management book I read the day before. If he had chosen examples from his own past then they would have been fresh and interesting. Similarly. I'd read about the "offering few jam options encourages people to choose one, offering too many options overloads peoples' brains and they don't buy any at all" experiment more times than I can count.

Kawasaki offers commonly repeated advice. When meeting someone, look for any common interests you might share, even if it's a common dislike of a topic. Respect people, offer thanks, provide value, accept diversity, don't tolerate abusive / hostile behavior, and disclose any conflicts. This last one is curious though. I believe strongly that a person SHOULD disclose any conflicts they might have, including stating when a review copy is received for free. (Disclaimer - I paid for this book with my own money!) But even while Kawasaki promotes this, he uses as one of his examples in his book that a reviewer got upset when prodded that he should have disclosed that he got a rare gadget he was reviewing for free. Kawasaki supports him! This even though the FTC requires web reviews to state how a review item was acquired. The discrepancy bothered me.

Kawasaki offers interesting ideas. Money rewards can be harmful to behavior - it reduces how helpful people are to others in a direct connection. Employees tend to want mastery, autonomy, and purpose. It's not just money that motivates them. He recommends keeping a journal about your experiences to learn from both the successful results and the hurdles. He points out that the number of searches on YouTube are second only to Google, so it's good to create videos! He recommends we investigate our competition, to determine what both you and they do, what they do better, and what you do better. You need that basic understanding in order to improve.

All fair enough advice, and while it's been said many times before, he does have a style in his delivery that many will find easy to understand. However, I can't give this five stars for the reasons mentioned above plus a few more troubling ones.

First, he presents a checklist for bosses to print and use - and it's chock full of negative words about the boss. I would hope someone so well read on motivation and encouragement would avoid this type of a negative-word-laden list. That's not how to encourage anybody.

He mentions several times how an iPod should, instead of saying "80 gig iPod", should say "Holds xxxxxx songs". But how could that possibly be calculated? Songs are wildly different lengths and sizes depending on a wide range of factors. That's like saying on a crayon, "This crayon can draw an 8" pumpkin". Sure, but how about all the other things it could do? I disagree with this idea wholeheartedly.

Finally, and this one bothers me on a very visceral level, he's talking about how he adores his daughter and how he loves to take her out for candy as a special treat. That part alone bugged me a lot, that he's training her to equate candy with affection and he can't take her out for something healthy instead. But he goes on to say as his ultimate praise - and I quote - "I'll never deny her if she GIVES me grandchildren." WHAT??? He's already putting pressure on his daughter to kick out grandchildren for him? What if she's infertile? What if she simply chooses not to have children? I'm a mother myself, so this isn't me extrapolating my own life onto her. This is me saying that, for a guy who claims to support women's rights several times in his book, that he's already deciding that his daughter must GIVE him grandchildren to be his ultimate achievement. If she's president of the US, or a Nobel prize winner, or anything else, it won't matter. She has to kick out some kids. I feel she should be able to do whatever SHE wants to do and he should be proud of whatever route she takes, whatever path she takes to get there. His love should not be contingent on her producing babies for him to play with.

So again, to summarize - nothing new. It's all been said before, and his examples are occasionally quite old and tired. However, for a group of people who haven't read these messages before, they are presented fairly cleanly, and the messages do need to be heard. So for people who might not have read the many previous books that covered this ground, this is a fresh new approach. It just needs some polishing - in my opinion - to be a five star book.

Note - I paid for this book with my own funds, from a bookstore. I admit that I initially picked it up because I love origami and I liked the cover :)

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