Saturday, January 30, 2010

Book Review: The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki

This is another book I heard in Audio format during commuting. It started out well but I think it sort of fizzled towards the end. Maybe it's a cruel irony because of its title. Primarily it feels as if you were spending a long happy hour with Guy Kawasaki, getting advice from him, which is legitimate since he seems to know the best way to run a startup in a realistic way. I think the problem is that there's a dissonance between the expectations of the book and the actual content. Before you read it, it suggests that you could use that advice for any area of life where you need to "start" something. But then you find out that it's a book strictly about startup companies, dealing with specific issues such as mantras, presentations, hiring, looking for financiers, etc. Also I think the voice is undermined by some inconsistent advice, such as "don't use war analogies" like "attack", but way into the book he uses a war analogy and declares it will be the last one, and later still he uses the expression "establish a beachhead". I'll settle for this conclusion: it's OK to use war analogies but in moderation.
Some concepts I liked were about using a mantra instead of a mission statement, since a mantra has more passion and fun. Also I liked the advice that one shouldn't be putting effort on selling services that anyone can do, but instead into "doing your magic".
I enjoyed hearing about Powerpoint presentations and things one should and shouldn't do. Definitely if you're interested in running a start-up, there's a lot of good advice in this book.

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