“My first real job was literally counting diamonds,” globetrotting tech investor, author and speaker Guy Kawasaki writes in his website bio.
As an MBA student, Kawasaki got a gig counting and selling diamonds for a jewelry manufacturer. “I learned how to sell, and this skill was vital to my entire career,” he explains.
There’s an understatement. As Apple’s chief evangelist starting in 1983, Kawasaki pushed the Mac into millions of homes. After leaving to co-found his own startups, he returned in 1995 to help Steve Jobs pull Apple back from the brink.
For small startups with big dreams, Kawasaki is a huge inspiration. But what could he possibly offer an audience of network admin types at the recent Avaya Evolutions conference in Toronto?
Lots. The guy who started out counting diamonds had many pearls of wisdom for the network folks in the crowd. We’ve whittled Kawasaki’s 10 Steps of Innovation down to Seven Super Awesome Highlights, just to save space.
1. Decide to make meaning, not money. “The companies that succeed wanted to change the world,” says Kawasaki.
2. Make a mantra, not a longwinded mission statement. Keep it short but significant. Kawasaki’s examples: Nike = authentic athletic performance. FedEx = peace of mind.
3. Jump to the next curve. Identify your company by the benefits you provide, not by what you do.
4. Roll the dice. Deliver on your pitch and your promises: make a great product and execute well.
5. Don’t worry, be crappy. If what you innovate is truly new and 10 times better than everything else out there, it’s okay if version 1.0 has “some elements of crappiness to it,” says Kawasaki. (“If you’re in biotech, please ignore this right now,” he adds hastily.)
6. Churn baby, churn. Ignore naysayers when you’re innovating your product. But listen to everyone with complaints after you’ve shipped it. That feedback helps you improve what you make.
7. Don’t let the bozos grind you down. “The dangerous bozo dresses well and owns a lot of things that end in ‘i’: Armani, Ferrari, Lamborghini,” warns Kawasaki. His point: fame plus money often doesn’t equal someone with good advice for you. (Kawasaki took the stage, Armani-less, in a hockey jersey with ‘CANADA’ emblazoned across the chest. A holdover from his shinny game with Eric Lindros that morning?)
The key Kawasaki takeaways for network administrators? I can see steps 2, 3, 4 and 6 having some resonance. When ‘selling’ your CEO on a new product or service – and selling them on your own value, too – keep it brief. Remind them simply how it (and you) can benefit the organization. Use real, tangible examples. Deliver and execute well. After deployment, listen to all feedback and improve on things from there.
Running a network isn’t often seen as the heartbeat of innovation. Neither is making a network faster, more reliable or more secure. But it does take creativity and ingenuity to do it well, on budget and on time. Every time.
Download the Forrester Research white paper: Three Ways IT Can Drive Innovation in Customer Service