How to Enchant Your Way to Tech Success, Kawasaki Style

3/18/11Follow @wroush

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cement people’s loyalty once you’ve won it. The section I found most stimulating came in Chapter 7—”How to Make Enchantment Endure”—and it was called “Build an Ecosystem.” It’s about creating a community of people who will advocate your cause because their success, as Kawasaki puts it, is intertwined with yours. Twitter, for example, has won a lot of free evangelists by providing a free application programming interface (an API) that allows outside developers to tap its messaging network; developers benefit by providing their users with nifty features that help people share information from inside their apps, while Twitter benefits from the network effects of all the new people using the service.

Kawasaki’s got me thinking about how we can do a better job of building our ecosystem right here at Xconomy. I think we’ve got something worth promoting: quality journalism and events for the technology and innovation community. Now we need to address the other challenges that Kawasaki lays out: recruiting evangelists, appointing an “ecosystem champion,” giving community members some meaningful way to contribute, fostering discourse and criticism, and rewarding people for participating. The bigger point of Kawasaki’s book is that none of this stuff happens automatically, just because you have a good product—which means, in our case, that at some point we’ve got to stop writing articles and start showing people why they should care about them.

Enchantment picks up steam toward the end with two very practical and social-media-oriented chapters about how to use “push” technologies (e-mail, Twitter, and PowerPoint) and “pull” technologies (websites, blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube) to get your story in front of people, and then another pair of very entertaining chapters about using the power of enchantment to delight your employees or your boss. If there’s a weakness to the book, it’s that it feels a bit like a grab-bag, a miscellaneous collection of ideas that Kawasaki has tried or seen other entrepreneurs try, without all that much logic or narrative to tie them together. After the first three chapters—which should be required reading for all business-school students with dreams of being the big boss someday—there’s no real need to go through the book linearly; you can do just as well by dipping into the chapters relevant to your situation.

At 211 pages, however, Enchantment is an easy (and enchanting) read. It closes with an especially charming “coverphon” (a play on colophon) about the creation of the book’s cover, which shows an origami butterfly. It’s the story, Kawasaki writes, of “how I crowdsourced designs from 250 talented people around the world, selected one idea from an engineering student in Indonesia, convinced an origami master in Boston to create a new butterfly, and lucked out by knowing a designer in Silicon Valley.” He makes it all sound so serendipitous, but I think the real message here is that Kawasaki is such a great guy, no pun intended. (I know him slightly, and he really is.) People want to help him because it’s fun, educational, and mutually rewarding to do so. Kawasaki is, in a way few authors are, the living embodiment of his book—one of the original enchanters of the technology world.

Here’s an 11-minute, abridged version of a 1-hour speech Kawasaki gave at Stanford University on “The Art of Enchantment.”

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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