Life advice with Guy Kawasaki.

Guy Kawasaki is positive, outgoing, easygoing, and full of lots of remarkably concrete, practical advice.

Last night I interviewed Guy in front of a crowd of about 100-150 young entrepreneurs at General Assembly San Francisco, in an event cosponsored by Draper University and Young Professionals of San Francisco (YPOSF).

I’m not exaggerating when I say this was the most entertaining, engaging, and useful “fireside chat” I’ve ever done.

There were several livestreams — this one was from Guy’s phone (which was operated by his daughter). Draper has a more high-res archived Guy Kawasaki livestream (interview in this one starts around 22:00).

Skip past the first couple of minutes (me finishing a beer, chitchat, introductions) and jump to the 8:00 mark to listen to Guy talk about how he got started, how important it is to learn how to *sell* stuff, what the secret to evangelizing a product is, and how to create a compelling VC pitch with his 10-20-30 rule. Plus, you get to hear his opinions on Trump, racism in Silicon Valley, raising children, what his ultimate purpose in life is, and even what he imagines heaven is like. It’s a fun, amazing conversation. Enjoy it!

A few quotes:

On first seeing the Macintosh: “When I first saw MacPaint and MacWrite … WYSIWYG, mouse-based, all this kind of stuff, it was as if the clouds parted and the angels started to sing. It was a religious experience.”

On the importance of learning how to sell (which Guy learned in the jewelry business): “Entrepreneurship can be divided into 2 simple processes: Somebody’s got to make it, and somebody’s got to sell it. … All you have to do is make it and sell it. If you’re not an engineer, you better be able to sell. And if you can’t sell, you better be an engineer.”

On evangelism: “Guy’s Golden Touch is not that whatever Guy touches turns to gold. Guy’s Golden Touch is whatever’s gold, Guy touches. … It’s very easy to evangelize something that is great, and it’s very difficult to evangelize something that is crap.”

On hard work: “I love to grind it out.”

On success in Silicon Valley: “What we do here is we throw lots of things at the wall, very few things stick, and then we walk up to the wall, and paint a target around whatever stuck, and say ‘I hit the bullseye.'”

On advice for entrepreneurs: “Number one: Focus on your prototype. … The goal of a company is to create customers, and the way you create customers is to ship a product or a service. If you do a good enough prototype, you never have to write a business plan.”

More advice for entrepreneurs: “Number two: You really don’t have to write a business plan. For an early stage startup, a pitch is good enough.”

Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 rule on PowerPoint pitches: “10 slides, which you give in 20 minutes. Minimum font 30 points. The bigger the font, the better the plan. … Steve Jobs used 190 point font. … If you want to make your presentation better, make your background black and your text white.” (It shows you know how to make a master slide and change the background color and text; it also looks better!)

On hiring: “You should hire people who complement you, who are different from you. … You need diversity. It increases your perspective, and it increases your ability to relate to customers, and vendors, and other employees.”

On humanity’s greatest challenge: “Global warming, because if we don’t contend with global warming, we’ll all be dead, and it won’t matter.”

On his life purpose: “I want to go down as someone who empowered people.”



Life advice with Guy Kawasaki.

Press:Here August 23: Munchery,, and HackerOne

The set of Press Here, with Jen O'Neal, Dylan Tweney, Laura Mandaro, and Scott McGrew

The lovely folks at NBC Bay Area invited me back to Press:Here, Silicon Valley’s answer to “Meet the Press.” I was on the show on Sunday with Laura Mandaro and host Scott McGrew. We talked for about 8 minutes apiece with the founders of Munchery,, and HackerOne. Here are the three video segments!

Tri Tran, Munchery

Munchery offers meal delivery, not by shipping you meals from restaurants but by cooking and shipping food from its own kitchens. The company has raised $117M in funding to date. But is it just contributing to the infantilization of Silicon Valley?

Jen O’Neal,

Tripping is a travel aggregator, letting you find a place to stay among hundreds of vacation rental sites around the world. We talked about how the travel market is so big it not only supports, but actually needs aggregators and intermediaries like this.

Alex Rice, HackerOne

HackerOne helps companies set up bounty programs, so they can pay hackers to inform them about security flaws — instead of exploiting those flaws. Alex was a HackerOne customer at Facebook and then joined the other two cofounders to help launch the company.

Press:Here August 23: Munchery,, and HackerOne

My take on Alphabet Inc. (video)

CCTV reporter Mark Niu interviewed me and included my somewhat skeptical take on Google’s new corporate structure — Alphabet Inc. — in his report this week. My hair is doing some weird thing but I think other than that I make some kind of sense.

My take, in a nutshell: The new structure, so far, is largely symbolic. Yes, it clarifies who is in charge of each division and sets up the succession plans much more clearly. But at the end of the day, it’s the same company, with the same components. As a result, I think this is just the first of several steps, which might include spinoffs down the line.


TWiT TV on Apple, Twitter, Reddit, and more

TWiT episode 514

I was on This Week in Tech — also known as TWiT — this past weekend, along with Harry McCracken, Patrick Norton, and Merlin Mann, plus host Leo LaPorte.

It’s a two-hour live show, but the time went by fast: Leo keeps things moving along and everybody had something interesting to say about the week’s biggest tech news stories.

Merlin and I joined via Skype, and they put our heads on big monitors on either side of the in-studio guests, so we were sort of virtually at the table. It felt a little strange at first but it worked.

Plus, I got to talk about that time Neil deGrasse Tyson yelled at me.

You can watch the show, get related story links, and download the audio-only podcast version on the TWiT website.

TWiT TV on Apple, Twitter, Reddit, and more

How Harvard Business Review and VentureBeat achieve growth online

I spoke with Josh Macht (Group Publisher, Harvard Business Review) on an episode of Hubspot’s podcast The Growth Show to talk about how our publications have been able to survive — and thrive — in the digital age.

It’s an interesting 30-minute conversation about how digital publications can grow, attract the right audiences, and monetize. Some of the things we discuss include:

  • How Harvard Business Review has transformed into a digital media brand attracting top-ranking executives from around the globe
  • The importance of creating content that is valuable enough to attract subscribers
  • Why today’s media brands need to diversify their revenue streams and not rely on a single business model
  • Thoughts on the changing landscape of tech media world, including GigaOm,Recode/Vox Media and AOL/Verizon
  • What the next few years for Harvard Business Review and VentureBeat will look like, including how they optimize for mobile

Thanks to Hubspot for inviting me onto this podcast. Here’s the audio:


Secrets of my inbox

Last summer, Ben Kaplan posted an interview with me about how PR folks can get my attention. I’ve been pointing people to this interview time and again, because it is a helpful summary of how my day really works.

Here’s the start of the transcript. Read the whole thing, or give it a listen, on


First of all, what is your average morning like? Are you going right to your email inbox? What does it look like when you get these pitches?


Usually, I wake up and after getting a cup of coffee at home, the first thing I’m doing is checking what’s happening on my website and out there in the news media.  Also, I’m very quickly looking at my inbox, which on a typical morning has hundreds and hundreds of unread messages, stuff that came in overnight. If I see a lot of things that were sent at midnight, I delete them immediately because it’s a very suspicious time. Lots of spam comes at midnight, right?


That’s a good tip to know.


I usually have a lot of stuff leftover from the day before that I couldn’t get to, as well as a lot of new stuff from that morning, so I’ll go through that while I drink my coffee. I’ll be reading email on the train on the way in to work. At work, I’ll be doing email and talking to people on my team. A really, really large proportion of my day is spent in Gmail, responding both to people internally but also to a lot of people outside the company who want coverage.


What is the average time that you give each pitch? Let’s say it’s a cold email. You don’t know the person. It’s just an average email that ends up in your inbox. Are you just reading the subject line? Are you clicking on it and giving it a three-second look over? Are you actually skimming the whole thing? What’s your process to deal with 150 emails?


The average is really hard to say because there’s a good proportion of messages that I don’t recognize the sender and what I see of the subject line is not interesting. I just delete these messages straight off. You have, basically, your subject line. If I don’t know you or I don’t know your name, you have the subject line to get my attention.  And it better be the left half of the subject line, too.


So you’re saying about five words? If you’re talking about the left half of the subject line, that’s about five words to get you to read the rest of it?


No, no, no, it’s probably like the left ten words or so. It’s 50 characters.


Whatever would appear in Gmail?


In Gmail, that’s right, yeah.


Read the rest: Secrets of my inbox: VentureBeat’s Dylan Tweney

Continue reading “Secrets of my inbox”

Secrets of my inbox

First Floor Labs, .XYZ domains, and DJI Drones: My appearance on NBC Bay Area

I was on NBC Bay Area’s Sunday show “Press Here” a few weeks ago. This is a really fun show to do: It’s like a local version of “Meet the Press,” hosted by Scott McGrew. They bring in a couple local journalists and do a few short segments where we interview entrepreneurs about what they’re working on.

This time, I was on with Michal Lev-Ram of Fortune. There were three segments. We talked with Eric Cheng of DJI Drones, a big manufacturer of drones:


And Daniel Negari of .XYZ domains:


And Mendel Chuang of Smoopa and AOL’s First Floor Labs:


First Floor Labs, .XYZ domains, and DJI Drones: My appearance on NBC Bay Area

I talk to Fox Business about CES 2015

Screenshot of Dylan Tweney on Fox Business talking to Charles Payne.
Screenshot of Dylan Tweney on Fox Business talking to Charles Payne.

Wearables will be everywhere at CES, I said last week on the eve of the big gadget show.

“Everyone wants to be the next Apple watch,” I told Fox Business, “but unfortunately we’re going to have to wait for the Apple Watch to come out.” And as everyone knows, Apple doesn’t do CES.

I also talked about the 8k TVs that will be hyped at this year’s CES. “Manufacturers are going to be showing off 8K TVs, which are 16 times as many pixels that you have in your HD TV today,” I said. “But there’s no content for 8K, there are no cameras for 8K, and most people don’t even know why they need a 4K TV yet.”

What else could I complain about? Virtual reality masks like Oculus VR. If you liked the way you looked in Google Glass, you’re going to love Oculus, I joked.


You can only put so many dents in the universe

This story, from last week, appeared earlier on VentureBeat and on LinkedIn Today, where it’s generated a ton of commentary. I also did a video on the topic with KRON-4 TV, embedded here.

You can only put so many dents in the universe.

This week, Apple unveiled a respectable upgrade of its iPhone line.

So why do I feel so disappointed?

Maybe it’s because we expect so much from Apple. This is the company that brought us the first MP3 player that really mattered, the first smartphone to truly take the world by storm, the first successful touchscreen tablet, and the first ultralight notebook that people were really happy to use. And that’s all just in the past few years — reaching back further than that, Apple is responsible for the first all-in-one PC, the first commercially successful graphical user interface, and many more product design, manufacturing, and retail innovations.

This is what was so amazing about the late Steve Jobs: He drove the company to revolutionize industry after industry. Most successful entrepreneurs only get to change one industry, if they’re lucky; Jobs reinvented half a dozen.

It’s unfair to keep holding Apple to the same high expectations. After awhile, you run out of industries to reinvent. What’s next: Cars? The construction industry? Plumbing?

Not only that, even the best sluggers don’t hit home runs every single time they step up to bat.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This week’s upgrades look like excellent phones. The iPhone 5C has the same elongated, high-resolution screen of the iPhone 5, but it comes in a variety of primary colors and costs somewhat less than the original, at just $100 on contract or $549 off-contract. That should help Apple reach a bit further into the market for lower-cost smartphones.

Meanwhile, the iPhone 5S adds a much more powerful processor (the first in a smartphone to use a 64-bit processing bus), a substantially upgraded camera, and a spiffy new fingerprint sensor.

The company also said it was about to start rolling out iOS 7, the details of which it had fully explained a few months back, and which has been in developers’ hands since June. I’m underwhelmed by iOS 7, but it does offer a host of new features for developers and consumers — as well as some special “floating” effects that will help soak up some of that extra processing power. And iOS remains the most polished, coherent, and well-designed operating system available for a smartphone.

In all, it’s a solid upgrade to the iPhone line that should keep many current customers happy when it’s time to renew their contracts, and this might even attract a few new ones to Apple’s fold.

But the bigger issue is that Apple is facing an existential threat, and this week’s news suggests it has no clue about how to respond appropriately. Android now accounts for more than 80 percent of smartphone sales, while iOS is down in the mid-teens. This is a company that is slowly but surely losing the final stages of its war for the phone industry. Merely keeping the faithful happy is not working. Incremental upgrades are not going to stem the tide.

Consider the pricing of the iPhone 5C. It’s cheaper, yes. But as my colleague John Koetsier has pointed out, its unsubsidized price is still hundreds of dollars more expensive than competing Android phones. That makes a huge difference in countries where a few hundred dollars amount to a month’s worth of wages.

The detail Apple left out.
The detail Apple left out.

And consider the addition of the fingerprint sensor. I joked that Apple left out a key part of its technology diagram by not including the secret NSA backdoor. That’s a timely jab, given the recent news that the NSA has targeted iPhones for hacking and has successfully captured images from intelligence targets via the device. It’s also a bit unfair, since Apple assures us that the fingerprint data is encrypted and will make it out of the phone, let alone into the cloud — so until the iPhone 5S suffers a particularly hostile hack, that data is probably safe. But the real question is: Why? What is so great about a fingerprint sensor? It’s a nice, convenient way to unlock your phone — assuming it works more reliably than prior sensors — but it’s hardly redefining the rules of the smartphone game.

Finally, there’s the question of the iWatch. Many of us expected Apple to launch a wrist-mounted wearable device this week, but there wasn’t a peep about this in Cupertino on Tuesday.

Smartwatches are, for now, kind of a silly category. Fewer than a million of the things are sold each year, mostly to geeky tech enthusiasts. The biggest consumer entry into the smartwatch space was Samsung’s launch, last week, of its Galaxy Gear watch — a news event that got an extra bit of news hype when VentureBeat got an early look at the thing (you’re welcome, Samsung). But the Galaxy Gear is bulky, awkward, only works with Samsung phones (for now), and will probably cost about $300.

One of the reasons we were all hoping for an iWatch is that this is exactly the kind of product category Apple excels at doing. As it did with tablets, we all wanted Apple to come in and show us how to build a product that people will really want. No doubt Apple would come up with something more elegant, more svelte, and more desirable than anything that’s come before, and suddenly no one would mind spending $200 or $300 on a smart watch any more.

But Apple didn’t do that. There was no sign of a watch. So those of us in Silicon Valley are left watching, wondering, and feeling a little empty inside. Maybe it will show us something amazing later this fall, as CEO Tim Cook has promised. Maybe not. In the meantime, we’re left with these multicolored iPhones, and a growing sense that Apple is turning into a more ordinary tech company every day.

Jobs is gone. It looks like Apple’s magic is slowly seeping away now too.

You can only put so many dents in the universe