Book Review: The Art of The Start

Posted by 23 February, 2009

The Art of The Start

The Art of The Start is by Guy Kawasaki. Guy is an accomplished author, venture capitalist, but prior to all of that, he was an accomplished innovator in Silicon Valley who began his roots at Apple before Apple was big.

You can tell from the beginning that either Guy has been around Silicon Valley for quite a while. His book offers great nuggets of information if you are looking for pitch your company to a Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist.

I really enjoyed his ideas for “starting something” (note that Guy is big into Karma):

1. Make Meaning – “The best reason to start an organization is to make meaning – to create a product or service that makes the world a better place.”

2. Make Mantra – “Forget mission statements; they’re long, boring, and irrelevant. No one can ever remember them – much less implement them. Instead, take your meaning and make a mantra out of it.”

3. Get Going – “Don’t focus on pitching, writing, planning:.

4. Define Your Business Model – “No matter what kind of organization you’re starting, your have to figure how to make money”. You can have the greatest product ever, but it you don’t plan and you can’t make money from it, your company won’t last very long.

5. Weave a MAT (Milestones, Assumptions, and Tasks) – “The final step is to compile three lists: (a) major milestones you need to meet; (b) assumptions that are built into your business model; (c) tasks you need to accomplish to create an organization.

The hardest thing about getting started is getting started. Remember: No one ever achieved success by planning for gold.

I also enjoyed Guy’s Key Principles for Getting Going:

1. Think Big – While I think most entrepreneurs would agree with this statement, it’s always nice to hear it over and over and then a few more times.

2. Find a Few Soulmates – Guy empathizes that although history likes to point to one guy has having invented this or that, many companies or inventions are discovered by a few people.

3. Polarize People – I’m not sure if I agree with this, but Guy is basically stating that you should get people to really like or really dislike something. Perhaps, this is my non-confrontational side speaking.

4. Design Different – Guy states that there are at least four different approaches.

(a) “I want one” – This is when the designer and customer are the same person. This also implies that people also want what the designer wants which isn’t always true.

(b) “My Employer Couldn’t (or Wouldn’t) Do It” – This assumes you have an idea for a product that your employer can’t or won’t pursue so you decide to pursue on your own. This is probably a better way to go since you probably have an idea what the customer’s desire.

(c) “What the Hell – It’s Possible” – As Guy points out, this could be a tough road if the market isn’t ready for it.

(d) “There Must Be a Better Way” – “They simply got an idea and decided to do it”.

Overall, I thought there were a lot of great resources and books I hadn’t heard about prior to this book. It was a quick read which is always a positive. However, I really thought that this book missed the objective that was placed on the front cover: “The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything”. I didn’t really find this to be true. If I were a Silicon Valley guy looking to pitch my idea or business to a Venture Capitalist, then I think this book is for you. I’m not that person. I am interested in starting businesses. I have an interested in starting many businesses for that matter. A good portion of the book was spent on pitching to venture capitalists and I didn’t think that “Anyone Starting Anything”, as indicated on the front cover, was really applicable. Given Guy’s background, I understand where he is coming from and think it’s a must read for a Silicon Valley entrepreneur looking for pitch an idea to a Venture Capitalist firm.

I give this book a 3.0 out of 5.0 stars.

Other Posts:

Case Study: My Adventures in Forex Trading (Update: 2/16)
The TED Spread and What It Means to You
Book Review: The One Minute Entrepreneur
Carnival of Personal Development – February 2, 2009


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February 23, 2009

I haven’t read the book, but from your review – my take aways are that I should get going, and think big. These are two things I really should focus on to help me take an idea I have to the next level. So, while the book may be geared more toward those in Silicon Valley – your review is giving me something to think about this morning. Thanks!

Lance’s last blog post..Sunday Thought For The Day

Posted by Lance
February 23, 2009

Great review! I find that much of Kawasaki’s advice is very niche. There are usually a couple of interesting nuggets I can take away, some stuff I see could work for other people, and stuff I just don’t agree with. But It’s always good to get different viewpoints and then work out what is best for your situation.

Miranda’s last blog post..Book Review: The Cure for Money Madness

Posted by Miranda
February 23, 2009

Turning a mission statement into a mantra is a great idea. I’m off to add this to my blogging to do list.

Stacey / Create a Balance’s last blog post..What Are Your Intentions?

February 23, 2009

@ Lance – Thanks for the comment!

@ Miranda – This is the first Kawasaki book I’ve read, but I certainly agree that this book is for a certain niche market.

@ Stacey – Thanks for the comment! I also thought turning a mission statement into a mantra was a great idea as well.

Posted by Dustin
February 23, 2009

Dustin, I enjoyed this review and learnt a few things from it. Like Stacey, I like the confirmation that mission statements are much less useful than mantras.

I also notice you’re using your own name now instead of just ‘Admin’. Way to go Dustin!

Daphne’s last blog post..Just Keep Showing Up

Posted by Daphne
February 24, 2009

@ Daphne – Thanks for noticing. Thanks for the comment!

Dustin’s last blog post..Cool Links for Week of February 23th

Posted by Dustin
March 3, 2009


Seems you’ve captured all of the good points – and all of the most necessary for the larger group of business starters. Thank you.

Also good to have an honest book review.


LifeMadeGreat | Juliet’s last blog post..Overcoming The Barriers Of Introversion: Starting The Process

March 4, 2009

Thanks for the review here. This book has made me curious before ever since reading an 8 page business summary of it but I always had the sense it had a niche that I didn’t connect with. You reviewed has solidified that as I’m sure I would feel the same as you so thanks for saving me the time and money of buying and reading this one. Don’t get me wrong, I love much of Guy K. stuff, this one however, just doesn’t fit with what I am looking for.

Mike King’s last blog post..Avoiding Some Dangers of Goal Setting

Posted by Mike King
March 4, 2009

@ Juliet – Thanks for the comment! I try to give my honest opinion without the sugar coating.

@ Mike – This book wasn’t quite what I thought it would be. As I mentioned, if you are looking for VC money in Silicon Valley, this is the book for you. Most of us are NOT in that situation. Thanks for the comment!

Posted by Dustin
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