08 July 2011
In the time it’s taken me to write this review of Guy Kawasaki’s book Enchantment, it’s already become a bestseller. It belongs to the new breed of business books that are influenced by the rise of blogging, with lots of short essays thematically linked in chapters. Kawasaki’s aim is to give you a toolkit for enchanting people, in the way that his former company Apple enchants with its products.
It’s a good book to dip into, with lots of interesting ideas that can be used by people or companies to improve their relationships with others. Some of the content you would expect is here: don’t forget to smile, perfect your handshake, aim for a win-win situation. Find out what passions you have in common with someone, and you can make a real connection with them. There are more practical tips too on presentation skills (Kawasaki takes a photo of himself in the city he’s presenting in and puts that at the start of his talk to personalise it), using Twitter (“the most powerful enchantment tool I’ve used in my career”) and other social networking sites, enchanting employees and enchanting your boss.
The best thing about the book is the diversity of the ideas he draws upon. We all know checklists can be useful, but he’s got an example of how they saved lives and money in a hospital context when nurses were asked to check that doctors were following them. There’s a nice example of a company where employees are shown a photo of a colleague when they log on to help them get to know others in the team. The Grateful Dead is cited as an example of promoting spreadability because of the way they encouraged fans to create and trade bootlegs. I particularly liked the charity that organises sponsored races, but also allows people to ‘sleep in’ for the cause and make a donation to stay in bed.
As with any book like this, you have to exercise your judgement in deciding whether to follow a particular piece of advice or not. Kawasaki recommends swearing in a business context for emphasis, especially for women. From what I’ve seen at work, mild swearing isn’t noticed and stronger language does nothing for someone’s credibility in the office. It’s a risky strategy. He also recommends using lots of pictures and videos on your website to make it more interesting, and says it’s better to use too many than too few. Even leaving aside the contradiction with his advice to make the website fast, I think it’s best to be selective with pictures and use them to focus attention on the right content, rather than using them for decorative purposes. These are small points, though. If you’re not thinking about what you’re reading and making your own decisions about a book’s content, you’re not really reading it at all.
Enchantment is written in an engaging style and Kawasaki’s personality shines through in it. In some areas, it’s not as comprehensive as I might have expected. There’s not very much on body language, for example, nor product design. But there’s a limit to what can be covered in a book like this, and it feels like an enjoyable ramble through Kawasaki’s mind, together with all the great examples he’s seen and heard about. Dip into it for ideas you can use to make your interactions more enchanting.
Labels: book review
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