Wise Guy | Guy Kawasaki

Summary of: Wise Guy: Lessons from a Life
By: Guy Kawasaki


In ‘Wise Guy: Lessons from a Life’, Guy Kawasaki takes readers on a journey through his life, encompassing his family’s immigrant roots, the path to educational success, and his eventual achievements in the workforce. He shares life lessons learned from his experiences, as well as insights into what drives his sense of purpose and success. These engrossing tales highlight the significance of hard work, determination, and seizing opportunities. This book summary will introduce readers to Guy’s life story, his career at Apple, his personal achievements, lessons learned from parenting, and his fascinating late-in-life foray into the world of surfing.

The Kawasaki Legacy

Following the remarkable journey of the Kawasaki family, Guy Kawasaki’s lineage traces back to his great-grandparents who moved from Japan to Hawaii during the Meiji period. This book summary takes a closer look at Guy’s family tree and shares anecdotes of how his ancestors overcame hardships while pursuing better lives for themselves and future generations. From humble beginnings working for sugar plantations, to attaining education and becoming breadwinners, their remarkable stories are an inspiration to anyone who believes in the American Dream.

A Life-Changing Decision

Guy’s journey from ‘Iolani to Stanford, and how it changed his life forever.

Guy’s family arrived in America hoping to take advantage of its opportunities. To ensure his success, his parents prioritized education, which meant sending him to private schools. His sixth-grade teacher, Trudy Akau, suggested applying to two of the best college prep schools in Honolulu: Punahou and ‘Iolani. After getting accepted into ‘Iolani, Guy’s parents paid around $8,000 in yearly fees despite making just $20,000 annually. This decision changed Guy’s life forever.

However, getting into Stanford wasn’t a simple task. Guy’s grades at ‘Iolani were average, but his college counselor Dan Feldhaus saw potential in him and encouraged him to apply. To his surprise, Guy was offered a place at Stanford, but it wasn’t his first choice. His father insisted on an excellent education over sports, and he made the right decision. At Stanford, Guy met Mike Boich, who later helped him land a job at Apple.

In conclusion, Guy’s education journey is a testament to the importance of seizing opportunities and the value of education.

The Unconventional Education of Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki’s journey to success was different from what his parents had planned for him. Despite quitting law school, he pursued an MBA and learned the art of salesmanship from selling jewelry, which would eventually become useful for his future job in tech startup, Apple.

Guy Kawasaki, an Asian-American, was raised in the suburbs of Honolulu, Hawaii. His parents, like most Asian and Jewish-American parents, set three career paths for their children – dentistry, medicine, or law. Guy considered studying medicine at Stanford, but gruesome work didn’t appeal to him. He then opted to pursue a career in law. Following his graduation from Stanford, Guy joined a law program at University of California, Davis, but soon decided to quit due to professors picking on students and giving them shameful dressing-downs. Despite his fear of disapproval from his parents, they supported him and believed that he would eventually make something of himself before he turned 25.

After quitting law school, Guy pursued an MBA at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he met Lynn Nakamura, a Hawaiian jewelry trader. To learn the art of sales, Guy decided to spend his Fridays working with Lynn, an experience that turned out to be one of the best decisions he ever made. Guy learned old-school bargaining, a sales technique that involves personal interactions with buyers.

Guy’s stint in the jewelry business eventually prepared him for his first job at Apple, where he was tasked with marketing the Macintosh computer. His non-linear path to success proves that not everyone follows the traditional path to success, and sometimes, quitting can lead to discovering unexpected opportunities.

How Guy Kawasaki found his niche at Apple as a ‘software evangelist’

In this book excerpt, we learn about Guy Kawasaki’s journey to becoming a ‘software evangelist’ at Apple. Guy discovered the magic of computing during his time in the jewelry trade, and after being introduced to the Apple II computer by a friend, he jumped at the chance to work for the company making these amazing products. Despite having a psychology degree and an MBA, Guy was taken on by Apple as a brand ambassador or “software evangelist”. His job was to convince skeptical software and hardware manufacturers to take a gamble on Apple and start creating compatible products. This was a hard sell: lacking any actual users, Apple was still more of an idea than a reality. However, Guy’s passion for the work and belief in the innovative nature of the company made him a successful evangelist. He loved the work, and that shone through in his determination and commitment. Although there were many people who were more diligent or gifted than Guy, he found his niche by combining his passion for sales and technology.

Apple Gets Stung

Guy Kawasaki’s move to quit Apple and start an independent software company was a result of his promotion being nixed due to opposition from chief operating officer Del Yocam. Yocam was convinced that standing against big software companies was unwise, leading to fallout between Apple and smaller companies, such as Ashton-Tate, which created a relational database for IBM PC. After French developers created 4th Dimension, a similar database for Apple, Apple tried to buy the rights to their database software, but Ashton-Tate saw it as a direct competitor and the deal fell through. Guy left Apple and started the now thriving software company ACIUS with the help of Delbourg-Delphis and Ribardière.

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