Guy Kawasaki Discusses The Art of Innovation at TEDxBerkeley (Transcript)

Guy Kawasaki

Full transcript of chief evangelist of Canva, Guy Kawasaki’s TEDx Talk: The Art of Innovation at TEDxBerkeley 2014 conference. This event took place on February 8, 2014.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here: the-art-of-innovation-by-guy-kawasaki-at-tedxberkeley


Thank you. Thank you. ¶

Yes, it is true that I am a Stanford graduate. Don’t hold that against me, OK? My son goes to Cal, so I have some link to Cal. It is really an honor to speak at any TEDx, but to open one up is really, really special.

So last night I told my wife, of all places, in your wildest dreams, did you ever think that I would open up TEDxBerkeley?

And she said, “Honey, you’re not in my wildest dreams”.

So, welcome to my life. Welcome to my life.

You know, the theme of thinking and defining and creating is all about innovation. So my talk is about the art of innovation. I use the top 10 format. That’s because I’ve seen so many high-tech speakers, and I’ll tell you, most high-tech speakers suck. So I figured out very early in my career if you use a top 10 format, at least the audience can track progress to your speech. So if they think you suck they know about how much longer you’ll suck. So I have 10 key points for you.

So I worked at Apple. I’ve been a venture capitalist, an entrepreneur, an advisor to Google. I’ve done a lot of things and I’ve learned a lot about innovation, which I would like to pass on to you now so that you may go and change the world. Okay? This is my top 10 of the art of innovation.

  1. Make Meaning

It starts with the desire to make meaning as opposed to make money. Making meaning means that you change the world. And I think you’ll notice that if you happen to change the world, you will also probably make money. But if you start off with the sole desire to make money, you probably won’t make money, you won’t make meaning, you won’t change the world, and you will probably fail.

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So my first thought for you is determine how you can make meaning, how can you change the world? Here are some examples.

With Apple, Apple wanted to democratize computers. They wanted to bring computing power to everyone. That’s the meaning they made.

With Google, they wanted to democratize information, making information available to everyone.

With eBay, they wanted to democratize commerce so that anyone with a website could stand toe to toe with any other large retailer. Examples of companies making meaning. And YouTube, finally, wanted to enable people to create video, to upload video, to share video.

So this is an example of the company and the kind of meaning they make. And, as you know, they all made this kind of meaning and they’ve been highly, highly successful. So what I noticed in my career is that if you truly want to make meaning, it’s the first step towards innovation.

  1. Make A Mantra

The second step is to make a mantra: A two- or three, maybe four-word explanation of why your meaning should exist. This is an anti-example. This is the mission statement of Wendy’s: ‘The mission of Wendy’s is to deliver superior quality products and services for our customers and communities through leadership, innovation, and partnerships’.

I have been through Wendy’s many times in my life. I’ve eaten at Wendy’s. I’ve driven through Wendy’s. And in every occasion, it has never occurred to me that, Guy, what you are participating in is leadership, innovation, and partnerships. You know, excuse me, but I thought I was just getting French fries, Coke, and a hamburger. This is the problem with mission statements. Don’t make a mission statement. Make a mantra.

Wendy’s mantra should be healthy fast food. Three words that determine what Wendy’s is trying to do. Somewhat oxymoronic, but healthy fast food.

Nike. Nike has a great slogan. Just do it. That’s a slogan. A mantra explains why you should exist, and the Nike mantra is authentic athletic performance.

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And finally, there’s FedEx. When you absolutely, positively want something somewhere, what does FedEx stand for? It stands for peace of mind. So my second recommendation to you is that when you decide on the kind of meaning you make, try to find two or three words that describe why that meaning should exist. Not a 50 word mission statement. Two or three word mantra.

  1. Jump To The Next Curve

The third thing is the matter of perspective. The perspective is to jump curves. Not to stay on the same stupid curve that you’re on. Not to try to do things 10% better. When we were creating the Macintosh, we were not trying to make a slightly better Apple II or a slightly better MS-DOS machine. We were trying to jump to the next curve of personal computing. The greatest example of this occurs in the ice business.

Ice 1.0. In the late 1800s/early 1900s, there was an ice harvesting business in the United States. This meant that Bubba and Junior during winter would go to a frozen lake or a pond, cut blocks of ice. 9 million pounds of ice was harvested in 1900. Their idea of innovation was bigger horse, more horses, bigger slave, sharper saw. But it was fundamentally wait for winter, live in a cold city, cut blocks of ice.

Thirty years later, we have Ice 2.0. Now we have the ice factory. Major technological breakthrough. It did not have to be winter. It did not have to be a cold city. You froze water centrally and delivered it via the ice man in the ice truck. Imagine the breakthrough this was. No more limitations by climate. No more limitations by season. You could have an ice factory.

Thirty years go by, we have Ice 3.0. Refrigerator curve. Now. Now, it’s not a matter of can you freeze water centrally? Can you put it in a truck? Can you deliver the ice to people? Now, everybody could have their own personal ice factory. A PC, if you will. A personal chiller.

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The very interesting story about all of these curves is that none of the organizations that were ice harvesters became ice factories and ice factories did not become refrigerator companies, because most companies define themselves in terms of what they do, not the benefits they provide. If you define yourself as we cut blocks of ice out of lakes, you remain an ice harvester. If you define yourself as we freeze water centrally, you remain an ice factory. If you define yourself as we make a mechanical gadget called a refrigerator, then you stay on the refrigerator curve. Great innovation occurs when you get to the next curve. When you go from telephone to internet, when you go from daisy-wheel printer to a laser printer to 3D printing. Great innovation occurs on the next curve.

  1. Roll the DICEE

The fourth thing is to roll the DICEE. These are the five qualities of great innovation. Great innovation is Deep. Lots of features, lots of functionality. This is a picture of a fanning sandal made by Reef. Arguably the deepest sandal ever made. Every sandal has one primary purpose: to protect your feet. If you look at that circled area, that’s a metal clip. That metal clip is for the sandal to open beer bottles. This sandal has twice the functionality, twice the depth of any other sandal in the world.

Great products are also Intelligent. When you look at it, you say, uh-huh, somebody understood my pain. Somebody understood my problem. This is a GT500 Shelby Mustang. 650 horsepower. For those of you in Berkeley who do not rate the horsepower in muscle cars, this is 6.8 Priuses. I would love to buy one of these cars. 59 years old. Going through a midlife crisis. Feelings of impotency. I would love — I would love to buy this car to compensate for my feelings of inadequacy.

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