Apple’s former chief evangelist and visionary behind Canva talked about the importance of designing products backed by meaning, looking for future innovation, and more at the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG)’s annual Summit
The team at STORD was humbled to be named to TAG’s Top 10 Innovative Companies list and we were honored to accept our award at The Summit event on Tuesday. TAG is one of the biggest technology organizations in the country, with a mission to unite and enhance Georgia’s technology community.
Guy Kawasaki stopped by the event to pay tribute to the spirit of innovation that has fueled Georgia’s rise as a technology hub. And he delivered the keynote address, using the podium to share the key lessons that were instrumental to his own success and that he thinks are crucial for business success in 2019.
We wanted to share Kawasaki’s expertise, so we’ve recorded five of his secrets for success below.
Make meaning and money will follow
To be successful, you need a laser-like focus on making meaningful products that provide value to customers. Don’t focus on maximizing profit. Kawasaki used the original Macintosh computer to illustrate this point. Apple had a vision behind its product, he said, and it wasn’t to just make the most profitable device. Instead, the company’s goal was the make a computer that provided value to every customer.
If you and the people care too much about money, Kawasaki told the audience, you’ll fail. You need to invest in making meaningful, valuable products to be successful. Apple made this decision early on, and financial success followed soon after.
Plan for the change that’s coming
You also need to look ahead for innovation curves, which Kawasaki explained using the example of the ice industry of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Ice sales quickly moved from cutting blocks out of frozen lakes, to mass production in factories, then finally to the convenience of personal refrigerators. Each time the industry shifted, it left behind the companies that couldn’t see the change coming.
He also said that if you look back at early products and services and cringe, it can be a very good sign that you’ve iterated and innovated over time. He used the first Mac as an example, explaining how its five megabytes of storage seemed impressive when it released, but is a minuscule number by modern standards.
Ignore the naysayers
Great ideas and products often draw polarized reactions, so you shouldn’t fear negative responses. Kawasaki used early Macs as an example. Many people thought that a home computer would never be a viable product, he explained, since it was such a dramatic departure from what everyone was used to.
He argued that strong reactions to a new idea show that it has the potential to disrupt the status quo. You may face criticism of your product from people who are wealthy or famous, but that doesn’t mean they actually know better than you.
Admit when you’re wrong
The ability to change your mind when it’s necessary is also critically important. Kawasaki talked about Steve Jobs’s decision to allow third-party applications on the iPhone (instead of his original plan to only allow web apps designed in Safari). This choice was a complete shift in strategic direction, but it was the right one for Apple.
Kawasaki also explained how Apple transitioned from selling computers primarily for business use to selling them for homes and desktop publishing. The main lesson from this story, he said, is to throw everything against the wall and paint a bullseye around what sticks.
Believe it into being
Kawasaki closed with a final point about innovation: some things need to be believed to be seen. Before any idea can turn into a product or service, he said, someone has to believe in it and work on it. People have to buy in to a vision before it can realize its potential.
This idea goes against conventional wisdom. People typically want to see things before they believe in them, but Kawasaki said that the rules in technology are different. We need belief for innovation.