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Guy Kawasaki Inspires Entrepreneurs to ‘Make Meaning’

Guy Kawasaki speaks at Belmont University Nov. 17, 2011.

The Center for Executive Education at Belmont University hosted author and former Apple “chief evangelist” Guy Kawasaki Thursday morning as the keynote speaker during its Fall Leadership Breakfast. Presented in partnership with the Nashville Chamber of Commerce and EO Nashville (Entrepreneurs’ Organization), the event occurred during Global Entrepreneurship Week and on the actual date of “EO24,” a 24-hour celebration of global entrepreneurial innovation and knowledge sharing.

Focusing on the themes of his 2004 book, The Art of the Start, Kawasaki shared 11 key points that could benefit both new entrepreneurs and business executives intent on keeping the entrepreneurial spirit alive in established companies.

His first and most critical piece of advice? “Make meaning… Entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship, it makes no difference. It all starts with the desire to change the world and make it a better place.” He noted that during his time at Apple, the company wasn’t focused on producing computers. Rather, “We were trying to increase the creativity and productivity of people.”

He also encouraged entrepreneurs to have a two-three word mantra for their business instead of a lengthy, unmemorable mission statement and advocated that it was vital to “get going” and to not be afraid to polarize culture with a product.

Sharing from his current experience as a venture capitalist, Kawasaki also noted that business models shouldn’t be complicated or wieldy. “Investors aren’t looking for innovative business models; investors are looking for innovative businesses with simple business models.”

More than 500 community and business leaders attended the Center for Executive Education's Fall Leadership Breakfast with Guy Kawasaki.

Though he didn’t follow his own 10/20/30 rule for presentations (10 slides, 20 minutes, 30 point font), Kawasaki spoke knowledgeably about  hiring “infected people” and “embracing your product’s evangelists,” again pointing to Apple’s success in developing a subculture of adoption for all of its technology.

In one of his final points Kawasaki discussed seeding the clouds–sales fix everything, even when those sales aren’t coming from the customers the business anticipated. “If it weren’t for desktop publishing and Pagemaker, Apple wouldn’t be here today. We thought we were making a spreadsheet, database and word processing machine. We were 0-for-3!”

Kawasaki, former Apple “chief evangelist,” is the co-founder of Alltop.com, an “online magazine rack” of popular topics on the web, and a founding partner at Garage Technology Ventures. He has authored 10 books, including The Art of the Start, Rules for Revolutionaries, Reality Check and his most recent work, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions. His visit to Belmont University coincided with Global Entrepreneurship Week, an initiative speared by The Kauffman Foundation to inspire millions to engage in entrepreneurial actions while connecting them with mentors, collaborators and investors.

The Center for Executive Education at Belmont University has been a premier provider of leadership education for more than 25 years, existing to provide world-class learning to meet the needs of the Nashville community and beyond. The Center provides a full range of executive learning opportunities including its Executive Learning Networks, Executive Leadership Experience, certificate programs and customized solutions. The Executive Learning Networks (ELN) invited Kawasaki to the city to speak on keeping an entrepreneurial mindset at whatever stage of company growth. ELN membership consists of senior leaders from over 50 Middle Tennessee companies who seek to learn from one another and national leaders through ongoing networking, speakers’ series and small group discussions.

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