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My Debt to Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki just started blogging, and I'm compelled to mention it because I owe him one. Rewind back to 1994. I'm a EE/CS major at Duke University, but what I really want to be doing is creating super-cool products. I'm a recent Macintosh convert and a huge fan of the crew that created it. I had just read The Macintosh Way by Guy Kawasaki and a big article in Wired about General Magic, and I think: "the next Macintosh is being created right now, by the same guys, and I so desperately want to be there."

I read and re-read Guy's advice about how to get into a Macintosh Way company. I dig up email addresses of people working at Magic, e.g. b1-66er, and send polite notes asking about jobs. b1-66er, in an effort to get me off his back, finally offers to turn in a resume to HR for me. I mail it, thinking I finally have my "in." Anyone who's sent a resume to a HR department can guess what happened.

Months pass, it's 1995 now, and by this point I've read Selling the Dream and Hindsights: The Wisdom and Breakthroughs of Remarkable People. I decide to send Guy a "thanks, I loved your books" letter. I do, and mention in passing that I'm attempting to get into General Magic using his advice in Macintosh Way. Couple weeks later I check my email, and I remember this vividly:

From: Scott Knaster
Subject: Working at Magic

Stunned silence. Then I'm yelling to my friends in the next dorm room, "guys, come here, NOW, you won't believe this!" We read the email together. Guy had passed on my name and contact info to Scott Knaster, author of several Macintosh programming books (which of course I had), and here was Scott offering to help me get a job.

The rest is a whole other story, but the quick version is: Scott bugged b1-66er, I bugged both, and eventually b1-66er made an intern job for me. It was the first and only internship General Magic ever created. Two months later I was offered a full-time job, just as I had hoped, and it was easily the coolest five years of work I've ever done.

For all this I owe Guy Kawasaki an incredible debt. His books gave me the vision for how I wanted to work. Screw "programming" for a living. I want to build insanely cool products and have a great time doing it. Then he, personally, started the ball rolling which got me the very coolest job an aspiring engineer could ever hope for. I'd be shocked if Guy knows my name or even remembers sending that email to Scott Knaster, but I sure as heck remember.

The point of all this? First, as a public "thank you" to Guy. Second, to get you to read his blog. Go on!

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Comments

you're not going to like this, and neither is special k, but i'm saying it because it needs to be said.

guy kawasaki and i have an unusual relationship for many reasons but the only one i'll state here is i was the first person hired into what was then known as the apple developer group (adg) that was not okayed by guy. he'd just bailed on apple to do silver surfer.

no puns intended, he's a really nice guy, a really good guy, and *easily* the best self-promoter since p.t. barnum.

but the big question i always, always have is: what have you done lately?

being big 20 years ago, doesn't count -- and that is the problem that 98% of the old mac guys have. (it's the problem ALL of the old mac guys have who talk about "old times" -- you never hear jobs going on and on about it). i'm sick and tired of hearing about them and how great they were ("are" doesn't count, because none of them have done greatness since -- unless of course you count bilking people out of investment dollars and not providing even a dime of r.o.i.)

as far as i'm concerned the crowning moment was at the mac world where general magic announced. before the presentation, there was a panel with a bunch of the old mac heads where the majority were going off (yet again) about how great they were.

guy was the emcee (he had to be since he wasn't part of the original mac team) and acted every bit like david letterman where he was interjecting himself into damn near everything anyone said.

dan'l lewin (then and now of MICROSOFT) hadn't said a word the entire time, mostly looking disgruntled and shaking his head. finally guy said, "what about you dan'l? what do you think?"

and he said, "i'm sitting here thinking: 'is guy kawasaki here for us, or are we here for guy kawasaki?'"

this is not a comment that played well to the rabidly-pro-mac audience, but it was squarely on the mark ... it's a question that's as valid today as it was then, and i haven't heard a good answer to it yet.

I'm here for the free food. What? There's no free food on the net? AAAAAAAAAAARGH. You've been posted on my blog!

Hey, I tried calling you, but I think I got the number wrong, 'cause I ended up talking to some dweeb in SF. Congrats on the house and the upcoming new arrivals. I've been reading Guy's blog a lot lately, we need to talk.

Much love,

jdk

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