If music (Big Yellow Taxi) and television (That '70s Show) can look to the 1970s as a source of current inspiration, why not business books? That's the implicit argument of Forbes columnist Kawasaki's (How to Drive Your Competition Crazy) new book, which tries to capture the attitude of Apple Computer some two decades ago, when its goal was to make "insanely great products." This tone doesn't occur by accident.
Kawasaki was director of product development at Apple. To his credit, Kawasaki, who now runs garage.com, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, succeeds in being inspirational as he lays out his three steps to success: "Create Like a God," "Command Like a King" and "Work Like a Slave." Each section is filled with dozens of ideas about how to approach a market differently, and he gives pithy examples of how firms ranging from bicycle companies to Internet enterprises applied one of the three steps on their way to market. But while long on inspiration, Kawasaki is short on "how to."
He has sprinkled the book with "exercises," but they are primarily there for comic relief, rather than instruction (e.g., "The next time a telemarketer calls you at home, ask for his phone number and tell him you will call him back that night"). Ultimately, however, these shortfalls probably don't matter. Kawasaki gives entrepreneurs and team leaders battling entrenched corporate bureaucracies more reason to keep up the fight. It is very hard not to like a book whose major theme is "don't let Bozosity grind you down."