Book Review – Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition by Guy Kawasaki
If you’ve ever heard one of Guy Kawasaki’s keynotes, you know he’s uniquely irreverent and very, very funny. Fortunately for readers of Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition, Guy writes that way too. One might expect a 461-page business tome to be ponderous… actually, it’s always lively and often hilarious. I finished the book on a cross-country flight, and I’m sure my seatmates thought my occasional bursts of stifled laughter were a sign of either Tourette’s or altitude sickness.
Since Guy works in Silicon Valley, some of the content focuses on concerns peculiar to that area – the relentless dance between entrepreneurs looking for money and venture capitalists trying to buy into the Next Big Thing, both sides of the hiring/firing process, and more. Fortunately, most of the advice can be applied to business situations outside of northern California nearly as well.
Reality Check first focuses on the startup process and the search for capital. Each short chapter is chock full of insights and advice. Guy is big on lists of DOs, DONT’s, common lies, and more. Here are a couple of short examples from the chapter titled, “The Top 16 Lies of Lawyers:”
6. “The bill would be lower if it weren’t for the lawyers on the other side.” The lawyers on the other side are saying this about your lawyers, too.
7. “I thought you were more interested in getting it right than in saving a few dollars.” In other words, the legal bill for your Series A funding may exceed the amount of capital raised.
It’s not all fun and games, though – there’s concrete advice in Reality Check, too. In fact, had Reality Check been published a few years ago, one procedure in the chapter, “The Inside Scoop on Venture Capital Law,” would have saved me, well, a whole bunch of money.
There are sections marketing, planning, communications, hiring and firing, selling, and more key managerial topics. You won’t find a sacred cow safe from Guy’s sword. He slashes through doublespeak and provides solid, no “bull shiitake” counsel at every turn. Other topics include “How to get a standing ovation,” “The art of schmoozing,” and “How to create a community.” In a chapter about resumes, Guy notes that few individuals have so many amazing accomplishments in their career that they need more than a one page resume to describe them. In his words, “As a rule of thumb, if you can’t pitch your company in ten slides or yourself in one page, your idea is stupid and you suck, respectively.”
For long-time readers of Guy’s blog, much of this content is going to look familiar. The fact that you can find these pearls of wisdom on the Web, though, is no excuse to not buy the book. First, the book organizes everything by topic and creates a logical start-to-finish flow for each section. Second, do you really want to read the equivalent of nearly 500 dense text pages on your iPhone? Or even on your laptop?
Whether you read it cover to cover or jump around to topics of interest, Reality Check will make you smarter and make you laugh at the same time.