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Originally published October 18, 2004 in The Miami Herald.

'Art of the Start' serves as toolbox for success.
Guy Kawasaki's detailed instructions for developing and presenting new ideas with the goal of bringing them to market.

Buy this book!The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide For Anyone Starting Anything. Guy Kawasaki. Portfolio. 216 pages.


Guy Kawasaki used to be an evangelist for a computer company.



He had the unenviable task of persuading developers to write and market software for Apple's Macintosh computer. In those pre-Windows days, PC users scoffed at the Mac's graphic interface and mouse, declaring that this ''toy'' was unworthy of consideration for serious computing.

Though they changed their tune a few years later when PCs (with mice) ran ''just like Macs,'' Kawasaki's determination and enthusiasm made early adopters awfully glad they took a chance on that odd, new machine.

Even after he left the company, returned and departed again, Kawasaki was the personification of intelligently directed tenacity. His efforts earned fans, not just customers. In that sense, he was, and is, well ahead the curve.

Reading his latest book I was struck with how much seemed familiar. Then I realized that many of the newest brainstorms touted by today's hot marketing gurus were ideas espoused by Kawasaki years earlier.

This new book isn't strictly a marketing guide, but a toolbox with detailed instructions for developing and presenting new ideas with the goal of bringing them to market -- eventually
The tone is helpful and sympathetic, though Kawasaki's patented ebullience has been supplanted by a more practical and pragmatic voice. Clearly, he's suffered through too many inept, overlong and ill-conceived presentations and pitches, and can now offer sharper advice. But his guidance isn't limited to just communicating an idea or product; it's more macro than that.

He writes: ''I use a top-10 list format for all my speeches, and I would love to begin this book with a top-10 list of the most important things an entrepreneur must accomplish.'' However, there aren't ten -- there are only five:

1. Make meaning (inspired by John Doerr). The best reason to start an organization is to make meaning -- to create a product or service that makes the world a better place. So your first task is to decide how you can make meaning.

2. Make a mantra. Forget mission statements; they're long, boring, and irrelevant. No one can ever remember them -- much less implement them. Instead, take your meaning and make a mantra out of it. This will set your entire team on the right course.

3. Get going. Start creating and delivering your product or service. Think soldering irons, compilers, hammers, saws, and AutoCAD -- whatever tools you use to build products and services. Don't focus on pitching, writing and planning.

4. Define your business model. No matter what kind of organization you're starting, you have to figure out a way to make money. The greatest idea, technology, product or service is short-lived without a sustainable business model.

5. Weave a mat (milestones, assumptions and tasks). The final step is to compile three lists: (a) major milestones you need to meet; (b) assumptions that are built into your business model; and (c) tasks you need to accomplish to create an organization. This will enforce discipline and keep your organization on track when all hell breaks loose -- and all hell will break loose.''

There are many books on new product development and presentation, but this one delivers far more than it promises. And there's this: a friend of mine borrowed my copy while preparing a new business proposal. After reading about 50 pages, he requested a postponement so he could redo his pitch. That's as convincing a recommendation as I've ever encountered.

If you'd like to sample Kawasaki's sagacity, check out http://www.artofthestart.com for a free excerpt.

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