Monday, January 8, 2018

Book Review: 'Enchantment' by Guy Kawasaki

Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions
Guy Kawasaki
Portfolio/Penguin Group (2011)

How to create a context within which there is authentic magic to be shared
I have read and reviewed all of Guy Kawasaki’s previous books. This book’s title caught my eye because it suggests – and as it turned out, correctly – that its material and Kawasaki’s presentation of it would be significantly different from, for example, Reality Check (2008). In that book, he focuses almost entirely on how to outsmart, outmanage, and outmarket one’s competition. Would he now explain how to outenchant them also?
Indeed he does, and brilliantly, as always. The title of each of Chapters 2-12 begins with a “How to” and then in the text Kawasaki explains how to achieve likeability (Chapter 2), trustworthiness (3), prepare (4), launch (5), overcome resistance (6), make enchantment endure (7), use push technology (8), use pull technology (9), enchant your employees (10), enchant your boss (11), and resist [unethical and/or inappropriate] enchantment (12). Once again, Kawasaki – the pragmatic idealist and empirical visionary with an abundance of street smarts — is determined to explain what works, what doesn’t, and why.
As he explains, enchantment can occur anywhere and “causes a voluntary change of hearts and minds and therefore actions. It is more than manipulating people to help you get your way. Enchantment transforms situations and relationships. It converts hostility into civility. It reshapes civility into affinity. It changes skeptics and cynics into believers.”
When enchanted, we transcend whatever the given circumstances may be, conveyed by emotions back tthrough time (via fond memories) and/or conveyed by the same emotions into the future (via joyful anticipation and fantasy). The enchanter could be anyone or anything that casts a spell (albeit temporary) that protects us from fear, doubt, distress, and even grief. Kawasaki suggests that we need enchantment most when aspiring to lofty, idealistic goals as well as when making especially difficult decisions, overcoming entrenched habits, defying a crowd, or proceeding despite delayed or nonexistent feedback.
As indicated, he alerts his reader in Chapter 12 to beware of “charmers” whose purposes are self-serving, often unethical, and perhaps illegal. Their resources include temptation, deception, evasion, and ambiguity. “Not everyone is an ethical enchanter, and even ethical enchanters can convince you to do something that’s not in your best interest.” That’s a key point. Kawasaki advises his reader to avoid tempting situations, to look beyond immediate gratification, to beware of “pseudo salience” (e.g. “they say”), not to fall for “the example of one” (i.e. believing that a compelling example is the rule rather than the exception or aberration), to defy the crowd (e.g. resist social acceptance defined by a “crowd mentality”), and to track previous decisions (ask “What happened when I [or someone else] did it before?”).  Kawasaki recommends creating a checklist and offers an example on Page 181.
Readers will appreciate the provision of “My Personal Story” vignettes throughout the narrative. In each, someone in a situation with which most readers can identify shares personal experience relevant to the given chapter’s subject. Kawasaki is wise to anchor insights in a human context.
Most of what Kawasaki has written about in previous books focuses primarily on issues of greatest importance to organizational success and how individuals can help to achieve it. Long ago, Oscar Wilde observed, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” In this book, Kawasaki focuses almost entirely on explaining how almost anyone can increase personal fulfillment through ethical application of an “art” whose power can change others’ hearts, minds, and actions and (key point) do so in their best interests. In this context, the enchanter is a servant leader as Robert Greenleaf defines the term, an authentic leader as Bill George defines the term, and a results-driven leader as Guy Kawasaki defines the term.
If asked to recommend one book that should be read by anyone now preparing for a business career or who has only recently embarked on one, I would suggest two: Reality Check and Enchantment.

Editor's note: This review was written by Robert Morris and has been published with his permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.