At the introduction of the Mac in 1984 and for the next several years, Kawasaki was the Apple's chief evangelist, and he remained an advocate for the product line after leaving the company. His latest book, What the Plus!, subtitled Google+ for the Rest of Us, represents the first time he has focused his writing on a single product since his first book, The Macintosh Way. Originally an e-book, What the Plus! has just been released in paperback by McGraw-Hill.
In total, Kawasaki has published 10 books on technology, marketing, and business strategy, including 2011's Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions. He is a principal at Garage Technology Ventures and also the co-founder of Alltop, a news and blog aggregation website, which includes a section called Holy Kaw! (pronounced "holy cow!" like the "kaw" in his name).
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Kawasaki says he felt compelled to write this book because he saw pundits who originally celebrated the launch of Google+ turning against it, and he wanted people to love the service the way he does.
"From my perspective, Google+ is to Facebook and Twitter what Macintosh is to Windows: better, but fewer people use it, and the pundits prophesy that it will fail," he wrote in the introduction. "As a lover of great products, this rankles my soul. I hate when people don't use the best tool. Sometimes people don't know that a better tool exists. Sometimes they know that it exists but not that it's better. Sometimes, they try the better tool, but the tool doesn't stick for them." To those who argue Google+ can never compete with the size of Facebook's audience, he replies, "My counterargument is that it's your own fault if you don't have a good time at a small party where there are many beautiful and interesting people."
While The Macintosh Way came from the experience of working at Apple, Kawasaki said he is merely a fan of Google+ and that Google did not recruit or hire him to write this book. While infused with his personality, much of the book reads like a technical manual, pointing out key features that distinguish the service, like the instant upload feature for automatically uploading photos from your phone and the photo editing features built into Google+. He presents a strategy for growing your network, curating content, and working with circles of contacts.
Guy Kawasaki's page on Google+ with his trademark numbered posts.
In addition to offering his own observations, Kawasaki included two guest author chapters. "How to Be a Little Fish in a Big Pond," by Peg Fitzpatrick, a marketing and social media executive, looks at how to build a successful following even if your name is not Guy Kawasaki. Lynette Young, the creator and curator of Women of Google+ provided "How to Thrive in the All-Boys' Club," including advice on how to deal with unwanted overtures from men.
Some of Kawasaki's general observations about building a network reminded me of what I read in Mark Schaefer's The Tao Of Twitter, but Kawasaki is convinced there is no comparison between the quality of Google+ and its rivals.
The Q&A below is condensed from a longer conversation.
Carr: I'm curious why you took it on yourself to write a book like this. Your books have some how-to content, but usually you're focused on bigger things like how to start a business or how to be an effective evangelist. This one is almost Google+ for Dummies.
Kawasaki: That's exactly what it is, a manual. I just really loved Google+. I saw so many people who didn't understand it, and I wanted to help them out.
It's a lot easier to write an e-book because you don't have to go through the proposal stage with a traditional publisher. Of course, come to find out, not so easy to do an e-book.
I just loved Google+, and I wanted to help people love it as much as I do.