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May 23, 2006

The Top Ten Lies of Guy Kawasaki

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  1. “I already have a meeting at lunch.” This isn’t a lie if you consider talking to people on the bench between shifts a “meeting.” What can I say? One of my great joys in life is playing hockey, and some of the best games are at lunch time during the week. So if I tell you this lie, it probably means I’m playing hockey that day.

  2. “I think what you’re doing is interesting, but it’s not something for us. The first half of this statement is the lie; the second is the rock-solid truth. I tell this lie when I’m presented with an idea that I don’t think can succeed. I use it because I am chicken shiitake/soft-hearted. The good influence of my wife prevents me from being a total orifice and crushing people by saying, “You have a stupid idea.”

    In the past I experimented with telling people why I thought their idea wouldn’t succeed, but this only caused long, often hostile, conversations. To this day, I struggle with how to say “no” to entrepreneurs in a respectful way without giving reasons and getting into a long discussion. I cannot provide an explanation every time, or I’ll never have time to blog. :-) Please provide suggestions as comments.

  3. “You need me more than I need you.” In order to become a venture capitalist, one has to swear that you believe this. It’s called the Hypocrite’s Oath. We may never actually utter this lie, but it permeates every aspect of our existence: what we drive, where we eat, how we dress, where our kids go to school, and especially how we communicate with entrepreneurs.

    It’s total bull shiitake. We need entrepreneurs as much, or more, as entrepreneurs need us. We need you to help us raise our next fund; we need you to pay for our lifestyles; and we need you to reinforce our delusions that we add value to companies and “make” kings.

  4. “It’s a pleasure to speak here today.” Many speakers say this when they begin their talk. Sometimes I do too. The truth is that it’s probably not a pleasure because I had to fly out on Sunday to get to the East Coast for a Monday morning speech at 8:00 am Eastern (but 5:00 am for my body). But you can’t start a speech by saying, “It sucks to be here” and expect to be successful. :-)

    However, this isn’t a total lie because about thirty seconds into a speech, the audience lifts me up and takes me to “the zone.” Then, no matter how far I flew, how little sleep I’ve had, and how shiitakey I feel, I go to a place that is outside my body, and a force takes control. At that point, speaking is truly a pleasure--as I hope my audiences can tell.

  5. “I can help you partner with Apple.” If I ever tell you this, just kick me in the nuts. I’ve been out of Apple for nine years, so I have few connections there. When Apple comes out with new stuff, I stand in line and pay full retail just like anyone else. When my computers break, I wait in line at the Genius Bar. I certainly don’t have the juice to make any kind of big deal happen with Apple. (I wonder if Jack Welch has to buy his light bulbs at Home Depot.)

  6. “I don't care about making money with my blog.” I wish that I could be a full-time blogger. I love blogging because you get to be writer, editor, designer, publisher, and sales manager. It’s like being a mini media company--GuySpace? You set your own editorial agenda, deadlines, and ad rates. How cool is that? You find me a blogger who says he doesn’t care about making money blogging, and I’ll show you a liar.

  7. “It’s not the money.” While we’re on the topic of money, I tell this lie when asked to write, speak, or consult for low fees. But it is the money. I have four children and a wife, and I hate to travel away from them. If a for-profit organization wants me, it has to pay. I don’t care how prestigious the event is or what beautiful resort it’s in (all I’m going to do is answer email from my room and speak anyway), I simply won’t do it.

    I’m more of a pushover for not-for-profits; the test in these cases is whether the organization is changing the world, and I believe I have a moral obligation to help out. But no cause is more important to me than my family.

    Incidentally, ingenuity does count. For example, I’ve spoken for vastly reduced sums during the NCAA Frozen Four in Columbus, Ohio and Milwaukee, Wisconsin as well as the Heritage Classic in Edmonton. Hear that St. Louis?

  8. “We don't have a position at Garage or in our portfolio, but I'll keep you in mind.” This is a lie of duration. At that instant in time if I can think of a relevant position, then I help. But I don’t have the bandwidth/disk space/chip speed to keep the candidate in mind very long. Usually I refer people to a portfolio company of ours called SimplyHired which aggregates about five million job openings. The interesting thing about this lie is that many people are very thankful for even this response; I think it’s because most recipients never respond to such emails at all.

  9. “I didn’t mean to slash/trip/board or knock you down.” This isn’t a total lie. It’s simply a ”shading.“ I didn’t mean to do all these penalty-inducing things, but people sometimes get between me and the puck, and I am goals-oriented person.

    As Henry James, brother to William, once said at the end of a long essay about the rules of writing, the only rule is, “Be generous, be delicate, and always pursue the prize.” Two out of three isn’t bad for me.

  10. “Macintosh has lots of software.” This is a lie that I told in my sordid past--circa 1984-1987. It is closely related to the lie I told software developers: “You can make a lot of money writing Macintosh software.” What can I say? Guilty as charged. I was young and less moral then. Not that this justifies anything, but I believed what I was saying.

Bonus: “I don’t care about my Technorati ranking.”

I care a lot about my Technorati ranking, and it’s important for you to know why I care. I believe that the number of links is a proxy for the quality of a blog: the more links, the higher the quality. (Clearly, this isn’t true for all blogs, but this is how I look at my kind of blog.) Therefore, caring about my ranking parses to caring about the number of links parses to caring about the quality of my blog. And I take great pride in the quality of my blog.

While I’m at it, there’s another reason that I care so much about my ranking. I want to show the closed “club” of A Listers that that someone can come out of the blue, not play their petty, hypocritical games, and rise to the top because of good content. Even more important, I want to encourage the 45 million other bloggers out there to do the same--or better. Hence, I have a particular fondness for organizations like BlogHer.


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A reaction to #2 came to mind almost immediately, and I'm curious if you'd care to think how you would respond....

I would ask, "What are the aspects (if anything specific) that strike you as wrong or impractical?". I'd never expect a VC to solve or pose a solution to the offering, but I would expect them to know what they have an issue with, and hopefully WHY they have the issue.

This was fantastic. I certainly can respect a honest liar! Reminds me of the transparent Pardoner from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Seriously, I agree with your point about links being a fair proxy for quality of a blog; however, I do believe there are large number of 'unknown' blogs with high-value content that are either invisible or only read by a smaller circle of people.



Thanks! If one can't be an honest liar, what is the world coming to? I agree that there are many high value blogs that don't get a lot of links. Then it's "just" marketing. I'd rather have to fix marketing than content!



I'm certainly the one blogger who blogs for fame and not for fortune.

More visitors would be great, though ;-)

Oh well, maybe I should blog in English rather than German in that case... ;-)

Best greetings from Brussels


Thanks for this entertaining series, Guy. I haven't noticed you posting on the top 10 lies of buyers so I took the initiative to do so on my blog. Enjoy.

It’s interesting that the quantity of lies is often directly proportional to the amount of income. The most honest people are often the poorest.
theblogspace.org: http://www.theblogspace.org
blog101.org: http://www.blog101.org

Enjoy the references in #7 and #9. Hockey has a way of capturing life's struggles in a direct and immediate way. Another great post. Look forward to St. Louis in 2007.
Have a great weekend.

Hold on there Guy - aren't you an Apple Fellow? It says right here in Wikipedia that you are:


...there's only like 8 Apple Fellows in the whole world.

Apple Fellows don't get any perqs at all?



I was an Apple Fellow. I am no more. I'm just a regular Joe, paying full retail. :-)


After reading 6 & 7, I feel for you man! I'm getting tired of people trying to be righteous and say that they don't care about the money and that they spend hour and hours away from their family just because they love to blog/write. ...BS; Even for non-entrepreneurs, if our time and energy BEING USED BY OTHERS is of value...shouldn't it be valuated $$$$?

#2's the one that resonated with me. I was so tired of VCs saying "make this change and come back", or "interesting, but..." that when I became an angel investor, I resolved to be honest. BIG mistake. I had one guy threaten me physically , then a pair of 'entrepreneurs' start telling me I was short-sighted, and they didn't need my money anyway, and how much smarter they were than me. While all of these may have been true, I still resolved to lie in the future.

Now it's "wow, that's really cool. If you figure out how to build it for $1.99 instead of $5,000 I'll definitely invest."

Damn entrepreneurs.

ROFL at Wily.

Probably it was a typo - but, think about it - wouldnt it be a great deliberate typo in that request for permission? You're sure to get attention and recognition :)

Afterwards you correct it, and have a little personal rapport already built with the prospect.

I agree with #8. It is very hard to say no to somebody, it is even harder to keep that person in-mind for the next six to nine months, just in case something does come up.

Uhh, Karen should I assume that's a typo and you meant "MAIL you"? Otherwise your clientele is very different from mine.

Guy, you've completely turned me off those Japanese mushrooms. I'm switching to Porcini...

Truth maketh a man or in Guy's case lies maketh the case. It is not such a bad think to reassess every now and again.
Lie 13 - Oops I didnt mean to tell the truth to my customer.

Rofl - the comment at the end on the A-listers completely made my day.

I wonder how many people jumped into the article, read the top-10 list, and then surfed away, missing that nugget at the end?


The jar is full of Shiitake Mushrooms. Like Guy. ;) Love ya Guy!

Can somebody here tells me what's a jar filled with mushroom has to do with Guy's Top Ten Lies?

Guy, you're the man.

Juuso wrote:
"And this was a free 'investing' tip for an investor :)"

Whoever said investors know how to build and grow successful business operations? The difference between entrepreneurial and investment activities is that entrepreneurs commit a significant amount of time and effort to refine their 'idea'. Investors listen to a 15-minute speech and think they're omniscient.

Mostly kidding, of course. ;P

Hello Guy,

I want to second BL's comments and Brad F's final paragraph.

It is possible to give feedback that's honest, valuable and, ultimately, kind. Furthermore, I've found it depends more on the giver than the receiver.

Don't "couch" or "ease" into it, don't sandwich it. For more insight into why, read the pdf article "Does Your Leadership Reduce Learning" at http://www.schwarzassociates.com

Asking for permission also works well will clients/people I know. My favorite of late is: "Do I have your permission to nail you?". Invariably, I'm thanked afterwards.

Blog on,

I am stunned that you described "Henry James" as "brother to William". I had to look William up...!

Once again, great reading!

Use psychology methods to engage these individuals correctly without causing harm.
1. Acknowledge their idea.
2. Use reflective listening to guide them to understand their shortcomings.
3. Let them then fix or ditch the idea.

#4 quit being a baby before you show up. You are there by choice and you know it will be good. Your thought process level is high enough to overcome emotion with logic. It will probably make the flight to the event better too.


YOU need a VC (Or a bVC:
blog Venture Capitalist).

Your name and your
background and your
inability to keep your
mouth shut, combined with
your ability to keep your
mouth shut sometimes,
guarantees that you could
make a viable, commercial
blog site.

And more. You could either
move into journalism (on-
line) or help develop the
newer means of conveying
conventional (as well as
technical) news.

Let me know if you don't
believe this. I could show


"8. “We don't have a position at Garage or in our portfolio, but I'll keep you in mind.” ...The interesting thing about this lie is that many people are very thankful for even this response; I think it’s because most recipients never respond to such emails at all."

After going on job interviews and getting the occasional "you've got great qualifications but we ain't gonna hire you" emails, when I get a response a like this, it gives me some hope. I know its a lie and I'll never hear from them again, but it just offers a little hope.

No 2: "I think what you’re doing is interesting but"...what about a version of www.thanksno.com. I'm sure the explanation is often the same. It'll still be nicer than saying 'your idea is stupid' although, if it is, I would rather you told me so.

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