If you love Guy's smarts and irreverent charm, you've got to read this book. If you have never read his blog or books -- or seen him speak -- this is the place to start if you want to understand why Guy has such a huge and loyal army of fans. Guy has had a lot of different careers, including at Apple as an evangelist, a venture capitalist, the master of ceremonies at wildly popular entrepreneurship Boot Camps during the boom, and now on his blog "How to Change the World." And now you can get the best of his experience and gentle wackiness all in one place.
Last week, I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of his new book, Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition. I started glancing through it, and instantly, I was hooked and -- even though I was supposed to be doing other things -- I read it from start to finish. This isn't a clean linear business book, although the chapters are organized around themes like starting, raising money, innovating, communicating, hiring and firing, working and so on. It is a collection of the best stuff from Guy's blog and other places, with editing and tweaking. And even if you are rabid reader of the blog, you will want to own a copy of this book. I could go on and on about why I enjoyed this book so much, but so I don't lose your attention, consider three things about it struck me:
1. If you read Guy's blog, you probably know that he provides the best blend of being entertaining, presenting lots of useful information, and not taking himself too seriously of any blogger around. Among those of use who blog regularly roughly in the business space, there is pretty widespread agreement that he is the best -- his popularity is earned. So Reality Check contains the best stuff from the best business blogger around (at least in my opinion). Just read "The Ten Lies of Venture Capitalists" or "The Purest Form of Engineering," and you will be hooked.
2. Guy not only brings you his own wonderful and weird perspective, he pulls you into his social network. You might wonder, why are the interviews on Guy's blog so much better than in most places? It is because he takes the time to think of great questions. He asks obnoxious, fun, and revealing questions that bringing out the best in people without coming across as mean-spirited or naive. For example, I learned more from the chapter on "Speaking as Performing Art" that Guy gleaned from talking to Doug Lawrence (a professional singer and speaking coach) than from anything I have ever read before on the subject.
You learn so much because Guy has an ability to get to the heart of the matter, whether he is giving us his ideas or helping us understand others. I think this is partly because Guy doesn't do a "gang" blog and doesn't have other people write his posts. He is charming but also very picky about details, always thinking of what will be most fun and most interesting. I was struck by how much time that he spent working on the acronym for the ARSE test that we published on his blog last year and also how skilled he was when he went through and changed the language on the questions that Guy claims that I prepared to determine if your boss is, in fact, an asshole. I came up with the basic ideas, but in dull language. Guy went back through and changed the language so it was concise and fun -- "Kisses up and kicks down," "short fuse," "army of one," and so on. Everyone I know who has ever done an interview with Guy or any other kind of project will tell you that he edits things, pushes people to be the best, and as he has the magical marketing touch, it is a good idea to listen and learn. So, in Reality Check, whether Guy is talking about his ideas or others, you get Guy's charm and that unmistakable voice.
3. Reading this stuff in a book is more efficient and fun than reading it on a blog. One of the weird side-effects of reading Reality Check was that it made me realize that books aren't obsolete yet -- even through this is a book that draws heavily on a blog. Things are organized by themes so it is easier to know the big picture, there is editing (always a good thing), and -- as I have been told by a number of my Stanford colleagues who study his stuff -- it turns out that people can read text on paper about 25% faster than online. At the same time, Guy's knowledge of the web also helps make the book a better experience, as he sometimes sends you to film or website and comments on it in his usual insightful way. I especially loved the chapter "As Good as Steve Jobs," where he sends you to Majora Carter's 2005 TED talk and shows why it was such a great speaking performance and what you can learn from it -- breaking down what she did in the speech in one to two minute increments (especially the first 10 minutes). In short, although Guy's book is a product of the web and it is sometimes designed so that you read it and use the web at the same time, it gives me good reason to believe that the experience of reading a book is something that still is a distinct and often superior experience.
Guy's book doesn't come out until October 30th, if you believe Amazon (usually they ship earlier than the announced date), But I am going to order an extra copy right now, as this is a book that I will be loaning to a lot of people.