Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki: Create life-changing products

Brand evangelists are born from a belief that you offer consumers real value.

May 22, 2017

Guy Kawasaki can relate to the passion credit union people feel for their industry.

When Kawasaki joined Apple in the early 1980s, he served as something of an evangelist. He even says “the clouds parted” when Apple rolled out the graphical user interface for the personal computer.

Credit unions, too, are user-friendly. And the people who run them believe in what they do.

Today, Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. He is a brand ambassador for Mercedes-Benz, an executive fellow of the Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley, and the author of several best-selling business books.

His heralded book “Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Action,” has been called an update to Dale Carnegie’s iconic “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

Many of the lessons Kawasaki shares in his books and presentations draw from late tech legend Steve Jobs. What made Jobs so special, Kawasaki says, was his ability to envision products that filled the wants and needs consumers couldn’t articulate.

“People can't necessarily tell you how to create innovative products for them,” Kawasaki says. “If you ask current credit union members what they want, they'd probably say more branch offices or free checking. But they couldn't describe the revolution.”

Jobs, meantime, “would create something that’s five or 10 years in the future, that they couldn’t describe today,” Kawasaki says.

Credit union leaders, including board members, should apply lessons learned in other industries to their own issues. “You can draw similarities,” he says. “What’s happening in one industry can happen to you.”

Kawasaki points to a blurring of the separation between technology and other industries, including financial services.

“People all have the little apps to transfer money to make payments, to never write a check anymore,” he says. “They take a picture of a check and deposit it without going anywhere. Is that finance or is that tech? It's the same thing.”

With that understanding, credit unions should focus on serving consumer needs rather than on competing with big banks or financial technology startups. “If you focus on what the consumer needs and wants, the rest will work out,” Kawasaki says.

The key, he notes, is having a product that makes people’s lives better; a product people in the organization believe in. That’s where evangelism starts.

“It takes a true believer in a great product,” Kawasaki says. 

Guy Kawasaki will deliver a keynote address at CUNA's America's Credit Union Conference, which runs June 25-28 in Las Vegas.