Book Review: Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki

Title: Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions
Author: Guy Kawasaki
Publisher: Portfolio/Penguin

Working in marketing, I have the privilege of reading a fairly diverse set of books. It’s not all old dead guys and theology at the Armstrong house. (Just, y’know, mostly.)

Anyway, marketing and leadership books are strange animals. Some are great and others make you want to stab yourself in the eye with a fork. Almost all, though, usually fall into one of two categories:

  1. How to develop a large and successful business; and
  2. Why all marketers are liars

Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki is neither of these; instead, it’s a book about one thing:

Influence.

“How can I influence others without moral compromise?” is the question at the heart of Enchantment. And  it’s an important one. There are a number of easy cheats to convince people to follow your leadership (carrots and sticks) or to buy your product or join your cause (incentives), but eventually those things always fail.

Why? Because they’re disingenuous. They don’t tap into people’s passions. They don’t move the heart.

And without that happening, whatever impact you have is fleeting at best.

The “pillars of enchantment” Kawasaki puts forward ones you’d be hard pressed to disagree with:

  1. Be likeable
  2. Be trustworthy
  3. Have a great cause

In other words, be someone you’d actually want to spend time with and offer something that matters. These seem like concepts that should be met with a resounding, “well, I should hope so.” I mean, this seems to be common sense, doesn’t it? That’s thing about common sense, though. To paraphrase G.K. Chesterton, it’s not that common sense has been tried and found lacking, it’s that it’s been found difficult and left untried.

Unless you’re likeable, it’s extremely difficult to be found trustworthy. And unless you’re trustworthy, no one will rally around your cause, no matter how good it is.

Whether you’re in the for-profit or non-profit world, whether you’re in some form of vocational ministry or working for a huge conglomerate, who you are impacts everything you’re involved with. Our character can be the scent of life or the stench of death, and we would all do well to remember that.

The rest of the book tackles the implications of being enchanting, from launching your cause, overcoming resistance, using technology, how it plays out with employees and employers, how to make enchantment endure—and even how to resist it.

A key principle that resonated with me is that of endurance. Even if you have the greatest cause, it’s essential to remember that “enchantment is a process, not an event.” You’re working to build a relationship, not just get a sale or get someone to do something for you. And relationships take effort. This is something that is not easy for many in marketing and even in leadership positions to remember. The truth is, though, for many of us, it’s easier to try to squeeze whatever we can out of our market today, and not think about the long-term consequences (like having no market in the future).

This is where social media comes in handy, especially Facebook and Twitter (two resources that Kawasaki highly recommends). These two tools allow organizations and individuals to connect in ways that previously weren’t possible. And used well, they can allow you to truly enchant your customer or supporter base by engaging on their terms. Dell, among other organizations, fields support questions via Twitter (I know because an associate contacted me once after I complained about my previous laptop). This gives people a great experience with the company, even if they don’t like the product.

One of the challenges with social media, though, is finding the right mix of promotion vs. conversation. Kawasaki suggests that if around 5% of your content is promotional, you should be in good shape, but he’s also quick to point out that if people aren’t complaining, you’re probably not promoting enough (p. 115).

(Does this mean my Twitter followers will be seeing a shift in my updates? Probably, and hopefully for the better.)

Principles aside, the thing that caught my attention about this book is that it brought to mind people I know who are naturally good at this. They just seem to “get” that this is the kind of person you need to be in order to be successful. Take some time and look around your office, your school or whatever context you spend most of your day in, and I suspect you’ll see at least one or two people who are naturally “enchanting” as well.

So here’s the big question: Will this book help you to be “enchanting” in your sphere of influence?

Possibly. This isn’t a book that guarantees that if you follow these 8 easy steps, you’ll have more friends, better posture and piles of candy. What it does remind readers, though, is that the only way to really make a lasting impact on people is to act with integrity. That’s a big deal and advice we would all do well to heed.

If you have a chance, do pick up a copy of Enchantment. It’s definitely a worthwhile investment and just might challenge you in a few places where you won’t expect it.

A review copy of this book was sent to me compliments of the author.

  • http://cleverphrasehere.blogspot.com Amber

    I’m glad this one won’t make me want to stab my eyes with forks.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      I put that line in there just for you, seeing as how you loved Tribes so much :)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SJ45GRHLFPJCUK6KEK4ZMJTVXM Albert Monte

    Great review! I consider Kawasaki to be a business guru! I have so much to learn from him. Check out this book that he praises http://www.getrichclick.com/guyk.