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Silicon Valley icon Guy Kawasaki talks Transformation at ACC 2017

by Olivia O. Barrozo | Sep 27, 2017
“If you want to be an innovator, if you want to be a disruptive force, if you want to dent the universe, if you want to change the world, you need to embrace this attitude: Some things need to be believed to be seen,” said Silicon Valley icon Guy Kawasaki as he talked about the “Art of Transformation” in his keynote address at the recently-concluded ACC 2017, Asia’s premier telecom and ICT conference, an annual event hosted by leading telecoms and digital services provider PLDT at Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort & Spa in Cebu.

Silicon Valley icon Guy Kawasaki, former chief evangelist of Apple and currently with online graphics design company Canva, talks about the Art of Transformation in his keynote speech at the plenary session of the ACC 2017, Asia’s premiere ICT and telco event, hosted by PLDT at Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa in Cebu. Inset photo shows Kawasaki taking a selfie with PLDT Chairman and CEO Manny V. Pangilinan, center, and PLDT EVP and Chief Revenue Officer Eric Alberto during the ACC 2017 welcome cocktails.

Naming some of the products and companies that changed the world, Kawasaki said “If you believe in the internet of things, if you believe in McIntosh, if you believe in IOS, if you believe in Android, if you believe that people will rent out their spare rooms to strangers on the internet, if you believe that that can happen, then you’ll see the Apples and the Airbnbs and all the companies that changed the world.” 

Attended by over 1,300 delegates from more than 60 countries representing over 400 companies, ACC 2017 ran on the business theme “Reinventing Customer Experience in the Digital Age.”

In his welcome address, PLDT and Smart EVP and Chief Revenue Officer Eric R. Alberto said: “The rise of new technologies and applications, has given birth to the new customer, a customer who is digitally adept, and ever more powerful. They demand that the products and services we render be of utmost quality, available in real time and on-demand, and growingly, they demand that these be free or near-free. Indeed, a disruptive business model which is far and detached from what we have all been accustomed to as carriers.” 

He pointed out that “The state of each of our transformation journeys may be at different stages and levels, but it all leads to our common aspiration to become the preferred and trusted technology service provider of all our customers, whether consumers or enterprises, in our own respective markets. The ACC gives us all an opportunity to percolate and stir a vibrant exchange of ideas and best practices.” 

Currently the chief evangelist of Canva, an Australia-based online graphic design tool, Kawasaki was a former chief evangelist of Apple, a brand ambassador of Mercedes-Benz, and an executive fellow of the Haas School of Business at the University of California in Berkeley.

His 35-year career in Silicon Valley has taught him “a lot of lessons from Steve Jobs, from Apple, and I would like to pass on those lessons to you because you are in an industry that must transform itself, must disrupt itself. You are in a very, very competitive business and I hope that some of the lessons I learned from Apple, from Silicon Valley, I can pass on to you that you can use in your business to change the world or Steve Jobs would say, to dent the universe,” Kawasaki told the ACC delegates who were mostly from the telco and IT industries.

One of the lessons was to jump to the next curve of technology. Kawasaki said most companies define themselves in terms of what they already do as opposed to the benefits they provide. Jumping to the next curve changes people’s lives, as well as the future. Citing the example of the ice factory business, he said “You could be the most successful ice factory but if you don’t embrace the refrigerator curve, you will die.” He also showed a slide of some of the companies that failed to jump to the next curve and lost their market, which included Kodak, Wang, Polaroid, and Smith Corona. “This should be a very frightening slide. You never want to be on this slide…You want to be on the next curve if you truly want to disrupt,” he added.

Another lesson that he shared was the minimum viable, valuable, validating product or MVVVP. A product is viable when it is “able to get through the feedback loop and make money,” valuable when it “jumps curves, makes meaning, and changes the world,” and validating if it “validates the vision of your company, the big picture of what you’re trying to achieve.”

Related to this is the importance of art or design in product development. Kawasaki said, “Make sure that you appreciate great design. Great design is the key to Apple. One of the things that separated Steve Jobs from other tech CEOs in Silicon Valley is that he believed that engineers were artists…I think if you want to disrupt the market, you have to think of your engineers as artists, that they are making art. That’s an expression of their soul. Make design count.”

He also remarked that “it is very difficult to ask customers how to disrupt an industry because they are going to define change and innovation and revolution in terms of what they already know. If you truly, truly want to disrupt the industry, you cannot necessarily ask your current customers because they will only describe what they want in terms of what they already know.”

Transformation also entails willingness to polarize people. “Don’t be afraid of polarizing people. I am not saying that you intentionally try to piss people off. But I am telling you that great innovation, that disruption tend to piss people off. Some people would love what you do, some people will hate what you do. It’s okay.”

Other lessons shared by the Silicon Valley venture capitalist included: learning how to ignore naysayers or negative people, “get to the next curve and don’t let naysayers drag you down;” changing one’s mind, “to be successful as a disruptor, you have to be willing to change your mind;” and creating a product that’s unique and valuable.

“Let a hundred flowers bloom” for Kawasaki means “taking your best shot at positioning and branding and figuring out who you are unique and valuable for. And you create this MVVVP and you ship it, and then you wait, and you see what happens, in many cases, you notice something very interesting which is your intended audience may not embrace your product and if you’re lucky, an unintended audience starts buying your product or service. This absolutely happened to us at Apple… The way it works in Silicon Valley is you take a lot of shots, you take a lot of risks, you fund a lot of startups, you throw them all against the wall, a very few of them will stick, then you go up to the wall and you paint the bullseye around what stuck in the wall and you say, Halleluiah, I hit the bullseye again! That’s how it works in Silicon Valley. Know how to declare victory.”

“At the end of the process, you have to churn, baby, churn. This is the most difficult thing for a disruptor to do because as you’ve learned, to be a disruptor you have to be able to ignore naysayers and experts who tell you it can’t be done and shouldn’t be done and it is unnecessary. But then once you shift, once your curve is now available to the public, you need to completely switch your mindset and churn. Churn means version 1 becomes 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, and 2.0. You have to go from ignoring feedback to listening to feedback.”

Apart from the plenary, the ACC delegates attended bilateral meetings, various workshops, discussions, and networking sessions. They also had time to unwind after the conference, enjoying Cebu’s tropical sights, culinary delights, and historical landmarks.

Now on its 13th year, the ACC 2017 had Huawei of China as double platinum partner. Its platinum partners included Smart Communications and Sun Cellular, BICS of Belgium, Ciena of Singapore, Orange of France, PCCW Global of HongKong, Sigma Telecom of Istanbul and USA, and XiComm of USA. Composing the gold sponsors were IDT Asia, Cisco, NTT Communications, Sheng Li Tel, Stratpoint, Telecom Services Network (TSN), and Telstra. The silver partners were FiberHome, GTT, Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM), and Turk Telekom International (TTI), while the bronze sponsors were @Tokyo, BoneyBone, China Unicom, CSG International, IX (ixtelecom.net), NGT Networks, Samsung, Syniverse, Telarix, TNZI, and World Hub Communications. Making up the media partners of the conference were Telecom Review, Capacity Media, InfoCom, Disruptive.Asia, and Carrier Community.

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