10 Ingredients to Successful Books (Inspired by Guy Kawasaki)


A few weeks ago Guy Kawasaki sent me a signed copy of his book, Art of the Start. Today it’s within the Amazon top 50. I’ve known Guy for over 10 years and read most of his books — Selling the Dream, How to Drive Your Competition Crazy, and Rules for Revolutionaries are favorites. Now, Art of the Start is at the top of the list.

Reading his latest, I noticed common characteristics from his previous successful books. The tone, content and formatting make them easy to read and impactful. So I abstracted these factors as ingredients for any compelling book. Here what I’ll call The 10 Ingredients to Successful Books (Inspired by Guy Kawasaki):

1. Content Candy & Potatoes — Overall, lots of ‘how to’ and principles, but also flavorful humor, anecdotes, quotes
2. Make it Personal — show your personal side…share personal stories and give it a personal tone
3. Chutzpah — Make a stand, and state your opinion boldly.
4. From 30,000 Feet to Feet on the Street — Combine high level principles with tactical how tos, and stir.
5. How To Subheads — Add all the subheads together and you have a list of usable tips
6. Chapters of a Feather — All chapters fit together, they are thematic, they are like best friends.
7. List of Lists — Lots of lists, bullets, tips
8. Healthy Excercises — Make principles personal by using boxed "exercises" to tie principle to provoke personal application
9. Tables, Charts, Quotes…oh my! — Frequent use of tables to show contrasts and comparisons, charts to make a point, and quotes for each chapter
10. Footnotes are your Friends — Frequent use of footnotes to add humor, facts, and references. As a result, they are read (more candy

Here’s my Amazon review of his book:

The Art of the Start provides real-word wisdom, insider tips, and how to advice for getting a company, project or major initiative launched. Plus, it is funny and inspiring, which helps sustain reading momentum and the spirit to actually do something with what I learned.

I’m inside a company, so the ‘starting a company’ advice may not seem applicable. However, the tips on making pitches to investors, hiring, and executing were some of the best intrapreneurial advice I’ve read. Every corporate manager must heed Guy’s presentation advice!

If you’re thinking about starting a business, already own a business, or are leading change, Art of the Start belongs on the top shelf. And buy some of those post it flags first…you’ll mark several tips to reference along your journey.

3 Responses

  1. UserDriven says:

    “Art of the Start” in 20 minutes

    Guy Kawasaki is worth a listen or a read. Some links to random blogs that mention “Art of the Start” (the serendipity of reading random blogs based on one common topic nexus is rather interesting): Decker Marketing, OverMatter, Kathleen’s Test

  2. The Right Ingredients

    In honor of Guy Kawasaki’s Art of the Start, Sam Decker has written a post called 10 Ingredients to Successful Books. You also get Sam’s Amazon.com review of the book….

  3. The Art of Positioning

    I’m making my way through Guy Kawasaki’s new book, The Art of the Start (The Time-Tested, Battle Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything), and came across this great passage on positioning: When F. W. Woolworth opened his first store, a

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