Ep 39: Guy Kawasaki on Being a Techie or a Luddite – Part Two of Three

On the second episode in our three-part mini masterclass on modern day marketing with Guy Kawasaki, the conversation shifts to technology and the influence of influencers. Erica and Guy talk about the empowerment (and abuse) that comes with new tech, AI digital influencers, and how Guy helped democratize computing with Macintosh and design with Canva. Erica poses the question to Guy: “if you had a magic wand, what is one thing you’d change about marketing?” and his answer might surprise you. 


This is a transcript of Erica Mills Barnhart’s second interview in a three part series with Guy Kawasaki on the Marketing for Good podcast. You can listen to the episode here and listen to more episodes on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you enjoy listening to podcasts. Enjoy!


technology, marketing, influencer, empathy, virtual reality, listening, podcast, influence, reach

Erica Mills Barnhart  00:17

Guy Kawasaki’s name is synonymous with technology. He was way back in the day Apple’s chief evangelist for Apple. And he’s done so many other things around technology. So you know, I wanted to hear his thoughts on marketing and technology, we get his thoughts on those things. And also in this episode, I give Guy a magic wand. And with his magic wand, he gets to change one thing about marketing. So we get to find out what that would be, his answer surprised me. It’s insightful and very interesting, not what I expected, which is kind of par for the course. But also it’s a question worth figuring out if we can truly answer it. So be listening for that and also be thinking about like, if you had a magic wand and you could change one thing about marketing, what would it be? What would it be more generally in society? What would it be maybe for you as an organization? What would that look like? Because sometimes when you start thinking in that way, it opens up opportunities that you didn’t see, or different ways of thinking about a problem, new solutions, those types of things. So, wave your magic wand, and listen to this episode. And see what you think. Would you say it is fair, that part of what people associate with you is tech?

Guy Kawasaki  02:01


Erica Mills Barnhart  02:06

I reached out to Guy just to say, Hey, would you come on the podcast. You don’t know me. I mean, you very sweetly, we’re like, Sure, let’s do it. And then I sent you a zoom link. And you’re like, well I sort of envision you going like, hmm okay, but again, you kept that to yourself, I’m also projecting. And you we’re like, Hey, have you heard of SquadCast, it is way better, you might want to check it out. And I’m like, and this is how people become, you know, more versed in technology. Technology, just like marketing and money can be used as a force for good or bad. And I feel like we’re living in an era and you’re somebody who is just so deep in it. Like I would love to hear your thoughts on, you know, how technology is marketed and the influence that that has on on technology’s actual impact like on people and on society.

Guy Kawasaki  02:53

Sure. Well, this is like asking an alcoholic what do you think of liquor? I love technology.

Erica Mills Barnhart  03:04

Why do you think so much? Have you always loved it?

Guy Kawasaki  03:06

Because it empowers me. Because I can do an interview with someone in Washington without flying to Washington. Because I could, you know, be eating lunch 10 minutes before the interview, three miles away from my house. I didn’t have to force you to come to Santa Cruz or for me to fly up to Seattle, because I have friends all over the world who I’ve never met in person. Because I can extend my reach in uncountable ways. Technology is a beautiful thing. But as you say it can be abused, and whenever people ask this kind of question, wow, technology, social media can be abused. It’s done good and bad. First of all, it’s a very theoretical discussion, because let’s say that we all agreed that it was bad. We can’t put that genie back in the bottle. It ain’t gonna happen. That horse is out of the barn and procreating. So it’s a completely academic discussion. We’re not going to sue Mark Zuckerberg back to the Stone Age, okay? Tt’s just not going to happen. So why even waste bandwidth thinking about it? And the second thing is, I truly do believe that on balance, social media and technology has made the world a much better place. So yeah, you know, there’s all kinds of bad stuff that’s happened because of it, but there’s so much good that’s happened because of it.

Erica Mills Barnhart  04:33

So one of the things based on what you said that is good is connection, like ability to sort of mitigate physical proximity or lack thereof. What else? And you know, I’m not actually disagreeing, I just want to hear Guy Kawasaki pontificate on the awesomeness that is technology. But also, I guess, part of what is really specifically interesting is that you were marketing technology way, way, way back.

Guy Kawasaki  04:59

Well, it has fundamentally enabled people to do things that they always want it to do.

Erica Mills Barnhart  05:07

Like what?

Guy Kawasaki  05:09

Make graphics.

Erica Mills Barnhart  05:14

Says the Chief evangelist of Canva.

Guy Kawasaki  05:16

Canva has enabled millions of people to make graphics that could have never done it before.

Erica Mills Barnhart  05:23

If I can make graphics look good, that’s saying something.

Guy Kawasaki  05:26

I rest my case. So can it get any better than that? Can it be more satisfying to think that I helped democratize computing with Macintosh? And democratize design with Canva? I mean.

Erica Mills Barnhart  05:46

That seems like a pretty good ride.

Guy Kawasaki  05:47

Yeah, if I did one of those, that would be good enough. I did two. So I am just a lucky guy.

Erica Mills Barnhart  05:56

What do you think, so technology and social media can not be one of your responses. Okay?

Guy Kawasaki  06:02


Erica Mills Barnhart  06:03

I’ve taken that off the table, taking away your toys. Marketing is at a point, I would say of evolution, just because of what’s happening in society, at least in the United States. If you could wave your magic wand, I gave you a magic wand, what would be different about marketing, for people who are both producing it and consuming it, what would be different and therefore better in the world?

Guy Kawasaki  06:30


Erica Mills Barnhart  06:32

Well, everybody asks you about tech so I got to ask you about something else.

Guy Kawasaki  06:36

Yeah. Okay, if you gave me a magic wand and gave me one wish, I would like there to be a way to determine how much brand awareness really contributes to the bottom line.

Erica Mills Barnhart  06:57

That would indeed be magical. Yes.

Guy Kawasaki  07:06

That that might make a lot of agencies and people and channels just pee in their pants, but it would sure be interesting to know, is a $5 million superbowl commercial worth it? Is a $20,000 sponsorship worth it? I don’t know. And I’m on the end of getting the money and I don’t know.

Erica Mills Barnhart  07:30

What do you think would be included in that? I’m gonna guess it’s going to be an algorithm of some sort.

Guy Kawasaki  07:37

I have no idea. I mean, I would just like to know if an “influencer” said by my eyeliner, how many people truly buy it because of that? I’m just fascinated by that.

Erica Mills Barnhart  07:55

Yeah. Yeah. And with the rise of influencers, I mean, for better or for worse, there is a lot of this happening. There’s apparently, oh, gosh, I’m not gonna remember the name od the movie. And I haven’t watched it. I was just chatting with someone earlier today. And they said, Have you seen fake something, Fake influencer or something? So it’s a documentary and they take three random people and they try to make them into influencers.

Guy Kawasaki  08:16

Oh, I love it.

Erica Mills Barnhart  08:18

And one apparently it works. And the two others not so much.

Guy Kawasaki  08:22

Well, how do you define as it works?

Erica Mills Barnhart  08:26

I think it works, meaning that they were getting, they were being asked to be an ambassador and getting paid. But they got there simply by buying likes and followers. I mean, that’s how they grew their following,

Guy Kawasaki  08:42

Which I consider heinous. Well, I mean, I don’t know if it’s good news or bad news. So it’s interesting. It’s definitely interest.

Erica Mills Barnhart  08:55

It’s interesting.

Guy Kawasaki  08:56

Well, if knowing that okay, knowing that I think what’s even more interesting is where you create a machine learning AI, you know, whatever your digital avatar, you make an influencer, that he or she doesn’t really exist.

Erica Mills Barnhart  09:17

Oh, now you’re getting dark.

Guy Kawasaki  09:19

Right. So if you make an influencer using technology, you don’t have to worry about that person getting drunk, getting in a car accident, showing up late for work, accused of sexual harassment, switching brands, I mean, you know this, this influencer can speak every language, never complains. That would be fantastic.

Erica Mills Barnhart  09:49

Okay, that’s a lot of food for thought. I hope listeners right now, if they’re walking or driving, you’re like, I’m just gonna pull over or stop right now.

Guy Kawasaki  09:56

But some people have done that. They’ve created digital influence.

Erica Mills Barnhart  10:01

That’s a thing already? Like from scratch? Like AI digital influencers? See this is why this episode is gonna be called the techie in the luddite. What about virtual reality? I want to hear your thoughts on the possibility of virtual reality, I mean, when I’m asked what I think will be one of the biggest influences in terms of marketing for goods specifically, one of the things that is often the game changing thing is empathy. And we can do that through a lot of different means, a lot different means, storytelling, all the rest of it. But I see such huge potential for virtual reality in that regard for like, truly creating an experience.

Guy Kawasaki  10:44

And this is when you are walking through Haiti and seeing what it’s really like?

Erica Mills Barnhart  10:48

Sure, I mean, you’d have to think about what you care about. You know, what people need to feel. I mean, I’m thinking about, you know, your interview with Martin Lindstrom. Yeah. And his, you know, I mean, he is just incredible.

Guy Kawasaki  11:00

Yeah, if you could make people suck through a straw.

Erica Mills Barnhart  11:10

So just for listeners who haven’t listened to that, although I feel like everybody who listens to this should 100% listen to your episode on remarkable people with Martin Lindstrom. Well, they should listen to all of them, they are fabulous. They were trying to figure out how to is a pharmaceutical company, right?

Guy Kawasaki  11:26


Erica Mills Barnhart  11:27

And really, like, connect with the people that they were creating the pharmaceuticals for, and they were in respiratory. And I grew up with bad asthma. So I have to confess that as I was listening to that part, it was it was really, like I get choked up, like even thinking about it. Because it was so spot on with that feeling of like, it’s like your nose is plugged and you’re sucking through a straw. Horrible. And so but that became like this great equalizer and connector, which is they start having everybody try to breathe through a straw and plug their nose. I mean, Martin is just exceptional in terms of empathy. But I feel like we need empathy at scale, if we’re going to solve social problems at scale. You can only make so many people stick straws in their mouth.

Guy Kawasaki  12:13

Well, but then virtual reality and, you know, augmented reality, all that reality stuff is going to be good. I mean, anything that can generate empathy, whether you’re a marketing for a profit company, or a not for profit company, empathy is a very, very important thing.

Erica Mills Barnhart  12:43

So Guy wants to know what the bottom line influence of influencers is. I bet Jonathan Silver who came on the show in Episode 26, to talk about data for good, I bet he might have some thoughts on how we could figure that out, because it really is worth it’s worth figuring out how to answer that you know, increasingly influencer marketing, which ties right back to personal brand, by the way, and the first episode in this series, that all kind of comes together and in confluence. It is a thing now. So how do we know if this thing the influence, how do we really know what the bottom line influence of influencers are? So interesting. If I had a magic wand, I would accelerate progress being made on in terms of representation and inclusion in marketing, my conversation with Mita Malik in Episode 37, she’s such an inspiration on us and a powerhouse on representation and inclusive marketing. So if you haven’t listened to that, and you’re interested, definitely check that out. And part of what I loved about talking to Mita about that is, we’re making progress, and she thinks it’ll stick which is fantastic, although we are already seeing some signs of some backsliding. So two steps forward, three to seven steps back, can we make it stick? Can we accelerate it? Can we make it stick, that’s what I would do is my magic wand. I found it somewhat poetic that in the end of this conversation, we talked about empathy, right? And just an interesting ending to a conversation that opened by talking about technology. And obviously, these two things are not mutually exclusiven and technology can help us be more empathetic. But, you know, empathy is deeply, deeply, deeply human. So I sort of love that that’s where this part of the conversation ended. Okay, so part three of the series we get practical, are blogs dead? What about direct mail? Is podcast in the new blogging? We cover a lot of territory. Yes, lots on tech for sure. We are talking with Guy Kawasaki, but also near the end you’re going to hear and again you have to go to go to Episode 3, third part of this to hear this but there’s this really interesting question that he poses about when you should pivot and when do you stick it out? And how do you decide like as things come at you? Super interesting. Anyway, that all awaits you in the third and final part in this mini-series with Guy Kawasaki.

Do you communicate as effectively as you think?


Do you communicate as effectively as you think?