“The greater your goals, the more you’ll need to change people’s hearts, minds, and actions.”
Enchantment, page xx
While some still look for the next best secret to pull heartstrings and earn a quick buck, there are those with daring ideas who know that the cycle of shallow relationships won’t cut it. They know that meaningful ideas deserve to endure and flourish. And when you’re armed with such ideas, traditional persuasion isn’t enough: You must catalyze others to dream right along with you.
In his book Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions, author and former chief evangelist for Apple, Guy Kawasaki defines enchantment as “the process of delighting people with a product, service, organization, or idea.” But it’s ethical, genuine enchantment that tempers cynics, sways hearts, changes minds, and forges an affinity with people that lasts.
The art of enchantment isn’t limited to just one kind of person or organization, either. Anyone can make enchantment happen anywhere, anytime. Apple uses enchantment to sweep the market with its innovative products. Zappos uses it to reinvent customer relationships. Even a Peace Corps volunteer has used it to disarm a hostile rebel group.
Capturing his experiences as both an entrepreneur and venture capitalist, Guy succinctly explains his observations and tactics gained over the years. However, he presents the prerequisites and the reasons why genuine enchantment can’t be faked.
“Great products, services, organizations, and ideas are enchanting; crap is not.”
Enchantment, page xxi
So, why enchantment? When does it really count?
Obviously, you can’t enchant with just anything, but when you do possess an idea that will transform business, rock the status quo, or make the world a better place, than the more relevant enchantment becomes.
Guy says that the stakes rise when your idea, product, or service does any of the following:
- Defies conventionality, conformity, and wisdom of the crowd.
- Aspires to lofty, idealistic results.
- Requires making difficult, infrequent decisions to make a switch.
- Requires some risk to proceed when there’s delayed or nonexistent feedback.
Change is hard. Guy suggests using empathy to navigate for the missing link between you and the people you wish to enchant.
For example, during the 1980’s when IBM had dominated the business market, Apple was actually up against the status quo. Guy admits that while Apple deeply believed in the Macintosh’s power to boost productivity and creativity in this sector, Apple’s actual misstep was failing to understand what their potential customers were thinking or feeling at the time.
“…We underestimated the difficulty of altering corporate policies and overcoming the perception that the Macintosh was easy to use but wimpy in terms of raw computational power” (page 3).
You may believe deeply in your idea, but what about those on the receiving end? What are their current circumstances? What does it really take for them to shift from one entrenched habit to something radical and different?
GEM # 1
Enchantment Depends On Character
“Step one is achieving likability, because jerks seldom enchant.”
Enchantment, page 9
Guy argues that before you enchant, your likability must answer some important questions: Are you someone people would listen to? Are you the kind of company someone would prefer and enjoy? To create and co-create with?
He also presents a simple litmus test which can make, or break, your likability:
- Do you think of people in binary?
- Do you believe you’re superior than someone?
- Do you accept people’s similarities as well as their differences?
- Do you cut people a break?
Everyone is better than someone at something. People are more similar than they are different. We all have strengths and weaknesses. And the “bad qualities” people possess could be rooted in a complex past that’s beyond anyone else’s understanding.
Guy suggests handling people’s imperfections with grace. When you accept people for who they are, the people you’re trying to bond with will appreciate it. The journey of enchantment, creation, and co-creation becomes easier.
Trustworthiness also comes into play. Guy notes that even if people like you, it may not be enough for them to trust you. He reveals a wealth of compelling tips to practice, but the one tenet that requires serious ongoing effort is what he calls “menschdom,” with Mensch meaning “human being” in German.
Here are a few important pointers of menschdom:
- Trust others
- Always act with honesty
- Treat people who have wronged you with civility
- Allow people their moment (don’t interrupt or dismiss people’s ideas prematurely)
- Suspend blame when something goes wrong and instead ask, “What can we learn?”
- Hire people who are as smart, or smarter than you, and provide opportunities for growth
- Focus on goodwill and give people the benefit of the doubt.
Menschdom suggests that we must remember the humanity in other people, too.
Likability and trustworthiness are rooted in one’s character. Since enchantment is a process, it becomes harder to fake these aspects over time. Squeeze in any compromises or shortcuts, and Guy argues that you rack up points on the karmic scoreboard, inviting scrutiny and distrust in the eyes of those you’re trying to enchant.
GEM # 2
Making Enchantment Endure
“The goal of enchantment is a long-lasting change — not a onetime sale or transaction.”
Enchantment, page 95
Ethical enchantment endures.
One element to help make it last is getting others to internalize your idea, vision, or values. This is the stage where they move from shared interests to conviction. From simply identifying with something to finally believing in it. Their inner feelings don’t conflict, and there’s no coercion or moral compromise needed.
Internalization is the deepest and most difficult level of enchantment, and while there are plenty of ways to set the stage for it, one of the most important tenets is building and nurturing an ecosystem. An ecosystem is another word for community, but there’s a difference between building an ecosystem with dynamic chemistry, over one that’s just stagnant and superficial.
In an ecosystem, people help each other and thrive. Everyone’s success is intertwined with one another. The key players in your ecosystem could consist of your advisors, supporters, evangelists, fans, user groups, websites, and blogs.
However, Guy asserts that when many organizations start to build an ecosystem, they have a tendency to dismantle it completely once any negative criticism arises.
“A healthy ecosystem is a long-term relationship, so an organization shouldn’t file for divorce at the first sign of marital discord” (page 107).
Instead, he suggests welcoming healthy discourse and criticism. The whole point of an ecosystem is to both nourish and improve your idea. It also shows that along with your relevance and success, you can also be transparent, human, and open to other ideas, too.
And lastly, have a cause that’s worthy of an ecosystem.
“…It’s hard to build an ecosystem around mundane and mediocre crap, no matter how hard you try” (page 106).
Who are the key players in your ecosystem? Is it an environment where everyone is thriving under the banner of your idea? What can you do to improve the flow and energy between your key players?
Enchantment is touted for the entrepreneur, but it’s truly a tactical handbook for anyone who has something meaningful to share and create. The ideas are actionable and can immediately be put into practice. The rest of the book includes other gems like how to launch, overcome resistance, how to enchant your employees, and how to resist unethical enchantment from others.
As Guy writes, “This book is for people who see life for what it can be rather than what it can’t.”