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Guy Kawasaki’s “Enchantment” Really Does Enchant

Baseball manager Leo Durocher has been much quoted for noting that “Nice guys finish last.” And certainly it seems that attitude, snark, and general bad behavior are guaranteed ways of attracting attention, whether on the Internet or in the real world.

But attention doesn’t necessarily equate with desired results, and former Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki (“The Macintosh Way,” “Rules for Revolutionaries,” and many other titles) argues in his latest book, “Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions,” that there’s a better way of not just getting what you want, but also bringing about a voluntary and enduring change in others.

That better way, of course, is to enchant them, and while the word feels slightly stretched to fit into Kawasaki’s usage, the book repeatedly emphasizes that the goal is not to manipulate people into following your cause or buying your product, but to transform them into true believers and loyal customers. This separates “Enchantment” from many other business and marketing books, where the goals often seem to justify the means.

Despite a few humorous asides about the role of enchantment in marriage, “Enchantment” focuses on the business world, cutting across huge swaths of the work-life landscape and explaining how to employ enchantment regardless of whether you’re an employee with a boss, a boss with employees, a marketer looking to increase sales, an entrepreneur launching a new product, or even a community organizer trying to attract volunteers.

With twelve chapters, each containing a number of short sections, “Enchantment” is easily scanned and a quick read, though going through the book once in order is a good idea to ensure you’re exposed to the early chapters on likability and trustworthiness, personal qualities essential for creating enchantment. Next come four chapters on preparing, launching, overcoming resistance, and making enchantment endure — these chapters are the core of the book, focusing as they do on helping you achieve your goals in a successful and lasting manner.

“Enchantment” explicitly sidesteps the question of exactly what it is you’re trying to achieve, merely suggesting that you “Do something great” and that a great cause is something that’s deep, intelligent, complete, empowering, and elegant. You can of course assume that Apple products fit this definition, and although Kawasaki gives other illustrative examples of great products, this is the one place in the book where I was left wanting more, specifically advice on how to handle greatness-limiting factors. What if your product simply can’t meet the greatness definition without an infusion of resources that aren’t available? What if it relies on other products you can’t control to be complete? What if you’re
trying to attract donations to a non-profit rather than sell a product? I’m sure Kawasaki has, or could think of, answers to these problems, so hopefully he’ll address them on his blog at some point.

Regardless, the advice on preparing and launching is excellent, and while those who regularly read business books may have seen much of it before, it’s helpful to have it collected in one place here. I plan to return to these chapters as we introduce new services for TidBITS and Take Control.

Where the earlier chapters are necessarily a bit general, the next couple of chapters become more specific, suggesting ways to use push (presentations, email, and Twitter) and pull (Web sites and blogs, along with Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube) technologies. These chapters aren’t long and don’t provide a soup-to-nuts solution of how to give a great presentation, for instance, but there’s no excuse not to do everything suggested.

It was amusing to see Kawasaki following his own advice with sending out review copies of “Enchantment” and asking for a review; I almost wanted to mark up his email with page references to the sections he was following. (Obviously, his request for a review worked, so I must have been sufficiently enchanted by him and the book. He does provide a chapter at the end on how to resist enchantment, persuasion, and influence when it’s used in a manipulative fashion; I didn’t feel the need to bring that advice to bear.)

A final pair of chapters offer suggestions on how to enchant your employees if you’re a boss, and if you’re an employee, how to enchant your boss. In another book, there might have been a concern that the techniques in these chapters would somehow cancel each other out, but given the overall goal of enchantment, you’re just left feeling that it would be great if both managers and employees would take heed of Kawasaki’s advice.

That’s the overall impression “Enchantment” gives, that life really is better when everyone is happy and everyone prospers, and while that may not always be possible, it’s something we can all strive toward.

At roughly 200 pages with a goodly number of pictures, “Enchantment” isn’t a tome, and it intentionally skims across the surface of its topic, supporting its points with trenchant examples and anecdotes. That starts you thinking, and at the end of the day, you’ll succeed or fail based on what you think and what you do, not because you followed some checklist in a book.

Be sure to read all the way to the end so you don’t miss the Easter Egg quote at the start of the index, and the story of the cover that comes even later.

“Enchantment” lists for $26.95, but is currently available in multiple formats from for a good bit less. You can read more about it on Guy Kawasaki’s site, and there’s also a lengthy interview with Kawasaki that’s worth reading at Firepole Marketing.

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