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My ‘Wise Guy’ Story

Guy Kawasaki was looking for help; I took a chance and said yes until nerves got the better of me and I nearly blew it.

I’m not a person who would usually answer an open request from a stranger on LinkedIn.  Yet there I was looking a post from Guy Kawasaki and seriously considering his open call for help reviewing an early copy of Wise Guy, which would be his 15th book.

 It was early in 2018, still winter, and I had spent the past three months sitting, literally recovering from foot surgery that left me non-weight bearing (though not non-weight gaining) and restless. 

I READ THE “HELP WANTED” POST AGAIN AND SAID ‘WHY NOT’? 

I knew who Guy was in the tech world.  Starting at Apple in 1983, popularizing the concept of being an ‘evangelist’ for a company (he is now the Chief Evangelist for Canva) and more importantly for me, I wanted the opportunity to read a book from the eyes of both a potential consumer and an editor.  I was writing more and thought this would be a good experience to see things from another perspective and might help me view my own material more critically.

 FUN FACT: GUY KAWASAKI IS NAMED AFTER GUY LOMBARDO.  YEARS AGO, I WORKED AT LABATT’S IN LONDON, ONTARIO, A FEW BLOCKS FROM WHERE GUY LOMBARDO’S CHILDHOOD HOME STILL STANDS.  THERE IS A PLAQUE HONORING LOMBARDO ADORNING THE RETAIL STORE OF THE BREWERY.

A few weeks later there I was, reading through a rough draft of Wise Guy.  My gratitude for having said “yes” to this opportunity was immense.  Wise Guy isn’t an autobiography, not exactly, but it does relate stories from Guy’s experiences, including how he grew to be a writer.  In fact, as I proceeded through the draft, I kept thinking to myself – how incredible is this?  I specifically wanted to do this in order to be a better writer and here Guy offers up some of his best lessons learned and resources for becoming a better writer.  He evens explains why he always autographs books on a specific page.

NOT SO WISE GAL

Reviews and markups completed, I sent the file back to Guy.  Or I thought I had. Guy responded to my email promptly saying the file was untouched.   Turns out this techie wasn’t so tech-savvy in this instance and had managed to not track any of the document changes.

There I was, thousands of miles between us, yet cringing and wanting to crawl under a blanket from embarrassment. I went into panic mode.  I politely emailed Guy back, thanked him for the opportunity and said I am certain my contributions would be picked up by someone else…lame, I know.

Guy has worked directly for Steve Jobs, a notoriously challenging individual.  Do you think he was going to let me off the hook that easily?  Of course not.  So I went through the document again, focusing on the areas that I recalled wanting to see changes made, double-checked to ensure my changes were tracked and sent everything back.

 That made it worthwhile.  I was doing something I had never done before, felt like I had embarrassed myself and it turns out my amateur efforts were not only appreciated but meaningful.

BEFORE I CONTINUE WITH WHAT HAPPENED NEXT – A FEW REASONS WISE GUY IS A GREAT READ:

This is Guy’s most personal book to date yet it is not a straightforward autobiography. Guy presents the insights he gained from life, business and the people around him, and shares them through a series of candid stories.  Some of his insights include:

·         Re-evaluate your sense of self-importance. Guy has been mistaken for Jackie Chan and the Rich Dad Poor Dad guy so often – sometimes he just goes along with it

·         By taking up and discovering a joy for surfing at the age of 62, he proves you can discover a new passion at any age but “younger is easier”

·         Knowing your audience. A single sentence spoken to Steve Jobs nearly ended his career at Apple

If you want to reminisce about the early days of Apple, buy the book.  If you want to read about personal and professional growth with huge helpings of humility, buy the book.  Seriously, just go buy it! 

FAST FORWARD ONE YEAR. 

In February of 2019 Wise Guy was released in hardcover.  I received an autographed copy in the mail, along with a ‘mahalo’ cookie cutter and a package of butter cookies. Cookies! This man really does know his audience.

 I had spent a few hours proofing a book.  During that time I learned more than just the ‘wise guy lessons’ contained within its pages.  It gave me an opportunity to look at the structure of a story, to learn how a non-writer got started and how to avoid being ripped-off in the speaking business (another thing I do and am now better prepared for).  The experience was a reminder that following our curious nature and stretching our horizons can be rewarding. 

Between the time I proofed the early draft of Wise Guy and its release, I became a freelance writer and I have a greater appreciation for the work editors do.  Mine will be cringing right now as she reads this since I am using two spaces after a period – that is just NOT allowed for print publication. (My blog, my rules!)

The Wise Guy experience came full circle for me at the end of March 2019.  I was staring at my own name on a book, having become a published author, an opportunity that seemed far-fetched when I first responded to Guy’s post.

I applied some of his guidance about writing to the story and had leveraged a few trusted friends as ‘proofers’ before submitting my work to the editor.  I also don’t have to guess which page to sign (thanks Guy!).  All in all, some pretty wonderful opportunities came from answering what was essentially a random help wanted ad on LinkedIn. 

That’s my Wise Guy story…so far


Glendalynn Dixon guides business transformations focused on culture, leadership & data management. She is an author, speaker and mentor who champions women in technology and uses stories from her wild ride of a life to challenge preconceived notions.

Contact Glendalynn directly or follow her on Instagram or LinkedIn .

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