Leadership and Management Marketing Career

Wise Words from Wise Guy

Marketing guru Guy Kawasaki dropped 11 golden nuggets during his closing keynote on Day 3 of Toronto’s Elevate Tech Festival. His best advice for marketers and entrepreneurs? Grind. It. Out.

Guy Kawasaki is one of my favorite marketers on the planet. I love his books and his stories. Every time he speaks at a conference that I’m attending, I show up on time. Kawasaki has written 14 books including his latest best-seller –  Wise Guy, Lesson from a Life.

For his Elevate keynote, Kawasaki shared 11 life tips from his book. Here are my three favorite.

Touch Gold

“It’s really hard to get excited about crappy products,” Kawasaki joked with the audience. “Seriously, being an evangelist for crap is really hard. Don’t do it.”

Instead, Kawasaki recommends seeking out great products or great people and aligning yourself with those companies. By “touching gold” you will ignite the creative energy and ideas within yourself. It is only in this elevated state that you can do your best work.

Kawasaki used the example of Canva, the online easy-to-use graphics platform. In his eyes the Canva product is gold, backed by a team of golden people. It’s reason why he agreed to be their Chief Evangelist.

I’ve worked at companies that have had golden products/people. I’ve also worked at a couple of companies where the products turned out to be yellow-painted lead bricks. I can say from first-hand experience Kawasaki has it right. It is VERY difficult to do great work when you have to constantly fight fires due to sub-par products and services. It is VERY draining to work in an environment where every other team has only negative energy to share.

If you are in that situation, my suggestion is to try and work internally to turn things around. But if you don’t make any progress over a few months, or if you are getting empty nods from the people around the executive table, then it may be time to seek new gold.

Get in any way you can

Kaswasaki shared a counter-intuitive tip that I really loved – use whatever means you can to get the job you want. He urged the audience to reject the noble but flawed social norm of having to “earn you way” into your next job.

According to Kawasaki there is no shame in leveraging friends, family and your social network to get introduced to the right people or get brought into a company that you want to work at. Kawasaki himself was brought into Apple by a college roommate who was already working there and who recommended Kawasaki to Steve Jobs. Without that referral and endorsement, it’s possible Apple and Kawasaki would not be where they are today.

I’m a big believer in this approach. To me it’s not about how you start, but how you perform while you are at the company. Think about the standout performers at your workplace, does it really matter how they got into the organization? Does anyone really care if a friend recommended them to the HR Manager if they are helping to hit all the goals and stretch targets?

I’ve made it one of my life goals to connect as many talented people together as I can. Some may see that as nepotism or favoritism. I don’t. I think it’s just the right thing to do.

Grind it out.

If there were to ever be a slogan for Healthcare Scene, this would be it.

Both John Lynn and I believe that if you want to be successful you need to be willing to put in the work. Sure, there are some people and companies who make it big without trying, but those are the exception. In fact, I would argue most “overnight successes” are not…they only appear that way having put in a lot of work behind-the-scenes to be in a position to be successful when their moment arrived.

Kawasaki put it simply – be the hardest working person in the room and success will follow. By being willing to put in the effort to do what your competitors are afraid of, you will succeed where others fail. It’s what Kawasaki and the Apple team did in the early days of the personal computer revolution and because of it, the company is the tech giant it is today.


Grinding it out doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for more efficient ways to do things. To me, it’s more about being willing to do the hard work yet smart enough to seek better ways of doing something. But not having that better way available to you, shouldn’t stop you from moving ahead with the more difficult path right now. In other words, being a grinder means not waiting for the perfect conditions to move ahead.

Stay calm and grind on.

About the author


Colin Hung

Colin Hung is an award-winning Marketing Executive with more than 15yrs of healthcare and HealthIT experience. He co-founded one of the most popular healthcare chats on Twitter, #hcldr and he has been recognized as one of the “Top 50 Healthcare IT Influencers”. Colin’s work has been published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, American Society for Healthcare Risk Managers, and Infection Control Today. He writes regularly for Healthcare Scene and here at HITMC.com. Colin is a member of #pinksock #TheWalkingGallery and is proudly HITMC. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

1 Comment

Click here to post a comment

  • Colin,Great Takeaways from the Elevate meeting. I agree on all and try to always be using those three techniques. I do feel John Lynn and you do and that is what I like I about you. See you at HLTH grinding away there.

    Cynthia Porter
    CEO Porter Research




The Healthcare and IT Marketing Community (HITMC) is an extension of the HITMC conference that is the first of its kind event that brings together marketing and PR professionals from throughout the health care community. We strive to provide amazing marketing and PR related content that helps HealthIT companies and healthcare organizations  stand out amidst all the noise of the industry. If you’re looking to market to hospital executives, doctors, practice managers, patients, or other healthcare professionals, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to the HITMC community!