Reality Check: A book review by Bob Morris

Posted on: July 11th, 2011 by bobmorris

Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition
Guy Kawasaki
Portfolio/Penguin Group (2008)

Kawasaki provides “hardcore information” for “hardcore people who want to kick ass”

I have just re-read Reality Check and admire it even more now than I did when it was published more than three years ago. The twelve (12) “realities” that Kawasaki rigorously examines, in several chapters devoted to each, include Starting Chapters 1-5), Raising Money Raising Money (Chapters 6-15), Planning and Executing (Chapters 16-24), Innovating (Chapters 25-31), Marketing (Chapters 32-37), Selling and Evangelizing (Chapters 38-43), Communicating (Chapters 44-52), Beguiling (Chapters 53-63), Competing (Chapters 64-67), Hiring and Firing (Chapters 68-78), Working (Chapters 79-89 followed by a “Timeout”), and Doing Good (Chapters 90-94 followed by a “Conclusion.” Yes, that is correct: This book has 94 chapters plus a “Timeout” and a “Conclusion” provided within (count `em) 461 pages plus (thankfully) a comprehensive Index. As is also true of Kawasaki’s eight other books, the tone is informal, conversational, and at times confrontational; also, the pace is frenetic and the writing style has Snap! Crackle! and Pop! Most important to me, the content is more abundant and of a higher quality than in any other of his previously published books.

Readers will welcome the use of bold face to highlight key points. This device will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of those key points later. I especially appreciate the inclusion of several interviews throughout the lively narrative. They include those of Fred Greguras on key legal issues in raising funds (Pages 51-59), Chip and Dan Heath on why only a few innovations “stick” and most don’t (Pages 130-138), Kathleen Gasperini on marketing to young people (Pages 168-175), Garr Reynolds on mastering the “Presentation Zen” approach (Pages 209-214), Robert Cialdini on the art and science of effective persuasion (Pages 243-250, Libby Sartain shares her perspectives on the recruiting process (Pages 314-317), Penelope Trunk offers “radically different” advice on career planning and management (Pages 318-325), Philip Zimbardo explains the factors that shape human behavior (e.g. how people adopt and adapt to given roles (Pages 359-365), David Marcum and Steven Smith explain why the ego can be one’s greatest asset…or most expensive liability (Pages 393-400), David Bornstein explains what social entrepreneurship is and how it can change the world (Pages 428-435), Richard Stearns provides insights into the transition from the corporate to the non-profit world and shares lessons to be learned from an association that raises billions of dollars every year (Pages 36-441), and Jerry White explains how to overcome a “life crisis” (Pages 442-448). Note the variety of subjects covered during Kawasaki’s interviews. They correctly suggest the scope and diversity of his interests.

Opinions will vary as to how to read this book. Some will read it cover-to-cover. Others will select several of the 12 “realities” and then read the chapters in which each is discussed. Still others will check out the Contents (Pages vii-xi) and then read whatever is of greatest interest. What sets this business book apart from almost others I have read in recent years is the extent to which it provides (quoting Kawasaki in the Introduction) “hardcore information to hardcore people who want to kick ass.” The focus is almost entirely on how to create and then sustain an organization whose people “make the world a better place because of it.” Presumably Kawasaki agrees with Thomas Edison: “Vision without execution is hallucination.” If not you, who? If not now, when?

Kawasaki invites readers to interact with him at


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