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Book Review: Reality Check – The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition by Guy Kawasaki

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Guy Kawasaki has parlayed his early success as an "evangelist" for Apple during its infancy into a career as a business owner, venture capitalist, and, perhaps most notably, as an author giving advice to would-be entrepreneurs. In late 2005 Kawasaki began a blog called "Let the Good Times Roll," since re-named more inspirationally to "How to Change the World." Kawasaki has now taken almost three years of blog posts and distilled them into a "best of" book called Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition.

If you're already a reader of Kawasaki's blog, you've seen almost all of this before. However, Kawasaki has a point when he says that a blog isn't wholly satisfying as a coherent, reference source. Who can really remember when Kawasaki wrote that perfect blog post about pitching your product or company? Despite the predicted demise of books, it's still a lot easier to find the "best" of Kawasaki here than it is to delve into the archives of his blog.

Like most greatest hits packages, Reality Check offers plenty of good stuff that doesn't always hang together. Kawasaki offers insight into starting up a new company, raising capital, marketing and "pitching", hiring and firing, and more. In addition to his own insights, Kawasaki gives plenty of space to the thoughts and findings of other writers and researchers, mainly in Q&A interview form.

The information is usually interesting and useful, and Kawasaki is an engaging writer, so the 400-plus pages breeze right by. At times, though, it feels like you're reading a collection of great quotes versus a narrative that you can put to immediate use. This didn't bother me, but you should know going in that it's not a straight "how to" book for succeeding in Silicon Valley or elsewhere.

Kawasaki uses the word "irreverent" in the book's subtitle, and it's appropriate. He often disparages MBAs (though he has one), calls out ineffective and egotistical executives as "bozos", and offers lists of the lies told by venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, lawyers, and engineers. 

Because Kawasaki is a venture capitalist and has experience in tech companies, the emphasis here is more toward startups with big dreams of changing the world and getting rich before the seed capital runs out. However, that doesn't mean there aren't lessons for the small, bootstrapping entrepreneur with the more modest goals of making a decent living while being your own boss.

If you buy Reality Check with the expectation of uncovering nuggets of wisdom versus just possessing a nuts-and-bolts handbook for running a business, you'll be more than happy with your purchase.  

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