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Book Review: Enchantment - The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions

Guy Kawasaki, author of the New York Times bestseller, talks to Denis Du Bois about how to make energy efficient appliances as "enchanting" as Apple's iPad.

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If the word "enchantment" brings to mind unicorns and magic castles, the former chief evangelist of Apple Computer would like to change your mind. In fact, Guy Kawasaki's newest book is titled, "Enchantment, the Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions."


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If you've met Guy or seen him speak, you know he's a charming and persuasive entrepreneur. He's sprinkled his brand of fairy dust on the Apple Macintosh computer and a string of startups backed by his venture capital firm, Garage Technology Ventures.

Enchantment book cover photo on EnergyPriorities.com

Can energy efficiency be "enchanting?" Denis Du Bois reviews the latest marketing book from former Apple Computer evangelist Guy Kawasaki.

I read "Enchantment" looking for new ideas for making energy efficiency enchanting. In my field I encounter people every day who are frustrated that more energy consumers won't take simple steps that would ultimately save them money.

Energy efficiency is the fastest and cheapest path away from coal and gas, and toward a low-carbon future. Energy entrepreneurs, utilities and policymakers are looking for that holy grail -- the key to achieving widespread behavior changes and smart investments in energy-saving products, from CFLs to chillers.

I have come to expect every business author to spend the first half of the book selling me on what a great book it is.

But Guy's reputation precedes him -- and nine successful books preceded this one. Guy doesn't waste any time getting down to the business of enchantment. He jumps right in to explain how he believes enchantment transforms situations and relationships -- how to make products and companies "enchanting."

I came away from the book with a long list of ideas, so I called Guy to find out more about how he thinks we can make something like an energy audit or LED light fixtures enchanting.

Guy Kawasaki photo on EnergyPriorities.com

Guy Kawasaki is the author of "Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions." Photo: Bryn Colton/Assignments

Guy Kawasaki: There are two primary factors going on there. One is of course costs, that it saves money to be energy efficient. Second is the societal responsibility. And so one would hope that between those two factors you can turn this into a cause that stands for a way for people to make the world a better place. Arguably, you may have an easier time than some products which may be, shall I say, conspicuous consumption.  So it's all about positioning.

Denis Du Bois: : Positioning -- and patience. It's fairly easy to get people to make short-term behavior changes like turning off lights or running appliances during the off-hours of the day. But getting those behavior changes to last has turned out to be a big challenge.

Guy: Well, it took Apple 25 years to make the desktop successful. There are issues like that, that take time.

Denis: Guy writes that one way to speed things up is to create "smooth paths" for people to make the right decisions for their businesses and homes.

He tells a story about a backyard party at his house where he wanted the guests, mostly teenagers, to separate the recycling from the trash. The story illustrates that, if you a create smooth path to doing the right thing, people -- even teenagers -- tend to follow it.

Making a round hole in a trash can lid is one thing. Getting a family to spend its hard-earned cash on a more energy-efficient appliance is another. How would Guy create a "smooth path" to paying more for an energy-sipping refrigerator, when the family could get a bigger one for less?

Guy: Well, some of this has to start at the manufacturer. There could be an education campaign where a printer or a refrigerator or a computer has a sticker that says it is Earth-friendly.  You could actually train people to expect that, so that even if there are other models, there should be a predisposition to buy the better model, the more ecological model.

I think it's also using salient points, that is, yes this appliance may cost this much more now, but most people keep a refrigerator for, I don't know, 20 years. Suppose it costs a $100 more now, but you save $100 a year for 20 years, well that's $2,000 versus $100. So some of it is how you communicate the difference -- that it's cheaper in the long run. And there is a whole section in the book about using salient points. And this is a salient point.

Denis: "Salient points" is Guy's term for translating facts and figures into meaningful metrics for consumers. It's in chapter 4, which is all about communicating using simple messages.

Chapter 5 has a section on either reducing the number of choices, or increasing the number of choices, to encourage people to make a buying decision. A yogurt shop does well by increasing the number of toppings, but a street vendor boosts sales by putting out fewer kinds of jelly. Guy stops short of telling readers which approach is best.

Guy: Yeah, well I didn't say it would be simple. But both can work.

Denis: There are many ways to save energy, maybe to many. The idea is that with too few choices a consumer might not find one that appeals to them. But with too many choices the same consumer might be paralyzed by indecision. One factor is the life cycle of the choice. 

Guy: If you buy one and you don't like it, you might always think, well, I should have bought the other flavor of jelly. Now I am stuck with it. On the other hand, in the case of yogurt, nobody sits around with yogurt for three months.

Sometimes more choice helps. But sometimes more choice hurts. Apple is an interesting case. When you walk into an Apple store, there is the iPod Nano, there is the iPod Regular. And then each one comes in six colors. So there are three or four models times six colors.

And then there is eight gigabytes, 16 gigabytes and 32 gigabytes. Tthat's a lot of combinations. You could build a case that Apple has a way too many choices. On the other hand, you walk into the Apple store, there are these hundreds of choices and you say, wow, Apple has really figured it out!

Denis: Psychologists have figured out that consumers sometimes hesitate to make a decision because they don't want to reduce their options. Fears like that are sources of resistance when it comes to adopting energy efficiency measures. Inertia is another source of resistance.

Overcoming resistance is the subject of an entire chapter of Enchantment. There's a whole list of techniques -- they'll sound familiar to anyone who's spent more than a few hours studying good salesmanship. Techniques like getting neighbors or role models to do something first, or making it seem like everybody's doing it. I asked Guy which techniques he thinks will work best.

Guy: There are several parameters. Each group will have a different hot button. For some people it is the fear of global warming, where polar bears are now getting sun tans and dying.  For other people it may be the cost savings. And there are so many parameters, probably not the same parameters work for the same people.

My nine year old daughter wants polar bears to be healthy. It is difficult to translate to her that if you turn the light off, we'll save money.  But telling her that if you leave your light on all the time, there are going to be fewer polar bears --I realize that's kind of a stretch -- but that's something she can grasp. So a lot of it is changing the message, or changing what variables you focus on.

Denis: If you're trying to promote energy efficiency -- whether you're persuading your customers, your employees, or your own family -- I recommend reading "Enchantment." Guy Kawasaki explores a lot of territory and pulls it all together in just under 200 pages, so it's a quick read, and very worthwhile.


"Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions," Penguin, 224 pages, $26.95.

Guy Kawasaki's author web site