Guy is presently the Chief Evangelist at Canva with extensive knowledge on innovation, entrepreneurship, social media, podcasting, and marketing. In addition to his work at Canva, he is also the creator of the Remarkable People Podcast where he interviews and converses with exceptional subjects like Jane Goodall, Stephen Wolfram, Bob Cialdini, Arianna Huffington, and Kristi Yamaguchi.
Listen to this episode (or read the transcript below) to learn more about Guy’s incredible entrepreneurial journey.
1 When was the first time you became a manager?
I first became a manager when I was in the jewelry business in Los Angeles but one of my first memorable experiences was when I was working at Apple in the Software Product Management Group. During this time, I managed groups like evangelism, developer, tech support, developer documentation, and the Apple labeled software products.
The misconception that I always had was that the leadership part of management was easy, and the hard stuff was finance, statistics and operations. What I came to realize was that the quantitative things were all super easy because you can hire people to do those jobs. The hard part is actually the non-technical stuff like leading and motivating people and dealing with HR issues.
2 You mention the term mensch in your book. Can you expand on the meaning?
Mensh is a German word that is extremely hard to describe but it essentially has to do with trust, faith, and generosity. A mensh is someone who takes the high road and someone who looks out for the greater good of society rather than their own personal good. I think it’s important for everyone to care about society and to care more about the bigger picture rather than your own personal picture. If you’re starving, it’s hard to be a mensch but it comes with experience and success.
3 How do you spot a mensch in action?
They are very rare, but it can be as simple as someone who works towards a greater goal rather than their own personal gain. It can be letting someone else get the commission or letting someone else close a sale. It’s the realization that it takes a team to run a successful company and every team member should be valued and appreciated. A mensch would treat a person that may be beneath them in terms of hierarchy or salary as an equal. The ultimate test is if the person treats people that may not be able to do something for them well and with respect.
4 What was it like to be a manager at Apple while working with Steve Jobs?
Working at Apple was like going to Disneyland every day because we set out to change the world. It was a great adventure, but it was difficult. Steve Jobs has many endearing qualities, but he wasn’t a mensch, he ruled by fear but because he was Steve Jobs, he got away with it and it led to outstanding results. I basically just contradicted everything I said but fear works as a motivating factor if the person causing the fear is Steve Jobs.
I wouldn’t trade my time at Apple for anything. I considered it an honour and a privilege to work for him because he was a visionary. When you look back at your life, the teachers or the bosses that were the hardest on you were probably the most valuable.
5 Can you expand on your theory about Godfather-like figures?
In many older companies there are Godfather or Godmother-like figures who are established, powerful, and hopefully a mensch and these individuals will mentor or protect you.
I had a figure like this at Apple and his name was Al Eisenstadt and it was a very beneficial relationship. These types of relationships can normally help you navigate the treachery of the company you’re at. They can protect you and help you ward off certain battles. It’s basically like a friend that makes things a lot easier for you.
6 Why do you think people get it wrong when hiring?
The biggest factor is probably people’s insecurities because they want to feel like they’re the best at their job. If you’re a CEO and you think you’re going to be better in more functional areas than the people you hire because you want to feel superior to them, you’re a loser of a CEO. Assembling a team that is better than you in functional areas should be a source of pride as a CEO.
7 Do you have any advice for people that want to improve their management skills?
Number one is to ban any PowerPoint presentation over ten slides and number two and three are both email related. You should ban any email that is over five paragraphs and ban adding attachments to emails.
Next, you should always go to your boss with a solution, not a problem. Instead of telling your boss that the sky is falling you should tell them that the sky is falling but you’ve already figured out how to get it back up because that’s what every boss wants to hear.
If you want to learn more about remarkable people and hear from people like Jane Goodall and Martha Stewart, you should check out my podcast! Every time you listen to one of my podcast episodes you will become a little bit more remarkable. You can check it out by clicking here.