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To drive growth, put customers first: Insight from Canva's Guy Kawasaki

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    Su-Ren Neo
  • Oct 27, 2021

Hear from Canva Chief Evangelist Guy Kawasaki on what it takes to meet your customer’s needs and accelerate growth for your business.

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As the working world continues to experience significant shifts, we’ve been speaking with industry leaders about how they’ve faced challenges building and accelerating their growth. 

At Twilio, we know the best problem solving comes from putting yourself in the customer’s shoes—and according to Guy Kawasaki, tech evangelist at Canva, 90 percent of the engagement it takes to grow comes from having a good product that users actually need. But creating one is easier said than done.

Kawasaki brings a wealth of experience to his work, with one notable example being his work marketing the world-changing 1984 Apple Macintosh. When he’s not championing the democratisation of design, he shares other success stories on his podcast, Remarkable People, which has featured innovators and visionaries like Dr. Jane Goodall, Paul Theroux, Steve Wozniak, and many more.

Read on to hear insights from a conversation between Kawasaki and Twilio COO George Hu on the importance of prioritising customer needs in order to accelerate growth.

Be curious, open, and adaptable

According to Kawasaki, the best way to guarantee growth, especially in a challenging environment like the one we’re experiencing today, is to be innately curious about the world around you and the people in it. 

“The entire concept is called working backwards,” he explains. “So rather than working forwards from what you can do, what you like to do, or what you are set up to do, you should work backwards from what the customer wants.” In order to find out what people want, you have to be open to hearing different perspectives—and willing to adapt based on what you learn. 

According to Hu, much of the success that Twilio has experienced can similarly be attributed to curiosity and a willingness to adapt. Specifically, this has come in the form of putting developers and executives in the same room to talk to each other: “That’s kind of our formula, to get people closer to actually solving the problems, versus just thinking about them,” he explained. 

Creating meaningful dialogue and breaking down barriers allows you to create a clearer, more actionable picture of what people want—which gives you a clear path of where and how you can grow your business.

Align personal and user interests

Despite all the well-intentioned messages we’ve absorbed about following our passions, Kawasaki believes that kind of thinking alone isn’t always enough to ensure growth; instead, it’s about finding the magic spot between what you’re good at and what society needs.

“The sequence is: you find something that interests you, you start doing it, you develop competence in it, and then you hope that you can get paid doing it,” Kawasaki said. When he was marketing Macs, he genuinely believed the product would change the world, and thankfully, other people agreed. That alignment enabled immense growth for both Kawasaki himself and Apple as a business.

To move toward that kind of growth, it’s important to ask yourself: are you selling a product which will boost someone’s creativity? Will it make it easier for someone to do their job and increase productivity? If you don’t know what users want, and if those needs don’t align at all with your own values, your opportunities for growth will be limited.

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Su-Ren Neo

Su-Ren Neo is the Senior Director for Marketing, Asia Pacific and Japan at Twilio, where she and her team are responsible for driving Twilio’s marketing and brand strategy in the region. She brings 20+ years of experience in leading integrated marketing and brand development across technology, financial services, and telecommunications industries in global and regional capacities based in Asia and North America.