Guy Kawasaki may be the only native of Hawaii who didn’t put a foot on a surfboard until he was 60. To be fair, though, he’s always done a lot of surfing of the virtual kind, which is how he came to work under Steve Jobs at Apple and, most recently, has become “chief evangelist” at Canva, the online design company. “Had I discovered surfing earlier, you would probably not be interviewing me,” he says.
Born in Honolulu, he’s now based in Santa Cruz, California, with a house a block from the beach, and tends to see people through blue-tinted glasses. “There are two types of surfers: some have to wait for the perfect day and the perfect wave when everything’s right and there’s blue sky and the wind is in the right direction – and then there’s the other kind – they go out no matter what and make the most of it.” And which is he? “I just go,” he says.
Kawasaki is a third generation Japanese-American whose grandparents originally went to Hawaii to pick sugarcane. “When I was growing up in Hawaii, faxes were still a big deal,” he says. “It was almost pre-electricity.” The constellation of islands that make up Hawaii, poking up out of the Pacific like giant periscopes, have long been an oceanic crossroads between Asia and America. But the big communications breakthrough for Hawaii was laying down the “information superhighway” in the 1990s. “When I was young,” says Kawasaki, “airlines that no longer exist were the only highway to the mainland.”
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