Guy Kawasaki Advises Community Pharmacists to Enchant Patients

Author, speaker, and entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki inspired independent community pharmacists to be enchanting.

In his keynote address at the National Community Pharmacists Association Annual Convention on October 19, 2014, in Austin, Texas, author, speaker, and entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki inspired independent community pharmacists to be enchanting.

Kawasaki said he learned and developed the enchantment strategy throughout his career, which began as a software evangelist for Apple. He explained that, in order to evangelize, the product must have the potential to change the world, and although Apple and community pharmacy are vastly different businesses, both have that power. Whereas Apple improves productivity and creativity, pharmacy improves the health and wellness of patients.

As the chief evangelist for the fledging company in the 1980s, Kawasaki advocated for the brand, converting software developers and others to Macintosh products. To do this, he used the power of enchantment.

“I had to enchant developers,” he said. “I had to convince them that this flakey company full of hippies was creating a great product.”

According to Kawasaki, enchantment can help independent pharmacies gain and maintain patients while better serving their needs. To be enchanting, businesses need to be likable, trustworthy, and have a great cause, he said.

To achieve likability, pharmacists should be genuine in their interactions with patients and other community members, Kawasaki explained.

“Do not have a Pan Am smile. That’s a fake smile.” he advised. “You actually want crow’s feet when you smile. You want wrinkles.”

Kawasaki also recommended learning how to accept the differences of other individuals and always saying “yes.” For pharmacists, these suggestions translate to understanding the unique challenges different patients face and always looking out to see whether more can be done to help them.

Achieving trustworthiness can be more difficult than achieving likability, Kawasaki noted.

"You need to trust your patients before they can trust you,” he said. “You also need to be a baker, not an eater.”

Eaters, he explained, are selfish in that they eat as much of the pie as they can as quickly as possible. Bakers, however, strive to make more pies for everyone because they “see that everyone can have more cake,” Kawasaki said.

Pharmacists should also try to make connections with their patients in order to gain their trust.

“Always find something to agree on if you want to be trusted,” he said. “Find some kind of link to your patients.”

According to Kawasaki, the third pillar of enchantment—a great product or cause—is inherent to community pharmacy practice.

“In your case, it’s not about the product but the service,” he said. “Are you complete in your retail practices? Are you giving your patients everything? Are you offering just a pill in a plastic bottle or the totality of your service?”

Beyond providing services and optimal care for patients, Kawasaki also recommended using social media and technology to enchant patients and advance community pharmacy.

“With social media, it’s the small people who make you successful,” he said. “Use it to position yourself as an expert. You want to be the person patients turn to for trusted information.”

In addition to social media, technology can provide ways to remove speed bumps for patients and to offer value, insights, and assistance.

At the session’s close, Kawasaki stressed the importance of using the enchantment strategy with the goal of improving not only a business, but also a patient’s life.