Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO and Founder, VaynerMedia
“I’m not crippled with being perfect. I’m crippled with not doing,” Gary Vaynerchuk says, and that about sums up the philosophy that propels him ahead in life and business—avoiding hesitation and seizing the moment at all costs.
To many, Vaynerchuck (aka Gary Vee) needs no introduction. He’s a serial entrepreneur, four-time New York Times-bestselling author, venture capitalist, popular podcast host, and sought-after public speaker serving an audience of millions. And he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
How does this guy accomplish so much? Vaynerchuk doesn’t agonize or hesitate when starting something new. He dives in voraciously, working his ass off and learning as he goes. He also never aspires to “have it all.” Too often, entrepreneurs strive for some lofty material goal as the finish line, but for Vaynerchuk, having it all begins on the first day we embark on our entrepreneurial journeys. The reward is in the process itself.
In this interview, Vaynerchuk shares tidbits from his new book Crushing It! (an updated version of his 2009 bestseller), unpacks epic branding and marketing tips that have led to his success, and reveals his personal philosophy on GSD.
Gary Vee wants aspiring entrepreneurs to crush it with him. Are you on board? Listen in and get inspired.
- What it really means to “have it all,” and why you may already have it
- Why trying instead of doing leads to stagnation
- Why all businesses need to be media producers, regardless of their business models
- Insights on the personal vs. professional brand debate and how to decide what’s best for you
- Why omni-channel branding draws more people to your company
Full Transcript of Podcast with Gary Vaynerchuk
Nathan: What can people expect to learn in your new book?
Gary: I think the book’s foundation is to help people take control of their professional careers and/or their businesses upside by becoming best in class practitioners in the modern social, digital media landscape and getting them to, A, understand how big the opportunity is to become the lady that’s most known for taxes in Brisbane, Australia or the guy that’s best known for dog walking in Seoul, Korea. And then stories about people that did it after I wrote the first version of this book called “Crush It!” nine years ago to make them realize I’m not an anomaly, at the time back in 2009 and then hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, have come out and built their businesses around themselves online.
And then a real heavy dose of the upfront, like the strategy of why this is happening and the mental place you need to be in to get there. And then in the back end, from Musical.ly to podcasting to LinkedIn to Facebook, you know, what to do on Facebook, what to do on Twitter, what to do on Instagram once you’ve decided that you want to be the foremost known beekeeper or the person that most knows how to sell real estate using Instagram. And so it is a state-of-the-union bible on the obnoxious opportunity that we have as individuals in today’s digital ecosystem.
Nathan: Love it, man. I’m looking forward to my copy. When it comes to channels, one thing you told me two years ago, which I really have taken on, I think it was really it’s not as I said…you said you don’t focus on just one channel, you try and conquer them all, like, what channel are you focusing right now on in terms of social to conquer and, you know, what’s your process of mastering a channel? Can you like describe that to us in like a minute?
Gary: Yeah. Before I do that, so I remember our interview and I remember actually whether it was during the interview or right after, can you tell me how that has manifested for you, like what happened when you started diversifying outside of just Instagram?
Nathan: Yeah. Well, you know, we started doing podcasting and really going…the podcast is going really well and then we started mastering Facebook. So, one thing that somebody says, or a lot of people often say to us is we’re quite omnipresent and they see us everywhere, and now the channel we’re focusing on is blogging and now YouTube. So, we’re just getting way more omnipresent and the brand is growing. People find us in other ways.
Gary: Let’s say that like, I would never read a book, but other people do, right? I don’t watch vlogs, but other people do. I don’t read LinkedIn, but other people do. I don’t consume main video content on Instagram, but other people do. And on and on and on. So here’s my point, you’ve gotta make one of two decisions: either you’re the kind of person that wants to get one platform down and ready to get down and use that as like the match that starts your whole world. In 2009, when “Crush It!” came out, I was just hoping somebody would do well on YouTube or Twitter, right? In 2018, here we are, a lot of people have got something going somewhere and a lot of what I’m trying to wish people do is be more omni-channel and get deeper.
My process is very simple. I start by going to a new frontier and I work my face off and I test and learn a lot. I think way too many people decide they’re gonna do a blog and then they spend three months on the strategy of doing a blog instead of just starting to think and figure… I figured out how to ride a bike as I’m getting on it and falling off of it and then eventually figuring it out. Most people in business wanna learn how to ride a bike by reading a book and watching YouTube video tutorials, got it?
Gary: So I…those, like I wanted to do a podcast, it was called, you know, the “AskGaryVee” show. It was the audio transcription of my show, “AskGaryVee,” from YouTube, a couple years ago. And it did good because I’m known and I’m good, but it was like the 300th best podcast in the world, the 700th. Then I started to get more serious, December of ’16, while I was on vacation, what came out of that mind was I was going to do something called the “Audio Experience,” which meant that I would produce original content. I would take audio from the video my vlog was doing and transcribe it there and on and on and on. So all of a sudden, we’re at a place where the podcast has become top 75, because it’s better, got it? I wouldn’t have got there from the beginning if I hadn’t done the “AskGaryVee.”
I have a SuperPhone account, where I have a cellphone number that I use right now I don’t have it but I’ve put out this cellphone number and it’s a CRM and it’s a text messaging platform. I thought that I was gonna use it to engage with people. What ended up happening was we found myself on Twitter and engaged it more than ever. And what my text messaging platform has become is we only write hooking, where I’m like, “Hey, buy my book. Pay on this.” It’s not bringing any value.
What am I doing this week? Literally this week? I’m rebranding it to something called GaryVee First In Line. What is that gonna be? It’s gonna be either incredible jabs, which means, “Hey everybody in First In Line, I’m giving you 500 how to use from this awesome company that I’ve been talking to, or I’m giving you 53 tickets to this conference I’m doing, or the first person to hit me up on Twitter with the answer to this question will win a $10,000 4Ds tickets at VaynerMedia, things that are incredible for all the people and you will get information here before I do it on social, first in line. Or you’ll be the first people that can buy my new sneaker, buy my new book, buy my new whatever.”
So I’m rebranding it. I would have never gotten to that because just four months ago, my strategy was to use it as a place to go one on one and texting with me seems cool. I’m not crippled with the perfect, I’m crippled with not doing. I put on a pedestal doing and not doing. Most people put on a pedestal perfect. That’s why I win, that’s why most people lose because if you don’t do the action, you have no shot in everything, ever. In my life and my first strategy and execution on a platform or in a business or on anything is ever gonna be the right thing, sometimes it is and I’m like, “Oh, that was clever, kudos.” Most of the times it’s not, but I don’t know how to make the dish better if I don’t taste it while I’m making it and realize that I need to add more salt.
Nathan: Gotcha. So, just going back to personal brands. I know that “Crushing It!” that’s a big part of I guess everything that you do. One thing I’m really curious about is when it comes to personal brands versus building a scalable asset, if somebody is building a business and they wanna build maybe a business that’s I guess not reliant on their personal brand, if they were to, you know, a form of liquidity would take place, what’s your advice on that? Because I think that can sometimes be…
Gary: My advice is a couple thoughts. Number one, you should never do anything you don’t want to do, because it won’t work. So that’s number one. Number two, I pondered this question. Many businesses can start off very associated to the person and then become bigger than the person. VaynerMedia is that, right? The Honest Company is that. That’s sort of the Jessica Alba’s things, like…and honestly there’s a million of the…there are so many more that people realize, they start off as something, a lot of infomercial brands, you know, a lot of celebrity brands. PureWow, the women’s lifestyle company that I bought, started off as Whoopi Goldberg’s, Billy Candy [SP] competitor. So people don’t know that anymore just like they don’t know a lot of things that started off, Vitamin Water started off as 50 Cent’s Gatorade. It’s definitely not that anymore.
So I’ll say a couple things. Number one, it’s very easy you siphon off your business if the service or product is awesome when you decide to siphon off of it, right? Wine Library became very synonymous with me. I haven’t run that business in six, seven years, right? But it still has the equity of… Michael Jordan, literally there are kids that wear…I saw this happen the other day. There are kids that wear Jordans that don’t fully know that it’s like Billy Michael Jordan. Like it became a brand. And so, A, everybody can siphon off their brand if they choose to build a national brand, B, you don’t have to, three, a lot of the things that you should do for a personal brand are exactly what you should do for that logo, and you can build it up in a lot of similar ways of understanding the channels and the content. Obviously, seltzer water is different than a human but a lot of similarity is in the content strategy and then understanding if you really get it.
Nathan: Gotcha. So, when it comes to…you talk about a lot about documenting versus creating. I’m curious as well some of it come through is local biz, B2B SaaS, service based businesses. Like even those kinds of industry, should they be still documenting and not creating?
Gary: Yes. Yes, because I’ll tell you why. “The Office” is a hit sitcom all around the world in every version of it. Literally, if there is a SaaS business who decides to put out, I’m not getting that. A little bit far fetched. You’re a law firm, a conservative law firm and you decide to a three-minute video every day of characters in “The Office,” whether that is this is the smartest lawyer in the world and it’s very tutorial, or it’s a very self-deprecating environment… I mean, I would go to a restaurant in New York City tomorrow if there was a video they were putting out for three minutes every day about how silly the wait staff and the kitchen staff were because it just brings awareness. This has been proven a long time ago.
So yes, everybody is a media company. Now, there’s a very big difference between PBS and ESPN and the Home Shopping Network, and the Playboy Channel, and CNN and Fox, they all have very different things but they’re all media. So yes, there’s a difference if you have a staff-financed app versus being a sporting goods store versus being, you know, Tony Robbins, sure, but I believe we have now crossed the chasm into the world where everybody must be a media producer. And then that is bringing awareness to their business. I think advertising as we knew it is more into acting like a media company and that’s where we are right now. I believe that Coca-Cola in 25 years looks a lot more like CNN that it looks like an advertiser on CNN.
Nathan: Yeah, gotcha. And when it comes to advice for finding a DRock if you’re not a Gary Vee, and you’re just getting started up but, you know, your company’s doing well and you can afford to hire a DRock, but you don’t have a personal brand like a Gary Vee, what’s your advice? Because there’s a lot of people that wanna do VDR, but yeah.
Gary: Yeah. First of all, you need to realize that DRock is not that talented, right? You’ve gotta quantify that. Meaning, he’s extraordinarily talented but our narrative, it’s because I’m not that talented. What’s so right about what DRock and I have done and now what Babin and I do and Iris and I do, and what many other people do is the strategy is so right. And so, because we were pioneers, you know, like DRock has become…I would tell about my English classes, well, there’s an adjective or a verb or, you know, whatever it is, but this is insane to me. You know, it must be fun for him.
The amount of people that say that, like the amount of times today. And by the way, I think that number is 147, it’s not like 4 million, but like the fact that 147 people today said, “I need a DRock,” that’s cool. That means we did something. We put a little flag in the ground, because there was Casey and many other people before me that were first party vlogging, but what I think we did is we created the reality TV kind of version of this, second person, like film productions. But here’s what I’ll say, there are so many awesome kids, creators that are desperate to film somebody. I see it every day. I’m coming across tons of people every day who are not very…I’m a different Gary today than what I was when DRock wanted to do it. Now, it’s probably a 10,000 people line up, back then I probably could have got 100. So I’m in a different place, but most people are at zero, because they don’t realize how many incredible kids are so fascinated by the revolution, the concept of a DRock that now they wanna be a DRock.
I mean, DRock has to be here by the way, just filming, as we speak. I’m sure DRock would get a DM every day of people say, “I wanna be a DRock.” And of course, they wanna do that for Beyonce, but the reality is there’s a lot of people that just wanna do it for a CEO of their town because they’re gonna get either experience or they’ll get paid. I think people just need to put it out there, literally on your LinkedIn, and on your Facebook, and on your Twitter or whatever the hell you have, and literally say, “I wanna DRock you. Link to…” It’s something that we put out there, who’ve not even asked, whatever, just create the context and I genuinely believe you’ll have seven people, regardless of who you are, as long as you’re doing something interesting. The more interesting your job is, nobody can know who you are and they’re interested. And if you sound boring, there’s still people willing to get paid a little bit because they want work.
Nathan: Yeah, love it. And, you know, we have to work towards wrapping up, but one thing I think a lot of people would be really curious to hear your answer is can you have it all? You know, everybody is…you’ve built this massive company, personal brand, you’ve got an amazing family and life and, like, can you have it all? Is it ever enough?
Gary: Yeah. I mean, I think I had it all the day I started. I think people are confused by what having it all is. To me, having it all is the ability to fly. I have it all because on May 17th, 1998, I left to have it all. It was called, “I still had to appease my parents and finish up college.” The next day, I started working in a liquor store by my rules, my way, my journey, and I decided that I wanted to help build the business for him. And then I decided I wanted to be a video person on YouTube when it first came out. I didn’t start. And then I decide I wanted to build an agency which everybody thought that was stupid. And then I decided I wanted to come out as a speaker and write books and do all the stuff.
I have it all every day because professionally, once you put a shocking amount at one timeline, I’m doing what I wanna do. And every day, I eat shit and every day, bad stuff happens, and every day, it’s super hard because when you’re the alpha, when you’re the number one, when it’s yours, everything is your fault. It’s all on you, and whether that’s with yourself in the mirror or being accountable for 1,000 or 10,000 or 100,000 people. I have it all, because just trying to achieve this professionally is all. When you start thinking it’s $100,000, $1 million or it’s a Lamborghini, or its being on whatever magazine, or it’s investing in something or…when you start thinking something, you will never have at all. When you think itself, the trying, you’ve got it from the day you start. I really believe that.
Nathan: Love it, man. And why the acquisition in PureWow? Are you looking to acquire more companies or…
Gary: Acquire more. Yeah, I’m gonna build a huge…Yeah, I wanna acquire more and start more. I wanna buy your company if I decided that’s the right thing to do, because I wanna compete in the entrepreneurial space. I’ll buy “Sports Illustrated” as a classic brand. I’ll start something around…something, like I want to build a communications Death Star and that comes in the agency form and that comes in the studio form with VaynerStudios. It’s where I’ll produce documentaries and sitcoms and movies one day. And that owning modern media companies. And so, if the world crashes and I can buy once, you know, whether it’s Huffington Post or BuzzFeed or Vice, like you never know how all these things play out. My long term vision is to own all parts of the communication cycle. And so, I bought PureWow for that reason, and we’ll start more and buy more and then more and more and more. I try, try.
Nathan: Love it. Awesome, man. Well, look, we’ll wrap, the last question is where is the best place people can find out more about “Crushing It!” and grab a copy?
Gary: I mean, look, there’s nobody who’s listening to this podcast who’s not smart enough to figure that part out. Here’s what I wanna say. Please let this interview be the starting point for you to finally do exactly what you know you should be doing, and whatever is holding you back, you will regret it because not being in the process of having it all because you’re trying is leaving happiness on the table.
Nathan: Love it. Thank you so much for your time, man.
Gary: Cool. See you.
Key Resources From Our Interview With Gary Vaynerchuk
- Learn more about Gary Vaynerchuk
- Check out Gary Vaynerchuk’s Books
- Listen to Gary Vaynerchuk’s Podcast
- Like Gary Vaynerchuk on Facebook
- Follow Gary Vaynerchuk on Instagram
- Follow Gary Vaynerchuk on Twitter
- Connect with Gary Vaynerchuk on Linkedin
- Subscribe to Gary Vaynerchuk’s YouTube channel