Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO – VaynerMedia
YOUR ATTENTION, PLEASE
Gary Vaynerchuk is a bona fide Internet celebrity. At last count, he was sitting pretty at 1.21 million Twitter followers, and 226,000 Instagram followers. He’s appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, Ellen, CNN, and MSNBC. He’s now the CEO of VaynerMedia, a digital agency with more than 600 staff. Vaynerchuk is an entrepreneur, investor, New York Times best-selling author, speaker, and, hailing from greater New York City, a fervent Jets fan.
But his success all started with Wine Library TV, a video blog he started when YouTube was still a 1-year-old Internet debutante. From the start of his career, Vaynerchuk has mastered social media to draw attention to his online persona GaryVee, and since then has leveraged his fame to build success with over a decade of shrewd planning and execution. But there’s one secret to success that Vaynerchuk always comes back to.
“The reason that I’m speaking to you is that I’ve worked harder than you.”
These brazen words were uttered by Vaynerchuk during one of his many training videos. While it’s impossible to know just how true that is, this is a belief central to Vaynerchuk’s life. Hard work is everything.
When discussing his success, the word hustle frequently bobs to the surface. “My hustle is better than everybody else’s,” he says, “so I have to bet on it. I bet on my strengths.” And despite living in an age of lifehacks and shortcuts, Vaynerchuk remains a staunch advocate of simple hard work. Armed with little more than his ball-of-fire personality and a will to succeed, he’s built an attention-hungry business empire worth millions.
Just to be clear at the outset, this isn’t a story about talent. “I’m probably equally talented to a lot of people out there,” Vaynerchuk says. “I think I have a lot of talent, but I think a lot of people do. What I’m completely convinced of is that I don’t think people can outwork me.”
How hard does he work? “15 to 16 hours a day, every day, working every minute, and there’s no down time. Every minute is accounted for.” This militant efficiency is not about cramming a week’s worth of work into four hours to free up time so he can sit on a beach somewhere. Instead, Vaynerchuk demonstrates outward hostility to that sort of laid back approach to business, and is vigorous in his defense of hustling without limits.
THE UNIVERSITY OF ADVERSITY
We all know people with drive. But when we see someone flaunting a never-say-die work ethic that garners a string of major successes, we want to know more. We want to know how exactly such success, or even how such an extreme work ethic, is achieved. Maybe their drive owes to humble roots, maybe childhood discouragement, or maybe it’s pain and struggle that has led to a heady cocktail of resolve and resourcefulness. Whatever got them there, mix with that killer instinct and you have something you can take to the bank.
“It came from being an immigrant,” Vaynerchuk says. He spent the first three years of his life in the former Soviet Union, now Belarus, before migrating to the Unites States and settling down in New Jersey with his family. “It came from watching my mom and dad work their faces off. My mom, three kids, no extra help, laundry, cooking, cleaning up. My dad, never around, always working, always. My family came to this country with nothing. So maybe it’s a little bit of gratitude and guilt. I just have the DNA in me.”
But this DNA did not translate into a drive to achieve straight A’s in school. Rather, it did the opposite. “I didn’t speak the language in the country that I lived in. I was short. I was a bad student.” Taken together, these factors may have tipped the scales to creating his overwhelming desire to succeed.
Sadly, for those hoping to emulate Vaynerchuk’s success, you can’t retroactively engineer these factors any more than you can alter the genes that decided your hair color. It seems that being driven in business was, for Vaynerchuk, not necessarily a choice, but an aspect of his personality that was always there.
“Even at a young age, I was slinging stuff,” he says. “Blow pops, baseball cards, lemonade stands, washing cars.”
He says he was around 12 or 13 when he decided his path in life. “Back in sixth and seventh grade, I was like, ‘I’m a businessman,’ and I would stay up as long as my parents let me working on my baseball card business.”
“I never knew a world where I could work for somebody else,” he says. And five years ago, that drive culminated in VaynerMedia, a digital agency which focuses on storytelling across platforms. He has since built up to a $100 million business. With a staff of 600, it is now home to offices across America.
You couldn’t fault him on confidence. It’s this brash quality that has earned Vaynerchuk his share of detractors over the years. Yet part of his skill is being able to harness his sheer exuberance and make it work for him. We now live in an age where shameless self-promotion is less a liability than a necessity, and it was this that guaranteed his first win in video media.
WINE LIBRARY TV
What do you get when you combine a precocious youngster, a crappy camera, a dead-end job, and a liquor store? The answer should be “nothing at all.” However, in Gary Vaynerchuk’s case, it led to a multi-million dollar empire.
Vaynerchuk spent the better part of a decade discussing wine on a low-fi YouTube television show of his own devising that earned him surprising notoriety. The show debuted on February 21, 2006 and was produced daily at the Wine Library store in Springfield, New Jersey. Its main attraction was Vaynerchuk himself, demonstrating his electric mad energy while gesticulating, sipping, and spitting wine with unusual enthusiasm. The show reached 100,000 views per episode at its peak. With reviews and advice on wine appreciation that avoided the stuffy language of wine connoisseurs, it was enough to land him guest spots on big network shows to swill pinot with Conan O’Brien and, in a bizarre palate-training exercise, urge Ellen to chew dirt (she declined).
But even though he ran Wine Library TV, it turned out wine wasn’t Vaynerchuk’s specialty. Instead, It was his ability to use limited means at his disposal to create astonishing levels of traction online, and seemingly build success from nothing. Wine Library TV was about Vaynerchuk as much as it was anything else.
SOCIAL MEDIA IS POWER
With the success of Wine Library TV, whatever you might have to say about GaryVee, you must concede he’s got a finger on the pulse of marketing in the digital age. He’s created a name for himself by anticipating social media trends and capitalizing on them early. Vaynerchuk threw his weight into Wine Library TV before YouTube became a common cultural touchstone. Was it his luck that YouTube became as essential to modern life as it did? Perhaps. But it led to a fascination with the power of social media. He learned that if you get it right, the payoffs are tremendous.
Vaynerchuk was an early investor in Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr, as well as Birchbox, Circa, HubSpot, Uber, and Quirky. His digital agency encourages clients to utilize those platforms. But Vaynerchuk is quick to point out that shoving a product down someone’s throat is an advertising tactic that should be firmly relegated to the past.
“The marketing industry often operates five years in the past, with methods that don’t work anymore,” he says. “Give people value. Make them laugh. You don’t need a business objective for every piece of creative.”
In a 2014 presentation to 99U, he says, “Quality storytelling always wins. It’s not about pushing advertising. It’s about bringing value.”
On that note, he’s been adamant about delivering value to the consumer multiple times before ever promoting a product, the now-famous “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” approach. “I give away all my advice for free,” Vaynerchuk says. But he’s still sold a lot of books. Vaynerchuk is author of three NYT-bestsellers, his best known being 2011’s The Thank You Economy, in which he explores the importance of building a customer-focused company culture.
His road to publication is almost as interesting as the content itself, with Vaynerchuk leveraging his Internet fame to land a book deal. When he was 33, never having written anything longer than a blog post, he signed a 10-book deal with an imprint of HarperCollins to the tune of $1 million, with his fourth book hitting shelves in March. Not bad for a man who casually admits he doesn’t read books.
With his business success and celebrity growing daily, Vaynerchuk frequently mentions his ultimate dream of buying the New York Jets—to the point where it’s almost become something of a rallying cry amongst his supporters. But is he close?
“Financially, no. We’re talking about a $3 billion enterprise, so I’ll probably need to have $500 (million) to $800 (million) liquid.” He feels he is closer than ever because of the success of VaynerMedia. But the reality of buying the Jets doesn’t seem to be as important as the dream itself. “My goal isn’t necessarily to buy the New York Jets,” he says. “My goal is to continue to pursue the buying of the New York Jets. That’s a little bit different.”
It’s this mad pursuit of a dream without end that sets Vaynerchuk apart, next to his willingness to burn 16 hours a day on the chase. He came from humble roots, created a persona, and has lived out life on his own terms. And he became successful simply because he wanted it bad enough.
In a sense, he’s the modern day embodiment of the American Dream with the volume knob stuck on eleven. And Vaynerchuk wouldn’t have it any other way. “I’m as purebred entrepreneur as you’ll ever find,” he says. “I’m blindly obsessed with the game of business and trying to win and competing. I just love the game, man.”
5 BRAND HACKS TO EXECUTE TODAY
From Wine Library TV to VaynerMedia, Gary Vaynerchuk is a master of drawing attention to businesses of all sizes across the world. He shares some techniques here to maximize your exposure and increase your wins.
- CONQUER ALL CHANNELS
It’s not enough to be master of one. In the social media space, better to be a jack of all trades and maximize exposure across all platforms to reach the largest possible audience.
- TAKE CARE OF YOUR PEOPLE
Give your employees more value than they give you. Take care of them. As you start building your companies, remember that the only asset you have is your people. If you’re able to provide them more value than they provide you, you’ll win.
- PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS
I play to my strengths and double down, triple down on them. My strength is my hustle. Find your strengths and maximize on them. And you don’t have to be an extrovert; with the Internet, there’s never been a better time for introverts to succeed online without having to leave the house. Play to your strengths.
- GIVE PEOPLE VALUE
Give people value. Make them laugh. You don’t need a business objective for every piece of creative content. Quality storytelling always wins. It’s not about pushing advertising anymore. It’s about bringing value.
- LOVE THE GAME
I believe that people and relationships are the heart of the game. Loving the game will enable you to work 15 hours a day and still be hungry for more.
- The best strategies to leverage social media for your business
- What to look out for when it comes to creating the perfect social media strategy
- The secrets to creating valuable content and why it works
- How to take care of your employees and build long-lasting and loyal relationships
- The secrets behind each social media platform and how to take advantage of each one
Full Transcript of Podcast with Gary Vaynerchuk
Nathan: Hey guys, welcome to another episode of the Foundr podcast. My name is Nathan Chan, coming to you live from Melbourne hometown, Australia. Hope you’re all having a great day. Just wanted to say thank you so much for taking the time to share your ebuts with me. You guys are in for a treat. If you know Gary Vaynerchuk, you know Gary Vee, you follow his work, this is a crazy interview. I asked him questions that I’ve never heard him answer before. This guy is one of my heroes and he is the king of hustle. He owns a company called VaynerMedia. He became extremely popular from taking his family wine business, wine library, to, you know, tens of millions of dollars, and also created this YouTube TV series called Wine Library TV. And this guy is probably one of the hardest entrepreneurs, superstars, influencers in the biz at the moment, so I was really, really excited to speak to Gary. And he shares with us how to hire A Players. Everything you should be worried about on social media right now. Why attention is the asset, how we operate. And really, you know, how he hustles and the secret behind his hustle and where it comes from. And then also, he shares some interesting things about his family life. And, you know, there’s a lot of things that we covered that I’ve never heard him speak about before. I’m really, really pumped from this episode. I’ve listened to it three times myself already. And that might sound kind of weird to you guys, but each time I listen to it, I learn something new. So, I know you’re gonna love this one, so let’s just jump in.
If you guys are enjoying these episodes, please do take the time to leave us a review and also send me an email. I’d love to hear from you after this episode. Just because Gary said to ask you guys “Where do you spend your time?” Let me know. Is it Twitter? Is it Facebook? Is it Snapchat? Is it Instagram? Is it LinkedIn? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you. [email protected] I’d love to hear from you, let me know where you’re spending your time. What social media platform do you engage with the most, in order? All right, now let’s jump to the show.
I’m gonna ask you the same question I ask every single one of the guests that come on our show. How did you get your job?
Gary: Well, my job came to me, you know, depends on how you define my job. I mean, my current job is predicated on my prior career, but my first job ever was working for my dad’s liquor store as a stock boy. And so I have the fortunate aspect of being in a family business. I really think the true answer to your question as most people know me, that listen to this, or as most people discover me from this and get to know me, the answer’s probably by starting a wine show on YouTube within the first year that YouTube came out called Wine Library TV, which brought me into the web 2.0 world, and brought me exposure, and started the journey of having awareness with people about my thoughts and things that I did. That I’ve really created the infrastructure for the content I put out to the world.
Nathan: When I go, you know, I’ve been running Foundr for about two and a half years and I remember watching this video. I’d never heard of you and the first video I ever watched was, that I saw with you, you said something that was really, really striking to me. As you looked at the camera and you said, “The reason I am speaking to you,” and you were looking at the camera saying, “The reason I am speaking to you is because I’ve worked harder than you.” And you’ve just got this ridiculous mentality around hustle and drive. And I really want to tap into that and find, like, where did that come from, man?
Gary: I think, so thank you, and I’ve pulled that move once or twice on camera so, and it’s a good one, right? Because it strikes so deep and I’ll tell you why, Nathan, you know, doing what you do, you come across a lot of experts, gurus, thought leaders. You probably at this point, I’m giving you a compliment and I could be wrong, but I’m asking you, I’m sure at some level, you feel pretty good about your radar of who’s completely full of shit, who’s got some level of chops, and who’s got more chops, right? I would assume that’s something you probably pride yourself in.
Nathan: Yeah, yeah, for sure.
Gary: And the reason I ask that, and we don’t know each other that well, so the reason I actually just said that was not to give myself a pat on the back and say, “Oh,” and then you think I do, it’s actually because you clearly resonated with a very raw, honest moment in me giving in an interview, which is what that moment is. Which is, that’s just the truth. Right? Like, I’m probably equally talented to a lot of people out there. I think I have a lot of talent. But I think a lot of people do. What I’m completely convinced about, and it’s really why I’ve started this new DailyVee kind of vlog on YouTube, is I just don’t think people can outwork me. You know, when you’re working 15 and 16 hours a day, every day, and you’re working every minute, there’s no down time. I mean, I literally just checked into a hotel room. You know this because you just got a text from my assistant Alex, saying I might be 15 minutes late because I was, literally, just landed. I literally ran to the hotel room. I’m sitting in it right now, got the Wi-Fi so this would be high quality enough, you know, sound. So, you know, every minute is accounted for.
Where it came from? It came from being an immigrant. You know, my family came to this country with nothing. It came from watching my mom and dad work their faces off. My mom, three kids, no extra help, you know, laundry, cooking, cleaning up after myself. My dad never around ever, working always. DNA. I think I just have it in me. And then probably the things that are a little more interesting for everybody who’s listening, which is maybe a little bit of gratitude and guilt. I know that I’ve been gifted with communication skills. I know that I’ve been gifted in the ability to make money. I don’t take them for granted, I think of them just as equally as, big deal, as being Beyonce or LeBron. It’s just talent. And I don’t want to squander it. I know that I’m not average. I know that I got the gifts.
I suck at a lot of things. I want everybody to know that there’s a lot of things I stink at, but I was given the gifts that allow for success. And I think the added aspect is the hard work. I like it. I like that I, you know, took two flights last night from Buffalo, where my heart was broken by my New York Jets football team and they lost and didn’t make the playoffs. But, I took two flights. I landed in L.A. at 2:00 in the morning, L.A. time. I like that everybody who I was with on the trip thought that was crazy, but I had a quick one hour meeting in L.A. I could have blew it off. I’m in L.A. this Thursday. But, I felt that I could do it and it was worth it, now I’m boom in Vegas for CS. And I’m on this Skype and I’ve got seven other meetings coming up the rest of this day, the day before the event. It’s just in me, it’s ingrained. My hustle is, it’s better than everybody else’s so I have to bet on it. I bet on my strengths. I feel that I can outwork everybody, and then that’s just where it comes from, I guess. It’s, you know, what’s funny Nathan? It’s practical. It’s the thing that I recognize that I’m better at and I’ve tripled down on it.
Nathan: Yeah, okay, I see, I see. Because, you know, this is something, it’s really interesting because this is something that I talked with Tony Robbins about. Because I understand this hustle and it’s something that other people want, but how do you get it? Like, and he said to me that you have to go through some sort of adversity. And that’s what happened to me. Like, I was working a shitty job and I just had enough and I just, that’s it, I’m gonna do my own thing. Like, did you experience some sort of adversity that changed things for you or have you always been like this hustler since a little kid?
Gary: Yeah, I mean, my adversity was early on because I was a shit student and I was an immigrant and every immigrant was a good student. But I knew that I was a business man. My self-awareness was off the charts early on and at 12, 13, I was like, I’m a business man. And I would stay up to as long as my parents let me back in sixth and seventh grade, working on my baseball card business. It’s just always been there. I do believe adversity is the key. I think my adversity to be honest with you, Nathan, was more global than yours. Meaning, you, and let me rephrase, let me take a step back, there’s plenty of people that have more adversity than me. Mine was just from the beginning, right? I didn’t speak the language in the country that I lived in. I was short. I was a bad student. Like, my 6-year-old to 18-year-old, nothing on paper said that I was gonna dominate. Other than what my mom was telling me and what I felt, like, in my head was telling me. And the early successes of working my dad’s store at 16, 17 and 18. That’s what I hung my hat on. So, yeah, I think Tony’s right, and I think you’re right, but I also think that motivation matters to a lot of people. I’m sure that you got fed up, but you weren’t consuming in podcast or video form, or from friends. Like, hey there’s an alternative, hey there’s an alternative. One of things that I struggle with is, and this is where we can get a little bit deep, and I kind of was away for two weeks on vacation. I’m just hitting the road today and back. And a lot of family time that matters to me when I can get it, holiday’s a good time, and it’s just my first interview off of something that I think I unlocked walking on the beach back and forth which is, I have a major struggle. I don’t want to be Tony and Oprah and all these things that I can be, and I’ve been naturally gifted at, I do believe that I could be one of the three or four or two or one most important voices for motivational entrepreneurship over the next 20, 30 years. And I don’t want to do it because I think there’s some stigma along with just being a pundit and a motivator, and so I five years ago, started running VaynerMedia, my agency. And now I’ve built it up to 100-million-dollar runaway business out of meeting the yin to the yang of, well, the reason people should listen to me is because I actually build businesses, not because I’m charismatic or have done it once 20 years ago. And so I struggle with the friction, of back and forth, of trying to figure out where I sit on that. But I think that it came to me out of some storytelling talent and just global adversity from the beginning. I never knew a world where I could work for somebody else. That was never in my cards. Even my dad didn’t own the liquor store because he was the manager and then he eventually bought it, even at a young age, I was slinging stuff, blow pops, you know, baseball cards, lemonade stands, washing cars. I think I over index to an extreme. It just never even was in my consideration set to get a safe job.
Nathan: You know, also, when you talk about family, I don’t know if you still have it on your Twitter, but you used to say, “family first,” you know, “love the hustle.” I’m curious, you know, when you have to choose between like, work, you know, really important biz dev meetings or whatnot, how do you maintain that balance, man? And how do you keep your business and family happy, bro?
Gary: You’ve got it completely pegged. I, so the answer to…you’re still laughing because you know it’s a big thing, right?
Nathan: It’s so hard. Like, because I look up to you. Like, how hard you work, man. You know?
Gary: Yup. I think, first of all, I made a really good decision early on with the Mrs. I over-communicated to my wife from the first stage and told her that this is who I am and I want to over-communicate that I’m a hustler and I’m an entrepreneur and I want to buy the New York Jets and you need to really, you know, you need to do you and realize you’re only 23, this was her at the time, do you think you can deal with that? And it’s gotten worse, not better. As I get older, I get more motivated, hungrier, so constant communication with her, but she enables it, that’s for sure. Two, my kids were young. They’re now six and three. Especially after this weekend, excuse me, these two weeks, they’re getting more and more interesting. I want to spend more and more time with them. And the real answer is I just go with what feels right in my gut at that moment. There’s no rule. I don’t care what anybody else thinks about my work life balance or my, the way I spend time with my wife or kids. We know what the truth is. You know, another thing about the DailyVee that I’m starting to do is, I know it’s important, and Snapchat. I know it’s important for me to show other aspects of me because I only show the hustling, I don’t show that I’ve been off the grid for two weeks. I don’t show that in the middle of the week I’ll go and run to, you know, my daughter’s recital because I keep my family private. Probably, you know this, Nathan, because you follow this space. I don’t have pictures of my family or use my family in my social media at all. And far less than most people do. And trust me, you know, I get why people think that I’m super extreme because I don’t story tell the alternative times at all. And so I’m trying to, you know, in episode 2 of DailyVee, even though I didn’t show where and I kept it very private, I had D. Rock who films me all day. We went to the school where I went to the recital to just show, like, it’s part of my life. But really, it’s a gut call and I’ve passed on some of the biggest meetings in my life, some of the most famous, richest, most powerful people because there was a recital, or I promised my wife dinner or whatever it was. And other times, I’ve passed on what has seemed as maybe a 75% to 90% important family thing for a 91% business thing. So I’ve…I just try. And I just know where my heart is and I also know life is long and I also know that it’s quality over quantity. A lot of my friends that judge me sit at home and play Xbox and look at their phone all day and aren’t interacting with their kids anyway. So, you know, it’s just that.
Nathan: And when it comes to your hustle, man, like, do you ever get burnt out?
Gary: You know, maybe once or twice a year I’ll say, like, “Fuck this.” You know? But very infrequently. I know why I’m doing it, meaning it’s my destiny, I enjoy it. I made my bed. I don’t believe in complaining. I hate complaining. God, do I hate complaining. And so I try not to complain a lot myself. I definitely don’t complain about things that I’ve created. You know, you will never hear me complain that I wish I had more time with my family. Right? Like, woe is me, I wish I was with my kids right now. So go be with your kids. You know, like, I hate when people complain about stuff where they made their decisions. I made my bed, I’m sleeping in it, I can change my bed, I have that power and I just roll. So, yeah, once in a while something will be tough, you know, 74 consecutive bad things in a row chipped away enough at getting at me, right? You know, something like that. But for the most part, I’m very happy. I’m very aware that I have very little to complain about in the context of the world and I try to keep it that way.
Nathan: It’s good to hear that you are human.
Gary: Oh, I’m super human, though, I’ll tell you, I’m way more robot than the norm.
Nathan: Well, awesome. I’m curious about your goals. Like, what are your goals for 2016? You always talk about buying the Jets, how close are you? Like, give us an update of how Gary V, like, do you set goals? Do you plan out your 2016? Like, how do you structure all that?
Gary: I don’t have yearly goals. I do think about little things, like, I need to network more. I mean, the ability for me to have…like, I do believe that people and relationships are the game and so I always am pushing myself to do a little bit more of the big boy stuff versus the kind of micro managing operational stuff that I love to do as well. I sometimes randomly come up with a goal. Two years ago, I cared about my health. I’m definitely thinking about how to go home in the middle of the day and give my kids a bath or see them more often during the week. There’s smoke there, but I don’t use January 1st as the proxy. I’m constantly self-evaluating in real time in parallel while I’m doing my norm. So, I’m…it can happen any day. It doesn’t tend to just happen, you know, my health happened in July, right? It doesn’t happen because it’s Jan 1 and it’s time to evaluate. I do evaluate because usually I’ll take the last two weeks of December off, and so I’ll normally have time to reflect and time to myself. And so, that happens naturally around this time of year. But, you know, my goal is, you know what’s funny? And I’ll break it down a little bit more granular here. My goal isn’t necessarily to buy the New York Jets, my goal is to continue to pursue the buying of the Jets. And that’s a little bit different. I just love the game, man. I’m as pure-bred entrepreneur as you’ll ever find. I’m blindly obsessed with the game of business and trying to win and competing, and am I close? I mean, financially, no. You know, we’re talking about the three-billion-dollar enterprise that I’ll probably need to have five to eight hundred million dollars in liquid, so I’m quite short of that. But I feel closer than ever because being the media is exploding and starting to become a very valuable asset, my personal brand continues to gain momentum and very important people want my advice and attention. And that’s an enormously powerful place to be in. Over time, I can go in for the right hook or the ask. And so, yeah man, I feel great.
Nathan: Hey guys, so I just want to take a quick moment to talk to you about our sponsor of today’s show, FreshBooks. FreshBooks is one of the world’s leading cloud accounting based software platforms out there. And see, the truth is, we get pitched every single week by potential sponsors and it’s not very often that we actually say yes. However, I couldn’t say no when the guys at FreshBooks got in touch with us. Why? Because they’re simply an amazing start-up and they take all of your accounting headaches away. They make things extremely simple for you to manage your books, even if you’re not a numbers person. They have a super intuitive tool that makes creating and sending invoices extremely simple, and it takes about 30 seconds. And if you want to keep track of your expenses, you know, you can actually use their mobile app to take pictures of your receipts and FreshBooks organizes them for later. So it makes claiming your expenses at tax time a breeze. FreshBooks is offering a month of unrestricted use to all our listeners, totally free, right now and you don’t even need to use your credit card for the trial. So to claim your free month of FreshBooks, go to “freshbooks.com/foundrmag” and enter “foundrmag” in the “How did you hear about us?” section. All right, guys, now let’s jump back in to the show.
When it comes to VaynerMedia, I’ve got a question I’ve been really keen to ask you around working with GenY. Hiring, managing, you know, can you give us some insights around that? Like, you know, because that’s something you guys do very well where you’ve grown really fast and you’ve got an amazing team.
Gary: I think that people make too big of a deal about GenY, millennials, GenZ, mobile generation, like, they’re just people. No different than I was, you are. How old are you?
Gary: Yeah, I mean, I don’t see a big, if I’m 40, I don’t see a big difference between me, you, or a 22-year-old that just got out of school. Like, I just understand that, meaning they’re humans. And they’re paying attention to what matters to them and if what matters to them is they’ve been smarter than my generation, that they don’t need flat screen TVs and Rolexes, but they need trips to Coachella and experiences and giving money to charity, then that’s great, and that’s cliché by the way. I have plenty of 24-year-old’s in my company that are acting like 45-year-old’s and want to save every penny and this, that and the other thing. And so, I’m not a big fan of that. Like, meaning, I think the reason we’re doing well is the 22-year-old’s and the 27-year-old’s and the 32-year-old’s and the 38-year-old’s and the 42-year-old’s in my company are all being treated the same, which is work organization that will listen to them if they’re willing to talk to me. Because sometimes they’re scared of talking to the boss. But we listen, and we don’t care if they want money or if they want fame or if they want responsibility or if they want work life balance or if they want extreme work life balance, as long as they are able to articulate and are able to bring value in exchange for what I give them. And as long as I can find a way to make it 51/49 in their favor, which then triggers me having the leverage because I’m making it good for them, then we’re building something special. And so I think it’s more human than it is generations aspects. It’s just caring on a human to human basis. It’s more, I can, Gil. It’s more, you know, Shelby. It’s more Nick Dio. It’s more D. Rock. It’s more Keyran. It’s more Tina Garcia than it is GenY, GenZ.
Gary: Got it? And that’s a really important thing and that’s something a lot of people that are listening now…I’m gonna make the assumption a lot of people listening now are not managing a 600-person firm. You know, they’re probably managing a one-person firm themselves or 2, 3, 10, 15, 20. As you start building your companies, my friends, please remember the only asset you have is those people, and if you are able to provide them more value than they provide you, you’ll win. And the problem so many of you make is you want them to provide you more value than you provide them.
Nathan: Yeah, I heard you say something really interesting around, you know, how do you hire, like, 10’s? And you said, “You can never find 10’s.”
Gary: Tens work for themselves. I mean 10’s, real 10’s, guys, real 10’s, not you drank a bunch of beers and you think she’s a 10. You know, like, a real 10. Like, a real 10. A real 10 is gonna work for themselves and so if you’re lucky, and I’ve got a couple. If you can get some 9’s, 9.7’s, and by the way, we’re talking about 10’s as entrepreneurs that own things. I have 20’s as operators, they just don’t have the stomach for the risk. Or they don’t want to put in the 22 hours a day. Or they see how I roll and they’re like, “Fuck it. I’ll make a lot less, but I’ll be a lot happier than the fucking black bags under his eyes.” You know, and so I think that, if you’re lucky enough to have 9.7’s and 9.2’s and 9.1’s and 8.7’s and 8.4’s and 8.2’s and big companies, if you’re 10, 15, 20, 30, 97, you need some B’s and C’s, too.
Gary: Well, because what happens is organizations struggle to grow fast enough to feed all B’s and A’s. Here’s what happens. If you really grow, maybe you went from 3 to 14 to 29 to 46 to 67 to 100 million in revenue. You know how fast that is? If you don’t grow that fast, you can’t feed all those A’s and B’s. You have to literally explode because if your business is going from one to two, two to three, three to four and if you’re like a small team of five or seven people and you’re trying to keep most of the money? If you’re not able to feed the A’s and B’s and keep them interested financially and challenge-wise, they’re gonna leave. And then you’ve got to restart and continuity matters. People underestimate continuity. You know why? Well, continuity allows the A to do, the 10 to do, is go fast. Continuity allows me to go fast. Because I’m not worried I’m retraining my direct reports and they’re direct reports, got it?
Nathan: Yeah, yeah, got it.
Gary: And so I have a bunch of C’s, it allows me to be the super A+ that I am.
Nathan: I never thought of it like that.
Gary: Well, of course. Nathan, there’s a reason I have been successful. There’s a reason other people have been successful. We’re anomalies. I don’t think people understand. I give away all my advice for free, people just don’t execute on it. I’ve been going crazy on these Snapchat secrets, as you know, probably, because you pay attention and probably you were gearing up for this interview. Over the last four days, I’ve been losing my mind to build up my Snapchat, right?
Nathan: Yeah, yeah, I know. You’ve been even Facebook, your own Facebook because it mentions…
Gary: Yes. I’m fully about it because I believe in it. And I’ve been trying to bring extra value in my content on Snapchat in my stories. Like, my best advice, and I’ve been putting it out, and stuff I’ve said before but in fuller detail or new stuff, and the stuff I’ve been saying forever. Using Twitter search, you know, cold calling for advertising. You know, it’s been crazy for people to hit me up on Snapchat chat and be like, “Holy shit, this works.” Right, because for the first time you did it instead of just watch, they got pumped, motivated, and then not do it.
Nathan: That actually brings me to a really good question, good transition. Like, for like, what we’re doing with Foundr, you know, one of our best channels right now is Instagram. And we’ve grown that from zero to half a million in just over a year, about 12, 13 months. And I’m very mindful to focus on any other channels, like, because I think it’s just good to just hit that channel hard. Like, we’ll be at a million by April. A million followers, we generate ridiculous amounts of leads, like tens and tens of thousands of leads every single month. And, like, what are your thoughts on, first of all moving and focusing on other channels and that growth?
Gary: What I would do in this scenario, and I’ve been doing it with myself because I was Facebook and Twitter, and last year I got serious about YouTube and Instagram. You know, I went from 30,000 to 250,000, 210,000 Instagram last year myself while running a huge agency and not just focusing on my, I mean, I barely focused on my brand last year. So I am now all about Snapchat and I’m gonna focus on periscope and live streaming. I think the answer to your questions is both. Now, let me explain what I mean by that. I went for a dramatic pause by the way for a second there. I think that you need to crush Instagram like you’ve been doing, and clearly, it’s been a major factor for you. It’s probably why I’m doing this interview, so let’s call a spade a spade. That execution has helped you a lot. I do think that at the scale that you’re growing and the momentum you have, that I don’t know how much money you’re making or what’s going on in your life, but I would give up profit to hire more people and spend more ad dollars on building up Snapchat or Facebook or LinkedIn or Medium or other places that you haven’t conquered. This whole master of none, you know, king of one thing, or whatever fucking the quote is, that’s horse shit. That’s for lazy people. You can do both. Like, be great at three things. I am, that means you can.
Nathan: So you think you should work to conquer all the channels?
Gary: Of course, because there’s attention on all of them. And attention is the asset. How the fuck can you build this? You siphon the attention from Instagram’s execution into this world.
Nathan: Interesting because I’ve always been told and always hear that like, you know, you should only stick to like one to two channels and just focus on that. If it’s working, just find those couple of channels and just scale those.
Gary: Because that’s advice for B and C players. And you may be that. You might be that, I don’t know. Right now, I’m impressed with what you’ve done in the last year or so and so I’m like, “Fuck it, go for an A.” Like, why in the…do you know how long I’ve been doing this? I’ve been doing this, building my personal brand in business, really, since ’09, or it’s ’07 but then ’09, right? Let’s call it what it is. Okay, maybe ’08. Then, ’07, let’s go with ’07, when I gave the talk and started doing, you know, so getting into, like, eight or nine years. On Snapchat chat over this weekend, I had hundreds of people that said, “Hey, just discovered you. Really cool.”
Nathan: Yeah, wow.
Gary: Because that’s their primary player. You know what? I don’t know how you get interaction from your fans on this podcast, but I’d love right now to ask a question and then you tell them where they should answer it so that you can gather the most data. Email you, I don’t know, I mean, whatever it is. I would love to know, everybody to mention to Foundr and Nathan, what are the social networks, the platforms, including Content, LinkedIn, Pulse, Medium, so, you know, kind of let’s call it content and social, what are the platforms that have your attention and if you only pay attention to Facebook, just write Facebook. And if you pay attention to Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook, in order to which one has your attention the most, whichever’s the app you open the most, the most attention, attention only, put them in order. Let’s see what happens. I think you’re gonna be stunned.
Nathan: Actually, I think I’ve seen you do this somewhere.
Gary: I do this kind of stuff all the time with my audience, I’m doing it for you right now because you’re going to be like, “Holy shit, I didn’t realize so many people are reading Medium.” And now all of a sudden, you’re gonna start writing, or hire a writer, to write three pieces a month on Medium. And then one goes by, well, because it’s one of the few places where something can go viral, and boom. Like, so, you know, look I only follow attention, Nathan. It is the absolute asset that I’m obsessed with. I will always be that creature. I will invest in those things. I will support those things. I will execute my brand in those things. And Instagram, in 2015, was the number one place to do shit. And you did that. But I do believe that Snapchat is gonna be the number one place to do things in 2017, and so I’m just getting a head start.
Nathan: Awesome. All right, I’m writing this one down. It’s a focus now.
Gary: I love it.
Nathan: Awesome. Well, look, we have to work towards wrapping up, man. Let’s talk about your new book.
Gary: Thank you. It comes out in March 8. I’m super fucking pumped about it. It’s called “AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneurs Point of View on” that I rattle off all these things. It’s a lot of questions from the show. I’ve done 170 or so of them. I hope you’ve watched some, Nathan. And, but I’ve added the answers, added to it, did a bunch of new answers. It’s kind of Crush It 2.0 for anybody who’s listening that’s seen, read Crush It and it’s definitely my blueprint to the current state of entrepreneurship and management. And I have a feeling it’s gonna be huge. And I think one of the only reasons it wouldn’t be bigger is because I made it really about the “Ask Gary Vee” brand and if I had called it “The Entrepreneurial Blueprint,” I think it would get more legs. But I felt like I wanted to triple down on the brand right now, so I gave up some sales that way. I have a funny feeling this book is gonna be the book that I get a lot of emails about in 2017 of “This really put me over the top.” So I’m very fucking excited about it.
Nathan: Awesome, awesome, awesome. And where’s the best place that people can find out about the book purchase? Do you have any landing page, any links you want to drop?
Gary: Yeah. Yup, I’m gonna be dropping that very shortly. It’s all done. It’s probably gonna be garyvaynerchuk.com/askgaryveebook, but I don’t know that to be true. I don’t know when people are listening to this. But any of my social channels where I’m Gary Vee, on almost all of them except Facebook I’m just Gary, I’m gonna be promoting that landing page pretty aggressively. There’s gonna be bolt buys for access to me. So there’ll be a lot. I’ll be…I have a funny feeling everybody who’s listening to this right now, is gonna be very sick and fucking tired of me by April because I’m going to be everywhere.
Nathan: Dude, like, you know, you and Alex, you guys know your biz def. Like, you guys are doing a really good job, I’m really impressed. One question, one final question. And this is something I always find interesting is, you know, what are some of the biggest sacrifices you’ve had to make to get where you are today? What have you had to give up?
Gary: In my 20’s I gave up having sex with girls. I mean, I completely punk’d in my social life in my 20’s and teenage years. I got a lot of emails on Facebook when I started getting on TV in America in 2009 and ’10 and ’11. And a lot of…and Facebook was just blowing up and a lot of my high school friends emailed me and, on Facebook, at, because we hadn’t talked in 10, 15 years and they would say things like, the opening line was always, “Oh my God, I just saw you on Conan O’Brian or Ellen or CNN. You’re so lucky. Blah, blah blah.” And I’d write every one of them back and say, “I’m not lucky. Do you remember in high school or in college when you went to the Jersey Shore and hooked up with chicks and drank beer and had fun and got a tan? I was in a liquor store 15 hours a day working.” So I punk’d in my social life for a decade, in the best decade. Like, watching all these guys right now who are “entrepreneurs” and putting pictures of money and private planes and hooking up with Instagram hot chicks, like, they didn’t work as hard as I did. They’re not, now look, I’m not judging them. Fuck! I think that they might be right in hindsight. A little fun wouldn’t have hurt. But, they’re not gonna outwork me.
Nathan: Awesome. Love it. All right, well, look, we’ll wrap there, Gary. Thank you so much for taking the time. I’m super mindful of your time and we’ve hit overtime now. But, yeah, look, I’m really, really excited and happy to connect with you and here to help support the book however I can.
Gary: Thank you, brother, and I really appreciate it and I wish you a ton of success.
Nathan: Awesome, thank you.
Gary: Continued success. Take care.
Key Resources From Our Interview With Gary Vaynerchuk
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