Episode-615- Gary Vaynerchuk on Building a Business & Personal Brand — 42 Comments

  1. I love Gary Vaynerchuck. TW & I are going to attend one of his lectures (talks? inspirational speeches? dirty language symposiums?) in Claremont in a couple of weeks.

    Jack, you rock. This was a *GREAT* interview.

  2. As somebody that works in the web 2.0 social media industry here in the SF Bay Area (and is also a proud part of the MSB), I just want to say that I’m soooo glad that this episode happened. It is exactly what I needed to hear. Thanks, Jack (and Gary).

  3. Wow Jack! What an episode… way too short, of course, but what an inspiration.
    I have been waiting for this one for a long time… since you first mentioned it.
    I have already done twice as much today working on my business!
    Thanks Jack and Gary too!

  4. Outstanding interview and advice Jack.
    I now have my answer as to the “WHY” I don’t know what my passion is, in order to parley it into a business. I am 47 year old artist type and a renaissance man. No wonder I can’t peg myself in to some kind of business of my own. It’s still not impossible to leave my 8-5 job, but at least I’m more clear as to all of the self doubts I’ve had. Thanks

  5. Thanks for bringing your guest to us, Jack. Gary V’s success sounds like it is dependent on being dependent on the internet. I am reluctant to choose a business that requires me to be plugged in all the time. I already AM on the internet a lot, but it alarms me to think that I would need to increase my online presence to be successful in today’s market. What about the neo – luddite type?

  6. Grinning from ear to ear. Amazing interview. I feel like a puppy on crack now too. Thanks for bringing Gary to TSP and thanks for the great interview!

  7. Great interview and show! I will definetely pass this one on to my friends and its some really good stuff considering I am in the very beginning stages of starting my own business

  8. Follow-on to the Vaynerchuk concept of a “Thank you economy” – Australian community leader Valerie Brown explains “Transition Science” – the kinds of integrated knowledge and action we need, just to cope with the crisis of a complex society in trouble.

  9. WOW! Gary has such an inspirational personal story. I like how he cuts to the truth of the matter. Thanks for an awesome interview, Jack.

  10. Thanks for your hard work getting Gary on. His wine videos are first class and he is a riot.

  11. Listen to it twice…Great interview. If I was going to buy one of his two books right now from a start up prospective would it be crush it or the new one?

  12. I’m much more impressed by Gary Vaynerchuck’s dad. He was the one who built the business to the $2-$3 million a year level. Kinda’ ‘easy’ to do the rest with a bit of luck and moxie. It is always the first million that is the hardest.

    as for ‘social media’ I think that it is a psuedo-society where petty relationships and mass-marketing intersect. It is also a great way for the ‘powers that be’ to monitor the masses.

    Twitter, Facebook, and 24/7 mobile connections to the web are necessary precursors to the Borg. However, a good EMP blast will kill the beast. Or else, when the singularity (ala Kurzweil) shows up it will take over the web.

    The only part that makes real sense is to follow your passion. But is that new info? Really?

    • My thoughts exactly Clark. I like what Gary has to say, and I get insight into the “Business DNA” whenever I listen to the guy, but since I’m not starting with a multi-million dollar foundation I have trouble resonating. The information is all still valid, but I’d love to hear how Gary’s father built up that first million. I’m guessing the short of it would be “hard work” like we heard in this show. It’s a struggle to build when your resourced are depleted.

      I’m also weary of the data-mining ‘social media’ aspect.
      Very mindful of the info I enter into these things.

      • Just to be clear: I absolutely respect everything Gary V. has built for himself; it’s an astonishing accomplishment. Yet sometimes for me it personally feels analogous to learning about permaculture while you’re living in a city appartment… important information to learn for one to build a better future, but first there are other life changes that need to take place and additional resources required to fully excecute and make maximum use of that knowledge. Know what I mean? Anyway, this is where I am in my personal journey. Just trying to work on taking things to the next level… building that better life.

  13. Clark, I’m interested in knowing how you know (personally) that the first million is the hardest. I wouldn’t call remaining a millionaire in today’s economy “easy” in the slightest. Nor would I say that Gary (or any other millionaire who worked for their money) is “lucky”. He works his ass off to remain what he was become and to keep what he and his family have built. There’s nothing “easy” about being a producer. It’s a way of life, and not one that coincides smoothly with how the ever evolving government and “people’s advocates” would like us to live.

    I’m also interested in the distinct difference between the way you see relationships on the web, and the way I do (and Gary does, and Jack does, and so on). Gary was aboslutely spot on when he said that we’re back now to an era that allows a VERY personal interaction between businesses and their clients. Why shouldn’t businesses be able to “monitor the masses”? We’re trying to give you what you want. If we remain blithly ignorant of what you want, because you hide from us, then we can’t produce it for you, we can’t play in a free-market society, and we can’t make a pile of money off of the time that we spend working our asses off to build and maintain a healthy business.

    So – long comment short – Other than the “petty” name calling regarding internet social networking, I don’t see where your wet dreams about science fiction meet the reality that is modern business.

  14. SW – I don’t have any first hand knowledge of making the first million or two versus growing it into a larger pile, but it stands to reason that meeting life’s essential needs costs increasingly large amounts of money, which means that you have to “work 14 hours a day” and “never see your kids” while they are growing up in order to make the first pile of dough. That is a significant price to pay.

    If it were easier to make the first million then we would have lots of millionaires, but they would be stuck there, unable to make that more difficult 3rd or 4th million. Instead it is the Donald Trump story – boy inherits millions of dollars, a business, and existing business contacts. With no worry about food, shelter, or security; and by not being a lazy moron, and being lucky enough to be born at the right time (and realize it) parleys the little fortune into a big one. So, no experience on my part, just reasoning.

    As for social media, I have never joined, so I know not of what I speak. But on the other hand I am not eager to find out. I don’t live to consume, so I’m not too concerned that a business won’t have a new geegaw to sell me. What I do sense about social media is an environment where a person can have hundreds/thousands of ‘friends’ or ‘followers’. How ‘personal’ is that? It seems to me to be either vacuous, shallow, trivial, or commercial – none of which appeal to me. And I certainly do NOT want a ‘relationship’ with a company. It makes me think of the first-person emoting conversational automated voice systems that answer for corporations now days; ex: “Hi, please tell me your account number so I can help you better. Oh, great! Let me look that up for you. Would you like me to connect you now?” It is a Freakin’ machine! It is not a “I” or “Me”, it is not on the same level as a human and I refuse to ‘converse’ with a machine that assumes that it has such sentient status.

    Soon, it may be that there will just be computer avatars in the social media environment, manipulating the flow of ideas. Unless/until a singularity appears. As for monitoring these sites – it is already known that Google and Facebook have made data available to the government. That makes me uncomfortable. So, to my backwards way of thinking at least, the choice is to dive headlong into social media and have your complete life there for ‘processing’; or to enter guardedly exposing just what serves your purposes, or even concocting a profile that bends facts in order to ‘look your best’. Or, just don’t drink the Koolaid.

    While I am flattered by your interest in my wet dreams (does Wilderness know?), I do think that evolution and digital dependence are marching hand-in-hand. I see Lady Gaga as the Borg Queen of the moment, and her followers are like a fickle flock of birds, or a school of fish, which pivot in unison in response to her tweets. That tweet-flock bond will likely intensify over time. Eventually hundreds of thousands of weak minds can give up thinking for themselves all together. Such is pop culture.

    And if identifying social media as a ‘psuedo-society’ is petty name calling according to you then so be it. To me the term is simply my opinion, and a functional description of that viewpoint, not derogatory ‘name calling’. It is just me I suppose, but I see little value in a 24/7 connection to a business or a celebrity. My real friends come over to my house, or I to theirs. Social digital media is missing a few dimensions of a real relationship. And it obviously has a lot of marketing going on according to Vayerchuck. So, I just don’t have a hankerin’ to join the ‘spam’iverse of the digital psuedo-world.
    Perhaps someday I will partake of social media, and a few years down the road this reply may be written by my personal ‘Watson’ (the Jeopardy winning computer), in order to effectively manage all my Facebook friendships. Perhaps I’m a just a computer program writing this at this moment. But if so, that raises the question: Can software programs have wet dreams?

  15. Clark,

    You said,

    And if identifying social media as a ‘psuedo-society’ is petty name calling according to you then so be it.

    I didn’t express myself very well. I meant that you were calling social media networking “petty”. I wasn’t making a judgment about the names you were calling it.

    More in a little while. Just wanted to make that clear.

  16. SW – Oh, OK. Nope social media isn’t petty at all. It is very very big. I just consider many of the interactions to be petty or superficial.
    But, as I said, I don’t partake so I don’t have first hand knowledge. My son and some friends use Facebook and it just bores me with all the inanity. The bits of twitter tweeting I’ve seen is just that – chirping. It seems that its purpose is to distract and interrupt real life. It is the opposite of “Be here now”.

  17. Clark – y’know.. I deserved the pot shots that you took at me regarding the “wet dream” stuff. What I said to you wasn’t very nice. I apologize.

    I actually agree with you about Lady Gaga being the borg queen. When you made your initial post, I thought you were dead serious about literal cyborg humans. I thought you were an anti-technology guy (which doesn’t make sense. If you’re here, and if you’re on the forum, then you obviously don’t feel that way). After reading your first response to me, I think you meant it in more of a “that’s not a human.. or at least, it wouldn’t have been considered one when I was a kid. wtf is happening to us?” way.

    Lady Gaga, and all of her incarnations are no more than bad excuses for not thinking. The thing is, though, those social network sites *can* be used to one’s advantage, if you have a purpose. My purpose is to have “immediate gratification” conversations with TSP Gear Shop people. I know what folks want in the store, because I hear from them *all* the time. Instead of having to send out 2,000 emails when I get a new product in, I can make one post (or two, if you include the forum) to let folks know that the product is in. Or to update them about site news. Or to update them about a conversation with Jack. People LOVE that sort of thing. Or.. most people do.

    I guess the point is that social networking sites are certainly not for everybody. They’re a way to … well, as you said, keep things sort of superficial. I can’t have a conversation with my mom at 2 AM, but if I’m working late and decide to take a break, I can scan her facebook page, and see if she’s up to anything spectacular. I love that.

    I agree about keepin’ it real, though. Real humans that are right in front of you and who you can cook dinner for (or whatever) are the only sort of humans I get any kind of “real” pleasure out of interacting with. Unfortunately, that’s not possible when you’re working alllll the time. And especially not possible if you have no desire to take time off of work while you’re building your business.

    I don’t know. I think there’s a line somewhere about this. And I don’t think you and I are on totally opposite sides of that line. I think that I just give “distant, superficial relationships” more credence than you do. And that’s fine. I can’t hug a facebook post. But I can certainly learn something from it.

  18. Lots of people think Millionaires are born rich and lucky. It is wrong. Check out the research from “Millionaire Next Door” book for facts. Most millionaires got their money by working hard and being good at what they do, and not spending more than they make.

  19. Fair enough Sister Wolf. I am not at all anti-technology. I created a new NY State civil service job title of “information systems coordinator” 27 years ago, I also spent 10 years as a senior systems analyst for a Fortune 500 company, and I am one of only 5,000 Certified Geographic Information System Professionals world-wide. SO my concerns about social media are not technology based. They are, as you accurately surmised, humanity based.

    The invention of writing (even primitive cave art) led to the ability for asynchronous communication at a distance. Postal Mail and email are forms 0f that. Without having ‘played’ in the Facebook realm however, I just have a creepy feeling that it is more of a digital ‘hive’; and I have never been good at joining large collectives. I may be completely off base, but I already spend too much of my life in ‘screen time’, and I don’t want to move my social life there as well.

    I guess a lot of my attitude comes from working with computers as a tool to extend my mental capabilities – calculations, modeling, graphic communication, etc. I don’t view the web as ‘using a computer’ per se; instead it seems like a synthetic universe, with the best and worse of humanity represented, but dominated by the least common denominator of our own society. Thus it is like the old market square – when you get a new product you can hang a sign in your window and then passersby, or dedicated customers, will all get the message. But it also allows for slander, ostracization, humiliation of others, and a mob mentality.
    Think Salem Witch Trials, and then consider the kids who have committed suicide due to digital attacks by their peer group. They seem analogous to me. But the data collection and data modeling potential is very high for the social media environment. My sci-fi concerns are that the ‘powers that be’ (the cabal of government, Bilderbergs, mega-corps, etc.) can now access details about people lives, and their associations, as never before. Just like the supercomputers that control the stock trading and can execute trades in thousandths of seconds, while you are deciding whether to buy or sell you shares of Acme Anvil Company (Wiley Coyote’s favorite company); the social media can easily be used for social policing and control. It is too much centralized personal information for me to feel comfortable that it won’t be misused.

    Humans have co-evolved to become dependent upon technology, such as cooking food to increase nutrient density and assimilation; to the point that cooked meats are important for proper brain development. Three quarters of the area on Earth where humans live depends upon the invention of clothing, constructed shelter, and fire. I now see humans
    co-evolving with the web/social networking to where those distant relationships actually start to supplant real relationships. The subconcious paranoid parts of my psyche have warning alarms going off. I just see Facebook, etc. as the perfect tool for the thought police, and to build a pliable populace. Paranoid, huh?

    Imagine a computer a thousand times more powerful than “Watson” (which doubles its knowledge every 20 months) monitoring the web 24/7. –

    Add a few semi-autonomous robots that are designed to pursue and capture humans –

    … and have the entire social media hive, and the army of pursuit robots, under the control of an autonomous singularity (as defined by Ray Kurzweil) –

    Then we have a prescription for a Borg/Prison Planet, version 1.

    So, I continue to be suspicious of where this ‘cool new technology’ is ultimately headed. To me it is a continuation of mankind’s major dilemma – “Too soon smart; too late wise.”

    As for Vayerchuck, I agree that you need passion for what you do, and a lot of hussle and drive. But I don’t necessarily believe that ‘social media’ is ultimately benign.

  20. I found the interview with Gary Vaynerchuk to be a very good one — he’s obviously a very bright guy, very driven, and also somewhat lucky to be born with the kinds of traits in his DNA that help him to succeed as an entrepreneur. Please note that I am in no way saying that he didn’t have to work for what he got — but Gary himself acknowledged in the interview that he has “entrepreneur’s DNA”, something that not everyone out there has.

    However, I am still left with some reservations concerning his point of view, some of which have already been expressed by ClarkB regarding the over-superficiality of online interaction. While there is certainly opportunity for personal interaction through social media, much of it (I find) crosses into the inane and ephemeral more often than not.

    My other main reservation concerns the over-optimism of the entrepreneur-type — something that I, as more of a brooding academic and tinkerer type infused with a need for moral purpose in whatever I do, will never possess. Gary expressed this in the part where he and Jack were talking about ideas not being worth anything without hard work — specifically, the concepts of refrigerators that scan UPC codes to re-order what you’re low on, and other forms of high-tech advancement. Personally, with what I have learned of our current location on the “energy cliff” of ERoEI, combined with extreme resource depletion and population pressures on those depleting resources, I just don’t see things moving in that direction over the next 10-15 years. In fact, if anything like the internet is to survive through these difficult times, considering the tremendously long supply chains in producing the physical hardware and extreme specialized skill, as well as the energy required to keep the thing up and running, then it will be something in which social media will probably revert back to basic text listservs as opposed to what we have today.

    Again, I don’t mean to imply that this wasn’t a good show. I just found myself more inspired by the likes of Cam Mather and Paul Wheaton than Gary V — because the work that they are doing seems much more plugged into trying to “live that better life if times get tough,” where Gary V’s outlook is more suited to the caveat “even if they don’t.”

  21. Social Networking: I’m fascinated by the opposing viewpoints on the subject. I’ve used it to meet people and learn from people I would probably never meet otherwise. I think it will completely change (for the better) the way humans ‘are’.
    The opposing viewpoints are valid, but I’m reminded that almost every technology that has ever come along has had lots of negative opinions associated with it.
    Guess we will know in 10 more years, maybe.

  22. Those that think Gary started with a multi million dollar start need to evaluate what profit there is in a 4 million dollar wine store. The owner of such an establishment wont actually have much more income than a typical upper middle class professional.

    4 million isn’t much for a business in that industry in a high tax state like NJ, with employees, building rent, insurance, inventory, etc. It is actually a VERY small business and having worked with many businesses of that size I will tell you it is harder to grow that business to 20 million than to build it up to 4. In fact my experience is that 3-5 million a year in turn over is the hardest cap to break as a small business.

    Additionally when Gary began the wine shop didn’t really do much for him. He was one guy, screaming a message just like me. He did it every single day, worked till 2AM, etc. His success with his podcast was no more influenced by his fathers business than mine was.

    Gary is unique, he pisses some people off (remind you of anyone) so if you don’t like him I am fine with that and so is he. However, inferring that his success is form anything other than a maniac like work ethic just sounds petty and resentful to me. Gary’s father deserves a ton of respect and when you hear Gary talk you hear that he both loves and respects his father. Yet his father could have never built the business the way Gary did, built a second successful business (WineLibrary.TV) and a third multimillion dollar business (Vaynermendia).

    What Gary teaches works, if it didn’t TSP would not exist, it is exactly what I did. I didn’t do it because Gary said to, I was doing it before I knew who he was.

    I guess what I am saying is that a guy like Gary just can’t win with some people. Had he just rode his Dad’s coat tails, worked in the business, ran a few stores, etc. Well some of you would say look must be nice, works for daddy, gets daddy’s money, etc.

    Instead he builds two additional businesses, becomes a best selling author, creates dozens of businesses as an angel investor and you still say, “well his father….”

    I am sorry but that attitude is exactly why some people never live the life they want.

  23. This was a really “high energy” interview and I told all the kids under 30 in my office to listen to it.

    For me, I’m ambivalent. I’m 47 and think I have “missed the curve” of social networking. I just moved to a new area and have found it really difficult to meet people. I’ve spent some time in the “down town” area after work. People are pre-occupied. Coffee shops are filled with people texting and sitting alone, giving off a vibe of “don’t talk to me, just look at me.” I miss human interaction. I sometimes think that it doesn’t really matter if I live here in suburbia or off-grid because they are both equally lonely. I might add that I am very social, friendly, etc. Anyway, I’m not really sure how it all plays out, this “digital divide.” I don’t really care if my refrigerator tells Poland Spring to to send more water. I’d prefer a few more real people in my life. Thanks, Jack, for shaking it up!

    • @Rockinstroll,

      I actually totally understand that. I do think some people become to engrossed with social media but I also think many people meet and form real world relationships due to it as well. In 2011 1 in 5 marriages will begin online.

      Try this, search facebook for fanpages of local hangouts, post to them, see those are real people that go to a real place and talk to other real people. That is just one example of how virtual communities become real world communities.

      Check out the local boards on the TSP forum as a way to meet folks too. If nothing is brewing in your area, start something.

      Check for events you would like to attend, if there are none, create one.

      To me social media is best to communicate with people you have an additional affiliation with. Trust me when I am on FB or Twitter it is to communicate with real family or real friends or TSPrs which are kind of both a big ass family and my most important friends.

  24. Pingback:Gary ‘Gets’ Social | Brian's Blog

  25. I love how you both get the Social Media. Try to explain this to my boss they happen to be family. I wish they got Social Media.

  26. Social media is a tool that gives great insight into the up and coming generation of workers. If you are going to employ them, you need to know how they think. You may not like the answer, but it will help you work with them and sell to them. You have to learn how to play the game with the new rules.
    Great interview, lots to think about and worth a few relistens as my wife and I contemplate starting another business.

  27. Social Media is a tool, it all depends on how you use it.
    Twitter: Guy needs graphic buttons created for a website, tweets who do you know can do the job. 2nd person retweets. 3rd person sees 2nd persons tweet, know 4th person who can do the job and introduces them to each other, couple hours later job complete, money exchanged, everyone happy.
    Meanwhile another is using twitter to spam links to his site and doesn’t have time for chit chat, complains it doesn’t work.
    Twitter is hard place to start if you don’t already have people you know on twitter.

    Consider young man who made a blog to answer questions in his field, added twitter and niche specific social media, organizes meetups, accepts podcast interviews, job offers within 2 weeks of his blog start date, world-wide speaking engagements and book deal within months. Half year later, a new company well funded by venture capitalists called him for suggestions on setting up their company and who to hire. Next day he gets call from another company asking him how to structure their seminar. Not always online, not using social media as frequently as he could, not answering each individual email, tweet, but taking time out to spend with his family (wife, 4 and 2 year olds). Balance.

    Jack “I am sorry but that attitude is exactly why some people never live the life they want.”

    I’m convinced that some people want to always be a victim (attitude), blame someone, luck etc. because that is an easier pill to swallow than the fact that they are not where they want to be due to their own action or inaction.

    • @Txmom you may be right on what some really want. I try not to be that pessimistic with most of them though. I think most have simply strayed to far from their path and can’t find the way back so they choose victimization as a cop out.

      On how social media works you are correct. Other than in time anyone can make connections on twitter even if you start out alone.

      What people don’t get is facebook, twitter, etc. are the telephone, personal computer, etc of the new age. When the first phones came out many people bashed them, same when pagers and cell phone and fax machines came out, next were PCs, the net, email.

      SM is just the latest evolution to be denied by those that have a hard time accepting change. Many also feel they can’t/don’t get/etc social media and are angry that the younger generation of 18 year olds that seem so clueless do. Same old story over and over, the horseless carriage, the telegraph, I am sure many condemned the wheel.

  28. Gary Vaynerchuk doesn’t even understand WTF he is talking about. FFWD in the podcast @ ’round the 43′ min mark.

    tell him to look up Marshall McLuhan! 😉

  29. Awesome interview (I’m a little behind on my listening). Thanks so much. My two regular podcasts are TSP and Wine Library TV. I’ve been listening (and viewing) both since double digit episodes. Its amazing to see them converge. Gary is certainly a strong personality but its been neat to follow his course over the last four years. Also I can call my 200+ bottle wine cellar my favorite prep!