The Pursuit: 5 Tips to Be a Successful Entrepreneur, the Gary Vee Way
Gary Vaynerchuk is a builder—of businesses, and he’s good at it. All of it—being a marketer, an entrepreneur, an investor. Want to build lasting success? Gary Vee’s your man.
Example No. 1: Shoppers Discount Liquors, rebranded later to be Wine Library, one of the first e-commerce websites. He grew his family wine business from $3 million to $60 million, in five years, thanks to a new (at the time) little something called the Internet.
Example No. 2: VaynerMedia, a social-first digital agency. Six years after co-founding it, the agency already employed more than 500 people.
Example No. 3: VaynerRSE, a $25 million seed fund. As an angel investor and adviser to (now) successful tech startups (we’re talking companies like Twitter, Tumblr, Medium, Birchbox, Uber and Venmo), he co-founded the fund to continue his on-fire investing career.
All of that, and he’s still building.
His personal brand has exploded in the last couple of years with The #AskGaryVee Show on YouTube and his book by the same name. He has written three New York Times best-selling books on business trends and social media marketing, and his keynote speeches on the same topics are wildly popular. And, as active and innovative as he is on social media, it’s not surprising that he has more than 1 million die hard Twitter followers.
In this episode of The Pursuit, Kelsey Humphreys talks with Gary Vee about the biggest lessons he’s learned along the way, how he built successful businesses and a powerful personal brand—and how you can do all of that, too.
1. Be patient.
From the minute he “discovered” it, Gary Vee knew the Internet was a powerful thing. So, naturally, after rebranding the family biz, Gary decided to try out the next newest thing—YouTube—when no one else really was. He started a vlog called Wine Library TV, recording daily episodes about (what else?) wine, and 1,000 episodes later, the show was at cult status and Gary Vee touted the new nickname, “the Internet wine guy.” All along, he just knew eventually his time and his effort would pay off.
Why does that matter? Because it shows that he sees the value of hard work and hustle—of patience and humility and long-term view—and that he looks at making money in the long term. And that, he says, is what leads to “unlimited leverage.”
2. Become self-aware.
Over the years, Vaynerchuk has become keenly aware of his strengths and weaknesses. He talks openly about his ego and how he has a lot of it. And, at the same time, he’ll express his genuine belief that his personal brand doesn’t matter. He is a paradox—and he knows it.
“You have to know who you are. I know who I am and I only play to my strengths,” he says. “The reason I’m good [at what I do]… the thing—and I’ve got things; I’m a good communicator, I work hard—the one thing that does make me different that I know is I just understand what you’re going to do before you do it. I know what you’re thinking.”
Gary Vee doesn’t read books, he doesn’t listen to podcasts, and he doesn’t watch fellow YouTubers or TV. But he does study—constantly. Like many innovators and forward thinkers, he is a noticer.
“I think one of the reasons so many other marketers and personalities watch me, is because I’m not regurgitating something else and then it feels fresh,” he says. “And the way I do that is by only paying attention to my community and other human beings. When I go to the airport, it’s like a petri dish—I just watch people and I watch what they’re doing…. I’m an anthropologist. I’m watching humans.”
4. Do the work.
People often call Gary Vee a social media guru or motivational speaker. He assures you he is neither. Instead, he is a worker, a hustler—his 18-hour workdays prove it. And if entrepreneurs can learn one thing from him, it’s that your work ethic needs to be as massive as your dreams.
“Work is always the answer, meaning there’s only two things: working hard and working smart,” he says. “A billion ideas are going to be thought through by people today that could be $100 million businesses in six years, but like four are going to execute them.”
“Work. Patience. It just does.”
“I used to cry when I was 19 and 20, and tell my mom I didn’t want to go into the family business.” That was his first act of service.
Now, if you watch his videos or read his blogs, you see that he cares about serving his employees, sitting in meeting after meeting each week, giving his people face time, hugging them, telling them he loves and appreciates them.
Not to mention, he gives so much of his content—hours and hours of it—away for free because eventually he will sell, and he knows it. So he will go for the ask, the “right hook” as he calls it, after jabs and jabs of value. After sitting down with him, it’s evident that he genuinely wants to help other marketers and entrepreneurs succeed.
And as famous as he is quickly becoming, how does he feel when people say they’re “the next Gary Vee”? “Flattered out of my mind,” he says. “Oh my god, I’ve done so well I’ve inspired people, I’ve created something that people respect enough… I will never get too big to think this isn’t cool—that people want to hear me, that people want me on, that I can help you.”