About a year ago, I saw a Facebook ad with a video of a man talking at USC. After reading its compelling value proposition and seeing its engaging image, I decided to click on it. In that video I discovered Gary Vaynerchuk for the first time, the man who would eventually become my professional idol. So, there you have it folks: proof that social media marketing really works!
Here are the entrepreneurial superstar’s most prominent life lessons that have impacted me:
Find your strengths and screw your weaknesses
When Gary was a kid, he was really bad at school. Like, really bad. Receiving almost all D’s and F’s in his classes, his peers and teachers often assumed that he was a “loser” and wouldn’t succeed at anything in life. But, Gary knew that just because he sucked at school didn’t mean he sucked at everything; he just needed to find his strengths. At a very young age, Gary responded to this feedback by trying to prove them wrong, and show that he was worth something more than they perceived. This self-motivation drove him to start selling baseball cards on the weekends, and within weeks he was making thousands of dollars at a time. From then on, his main strength became pretty apparent: he was meant to sell. Once he had this realization, he never once tried to change or think about his weaknesses again. He went all in on his strengths and watched his success unfold.
Don’t be ashamed to self-promote
A lot of people are afraid or embarrassed to promote themselves in fear of coming off as narcissistic. But, Gary preaches that it’s the only way to differentiate yourself, expose your brand voice and connect with your audience in an authentic way. Consumers in 2016 value brand transparency more than anything else, and being able to connect with an influencer on a personal level makes a difference in your business’ success. So, who cares what everyone thinks? Create a personal website, start putting content out there and make a name for yourself.
Don’t know where to start? Begin looking for content that was written by influencers in your industry. Look at their strategies, the topics they write about and what content received high engagement. That should give you motivation and insight into what you should be aiming for.
You can’t be a successful entrepreneur if you’re only working 8 hours a day
One of his more controversial beliefs, Gary says that it’s impossible to call yourself an entrepreneur if you work any less than 15 hours a day. It’s true that no one hustles harder than Gary (who claims to work around 18 hours a day), and it’s intimidating and motivating at the same time. Overall, we like it.
Self care and hard work aren’t mutually exclusive
So many CEOs make a habit of sitting in an office for 12 hours a day and don’t make the time to take care of themselves. When a lot of these big bosses are just waking up around 7 AM, however, Gary is already on his way back from the gym and heading to meetings.
Gary wasn’t always like this – only when he started creeping up on the big 40 did he start taking his health seriously. Today, he works with a personal fitness trainer, @mikevacanti (Snapchat) who makes sure that he’s treating his body well, staying hydrated and eating nutritious foods throughout the day. Moral of the story is, it’s okay to be a workaholic, but not at the expense of your well being.
No matter what, love and appreciate your parents
Gary’s parents are both Jewish immigrants who moved from the Belarus to New York when Gary was a small child. Coming with no money or professional skills, his father began working in a New Jersey liquor stores with menial responsibilities. Although the story is quite long, his father eventually became a part owner at the store and hired teenage Gary to be a stockboy. That was Gary’s first exposure to the wine industry, and the rest is history. (If you don’t know anything about Gary’s involvement with Wine Library, check out this video of Wine Library TV).
Gary has said repeatedly that nothing motivates him more than impressing his parents. Although he and his siblings had very little growing up, he saw how hard his parents worked to give them a better life and encouraged them to pursue their ambitions. Many years later, you still see Gary kissing his father on screen, praising his mother for the confidence she instilled in him and publicly talking about how much they mean to him. It’s incredibly touching, humble and meaningful.
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook
“Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” is the idea that relationships are built on giving. Basically, give unconditionally until you really need the recipient’s help with something, and then you can ask them for what you need in a very strategic and purposeful way. Until that point, offer tons of value that will enable you to build trusting relationships with your audience. Gary also wrote a book titled “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World”, which you can buy here.
Take responsibility for yourself and your employees
Although Gary hasn’t spoken about this a lot, he mentioned it recently on the Gary V Show and I really took it to heart. Essentially, he spoke about how he takes responsibility for everyone who works for his marketing agency (yup, all 600 of them). If one of them messes up, misunderstands something or has a work conflict, he blames himself since he knows that it’s his responsibility to take care of them and make sure they’re having positive work experiences. Gary realizes that with this much power, he also takes on a lot of responsibility, and he’s ready to take ownership of the issues that go on around him.
Being a successful entrepreneur is a talent
A lot of people (especially millennials) are pursuing an entrepreneurial career for various reasons: maybe because it’s trendy, they want to work for themselves or they like the perceived lifestyle. But, what many fail to realize is that it takes talent, and not everyone is cut out for it. It takes a great deal of self awareness reflection to understand if you’re capable of it or not. “People look at me and say, “Yeah I can do that,” but what they don’t realize is that what I do is a skill,” Gary has said on many occasions. He couldn’t be more right – not everyone can work 18-hour days, maintain crazy energy, make brilliant business moves and have the amount of charisma that Gary does.
As any Gary V fan knows, he is the king of hustle. In my mind, hustle means putting 100% passion into everything you do, whether it’s your work, your wellness or your relationships. Never ever stop putting your all into everything, and soon the rewards will follow.