5 Ways Gary Vaynerchuk Has Changed My Perspective on Life and Business
Some seven years ago, I started building my personal brand. It was a hell of a long seven years — you have no clue what I’m talking about, unless you’ve been down a similar road by being generous with your time, patient along the way and worked your ass off, with no guarantee that it will pay off down the road. My suggestion? Do all of that shit anyway, and if you keep reading, you’ll understand why.
There are 4 keys to Gary’s message that really resonate with me. They resonate with a lot of people — it’s just that most don’t actually put them into practice. It’s too much work, it’s too much time, there’s too much noise out there for anyone to care about what I have to say. My friends and family are going to give me a hard time.
It’s All Bull Shit.
Almost exactly a year ago, I signed with a top tier literary agent. Though this happened somewhat recently, it’s been 7 years worth of working my ass off every single day that got me that agent and the opportunity to continue doing this work. My first blog, which is out there somewhere for you to find if you look hard enough, gives me anxiety to think about — my writing was a mess, I was a mess, no one read what I wrote and most of the page views came from me refreshing the browser once I saw that it had garnered a sympathy like on Facebook after sharing it.
I honestly don’t know of anyone that works as hard as I do, maybe Gary, but I think I can give him a run for his money. If most people knew of the insane energy I put into the work I do they wouldn’t even put up a fight. In fact, most people see a glimmer of what it takes to build a career or life they will love, and are fine resigning to their cubicle and to a job that doesn’t really inspire them . This is fine, but if you want something more, I implore you to keep reading (and to start following Gary Vaynerchuk if you don’t, already)
These are the things that Gary preaches that helped me get from 'no one gives a shit' to 'what this guy’s doing matters’:
1. Patience: I think everyone close to me has questioned my sanity over and over again these last half dozen years — I continually do things that don’t make sense financially. First of all, let’s be clear, if you’re making decisions based on an immediate monetary return, you’re in the wrong game — go buy some penny stocks or something. Business and or building a brand is about taking an idea, implementing it, and over time, growing it into something that has value. It’s like the story about the Chinese Bamboo tree that Les Brown talks about.
You plant the seeds and have to water it and fertilize it every day and it doesn't break through the ground in the first five years, but somewhere in the fifth year, it breaks through the ground and grows 90 feet in the next five years. So the question is,
Does it grow 90 feet in 5 weeks or 5 years? Easy, 5 years, because if at any point you stopped nurturing it and feeding it in that time, it wouldn't survive.'
2. Hustle: You need to first be patient by realizing you signed up for a marathon, not a sprint, but then, in tandem with that, you need to work like crazy to bring your vision and dreams to life. You have to be hungry — you have to really, really want it, and the truth is, most people say they want it, but they just kind of want it. The way I see it, most people claiming they work hard and work smart and are doing everything they can to make things happen seem to work just hard enough to claim it, 'oh, I started this company’, but they are scared to put in the work necessary to truly be successful, because if they do and it doesn’t work out, then what? Am I a failure? How will my friends look at me? My parents?
What I’ve learned is, the harder you work, the more you fall down, but that process still takes you farther and faster up the hill than the guy who’s taking his sweet time with no real north star.
And, as Gary says, there’s no top to the hill, because there’s always something to strive for and chase — the way I see it, we might as well run like hell up that hill and make the most out of our time here on earth.
3. Generosity: Every day, people ask me,
‘Chris, how do I get 125K Facebook followers like you?’
‘Don’t set out to get 100K followers. Set out to have a positive impact on the world in some capacity — big or small.’
Give more than you take. It’s the right thing to do as a human being, but it’s also the right thing to do business-wise. In the world we live in today, one of the only ways to create this value is to earn trust from the people with whom we do business. Over time and after enough 'transactions' you realize that this trust has built up, and it only exists because you were patient and as Gary says,
'YOU DIDN’T TRY TO CLOSE ON THE FIRST DATE.
OR, IN OTHER WORDS… ‘JAB, JAB, JAB, RIGHT HOOK!’
4. Self-Awareness: When I first started building this personal brand for myself, I was doing everything that everyone else was doing in my space. I was following the herd, thinking if I just stayed in the game long enough, I could make it work. I was sharing recipes, making videos, doing TV — all stuff I still do. The problem though, is that I never stopped to think about who I was, and how I could contribute in a way that made the most sense for who I am would maximize my strengths.
I’m really good with people, I understand the way they work and I have empathy. So, I started writing more about the personal side of the restaurant industry. How kitchens work, how leadership is crucial, how we can come back this dress and the challenges of Industry life. Once I start doing this, that’s when people started to pay attention. That’s when I realized actually has something to say. And it took digging deep inside you myself what am I good at and how can I best connect with the people I want to connect with.
And it was a game changer. The first article I wrote here on Medium that broached this uncharted territory for me has been read over a million times, and it was #1 on Medium for a solid three days. Once I stopped to think about who I was and how I could best contribute — everything changed.
5. Gratitude: This was an easy one for me, but it was reassuring to hear such sentiments as it related to business from someone who actually practiced it day in and day out, in a business setting. Up until recently, the conversation in business has been, as a whole, close more sales, get more email signups, hit #1 on the bestseller’s list, secure more funding. People are out there thinking that those are the things that will make you successful, instead of realizing that if first have a grateful perspective on your life and the world as a whole, whether things seems good or bad — you put yourself in the position to make more sales, get more email signups, climb up the rankings of those bestsellers lists, and secure more funding. Gary has been a breathe of fresh air for me — as someone who lost his mother at age 14 after a five year bout with cancer, I’ve always been clear on the fact that a lot of life is out of my control — all I can control is my attitude and my effort. The problem is until hearing Gary state, “gratitude as the number one driver of his success” — I felt I was bringing too much emotion to my work. Now, I understand the best way to succeed is by bringing a healthy dose of emotion, as long as it’s driven by appreciation — appreciation for everything, the good and the bad, which is really hard. As Gary says, “One Life”— you might as well spend it on the right things, you might as well focus on what you control, and how much you really have, which is a lot more than most of us will ever realize.
I had the opportunity to work an event for Gary two years ago at SXSW. It was supposed to be me and my brother making a signature cocktails for a brunch he was throwing. My flaky ass brother bailed last minute. So, I made the 1,000 mile trip solo. First, from Atlanta to Houston — I stayed there with one of my best buds, from 2 AM (when I arrived) until 6 AM and was off to Austin before the sun came up. I worked the event that day, and was then headed back to Houston as the sun was settling for the night — I couldn’t afford the SXSW Airbnb prices.
The event was short and I only got to talk later with Gary for a quick minute, but he looked me in the eyes and said,
'Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it, it’s working, it’s going to pay off and I see something really special happening with you. Keep Hustling.’
He didn’t know the insane trip I made for just a few hours, but over the last couple of years, he’d seen that I was patient with my work, generous with who I was and the content I was putting out, and that I without a doubt was wrong to put in the work.
It’s really that easy, but really, it’s so damn hard — that is, unless you really love it. If you don’t love it, you’re either playing the wrong game, or are keeping score of the wrong things — thanks for all the reminders over the years Gary.
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