Digital Uncorked. How I Hit The Reset Button.

Paul Hickey, founder and lead strategist at Data Driven Design, LLC, with Gary Vaynerchuk at the inaugural Digital Uncorked.

Digital Uncorked.

I had no idea I was going to be part of the inaugural Digital Uncorked. The team at VaynerExperience is top notch. While consuming a ton of Gary Vee’s content over the last year — content that has gotten me through 24-hour work days with 30-minute naps on the couch — I’ve obviously engaged a bit, opting in to receive more information about events and such. So, was it serendipity that I ended up meeting Gary Vee? Or just one huge, phenomenal conversion as part of a master strategy executed masterfully by the master of all masters? Stay with me.

Give, Give, Give, Ask.

All of the content is free, and it is fucking valuable. From how to run a business to the details and tactics of digital marketing, creating content, understanding where your audience’s attention is and most importantly, their mindset when they are there (i.e., what is a 35 year-old mom of three thinking when she’s on Instagram vs. Pinterest vs. LinkedIn?).

Google “Gary Vaynerchuk” or “Gary Vee” and you’ll find all free content, from his YouTube channels where he showcases his reality CEO vlog DailyVee, to his Facebook Watch channel where the #AskGaryVee show airs regularly (my favorite content to consume in the world).

It’s all free, because his thesis is give, give, give, then ask — as articulated beautifully in his 2013 New York Times Best Seller Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.

To me, the Jabs are the free content, which he has his team transform all video into audio versions for The Gary Vee Audio Experience (search on your Podcasts app on your iOS device, or on Google Play, Spotify, and pretty much everywhere else audio is available).

The Jabs are also his website, even his store (where you can buy his gear), his Instagram posts, keynotes available on YouTube, and on and on. I really think even his books are Jabs, because they’re so inexpensive yet so valuable, that it’s not really even an “ask” to buy them, even though he technically makes money off of them.

But the true ask — or right hook — as he refers to often (for anyone who has ever worked with me in any capacity you know I freaking love the sports analogies) — I think are events like Digital Uncorked. Why? You get to actually meet him. It comes full circle.

So after about nine months of consuming free content, using his free business advice to better myself professionally which translates into me being a better person with my family and loved ones — I received an email from VaynerExperience.

Well, actually, it came from Gary himself. It talked about how he wanted to have dinner with me. Obviously I’m not an idiot (well, some of you would disagree), but I’m not naïve, and I knew this come with a cost, etc. So I did what I do best when I’m truly interested in something and I started asking a lot of questions.

- How many people are attending this event? (he sells out keynotes, so you know).

- How much value will I personally get? 1:1 time with him, etc.?

- Borderline Fanboy questions — autographs? Selfies? Etc.

o On this point, if you drink the GV Kool Aid, you know “Document over Create” which basically means you document everything you do, and repurpose everything into content later that can help your business in the long run. Macro Patience, Micro Speed, as he says.

So I guess they weren’t really as much “Fanboy” questions as they were coming from a place of “hey, I’m going to make an investment in this event, what is my business going to get out of it?”

Fair, right? Of course, I know because I work with all of you and you all expect the same from me when you make an investment with me. J

The answers that came back from Kim at VaynerExperience:

- 40

- A ton, yes, yes and yes

- Yes, yes and yes.

Additional questions I asked myself:

- Will this make me better at client services?

- Will this make me a better supervisor to my employees?

- Will this make me a better overall person, husband and father?

The answers — yes, yes and yes — I needed to hit the reset button, period. When my wife validated this, I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t go. Even though it meant doing the thing I hate the most — leaving my family for a few days — I knew it was important.

So that’s how the conversion guy got converted. But, like all things that are great, it took a while to get there. Let me explain.

Relating on So Many Levels

So as a digital marketer, my life kind of revolves around two things. One, the strategy and data points that drive the tactics and execution. Two, the psychology of user as it relates to how they’ll respond to the tactics that we execute.

I believed so many things to be true, and started making them known to clients of mine in 2011, and got louder and louder in 2016. Then, I was sitting in a client meeting talking about social media and what needed to be executed to drive success. That client then told me about Gary Vee (I now like to believe that I reminded this client of GV, who knows, or maybe it was that he actually thought I needed a dose of him). That client simply handed me Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. The author’s name was weird, but the book’s title and cover was cool — superficial much?

Anyway, I hate to read, but I rolled with it and read it because I told the client I would (I hate not doing what I say I’m going to do). Then, a week later I needed some content that would get me through a 6-hour drive to St. Louis from Nashville for a client meeting. Right before I left at 2 a.m. for the 9 a.m. meeting, I downloaded the audio book #AskGaryVee. Boom, I was hooked.

I won’t bore you with details other than to say one thing he said in that book still stands out with me today, well two things.

1. “If you have the audacity to start your own business, you’d better be willing to put in the work required to live the life you’ve chosen to live.” Or something close to that #paraphrasing …. Shit, I thought. Audacity. I have THAT much audacity. He’s right. I’d better keep working my ass off. This isn’t going to get any easier.

2. Also, Draymond Green, my favorite active basketball player — Giannis Antentenkunpo is a close second — asked a question in the Q&A format audio book. Yep, I’m fascinated by this. Whenever someone I LOVE already has a relationship with another person that I’m starting to jive with, it blows my mind and I like BOTH people that much more. More on this in another blog to come.

Point being, Gary Vee CLEARLY was just being himself in his audio book, and in hindsight is CLEARLY is always being himself. In being true to himself, he is so relatable, on a level where you’d pretty much do just about anything he says — although the tough one for me will be wearing KSwiss instead of Nike (not sure that will ever happen unless someone from Vayner sends me a free pair).

… so relatable, as I was saying, that he can convert (meaning get people to buy stuff) whenever he wants, because he’s never really asking you for anything. Let me explain…

Are you more likely to do business with someone who…

- Likes the same music you like? (Thanks for Logic and RUSS, by the way)

- Wears the same clothes you wear?

- Has lost the same amount of weight you have? Made recent changes to their health/fitness lifestyle in the same way you have?

- Loves professional sports as much as you do?

- Appreciates the underdog, “chip on your shoulder” mentality — like you do?

- Works their “face off” — like you do?

Of course! But I’d never know any of this if he wasn’t himself, and he knows that, which is why it’s so easy.

So smart. He’s going to tell people what he loves, knowing there’s millions of us out there (I’m not that special). He’s going to tell his story, knowing there’s millions of people that have a similar one. Then he’s going to make the point that ALL businesses need to follow this approach. He’s so right, it’s scary.

Pulling in Opposite Directions

I never knew this was an acceptable thing. The contradiction thing. Until GV, I always thought you had to be one or another — not both.

- Nice or a dick

- Cocky or humble

- Slow or fast

- A good listener or an interrupter

- Love something or hate something

- Binary or Debatable

- A big picture person or a practitioner

- The hardest worker in your organization or the person that empowers others to be the best they can be

Until I heard Gary’s content around “pulling in opposite directions” — I thought it was ALL binary. Nope. You can, in fact, simultaneously operate while purposefully pulling in opposite directions. This can either fuck with your head, or it can totally make sense. To me, this concept has calmed my nerves and allowed me to take deep, relaxed breaths while also knowing six clients are waiting on me for answers simultaneously.

It’s basically saving my life.

So, the formula of FREE CONTENT + BEING YOURSELF = Providing so much value and Saving Lives (whatever your version is of that hyperbolized statement).

This level of dedication of patience to your craft results in the ultimate conversion. The following, the loyalty and the support from your people — whenever you need it and however you “ask” for it, or in Gary’s case — simply give people the opportunity to give it to you. J

My experience at Digital Uncorked perfectly brought things full circle for me. Sitting around the table with 39 of my peers, all of whom are entrepreneurs, business owners, successful and cocky, but also humble enough to interact, let their guard down, ask questions, seek help, and accept the help and learn and grow, all with a guy who does not have to be doing what he’s doing, but clearly LOVED every second of being in the room with us, is really all I need to keep going.

Keep executing.

Keep being grateful.

Keep being thankful.

Keep being confident.

Keep grinding, hustling and loving the process.

Thanks to Gary, Kim, DRock and the whole VaynerExperience crew and the City Winery, NYC for easily the best business meeting I’ve ever been to in my 17 year career. I hope I’m a good testimonial for Digital Uncorked, and I’m honored to have attended the inaugural event.

Now, was it serendipity that I met Gary Vee, or his masterful marketing and conversion strategies? Haha. You know the answer. It’s BOTH >>> It’s simultaneously pulling in opposite directions baby.

Have a great day.