What to take from influencers?

Gary Vaynerchuk is a super successful entrepreneur and one of the best speakers in the world to inspire people to do something with their lives. He is a big proponent of people pursuing success by being their authentic selves no matter what. He talks a lot about kindness to others which is awesome considering his ego. He has openly admitted he loves to hear himself speak and other people do too - and it’s hard to argue with that. Watching him, you can see he thinks fast and he seems to always be prepared what to say. And because of his quick mind, he constantly wants things to be moving along. Go go go! That is why he things he is “invincible”. He has been doing it a long time and he has been really successful at it.

So I was watching a video where Gary interviews Simon Sinek on his #AskGaryVee show on YouTube. Let’s set up the scene first: When I watch YouTube videos, I usually watch the first couple of seconds and then proceed to scroll down to check the top comments. This gives me a heads up on the highlights of the video, i.e. what to look out for so that I don’t have to rewatch the video to check what the comments were talking about. I think most people do it like this, because most people are inpatient as fuck like me and want to spoil the surprise. However, this time the very first comment on the video says the following: “I feel like Gary sometimes doesn’t listen with the intent to understand but with the intent to reply”. I thought “YES” as he put my yet unformed thoughts into words. By this point I have watched a couple of Gary’s videos over the past few weeks but this is something I noticed very quickly. Gary’s way of interacting is very fast, which I do admire, but sometimes also dismissive and a little aloof. In an interview he had with Tony Robbins, he was interrupting him as he probably started to feel like he wasn’t in control when Tony was talking. Tony tends to go on monologuing so I can see Gary’s point of view, to keep the show on track. The way he handled it just wasn’t the best. It was like watching a wrestling match with words.

However, Gary’s occasional shortcomings as an attentive listener isn’t the topic I want to address. Let’s go back to the video with Simon Sinek: Below the top comment there are many replies. Many people are agreeing with the top comment, but many people are also defending Gary and agreeing with his way of communicating. It seems that when some people find a charismatic leader, they follow everything they do, even the bad stuff. They start to learn everything from the speaker’s personality thinking it’s the “right” way to go. Maybe they already had some similar bad behaviours themselves and think they are alright because this successful person also has them.

When improving ourselves we should find out our bad habits, eliminate those and learn good habits instead. When we listen to influencers, motivational speakers or any advice from those more successful than us, we shouldn’t only evaluate the advice they give us but also the behaviour of the person who is giving the advice. They set an example through their own behaviour, so do they follow their own advice? Even better would be to hear testimonials or any kind of data of the actual effect of the advice from other people. Hard data is always better when making an informed decision.

This doesn’t relate to Gary specifically but more generally towards all influencers and motivational speakers. To be honest I don’t think the interview was bad at all. However, I do still think there is a point. He should be a more attentive listener in his interviews. Since The AskGaryVee Show is essentially a talk show where he interviews other successful entrepreneurs, the least he could do is actually listen to what they have to say. No speaker, like no person, is perfect. My advice is to take all advice with a grain of salt.

Edit on January 19, 2018

Charisma on Command, a YouTube channel that teaches its viewers about charisma did a breakdown of Gary Vaynerchuk’s unique personality and they touched upon the very same things I discussed in this post.