Staying Ahead of the Curve

Innovation isn’t a tactic. It’s a religion.

It’s not a method, it’s a mindset. Everybody’s looking for tactics, but it’s more about religion. So the reason my team and I stay ahead is that we’re built to stay ahead. We value the ROI that comes from the time we spend researching and pondering and debating and playing. We view that as a necessity. I don’t think a lot of people consciously value oxygen, but you need it to stay alive. That is how I look at innovation. In my opinion, Staying ahead is a requirement for being a successful business, so the reason that I stay ahead is that I allow myself to experiment with new platforms and do un-scalable stuff like spending 45 minutes sending Snapchats to everybody in my contacts because there is no “select all” button. I allow my employees to have that time playing, tinkering, experimenting, and debating. For example, when Vine came out, we basically shut down certain parts of VaynerMedia in order to get on top of the new app and really try our best to master it before anybody else. We’re in the business of always trying to put ourselves out of business.

It goes deeper into the day-to-day of our employees as well. There is an email alias that our entire creative department uses in order to pass around the cool stuff they’ve seen and discuss new tactics and strategies. That then ties into weekly meetings in which all of our micro-content producers highlight their wins and losses, working together to pinpoint what is going to be most effective on each platform.

On top of all of that, if you work for VaynerMedia, it doesn’t matter what your job title is when it comes to emerging tech. If you display interest and aptitude in a platform, we will give you all the rope you need to play with it and become an expert. We’re regularly expanding employees’ roles to encompass things they’re passionate about, even if it’s way outside the purview of their original job description.

But when it call comes down to it, nothing trumps execution. When Vine came out, I spent many hours between 11pm and 2am playing and understanding. At the end of the day, those hours were taken out of leisure time, sleep, and preparing for projects. I knew that and I still allocated that time. On paper, that seems very counter-intuitive, but I understand that value, and if you want to stay ahead, you should, too.

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