Yesterday, I had the opportunity to talk with Gary Vaynerchuk, the gregarious and personable, CEO of VarynerMedia and numerous other digital feats as part of his 1aDayQandA. This endeavor is emblematic of the work VarynerMedia produces, it focuses on the our ability to connect with people as individuals enabled by our emerging technology. Instead of digging into the details about social media’s ability to reposition brand’s relevancy, instead we discussed details behind this quote:
It’s powerful. It’s compelling. It’s uplifting. Too much value existed within that paragraph to be ignored in this 15-minute conversation – exploring it was necessary. We all desire to achieve our goals and when you are young it’s easy to use time as an excuse, so it’s important, at least to me, to figure out what the journey is like between the Earth and the Moon.
So here it is (Lightly edited) Enjoy!
Me: First off, can you speak more about the events in your own life that led you to the thinking exemplified in “A ( by accident) Manifesto”?
Gary Vaynerchuk: Yea you know, I wasn’t a very good student and I’ve had a lot of success in my life. I’ve watched a lot of people have a similar outcome and seen the reverse. Everything that was told to them, brought to them has not paid the dividends professionally in their lives. So it was just very obvious to me that the world is not black and white, and you got to live your life. I’m just very passionate about people understanding that you got to really trust your intuition. Try things, especially when you are younger. Recognize it’s the best time to be risky or try different things. Play out the game the way it actually is, versus the way it has been story-told to us for generations.
M: Why do you think it is though black and white visions of what the world is “supposed to be like that gets perpetuated to young people?
G: I think a lot happened from the Industrial Revolution. In the fact that all operations needed employees and it’s much better for you to take that career path…And so, following the structure of rules and that leads you right into the corporate world. I think that had a lot to do with it to be honest with you.
M: To dig deeper, you say parents and teachers and guidance counselors tend to emphasis the first 10 years over the last 10 years, they are kind of in the position of knowing that is not the case. So why do you think that people are still telling you to follow the status quo?
G: Well actually, I think a lot of the parents believe that they are right about the way they are guiding children and younger individuals, so I don’t think it is necessarily that they are trying to trick anybody or hide this knowledge. I think they actually believe that is right. On the flipside, they didn’t grow up in world where the Internet existed. The cost of being able to follow your dreams was heavily crushed. It’s much easier to start a business or to do something that you love than it was 20 years ago. There is much, much more opportunity.
M: Can you speak more about knocking down these barriers and ignoring the voices that tell you to neglect your instinct? I’m sure when you started the WineLibrary, that was a whole new concept, you faced criticism from some individuals.
G: That’s fair, always. I always, I always do. It’s always a part of the process of innovating. You know, I don’t really know any other gear. I know why I do things. I think about them for a while. They’re not just on limb. I feel good about them when I go into them. I’m also not scared to fail, right? Failing is not scary. You know, I don’t think people like change. They don’t understand change.
M: The idea that failing is not scary is often not a topic usually discussed. Would you mind talking more in depth about this notion?
G: Yeah, you’re right. When it comes to business, I think it is your job to fail. If you are not pushing the envelope and trying new things, than you are not really doing your job. I think that if you are going to be innovating, you’re going to fumble. So for every Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr that I’m writing about, there’s going to be…Google +, I thought would be further along… There’s gonna be those things. They come with territory. To me, it’s just a cost of entry, right? If you’re gonna play, if you’re gonna be an entrepreneur, if you’re gonna be an businessman, these things are gonna happen.
M: I’d like to dig more into the idea of when you are young, as you said earlier, it’s easier to take risks and try new things, but it’s also the easiest time to hold onto the idea that it can wait. So what would you say is the most important first step in chasing your passion?
G: It cannot wait. It cannot wait. You can’t be as risky at 35 as you are at 23. It can’t be done. A far majority of people at that point are either married or have children or have worked for 13 years and have gotten tired. The answer is that it can’t wait. There is nothing else to say…. Maybe you won’t be married or have children or have as much responsibilities at 23, and maybe you are very lucky that your parents helping, there are these things, but by percentage that is not the case. Thus, it’s important to be more aggressive at this age.
M: Great, that answers the question perfectly. In the quote, you touch up the full-cycle of life, so how do you personally sustain your own passion overtime?
G: I think that I am driven by gratitude to be honest with you man. It’s about the fact that everyday my parents are helping, my family is helping. Everyday that those things happen, that are good things, I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful for the natural talent that I’ve been gifted with and that’s it, you know? So I don’t know really what else to say. I keep life very simple – Health and happiness of your family members, than everything else is just gravy and that has worked out for me.
M: In the pursuit of chasing after your passion, it’s a grandiose idea to think about, but nobody really talks about the day-to-day struggles of it.
G: For me, my dream is to be an entrepreneur and climb the latter. So everyday I’m going forward, doing new stuff. My dream is pretty easy as a businessman. Entrepreneurship is a really big gift because you are always challenged, you are always doing new things. It’s not as a specific as “I want to climb this mountain,” it can be very vague. I appreciate it for that. I love the journey. I love the bad days. I love the head down. I love the glide. I love that I’m sitting at an airport right now and taking this call. It’s all a part of the process. So for me, if I’m grinding, if I’m working, than I am pursuing it.
M: Okay, would you say, this what I’m gathering from the conversation, that one of the most important things, is as long as you are doing something on a day-to-day basis that you feel benefits you in long run, you are moving in the right direction?
G: I’m very that way. And I mean super long run. Yes.
M: Sometimes it’s hard to say “No”, so can you talk about an experience in which you have had to say “No”? Or a time you should’ve said “No,” but didn’t?
G: Oh my god…Yes…constantly. That’s my make-up, I say, “Yes,” to a lot of things. I would say it’s a flaw of mine. But also it’s my strength. I mean, I’ve said, “Yes” to a lot of things and it has worked out really well. So I would say that I am not the right guy to answer that question because I’m not good at it. I say, “Yes,” to a way more things than I supposed to in a world when my time is my biggest asset right now.