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Monday, April 8, 2013

#53 Gary Vanerchuk



*Interview below is transcribed from audio.

Welcome to the first LIVE, 20 Questions with Mourning Goats! Today we have Gary Vaynerchuk, for interview number 53! Let's dive right in with the question we start every interview with!

1. What comes to mind when you hear, "Mourning Goats?"

Ya know what’s so weird, the wine world comes to mind. You know I grew up in the wine business. And for some reason, I don’t know if that’s a former wine name or how I think about certain places in Burgundy or France that I’ve visited. But, for some reason when you ask me that question, the wine world comes to mind.

2. You're on the cusp of a million followers on Twitter, what's the plan when you break a million?

I cannot believe you just asked me that. Literally, no joke, literally, today was one of the first days I’ve thought about it in a long time and I decided that I would do absolutely nothing. I don’t want people to think that the overall number means anything. I’m a big believer in engagement and how many followers really care, not how many you have on the list. I’m going to make sure I don’t do anything about it.

3. Your next book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook comes out October 15th. You have one sentence to sell it, what do you say? 

That’s a great question. I have one sentence to sell it. One sentence. I would say, “I’ve actually built businesses using social media, so I deserve your twenty bucks.”

4. You did a 5-hour Q&A at South by Southwest, what was the coolest thing you learned from it? 

It reminded me that my thesis is right. Which is, even though I could have given a 4,000 person keynote, like I have in the past, the 250 people that I was able to engage with one-by-one, created more content and built deeper relationships with me than I could of with 4,000 and so, once again, back to the last question, it’s not quantity it’s quality.


5. I heard you have some unique flooring upstairs at the wine library, tell me about that. 

Yeah, so in the wine room at wine library, we have stone that actually comes from Burgundy and has purple in it. Because the grapes kept falling to the ground and seeped into the ground and through hundreds of years of grapes hitting the ground and that purple, it affected the stone and the limestone and things of that nature. It’s pretty exceptional flooring.

6. I saw your Piers Morgan interview and one of the things I loved, you said that "grandparents are more equipped to run business today, than we are," do you believe that the small mom & pop shops still have a chance with competition like Amazon, Wal-Mart, and stuff like that, if they embrace your "Thank You Economy?"

I think yes, to a degree. I actually think that it would take a little more umph, because size does matter. But I think the mentality of small-town business applied to businesses that have umph, are the ones that are going to win. So, in a battle between Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Oracle -at that scale- I think the one that most embraces Grandparent DNA, small town rules, and The Thank You Economy, wins. And then at every level, I think whoever does it best, wins. At the small-business level, I don’t necessarily think a small electronics store, just using The Thank You Economy, can necessarily beat Amazon.

7. What was the bet with Myles and Cole Lazerow?

They’re the sons of a very good friend of mine, Mike Lazerow, the founder of Buddy Media. One day I was over at their house and they were wearing Patriot and Giant’s gear and I told them that I wanted them to be Jets fans. And they said, “sure,” because they’re younger, “if you pay us.” And, basically through a series of videos and tweets and different things we got into a huge negotiation which continued very recently. I was vacationing in Turks and Caicos with my family and the Lazerow’s were down there as well and I saw them again and we continued our conversations and negotiations. So, ya know, part of my quest to turn every single kid in the world into a Jets fan.

8. I also saw, Michael Lazerow had a column about why weirdos outperform normals. As a weirdo, myself. Do you agree with that thought process? 

Yeah, I mean, I think there are many ways to skin the cat. I definitely think that people that draw outside the lines have a competitive advantage in a creative world if they put themselves in a position to let their creativity drive their success. So, under the context of creativity in entrepreneurship, and taking risks, and all those things, they certainly do. If a creative person and a weirdo, tries to be a lawyer or a teacher or a doctor, I would say no. So, it’s about putting yourself in the best position to win.


9. I’ve heard of like, 2-book deals, 3-book deals, but you did a 10 book deal? I've never even heard of something like that. How'd it come about? 

Ya know, I gave a talk at web 2.0 2008, it caught fire, it hit a lot of people’s nerves, it was a very big talk for me and a lot of publishers wanted me to write a book about what I said on stage, which became Crush It. It was pretty insane. There was a lot of competition and I’m a good negotiator and business man. I was able to strike a ten book deal with Harper Collins.

10. You're the keynote speaker at the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show on April 19th, how the hell did you get involved in something like that?

I think that it comes down to a lot of times in the industries, they want to be a little more progressive and have a wake-up call. Because every industry is being affected by technology and the change of the way that information is consumed. And, I think that I’m one of the few characters out there that has enough practicality about business, while still delivering a rousing and emotional speech that is going to actually make some of the people take action and realize that advertizing in kitchen and bath magazine just doesn’t get you as much as it used to.  And so, I think that’s why they had interest.

11. I read in "The Thank You Economy" that you have no vacation policy for your employees at VaynerMedia, how does that work out? 

Ya know, actually it hasn’t worked out as well as I wanted it to. Meaning, I want to give my employees the freedom to take breaks when they need them. Some people need one day a year and some need a thousand days a year. And so, when I say it hasn’t worked out as well as I had hoped. I feel like some people abuse it and some people don’t take advantage of it enough. It's been an interesting learning experience for me. I thought I was doing something really well for everybody, and I’m wondering if that’s true. I’m still figuring it out. I do like the fact that as more years go by, people trust it more and then do take the time. But, I also preach hustle and work-ethic and hard work, so ya know, it’s a blend of those things always. And so, I think that it’s a work in progress. I do want to find the right balance of work-life and personal-life for myself and for everybody that works for me. 

12. Yesterday (April 2nd), a professor at Virginia Tech requested you to visit his wine class, do things like that happen often? How often can you actually facilitate? 

They happen often in lesser pizzazz than the way Tech’s done it. You can’t do it all the time, you want to, I definitely want to, but you can’t. If you go on YouTube, you’ll find the one they did the first time, and I did go there and it worked. I have a lot of heart for Virginia Tech, so I might have to do it again.

13. I love the newest Vaynerism about "the regret factor" and worrying about the past ten years instead of the next ten. Is there anything you regret, business-wise, about the past 10 years? 

Not really. Because, probably another manifesto of mine is not to really regret. Ya know, I’m so happy, everybody is healthy. I can’t regret anything, I’m just in such a good place why in the world would I regret. I’m sure there’s been plenty of things that I’ve made decisions on that haven’t allowed me to make as much money or as much upside or as much growth as I’d want. But, at the same token, I’m a very simple man. I actually do think things like, "Well yes, I could have done that and made a $100 million dollars but that would have made me go to this business trip in Texas and maybe I would have got hit by a car, right?" And so, I really do think that way, and so, I never regret.


14. I'm a big believer in visualizing success; listening to you talk, it sounds like you're the same, especially with owning the Jets, do you think that having that clear vision of where you're going and what you're going to achieve is a choice or a goal?

That’s a great question, do I think it’s a choice or a goal? I can’t speak for everybody, I’ll tell you why I do it. I love the process so much. I love the climb. To me, the climb of success is everything. And so, when you create a goal that’s so big of a climb you can always be playing it. I didn’t want to achieve something that I could of achieved in my 20’s or 30’s, right? And so, it’s just always been in me, it’s something that I’ve always wanted. To me, I feel like it’s almost picked me as much as I’ve picked it.


15. Mike Dilorenza, formerly of the NHL, told your friend Chris Dessi (of SilverbackSocial Media) that he could beat you at floor hockey. What says you? 

Mike Dilorenza told Chris Dessi what? That he could beat me in floor hockey? Bubble hockey or floor hockey? Floor hockey, I don’t know, cause floor hockey you have to play 5 on 5, it’s real hockey. I’m great at floor hockey, I had two championship caliber floor hockey teams in high school. So, I’d have to disagree with Dilorenza.

16. I think you're one of the first honest entrepreneurs out there. You said in an interview that there is no such thing as a life/work balance. What about on the large scale? Won't working hard now give you freedom in the future? 

It does, but I also think that working hard is a trait and some people don’t. Ya know, honestly, I have my balance. I make my decisions. I’m making choices every day to either work and travel or to stay home with my kids. Right, so, ya know, maybe, I think, back to the honesty, I think it’s far more likely that I’m just gonna burn out and get tired of working more so than fall out of love with it. I’m in love with working. I’m in love with the hustle and the grind. I’m also massively in love with my kids and as they start getting older and having more of a personality they’re driving me to a place that I want to spend even more time with them. And so, it evolves. I feel like I’m working harder than ever, but I’m also spending more time with my family than ever. So, I’m clearly doing something right, and you keep on working on that, ya know?


17. Alright, four more to go! In researching for this interview, I found VaynerMedia's website. What's the reasoning behind only having the name, address, and jobs you're hiring for? 

That’s a great question. The reason that I think an agency needs to work is to get new clients and to get new employees. We have no issues getting either. And so, it doesn’t feel like a place where I really need to put a lot of effort. I think everything should have a reason for doing it and we don’t have a real reason to have a website that’s really robust.

18. The goat has a book of author interviews coming out in next month (May 31st, 2013), called Chewing the Page: The Mourning Goats Interviews, as a New York Times best-seller, what advice do you have for someone putting out a book these days? 

Oh, that’s awesome. Congratulations! My advice is to build the audience before the book comes out.  Right? And so, if you want to reach the most people with your book, have an audience ready for it instead of starting to promote and sell it once it comes out. And so, to me, it’s write the best book you possibly have in you and then put the most work into building a community, long before the book ever comes out.


19. Here’s a hard one. Gun to your head, someone says, "You can own the Jets, but you have to burn the Jets sweater your mom made you. What do you do?

I have to burn it? I would burn the sweater. Because, my mom would be happy that I achieved that goal. I would pick up the ashes and put them in a jar.

20. Finally, what’s next for Gary Vee?

Ya know, that’s something I’m never good at answering. Because I really don’t know. I’m a very reactionary entrepreneur and human-being. Right now, I’m extremely focused on building VaynerMedia and that’s what I’m focused on. And, I’m sure there’ll be something next, it’s just how I roll. But for now, I’m quite content on operating and putting my head down and that’s what I’m doing.

Fantastic, hey, Gary, thank you very much for the interview.

Thanks, brother.

And, can’t wait to see what you do.

Thanks man, I’ll see you soon. 

Check out more from Gary at any and all of the following links!


Gary Vaynerchuk is a talented entrepreneur, a self-trained social media expert, and a best-selling author. With close to 1 million followers on Twitter, Gary is recognized internationally as one of the top people every entrepreneur should follow and a social media trailblazer. He’s received substantial attention from the media including guest appearances on Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Conan O’Brien and Ellen. Gary’s ultimate goal is to own the New York Jets. Although his various businesses obviously play an enormous role in his life, he always puts his family first.

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