Gary Vee: “I wish I didn’t swear so fucking much”

Gary Vaynerchuk builds businesses: Fresh out of college, he took his family wine business and grew it from a $3M to a $60M business in just five years. Now, he runs VaynerMedia–one of the world’s hottest social media-first digital agencies.

Along the way, Gary became a prolific angel investor and venture capitalist, investing in companies including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Uber, and Birchbox before co-founding VaynerRSE, a $25M investment fund.

He also happens to be a damn good public speaker with lots of invaluable advice on entrepreneurship.

TNW Europe was one of the very few European events Gary attended this year, and his talk was undoubtedly one of our highlights. With unrestrained honesty and humor, he taught us the following things about leadership:

money-scale

1. Startups: Start figuring out how you’re going to make money.

If you run a startup, understand how you’re going to make money as soon as possible – you’re running a business. Businesses need to make money, especially when there’s no one to fund your next round after your last valuation.

According to Gary, the dollars that are being pumped into the startup ecosystem are beginning to dry up. The last five to seven years have been spent by startups trying to raise money for the next round, building financial arbitrage machines instead of actual businesses.

If you paid attention to the macro-economic infrastructure of what’s happening in the tech world right now, you’d know that this Nirvana we’ve been living through for the last few years is about to shift.  The data is there to back this, even if we don’t want to believe it. Figure out how to make money instead of raising it – only then will you be future proof.

 

quarterback
Gary Vee is many things, but no quarterback.

2. Figure out what you’re good at, and do that.

Gary wishes he wouldn’t swear so fucking much on stage, but that’s who he is and he’s accepted it. He also wishes he was the quarterback of the New York Jets, but that’s not going to happen. Is he going to found his own social network? No, because he would suck at that and knows it. Instead, he founded what many thought to be lame: A digital agency. Over the last four years VaynerMedia has grown from three to a hundred million dollars a year revenue, not valuation.

The point is, Gary is self-aware: he’s figured out what he’s good at and does that, and only that, regardless of what’s cool or expected from him. Many people don’t do that, however – they do things, and fill positions, they’re not suited for.

It’s not easy being an entrepreneur, and fun to work for someone else – you get to blame the boss. He’s an asshole, not you. Everyone thinks they have to build the next Uber and make millions of dollars, but making 100k a year is massively successful. Everybody is shooting for 10 billion, which is very impractical – only 4 startups made it that big. We need to reframe success: Being number 41 at Facebook is better than number 1 at Faceschmuck.

selfish

3. Don’t only see what’s in it for you.

One of Gary’s most important pieces of advice is as follows: Doing things for other people without expectation of return is probably the greatest leverage you could ever deploy in your business life – something that is very rare nowadays.

Today, too many people in business are focusing on sales instead of branding and marketing. We’re being very transactional and conversion-based, and everything continues to get arbitraged. To be successful, give more and expect less in return.

windows95

4. This is only the beginning.

Considering what was said above about the tech bubble bursting, the following point might sound ironic: This whole thing we’re living through has just started.

The “consumer web” is only 20 years old – Windows 95 started it. The Internet is extremely new, and everything hot right now didn’t exist 10 years ago.

Over the next 10 years, the biggest companies in the world are going to be created from zero – someone is going to build the next big thing.

We are blessed to be alive during a period in which there is so much opportunity. If you’re able to wire what you can do, with all the opportunity that is out there, you have the chance to succeed.


Oh, and Gary called TNW Europe “the nicest set up to a conference” he had ever seen, and that it was “unbelievable” and “fucking awesome” –  reason enough to sign up for your 2-for-1 ticket deal for TNW Europe 2017!

 

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