Video Transcript

00:09 Gary Vaynerchuk: What I'll do is give you a little bit of context of where I come from, so that things that I am gonna talk about might make a lot of sense. I was born in Belarus in the former Soviet Union, and my family immigrated to the United States in 1978 when I was three years old. We lived in a small studio apartment in Queens, New York with nine family members, one eighth of the size of this stage, and it was really quite difficult and it was hardcore, right? It was super-immigrant. It was my sister's baby seat was a car seat found in the garbage, it was kind of raw. My dad got a job as a stock boy in New Jersey, and was commuting from Queens to Jersey, and eventually worked really hard and became the assistant manager, then manager of that store. And eventually, we moved to Edison, New Jersey. Edison, New Jersey is where I started my entrepreneurial career. In Edison, I basically put all my friends to work. So, when I was six, I had eight lemonade stands in Edison, New Jersey. A franchise.

01:25 Vaynerchuk: You guys remember, big wheels that little like thing big wheels. I used to ride my big wheels in Edison, New Jersey and pick up my cash like I was Tony Soprano.

01:35 Vaynerchuk: It was pretty interesting. By the way, on that note, it's amazing what you learn at such a young age if you're entrepreneurial. There was a kid that used to come just for the summers, I didn't know what the bourse was, or things of that nature back then. So, I never understood it. His name was Eric Conrad. He used to come just for the summers, and he was the only friend of mine that actually made signs and tried to sell stuff as well. So, we always sold much more lemonade than all my other friends. However, I would always count how many cups I gave everybody, and he was actually stealing. He was actually taking a dollar or two each day. But because his revenue was so much higher, I would let him go. So, it was pretty fascinating.

02:15 Vaynerchuk: You can learn a lot. When I was 11, I started my baseball card business. So, I was doing baseball card shows in the malls of New Jersey, and did quite well. I was making two to three thousand dollars a weekend selling baseball cards, and I was phenomenal. And I don't know about you guys, but when you have $30,000 in cash under your bed, and you're 13 and you're not selling weed, you're doing a good job.

02:44 Vaynerchuk: So, that was good, and everything was rocking. It was gonna be awesome. I was gonna be the biggest baseball card dealer of all time. Everything was great. And then, I turned 14 and my dad ruined my life. See, I was getting ready for one of the biggest shows in New Jersey, and getting my cards together, and my dad walks in and he goes, "You're coming to the store." I go, "Dad, I think you're misunderstanding, I have a show today." I'm not quite sure how many of you have a Soviet dad, but I lost that argument.

03:13 Vaynerchuk: So, I began to cry. I basically cried the whole 40 minutes that we commuted, cause we lived 40 minutes from the store down route 78 New Jersey, the whole way, crying the whole way. Finally, about two minutes before we get there, I composed myself and I go, "Dad, how much are you gonna pay me?" And he said, "Two bucks an hour." And then, I really started crying.

03:34 Vaynerchuk: And it was terrible for the next year and a half, every weekend of my life, every single Thanksgiving vacation, every single day of summer vacation, every weekend, I was in my dad's basement of the liquor store, bagging ice for 10 hours a day for two bucks an hour.

03:52 Vaynerchuk: How many people in this room have seen the movie 'The Goonies'? Raise your hand. I was Sloth. Remember that guy chained to the basement? That was me, I hated it and it was terrible. Then I turned 16, I was allowed upstairs, and my life changed. I was on the floor one day, and every person came in asking for Caymus Special Select 1990. It was wine spectator's wine of the year. Everybody. And I was seeing all these customers come in ask for the wine and then leave. And I was like, "This sucks." Any good punk kid entrepreneur's not gonna let that happen. So, the next person that comes in, I'm gonna take a back order. Now, we didn't have a back order system, but I wasn't scared because I was going to school on Monday, anyway.

04:36 Vaynerchuk: So, the next person comes in, he goes, "You know, I will take some Caymus." I'm like, "Great." I'm like, "We're sold out, but I can take a backorder." He gives me his name, his address. I go, "How much would you like?" He said, "Well, I'll take six cases." Then I was like, "Ooh, an alcoholic!" And I was like, "Are you having a party?" And he goes, "No, no, no. I collect wine." And that was it. Literally, you know how you have these moments, you probably think about your own businesses when like something changed or you thought of it, you can literally taste it. I can... Can you zoom in? Like the goosebumps are here, like I can literally feel where I was in my dad's old store in the Chardonnay section, when that moment happened 'cause I literally sat there. At this point, I wanted to help my family. I felt like I could bring something to the table. I was pretty ridiculous at 16, thinking I knew what I could do. I felt confident. So, I remember sitting there and saying, "Silver Oak, Caymus, Opus One, Chateau Lafite, Frank Thomas, Ken Griffey Jr., Wayne Gretzky. Same shit, I can do this." So, literally, literally, literally for the rest of my life up until very recently, I put every ounce of my soul into becoming the greatest wine expert I could, and building a huge wine business. I literally sat in science class at junior year reading the Wine Spectator. I didn't give a fuck about Saturn, you know.

05:56 Vaynerchuk: I was so all in. And that's what I focused on. Now, I did not grow up techie, the most teched out that I was at 18 years old was that there's nobody in this room that can beat me in NHL '94 for SEGA Genesis. I literally didn't even have a computer until I was somewhere around 20 years old.