I recently had the opportunity to speak with Gary Vaynerchuk, the serial entrepreneur, CEO, investor, author, public speaker, and internet personality (among other things). Here's what he had to say on the past, present, and future of his career.
The entrepreneurial bug bit Vaynerchuk early. As a young child, he operated a lemonade stand franchise. In his teens, he often made thousands in a weekend selling baseball cards. At the age of 14, he entered the family wine business. After college, he grew that company from $3 million to $60 million in just five years.
And he hasn't slowed down since.
One of America's most interesting, innovative, and influential marketers and entrepreneurs, Vaynerchuk is now a household name.
The owner and operator of one of the world's hottest social media-first digital agencies, VaynerMedia, Vaynerchuk is also co-founder of VaynerRSE, a $25 million investment fund. He's known as a hands-on businessman and a much-sought-after speaker. He is no stranger to Fortune and Crain's 40 under 40 lists, and is a media darling, having been featured in the New York Times, Fortune magazine, and Inc.
He says what sets him apart from other influencers is that his businesses don't depend on his reputation as an influencer.
"I am so business talented that being GaryVee is my side hustle," he says. "I do not need to make money by being an influencer, whether that is selling people courses or T-shirts, or using it as a way to get speaking fees, or to get clients for VaynerMedia. I need none of it. If I were completely not an influencer, VaynerMedia would still be a $100 million company, just like Wine Library was built into a massive company by a 20-year-old with zero influence."
In a sense, what he did for his parents' wine company is "exactly what I'm trying to do for clients today," he says. Back then, he did email marketing, banner advertising, and Google AdWords, a YouTube show, and social media. Once he recognized where the attention was, he became great at the creative in those platforms, and of course, he never stopped obsessing about what he spent--something his clients are sure to appreciate.
But despite having a reputation as one of the hardest workers and most relentless people in business, he says he hates confrontation.
"I think that the people closest to me would know this, but I think the outside world would be stunned," says Vaynerchuk. "I'm very confrontational in a public environment, because nobody else gets to reply when I'm on stage. But in reality, I always prefer to solve things without conflict and I would even say one of my flaws is that I drag out conflict too long and not in the interest of my organization and my people, because I hate it so much."
So what's next for Vaynerchuk?
Currently, he hosts two shows on his YouTube channel. On #AskGaryVee, he answers questions about social media, entrepreneurship, startups, and family businesses based on a lifetime of building successful, multimillion-dollar companies. His second is #DailyVee, a vlog-styled show that follows his day-to-day life as a businessman and CEO.
He says 2017 is going to be an interesting year.
"I expect to see continuous change in every industry, because the internet is hitting maturity, and is disrupting every industry on earth, from politics to selling sneakers."