In the book #AskGaryVee (HarperBusiness, 2016), social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk answers the best questions about entrepreneurship, branding, and marketing he's received on his podcast, #AskGaryVee. In the following edited excerpt, Vaynerchuk discusses the role gratitude plays in his life.
I'm often asked what fuels me, and 80 percent of the time my answer is gratitude. I'm glad I was born in a communist country and got to move to this country, where capitalism is revered and appreciated. I'm thankful that I haven't had a lot of pain in my life, though it's because I lost three of my four grandparents before I ever knew them. I'm grateful for the best mom in the world, for the best wife in the world, for a dad who taught me not to be full of shit, and for all the people I love.
I won't say I know how to teach you to have more gratitude, but I can say that if it is something that can be developed you should go figure out how. Gratitude is my weapon in my day-to-day life. Period. Being an entrepreneur or a CEO is a stunningly lonely job. That's not talked about much (though it did get discussed more frequently for a while after a spate of suicides within the tech community). As the head of a company, you are the last person in the line of defense. You are entirely responsible for everything. It's a huge eye-opener when you realize that you are responsible not only for yourself and your family and loved ones, but for other people's, too. The enormity of that obligation hit me hard when I was a kid building up Wine Library to 150 employees, and weighs on me even more now that VaynerMedia has nearly 600 employees. Keeping that commitment front-of-mind while battling all the competitors trying to beat you and put you out of business, all while navigating dynamics you can't control, from Wall Street to geopolitics, can weigh heavily even when you're not faced with a business catastrophe like losing an important deal or going out of business.
Gratitude is what has gotten me through my toughest moments in business (yes, there have been some, though I don't talk about them much). Whenever I have lost a deal to a competitor, or an incredible employee, or millions of dollars in revenue because a state changed its shipping laws and won't let me sell there (damn you, Texas!), I default to gratitude. Because I recognize that even if I had invested in Uber, and Woody Johnson decided it was time and I did buy the Jets tomorrow, none of it would matter to me at all if the next day I got a call that someone I love was sick or had died. Keeping that perspective allows me to handle anything and everything. Whenever I've been in my loneliest place with my biggest headache, thank God I've been able to step away from it and remind myself of all the great things I've been given. It's impossible to complain and get too down when I do that.
Gratitude is what allows me to live my life the way I do, but it's also a core element to the way I do business. I never, ever take it for granted when people take minutes out of their ridiculously busy worlds to watch my show or read my blogs or books. I spend much of my time online trying to thank my fans, followers, and customers as often as possible. I don't understand why more brands and businesses don't make that their mission, as well. It's not as if consumers are limited to their neighborhoods or even their cities to find what they need or want anymore--the world is at their fingertips. It seems to me that when the competition is that widespread, you should be falling all over yourself thanking every damn customer who decides to spend some of his or her hard-won money with you.