Every Thursday from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., I participate in a unique Twitter Q&A hosted by James Altucher. It’s one of my favorite hours of the week. Of late, I’ve really come to admire James as an author, blogger, and mentor. If you haven’t heard or read about him yet, shame on you! Here’s his Google search.
In a recent one of his Twitter Q&A’s, we had the following exchange:
I asked him this question because I’ve been feeling strong connections to entrepreneurs and thought leaders who I think are killing it right now. Eventually, I want some of these people to know who I am so I can start developing relationships with them. Additionally, I can’t help but notice that everyone that’s doing awesome stuff seems to know each other. I want to know these people too!
In James Altucher’s Twitter reply, the @garyvee he refers to just happens to be my boss, Gary Vaynerchuk. Despite already being on his radar at VaynerMedia, I wanted to heed James’s advice by first sharing 10 lessons I’ve learned from Gary in my 13+ months at his social media agency. Drum roll please…
1. PATIENCE – In my first 15 minute, 1-on-1 meeting with Gary, I asked him about the one thing he wish he knew at 23 years old. With little hesitation, he preached to me about the importance of patience. Gary knows it firsthand, having worked his tail off since his teenage years and not experiencing large success until his 30’s.
As an ambitious, recent college graduate, I want success now, i.e. more recognition, more money, better title, etc. Unfortunately, the world almost always doesn’t work that way. It takes a lot of time and hard work to make it. I need to focus on learning my craft as much as possible now so I can be ready for opportunity when it arrives. I couldn’t help but feel optimistic about my future as Gary said that I’ve already done so much more than he did at the same age. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.
2. EXECUTION – Gary is a beast of a human. He constantly executes, whether it’s building his personal brand, investing, or growing his businesses. When I asked him about how to be more creative when generating marketing ideas, he completely flipped my question on its head. Instead, Gary reminded me that the best creative ideas get nowhere without execution. The doers are getting their fair share of the pie, too.
Once again, Gary kept me grounded by pointing out that I don’t have to excel at both creativity and execution in order to advance my career. As someone looking to make a move to the account side of the agency, I can focus on getting shit done and bringing those creative ideas to life. Why force talking the talk, if you can walk the walk?
3. BET ON YOUR STRENGTHS – This boils down to self-awarness. You’ve got to know what makes you tick, including your strengths and weaknesses. Gary has gone all-in on his strengths (salesmanship, business development, work ethic, compassion) and seen tremendous success. He hires people to compensate for his weaknesses.
You become your best self by betting on your strengths. Accept that you can’t be good at everything and rely on other people for support in those weaker areas. If you’re not sure what your strengths are, ask your family, friends, and coworkers. Give them permission to be brutally honest if you really want to double down on what makes you special. Hone those skills and never look back.
4, HUSTLE – Gary calls hustle the “most underrated word ever.” He eats, sleeps, and breathes it every day through his insane work ethic. He’s often up at the crack of dawn until the wee hours of the morning. Somehow, Gary manages to juggle a crazy amount of responsibility and projects (running companies, blogging, writing, investing, traveling, etc.) and love every second of it. He’s been doing it his whole life and hasn’t stopped.
Seeing how hard he works motivates me as an employee to show him that I’ve got the same chops to excel at his company. I’m willing to get my hands dirty to prove my worth and do whatever it takes to get the job done. This can’t stop-won’t stop mindset will take me far in my career.
5. CARE IMMENSELY – Gary is in love with his employees. He’s creating the type of organization that fosters loyalty and camaraderie like no other. Despite his crazy schedule, he takes the time to meet 1-on-1 with both new and current employees. He wants to get to know our backgrounds, hear our thoughts on the company, and mentor us. Whatever we do in our careers, he wants to make sure that working at VaynerMedia was the best decision we ever made. As much as he likes to win and dominate the competition, he cares most about how his employees treat each other.
Gary’s loving, parent-like leadership trickles down to his staff; everyone’s so nice and pleasant to work with. We do care about doing exceptional client work, but in the end it all comes back to how we communicate, coexist, and take an interest in each other’s lives. That’s how you create winning organizations. If you want move up the ladder at your current job or start your own business, you better care your face off for your fellow employee and customer. That’s how Gary would put it 🙂
6. DREAM BIG – Gary makes sure everyone knows that he wants to own the New York Jets some day. Having a lofty goal such as that one makes the climb to the top that much more enjoyable. Gary is all about passion, especially encouraging his fans to pursue theirs on as large a scale as possible. He defines happiness as the ability to do exactly what you want every single day of your life.
Watching Gary chip away at his ambitious goal is inspiring. A true American Dream story, he’s done it in a way that really any one, myself included, can imitate (not with the same bravado of course!). He makes me want to attack my dreams with a full head of steam and do whatever it takes to accomplish them.
7. AUTHENTICITY – Gary is the truest version of himself every day. He’s the person he wants to be, regardless of what others say about him. Dropping regular f bombs when talking is not weird at all. Neither is making jokes about employees. It’s just Gary being Gary. When he talks, you can’t do anything but hang on his every word given his passion and careful word choice.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of becoming the person your parents want you to be. Gary has taught me to embrace my identity and let it shine at the office. It’s not only reflected in my work but also in the way I interact with my coworkers. Every day, they’re getting the raw Mike Riley.
8. GRATITUDE – Gary is the king of self-promotion. He’s given so much value to his community and the people around him that it’s only natural that from time to time he throws “right hooks,” aka asking his community to take actions on his behalf. His asks are so effective because the following he’s developed online and in the workplace is rooted in gratitude. As much success as he’s achieved, he knows he could not have done it without the people who helped get him there. Even at the office, Gary is constantly thanking people around and asking how he can help.
I am humbled by Gary’s gratitude. It makes me want to treat the people around me even more nicely and further appreciate how I got to where I am. Every now and then, I need to remind myself to stop and smell the roses. I’m happy and thankful to work at one of, if not, the top social media agency in the country. It’s a privilege, and I ‘m doing all that I can to make it a memorable experience.
9. LEAD BY EXAMPLE – Gary is a great overall human being. He’s one of those guys you meet and instantly want to be friends with. Even though I’ve only interacted with him a few times, I feel like I know him so well just by being near him and consuming all the content he puts out. The way he carries himself at the office and online definitely rubs off on those who pay attention and care.
Watching Gary in action makes you want to be the kind of person he already is. If you’re constantly around great leaders, you’ll likely adopt some of their winning habits and tendencies. I’ve always wanted to be an inspiring, cool, and awesome leader. I can’t think of a better way to start my career then being under the tutelage of the cream of the crop.
10. FEAR THE UNDERDOG – Gary loves to shake up any industry he’s in. He does this so effectively because expectations are so low for new competition and he’s constantly innovating. For example, he’s building one of the fastest growing social media agencies on his own terms. As someone who is scrappy and loves to climb the ladder of success, watch out!
I’m an underdog. I’ve barely been working in the professional world and have a lot to prove. When I choose myself to start a business, no one is going to have heard of me. There’s no better way to write your own rules on business and life than watch one of the all-time greats do it with style.
What have you learned from Gary Vaynerchuk? How are you getting on the radar of people you admire?
Gary Vaynerchuk just published a new book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. Pick it up HERE.