If you want an example of a fiercely ambitious, highly gifted entrepreneur, you can’t do much better than Gary Vaynerchuk. He’s been on the “hustle” since he was a young kid in New Jersey, and a talent for creating profitable businesses is in his blood.
You’ve probably seen him somewhere online, especially YouTube, because he documents nearly every minute of his days to promote himself and his businesses as much as is humanly possible. In fact, he’s probably the first person to document his life to the degree that he does, which has prompted many other entrepreneurs to follow his lead to promote their own companies.
The CEO of his massively successful media company, VaynerMedia, venture capitalist, investor in a wide range of social media companies and other investments, frequent public speaker, and creator of multiple original segments on YouTube, “Gary Vee”, as he is known to his fans, never stops moving and usually even skips breakfast and lunch because he doesn’t want it to take up his time or weigh him down.
How did he reach the upper echelon of entrepreneurship and business development? He hustles. He uses every waking moment that he can to build his companies and continually search for new investment opportunities. He earns every inch of ground that he gains and encourages new entrepreneurs to do the same.
An Early Start with Entrepreneurship
Gary was born in Belarus, and his family immigrated to the United States when he was a very young child, at the age of 3. As he tells people, himself, he was born in Belarus, but he grew up in Edison, NJ, where his father owned a shop and Gary learned that he also had a knack for business, honing his skills even back then during his formative years.
One of the first ventures that he attempted as a young kid back in Jersey was a lemonade stand. He tells the story of how he would watch the drivers as they passed his lemonade stand on the street in his neighborhood and, seeing that the people weren’t looking or couldn’t see his sign, he would make changes to the stand to make sure the drivers could see it.
He displayed a talent and aptitude for business very early on, and it wasn’t like anyone in his life really encouraged him to be that way. He simply loved it, and that’s what he wanted to do the most. Gary says that entrepreneurship “is just in his DNA,” and that is, as he says, one of the most important components necessary for being a successful entrepreneur.
Being Self-Aware is a Huge Advantage
Naturally, Gary was involved in all the activities that any other kid is into, like playing sports and just playing outside with his friends all day, but at the same time, what he was interested in the most was how to sell something and how to build a business.
He was always confident in anything that he did and was never worried too much about being popular as a kid, either. Basically, he always knew who he was, and that is a trait that he encourages other people to have, as well. He is a strong proponent of being “self-aware”.
He counsels people all the time that you need to know yourself; you need to know what you’re capable of and what you’re really meant to do. Just because you want to be an entrepreneur because it’s cool to be an entrepreneur now, that doesn’t mean you’re good at it or should attempt it.
Gary Vee has always, by his own admission, been interested in business and talented to a high degree in that area. Being an entrepreneur and generally a shaman in the art of business is an occupation that found him. He didn’t search for it or aspire to become that; that’s just what he is.
It Has Little to Do with Luck
One of the points that Gary frequently stresses to people who want to be entrepreneurs is that you will have to work your tail off if you want to have a high level of success in business. You can’t go out to the bars with your friends every weekend, you can’t just check out when you get off work at your day-job, and you will have to sacrifice a lot, most of all your time.
Gary tells people that he basically gave up his 20s to do the work it would take to grow his parents’ wine business and grow it from $3 million to $60 million in revenue. He never just fell into success in business, and he even experienced many failures and mistakes in his various pursuits throughout his life.
The point is, he says, that he never went out and spent money on a lifestyle that he didn’t really need. He didn’t live beyond his means the way that many other professionals do, either, such as dropping thousands of dollars on expensive apartments, clothes, cars, or anything extraneous.
For those who look to him for advice or guidance to become a successful entrepreneur, he always emphasizes that you will have to put in the work, no matter what, and there is simply no substitute for putting in that work. You might have to work 18 or 20 hours a day for a long time, especially if you have to keep your day-job at the same time.
Don’t Knock the Hustle
You’re not going to accidentally happen upon success. The hustle is absolutely necessary, and you will have to give up a lot of your time and make other sacrifices if you want to have real success in whatever pursuit it is that you’re going after.
Gary is brutally honest with his fans about what is required to be a good entrepreneur and reach the goals you have, no matter what those goals are. Whether you have really lofty goals of being a millionaire with 10 cars and a huge house, or you just want to make $100k a year with your business, the hustle is the same because there’s no way you can get there by spending 5 hours per week working on the business.
Gary also notes that many entrepreneurs today don’t have any patience for it. They want to be a huge success after a few months working on their new company, not realizing that it will probably take much longer than that to accomplish it.
That’s why he tells people to prepare themselves and accept the fact that, for likely a couple of years at least, there won’t be much time for friends, family, going out on weekends, or anything else during the time that you’re building.
Go Where the Attention Is
Gary is adamant about meeting people where they are placing their attention. The way he was able to make Google AdWords work so well for him, and later, Facebook Ads, was because he got in on it early when it was cheap, but everyone’s attention was there, so he got a huge return on that strategy. What he does is invest all of his energy into channels, projects, ideas, etc. into places where consumers are putting their attention.
Just like there is a huge amount of attention in YouTube in the past few years, there is almost going to be something at any given time that everyone is looking at and interacting with. It was Google AdWords, then it was Facebook Ads, then Twitter, then Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and on and on it goes.
Gary has a unique ability to see where the places that are getting the most attention, early on, during a time when it’s not yet difficult or expensive to get into them and use those channels. The idea is to not put your energy into channels that are already popular because there is going to be a ton of traffic in those spaces, making it tougher to make it work for you.
How to Anticipate the Market if You’re Not Gary Vee
If you’re not a marketing genius like Gary Vee, one of the ways you may be able to get in on those spaces early is to stay plugged in to everything that’s going on at a given time. You can watch what people are beginning to talk about and use with increasing volume and frequency to try and make an educated guess at what you should be investing in before everybody else does.
It is definitely a challenge to know what’s going to blow up before it happens, which is why not everyone can do it. Another thing you can do is to simply follow really smart, successful entrepreneurs like Gary, watch what they’re doing, and take a shot at investing in the things in which they are investing their time, money, and energy.
Gary actually freely gives these tips away to the public, especially his fans and followers because he is truly passionate about helping young and new entrepreneurs to reach the goals that they have in business.
If you follow him on the various channels where he publishes content, such as his YouTube channel, Instagram, Facebook, or his podcast, you will, at the very least, learn a lot of information that will help you to start or grow your company.
Gary Vee Doesn’t Care What People Think
First of all, Gary does not let the way people think of him dictate what moves he is going to make in his various business ventures. He makes moves based on what he knows is going to work, or the things he, himself, has a good feeling about. It’s one of his strongest pieces of advice that he promotes all the time.
One thing he talks about frequently is the problem of wannabe entrepreneurs who want the expensive car or private jet just so people can see them in it. He warns against that and reminds people that it’s fine to want those things, but you should pursue them because they truly make you happy and enrich your life, not because you want others to see you with those things.
It’s a kind of sickness to be obsessed with the opinion of other people that is widespread today, due in large part to the alter-egos and separate personalities that we create for ourselves online through social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram.
They Won’t Be There When You Fail
When you worry too much about what others around you think about you or what you’re doing, it will keep you from doing what you know is right. Many times throughout his career, there were investments Gary made because he believed they would work, while people told him that those investments were a bad idea.
You’re in control of the future of your career and your business, and you are the one who will have to deal with the aftermath of a decision that you made based on pressure from other people on the outside.
It is far better to make your business and investment decisions based on your own instincts, and your own research, because you are the one who knows your business or whatever goals you have more intimately than anyone else.
Most importantly, the people who tell you what you should or shouldn’t do based on their own opinions are not going to be there when you fail after making a move based on what they tell you. You are the one who will be forced to deal with the consequences of whatever decisions you make, so you might as well do what you want, not what everybody else thinks you should do.
1. “42 Years of My Life in 42 Minutes, Interview with DRAMA,” GaryVee, YouTube, August 20, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQ-4mr6q4Ak