A look back at his 2018 masterpiece, Crushing It!
On a set designed to mimic an elegant study, broadcasting icon Larry King sits at a table wearing a bemused smirk upon his face as his trademark RCA series 77 microphone rests atop the table.
Larry is not alone.
King is filming an interview for his series, Larry King Now. Odds are very high that his guest on this occasion is someone legendary. King had spent the previous half century interviewing some of the most seminal figures in history; U.S. Presidents, world leaders, business moguls, entertainment giants. Whom is his guest on this particular day?
None other than Gary Vaynerchuk.
Vaynerchuk’s 5th book, Crushing It, is set to hit bookstore shelves all over the world on January 30th after a months-long whirlwind of pre-release hype and relentless promotion online. I am obsessive about getting a copy Day One. It has been stunning and very inspiring to witness with my own eyes the dedicated community of people who eagerly post screenshots online of pre-order confirmation of the book.
This response is only possible because of Gary’s insatiable commitment to building his community by disseminating tons of value.
“Did school fail you, or you failed school,” Larry King asks Gary.
“School failed me. School is failing entrepreneurs every single day,” Gary says.
“Because?” King asks.
“Because it’s not built for entrepreneurship. It’s built for workers. If you’re being taught to play within the lines, there’s nothing being taught that maps to the entrepreneurial market….”
It is this exact type of declaration and mindset that has won Vaynerchuk equal loads of platitudes and condemnation. Speaking this way about the school system has been off putting to some, but to those with entrepreneurial DNA, this is a liberating perspective delivered by a man whose public profile has been on a meteoric rise for the past three to five years.
Gary Vaynerchuk resonates. Big time.
Rewind back to 2013, when I had initially become aware of Vaynerchuk via several social media influencers. Back then, I had consumed so much of his digital content that I began composing a short essay on the man entitled, “2 Choices: Either listen to Gary Vaynerchuk or keep being a LOSER!”. Here is what I wrote about him on October 7, 2013:
As a motivational speaker, Gary Vaynerchuk is better than Tony Robbins. As a business strategist, he is far more worth listening to than Donald Trump. As a loud mouthed, passionate stage performer, he is more hilarious and resonant than Sam Kinison.
But he also expresses more empathy than freakin’ Mother Teresa!
Vaynerchuk strikes me as a true genius. If ever there was a human being that possesses a winning attitude, it is THIS GUY hands down. At first glance, he may seem like an obnoxious twit hell bent on humiliating himself with over-the-top theatrics in a desperate attempt to garner attention.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Gary Vee, as he is popularly known is the founder of VaynerMedia and one of the most groundbreaking thought leaders in 21st century America. He is a social media maven, a critically acclaimed author and one of the most sought after influencers of online business. But the true impact of Gary’s significance lies in the fact that everything about his approach and success in business seems tailor-made for the new millennium world of endless technology, when in reality, he is grounded in old school marketing.
Vaynerchuk’s seminal 2009 book, “Crush It” had an entire chapter dedicated to that one novel idea of marketing. He always stresses the importance of family and empathy for your customers, which makes him seem to care more about relationships than any relationship expert in the world.
In my lifetime, I have been drawn to individuals (particularly famous) who have changed the world in significant ways. The first one that garnered my attention was Michael Jackson. Even being just five years of age when I began my obsession with him, I understood that he was just different. His stylistic sensibilities, pioneering imagination and sheer talent revamped the music industry and by extension, the world of show business.
Michael Jackson changed the world.
The same can be said of Michael Jordan, another of my idols. Jordan reshaped pro basketball as well as advertising and became a cultural icon in massive ways.
Gary Vaynerchuk, in many ways fits into this conversation. Bear with me and allow me to explain.
Gary has been a natural hustler since childhood while being blessed with an uncanny acumen for creating financial opportunities for himself and the businesses which he has overseen. Watching his evolution over the past decade has been absolutely astounding.
Take for example his sit down with King. I grew up admiring Larry and the way in which he interviewed people. He owned that segment of the broadcast journalism world for decades.
But I could not help but notice the fascinating juxtaposition of Vaynerchuk sitting with King that day in 2016 and actually educating the older man on the virtues of 21st century entrepreneurship via the internet.
Seeing these two giants from vastly different eras commiserate on this topic represented a flash point in the rapidly evolving manner in which the world communicates.
Accomplished man that he is, King seemed a couple steps behind the times as Vaynerchuk repeatedly and persuasively extolled the advantages of this new tech world that now exists. The interview began to feel less like a conversation, and more like an abdication of the media throne.
And Gary was razor sharp in his presentation.
A preteen Jackson, as lead singer of The Jackson 5 scored a huge early career spike in public awareness with his landmark televised performance of the group’s hit single “Who’s Lovin’ You?” in 1969. On a much smaller scale, but still wrought with subtle parallels, Gary traversed a similar early path.
Vaynerchuk’s first consistent online presence commenced with the 2006 inception of his web series, Wine Library TV. His infusion of a non-conformist personality and obvious expertise in the series eventually led to a steady stream of media appearances, including a segment on The Conan O’Brien Show. This raised his profile exponentially and in that respect, Wine Library TV represents Gary’s “Who’s Lovin’ You?” moment.
During the past nine years, Gary has risen to the ranks of Johnny Carson, both M.J.s, Hugh Hefner, and Howard Stern to name just a few in terms of being a cultural game changing force of nature.
His 2009 business book, Crush It! introduced many aspiring and existing entrepreneurs to this incredible new world of possibilities through Gary’s passionate pleas to anyone willing to listen.
With that book, Vaynerchuk began evolving into the country’s foremost advocate of developing a business and lifestyle around our interests and expertise by leveraging the powerful reach of the internet.
Initially, his appearances on various cable news shows seemed to treat him as a novelty with a quick wit and tons of cockiness. But he was always much more than that.
Consider this: Tony Robbins, the well known peak performance coach has been cultivating his image and brand in his field since the late 1970s. Vaynerchuk, who mirrors Robbins’ high energy, fiery style of motivating (and occasional profanity) has, in less than a decade eclipsed Robbins in day to day visibility and impact.
Much of that stems from the way Vaynerchuk fortifies his message; daily consistency, constant value adding, relentless gratitude and limitless hustle all broadcast through his various social media channels.
That’s influence on steroids.
Vaynerchuk’s new book, Crushing It! was an eye-opening joy to read. Packed with stories of ordinary people who turned their ambitions into thriving online businesses, it serves as a manual to eliminate the excuses that we often use to mask laziness, insecurity or procrastination and start developing a life on our own terms.
Because of the tireless efforts that Gary invests into building his personal brand, the book became a best seller even prior to release. The man has been on a mission for years to transform the social media cognoscenti into becoming mainstream business practices for all of us. And based on the engagement of his audience and evangelists of his message, he is definitely succeeding.
I admire Gary for his insistence that each one of us should be unapologetic about who we truly are. The response that he gets from an increasing number of followers is a testament to him walking the walk.
He is never one to sugarcoat any point of view that he has, no matter how unpopular it might be. He also instills so much confidence in those of us who follow him because we see him living his truth.
These are just a few of the reasons that I believe that Gary Vaynerchuk is changing the world. Now we just have to follow his lead and do the same — in our own way.