Full disclosure: This started as a simple post on LinkedIn, but when I hit the character limit, I knew I hadn’t done justice to the message. He, and you, deserve more than that.

Before we get to Gary Vaynerchuk, let’s go back some years in my life. If I define myself now as successful, what I’ve been in the past has been scary. But it’s part of the process. I needed to be that, to live that, in order to become this.

I’ve been a senseless, empty shell of a human. For years. I eventually got myself together, first working on my exercise and nutrition, then my personal development. Once I felt I had a firm grasp on the basics, I started working on my career. I got into the digital communications space, working in social media quite a bit. An amazing friend of mine told me to check out Crush It! That was 2011.

I’ve been listening to Gary Vaynerchuk ever since. Those closest to me today don’t go a month without hearing me talk about him or sending them a link to his content.

The Gary Vee Language

No, I’m not referring to the colorful, if not direct, language that he uses. Although I do find it effective. I’m talking about the language that he represents – a form of communication, if you will – that he has developed over his career.

For anyone who has taken a foreign language, you’re familiar with certain phrases that represent such complex concepts, there is no true translation to your native tongue. That’s how I feel about Gary. There is no simple way to sum him up – attempting to do so would be like calling the Grand Canyon a crack in the ground. It totally misses the mark.

What makes him so influential is what he brings to the table. This guy stitches together the unique combination of addressing modern trends, keeping it simple, and repeating the same overall message. With surgical precision. He sees what happens, reacts with lightning speed, and takes copious mental notes during the process.

A PhD in Self-Awareness

Flashback to Gary in grade school. He found a niche (read: ripe market) in selling baseball cards. He was raking in more than what I was making at my last job, which simultaneously speaks well of him and poorly of me. Having enjoyed his teens for only a few years, Gary’s father brought him into the family-owned liquor store business. He worked there for years and eventually transitioned to college. However, he still spent every, literally, every weekend at that liquor store, helping his father build up the business. He began investing his time building up the wine selection, learning everything he could about it and pumping that knowledge into the store inventory and marketing. He brought the sales from $3 million to $60 million. In five years. That’s an average increase in sales of over $30,000 per day.

I stop the history lesson there because everything that came after is a continuation of what he had already figured out. Himself. He honed in on what he was really made of, then committed to shoving it in the fire to forge a sharper edge. Once he executes, he looks for the feedback. As one of his more famous sound bites goes, “Your comments are my oxygen.” More than a decade later, he is still doing it, although in the more recent years, he has taken the stage more often to teach and connect with others about what he has done. And through all of that, in my opinion, self-awareness has become his greatest asset.

The Domino Effect

I’ve previously written about failure, but it’s only a nod to Gary’s lead. Imagine the universe sets up all the failures that we will ever encounter, side by side, waiting for us to run into them. Most people knock them over one at a time like it was a $2 shooting game at the county fair. But not Gary Vaynerchuk. He learned to line all of his up like dominoes and run full-speed into the first one. With every failure, he learns, innovates, adapts and moves on. He doesn’t just fail, he achieves failure.

His resilience is borderline uncanny – he accepts changes without complaining, mostly because that just wastes precious time that could be the critical difference between first and second place.

What I take away from him, on the most basic level, is consistency. As a leader in his field (which actually seems like a dozen industries), he keeps his message the same: watch, learn, execute, repeat. Then he adapts the message to the listener. Between videos, podcasts, keynotes, and blog posts, I’ve heard/watched/read the same passion expressed in over 50 different ways. That’s a lesson for any leader at any stage.

Go After It

If I’m being brutally honest, sometimes I go a couple weeks at a time without looking at any of his content. Between all his platforms, he puts out a lot of it. A LOT. So why do I disconnect at times? Essentially, there are two reasons, one positive, one negative, that I skip out on Mr. Vee for a bit.

  • Positive: His message is ingrained in my mind and in my work ethic. I’ve been consuming it for six years. Instead of listening to another keynote or reading another blog post, I know I need to get off my ass and go execute. In Gary’s words, “I have no interest in what you’re gonna do. Every person I’ve ever met has told me they’re ‘gonna.’ Forget gonna, just do.” Put simply, I stop listening and go do.
  • Negative: I give myself a dumb excuse(s) about why I’m not accomplishing something. Usually it’s an external locus of control (Wait, what?). That’s when I blame results on things out of my control instead of taking responsibility. I know Gary, though having never met me, is going to call me out on my bullshit. When a guy worth several million tells you, through a screen, exactly what your problem is, you shut up and listen.

Same Message, Different Delivery

I hear people ask him questions over and over (and over), and many of them seem to be some variation of “…but what about me?” His message is always clear and focused: There is no yellow brick road laid out for anyone, so pull out a machete and get to cutting your own way through the field. And if you don’t have a machete, go to Marshalls, find the arbitrage, make a profit, and repeat until you can afford to buy a machete.

When I begin making excuses, I remind myself of Gary’s message: I am not different. If I can’t see a way to make it work, I will fail like everyone else who couldn’t figure it out either.

This is, by far, my favorite video from Gary Vaynerchuk. Watch him discuss the ridiculous notion that he somehow “made it” overnight: [Spoiler alert: He didn’t]

Photo credits: @garyvee on Twitter

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