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Gary Vaynerchuk Practices What He Preaches

April 15, 2011 3 comments

I originally interviewed and wrote this article for my FORBES blog, but wanted to ensure my readers received as well.

How many of you have ever reached out via email, Twitter or phone to an Internet superstar?

I have. Before writing this article, I gave Gary Vaynerchuk a test. I wanted to see if he really responded to all people, to see if he’s truly “engaged” and how much he “cares,” regardless of whether you’re a client or not.

He did and he does.

I emailed, asking him if I could ask him some questions about his New York Times bestselling book, Thank You Economy. Within 30 seconds, I had a response. “Phone number?”

While I was not able to get back to him at that exact moment, I responded back with my phone number later in the day and, again, received a personal response.

And finally on 3/30/2011, Gary called. He was on his way to an interview on CNN and he had put aside time for me. We connected and spoke.

And I found he is just as true to his concept as he said he was. He cares.

Thank you Economy was written for all of us. In typical Vaynerchuk fasion, the book was written from the heart, engaging us with a passionate intelligence surrounding business relationships and transactions. It’s for first-time entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 executives, and the first of its kind.

TYE demonstrates the ROI on social media. It outlines the dangers of “waiting” to see short term results and, most importantly, it clearly depicts what we are in the midst of – a humanistic revolution.

When I spoke with Gary, his thesis was so simple; yet he has proven to be the best at executing on it: “Be reactionary,” he said. “React to what the market wants. And the market wants one-on-one real time engagement. Now that we have the tools to engage, I’m going to continue fighting for the end user.”

TYE puts into words what we’ve all been trying to define since the onslaught of social media: what’s the best way to use it? According to Gary, we have the opportunity to regress back to the days before there was a Starbucks on every corner or a supermarket every five miles; using the same tactic we did when there was a locally-owned butcher or coffeehouse. Care about your consumer.

So simple, yet the U.S. economy has been so focused on “driving traffic” and mass media over the last 20 years, we forgot about our consumer. We looked at the numbers, and the efficiencies, but we stopped listening…Except for people like Gary.

When I first started the book, I admittedly thought it may be a bit elementary. The content of the introduction and first few chapters spoke of brands in a very similar fashion I had read of in college or other business books. There wasn’t any mind blowing differences in the actual content.

But as I continued reading, I found that Gary’s secret is not in the content. His secret is in inspiring and motivating others to act. In the book, he does this not only through passion, but also through specific examples and case studies showing the ROI of one-on-one engagement.

His reason for working IS the end user or the consumer. The consumer’s voice matters and we all need to not solely except that, but embrace it and use that first consumer to build our companies. We can all SCALE CARING.

And Gary certainly cares of everything in his life with the same fierce passion he does his consumer. When I asked him how he found the time to even write the book, his response, “We all have a different definition of work/life balance. Spending time writing this book was not remotely close to how happy I am when I’m with my daughter. But we need to cut out the fat.”

In the same conversation, he beeped over to take a call from his mom; but he did not beep over for business calls. What was cutting out the fat? “Stop doing things that waste time. Don’t replace time with your family or things that you NEED to do. I NEEDED to put together two fantasy teams this weekend because that’s something I enjoy, but did stop playing Nintendo Wii for hours on end.”

Gary has become a master author, a renown social media expert, the fighter for the end-user, and still remains a family man – able to see all the Jets games and do everything else he loves. How? By caring for the consumer.

And if you want to keep up and learn how to do this with your company, your personal brand, your product, and yourself; you’ll read his book too. Don’t pre-judge like I did at the beginning. Just read and be inspired. And then commit to Care.

Social Media + Keeping it Real = Money, Learning, and Great Friends

May 13, 2010 2 comments

As social media continues to dominate the web space as well as play a part in most of our daily lives, I began using social media tools several years ago; but never with the intention that it would “get” me anything. I did it for the simple reason that…I’m social. I genuinely have a love for people and believe that every person I meet is the opportunity to learn something new.

My first encounter with social media was using “Friendster” and LinkedIn. This was so long ago, that there weren’t even ads on either of the sites. This expanded to MySpace and then Facebook, Twitter, and Brazen Careerist. As of about 6 months ago, I was using these tools in my professional arena; posting ads, targeting different groups, learning how to make campaigns “viral”; but I still did not have much use in my personal life.

I had worked with a man named Jay Berkowitz, the owner of Ten Golden Rules, for the past year on my professional campaigns and began listening to his podcasts and reading his blog, books, etc. I did all of this solely to learn for “business” purposes, but found it all intriguing.

When I stopped working FT for a ‘company’ and started consulting (this was only about 4 months ago), I called Jay to let him know; the first thing he said was, “Start blogging”. So I did. What I found was that I loved blogging because I would be “me”. I kept it real, I said what I thought, I backed up what I thought with data, and there was no one there to tell me HOW to write or that what I was writing was bad or boring. It became a release for me. It has also become a basis for the reason companies want to work with me. They know I may not be the most “corporate” in the bunch, but I will be blunt and deliver results.

While I have almost 3,000 ‘friends’ on Facebook and almost 1,000 connections on Linkedin, I still used FB for social purposes only and Linkedin – I had made some deals, recieved some job offers, but had not gone on daily to answer questions in the networking groups or used any of the other tools they offered.

I then came upon Brazen Careerist. I’m unsure why it appealed to me, as I’ve been invited to thousands of social netowrks and never sign up, but I signed up for this one. As soon as I signed up, I recieved emails from the community manager, Ryan Paugh, inviting me to join networks, saying he was a ‘fan’, etc. While I’m guessing these were auto-triggered, what I liked about them was that they seemed more personalized (even if they actually weren’t). The commuincation appeared as if it was directed towards me, not AT me.

I “fanned” a few people and started recieving emails about them making / posting comments. What I liked about these comments was that people weren’t trying to “sound smart”; these were individuals that were asking REAL questions about day to day sitautions and REAL things that affect our everyday lives. I had finally found a social network that not only “kept it real”, but also kept me interested. Unlike Linkedin, Brazen does not send out one mass bulk email everyday, but is smart enough to keep people engaged throughout the day by sending an email each time a comment is made or responded to. While I thought this would be annoying, I enjoy it. It only takes 10 seconds to glance over an email to see if you’re interested in the comments and it is a welcome break from the day to day monotony of “work”. At the same time, Brazen has become a kind of professional development tool for me as well.

So, I probably spend about 5 minutes each hour (sometimes 10) on Brazen doing nothing but having intelligent, intellectually driven conversations with like minded business people. While it is mostly “Gen Y”, there has been an uptick in the numbers of “Gen X” and “Baby Boomers” recently. Their experience combined with the ‘no fear’ / entreprenurial factor of “GEN Y” makes this site captivating; and I’m always learning.

I recently recieved an email (personalized this time) from Ryan Paugh, telling me I had won a scholarship from the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. They had partnered with Brazen in search of the most “social” person. I knew my big mouth and blunt style would get me something someday ( ; Surprisingly, I got calls from several newspapers, but of course remained true to my Florida Gators and only spoke with the ALLIGATOR.

My point in telling all of this is not to ‘sell’ you on the idea of social media; but more so to inform those of you who continue to work or ‘play’ in this arena; I never applied for anything. I did not go out and attempt to get followers or fans. I write my blog for ME only and I use it as a release. But what the social media world is starting to recognize is that being YOU is exactly what we, as a society, need. No more corporate, politically correct doctrines…no more fake responses…but a reality. A world where we can say and do what we want. If people don’t want to listen, they can ‘de’ friend us or not go to our blogs…but for those who are listening – listen to me: Keep doing what you’re doing. Be yourself in all of your conversations and posts. You will get recognized. I did.

Personal Branding – Real or Fake?

April 6, 2010 21 comments

When I first watched Gary Vaynerchuk video on TED, I thought to myself, “hell yea – there’s a guy that keeps it real”.

Since that time, I have studied many of the ‘personal brand’ gurus, most of whom you know: Dan Schawbel, Mashable, Chris Brogan, and then another 30 or 40 you probably don’t.

The 3 above, I’m impressed with – they are clearly marketers, learners, and connectors; but with many people now, I’ve thought to myself, “Seriously? There is no way you really believe and act on that”.

So I’ve started to question whether the ‘personal brand trend’ is people being real or people cashing in on being something they think others WANT them to be; in a sense, people have become actors. Many of these individuals promote themselves, but I want to look at them and ask for the “old fashioned” resume. This is business. I’m glad you can sell yourself; you’re obviously creative, you know about social media, connecting, and can certainly be a good ‘sales person’….but what else have you done? How many billions in revenue have you brought to a company? How many people have you managed? Moreso, does it take a business minded person to excel in the social media world and vice versa – because someone excels in social media, does this mean they’ll excel at business? Or does it just take a lot of hard work? connecting? content development?

My number one question is; how do you know what these people are saying is ‘real’?

What If You Feel like “No one wants you”

April 5, 2010 Leave a comment

To add onto my prior posting about mentors, there are always going to be situations in which you’d like to be one’s protege and they are either 1) Too busy 2) Too Concerned about their own career 3) Maybe they simply don’t like you or think you will be a “star”.

To numbers 1 and 2; FORGET THEM! Any great leader will tell you, the sign of a great manager is that they not only hire the “right” people, but they train and work with their team as the goal is always to REPLACE YOURSELF so you can move up. Even if not to replace oneself, perhaps they are fearful of losing their own job. I don’t want a mentor who has ANY fear. In this economy, it is the innovators who are prevailing. As Seth Godin’s Linchpin tells us, we need to make ourselves indepsepnsible…and in order to do so, we certainly do not want to mirror someone who is not confident they are indispensable, right?

That doesn’t mean that everyone will be able to find someone to mentor them, however it is 2010. A “mentor” does not have to be someone that you work with anymore. A “mentor” doesn’t even need to be in the same state, country, or continent as you. Social Media has allowed those of us who are ambitious to “connect”. We need to use and embrace those connections. If you find a blog you like, comment on it, follow it, retweet it, create a blog of your own and link to this blog. This individual WILL notice you.

As technology and our world changes, so do our relationships and types of relationships. If a “mentor” is someone you trust to learn from, and you are seeking one (or 2 or 3 or 4) out, there is no better time to ‘connect’. We are in the midst of a social media KABOOM! The more connections you have online, the wider your pool is of people to work with, network, learn from, and be a protege to…hence, the higher your chances of finding someone you connect with are.

As with anything in business, life, relationships, etc. Don’t give up. You will find people out there to connect with and I hypothesize that 10 years from now, these connections are going to be far more than they are today.

Introducing…the real “deal”

January 19, 2010 1 comment

If you’re one of the millions of people who have jumped on the ‘social media’ frenzy, likely that you have learned about a category called, “reputation management”.    I have yet to find one website (including dictionary.com) that has a consistent definition of what this actually is, but net / net – it’s strategically managing what others think of you.  Simple tactical example:  Someone posts something negative about you;  it goes out on the PR wire and is popping up on the SEO portion of google, yahoo, and bing.  You are MORTIFIED;  what do you do?  Well, if you work in repuatation management; what you would do is publish as many POSITIVE twitter updates (real time, so this is the quickest way to lower something on SEO), articles, etc. to “push” that negative article down.  The internet has not only given us the ability to connect, share, gossip, etc. but in turn has created hundreds of businesses that make a profit by negating those freedoms.  It’s an economy builder, but at what price?

As I begin this blog, here is my promise to you;  there will be no “reputation management”.  I keep it real.  If people don’t like it or like me, so be it.  I will write my blog with the same candidness that I develop in relationships; ‘you keep it real with me’, ‘i’ll keep it real with you’…and while this may be the “Gen Y” style of a contract or handshake – this is the foundation of any good business relationship.  Authenticity and Trust.

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