Gary Vaynerchuk has one of the strongest and most well-defined personal brands you will ever come across. His message, style, and ability to connect with people truly make him one of a kind. If you aren’t familiar with Gary or his internet TV show Wine Library TV, check out his infamous and inspiring Web 2.0 keynote speech. Enjoy the interview!
Q: You are widely considered the poster boy for personal branding success. Yet, personal branding is not without detractors – some think it is a waste of time, others think it is shameless self-promotion. How would you respond?
Gary V: In response to whether it’s a waste of time, I’d ask one of the millions of unemployed workers if they didn’t wish they had spent time building a personal brand. People just don’t stay in jobs as long as they used to, it just makes sense to let people know who you are beyond your job title.
As for the self-promotion argument, if you’re providing value to people, they’ll listen. If not, they’ll tune you out. The people who are just going out and promoting and treating all these new platforms like traditional media aren’t winning and they’re not going to win. It’s about engagement now, and so the people who are only about feeding their own ego and dictating the conversation are going to lose, period, end of story.
Q: While building your personal brand, what has been the one quality that has fueled your success, and set you apart from the pack: personality, passion, or perseverance?
Gary V: It’s hard to choose between those three because I know that all of them have been important in getting me to where I am today. If I had to choose one though, it would have to be passion. I don’t think I’d have been able to be as patient or as personable if I was involved in something that I didn’t love with every ounce of my heart.
As for personality, I want to make a quick point. I always talk about embracing your DNA. Some people think because they’re not ridiculously extroverted that what I talk about doesn’t apply to them. People need to focus on their personality and determine what it is that they’re best at. There are plenty of things I’m horrible at, I just concentrate on what I’m good at and have people pick up the slack on my weaknesses. If more people did that, instead of focusing so much on their weaknesses, more people would be living happier lives.
Q: You have over a million connections across social networks, yet you still encourage people to e-mail you directly, and respond to every single one. Some would call this bordering on “crazy”. Why do you do it?
Gary V: I really really like people. I feel like if someone takes the time to send me an email then they deserve a personal response. It may not be the most scalable thing in the world and I’m still backlogged into the summer, but I think it’s important. I’m just extremely grateful for everyone who takes the time to connect with me; I don’t take it for granted.
Q: You’ve typically been ahead of the curve with tech and social trends (video blogging, social media, etc). What do you see as the “next big thing” – a technology or trend that will change the game yet again?
Gary V: I love this new site Daily Booth. Actually, I love it so much that I became an investor in it recently. You know the saying a picture’s worth a thousand words, and I believe that storytelling is probably the most important tool we have in building businesses. Daily Booth makes it easy to interact using pictures.
It also has an incredible community already and Vaynermedia, the consulting company I just started with my brother AJ, has been having a lot of fun using it to help develop the Vaynermedia brand.
Q: What single piece of advice would you give to people who say they are doing everything you advocate, and aren’t seeing any results?
Gary V: They need to be patient. People saw me on Conan and assumed that I just started Wine Library TV and all of a sudden I was on national TV. There were a lot of days where I was grinding in the trenches, interacting with wine lovers for 16 hours a day and only getting 30 viewers on Wine Library TV. If you’ve got the chops and you put in the work, you’re going to see results, but they don’t come overnight.
I’m hoping this interview inspired you and made you think differently about your personal brand. If so, check out these 10 Ways to Crush It Like Gary V. Or, if you are in the mood for a few hundred pages just like this, buy Gary’s book, I guarantee you will love it.
Thanks a million to Gary for taking the time to provide these 5 brilliant answers.
Ryan Rancatore can also be found attempting to Crush It at his own site, Personal Branding 101, discussing the tools and tactics that will help you build a killer personal brand in 2010 and beyond.
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