Personal Brand Management – Five Personal Branding Questions With Gary Vaynerchuk

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.

Ryan would love nothing more than to connect with you on Twitter at @RyanRancatore, or on Linkedin, Facebook, or Brazen Careerist.

Create a Remarkable Web Presence at

Once you’ve developed your personal brand, it’s time to create a visible web presence around it. Did you know that more than half of employers are more likely to hire you if you’ve spent time developing your personal brand across social networks? To help you do this, we built a platform to manage your online reputation from one central hub. Create your Brand-Yourself account today and see how our tools can help you build, optimize and promote a remarkable web presence that gets you hired.

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  • Keith McIlvaine

    Ryan – Great interview with Gary, well done. Just finished reading “Crush It” and his energy and enthusiasm is completely palpable surrounding social networking. Thanks for brining additional ideas from Gary to the spotlight.

  • Evan Watson

    Great stuff from Gary V. I love how you started it off with a zinger and i couldn't agree more with his response “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.” Right on the money.

    The one question i have for you, however, is if you think the noise that people and businesses make on social media for self promotion is going to drown out the real conversations and turn people away…..

    I know a whole lot of people that wont touch social media with a ten foot pole because they don't think the genuineness is there, truly unfortunate.

  • Dara Bell

    Gary Vee has these five qualities down to a tee. It seems his motivation sets him apart from the pack is is hidden personal brand. If you have to choose between something you will choose different you will choose unique almost every time. For me his comment on storytelling is paerhaps the most important because it proves yes he is big into customer service but he is bigger into marketing and he has told a fabulous personal story.

  • Ryan Rancatore

    Dara, the storytelling lesson is an interesting one. Telling a consistent story takes a lot of time, but in the end can be well worth it, as Gary V proves.

  • Ryan Rancatore

    You know, Evan, you make a great point. I wasn't around for it, but when companies and celebrities first started infiltrating Twitter, many of the purists were disappointed. It definitely has changed, and the # of spammers and sales pitchers is tough to deal with. But….

    I'd like to look at it from the optimistic standpoint that the truly genuine social media engagers out there will only stand out even more in the long run. But maybe I'm being overly optimistic?

  • Ryan Rancatore

    I appreciate the RT and the kind words. I must admit to being surprised to get such detailed responses to very precise questions. And, Gary answered in less than 2 days….pretty darn cool, I'd say.

  • Michael Locke

    Nice interview. Anything from Gary is gold. He’s so far ahead of everyone else, it’s amazing. I started following him about a month ago after learning about his book. The thing I love about Gary is that he’s actually doing and has done exactly what I’ve been preaching the last 3 years. But he’s actually made it to the top, he’s won. And now he’s validated everything that I’ve been wanting to do, but haven’t done. He’s like 3 to 4 years ahead of everyone else. All you have to do is look at his first episode of on WLTV to see what he said in the beginning and how true he was to make it happen 3 years later. Very awesome.

  • Dara Bell

    I think Twitter is a platform a credible one as Evan points out. Where I do disagree,from Gary Vee is that the millions of unemployed could have avoided their fate from personal branding or using social media. The economy shifted and much was of it was built on bad credit.

    Twitter is platform that delivers results in a shortspace of time.

  • Dara Bell

    KUfarms it is great book is it not. Had been doing much of it before it is nice to have a sounding board of affirmation. We all need it sometime.

    Dara Bell

  • Ryan Rancatore

    So true, Michael. Easy to talk about crushing it, much harder to actually do it. I'm definitely not there myself, but getting there…best of luck to you, Michael.

  • Evan Watson

    I hope your optimism is on point but like anything I am willing to bet we will just see an evolution, more networks, more filters, another mode of engagement…..that will likely in and of itself somewhat solve the problem.

    I also think your right that people providing genuine value tend to rise to the top, but not all of them, and some people don't even want to, they just want to connect with their compadres and not be bothered. I think it will be an interesting ride as we watch where things go.