Gary Vee


Don't Waste Your Time Reading The #AskGaryVee Book

Don't read this book - Ingest it into your ethos.

As a lot of creatives do, we long for the structure and stability of some of our corporate counterparts with their steady paychecks, clear path to success, and mentors to help usher them along the ladder. Thankfully, with the age of social media we live in now we’re able to follow and subscribe to any influential person we find inspiring, entertaining, and motivating. 

This book, #AskGaryVee, made me do a lot of thinking about everything that I’ve experienced in my life up until this point - and in reality, it should for you too or else you’re not doing what you should: shutting up & listening. For a lot of people, that person is the ever brash and bold, Gary Vaynerchuk also known as Gary Vee. For some, they recognize the name but don’t quite know the person, so I’ll tell you a bit about why you should.  

Why You Should Know Gary Vaynerchuk

It’s been said a lot, with the age of online coaches, life coaches, booming sexiness of entrepreneurship from the media and society, it’s tough to know who to trust when you’re looking for someone to follow. Yet one of the most simple age old tenants still holds true - listen to people who have actually built shit. One of the most interesting passages in the book was where Gary mentions that he didn’t even start working on his personal brand until he was almost 10 years into his career; he knew he had to prove himself and just do the work before ever opening his mouth for people to listen. 

The early part of his career is one the is synonymous to a lot of immigrants who came to this country. Coming from Belarus as a small child, his parents worked hard to make a life for their family in this new country, while instilling their old-school work ethic on their children. Five years for the Vaynerchuk family seems to be a magic number, as his father came to the US with no job, got work as a stock boy in a liquor, saved all his money for 5 years then bought his own liquor store. For Gary, early lessons in the heartache of entrepreneurship lead to him borrowing $1,000 from his father to buy baseball cards for his baseball card business, which is lost in record time. Yet, knowing it was a friendly gift from a parent, Gary then hustled his ass off to pay his father back plus interest. Which he did in typical Vee hustle fashion; joking that "selling $2000-$3000 a weekend when I was 13-14 in the malls of New Jersey. I don't know about you guys, but when you have $30,000 in cash under your bed and you're 14, and you're not selling weed, you're doing a good job." As hilarious as it is, it’s true - Gary knew how to sell and run a business which combined with an eastern European work ethic is a winning combo. Then the time came for Gary to join the family business.

Everyone is in the content business and I’m in the context business.
— Gary Vee

This meant working for his father at his own liquor store at 14 years old for $2 an hour; a far cry from his baseball card selling days. While Gary hated it, he took interest reading everything he could get his hands on to learn about wine, especially since he couldn’t drink yet. But, the real epiphany came at 16 when Vaynerchuk realized that people collected wine like he did baseball cards. The rest, as they say, is history. After taking over the day-to-day operations at 22 years old, he launched in ’96, used email marketing + online advertising and Wine Library TV on YouTube to build the $3 million dollar business to a $60 million dollar business in just five years. Remember that magical Vaynerchuk number? 

Fast-forward to starting VaynerMedia with his brother AJ, which has grown in similar fashion to over 500 employees & a list of blue chip companies anyone would love to have in just a short few years - you guessed it - about five of them. The point is, as much as Vaynerchuk can attest to having oracle like predictions and very entertaining to listen to speak (which if you’re in the Maryland area April 19th, come see him speak at University of MD), at the core of it he’s got the business chops. 



What Chapters Made Me Rethink My Life

While I’m usually all for never shutting up, I want to make this section the quick & dirty on what chapters spoke to me. Rather than make you scroll for the next 20 minutes reading, I’ll keep it short and encourage you to find your own favorite chapters & let me know which they are. 

Chapter 1: Clouds & Dirt

From the very first page, I was hit with the truth many of us know but very few remember when you’re plugging along in the day-to-day, frustrated that your efforts are not bearing the fruit you want just yet. Like I’ve mentioned earlier, one thing that Gary has is the grit to do something every single day for years before anyone pays attention - I don’t know many people who can attest to having that kind of determination, patience, and big-picture ethos that is required. 

Can you really say that you put your head down, do the work, and remember to look up and make sure you’re still aligned with your big picture? 

Chapter 4: Family Business

This chapter immediately stood out to me for a few reasons: Jessica being my rock, how becoming a parent of young kids recently changed my life, and my own family dynamics. 

When asked how important is it that your significant other share your entrepreneurial vision, Gary’s response echoed my own feelings. For a lot of people, they see relationships or lack there of in the business world in two ways: they either distract you or empower you. I know for myself being a single person for many years who just dated, I mostly focused on my photography work and let the other stuff fall in place. Yet, later in my late 20’s-early 30’s after meeting Jessica & co-parenting two kids, if I’m being honest with myself, there were times I missed being single to feel no guilt about grinding so hard and being able to do whatever it took to succeed; sublet an apartment, move on a whim for a new job, road-trip around the country, and moving back in with my parents for a spell to save up money. Don’t judge, you’ve felt it too - don’t lie. However, his follow-up response is what resonated with me as I have accepted this idea myself. 

“I don’t mean to say that I wouldn’t have been successful with her. Without a doubt I would have. But I’m sure I would have been an unhappier person, less healthy, and less fulfilled.” That last word summed it up for me - less fulfilled. If I was honest with myself, the times I was ‘grinding everyday’, what I really was doing was throwing myself into my work to distract myself from the unhappiness I was feeling - the unhappiness with my  stalled out career (more on that later), my lack of long-term relationships, my ‘outsider’ feelings regarding friendships I had, and not measuring up to my own high standards. But that all changed when I met Jessica and really let myself be present - seeing that what I gave up in terms of my ability to live like I’m on the run from the KGB with a small rented room, a mattress on the floor, a stool for my laptop and a Pelican case of camera gear and nothing else (not joking, it was off-putting), I made up with feeling fulfilled. With having people who support you when no one else will, who hold your head when you just want to cry and not judge, who you go out wanting more than anything to make proud with your accomplishments. For me, that’s Jessica and the kids, Lyric & Riley - they’re the best thing that ever happened for me and a realization that the empty feeling I had all those years was the family I wanted to help raise. I know when Jessica and I have our own child together, it’s going be another game-changer that will push me even more to build own my legacy. 

As someone who’s the youngest of three kids by quite a bit, a brother 7 years my senior and a sister 10 years my senior, I often longed growing up for the closeness siblings had whom were closer in age. Yet, I also realized that I had built-in mentors to watch grow before me, taking on life, and leaving me to take notes on what to do when it was my turn and with that, we’ve all grown up with our own careers, families, and priorities. Being transparent, when I read that Gary’s brother, AJ, was 11 years his junior, I then envisioned my brother, Anibal, and I. The idea that we would one day start our own business together blows my mind, and more personally, makes me tear up to think about having that connection that I grew up longing for, enabling us to build stronger family bonds. I hope he reads this paragraph and smiles like I am now. 

Chapter 6: Hustle

The fact is, we all secretly love to follow those #Entrepreneur, #MillionaireMentality, #HustleOrDie, #EatFuckingFaces type Instagram accounts to feel motivated, but with said, we all know it’s bullshit. We all feel like we’re just millionaires waiting for the big break, yet don’t really do the shit-touching jobs nobody wants, but are necessary to hit that tipping point. As I write this it’s 3 AM in Vegas and I’m sitting in my hotel bed with my laptop. Why am I even mentioning this? Because with everything going on on this trip, I had to finish this tonight - I didn’t want to, but I knew if it meant staying up all night I would do it. It’s important to really take a hard look inward to ask if you could be doing more. I knew I could do more.

Have you accomplished anything? Have you proven yourself in any way? No? Then shut up and get to work.
— Gary Vee, Pg 81 #Hustle

Remember earlier how I mentioned that Gary didn’t open his mouth about his personal brand for almost a decade? He knew the importance of shutting up and just doing the work. To embrace the hustle and make an impact - only then could he rant about shit and command people’s attention whether they liked him or not. 

Chapter 8: Jabs & Right hooks

This is another book in it’s own right, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World, so I won’t ruin it and just tell you that should be the next book you read if you haven’t already. Instead I’ll share the one part of the chapter that stood out the most: 

When asked about the best advice to give salespeople in today’s digital age:

Just. Freaking. Ask. 

If I were the CEO of Toyota (and I’m being very serious here), my Super Bowl ad would sound something like this: “Hey, I’m Gary Vaynerchuk and I’m the CEO of Toyota. I want you to buy my cars. What do I have to do to make that happen? Let us know.” 

Kind of funny, right? Why? Because it’s so simple and to the point, people laugh at how complicated we tend to make really simple things. We’re human - it’s kind of the most proficient thing we do. Instead of over-complicating things, we should strive to stand out by keeping it simple and honest. 

Chapter 15: Management

Full-disclosure: I interviewed at VaynerMedia last year after I got laid off. And if I’m being honest, I shit the bed on the interview. Why? Because I wasn’t upfront about being laid off from my last job. Instead, I painted a picture that I wasn’t happy and wanted to move on to have a chance at more growth because I was scared that laid off would just read as: he sucked and was fired. I realized later, it seemed like I didn’t want to be patient, put in the work, and have realistic expectations as an employee. And that’s on me. 

Yet the biggest part that made me stop reading and think: hearing that if given the chance to hire a specialist for part of his team or a jack-of-all-trades, he’d hire the jack-of-all-trades. Wasn’t expecting that either, I’m sure. For many of us millennials, as by-products of the new gig economy we find ourselves in, we often do more than just one thing. However, over the years when I kept interviewing for regular jobs, people looked at my resume and said my experience is too scattered, to which I always argued that it was actually a good thing, that it highlighted more life experience I accrued in various fields. While it sounds like a good rebuttal, I never did seem to be able to convince them to look past it and hire me.

Don’t ever let your circumstances determine your outcome.
— Gary Vee, Pg 91 #Hustle

When asked about the three values he holds highest in life and looks for in new hires, Vaynerchuk said he had more than three: Patience, Word is Bond, Empathy, and Gratitude. If those four values don’t make for an amazing employee and leader, I don’t know what to believe. Everyone wants to enjoy going to work everyday and to do that, you have to balance all four of those values in yourself and bring them out in others. 

Chapter 17: Self-Awareness

As one of the last chapters, it came at a time when I really wanted to ask myself: Do you really know yourself as a whole? All of your strengths, weaknesses, faults, and short-comings? I know, like most people, I struggle with this idea because no one likes to think they could end up not liking what they see. 

However, if that is the case you now have the outline of how to change it, how to better yourself. For me, it’s learning to accept myself, my good parts, the shitty ones I sometimes deny, and most importantly - betting on myself, instead of waiting for everyone else to give me a shot. That last one is the hardest for me, because of all the rejection I’ve received over the years. It’s not easy to say you busted your ass in college to do well, went on to grad school, got your MBA, and then couldn’t find work for six years. It makes you really take a hard look at yourself and learn what could you be doing to self-sabotage your success. When do you stop looking for validation in others, and just do your own thing? I still struggle with it, and every few years when I go through the trials of interviews for companies, I wonder why I keep taking my foot off the gas with my own ventures. 

Self-awareness is the key to pushing through those glass-ceilings we feel throughout our careers. Knowing what you’re capable of, and how you can improve on your strengths to make them killer. I’m going to keep betting on my strengths that arise as I become more self-aware. 

See the whole sad and real part of it is, remembering that everyone unrealistically sees themselves as millionaires just waiting for the big break to launch them into fame and riches as I mentioned earlier. Yet, not even 5% of us are going to really put in the hard, shitty unglamorous work to make it happen. Not the work everyday since 14, make YouTube videos everyday for two years before anyone even watches, 12-13 hour workday away from their family, on a plane every two days type work ethic that Vaynerchuk has been priding himself on to make shit happen. It’s the harshest truth no one wants to hear - you don’t work nearly hard enough to make your dreams come true. 

Being honest with myself, I know I felt that way about my career - never being able say I put in the hard work long enough for it to see it’s true potential. The patience portion of the equation only came in as I got older. Which was why when I came up with idea for The Angry Millennial Show, I went all in and put 110% of my attention & efforts into doing the best show possible, traveling around the country on my own dime, sitting with people like Chase Jarvis, Peter Hurley, Brad Lomenick, Chris Sullivan, Michael Paul Smith, & Mickey Cucchiella, all to give listeners the best damn content possible. Who thinks Gary Vaynerchuk should be one of our upcoming guests on the show in the future? Be sure to let him know in an email, Facebook status, Snapchat, tweet, or Instagram post - you know he’s going to see it, but how on-point you are will determine if he’s going to respond or not. 

I hope you came away with a better understanding on why constantly educating yourself and never feeling like you have nothing left to learn can only help you. Keep betting on your strengths, and jabbing your way into people’s minds & hearts. You know Gary will. 


Five Reasons Your Business Needs a Podcast

Running your own business can be the most fulfilling and most frustrating thing someone can ever embark on. It's both draining and empowering at the same time; quite simply, it's the most toxic relationship you will ever be in, but you'll always be going back for more no matter how crazy people say you are.

There are many reasons why building something all your own can be such a rewarding experience, despite all the fear, anxiety, and stress that come with it. Whether you're a side-preneur building something during long nights and weekends while you hold down your steady 9-5 or someone who's giving it 110% every day, 20 hours a day, you're always looking for a new way to help grow your business. Over the last few years, a decade-old medium has been making a new case for business owners to listen to what it's saying: podcasting.

Here's just a few reasons to contemplate taking the leap into this not-so-new new medium:

1. No Longer a Niche You Can Ignore

While not new, podcasts were long dismissed as something only nerds did in their mother's basements, talking about comics and Star Wars. Yet, the number of adults listening to podcasts has been on a steady rise in the last seven years:

Along with a recent survey done by Edison Research in fall 2014, you see some surprising numbers:

Some of the most telling numbers are that podcasting leads with a whopping 30%, with the closest runner-up at 23% being owned music (AM/FM 21%, Streaming Audio 12%, TV Music Channels 9%, SiriusXM 5%), which makes sense. Upon first coming across this in my research, I was surprised Spotify and Pandora didn't have a higher share with as much global success that they've been having the last few years.

The big thing to note is that people are definitely noticing, which is why you'll see the New and Noteworthy section on iTunes suddenly having a tons of highly polished podcasts from popular TV Shows, along with celebrities starting their own shows about whatever they find interesting. While it's going to keep going in this direction with bigger players coming into the fold with more production value and bigger budgets, it will also introduce a bigger audience to podcasts as a whole. As they say, a rising tide raises all boats; so, it's not necessarily a bad thing for everyday common podcasters.

2. All About Your Customers: Intent

Any business is driven by customers; if you don't think so, just imagine how long any business could operate without customers. So, it's natural that businesses cater to them in providing real value to prospective customers so they'll spend their hard-earned money on their products or services.

The best way to do this is to provide free informative content for them to share with others. This is no secret; many online businesses will do so in the form of a free e-book that gives them a taste of what they'll get if they buy their packages. However, give them something truly entertaining that educates them on the services they need; they'll gladly share it with everyone they know, spreading your industry awareness to build a household name. With social media nowadays, things like Periscope and Snapchat are great tools, but the very idea that they're fleeting doesn't help your audience in the long run, whereas podcasts on major platforms like iTunes and Stitcher are continually accessible, unlike radio or TV, so your message and content will there for as long as you'll let it, enabling more downloads, refreshers for your customers when they want, etc.

By doing this, you're showing your potential customers that you care; you care about helping educate them on not only your services, but about your industry as a whole, whether they choose your company in the end or not. Yet, chances are if you show them you have the best intentions in mind, they will naturally think of you first when they decide to make their buying decision. Intent alone does a lot more for your image than any countless sponsored Facebook/Twitter/Instagram posts or even TV ads could do.

3. Rich Media Is King

Remember the days when you would name your company "AAA Automotive Garage" to get you to the front of the Yellow Pages? Well, nowadays, the Yellow Pages equivalent is Google, where everyone tries to make their company's site(s) come up on the first page for whatever they're searching for.

While there are tons of people who say they can help you get there by putting in the right SEO-friendly keywords on your site's backend, which is important of course, there's something that will help even more: having rich media on your site. What's rich media? That's easy: photos, video, and of course, audio. Now, if you have these on your site, albeit not the spammy kind, your site will play nicer with Google, raising your ranking within their search algorithms.

So, why not help get your site get noticed quicker and easier with implementing some rich media?. Think about also how most people find your site online: blog posts and articles just like these. Now, if we didn't include images and video in our storytelling, these would read like doctoral theses on relative theory in relation to quantum mechanics; you don't want that.

4. Putting a Voice to Your Business

Your company having a voice in the marketplace is very important, whether you're starting out, wanting to give everyone who supports you a look into your business, enabling them to come along for the ride of your daily hustle for success, or you're in a more established position of killing it like Gary Vaynerchuk and Andy Frisella and want to help reach the broader audience with your message of how you got where you did. Either way, it's a great way to put a voice to the face of your business, helping your audience get to know another side of you: your thoughts, your demeanor, your personality, and more that just doesn't come across on a site, small bio, or an about image.

What's another even more interesting aspect of it all is the access you open yourself up to. If you choose to include an interview-style format, you can have guests come on to ask them whatever you choose. You can ask the tough questions, or stuff they haven't gotten into very deeply in previous interviews, or anything else to help shed light on successful tactics as well as pitfalls to avoid within your industry. With interview-style formats, you'd be surprised what kind of access you can get; when we launched The Angry Millennial at the PhotoPlus Expo last year, we ended up getting access to people like Jeremy Cowart and Renee Robyn and commitments from others like Chase Jarvis and Peter Hurley, all who came on the show in the coming months. Fast-forward a few months and we've had on other creatives, like Cinemax's The Knick Actor Chris Sullivan, Comedian Mickey Cucchiella, and Allison Behringer of Betaworks' new breakout hit, The Intern. But more importantly, we've received press credentials for the upcoming expo circuit this year and are working on bigger speaking engagements on this very topic. That's the thing that should jump out to a lot of business owners, because suddenly, the same shows you've gone to in the past for years, where you're lucky to breathe the same air as some of the keynote speakers and heavy hitters in your industry, now have a much different possible outcome. Now, what if you could approach them about sitting for a chat to ask them everything you've wondered about all the years you've watched them crush it from afar as merely a consumer? The difference is now, you can help facilitate that same conversation, bringing light to any topics of your choice in a new, formatted professional approach. And who doesn't love free press for their business? Suddenly, you're no longer just a consumer, but now a content creator eager to help spread your guest's message out to the masses; that's powerful.  

The biggest thing for every business is to stand out amongst the rest of the crowd. What better way than to rub elbows with some of the smartest people in your field? Like they say: "You want to make millions? Hang around millionaires." While that sounds like a #HUSTLE social media account posting nothing but shots of Rolex and G5 jets, it does get the point across that you'll learn a lot by hanging out with people smarter than yourself.

5. Help Educate Your Potential Clients and Build Rapport

Let's chat about this in terms of having a photography company, though any field will do. With that in mind, we all can agree that the biggest task any photography company has is educating their client. For lots of us, that entails phone calls, emails, and even in-person meetings, all of which come before even securing them as a client.

Imagine having something informative and entertaining that you could point people to that has episodes going over all the things you'd talk to them about, such as why you should prioritize photography in your wedding budget, top five things to ask your wedding photographer, why you should invest in a quality headshot in the social media age, don't make the mistake of using stock images for your site, etc. This will not only help pare down your usual customer meetings to the bare essentials, but it will start to build rapport and trust with clients before they even meet you in person or take the first Skype/phone call with you.

In the end, if you take the time out to put together thoughtful, informative content to put out to the masses, they will come. They'll come educated with more trust and knowledge about you, your services, and your stances on many of the subjects they care about in hiring a photographer.


Gone are the days of needing a team of union guys, a large studio, and corporate backing to put a show together. For the last ten years, we've have been thrust into an age where anyone with a solid idea, some equipment off Amazon, and a little hustle can suddenly have a strong presence in the radio-broadcasting world. There're even a lot of radio personalities who will tell you they envy podcasters because of the freedom they have from the politics that are entrenched in the traditional radio world. With that in mind, we can take complete ownership of whatever we put out there, branding it in line with our companies, and make it all our own.

See you out there friends, and if you do choose to go with an interview format, I'd love to be one of your first guests. We can chat about the vision you have for the future of the show and hopefully about this very article and what swayed you to start your very own podcast.

Originally posted on Fstoppers