Internet personality Gary Vaynerchuk gives his patented entrepreneurial advice and reflects on the growing worlds of podcasting and cryptocurrency.
This is just one example of the inspirational words of Gary Vaynerchuk. There’s a good reason that people look to him for advice – Vaynerchuk is an experienced entrepreneur, author, social media influencer, CEO, and online personality. In his newest book, Crushing It!, he builds on his previous experiences, giving advice while reflecting on our constantly changing business landscape. We spoke with Vaynerchuk about his views on the current state of cybersecurity, the advantages of creating audio content, and advice for the many entrepreneurs that look up to him.
Innovation & Tech Today: Tell us how a typical day starts for you.
Gary Vaynerchuk: There is no typical day because I travel 30-40 percent of the year. So it could be lots of airports. This morning I woke up in Denver. Tomorrow I’m going to wake up in Chicago. But usually, I wake up and look at my phone, make sure nothing’s on fire. What’s lonely about ownership and being a CEO is you’re the last line of defense. So there’s always a little buzzer that goes off and there’s a sense of anxiety. There are always things going on.
I&T Today: Do you find that, on the road, you can actually get more done?
GV: 100 percent. Yesterday, I finally did my email. Because I got lucky; the Wi-Fi wasn’t working when we first got in the plane and so I just got into a rhythm and didn’t get distracted and cleaned up my inbox. The airplane is disproportionately the place where I get the most tangible amount of work done, answering questions that are sitting in my inbox. When it was pre-internet on a plane, I really crushed it. Offline, boom. But the internet, you know, you can get distracted. You can get into a Twitter hole, you can get into, you know, looking up something. You can get caught up.
I&T Today: What are your thoughts on the current state of cybersecurity?
GV: I think it’s bigger than people realize; I think this is more about being a good person than about security. Most people don’t care about privacy. You think you do, but I don’t think you do, because your actions show that you don’t. We care about the health and wellbeing of ourselves and our loved ones and we care about our money, right? As long as those things aren’t compromised. When the 15 biggest celebrities are murdered tomorrow because they gave away their location, I have a funny feeling of privacy’s going to start to matter. If your money was stolen by a scam on the internet and you couldn’t get it back, Chase Bank or Wells Fargo says, “Sorry, tough luck,” I think you would start caring about your credit card number.
I think what you’re going to see is something completely different; I think all of us are going to start acting in a way that we realize people could see this. Does that stop us from texting dumb s***? No. Does that stop people from sending nude photos? No. We’re still going to be us but I think we’re going to start being more empathetic and less hypocritical of each other as we start all realizing that we’re all flawed. So I have a very different point of view on this. I don’t see this as terrible; I see this as phenomenal. I see that transparency is the gateway to happiness and I’m extremely bullish of the human race over the next hundred years.
I&T Today: Tell us a bit about your collaboration with K-Swiss.
GV: I got a random email almost two years ago that said, “I’m the president of K-Swiss and we’d like to make a Gary V sneaker.” I liked that email and I was curious if he was for real. I was worried it was going to be an influencer like there was a sneaker they already made, but I wanted to put my signature and have a Gary V sneaker. But there were two things that mattered to me. One, I thought it was cool; I want to buy nostalgic brands in my career, K-Swiss was a nostalgic brand. And I also like that it could have failed. I liked the fear of falling on my face because I thought that was good energy and I liked the idea of giving my friends ammo to make fun of me.
Literally one of the reasons I signed the deal was I romanticized this vision 28 years from now where my friends are like, “Hey, remember when you were a d*** and thought you could sell sneakers? You idiot.” I think that’s a good idea to always push yourself where the downside is you can make fun of yourself and move on. That’s how that deal felt. It went really, really well. We have the new one coming out, the 003, in July. It’s going to be a challenge, going to be a lot of pairs, I and the team are looking at it. It’s going to take work but I think it’s going to be successful.
I&T Today: You’ve participated in a fireside chat with Shark Tank’s Daymond John. Did he give you any advice?
GV: He didn’t, but Daymond is awesome. First of all, I tend not to take advice because I think it’s ego but I also think it’s slow. I like taking advice from the audience. I’d much rather read every single person’s comment to this interview than take advice from somebody fancy, I really mean that. And by the way, that’s how I learn, I spew advice all day. If you get value from it, that’s amazing. If you don’t – I love it when people are like, “Hey bro, sorry but I don’t watch your stuff.” I’m like, “Great, I wouldn’t watch it either.”
I&T Today: You’re an early investor in Bitcoin, correct?
GV: Let’s not get excited here, but I did buy some Bitcoin in 2014. I was curious about crypto; I bought some Ethereum. I made some bucks, but I didn’t put in real money. So, it’s nothing, you know, I’m not going to buy the Jets just yet. Maybe the Steelers. [Laughs]
I’m unbelievably bullish on blockchain technology. I don’t want to know some of the other coins are going to be the currency that wins. But this would be like somebody saying to me, “Do you believe in the internet?” Yes. “Do you believe in Ask Jeeves?” Maybe. “Do you believe in Netscape Navigator?” Maybe. “Do you believe in Google?” Maybe. So the winners on top of blockchain are a little murky. Obviously Bitcoin’s out and about, but I’m bullish on blockchain.
The internet was the decentralization by a lot of things, but it was still a centralized place, which is why you see big companies built on it. Blockchain goes to a totally different place. I think it brings reputation, and who you are, and your brand to a whole new level and so I’m very excited to see how it plays out in the next two to three decades.
I&T Today: What do you think is one of the biggest misconceptions about you?
GV: I’m a very interesting contradiction. I’m super emotional, soft. Because I’m not financially driven, I don’t have that cutthroat, “I’m making a money decision, sorry ma’am it’s just business” mentality. I’ll drag out firing someone; I’ll try to put them on; I’m always there for them. So I think the biggest misconception is that between my Jersey energy and my bravado, I’m the winner take all.
I&T Today: What are some of the advantages of podcasting and voice technology?
GV: Podcasting is audio and audio is passive. Audio is convenient and we love convenience. There are a lot of people that now listen to my podcast instead of watching my videos because it’s easier, like while you’re running, or while you’re driving, or while you’re on a plane because you have to give the attention to the screen. I’m a very, very big fan. I think we saw pictures and videos have their day, but I’ve done incredibly well in the last seven years on the internet. We’re seeing it and more to your point about voice: A.I., machine-learning intelligence, speaking to Alexa, speaking to Google Assistant, these are incredible technologies.
Typing is faster than making a phone call, that’s why we text and don’t call. But the voice is way faster than search. Search is in deep s***. I would not want my life to be dependent on Google search. Google search is going to decline over the next two decades, very quickly. Look at your kids, or kids in your world. Go look at a seven-year-old, they’re not typing a search, they’re voicing search. They’re using Alexa and Siri on their iPad.
25 percent of all Google searches on mobile devices are the voice. 25 percent. Staggering and it hasn’t even slowed to the home market. And I’m excited. In six years when it’s completely dominating, people are going to look back on all the content I made during this time and say, “Wow, he was right.”
I&T Today: There are a lot of people out there with ideas – the entrepreneurial spirit’s strong and you’re their spirit animal. What advice would you give them?
GV: Please, make sure if I’m your spirit animal or anybody else you think is cool – and I know a lot of you think a lot of different people are cool – make sure you understand those people usually deployed a bit of self-awareness. They knew who they were. Zuckerberg knew who he was, right? Sheryl Sandberg knew who she was. I knew who I was, forget about anything that I’ve done, I understood who I was. I wasn’t going to build a cap of a venture capital fund when everybody wanted me in 2009. Know who you are – self-awareness. It’s cute that you’re sitting in class right now thinking you’re going to build the next Uber. But do you have that ability?
Know who you are, get in the game, and put yourself in a position to be successful based on what you’re good at, what you’re passionate about. The delta of what you are good at and what are you passionate about. If you’re one of the great, lucky, fortunate people that what you love is what you’re great at, you’re going to have some crazy things happen. Try to get as close to that as possible; don’t do something for the most amount of money; don’t do something so not practical that you have to sleep in a cardboard box. These are important conversations, find that delta. I think way too many people are making an extra $30,000 but hate what they’re doing. But they’ve built a lifestyle around the $30,000 so they literally hate their life to have an extra bedroom in their house that they don’t use. ■