Crushing It: 10 Lessons from Gary Vaynerchuk

Our team recently had the chance to see Gary Vaynerchuk speak at the IMG conference down the road in New Orleans. The wise words of “Gary Vee” (as he’s affectionately known) often take the form of a rant, and this particular rant described what it takes for people and brands to stand out. Other topics included tips on parenting kids as a wealthy parent, traits of the best entrepreneurs, and the importance of gratitude. His biggest argument of the day? In this age, attention is the most valuable currency on social channels. Whether you agree with him or not, he definitely doesn’t back down from his viewpoint. We took some notes from his keynote speech and thought we’d share.

[For those of you that don’t know Gary Vaynerchuk, please see his bio on his site here. TLDR: besides being the CEO of Vaynermedia, he’s a highly sought-after authority on social media, content, and business. Dude has quite a large following on his vlog DailyVee and his online business Q+ A show #AskGaryVee. He also is author of popular books such as Crushing It; The Thank You Economy; Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story In A Noisy World; and Crush It.]

On the evolution of technology:

“The internet is grossly underestimated, and in that margin of underestimation is where all opportunity lies.”

  • Technology always wins, so don’t underestimate its speed and likelihood of surpassing the norm.
  • He used the example of the pre-Uber taxi drivers who claimed the government would never pass legislation for Uber to become functional.

Do not be the naive taxi or book store who claims something more powerful or better will never come.

On understanding the importance of content in business:

  • Great brands understand they’re a media publishing company first, then what they actually do second. Think of yourself as a media entity like ESPN (where you educate frequently) vs QVC (where you constantly ask for a sale).
  • There’s a relationship between sales and brand: if you build a brand, sales come to you (instead of attacking sales).
  • Constantly ask yourself, “How do I build such a brand that sales comes to me?” A way to do that is to build blind trust. Gary Vee told a story from his Wine Library TV days when he wanted to be “America’s wine guy.” He built trust by telling his outside audience what he really thought of the wine he sold, regardless if it was beneficial to short term sales or not. Eventually, his audience started blindly trusting his recommendations.

On creating content:

  • Always look for the platform that gets attention – what are the 16 year old girls looking at currently?
  • People consume content today by either listening (podcasts, voice), watching (vlogs), or reading (blog content). Choose a delivery method for your content, pair it up with something you love, and just try. We frequently overestimate what is needed on social and what people find interesting. Create content every day in the medium that you feel most comfortable delivering information.
  • It’s important to be deep vs wide when creating content, because it’s so hard to go viral. Instead of focusing on getting 1,000,000 views for your video, shoot for 1000 consistent views and grow from there.

When you film for a day, you have content for 4-7 hours a day. This leads so much content for a week. This is where we repurpose content to make it valuable for those who want to listen rather than watch. For example, we take audio from the video content to put it into the podcast experience. We then hired a writer to get blog posts per week. This all takes time though.”

Fun side note: he has 17 people on staff that helps him produce his content and spends about $50k a month on advertising. He even remarked how he might be the most extreme person on the world that does this.

 On Attention:

  • We are all in a very basic game of gathering attention. We must gain attention first before we can story-tell how “savage” we are. If you don’t have someone’s attention, you’ve lost.
  • When there is underpriced attention, you have to go all in.

“Facebook in our society is the single most underpriced attention platform by a massive delta”

On investing in your executive brand + platforms:

  • You should create a Facebook business page for yourself. There are different functions of a normal Facebook page vs a business page.
  • Choose the platforms on which attention is gathered. He recommended that everyone should have a Youtube, Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat strategy. This can change tomorrow though (he threw in a joke that if he was telling this point 10 years ago, he’d be telling us to go put in the f*cking disc to install AOL). The point is to focus on the platforms that garner the most attention.
  • When there is underpriced attention, you have to go all in. For example, if you are able to predict a that platform is about to explode, you put all your time and focus into that platform. This is very difficult to do, but the reward is great.  

On self awareness:

  • The largest portion of business owners fail when they run their businesses based on what they should be. Running your business based on opinion will be the pitfall of your business.
  • In his opinion, self awareness is the most important thing to consider as a business owner.

“Self awareness is being aware of what you have to offer and what your capabilities are, and then acting according to that information. Be great at figuring out what your great at and then run off that.”

 On success:

I eat shit for a living. Your ability to eat shit for a living directly correlates to the amount of money and success you have.” 

  • Intent is the variable of success, and you can’t hide it.
  • The best strength to have in business is empathy. Understanding those around you and learning how to speak to them is extremely important as an entrepreneur.
  • The best trait to have is gratitude. He mentioned how he can take the ridicule, losing money, and hate. As long as the 6-7 people he truly loves are happy, he’s good. Gratitude helps keep you grounded.
  • He asked a mathematician friend to calculate the possibility of being born a human. The math is 400 trillion to 1 which means you’d have better luck winning the mega millions 7 times! We are already born winners and we should not waste it.

“When you become obsessed with your process, that’s when you win. I I love the game, more than the money. For example, I don’t like buying the jets, I like trying to buy the jets.

On selling books:

  • Books sell months before they come out, at least 3-5 months ahead of time in fact. It’s a lot of dm’ing and emailing, but hype builds as you do it.
  • He recommends to build relationships with 1000 people that can influence the audience of your book. This takes personal messaging and not the mass email “bcc’s.”

On raising kids as a parent that has met success:

  • Don’t overindulge them.
  • Respect their framework and support the climate they want to be in.
  • Don’t impose your blueprint on them, but rather be thoughtful of their reality while instilling values in them.
  • Don’t let them use your wealth to antagonize others.
  • Employ empathy and audit their interests.


Whether you love or hate Gary Vee, one can agree that he certainly knows how to get attention. Our biggest hope is that some of these notes above resonated with you on some level; whether as an entrepreneur, marketer, business leader or parent, there was something that morning keynote had for anyone looking to get a motivational kick in the ass.


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