#2 Gary Vaynerchuk

jabcoverIn the second interview of the podcast, Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyveejoined James Altucher to talk about marketing, becoming an expert, and the missed opportunity of a hey girl meme with Altucher rather than Ryan Gosling.*

Vaynerchuk is on to talk about his book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World and tells James that “our content must be contextual to the platform we put it on.” Gary’s argument is that we shouldn’t be creating visual content on a textual medium and we can use Twitter and Facebook better. Before addressing some of his key strategies he says, “we’ve all become one person media companies.”

The thinking behind his new book is that we need to give, give, give, before we ask. From his book:

Jabs are the lightweight pieces of content; games, laughs, appreciation. Right hooks are the calls to action.

Amanda Palmer (episode #82) told James that we have to ask in small ways – and be ready for rejection. When it’s time to give though, you give as best you can. Palmer wrote, “I chatted constantly online, and listened to the input and feedback from the fans. If they wanted high-end lithograph posters, I made high-end lithograph posters.” Palmer continues to give, being active on Twitter @AmandaPalmer.

Example, her “ninja gigs” –

Many examples from Jab are from companies but Vaynerchuk wrote the book for everyone to apply, and even though we have fewer resources, we may be better off. In episode #27 Seth Godin told James that when he was the canoeing instructor he had to learn to tell a good story. Godin was competing against sailing and windsurfing instructors who didn’t need to build their skills of storytelling. Their activity sold itself.  Altucher too has said that constraints work to focus his daily idea list, writing on a waiter’s pad leaves only enough room for the key ideas. The writers who have been interviewed apply this idea in a similar way, Ben Mezrich (#84) writes about high stakes, high reward situations. Simon Rich (#83) takes extremes and puts them in familiar situations. Constraints are good.

Apply these ideas to marketing and Vaynerchuk suggests that the different platforms lead to different types of content – and this isn’t new. Take the commercials for food you hear on the radio. It’s no coincidence that those ads run from 11-1 and then again from 4-7. Restaurants have different marketing for radio rather than TV or print and different nudges for different times of day. Vaynerchuk has advice for other places too.

Vaynerchuk on Facebook:

Vaynerchuk tells James that “you can’t use Facebook for constant calls to action.” This is where you can build a conversation with people and give your expertise to them, for free! Ramit Sethi has a private group that I’ve heard great things about because it’s a conversation with people. There’s very little selling (from what i’ve heard, I’m not a member) there but instead a community of people trying to be better.

Vaynerchuk also tells James that you have to have images in your posts. Have. To. In the constant scroll of feeds, it’s images that stand out more than anything else.

Vaynerchuk on Twitter:

The Twitter.com/search url is underused he says. Finding out what the conversation is about and latching on to that is another tool. Hashtags too are something that people can try to latch on to during the “land grab” of the changing landscape. For example, when this post went out, #nerdiersports was trending, breaking down podcast is pretty nerdy so I chimed in.

Another example of trend jacking would be to find a way to hop on the hey girl meme that took off in 2011 and 2012.


Vaynerchuk on Guest Blogging:

“The singular, most fruitful way to build a personal brand or build awareness of what you do.”

Mark Cuban leveraged this in a sense when he wrote articles about routers. Seth Godin also wrote for others.

Vaynerchuk on Reddit:

Gary says that Redditt is a great place to connect with people, noting that the Reddit.com/ama concept is wonderful. James says it was “the number one way I was able to market and move sales of my book.” (James Altucher AMA, Gary Vaynerchuk AMA)

During the interview it seems like Vaynerchuk has win after win, but he tells James this isn’t quite the case. He immigrated from Russia, and the first 18 years of his life were hard. He was an F and D student.

After that he went to work in his parents liquor store and started a number of successful companies; Wine Library and VaynerMedia in addition to investing in Buddy Media, Facebook, and Twitter. Then he failed again, telling James, “the reason I failed is because I had big eyes.” He took on too many projects and lacked the right support from the right people. Gary says that the people he worked with were good people, but not good matches for what he was bringing to the table. Contrast this with the Brian Koppelman (episode #59) and David Levine (episode #85) interviews. They are an example of a good pairing, where one compliments the other and the whole is greater than the sum of their parts.

When the interview turns back to his book, Vaynerchuk says that some of “the case studies are crap.” Noting that it’s often helpful to learn what not to do, as what to do. Nassim Taleb terms this idea via negativa, the absence of something makes something better. The 3 F’s are an example from Dr. David Katz. who writes that fingers (not smoking), feet (not sitting), and forks (not eating crappy foods) can reduce your risk of death from the riskiest causes of death, by 75%.

In the interview James tells Vaynerchuk “I took your Amtrak idea and applied it to my own stuff and it’s fantastic how my engagement quadrupled on one post.” So what is the Amtrak idea? It’s about using your sawdust – your by-product – to create something of value. For Amtrak, it was tweeting out a pair of empty seats, and asking people where they would go and with who. But it didn’t stop there, Vaynerchuk writes that “when one fan suggested Justin Bieber as his preferred seatmate, Amtrak replied with ‘But where would Selena Gomez go?’ With one sentence, Amtrak reveals that is employees are our contemporaries, people just like us, with their fingers on the pop culture pulse, a sense of humor, and real interest in their customers.”

When Vaynerchuk prepared to start writing Jab, he read the negative reviews on Amazon of his other books, Crush It! and The Thank You Economy. In these negative reviews he found what people were looking for, he tells James that “a lot of people said, this is a great book, but this is a why book, I want a how-to.”

The interview ends with Vaynerchuk saying that his next book might be about parenting (or something else that’s new) and he tells James he’s found a good middle ground by balancing extremes. He says that flip flopping didn’t work:

I’d be working and then I’d need to spend more time (at home) and I’d just leave and cancel some meetings and get home at 5:30…but there was no system…it didn’t work… I now work eight a.m. to midnight. I mean I walk into my apartment at midnight…I’m a workaholic…on the flipside my weekends I’m completely all in with my family now, no looking at the phone answering email.

Vaynerchuk has found one of the Secrets of Happy Families, that happy families aren’t accidental. Bruce Feiler wondered if there was something that happy families were doing different, and there were. One untapped medium – that Vaynerchuk would love – is having a family brand. Stephen Covey applied this thinking to what his family is doing, Feiler writes:

One of Covey’s real innovations was applying a similar process to families. He suggested that families create a family mission statement. “The goal,” he wrote, “is to create a clear, compelling vision of what you and your family are all about.” He said the family mission statement was like the flight plan of an airplane. “Good families— even great families— are off track 90 percent of the time,” he wrote. What makes them good is they have a clear destination in mind, and they have a flight plan to get there. As a result, when they face the inevitable turbulence and human error, they keep coming back to their plan. Covey said creating his own family’s statement was the most transforming event in his family’s history.

James gives the book two thumbs up, saying, “This is not a BS book. This works.”

*Did we really miss this? This interview was release on 1/31/2014 but these notes are from January 2015. Some things likely changed in between recording and now. This episode also has a 20 minute rant from James at the start, you can probably skip it.

As always, let me know what I messed up or what you want to see more of – @mikedariano If you want a weekly summary of everything I write, you can find that here.

33 thoughts on “#2 Gary Vaynerchuk”

  1. […] Gary Vaynerchuk suggests this strategy for individuals, “better your strengths and punt your weaknesses” Vaynerchuk says. This means adopting, borrowing, or stealing best practices. Oliphant copies in this sense too, learning from others so he can focus on his strength, helping the people of Pittsburgh. […]


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