When: Tuesday, July 1, 2008, 7:00 – 8:00 pm, with the actual finish time at 8:30, and further conversation with the speaker continuing at the front porch until at least 10:30.
What It’s About: Gary Vaynerchuk was the first among many speakers on Legion of Talk: a new series that plans to bring influential thought leaders to Portland to share their wisdom—for free. Legion of Talk is Eponymously put up by Legion of Tech, the kind folks behind such events as:
- BarCamp Portland
- Ignite Portland
- Startupalooza, and
- Legion of Tech Happy Hour (a.k.a. BarCamp Meetup)
Anyway, Gary Vaynerchuck (henceforth shall be known as “Garyvee”) spoke about the importance (and ability) of doing what one loves best in the social media era. The street is rough hewn but so wide open that everybody can carve a niche for themselves to succeed in it.
It goes without saying that one also has to act fast.
The talk was around an hour and a half, wherein Dawn Foster of FastWonder Blog has an excellent writeup that you should read up.
I decided to boil it down to a few principles, complete with snarky remarks.
Here we go:
- Find a subject. Make sure you love it.
Specificity and generality doesn’t matter as much as passion.
Caveat: as a rule of thumb, specific subjects work better than general ones.
For example: making a video podcast about the second season of Alf is better than making one about TV shows from the 50’s to 90’s. Again, this should be taken with a grain of salt.
- Commit time to build it.
This goes without saying, but the only way to be great is to be patient. Garyvee spoke about the fact that the facet of work that is both unglamorous and unknown to most people is all the emails he answered and posts he make in the thirteen hour when he’s not recording winelibrary.tv—that he did everyday.
The idea is this: find a subject that you are so passionate about that your work feels like nonwork.
- Be sincere in your intent and execution.
In a world of overabundance, where “the ‘long tail’ becomes the tip of the iceberg,” authenticity wins. Always. This is not to say that you should stop thinking strategically, but that you should be brutally transparent about everything that you do. In Garyvee’s own word:
I wet my bed until I was 10 years old. Better to say it now rather than have other people say it for you.
At the Q&A session, he further demonstrated this principle when he squarely dismissed a long winded question about how one could strategically use the social media to promote oneself under hierarchical corporate constraint (the operative word being “strategically.”)
In his own words:
Just give me what’s real.
Translation: be brutally transparent, or die.
I believe that this is a principle that many advertising and marketing folks should, but failed to embrace. Forget the need to “strategically manage,” “damage control” or “monetize” the medium. Stop asking “how can we push our brand to more people” or “how can we buy social media.”
Instead: start with the right intent and a great product, be nice, and get ready to get real. The result will surprise you.
[Shameless self promotion: If your brand, company or studio is ready to do this, let’s talk.]
- Stop consuming and start producing.
Did you know that 99% of web users only lurk and consume content? Garyvee attested that he read few books, watch no TVs, read little blogs, but makes over 500 winelibrary.tv episodes, answers every email personally, and comments on numerous forums. And he did these every day. In other words, he minimizes his consumption and maximizes production.
- Love your community.
Garyvee’s said many times during the talk that he was gifted (or, in a way, cursed) with the ability to care for other people more than he cares for himself.
Translation: The principle Garyvee talked about applies to every field of knowledge, from design to development, advertising to art.
Interestingness: ☝ ☝ ☝ ☝ ☝
Translation: Attendees got out of the door while proclaiming “[insert appropriate expletive here.] Nothing should stop me from doing what I love for a living” inside their heads.
What I Learned From The Event In Six Words:
In the end, passion + authenticity wins.