Back in 2009, I was trying to figure out how everything online worked, and how I could get out of my day job and into creative entrepreneurship.
One of my mentors, through his books and videos, was Gary Vaynerchuk, whose first book, ‘Crush It', I enthusiastically endorsed in this post. I really didn’t know what I was doing back then, and Gary helped me find the way to grow my presence online, which eventually led to leaving my job in 2011 to become a full-time author-entrepreneur.
In mid Dec 2013, I attended the London launch of Gary’s latest book, ‘Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook,’ and I met him in person (very briefly). Hearing him speak live was fantastic, and I learned so much from that 90 mins as well as much more from the book.
Yes, I am a fangirl, and Gary’s certainly not for everyone. He uses some strong language, and in the quotes below, I have used some of it to preserve the strength of his message.
But what he teaches and lives by example is amazingly important. Here’s my lessons learned from both the live event and the new book.
Execution is everything
There was a clarion call that still sticks with me from Gary’s 2009 appearances. It’s a direct quote, so please excuse the language.
“Stop watching fucking Lost”
We got rid of our TV in 2007, and that freed up a lot of time to focus on discovering how to change our lives. To hear Gary say this, was a real validation of the choices I was making, and it bears repeating again. He talked a lot about the importance of execution at the launch, because there's no point in just thinking about doing something.
Too many people TALK about writing a book, or TALK about marketing, or TALK about becoming a full-time author. Stop talking, stop wasting time, start executing.
On books and publishing
This book is not about income for Gary, it’s about “controlling the conversation around social media” by being a thought leader. It’s social proof, being right, his legacy and trying to help people. He has a multi-million dollar company, book sales are not the point. For non-fiction authors in particular, this is probably the right attitude!
Someone also asked why Gary is doing so much marketing for his book, and why isn’t his publisher doing more. Gary’s answer:
“There’s not a publisher in the world that’s a marketing company.”
He went on to elaborate that he never even considered marketing to be the publisher’s job, that’s just not part of their relationship. His tone of voice suggested that he was kind of incredulous that anyone would consider publisher's should do any marketing.
He did mention that he used custom software to mine his Twitter feed and work out who was engaged with him already, and who had a big enough reach to work with the book launch, and then targeted those people specifically. This is why he was everywhere last month (if you follow business and marketing blogs like I do!) He also started book marketing between 3-7 months before the book was out.
The title of Gary’s book means ‘give, give, give, then ask.’ It is a book best read in print, or on the iPad because it is full of screen-prints of social sharing examples and a dissection of where they were right or wrong in their approach. Most are big brands, and not individual authors, but you can still learn a lot.
“Jabs are the lightweight pieces of content that benefit your customers … right hooks are calls to action that benefit your business.”
The fundamental mistake of people on social media is just to ask, ask, ask, all the time and then wonder why nobody buys. I’ve talked about how social media sells books here before, and essentially it's the same principle, because I started learning from Gary years ago.
We live in a ‘stream economy,’ with most people within reach of their mobiles 24 hours a day. People consume content in streams by scrolling.
How do you stop people scrolling past your content?
“Make it simple, make it memorable. Make it for your customer, not for yourself. Be generous. Be informative. Be funny. Be inspiring. Be all the characteristics we enjoy in other human beings.”
Different platforms enable you to highlight different aspects of your brand identity. So my Pinterest Boards are mostly images that reflect my fiction themes. It’s pretty dark. There’s a lot in the book about image usage on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and other sites in the book. One of my big takeaways was to utilize images in a much more effective way. “Facebook is not the place to be flooding fans with text.”
You need self-awareness with social media.
Think about how you can talk to the world.
“Pick the platforms that map to your DNA, and then create content that resonates on that platform”
Speak the language of the platform and respect the context. You also have to find people to start with, as there’s no point speaking into an empty room. Gary still recommends using Twitter.com/search to find people talking about your niche, and joining in.
Don’t obsess about things staying the way they were. Everything changes.
Stop obsessing about platforms disappearing, or the next thing that may go the way of MySpace. You have to get on the next thing, and if it dies, then leave and start again.
Social media is about being human. You can’t automate it, and it won’t happen overnight. You can’t automate human touch.
“You want to see ROI on social media? Tell a story that’s good enough to get people to buy stuff.”
If you love what you do, working hard is a pleasure
Gary has a tremendous work ethic, and I both respect that and emulate it. His immigrant family started in the US with nothing, and he helped his father turn a $3m business into a $60m business through hustle and then his online video program, Wine Library TV.
After his online presence exploded into internet fame and then his first book, ‘Crush It‘, made him a global speaker, he started VaynerMedia, growing that to a company of 300+ people in just two years.
There seems to be a trend in thinking that people are entitled to success without hard work, that the dream will happen without the long term hard work behind it. The media hypes the lightning strikes, but the reality is that you have to work very hard for what you want in life. Luckily, if you find what you love, then working hard is actually a pleasure.
Sure, there are difficult days. As Gary mentioned, “entrepreneurship sucks, 98% of ventures fail, but I can’t live without it. I love the climb.”
I often seem to find myself almost apologizing for being a workaholic, for spending pretty much every waking hour writing more books and spending time online (indirectly) marketing them. But I love it, and I’m going to stop justifying this – it’s my life, I love working hard and I love what I do!
“What matters is the effort you put into your work. And never has effort counted more than today.”
What I loved about meeting Gary and seeing him live was that he was not a surprise to me. I have the audio version of ‘Crush It’ which he narrates, I’ve watched a lot of his videos and listened to podcasts he’s featured on.
I know his voice, I know his thoughts on a lot of public topics, and in person, he was just the same.
That’s authenticity, and I strive to communicate the same way with my own online presence. We don’t need to be anyone other than ourselves, and yes, that may turn some people off. That’s fine, they’re not our tribe. But this kind of authenticity will attract our kind of people.
Gary also focuses a lot on the importance of legacy, of every day potentially our last. If you are more self-aware about death, you live harder. This is one of my values too, and one of the reasons I write so much about death in my fiction.
What do you think about these lessons learned? Please do leave a comment below.