Setting the right goals

I have the pleasure of speaking with Gary Vaynerchuk. Thank you so much for joining me today. Thank you.
Thrilled to be here. Thanks for having me.
It’s good to have you on the show. You’ve been somebody I’ve been chasing for a while. So, finally. So, what’s going on now? What are you up to? Quickly. What’s the latest for you?
The latest and greatest is right now I’m in Las Vegas about to speak to a big beer company, but in general, I’m running Vayner Media as a CEO and a general partner and running a fund called Vayner RSC where I’m investing and putting out a daily podcast. Well, not a daily, but a multi-time a week podcast and video show called #AskGaryVee. So, keeping very busy.
What are you trying to do? What’s the message to the world? Why are you doing what you’re doing?
That’s a good question. Deep down I’m not even quite sure. I think we’re all confused by that at some level, but for me what’s obvious is I want to make an impact and have legacy and have my grandchildren proud of me and I want to do that through both talking and doing. I love leading by example but I also love over-communicating and speaking and putting out content and writing books. So, a little more teacher in me than I thought. And then the vanity of the attention and the admiration clearly scratches an itch for me as well. So, it kind of works out. I have a good give and take with my audience and potential audience. I give out a ton of stuff for free and love doing it because I want the admiration and I think people enjoy heavy doses of very good quality free content.
So, you’re known for setting this audacious goal of buying [laughter]– how’s that going?
The New York Jets. Yeah.
Of buying the New York Jets.
I’m a big, big New York Jets fan. I desperately want to buy them but I think and the truth is, and I’ve started kind of in the open, I need the process of buying them than the day that I buy them. Obviously, I desperately want it. How’s it going? I feel good. I feel like I put– I spent my 30s building the foundation of how I’m going to get there and I need to make sure my 40s cash in on the wealth opportunities that I’ll need to get there. And so, we’ll see what happens.
I want to talk about that. I want this podcast to be centered around setting goals. And I’m curious to see what you do or what your friends– or what successful guys do when it comes to getting to that next level. So, I mean, typically the Airbnb story was when they were trying to get tracking, they put a graph on their mirror so they’ll see their growth curve. What are you doing to sort of remind yourself of this goal? How are going to get to that stage? Because you have an advertising agency and that’s not scalable in the traditional sense when we’re talking about technology. I’m curious why you haven’t done a social media app or something that you could sell for billions and then go and buy that. What’s your plan for–?
And the answer to that real quick and I think that’s a great question and I’ve asked myself that and, obviously, most people ask me that behind closed doors [laughter], rarely in public so good job by you. I think I’m a self-aware entrepreneur. I don’t think I could build a consumer app from scratch and sell it for billions. I think I have a much better chance of investing in those companies he says I have, and I have done very well and have made some money. But I think for me, it’s about building brands. And so, I think I have a much better chance of creating Red Bull or Under Armour or turning around, perhaps, Blue Ribbon or Snickers. I think I’m a brand guy, and the agency is part of my long-term plan of having the infrastructure to do that. And so, the reason I haven’t done it is because I don’t think that’s my best way to get to three, four, five billion. I think my best way to get to three, four, five billion is to start the next Nike or Grey Goose and that’s why I’ve been putting the pieces in place that I have and been making the decisions I’ve been making.
But the issue’s a timescale, no? And building the brand that takes decades.
I don’t know if it takes decades. I mean, we’re starting to see brands go for hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars very quickly, whether it’s Popchips or Vitaminwater. Vitaminwater went for billions and that happened in less than a decade. Yeah, that’s true, what you’re about to say is true. Uber, the founders are making billions of dollars in five years instead of hundreds of millions. There’s a big problem in all that, which I think a lot of people get confused by and I want to clear that up here on the podcast. I don’t think I can do it. I don’t think I can build Uber or Facebook or Twitter in five years and flip it and make billions. I’m self-aware, and the problem is, too many people want something to be the way it is even though it’s not that. And so, that’s it. Self-awareness is one of the quickest ways to upside, happiness, wealth and I’m very self-aware. I’m not going to waste seven years trying to build Uber or Twitter or Airbnb when I don’t think that’s my strength. I’m going to put myself in a position where– don’t forget I’m very patient. I turned 40 in November. There’s a ton of people in their 20s and 30s listening to this thinking they’re running out of time and I think I have 40 more years to do what I need to do.
Wow. You don’t think building technology, those types of apps, is a lot of luck? A developer, designer, hacks something the weekend and then–
No, I don’t.
–it just takes off?
No, I don’t because Travis is a winner. Zucks is a winner. Evan Williams, Jack, those guys are winners. I mean, I have not seen the consumer app that has really taken over the marketplace that is completely luck. I think luck is an excuse from people that aren’t doing. I mean, if you’re hacking for a weekend and come up with something, you put yourself in that position to do that, right?
So, Garrett and Travis were both successful entrepreneurs before that. I mean, even Zucks was with some of the music stuff he did in high school. These people have track records of success. Luck is grossly overestimated by the ones who are deeming others to be lucky.
Let’s get back to this goal setting. So people listening to this podcast they also want to set a big goal. What would your advice be to someone that says, “Okay, I want to build an empire. That’s my goal.” And I know that’s very broad. Who’s that person, first of all? How would you advise them?
So I want to build that empire because I want the legacy. I want the fame more than the cash. I’m willing to leave hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars on the table to impact people and to have communities and to take selfies when I’m 80 in the street because some kid thinks they want to be like me. So first and foremost, if somebody said they want to build an empire, I want to ask them what kind of empire, right? Because there’s a lot of people that have a lot more money than Richard Branson or Zucks
Bill Gates
or Warren Buffets and nobody’s ever of them. So you have to know the DNA of the person. And then the behavior has to go against the type of empire. But I would say making big goals is great, but I think a lot of people make fake big goals. They trick themselves, they lie to themselves, they just say because it sounds good. I think it’s all about auditing oneself. Are you willing to put in the 15 hours a day? Are you talented enough? Are you putting the talent against the best stuff that you could be doing? These are the things I think most people need to focus on. It’s just a lot of self awareness. It’s a lot of reverse engineering. It’s great, you know, when people dig under my hood and they hear that I want to buy the Jets, I oftentimes think do they think I’m just another schmuck that has a bullshit goal. To me I use the goals as a north star to give me the air cover and the ability to continue to work and grind. I love the hustle and the grind. I like the non scalable things. I get enjoyment out of those things. I’m good at those things. And maybe they don’t maximize my monies, but I want the happiness that comes along with the process of making that wealth. And for me the happiness is doing the work. I’d be upset if I made $5 billion in the next three years out of nowhere. It almost– and I think that when everybody– I can hear the collective bullshit right now out of everybody listening, but it’s true. The quick score is less attractive to me. Look, nobody’s going to turn it down. I’m not going to be– I don’t want anybody crying for me if I got that lucky, and lucky as in I put myself in that position and something clicked. But to me the big goal is permission to work and be a workaholic and hustle, and I like those things just as much as the things that are awarded to me by doing those things well.
Do you think you have to be a workaholic to be successful? I’m talking about–
On that grand scale of Zucks–
How many hours do those guys put? I’m sure you–
In the beginning–
Do you hang with those guys?
Yeah, I know every single person you just mentioned.
Okay, so–
And I know Ev and Travis, I know Ev and Travis extremely well. I knew Zucks extremely well, a little out of touch these days, he’s busy as hell. Jack, I didn’t know as well, but he’s an acquaintance. I grew up in the web 2.0 bubble. A ton– these people are working 19– they worked every minute of their lives in the first three years of these companies. The first three, four, five years of these companies, three years, let’s say, because that’s probably the right– they worked every single minute. I don’t think people understand. All of them. All of them. Monday through Sunday, every minute.
No weekends.
Maybe they did, but not really. I work every minute, but I take off for the Jets games and family time. Maybe they went to go see their sister’s graduation, maybe they needed a fishing trip, maybe they took a week, but Travis works 19– I mean, Travis and I would talk at 3:00 in the morning. They work every minute, I mean, guys, every minute, every minute. When something’s growing like a rocket ship, you’re working every second, you can’t not.
So here’s the dilemma, when you’re working those hours, you’re thinking sort of declines, or your creativity.
I don’t know about that.
I think that’s a misnomer. I think– as a matter of fact, I feel like my creativity is at the height– so VaynerMedia just went from 30 to 500 people in the last three years, I think I’ll get less creative from this next point than I was in that hyper growth because the speed was such a brain challenge, operations challenge, HR challenge, product offerings challenge that it forced me to be even more creative.
So I’ve this. I’ve tried working those long hours, and the next day, it’s so unproductive. I don’t know how you’re feeling yourself because it’s a marathon, no? So I don’t know how to sustain it.
Yeah. At some level, when I say every moment, 13, 14, 15, 16 are incredible. I’m not talking about hacker culture or developer culture where you stay up every night all the time. People have to sleep. But I think six, seven, and eight hours is plenty of time to sleep. It’s just recognizing that every other hour that you’re awake, you’re working. I mean, anybody who’s listening who’s ever taken a one hour lunch that wasn’t a meeting, that literally took a one hour lunch. You ate lunch for an hour, and you watched YouTube videos or with your co-workers, then you’re not what I’m talking about. I’ve never done that in my life. In my professional life, I have never taken a one hour lunch to chill.
How long is that lunch break?
It’s not important. Zero?
Not just for wimps. [crosstalk].
Yeah, exactly. To me, people think they work hard but they don’t. They think they’re working hard. Nobody who says they want to build an empire is working less than 15 hours a day. I just need people to– 12, I’ll go to 12. You can’t. There’s not enough time.
So you’re associated with this with hustle and grind. What’s the right way to hustle, what’s the wrong way to hustle? For me, hustling means asking for fans.
That’s an interesting point. Using more of my terminology like throwing right hooks matter. You got to be able to know how to ask for the sale. To me, hustling means putting in effort and doing it the right way. I know hustle has a negative slang term of like, you trick someone. But to me, the pure form of hustle is Charlie Hustle, Pete Rose, running hard on every play, just really really trying. And so pure effort, effort with the right intent. I’m always trying to sell, but that’s because I fully believe in what I’m selling, right? I never had you against my hustle because I think I’m doing the right thing for the other person. I think that $20 wine taste like $40. I think my $50,000 VaynerMedia month fee is worth $100,000. I feel like my $80,000 speaking fee brings them 100,000 in value. I feel like, whatever it is, my book comes out next year and I want 50 bucks for a 15-minute podcast interview. I feel like they’re going to leverage my name and run ads and promote that I was on this show and that it was worth the 50 bucks times $15. To me, I always feel great of the exchange. I never feel like I’m getting something over on somebody. So I think the right hustle is bringing value to the person that you’re engaging with, whether that’s an employee or a customer while bringing value to yourself equally.
And you should be doing that every day.
I think so. I think– now look, I think everything, I think everything is predicated on what you want to accomplish. I started this interview with this and I’m going to go back to it. People have to stop bullshitting themselves. They just have to stop bullshitting themselves. You can’t say you want to be a mogul and then play five hours of Madden, right? You can’t say that you’re going to build an empire and then watch House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black all the time. You can’t go for beers with your buddies from 6 to 7 happy hour or be on the softball team. I mean you can to some degree but nowhere close to the way most people are doing it. I mean that’s it. I mean most people are just absolutely over-the-top hedging against what their words are saying and look, I take the same advice. I want to buy the jets, I need to be doing bigger things. Back to your point and the questions that came in, you’re fucking 40, you have an agency, you’ve made some money, you’re an heir but I don’t see you buying a $2 billion asset. To me, I’m hedging but hedging in a different way. I’m building up the assets and building the infrastructure that I think is going to position me. When I buy a consumer package good brand or a start one, and I’ve got 100 employees that I’ve been teaching for 5 years to know what to do, and then we build the next breakout beef jerky or soda or sneaker or toothpaste, people are going to understand what I did for the last 5 years. So I’m building towards something but what I haven’t been doing for my last 5 years is playing Call of Duty or joining the rugby team or playing 17 hours of Doctor or Angry Birds.
Let’s talk about branding and what you think good branding is. And I know that’s a very open question. But for those that want to build brands or they want to– because I think the apps today sort of lack that branding but another word for branding is trust as well. What are your thoughts on branding? Because again, that’s what you’re interested in.
To me, branding, make somebody feel like something. It makes you think of something. When you hear it, when you hear it, you understand it, right? I like that when people hear my name, that either they don’t know what it is, right, they’re like, “Who’s that name? What a crappy last name.” Which makes sense because I’m not that big of a brand but for the people that do, they think of hustle or wine or businessman or angel investor. Whatever it means to them and it matters to them, I feel like I play in two or three or four pillars and I feel like when I analyze it, people are not confused by it and there’s enough flexibility there for them to make it feel like their own and away we go. And so branding needs to make sense to somebody when they hear it. You need to know what it stands for and you have to have an emotional reaction to it. And that’s how I think about it.
Coming to a close now and I mean you’re constantly sort of putting up content, especially on Medium as well. Why are you drawn to Medium? Any advice on get on using Medium well because it just seems to be a place that’s full of noise now.
Well, I think the reason I use Medium is the same reason that I loved Twitter early on. It’s the reason that Snapchat and Instagram, even though I think are the most important emerging platforms, are a little less sexy to me. It’s why I loved Digg. It’s why Reddit is fun. Medium’s interesting because it has virality. Unlike writing on your own blog, if you have a Medium post that gets some attention, it starts showing up on Medium’s top lists. It starts showing up in Medium’s email service. It gets distributed by other platforms. So, it has a viral loop that– and so, that’s why I’m writing on it. I’m writing on it because we get a little bit more upside besides what I actually am entitled to based on my own audience.
Why are you writing? What are you hoping to gain from there?
Awareness. Absolute awareness. People into my funnel.
But people know you though.
No, they don’t. Do you know how many people are listening to your podcast right now that have no idea who I am [laughter]? I mean, the only reason I’m doing your podcast is I want to build depth with you and I want you to like me more than you did an hour ago, which you now do, and I want to find 7, 9, 49 people who heard two or three interesting things here and now google the rabbit hole of my videos and mediums and things of that nature. So, I think people confuse that I appreciate and I’m humbled, William. You’re right. And listen, a lot more people know me than the average person, but I’m not Zucks and I’m not Beyonce and I’m not a lot of things and I like the grind towards it. And for me, it’s about building leverage. I think I have quality. I think I bring value. I know that people stay with me. And so, the more I can collect, the better. They stay with me. They get into my funnel and then a million things happen. When I  sell my popcorn, if four million people love me instead of 100,000, that popcorn has a better chance of starting off at a good base, right? And so, it all works towards an end goal of cashing in the chips and that means creating as many New York Jets fans as possible at the bitter end, but before then, it’s selling books. It’s gets paid more to speak because people want to see me speak. It’s about getting into deals. I got into three or four deals on my angel fund. I made two million dollars personally on Tumblr because David Karp liked how I thought because I put out content and he let me into the investment round. So, my personal brand gets me leverage that gets me into things whether it’s investments, whether it’s customers, that’s the trickle down. Do a podcast. They read a Medium. They watch a keynote on YouTube. They follow me. They watch the #AskGaryVee show. They subscribe to the podcast. I throw a right hook in February 2016 to buy the #AskGaryVee book. They buy it to support me. They put it on their kitchen table. Somebody walks in. They’re friends with this person. They’re like, “What’s this book.” They tell that person about me. That person happens to be the CMO of Sears Department stores. She looks into Gary Vaynerchuk. She sees that I have an agency. She sends me an email. We go pitch the business. We get the business. We make three million dollar account. We make $600,000 profit. That’s money in my pocket. I buy a real estate investment because of it. I mean, it just all works. It’s all wired in together.
It’s that long tail, isn’t it?
It’s the long tail. Content is the gateway drug to all opportunity in our society today.
Because it’s the quickest and easiest way to get in front of somebody at a very low cost. The internet is the distribution of media now. You don’t have to beg NBC or the Wall Street Journal to tell people about me. You’re giving me distribution right now. Now, one will argue that a guy like me could be on CNN and Wall Street Journal and Forbes every day and that’s true. But I’m hedging that there’s 100 people that are listening to this right now that I would have not been able to get through the traditional means and they’re probably more like minded to me than the people that are watching TV and that’s why I want them.
Should this approach be applied to anybody that’s trying to build stuff? To get out there?
Yes. Yes. 100%
How do you fit in the work like your agency stuff and write Medium posts? It doesn’t add up to me.
I mean, William, real quick. No joke without bullshit. When do you wake up, how much do you work, and when do you go to sleep?
When do I wake up? I wake up at 7:00.
Okay. And then what’s your life.
I work all the– throughout the whole day.
I work on a startup called panda.
Yep. Yep. I’ve seen it. And? When does–?
Oh. Have you? Cool [laughter]. And when does work stop? It doesn’t. It’s sort of when I feel like I can’t think anymore. So, 12:00. 1:00.
You’re experience in building this company that one of your Medium articles hits a chord with other founders and 10,000 people become aware of usepanda and that’s better for your business. Got it?
That’s it, man. It is the gateway drug to awareness. Awareness matters.
Coming to a close now. What is it that–what is one thing that should someone take away from this interview? If this was your last interview, what is it that you would want them to remember?
Every action that you put out into the world is your legacy. We’re all being documented. We are the patriarchs and matriarchs of our families and I desperately implore you to understand that you’re painting your legacy and it’s going to really matter to you in the last ten years of your life how everybody thinks about you and I would make your behavior map those ten years.
Awesome. Thank you so much, Gary. Thank you for so much for coming on the show.
Thanks, bud. Thank you. Take care everyone

The podcast audio file has been transcribed exactly as it is. We don’t take responsibility for grammatically incorrect language or errors in general.

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