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Savvy entrepreneurs know Gary Vaynerchuk books like #AskGaryVee, Crush It, and Crushing It. Those in the social media world know Gary Vaynerchuk as a brilliant marketer and entrepreneur. I had the chance to see Vaynerchuk speak before he was a social media phenomenon with eight million Instagram followers, and the lessons he taught that day are the ones I still refer to today.
It was 2007, and I was among a group of 300 entrepreneurs who saw Vaynerchuk make his first public appearance. We had heard of this crazy Russian with the funny name, but neither of us knew what to expect. I remember sitting there listening to Vaynerchuk and thinking, "This guy is amazing – but I have no idea what he's talking about."
Social media was still an emerging industry in 2007, and to be honest, pretty much all of his conversation was right over my head. So he finishes his speech (no notes or PowerPoint of course) and then says to the audience: "Any questions?"
I looked around the room and there was an uncomfortable silence. Nobody raised their hand. So I slowly raised my hand. Vaynerchuk calls me. I swallow.
I said, “Well, Gary, everything you just said was brilliant. But I have no idea what you just said. "
The audience burst into spontaneous laughter and applause. I think a lot of other people thought what I thought and were glad I spoke up. Vaynerchuk's answer is just one of the brilliant lessons he has taught me over the past decade since then.
Give your content away for free
When I asked the question, Vaynerchuk never missed a beat. He says to me: "What are you doing?"
I said, "I'm a business coach. I help entrepreneurs grow their business and have more financial and time freedom."
He says, "Perfect! Do you sell books, online courses, and coaching programs?"
I said yes.
He says, "Great! Now I want you to start giving away all that stuff for free."
I sat there amazed. Remember, that was in 2007. Today everyone is giving away content to draw attention to their brands and companies. But at the time it seemed like a new concept, at least the way he said it was.
Long story short: I followed Vaynerchuk's advice. (My mother didn't raise a dummy.) I started giving away my content on platforms like Facebook, YouTube, in videos, on my blog and in podcasts. Following his advice has become one of the cornerstones of my customer acquisition model, arguably the most important.
Related: The headline that made Gary Vaynerchuk's head explode
Put family first
Shortly after that first life-changing meeting with Vaynerchuk, I had a second opportunity to hang out with him – this time when I put him in my car. Vaynerchuk was just about to do his first book tour so I called his office and asked for his assistant and told them, "Hey, I'm a huge Gary Vee fan and I would love to record him while he's here Ohio."
His assistant said, "Great! We were actually looking for someone to do it."
"I am your man!" I said.
I remember how focused and motivated Vaynerchuk was, but what struck me the most was how he put family first. Vaynerchuk took call after call – with CEOs, celebrities, and his staff. Because he was in my car, I couldn't help but hear his end of the conversation. During many of those important phone calls, he said the following, “Sorry man, I have to call you back. My wife is calling. "Then he clicked on his wife and said, without the slightest hint of annoyance," Hello honey, what's wrong? "
Vaynerchuk's Twitter profile says "Family First," but that's what many people in our industry say without actually following it. But I can tell you from personal experience that Vaynerchuk actually puts his family first.
Related: Gary Vaynerchuk and 8 Business Moguls Unveil Their Secrets For Building An Unstoppable Brand
To be present
One of the other things I noticed during this trip was that Vaynerchuk was not rushing anyone. He was the exact opposite of many of the divas you see on social media today. For example, after his book signing, I took him to a party held in his honor that was full of "vayniacs" (ardent Gary Vaynerchuk fans).
You can expect the Guest of Honor to be “too busy” or “too important” to speak to everyone. In many cases you are right. But not our husband Gary Vee.
No, Vaynerchuk took the time to speak to every single person who wanted to speak to him, no matter how long it took. He was fully present with each person. He looked them in the eye and really listened to what they were saying.
See also: Gary Vaynerchuk shows us how to do it as an entrepreneur
One big lesson I learned from my time with Vaynerchuk is that you have to be yourself (as clichéd as it sounds). I swear I won't do this, but in the two days I spent with him, I never saw him go to the bathroom. he ate about enough to fill a hummingbird; and on his schedule, he slept maybe four hours a night.
I finally asked him about it and he admitted, "I've always had a strange metabolism. I don't have to eat or sleep a lot." (I didn't push him because of the bathroom part.)
That may work for him, but I eat like a horse and I need sleep, how much sleep. Don't try to be like Vaynerchuk if it is not your body or your metabolism.
I will always be grateful for the opportunity to spend time with and learn from Vaynerchuk, as well as the life and business lessons he taught me and which I use to this day.
See also: Gary Vaynerchuk: Business success is not what you think