Podcast Episode 39: My Business Meeting with Gary Vaynerchuk

By: Paul Hickey, Founder and Lead Strategist

You know how people say “If you want to be successful, surround yourself with successful people?”

You’ve probably also heard the one “If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?”

Okay, and if you haven’t heard either of those, than surely you know this one – “Just Do It.”

And we all know Instagram is full of motivational quotes, so just pick one and this blog post pertains to it.

Sometimes, when you’re seeking answers to questions about your life, business, parenting, family, the pursuit of happiness, making money or how to spend your free time, you have to simply take action and either get those answers from “successful people,” “people you’d have dinner with,” or you have to freaking “just do it” and see how it goes. I mean, stop dwelling on the question, and seek the answer or just do until the answer finally comes to you.

I’ve written recently about some life stories, and I’m going to continue to. Here’s one in a little different format, transcribed from my business meeting with Gary Vaynerchuk, a man on my “Mount Rushmore.”

I learned a ton from this experience, but here are three main points:
– Whoever is closest to the customer always wins
– When you hedge, you give up your leverage
– Never let anyone else dictate the outcome of your success

But I think the biggest takeaway, that I wasn’t expecting, quite simply is, I learned the TRUE IMPORTANCE OF BUILDING A BRAND.

Here’s the full convo…

Paul: “I started my company about a year ago, and Gary – you talk about pulling in opposite directions, so there’s ego and humility, macro patience / micro speed, (and these are contradictions, obviously). I think my contradiction boils down to “what I want to do” (within the job functions of my company).

I love to do the work, which is why I started my own agency, and I don’t want to be like the agencies that I left. And I also love to build the business (do biz dev) and “sell shit,” and (I feel like) I’m really good at selling my services because I’ve performed all of them for the last 10 years.

Gary: “Right, you’re a practitioner.”

Paul: “Exactly, and I love doing the work, and there’s a lot of agencies out there that hire our agency to do the actual work because they don’t staff for it. So I guess (my first question is) I’m finding myself being contradicted on a daily basis on ‘what do I want to do’ and I’m the happiest guy I know, but lately I’ve been feeling a little depressed.”

Gary: “What’s going on? You don’t like operating?”

Paul: “Well, I eat a lot of client shit. And it gets me down because it’s negative.”

Gary: “You’re in client services.”

Paul: “I’m in client services and I love client services.”

Gary: “You like the work.”

Paul: “I love the work.”

Gary: “But you don’t like the humans that are making decisions based on the politics of their own organizations.”

Paul: “Correct. I’m dealing with a lot of agencies that are clients, and I’m finding myself wanting to fire them as clients because of the politics and the extracurricular bullshit that comes with not doing the work.”

Gary: “Well so I have some good news. Start going client direct, instead of letting other agencies be the whitelabel. Stop the whitelabel behind the scenes and start selling – if you’re so good at selling go sell your business directly to clients.”

Paul: “Good so no fear there – go with what I know I’m good at which is selling my stuff because I love doing the work and I know I can do it for them.”

Gary: “Have you been hesitant to go client direct because you like the fact that agencies are basically your business development?”

Paul: “Yeah, because they funnel me a lot of business.”

Gary: “But the problem is you’re commoditized. Nobody knows who the fuck you are.”

Paul: “Right.”

Gary: “You have no leverage. You’re letting someone do sales for you, but you’re commoditizing out your entire company.”

Paul: “Right. (But) is there a balance there?”

Gary: “Nope. No balance.”

Paul: “This is my legit question – this is what I need to know from you. You also say a lot is binary. Is one binary? Why?”

Gary: “Yes. Just to recap, the part where I said ‘nope,’ that was binary. Here’s why: Whoever is closest to the customer ALWAYS WINS.

WHOEVER IS CLOSEST TO THE CUSTOMER ALWAYS WINS.

Why do you think Amazon won? It’s the thing. And you never want to be behind a thing. If you’re getting all of your referrals from an affiliate place, and the affiliate is getting all of it’s traffic from Google.

There are two tollbooths in between you and your money. It feels really good when (everything’s working) until it doesn’t and you have nothing to say about it.

The reason you build a brand, is because when you build brand, you don’t become commoditized. So many people are B and C players because they use other people who (get revenue for them). Think about what I’m doing. VaynerMedia doesn’t even do RFPs let alone let other people do work for them because so many people are coming to us because I built such macro brand.

(What are we even doing here tonight?) I’m sure there’s a nice social media business dinner in your town right now.

Brand. Got it?

So it is binary.

Because if one agency is giving you 63% of your business, and then they just decide to hire two more people because they don’t want to outsource any more.”

Me: “Yeah, they’ve threatened to do that before but they stay with me because I’m better and they like working with me more.”

Gary: “For now.”

Me: “I know. You’re right.”

Gary: “I know I’m right. Do not imagine you’re so fucking great.”

Me: “I agree. Quick follow up on that. Is there a time period for the transition?”

Gary: “Yes. Start tomorrow. Just about everyone in this room will give you some business. Like (that) fast. And more importantly, you have to ask yourself a very important question. This is back to how I listen when I do these things. You went real quick and easy on ‘well that’s great, that’s what I do, I love selling because I’m good at that,’ but then you’re like dwelling on other parts. You have to understand that. Maybe you’re just saying that. Maybe you’re not.”

Me: “Maybe I’m just saying what part?”

Gary: “That you’re so confident you’re going to roll up to companies and get their business.”

Me: “I’ve hedged.”

Gary: “You’ve hedged a lot. And oftentimes when you hedge, you give up the leverage.”

Me: “Go all in, baby.”

Gary: “It’s not even ‘go all in’ brother. It’s not letting any fucking person on earth dictate the outcome of your success.”

Me: “Okay.”

Gary: “When I start my brands, I’ll sell them through Amazon, but not enough to think that it ever matters. That’s why I have to be the best at everything at my company. Why I always stay operating, why I do “Gary Vee,” so I can be a practitioner at my craft, why I never let anybody become too important. I diversify.

You’re in a totally different place. You have a business that actually competes with you, with leverage over you.

Alright? Binary.

Me: “Binary. Awesome. You’re the man, thank you so much.”

I love sharing my life experiences with you all and hopefully they provide some kind of value. Thanks and have a great day!

Paul Hickey has created and grown businesses via digital strategy and internet marketing for more than 10 years. His sweet spot is using analytics to design and build websites and grow the audience and revenue of businesses via SEO/Blogging, Google Adwords, Bing Ads, Facebook and Instagram Ads, Social Media Content Marketing and Email Marketing. The part that he’s most passionate about is quantifying next marketing actions based on real data.

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