Fast-forward to starting VaynerMedia with his brother AJ, which has grown in similar fashion to over 500 employees & a list of blue chip companies anyone would love to have in just a short few years - you guessed it - about five of them. The point is, as much as Vaynerchuk can attest to having oracle like predictions and be a very entertaining speaker (which if you’re in the Maryland area April 19th, come see him speak at University of MD), at the core of it he’s got the business chops.
What chapters made me rethink my life
While I’m usually all for never shutting up, I want to make this section the quick & dirty on what chapters spoke to me. Rather than make you scroll for the next 20 minutes reading, I’ll keep it short and encourage you to find your own favorite chapters & let me know which they are.
Chapter 1: Clouds & Dirt
From the very first page, I was hit with the truth many of us know but very few remember when you’re plugging along in the day-to-day, frustrated that your efforts are not bearing the fruit you want just yet. Like I’ve mentioned earlier, one thing that Gary has is the grit to do something every single day for years before anyone pays attention - I don’t know many people who can attest to having that kind of determination, patience, and big-picture ethos that is required.
Can you really say that you put your head down, do the work, and remember to look up and make sure you’re still aligned with your big picture?
Chapter 4: Family Business
This chapter immediately stood out to me for a few reasons: Jessica being my rock, how becoming a parent of young kids recently changed my life, and my own family dynamics.
When asked how important is it that your significant other share your entrepreneurial vision, Gary’s response echoed my own feelings. For a lot of people, they see relationships or lack there of in the business world in two ways: they either distract you or empower you. I know for myself being a single person for many years who just dated, I mostly focused on my photography work and let the other stuff fall in place. Yet, later in my late 20’s-early 30’s after meeting Jessica & co-parenting two kids, if I’m being honest with myself, there were times I missed being single to feel no guilt about grinding so hard and being able to do whatever it took to succeed; sublet an apartment, move on a whim for a new job, road-trip around the country, and moving back in with my parents for a spell to save up money. Don’t judge, you’ve felt it too - don’t lie. However, his follow-up response is what resonated with me as I have accepted this idea myself.
“I don’t mean to say that I wouldn’t have been successful without her. Without a doubt I would have. But I’m sure I would have been an unhappier person, less healthy, and less fulfilled.” That last word summed it up for me - less fulfilled. If I was honest with myself, the times I was ‘grinding everyday’, what I really was doing was throwing myself into my work to distract myself from the unhappiness I was feeling - the unhappiness with my stalled out career (more on that later), my lack of long-term relationships, my ‘outsider’ feelings regarding friendships I had, and not measuring up to my own high standards. But that all changed when I met Jessica and really let myself be present - seeing that what I gave up in terms of my ability to live like I’m on the run from the KGB with a small rented room, a mattress on the floor, a stool for my laptop and a Pelican case of camera gear and nothing else (not joking, it was off-putting), I made up with feeling fulfilled. With having people who support you when no one else will, who hold your head when you just want to cry and not judge, who you go out wanting more than anything to make proud with your accomplishments. For me, that’s Jessica and the kids, Lyric & Riley - they’re the best thing that ever happened for me and a realization that the empty feeling I had all those years was the family I wanted to help raise. I know when Jessica and I have our own child together, it’s going be another game-changer that will push me even more to build own my legacy.
As someone who’s the youngest of three kids by quite a bit, a brother 7 years my senior and a sister 10 years my senior, I often longed growing up for the closeness siblings had whom were closer in age. Yet, I also realized that I had built-in mentors to watch grow before me, taking on life, and leaving me to take notes on what to do when it was my turn and with that, we’ve all grown up with our own careers, families, and priorities. Being transparent, when I read that Gary’s brother, AJ, was 11 years his junior, I then envisioned my brother, Anibal, and I. The idea that we would one day start our own business together blows my mind, and more personally, makes me tear up to think about having that connection that I grew up longing for, enabling us to build stronger family bonds. I hope he reads this paragraph and smiles like I am now.
Chapter 6: Hustle
The fact is, we all secretly love to follow those #Entrepreneur, #MillionaireMentality, #HustleOrDie, #EatFuckingFaces type Instagram accounts to feel motivated, but with that said, we all know it’s bullshit. We all feel like we’re just millionaires waiting for the big break, yet don’t really do the shit-touching jobs nobody wants, but are necessary to hit that tipping point. As I write this it’s 3 AM in Vegas and I’m sitting in my hotel bed with my laptop. Why am I even mentioning this? Because with everything going on on this trip, I had to finish this tonight - I didn’t want to, but I knew if it meant staying up all night I would do it. It’s important to really take a hard look inward to ask if you could be doing more. I knew I could do more.