Answers from a Social-Media Expert
Gary Vaynerchuk is the prototypical social-media business success. The son of a wine shop owner, Vaynerchuk started a video blog called Wine Library TV — a quirky discussion about wine by a young man who loved the Jets and spoke about which wines fit best with Lucky Charms.
Ten years later, Vaynerchuk is a highly successful social-media entrepreneur and, through his firm VaynerMedia, a sought-after consultant advising Fortune 500 companies. He is also a New York Times best-selling author. And since 2014, he is the host of #AskGaryVee, another YouTube show that, this time, is focused on helping his listeners succeed as entrepreneurs.
He brings that same mandate to his latest book, #AskGaryVee. Based on questions from his viewers, #AskGaryVee is a highly valuable primer on what works in social-media entrepreneurialism and in entrepreneurialism in general. For example, his advice to worry about the top line and not the bottom line when building a business (which aligns with his advice to solopreneurs that “cash is oxygen”) is compelling given Vaynerchuk’s meteoric rise to riches.
On Content and Context
Of course, Vaynerchuk is first and foremost a social-media expert, and his concise overview of all the important social-media platforms that exist today is alone worth the price of the book. Another typically illuminating chapter is entitled “Content and Context,” in which he answers questions related to building compelling content and gaining exposure for that content.
For example, one viewer asked him how to get people to engage in a new and small channel. The answer: quality and hustle. “That’s all you can do: put out great content, engage with your tiny audience, and go out and try to get exposure for your content by collaborating or getting press or guest posting on someone else’s platform,” he writes. Many of the questions are quite specific. One viewer asks, for example, if he should avoid doing podcasts or videos because he has an accent. Vaynerchuk points to Google co-founder Sergey Brin and replies that accents should not stop the questioner (adding that if he doesn’t get an audience, it isn’t because of the accent). Another questioner asks whether short or long videos are better; Vaynerchuk answers that it doesn’t matter. He himself broke the commonly accepted “shorter-is-better” rule when he launched WLTV, which consisted of 40-minute videos.
Every chapter in #AskGaryVee is filled with this type of clear-cut, specific advice generated by the questions from his fans.
Clouds and Dirt
For Vaynerchuk, however, success as a businessperson also means success as a person. Just how much he values being a success as a person is reflected in this book. The nuts-and-bolts content chapter described above comes after chapters on education, family business and parenting — three highly personal chapters that are among the first five of the book. As with the other chapters, the questions are often very specific — e.g., “how important is it for your significant other to share your entrepreneurial vision?” — and Vaynerchuk responds with typical honesty. In answer to the significant-other question, for example, he responds that without his wife Lizzie, he would still have “without a doubt” been successful. “But I’m sure I would have been an unhappier person, less healthy and less fulfilled.”
Although offering helpful advice on the personal side of business in these chapters, Vaynerchuk’s greatest value is his astuteness and vision as a social-media entrepreneur — both of which are brilliantly captured in the imagery of the very first chapter. Entitled “Clouds and Dirt,” the chapter describes the two priorities of an entrepreneur: the overarching philosophy and beliefs that drive the enterprise exemplified by the image of the clouds, and the day-to-day grounded implementation and execution of the vision exemplified by the image of the dirt.
As always, Vaynerchuk entertains and informs, using his high-energy, straight-talking personality to convey serious, valuable and practical advice on everything related to both the clouds and the dirt. Not everyone can succeed in the social-media or even entrepreneurial space. Readers of #AskGaryVee, however, will have a better chance than most.
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