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What Gary Vaynerchuk Helped Me Realize

I first stumbled upon Gary Vaynerchuk, or “Garyvee,” a year or so ago when I was big into consuming “self-help” and self-motivation videos.

My first impression was that he was full of shit, as are so many other social media “influencers” or “gurus.”

(Featured image courtesy of Gary Vayernchuk. Edits mine.)

The other day, in one of those cosmic sort of coincidences where all of a sudden multiple people in your circle reference the same thing, Jorden Roper and my friend Glen Pearl linked to two different videos from Gary, each doing so independent of one another.

I had also seen a short clip by Jon Taffer of Bar Rescue fame in which Gary interviewed him for a podcast. Jon’s one of the few business personalities I’ve come to know and respect, so I assumed that if he gave someone like Gary Vaynerchuk the time of day, maybe he wasn’t as full of shit as I initially thought.

I try to keep an open mind, even after I’ve already formed an opinion, so I figured I’d give Gary a second chance.

Gary’s content is exactly the kick in the ass I’ve been needing, without even realizing I needed one.

After giving Gary a second chance, it was actually me who was full of it.

Gary’s Defining Pieces of Advice

Gary talks…a lot. Seriously, give his Youtube channel a look. The guy’s always talking and he makes no secret about his love for talking. It’s one of the initial reasons that turned me off from paying attention to him the first time I stumbled upon Garyvee.

But if you actually listen to Gary and correlate what he’s talking about to what he’s actually doing, you’ll realize that he’s speaking the truth. One piece of advice that Gary’s dropped in a few of his videos is, “Don’t pay attention to what I’m saying. Pay attention to what I’m doing.”

I think the two go hand-in-hand. Realizing that Gary’s living his advice shows you the reality of actually following it, but you need to back it up with the hard work that comes along with it all.

Running your own business, whether you’re a freelance writer, painter, Ebay flipper, whatever…it takes time, it takes energy, and it takes sacrifice.

Until recently, I wasn’t putting my absolute all into my business. I always made sure my client work was written to a high standard and submitted on time, of course, but I wasn’t constantly hustling for myself. I shouldn’t only be working when I have client work to do. There’s a hell of a lot more I can be working on when I don’t have any client work to write or it’s not due for two weeks.

I can be

  • Marketing
  • Branding
  • Honing my skills
  • Reading and learning
  • Pitching
  • Blogging

…the list goes on and on, yet there I’ve been, eyes glued to Netflix or fingers dancing across the keyboard while I play World of Warcraft.

I needed to stumble on someone that told me, in a very no-BS way, to commit or quit, basically.

For me, Gary’s that guy.

Create a Legacy by Having…Patience?

I’ve never been a patient person. Like, ever.

started my business six months ago and it’s pissed me off that I’m not at the level I want to be just yet.

A post shared by Gary Vay-Ner-Chuk (@garyvee) on

One of Gary’s key concepts is the idea of having patience. This translates to understanding things take time on a long-term – or “macro” – scale, while working hard and fast on the short-term – or “micro” – scale.

So even if after months of 16-hour days I’m not yet where I want to be, in a year or two or 10 it’ll pay off.

Success doesn’t happen overnight and beating yourself up about it serves you no good.

I need to be practical about the level of success I’ve achieved and will achieve over the next few weeks, months, and even years.

Have Self-Awareness

I like to think I’ve always maintained some respectable degree of self-awareness. I’ve long extolled the importance of constantly working at adapting, improving, and evolving myself while learning as much as I can.

I don’t want to live a life where I get stagnant at some point and never become anything other than who I am at the time.

One of Gary’s key pieces of advice is to be self-aware. Identify and understand your strengths and weaknesses.

If you’re an artist who’s terrible at selling, it might be beneficial to partner with a friend who’s an excellent salesman. Likewise, if you can sell anything in the world but can’t draw a stick figure, go find a creative to partner with.

That same mindset extends to everything in your life and business. For instance, I love apps and would love to develop my own, but I have no programming ability or drive to create an app. What I can do, of course, is write about apps and tech.

On the flip side, though I claim that I’ve always had a solid degree of self-awareness, I’ve never really put too much stock into it until recently. I’ve wanted to be a professional writer all my life, but always ended up working in jobs that didn’t fulfill me or make me happy. It wasn’t until this past January that I decided to pursue my goal and I regret that it took me so long.

But Gary also makes mention that sometimes it’s better than be the #2 or #3 or even #6 of a company while you learn the skills you need before transitioning onto your own. I like to think I’ve done that.

I learned some great skills over the last eight years of my professional life that have laid a foundation for owning my own company today:

  • Assertiveness
  • Communication
  • Eye for detail
  • Balancing perfectionism with finishing
  • Overcoming hurdles and obstacles
  • Leadership
  • Finances

And the list can go on and on. There’s been plenty of times over the last eight years where I was completely broken by what was going on in my life and career, but I had the self-awareness to learn from it all and become the person I am today. As much as I wish I had started freelancing when I was 20 instead of 27, having patience helped me to grow into the person who can pull off this often-times difficult career choice.

At 20? Knowing who I was then, I probably would have failed at an undertaking like this. I just wasn’t capable. Even owning my first business from 2005-2012 ended in failure because I lacked the self-awareness necessary for success.

Be Practical

Another of Gary’s key pieces of advice is to be practical. Oftentimes college graduates, for example, will contact Gary and say they’re planning on becoming multi-millionaires by the time they’re 30, prompting him to laugh and quickly dismiss them.


Because it’s not practical and it’s very unlikely they’ll succeed that quickly, if at all. Success and wealth like that takes time, patience, and hard work. It’s more practical for those graduates to think they may be millionaires by 30 years old, but to have $25 million? Highly unlikely.

Gary loves to tell fans that write in that they should simply…get a job. Get any old menial job that’ll pay their few bills while they work to hone their craft, or get a job working for someone they eventually want to become one day.

I’m a very practical person but Gary’s advice still had an impact on me because it’s still possible to have too high an aspiration for the amount of time and effort I’ve put in so far. I’ve been freelancing for a little over six months now and the results are in-line with that amount of time. Of course, I wish I’ve had more clients, more earnings, more more more.

But I need to be practical.

“Map your output to your ambition.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

What’s My Ambition?

I want to be the best damn freelance writer a client can possibly hope to hire.

Failing that, I want to still deliver excellent, high-quality content to as many clients as necessary to achieve the earning level I want in my life.

I need to map my output, then, to my ambition.

It's important to map your output to match your ambition.

That means I need to increase my marketing, start pitching more, continually work on my craft, and most importantly, increase the amount of content I’m creating.

The amount of work I’m putting in needs to match the amount of success I get from this endeavor.

While I certainly don’t think I’ve been lazy since I started freelancing, I definitely haven’t been optimizing my time. If you watch any of Gary’s videos, you’ll see the absurd amount of energy he has. I’m not gifted with high energy like Gary (there’s that self-awareness 😉 ), but I’ve allowed myself to waste a lot of time.

Netflix, video games, and Youtube are my three biggest offenders for wasting time. While I don’t intend to give any of them up, I definitely need to cut down the amount of time I spend consuming in order to start creating more.

And if I run out of things to create? I can document the process.

In fact, most of my blog has been me documenting my life until the point I decided to begin freelancing, where the focus then became documenting my exploration into freelancing as a viable career.

If you’re anything like me, you like seeing how things get made. Half of my Youtube favorites are of people documenting the process behind creating something or vlogging about their day-to-day and the decisions they made. It’s a fascinating subject and one that I find inspiring, as well.

“You’re gonna die.”

Ever get told, “You’re gonna die,” as a piece of advice?

Well guess what?

A post shared by Gary Vay-Ner-Chuk (@garyvee) on

I’m a fairly pessimistic realist (or realistic pessimist, the jury’s still deliberating). Telling me something so simple, so real, as, “You’re gonna die,” hits one of my personal concerns perfectly on the head.

I’m going to die.

It might be tomorrow, it might be in 80 more years, but the reality is that I’m going to die one day.

Life is so short and frail in the grand scheme of things. Two years ago my grandmother was full of life and seemed healthy enough for her age. After a small surgery for an entirely different reason, surgeons found cancer literally everywhere. She passed away shortly after this terrible, shocking, and wholly unexpected discovery.

My point is that we never have any idea how much longer we’ve got in this world. I’m 27 and relatively healthy, yet two months ago I had a car accident in which my stars aligned and everything went perfectly so as for me to not die. (Seriously, if the angle of impact or timing of the crash was off by just a hair, I could’ve been annihilated by a tractor-trailer or slid off a drop to my death or any other number of variables that seem to have higher probability than me surviving.)

Car accident on I-70 in Maryland on my road trip

This piece of advice, that I’m going to die, ties into leaving a legacy behind. What would I be remembered for?

No one would remember how many Youtube videos I’ve watched or how many episodes of House of Cards I had left or what my paladin’s item level is in World of Warcraft (lol). They’re going to remember my work ethic, my success, and all the stories I’ve shared, written about, and created.

When my grandmother died, I wrote and delivered a eulogy for her at her funeral. Through my words, I was able to memorialize what an incredible person my grandmother was and to highlight the staggering amount of love she had for everyone she came in contact with.

My words touched the hearts of everyone there, sharing my grandmother’s legacy with everyone while creating a legacy for myself that I could have an impact on others by sharing their stories. It was one of the most defining moments where I realized the true power of words.

That’s the legacy I want to leave. A legacy where the stories I share have a genuine and positive impact on the audience so that one day, when someone eulogizes me, they’re able to share how I helped others enrich their lives, touch their hearts, and realize their humanity.

Most of my client work since I began freelancing has been in the insurance niche, with particular focus on life insurance. I know the reality is that no one’s going to think of the content I’ve written about life insurance when they’re buying a plan that’s right for them, but I know that my articles have had a positive impact on their lives by helping them to protect their assets and families.

Writing is what I’m naturally good at. It only makes sense that what I create, what I write, becomes my legacy. So whether I’m writing about life insurance or the best productivity app or how to earn college scholarships, I want my writing to help whoever’s reading it while helping the company that hired me to write it in the first place.

A Change in Mindset

The biggest takeaway I’ve learned from Garyvee’s videos so far is to make more sacrifices if I want to get to the level I’m comfortable with. And in truth, there’s not a whole lot I can’t sacrifice right now, anyway. I’m single, don’t have kids, don’t have any massive bills…I’m pretty much a step up from rock bottom, to be blunt.

The best way I can achieve the success I want is by sacrificing those few remaining time-wasters I’ve got.

We as humans have limited time in our lives and I’d rather spend what time I’m given working toward the goals I want than rewatching The Office for the 20th time.

Over the last week, I’ve taken extensive notes trying to figure out the paths I want to take, where my shortcomings are, and what I’m going to do to get to the level I want to be at.

Notes taken while watching Garyvee Youtube videos about documenting the creative process
A sample of some of the notes I’ve taken while learning from Garyvee.

I’ve also considered what I want to do with my business. I have some more services I want to offer and specialize in and some new markets and niches to explore.

If you’re stuck in a entrepreneurial or business rut, I’d recommend giving Gary Vaynerchuk a listen. Some of what he says sounds bombastic, ego-centric, and bullshitty, but once you give him a chance, you’ll realize he’s talking about the hard truths you need to hear. That I needed to hear, for sure.

Who’s someone that’s had a positive impact on your business and success? Send me an email, Tweet at me, or leave a comment below and let me know!

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