An Acquired Taste


Brash, in-your-face and passionate to the max, with Gary Vaynerchuk (or Gary Vee as he calls himself) what you see is what you get. He calls it “embracing your DNA”, and he freely admits that a percentage of people turn off him straight away. But he ain’t gonna change for them!

Gary Vaynerchuk is living proof of the power of social media. In the late 1990s, he helped turn his parents’ New Jersey liquor store into a $60 million online retailer called Wine Library, due in part to his blogging and video wine reviews.

Today the 35-year-old has Facebooked, tweeted and Tumblr’ed his way to countless TV appearances; a second book, The Thank You Economy, out this March; “Wine & Web,” his Sirius satellite radio show; and VaynerMedia, the branding boutique agency he cofounded last year with his brother, which has worked with everyone from PepsiCo to his beloved New York Jets.

gary vaynerchuk

“The world’s changing and it’s changing fast,” he says. “People who are slow to the market play catch-up. I’m sure Blockbuster wishes they had embraced new technology before Netflix did. There are a lot of people in the reactionary business. ‘Who’s doing it best in our space? Show me an example and I will do it.’ That mentality is for second-place winners.”

Vaynerchuk’s claim for the next frontier? “I’m very bullish on texting,” he says. “I’m in love with this new company, Fast Society, a closed network where you can get 15 people from your phone onto a texting platform.”

But rather than just push, push, push, Vaynerchuk thinks more brands should be using sites like Facebook and Twitter to listen. “The fact that it’s OK for Bud Light or Pepsi or Pringles to speak to you on Twitter, and customers accept them and even enjoy speaking with brands—that’s crazy!” he exclaims. “That’s why The Thank You Economy talks to manners marketing—it’s like, give a crap, and you’ll be stunned what happens. Now that word-of-mouth is so powerful, good deeds and gestures have much more value.”

Photo credit (large): Jason Binn