Back in August, Gary Vaynerchuk — entrepreneur, CEO, social media Yoda, and a massive fan of the New York Jets football team — took his grind to Australia.
That’s a favorite Vaynerchuk word: grind. You’ll also find him using language like hustle, side-hustle, and a curse word that iPhones autocorrect to ducking.
A Belarus-born, New Jersey-raised multimillionaire in his early forties, Vaynerchuk hit Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne before heading southeast to Auckland, New Zealand. He spoke before thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs, digital dreamers, and business professionals looking for tips on better leveraging social media and the internet.
The crowds were hoping to hear GaryVee, as he’s popularly known, deliver inspirational, no-nonsense talk about laser-sighting your focus, maximizing your schedule, and giving the middle finger to personal insecurity and naysayers.
And that’s what people got.
The gym-trained, snug-T-shirt-wearing Vaynerchuk has the energy of the Tasmanian Devil in the classic Warner Bros. cartoons. He charges through a succession of 16-hour workdays, his wild, scanning eyes suggesting someone who’s just downed a dozen Red Bulls. But unlike the grunting, cyclonic “Taz,” Vaynerchuk, who got his start working in his father’s New Jersey liquor store, is hyper-verbal, disciplined, strategic, and socially skilled. With his cropped, unfussy hair, panther-like stride, and online acumen, Vaynerchuk projects a vibe that’s half tech nerd, half Navy SEAL.
An early investor in Facebook, Twitter, and Uber, Vaynerchuk today is CEO of VaynerMedia, a digital advertising agency with 800 employees, offices in New York and London, and clients like Budweiser and Toyota. He’s also chairman of VaynerX, a media and communications company with multiple brands under its umbrella, and a cofounder, with his younger brother A.J., of VaynerSports, an athlete representation firm.
His online reach is large, with two million Twitter followers and a 6.6M Instagram count. He has a YouTube channel, The #AskGaryVee Show, with 2.2M subscribers. He’s the host of a top-100 global podcast, “The GaryVee Audio Experience,” and appears in a crisply produced online documentary series, DailyVee, which gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at his head-spinning schedule — a medley of meetings, interviews, talks, content creation, and location-hopping, one thing after another, at the clip of a Gatling gun.
On his YouTube show, Vaynerchuk responds spontaneously to viewer questions selected by staff but which he hasn’t seen. Its name gave him the title for his 2016 book, AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media & Self-Awareness. A best seller, that effort followed Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy, Social World, published in 2013. Last year, Vaynerchuk released another hit book, one whose title nodded to his first e-commerce venture, selling wine: Crushing It! How Great Entrepreneurs Built Their Business and Influence — And How You Can, Too.
It was in the mid-90s, with Vaynerchuk still a college student in Boston, when he realized the nascent internet could be a retail gamechanger. He’d been taking the train down to New Jersey on weekends to work in his dad’s store, Shoppers Discount Liquors. Following his branding instincts, he persuaded his dad to change the store’s name to the more upscale Wine Library. Then he launched WineLibrary.com, giving the family business a digital dimension.