My interview with Gary Vaynerchuk on building a personal brand in 2013, the future of the foodie niche and what he thinks of dim sum including his favourite dish.
Gary Vaynerchuk is a successful entrepreneur, best selling author of Crush It! and the Thank You Economy a wine aficionado and CEO of Vaynermedia, a multi-million dollar brand consulting agency with a focus on social media. I’ve been following Gary since I read Crush It! and have been inspired by his passion and his story, including his huge life-long goal of owning the NY Jets. There’s no doubt in my mind, that one day, he will.
Note: Please excuse the quality as it was done over the phone.
Do also check out one of Gary’s recent keynotes here below for lots more nuggets of business knowledge and for some inspirational kick in the pants!
Below is the text version of the interview:
Jon: In terms of building a personal brand in 2013, just want to ask about what it really takes to do that now. I did read your book Crush It! and I really love and have been quite inspired by it but that book came out in 2008, right?
Gary: That’s right. You know it’s funny Jon, when I ask that question, not much has changed in 5 years but plenty of things have. The general thesis has stayed the same. The internet has made it very inexpensive for us to be able to create content and to reach people about our expertise and our passions. The places might have changed. Facebook and Twitter have continued to mature so that’s worked out. Obviously things like Instagram have evolved. I even think that Youtube has gotten even stronger <undecipherable> so videos continue to surge and grow. I think we need to figure out how to make sure our content is mobile friendly. That’s not something I was even thinking about when I wrote Crush It! In 2008. And so, the thesis is the same which is, if you know what you ’re talking about and you have the passion about it and you figure out which kind of style to communicate with whether that’s video, audio, the written word, cartoons even, then you’re going to have a real chance. The places where you have to story tell have evolved a little bit into Instagram and maybe even things like Snapshot and things of that nature. Tumblr has evolved more than when I first started talking about it. Google plus has come out since then so there’s new places to tell the stories I think on social media but I don’t think anything’s really fundamentally changed. It’s about skills and passion and the ability to communicate.
Jon: Wow, ok. That’s great.
Gary: I will tell you one thing that I don’t think I touched on in the book given the context of the question. Delivering value. It’s so important to deliver value. I think Wine Library TV really worked because I was helping people drink wine better and it made their wine drinking experience more interesting. So I would say, knowing what the subject of this interview is about, I don’t know a lot about dim sum. I’ve had it a couple times. So if you go out and start storytelling through videos, pictures, written word and I fall into being fascinated about learning a little bit more, you’re going to bring me value. You’re going to make me a better orderer when I go out and that has a lot of value. So whatever the value is if you’re making somebody’s life better or more entertaining or whatever it may be it’s very important to figure out.
Jon: Yeah, that totally makes sense. In terms of something like building a new media studio and a fanbase, going into the artist’s perspective, where the artist is trying to build a studio type of thing, what would be your advice for creating – whether it be videos, animation, comics leveraging social media and mobile platforms to do that?
Gary: So when you say studio, do you mean like a video studio?
Jon: Basically, like a studio that produces media content.
Gary: Got it. That’s what Vaynermedia does for a living. We have content producers who create pictures, videos and animated GIF’s for Tumblr. It can get quite expensive if you want to go that route. I still think for most individuals at first you should keep it very basic, flipcam, you can even record video using an iPhone and very basic Photoshop tools to help you create plenty of content on your own if you’re an individual. If you’re lucky enough to have startup funds or your own finances, a couple of designers could go a long way. Understanding that the pictures that you put up on Instagram, Facebook and on Pinterest are going to act differently. So understanding what to do to tell your story on those platforms.
This question is tapping into the big thing that I’m going to be writing about in my new book that’s coming out this fall called “Jab, Jab, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” and it’s going to be talking about creating micro-content. How do you create content that’s native to the platform that it’s being put out on. So even though the world may see a picture and thinking it will act the same on Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook it’s not going to. You need to figure out the nuances of those platforms to figure out how to story tell.
The problem is that a lot of people don’t have time to create that much content. So if you’re fortunate enough that you have an angel investment or you have your own money that you can afford a studio and get a couple of designer’s that’s incredible. But I didn’t even have that luxury back in the day with Wine Library TV. I put out one piece of content, it was the video. If I was to do it today, for every episode I would probably make an animated GIF for Tumblr, I’d probably make an infographic for Pinterest, I’d probably make a picture with a quote for Facebook. So I would definitely have created more content around the core piece of content but that does take time and money and not every entrepreneur is going to have that opportunity so I would say that that’s a luxury not a necessity.
Jon: Ok, that’s great. So just in terms of the topic of foodies, this being a foodie related kind of site, just wondering about what your thoughts are on what the future looks like for foodies online and on mobile platforms?
Gary: Food’s not going anywhere. People have interest in it. It’s having an all time high and I think it’s going to continue to grow for multiple reasons, health reasons and just general storytelling. It’s become more romantic to know about your foods, the sub-categories, and niches within foods. We’ve never had more of a more diverse restaurant and cuisine culture in the world let along in the US and Canada and other places of that nature. So I think it’s substantially bright. I think people will continue to explore and try new things. I think we’ll continue to have young innovative chefs push the envelope on what they can do with traditional core dishes. So I’m very optimistic about that. That’s not a trend or a fad. It’s people eating, they do it multiple times a day. I just think it’s one of the best niche genre’s to get involved in.
Jon: Right, right. In terms of dim sum, just wondering what do you think of it and if you have a favourite dish?
Gary: Sure. I’ve gone to a couple dim sum’s and done it several times. I’m not an expert in it by any stretch of the imagination but I definitely enjoy it. I would say probably the prawn, shrimp dumplings have really been the ones that I think I’ve most enjoyed. It’s the kind of style that I enjoy. But obviously, in the authenticity of doing these interviews properly, I don’t have a lot of experience or think that I’m really up to date on all the options I have out there. And so that’s kind of what I was looking at when I was looking at what interview I was going to do, I was like oh this is going to be interesting. This might be actually a site that I’ll follow a little bit just to learn a little more about dim sum. It just speaks to what I believe in; this type of marketing and business building. Because I have a need for a little more knowledge to make my experience when I go out and eat a little bit more interesting and I’d like to think that that’s what you’re going to be providing.
Jon: Excellent. Yeah that’s definitely something I’m aiming to do is to provide more knowledge for those who don’t know that much about dim sum and I guess to add value to their experience when they go out to have dim sum.
Gary: Love it. I will say one thing. One of the things I love about dim sum is the fact that I can drink a lot of high acid white wines with it. So I love Riesling, Grüner Veltliner from Austria and Chenin Blanc. It’s very, very friendly towards high acid white wines and even sparkling wines and champagne.