Gary Vaynerchuk Interview with Mitch Jackson
Gary Vaynerchuk is a highly sought after public speaker, a 5-time New York Times bestselling author, as well as a prolific angel investor with early investments in companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Venmo, and Uber.
He’s also the chairman of VaynerX, a modern-day media and communications holding company and the active CEO of VaynerMedia, a full-service 1,000 employee advertising agency servicing Fortune 100 clients across the company’s 4 locations.
I really enjoyed chatting with Gary about how lawyers and other professionals can use social media to build relationships, show their human side and communicate more effectively. Here’s the written transcript. Enjoy!
[quick note- after this interview and over the next several years, we did a few more live videos together. When my book came out, Gary was kind enough to tweet it out to his audience of 1.8M on Twitter. Now that’s what I call “social equity” 😉
Mitch: Hey, Gary. Thanks for joining us today. I really appreciate it. Before we get into our podcast and talk about professionals communicating on and offline in today’s fast-paced, short attention span world, I want to take you back to Monday night; Piers Morgan on CNN. I found that to be a fascinating dynamic, with respect to how everybody was communicating during the show. We had Coach Stan Van Gundy; big teddy bear, nice guy, easy-going; didn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. We have Abby Huntsman, who is very professional in what she had to say. We had Donnie Deutsch, who was the moderator of the group. Then we had Faith Salie, who was shouting out loud to get her point made to everybody else on the panel. What’s your takeaway with how that went down Monday night?
Gary: It was a new format for everybody, and it was the first time we were all together. The marching orders were, “Let’s keep it very fast-paced. Once Donny throws it to somebody, somebody else jump in,” which immediately creates a scenario of; how do you really get in there while somebody’s talking, knowing that the whole segment is 40 minutes? You have to understand the context of the execution of the content. I think everybody played to their personalities. I’m a chameleon, so I kind of responded to what my role was going to be within that group. I’m “Common Sense Sam;” that’s kind of my thing, so I kind of went there. I think everybody’s personalities probably shined through. I think that first of all, off-camera, you couldn’t imagine how good the chemistry was. Even though we may not agree, there was tremendous respect, and actually, admiration alike. [inaudible: 01:42] the third commercial break, I’m like, “We’re a little family already.” It was pretty cool.
Mitch: Yes, it was pretty cool, and your personality did shine through. When you made the comment, “Listen. I don’t work out, and look how I look,” my wife leaned over to me, and she said, “Tell him that I love him. I like that guy.”
Gary: That’s great. That’s kind of like, I felt like there was some bullying going around, and I think that we listen. There’s always two sides to every story, and I think it’s crazy to blanket statements that people that are overweight are not trying hard enough. That’s ludicrous. I’m sure there’s plenty that don’t, but there’s plenty that do.
Mitch: Gary, my blog is all about sharing my years of being a trial lawyer and sharing communication tips with everyone, not just other lawyers. That one little statement that you made communicated your personality; it communicated a message. It actually resonated with somebody (Lisa) in that she has heard your name before in my household, but didn’t know who you were. She took the time and effort to tell me, “When you talk to Gary, you tell him that I want to give him a big hug.” You communicated in a very effective, real way, and that’s why I wanted to do this podcast with you today. What I have found is that when it comes to professionals, when it comes to doctors, lawyers, CPAs, other professionals, they have a hard time being real, being transparent, communicating with other people, communicating with patients and clients. If you were sitting at a table today with a brand-new doctor, a brand-new lawyer, a brand-new CPA and you had to share some communication tips with them, what’s the best way to communicate in the market your practice for service? What would be your response in today’s fast-paced world?
Gary: I’d say the first thing to do is to take it up into the clouds and talk theoretically. I think that there’s a common bond between the 3 sectors that you just mentioned; lawyers, doctors, and that kind of thing, which is that there’s heavy schooling involved for you ever to be a professional in that sector. There’s a lot of schooling if you are going to be a doctor or a lawyer. Schools are a very structured machine to actually, in my opinion, [inaudible: 04:03] point of view, suck the personality and the nuances out of people and make them confide into a structured, acceptable manner. I think that the best piece of advice I can give somebody is act like you’re acting with your buddies or your girlfriend, more so than you’re acting in school. I think what you see from doctors and lawyers in communication is far more similar to the way they act in school than the way they act at home. I think they need to act the way they act at home in the office.
Mitch: Do you have any tips to help them drop their guard a little bit and reach that comfort zone to be themselves, to be the guy next door, on the street, as opposed to be the professional, 12 stories up in the office highrise?
Gary: Listen. I think, yeah. First of all, let’s call it what it is; let’s get to the argument about the weight. A lot of this does have to do with DNA. Some people are naturally introverted or lack communication skills. I think it’s time that we realized having unbelievable communication skills is kind of like being an unbelievable basketball player, an actress, or a songwriter; there’s some real skills there. We can get better. I don’t have the ability to be a great basketball player, but when I played basketball every day in college and right after school, I was much better than I am today. We can all be better, but I don’t think that for me to say, “You can be me if you do this,” that’s just not true. I was born with certain gifts that allow me to over-index in that sector, just like I wasn’t born with gifts that allow me to under-index in most other sectors.
Mitch: You point that out real well in “The Thank You Economy”; one of my all-time favorite books. For those of you just joining our podcast, I’m interviewing Gary Vaynerchuk, author of “Crush It” and “The Thank You Economy.” Gary, in “The Thank You Economy,” you talk about people needing to go back and do business like our grandparents did business; that personal touch, that one-on-one relationship. Is it possible for professionals to do that in today’s world with their clients’ and patients?
Gary: More than ever. What social media does, and that’s what context “The Thank You Economy” was written in, is . . . remind me. I don’t think . . . have we ever met?
Mitch: We met in Orange County during your during your “The Thank You Economy” . . .
Gary: At that LinkedIn event, right? With the Brian Elliott thing?
Gary: That’s what I thought, OK. I think, and obviously, we interact quite a bit on Twitter. You and I have a way bigger relationship. I have feelings right now with you on this interview, that I don’t feel with other people on this one-a-day thing, because of all the context we’ve created on social together. We’ve only met once in person where it was like a helter skelter event; hordes of people, it was crazy. I think that it’s very easy. Look. You and I are living proof of it. You and I have a tighter relationship than we deserve to because of modern technology.
Mitch: I think it makes it a lot easier for people to build relationships and reach out and touch other people. Look. I happen to know you were up late last night because you emailed me about my kid’s 5-0 record last Saturday, on the football field.
Mitch: I was thinking, “It’s late here in California. It must be real late back on the east coast.”
Gary: I did that while I was flying to Phoenix, by the way. It was late for me, east coast, because I was coming from the east coast, but I was probably somewhere in Missouri when I sent you that email.
Mitch: OK. If you were to . . . I saw a term that I’m not that familiar with, and maybe you can explain it to friends of mine, other professionals listening to this podcast, and that’s the term ‘social equity’. What is social equity, and how will it drive our business as professionals? How does it relate to how we communicate with each other or our clients and patients?
Gary: Social equity is another word for reputation, but it’s reputation at scale. My social equity is the way you feel. It’s so funny; it’s just so great to hear that story about your wife because it’s amazing what context is and what it can do, and then it’s one piece of communication that then tips it over, and she has more gusto for my brand, me as an individual. Social equity is your reputation; it’s no other word. Anyone listening here, even if they don’t know anything about social media, is very aware of how much their reputation matters to their business. It is a word that I think we use in modern terms because I have a reputation all over the world, in places I’ve never been, because of my engagement on social networks.
Mitch: It’s really a nice path to allow. I think people feel as though they know us better, so that when we do meet them, they’re already sold on our products or service…
Gary: Sorry to interrupt. You should see the way I meet people, and it’s one of the funniest things going on right now. I don’t know them oftentimes, but on their response level, we’ve been friends for years, it feels like. It’s really fascinating to watch. I love people so much, I can get context really fast, and I have a good intuition that I can catch up to them very quickly. I can’t imagine if I didn’t have those skills how difficult it would be to have that big of a difference for somebody who has so much context and information on me, and I have so little on them.
Mitch: Can people learn these skills? Can professionals learn these skills to be a little bit more comfortable with being transparent?
Gary: Yeah. Listen. The answer is yes. If you’re a sole practitioner or you’re your boss, you have no excuse. I can think about people sitting here listening that might work for a law firm or a doctor’s office where they’re not the ultimate decision-maker, and not only do they need to change, but they need their higher-ups to change to create a safe place for them to make change. If you’re in charge, if you’re the boss, it’s up to you to make these changes. These are really the way things are happening. I very much am starting to make a lot of professional decisions based on who I’m interacting with, more and more every day; travel agents, even up to doctors now. I’m thinking about changing my doctor, and literally, I’m going to Tweet out, “Who’s a practitioner here in the upper east side of New York?” It’s just the way the world’s working right now.
Mitch: A friend of mine asked me, how can I afford, or why do I spend so much time on social media? My response to them, it may be your words from your book, but my response is “how can I afford not to.” When I come into the office, there’s a blur now. I look at coming into the office . . . when I’m online, I don’t differentiate between the two anymore, it’s all one synergistic day at the office. Frankly . . .
Gary: Do you feel like you’ve gotten ROI out of social?
Mitch: Unbelievably so, such that I could share specific examples with you resulting in being profiled in national magazines and having large cases referred to my firm. That would not have happened had it not been for my social media efforts. Connecting with people live video. It’s just been an incredible ride the last 3 years. People that aren’t using social media, they’re missing out.
Gary, I know you’re short on time. I don’t want to take up too much of your time, and we can chat more about this later, if you ever want to. One last question somebody asked me to ask you, and that has to do with . . . you’re very outgoing, controversial on some issues. You have an opinion, you’re not afraid to state it. A lot of professionals are a little bit hesitant to really say how they feel. They don’t want to offend one side of the aisle or the other. They don’t want to say the wrong thing. Can these professionals be effective using the various social media platforms without being controversial, without having a strong personality? Are those elements that are really necessary in today’s 9-second attention span world?
Gary: I think it might be necessary for massive breakout hits. Just providing value is enough. For example, I’ll give you something I think you should do. I’m waiting for a lawyer to put out short legal tips on a daily basis that was ‘Did you know?’ What if you started giving away general information? Think about the thing that you’ve answered 100 times, and then start giving all of that away for free. Which is, I think you know, that posting something on your Facebook wall just to people in New York that says, “Did you know that if you live with somebody for 5 years, that’s technically being married?” Making that like a quote card or something image-friendly. What I mean by that is if you’re just giving people entertainment or information, you can still be valuable. It doesn’t have to be the best. It could be the third best, or the eighth best. The other thing I think people really need to think about is, for me, it’s about legacy, not currency. The reason I’m willing to accept somebody is I’m not there just to make money. I’m here to leave an impact, to be right, and to leverage being right for bigger money. I think if you think you’re right, and you know you’re right, to not say it is leaving long-term potential money on the table.
Mitch: Gary, because of your books and because of your message, that is what we do. Every single day, I like to share tips, insider pointers.
Gary: Love it.
Mitch: I like to share life lessons that sometimes don’t even have anything to do with practicing law. Over the last couple of years, what I’ve found by doing that, it builds relationships, it builds trust, and it builds friendships. Guess what, it also brings clients in the front door.
Gary: No doubt about it.
Mitch: That’s one reason I’ve been so persistent with reaching out to you. I want to personally thank you for what you’re doing: Thank you for your books. Thank you for your time. Next time you’re in Orange County, a cold one’s on me. How does that sound?
Gary: Sounds great. Let me tell you something; I’ve done a lot of these now, I guess I’m into early February, mid-February. I’m 30, 40 in, and this is . . . you’ve clearly gained some skills over the past 3 or 4 years. This is a very professional interview that I enjoyed tremendously. I can’t tell the difference . . . most of these, I can tell the difference between the interviews I do with CNN, with Lindberg TV, or CNBC, but this feels like I was on a national radio show. Kudos for you, and I mean it
Mitch: Gary, do you feel me smiling right now?
Gary: It makes me happy, because I’m telling you, it’s just . . . you know I’m a communicator. I felt it and I wanted to let you know that.
Mitch: I appreciate that. Thanks for your time. I’m going to send you an I9 flag football championship game film in 2 weeks, OK?
Gary: Yes. I hope it’s good. Good for you.
Mitch: Thanks, buddy.
Gary: Stay well, pal.
Mitch: Pleasure. Bye.
Mitch Jackson is an award winning #lawyer, author, speaker, investor and CEO of Jackson & Wilson Inc.
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