Gary Vaynerchuk: This Is the Biggest Business Lesson I’ve Learned

March 9, 2016, 1:00 PM UTC

Gary Vaynerchuk is the co-founder and CEO of digital agency VaynerMedia. The following is an excerpt from his new book, #AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media & Self-Awareness.


If you could teach everyone in the world one thing you’ve learned, what would it be?

My dad taught me that word is bond, but as crucial as that lesson is, I think it’s a lesson that was uniquely important to me because of my personality.

Here’s the one universal rule I would try to teach everyone: Depth matters more than width.

That is, the smallest meaningful, intentional act will mean much more than a huge one that lacks intent or substance.

Believe it or not, I’m paying attention to many of you who are reading this book. I’m no longer able to engage the way I used to with every single person who says hello, but I’m definitely trying every single day. When I’m not in a meeting or writing or taking care of business, I’m hustling for depth with my community. I’m favoriting posts, leaving notes, replying, and saying hello, especially on Instagram (@garyvee). I try to catch your little moments and let you know that I noticed, even if it took me awhile to get around to telling you. It’s amazing how much a tweet can still mean to people.

Sadly, a lot of the social media world is still going wide—gunning for more likes, shares, and right hooks, doing whatever they can to make their fan or follower numbers grow instead of paying attention to the quality of their engagement. We want the attention, but then we don’t want to give it back. And no, offering a like in exchange for a like, or a share for a share, doesn’t count. It’s a crap move that takes no thought and has no substance.

This is my call to action: Go deep. Reach out, provide value, and be there.


How do you stay constantly motivated?

One, I love what I do. I love the HR nightmares of a 500-plus organization, the headaches, the grind, the calls with an upset customer, all of it. It’s easy to stay motivated when you know your day is filled with things that are getting you closer to your goals.

Two, I’m grateful every single day. I feel so lucky to have been born in the mid-1970s, during such a special moment in Soviet history, instead of the mid-nineteenth century or the 1940s, and to have been given the opportunity to come to this country. I’m grateful for my parents, my wife, and my kids. I made this bed; how can I complain? Gratitude is amazing fuel.


How do you keep others motivated?

This question came from the epic Tommy Lasorda in episode 109, an all-time great baseball manager and motivator himself. I thought it was an interesting question since he’s clearly figured out methods that work for him and his teams.

Motivating employees should be one of a leader’s top priorities. You already know I believe in leading by example, not just when you’re running meetings, but in your daily interactions, in the emails you send, even your posture. I hope that the way I carry myself and live my life motivates people to work hard and do their best by others.

But it’s not enough just to do your thing and hope everyone else absorbs the energy you put out. You also have to pay attention. Everyone has different needs objectives, and the incentives that work for one type of person might not work for another. Some people live for their kids, some people are totally career-driven, some people need to be constantly challenged or they get bored. I meet with every single new hire at my company within the first few months after they start, and throughout their time at VaynerMedia I try to get to know them as best I can. I ask them questions about what they want to do with their lives, and then listen hard and figure out what makes them tick, and put them in a position where they find that if they work hard and fast, they can succeed. I also recognize that people change, so I have to make sure my team knows that if I don’t figure it out on my own, they can come to me any time to discuss how their needs have changed and what we can do to help them feel more productive and accomplished. Employees who believe that you support their desire to achieve their own goals will be more than happy to use their efforts and talents to help you get closer to yours as well.


What advice would you give someone transitioning to a leadership role?

Surprisingly, moving into a managerial or leadership role can be more of a challenge than actually executing the job once you get there. Not because you’re suddenly delegating orders whereas once you were just executing them, but because when everyone starts looking for answers, they’re going to start by looking at you.

My advice in this case would be to learn to rely on empathy and emotion as much as your executive skills so you can empower your team to become leaders themselves and take ownership of their work. That’s a much harder thing to do than just ordering people around, but the end result is far more rewarding and productive.

In addition, accept that now everything is on you. That means sometimes you’re going to have to take the hit if your team isn’t performing the way you hoped it would. But no one likes a boss that passes the buck to an employee when things go wrong. You need to be the best human being you can be to earn their trust and respect. Back your team up and don’t pass blame, and you will earn their loyalty and their best efforts. And really, isn’t that the best thing a leader could ask for?

Excerpted from #AskGaryVee. Copyright © 2016 by Gary Vaynerchuk. Reprinted with permission from Harper Business, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.