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Tom: Hey, everybody.
Welcome to Impact Theory.
You are here, my friends, because you believe
that human potential is nearly limitless,
but you know that having potential is not
the same as actually doing something with
So our goal, with this show and company, is
to introduce you to the people and ideas that
are going to help you actually execute on
Today's guest is one of the world's leading
marketing experts and living proof that the
American Dream is alive and well, if you're
willing to work your face off.
He was born in Belarus in the former Soviet
Union, didn't speak a word of English when
His entire extended family lived together
in a tiny-ass apartment in Queens, and as
the foreign kid, he was once bullied into
drinking urine from a soda can.
He was a D and F student, and pretty much
everyone thought he would fail in life.
Despite all of that, though, this guy not
only refuses to complain about anything ever,
he is wildly optimistic, upbeat, and freakishly
A born entrepreneur, he began by ripping flowers
out of people's yards and selling them back
He had an entire lemonade franchise system
while he was still riding a big wheel, and
in his teens, he was routinely making thousands
of dollars a weekend selling baseball cards,
until his father forced him to go to work
in the family business for $2 an hour.
But he didn't waste time whining about it.
He just got to work, and just out of college,
by being an early adopter of the internet.
He took his father's discount liquor store
from being a local store doing $4 million
a year in revenue to an internet phenomenon
doing $45 million in revenue in just five
Now, leveraging his unique ability to identify
where consumer attention is going next, he
founded the pioneering digital agency VaynerMedia,
which serves some of the largest companies
on the planet, and along the way, he's also
built a massive social following of his own
that rings in at around 3.5 million devoted
He is a people first kind of guy, and you
can see it in everything that he does, from
his employees to his fans and partnerships.
As such, he's greeted like a rock star.
His business is growing crazy fast, and it'll
soon be starring in Apple's original series
Planet of the Apps with Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica
Alba, and will.i.am.
On top of all that, he's also a prolific angel
investor and venture capitalist who was an
early investor in such juggernauts as Snapchat,
Facebook, Twitter, and Uber, so please, dearest
of friends, help me in welcoming the four-time
New York Times best-selling author and future
owner of the New York Jets, Gary Vaynerchuk.
Gary: Thank you, bro.
Tom: Welcome to the show.
Gary: Dude, that was super impressive.
Tom: Thank you, sir.
You [crosstalk 00:02:52]
Gary: There's no shot I could have pulled
that off, and also, after listening to all
that, I'm really glad my mom sent you the
Gary: That was very nice.
Tom: I got it all from her, just yeah, straight
Gary: It's good to be here.
Tom: Yeah, it's good to have you, man.
Gary: Nice to have some peeps in the audience.
I always like that a little bit better, so
Tom: You and me both, yeah.
Tom: So play right to them.
I mean, in many ways, this is for them.
This all started originally back with Inside
It was all about doing something for the employees.
Tom: And I had this unending terror, because
I have these 25 bullet points that I think
anybody should be living by, and I was terrified
people would memorize them but not actually
live by them.
Tom: Which is like the death sentence, because
you think you're doing something right.
You pacify yourself by memorizing it.
So yeah, I love having people here and getting
Gary: It's funny you just said that.
I think so many people are keyboard activists,
Everybody's good at sending a tweet about
how the world should be, and nobody's doing
anything about it, and that is just very much
Tom: I was just going to ask if you think
that's human nature, or if you think that
we've gotten soft as a culture?
I mean, of course we've gotten soft as a culture
in the U.S., because the U.S. has had an incredible
This is just what happens, so as a culture,
I can't speak for people that live in the
Amazon River, and I can't speak for people
that still live in Belarus, but the American
culture is soft, and that's a great thing.
That means there's been enormous amounts of
prosperity, but let's not be naïve.
I mean, people literally complain when somebody
gives them the wrong amount of extra cream
in a Starbucks $6 coffee.
We've gotten to a place where we complain
... Out of all those lovely things you said,
as I stood there getting ready to come, the
part that, and I'm glad you pick up on this
and not a lot of people have said it before,
so thank you, my lack of interest in complaining
is so high.
And when I watch what people complain about,
it breaks my heart, because they completely
lack perspective, and I genuinely believe
my happiness and optimism comes from my perspective.
Even in political unrest times like right
now, a lot of people very bent out of shape,
but the reality is, is that it's just never
been better to be a human being.
That's just the truth.
That's just data.
That's reality, and yeah, I mean, it's just
a very fun time to be alive.
So much going on.
The internet is starting to hit maturity.
Look at what we're doing right now.
Tom: It's crazy.
Gary: This way now, right?
Would have cost millions of dollars in production
and distribution to have the amount of people
who watch this just 15 years ago.
I just think it's very interesting times,
and I was saying something to a friend the
I was like, "Could you imagine if you told
a parent 15 years ago, 'Hey, parent.
What you're going to want to do in 15 years,
instead of buying a kid, your 16-year-old,
a car, you're going to convince your 16-year-old
daughter to go into a stranger's car every
You're going to pay for your 16-year-old daughter
to go into a stranger's car every single day,
and you will think that's normal and actually
safer than buying that kid a car'?"
That's literally what we're living in now.
High-net-worth individuals in America are
preferring to give their kids unlimited Uber
to buying a car, because they don't want them
drinking and driving.
They don't trust their driving, and literally,
they think it's safer for their 16, 17-year-old
to go into a stranger's car than to drive
That's sacrilege 15 years ago.
Online dating 20 years ago, the weirdest,
You're thinking 300-pound white dude in the
basement of a kid's car.
Now it's just completely standard.
I mean, if you add in sliding into people's
DM on Instagram, it's like 89% of relationships,
So I think we're going through a huge transition,
because all of us, even thought leaders, are
grossly underestimating the internet itself,
and we're hitting scale.
We now all are on at all times, and this is
now the beginning ... I was joking while I
was working out this morning, the DRock, I'm
like, "DRock, you're going to get replaced
by like a Pokemon ball.
I'm going to throw it up ... People in 20
years are literally going to throw something
It's just going to hover 360 and film everything
I mean, it's just an incredible time, and
I think the way people look at the world right
now, because it's such an incredible time,
is actually the quickest tell to who they
If you think it sucks, and it's bad, you have
losing pessimistic DNA, and if you think it's
awesome and phenomenal, you have optimistic
winning DNA, and I believe that to be true,
and so that's where we're at.
Tom: No, man, I'm with you on that.
So I've been involved in the XPRIZE now for
Reason I got involved with the XPRIZE is largely
for that reason.
I look at the future, it's so fucking exciting.
What's going on is crazy, and if you're the
one that can see where the trends are going,
and you can ride those trends, be the early
adopter, get into it before anybody else,
and there's obviously chances for huge wins
Gary: While you're practical.
Because I think a lot of my ... So I've had
that career, but a lot of the reason is, I'm
not guessing or getting in too early.
It's like real estate.
There's a big difference between the people
that bought beachfront property in Malibu
than people that are buying beachfront property
in off-region, no infrastructure ...
Gary: ... islands in the Caribbean, which
is right, in theory, but it could be an 80-year
And so it's about timing.
Like VR's coming, but consumer VR is very
All my friends are spending millions of dollars,
tens of millions of dollars, in consumer virtual
reality, VR, yet there's nobody here, nobody
watching this, that knows a single person
that spends three hours a day on VR.
Like it's just, it's way far away.
I'm not sure there's people that know people
that have spent three hours in their life
yet in VR, right?
And definitely not 10 people, outside of people
in the business testing stuff, so I think
timing really matters on that, because I get
worried that people jump way too far ahead,
and the reality is, the market's not there
Tom: And what are the things that you look
for in that?
I heard you tell a story in one of the interviews
that you did, I thought, the follow-up question
there, which wasn't asked, you said, "I was
talking to this woman.
She said she doesn't do Snapchat."
I think it was a woman cutting your hair.
Tom: She doesn't do Snapchat, no social, and
you said, "Tell me more, just in case this
is a trend that I need to be aware of."
How do you identify those trends?
Is it stuff like looking at what app is ...
Tom: ... on the front page of Apple ...
Gary: I always do that.
Tom: ... and talking to the person cutting
your hair, is it really sort of that ...
Gary: It's very ...
Tom: ... brick and mortar?
Gary: ... very non-scalable.
Gary: But that's my talent, right?
Like I think Clive Davis, how does he do it?
I don't know.
He just sat there and heard people sing, and
he's like, "You."
I'm careful to not give advice that I know
is uniquely something that I was gifted with,
like how do I tell you that, "Oh, here's how
it actually works, and it almost started happening.
It didn't happen"?
I actually get goosebumps, like actually,
like real, heavy goosebumps when I hear something
that I know feels right.
What's the advice there?
Start getting goosebumps."
There are certain things that I can't talk
about, because I know they're not practical.
They're intuitive to me, right?
And so yes, for me, it's the balance of, I
feel like something's happening, but it always
comes from seeing stuff, like it's going to
the candy store with my little guy and hearing
four eight-year-old girls talk about slime,
and then later go to Shake Shack and hear
another two eight-year-old boys talk about
slime, and I'm like, "Slime?"
And then I search it, and this is a year ago,
and I search it ... Maybe, actually, it's
18 months ago, and I search it on Instagram
to see hashtags.
I search it on YouTube.
I search Google.
I'm like, "This is real.
There's something happening."
Fads are easy for me, and I think what I've
been good at in business is trying to decide
what's a fad and what's an actual business,
so something like Socialcam.
I downloaded it and got very serious about
it in 2011.
I didn't know even the founders of Socialcam.
It wasn't that I knew if Socialcam was going
to be big.
I didn't invest in it.
I didn't go after it, but I knew video on
the mobile device was going to be big, so
when Vine got hot very quickly, I was an early
mover and early advocate of Vine and Vine
Which, by the way, Vine influencers are absolutely
the precursor to this Snapchat Instagram thing
we're dealing with right now.
That's where they came from first.
Instagram was photos.
Then when Vine was dying a little bit, they
all moved over to Instagram.
Instagram was smart and made video, one-minute
videos, and that's when you saw the shift,
and that became the seed and the foundation
of Instagram influencers, which is an enormous
billion-dollar industry now.
Everyone's like, "How are you so early?"
It's because I put in the work.
2011, Socialcam, learn how video and mobile
2013 comes along, Vine pops.
I'm like, "That's right."
I lived through YouTube 2006, 7, being a YouTube
celebrity for my wine show, so I knew what
it looked like.
I saw that the Vine kids were that.
I flew to LA and met Brittany Furlan and King
I put in the work, and so it's intuition,
but it's also putting in the work.
Tom: And that, putting in the work is one
of the simplest and most, I think, often overlooked
kind of thing, and how do you plan to ... Is
that one of the things you think people just
are either born with the fortitude to do that,
or is that something you-
That's the one that I think ... I mean, there's
a lot of research, and again, being an F student
in science, I never, I really don't ... It's
not that I don't trust anything.
It's that I know that I haven't put in the
Gary: ... to really know if I should quote
things, so I kind of just stay in my little
lane, but there is a lot of push towards being
a workaholic, and hard work is a learned behavior.
I see it in my team.
There's people that come into my ... I've
seen it in the thousands of employees I've
had, which is, the closer they are to the
son, the harder they work, and I'm like, "Aha,"
and so I definitely feel like I learned hard
work by watching my parents, and so it's why
I talk so much about hustle.
Tom: Because it's one of the things that people
can actually adjust and turn to.
Gary: I watch people give advice completely
predicated on natural talent and DNA, and
I'm like, "Look, I get it.
I can throw a football every day for nine
hours a day.
I'm just not physically built to be competitive
at the highest levels," so yeah, I do think
if anybody watching right now, if there's
anything they take away, it's like, "Look,
you're going to only be so pretty.
You're only going to be so smart."
There's things that are going to be natural,
and then there's things that you can actually
I do believe, and I don't know if I'm right
or wrong, I don't, but I do believe that work
ethic is a taught behavior.
It's something you do have more control over,
and yeah, I think ... And you know what really
sealed the deal for me?
Tom: That's interesting.
Gary: I was 38 years old, and it didn't come
natural to me, like it didn't come natural
to me at all.
I hate the gym.
I hate it now.
I hate it.
I don't like it.
I don't want to do it, but I knew it was important,
and somewhere around, midway through being
38 years old, I got serious.
I figured out my system.
I made the financial commitment, and I've
And I'll never lose again, because the system
was, I needed to be accountable to another
human being, so it was about Mike and now
Jordan, and whoever else is my trainer.
I'm doing it, almost weirdly, more to not
let them down than to ... And so that was
this shift, and so I feel like there's a shift
that can make people work harder.
The big one that I push is, you're going to
If you're ... To me, life is broken down into
complaining and not, so if you're not complaining,
well, then I have no advice for you.
You did it.
I have friends who make $42,000 a year, work
nine to four, kind of, with an hour and a
half lunch and 45 minutes of YouTube and 10
minutes of bullshitting, and an hour of complete
waste of time in a meeting, so they're kind
of working like six hours a week, right?
But they're pumped.
Gary: And they text me, these are high school
friends, and they'll text me like how happy
they are to be the coach of their kids' baseball
team, and that's amazing.
That seems very obvious to me.
That's like, that's right.
You know what's super weird?
I'm actually weirdly envious.
It sounds cool, like in theory, right?
Grass is always greener, right?
Gary: Far less pressure, like, "All that time
with my kids?
Oof, that would be cool."
There's just all these things that I can justify,
so to me, but I have friends who have $100
million in the bank because of Facebook's
IPO who complain, who are still hungry, who
want to do even more, who will complain to
me, because they know I work a lot, about
no work-life balance, and they don't get to
spend enough time with their family.
And I'm like, "You have $100 million.
You could stay home.
You're in control.
Don't complain about it.
You've made that choice.
Don't bullshit me.
You want to spend more time with your family?
Spend more time with your family."
This is back to what we said about keyboard
I'm trying to be very careful about what I'm
saying versus what I'm doing.
Gary: Because that's how you get exposed,
and I don't mean like people calling you out
and being like, "You suck."
I mean to yourself.
I don't want to be exposed by myself.
It's looking yourself in the mirror and saying
like, "Am I doing this right?"
So to me, there are so many people that are
talking shit about how big of an entrepreneur
they're going to be and how much they're going
to achieve, and they don't work on weekends.
I worked every Saturday of my 20s, and I talk
to 20-year-old entrepreneurs every single
Lately, I've been saying to them, "This Saturday,
you're going to have more time off than I've
had in my entire 20s on a Saturday, so before
you tell me how you're going to be bigger
than me, start thinking about what you're
Yeah, no, I have heard you say that once,
and it really caught the person off guard,
because they were all about what they were
doing, and then it's like, "Oh, yeah."
How do you plan to instill that in your kids,
or do you?
I guess you ...
Gary: I don't.
Tom: ... don't.
Gary: I don't.
I plan to instill kindness into my kids.
I plan on instilling perspective into my kids.
I plan in instilling just being a good human
I plan on making sure they don't use their
parents' wealth and microfame and leverage
to impose on any other person.
I'm petrified of that.
If my kids try to punk their friends on my
shit, I'm going to beat the fuck out of them.
That's just loser DNA.
You didn't do that.
Tom: That's interesting, so I've heard Will
Smith say before to his kids, "You guys aren't
Mom and Dad are rich."
Sure, I, but not really, right?
So like I'm not obsessed with tactics.
I'm obsessed with religion, so I have a lot
of wealthy friends at this point who think
it's smart for them to sit first class, put
the kids in coach.
It's a tactic.
They send their kids to Africa to build a
school for a week.
It's a tactic.
It's like my friends that love the environment.
The number two sector in the world that is
hurting the environment is the fashion industry.
When you run the math of what's doing bad
to the earth, it's the number two industry
behind ... I don't even want to say it, because
I'm not sure if it's gas and oil.
The number two industry, this I know for a
fact, is the fashion industry, so all my fancy
friends who love the environment, are they
willing to give up their fucking Louis bags?
So I think people talk shit, so you let them
sit coach, and you went first class, but you
went to Hawaii and ate at all the best ...
You can't pick and choose.
To me, it's binary, so I don't want to be
a hypocrite, so my big thing is like, "Look,
you need to be kind."
Being mean is just non-negotiable in our family,
And then you just need to not be full of shit.
If you want to look at daddy's mountain, and
you want to say what I did to my dad's, and
that was a big mountain for an immigrant,
like, "Wow, Dad did it," right?
Gary: If you want to say, "I'm going to climb
that, and I'm going to climb bigger," awesome.
I'm weirdly not cheering for you, because
I'm just a weirdly competitive dude ... This
is actually something I'm not proud of.
I'm comfortable saying this, and I believe
this is a flaw, but I don't want my kids to
I hate saying it.
I know this is where I get in trouble.
People will take one little clip from one
video interview, and they're like, "You're
It's just my truth.
I don't want to bullshit you guys.
I'm that competitive, but they're my kids.
If anybody was to ... First of all, I love
when people beat me, because that's the meritocracy
of the game.
Gary: Like I'm a good investor, but Chris
Sacca was a better investor, and he's my homey,
and I'm pumped for him, because guess what?
He deserved it.
Gary: So I won't be upset if they beat me,
because they deserved it, but if they look
at that and want to go the other way and give
away all of Mommy and Daddy's money and be
non-profit kids and give it all away, great.
I just want them to be all in on them.
I don't need them to be an entrepreneur.
I don't need them to make me proud.
They don't need to go to Harvard.
They don't need to do shit.
They need to be themselves, all in, and they
need to be kind, and I'm good.
Tom: You are so fascinating.
You're like this super weird conundrum, so
first of all, you won't let your son, who's
Four, but about to turn five.
Tom: You won't let them score against you,
Gary: Though I did something weird.
I did something even worse than that.
I played Misha and ... I played them on basketball
two-on-one the other day ...
Gary: ... to five ...
Gary: ... and this time I decided to let them
go up four-nothing.
This is really bad.
The best part is, when I hit the game winner,
they collapsed into tears.
I hit this ... We're in the living room.
I hit the game winner, the couch is over there,
I hit the game winner, and they both just
run to the couch cry ... I mean, big tears,
and I was ... And Lizzie was there, and they're
on her, they're like, ran into her, and I
look at her, and I'm just so happy, and I'm
Yes," so I won't let them score.
Gary: Or definitely not let them win.
Now I'm starting to fuck with them.
Tom: Right, so the scoring becomes ...
Tom: ... strategic ...
Tom: ... for maximum ...
Tom: ... punishment.
Yeah, that's good.
But you did Episode 118 ...
Tom: ... I think, with your dad.
Tom: And you actually cried in the episode
when he said that he missed driving with you
to the store, and you guys didn't even talk
about it, by the way.
Tom: And watching it, I was like, "The fuck
It was in that moment I realized that even
the shtick isn't shtick, that it's just flavors
of who you really are, which is amazing.
It's so incredible, but it's got to be ... For
people that don't really get into your world,
it has to be almost impossible to believe
that that's really you.
Tom: That you could love your fucking kids
more than anything in the world, but not judge
yourself to the point where you admit, "I
kind of don't want them to beat me."
Gary: Yeah, man.
You've clearly done some homework.
I, yeah, I'm a contradiction.
Tom: And here's the thing-
Gary: I'm pulling from very opposite directions,
which is why people struggle, which is why
I get such extreme reactions when people first
Even looking at this audience, some of them
immediately are like, "Yes."
And then some of them here who are now yes
were like, "Fuck no."
But yeah, I understand where you're going
It is utterly fascinating and I think gives
people permission to actually be who they
are, and I never thought about it like this
before, but as you were talking just now,
I thought, "God, is his secret power that
he doesn't judge himself?"
Do you feel like you judge yourself?
Gary: I don't.
That's a very, very, very good observation,
and it's what I want for everybody else.
We're beating ourselves up.
Everybody sucks at something.
We all have shortcomings, and we all have
strengths, and for me, it's like, "Why don't
we just audit that?
Why don't we just look at it that way and
be like, 'All right, well, I'm good at this,
but I'm not good at that'?"
And then I only focus what I'm good at, right?
I don't dwell that I can't fix shit around
I call somebody to fix it.
I'm not like, "I'm not a man."
I don't give a fuck.
I don't get it.
I also think it's awesome that I'm so emotionally
stable, and I'm the emotional backbone of
Is that what a dude's supposed to do?
These cliches, these stereotypes, they're
You're exactly right, man.
I don't judge myself.
I'm fully in love with myself, but I'm also
fully in love with everybody else, too.
It's not like ...
It goes both ways, like I tell people to buy
into me, that work for me, it's because I
buy into them first.
I don't need anybody to gain trust with me.
I believe that the human race is so grossly
We are good.
Of course we have some bad.
There's fucking seven billion of us, but when
you look at our net score, it's bonkers shit.
Do you know how much damage we can be doing
to each other on an hourly basis, and we don't?
We're still here.
We're the alpha being, and we've figured out
how to stay together.
This is insane, when you think about it, and
yet everybody wants to dwell on like, "Somebody
said something mean."
Tom: What I love is, in that, though, is your
whole concept of, "Nobody's ever let me down."
So this is what I always tell people about,
the things you're ever going to hear me say
will always be consistent with exactly what
I'd say if you woke me up in the middle of
the night and then punched me in the head,
because it has to be so real.
It has to be so fundamental to who I am as
a human being that I'll give you that answer
even if I'm dazed and confused, right?
Tom: Just because that is my fucking North
Tom: It's like my true foundation.
And hearing you talk about how no one's ever
let you down ...
Tom: ... it's like-
Gary: Like to me, it's just binary.
Unless it's complete death blow, death to
Gary: ... and my 17 people that I give a shit
about, everything else is super secondary.
And let me tell you something.
If you actually get into that mindset, it
gets real good.
Everybody makes these big deals out of things
that just don't matter.
My selfishness comes from my selflessness.
It's what makes me feel good.
I see it in my mother.
My mom is the epicenter to every single person
in her life.
Her sister-in-law, her cousins, aunts, everybody
goes to her.
That's her comfort zone.
Ask Gary Vee.
This is my comfort zone.
I like this.
I hate when people are like, "What can I do
I say nothing.
I don't want anything.
I hate that feeling.
I went into my family business because I felt
like I owed it to pay them back.
Those are my parents.
So if that's what I feel about them, what
do you think I think about everybody else?
Tom: I love that.
So one of my favorite Gary Vee answers was,
when asked what you would do if your daughter,
when she turns 14, goes into her room and
is filming all her videos, and nobody likes
it, and she comes out and says, "Nobody in
this world loves me," and your answer was,
"Step your fucking game up," I believe was
Tell us about that.
Gary: The market is the market, man.
If nobody's watching your stuff, it's not
Everybody thinks their stuff is so good, like
every day, "Gary, my Instagram's so on fire.
It's so awesome.
Why is nobody ... Why am I not gaining followers?"
Because it's not awesome.
It's just back to the ... You've seen it.
You all have friends who'll be like, "Look
how cute my kid is," and you're like, "Ugh."
It's what we think.
We all think our stuff is the best, and I
get that, but yeah, that would be my advice,
only because that also is liberating.
To me, everything's about breathing, right?
To me, everything is about, take full ownership
for everything, and then everything gets easy,
because then you're in control, and then learn
how to love to lose.
Like for me, my game's simple, right?
It's all my fault.
So now, I'm not mad at Lindsay, or DRock,
or ... That's it.
I'm empowering them, so it's actually true.
Now, "Oh, we lost this," or, "This didn't
deliver," or, "We fucked up," all right.
So now, everybody's got losses.
When UFC started getting popular, I started
using it to paint a picture, I'm like, "Look,
business and entrepreneurship is much more
UFC than it is boxing."
In boxing, a loss is devastating.
If you ever ... I'm a big boxing fan.
Most big fights, the big, big, big fights
every year, almost ... It's just unbelievable
amounts of 33 and 0 versus 35 and 0, right?
Just like, that's what you do.
You don't fight anybody, and you get to that
Everybody's got losses in the UFC.
And so I think that's how entrepreneurship,
that's how life is.
We all have losses, and so I like losses.
I love adversity.
I like the climb.
I like the chip on my shoulder.
I like when people are like, "Oh, I knew it.
He's not that good."
That is like ... I'm even weirdly scared,
as I continue to ascend and I'm getting popular
and, what did you say, the marketing leading
... People start putting these words in front
of my name.
I'm like, "Am I going to sabotage myself to
I like adversity.
So yeah, all on me.
I enjoy losses.
Now, all of a sudden like, "What?"
You become completely invincible.
I feel invincible.
I really, genuinely, outside of the health
of myself and 20 people, feel 100% invincible
as a person.
I know what my intent is.
I want to do good at nobody else's expense.
I'm far from perfect, we all are, and so it's
It feels very light to live life.
I'm just in a good mood.
Tom: Talk to me about how your mom played
into that, because ...
Gary: A ton.
Tom: ... so, I know ...
Gary: A ton.
Tom: ... your mom, you've credited her with
really helping to build your self-esteem a
You're also a huge believer in like, "Don't
Don't tell yourself you're good at something
you're not," so how did she make you feel
so good about yourself ...
Gary: She walked-
Tom: ... when you were struggling so much?
Gary: That's a great, great, that's a very
... You're doing a good job here.
Tom: Thank you, sir.
Gary: That's a very ... No, it's a very good
way to ask it, because the truth is, she strategically
used bullshit and real.
What I think, in hindsight, she did was she
overemphasized things that were subjective
or good, so she really ... I'll never forget
I opened the door for a woman in McDonald's
in Edison, New Jersey, literal ... When I
Just, we were both walking.
We were a little ahead, and I opened it and
let her walk through.
If I tell you that my mom basically treated
that event like I won the Nobel Peace Prize
for like three weeks ... But think about how
smart that is.
Think about how reinforcing that played out.
Played out so much that one of the most interesting
comments in the 250 blogs that I've done was,
I got an email from somebody who said, "Hey,
This comes, like, "Hey, at first I thought
like, 'Ehh,' and then I got into it a little
bit, and I was watching this blog, and then
the other day, you really, you nailed it home."
And I'm reading, I'm like, "I can't wait to
see what I did."
He's like, "You went into the elevator and
you let all your employees go first," and
it's just so interesting, right?
These subtle little things.
It's so fascinating what matters to people.
And I get it.
I actually think that's right, but it's so
weaven into me at this point, I don't even
... I don't recognize that.
That's what she did well.
She made big deals out of the things that
were tried and true, and then when I got Ds
and Fs, she punished me.
Even though she knew I didn't need school,
in her heart, she made me know that there
was accountability for things.
So I would lose television, and video game,
and friends privileges for ... It would always
be for a month.
She'd break down somewhere around day 14,
My sister would tattle on me when I would
sneak in TV.
It was a funny ... It was a sitcom in itself,
the three of us.
She really made me feel special, man.
She really did it right.
She really, really, really pounded home my
EQ, my kindness.
I've done it with Xander, too.
He went to the playground when he was two.
We were at the playground.
A little three-year-old kid falls and skids
his knee, and he walked over and was like,
"Are you okay?"
And I made that a two-week thing, right?
And so she just really did a good job of making
me feel good about the things that were around
my kindness, and my support of my sister,
and my leadership skills, and my friends,
and taking the ... I took a bullet once for
something my friend did in the neighborhood,
and she thought that was a good thing, and
just kind of those personality traits that
I think ... If all of us, everybody watching,
wrote down personality traits that we admire,
any time I showed any of those actions, she
drove them home, and I think modern-day parents
and most parents do not do that.
I think they focus on dumb shit like grades,
because they are insecure and they want to
put the bumper sticker that their kid went
It's real fucked up when you really think
about what's actually happening.
So much of it is, "Misery loves company,"
or people reflecting of what's inside of them.
Tom: That's really interesting.
You know when I decided that I wanted to work
When I saw your employees hugging each other
without ... It wasn't a greeting.
They just were standing next to each other
and they both put an arm around each other,
and I saw a couple different people do it,
so it wasn't like I just happened to see people
that were dating or something, and I thought,
"The employees like each other."
That's such an amazing sign of what you're
building, and I know how hard it is to work
that into the culture and to create a safe
space where people are really excited about
what they do, where they come in.
They feel it.
It just permeates the entire office.
And now, having been to your offices several
times, it's like you get that sense that A,
people like what they're doing, and I'm sure
they work really fucking hard, but they like
what they're doing and they like each other,
and that was a big thing for me.
Gary: That's because you have experience.
You didn't take that for granted.
Gary: The biggest thing I fear at VaynerMedia
is the kids that come out of school and work
at VaynerMedia, and after three years, you're
25 and you're like, "Well, what else might
be out there," right?
Gary: They love it.
They love VaynerMedia.
I mean, the ones that I'm thinking of.
Some people don't.
I mean, look, VaynerMedia is the serendipity
of who you interact with, the clients you
There's a lot that can go into it.
There is no one VaynerMedia.
There's no one America.
There's no one anything, right?
But yeah, they've been getting caught, this
grass is greener thing, and I'm actually very
I'm starting to try to ... Now we're at a
scale where I'm a little, loosening it up,
but for the first five years, you couldn't
come back, because it was a vulnerability.
Gary: Now we're at a different scale, and
now I'm considering it a little bit more,
and we've taken a couple people back through
I would break my own rule, because I think
You have to be flexible.
But yeah, it's, I appreciate you saying that,
but I think that's because you understand
how difficult that is at scale.
Gary: When you have 700 employees, to have
a real culture of good, that's hard, because
you have a lot going on.
Tom: When'd you decide to do the Chief Heart
Gary: So, Claude was an incredible employee.
She was an SVP, which means she ran a piece
She was running the Unilever business, and
the way that the 30 people that interacted
with ... They were bought into her at a level
that was incredible.
She and I just had instant chemistry.
All the stuff we're talking about here, that's
what we talked about, not the other stuff,
and we started talking about maybe her potentially
doing something else and having a bigger impact
on the company, not just running this piece
And then, out of nowhere, she quit, and it
was devastating for me.
I was ... That gut punch, I was just frozen,
because I don't get caught off guard that
much, because EQ is so good.
It just completely caught me off guard, and
literally, it was amazing.
Talk about leadership, and some things that
I'm proud of about myself, I get punched in
the face, and before she leaves the room of
her telling me she's leaving, which was a
25-minute conversation, somewhere, seven minutes
into it, the last 18 minutes, I was thinking
about the plan of making sure she didn't land
anywhere that would be too settling so that
I could get her back, right?
And basically, I didn't want her to feel the
full core pressure, but a month later, I started
meeting up with her, and having drinks, and,
"How's it going?"
And I think the best way, back to all the
energy of this conversation, you heard what
I just said, and what I did was I tried to
get her the best job in the world that I could.
My way of getting her back was by trying to
help her more than it would help me.
That's just, karma is practical.
I love that people think karma is this weird
Doing good for other people is a good strategy.
I've been trying to ... I'm like, "Why does
this thing even exist?
It's actually the most common sense thing
of all time.
Why does karma seem weird?
The fuck is karma?
Wait a minute, so you're telling me, if you
do lots of good things that, weirdly, good
things happen to you?"
Yeah, that seems like common sense.
It's amazing to me.
Anyway, I tried to do all the right things.
We started rolling.
There seemed to be an opportunity for somebody
to sit above our current head of HR, and so
we decided there was that opportunity, but
I could not call her the head of HR.
I did not want the world to think of, that's
what we were doing, and I wanted her to sit
at the pedestal as the most important person
in the company besides me, more than the CFO,
more than the COO, which got you into "Chief,"
And then heart just seemed right.
It just seemed like a nice word, so ... It
didn't have like ... If she was Chief Emotion
Officer, then she'd be CEO, and that'd be
So it just fit.
Tom: Have you seen other companies pick this
Gary: We've seen companies like NASA, and
other big companies reach out to us and they're
Gary: I have a feeling that it could happen.
Yeah, I feel it could happen.
That would be a great legacy.
Tom: Yeah, dude, I'll tell you, from the outside,
watching that and understanding the really
weird dynamic that is the HR department, where
they present themselves to the employees,
"We work for you," but in truth, behind the
scenes, they feel essentially, it's not a
fiduciary responsibility, but it's that same
kind of idea to the business, right?
"I don't want the business to get sued, and
here's what's going on."
They have to be careful, and it's like, God,
the employees feel that, man.
Gary: And that's why I think we're winning,
because, and we have our ... Listen, we just
did a major reorg, 60 people let go.
That's really hard to convince people you're
the best, but you are the best, because you're
doing it for the mass.
It's the right thing to do, but I'll tell
you, the person who deserves the most credit,
I would say Alan Harker.
He's the Chief Financial Officer, and he's
He's new, and he's been incredible in not
... I told him during the interview process,
I'm like, "This is a bad gig.
We will make decisions that are not financially
sound based on my intuition of where there's
growth, based on what we think about people,"
and it's been really interesting, right?
We're trying to help our leaders become better
business people, because I believe in them.
Lindsay, right, you get to work with her,
She knows what she's doing, and she runs a
tight P&L, but then I'm always trying to break
It's a matrix for them, right?
Because when they sit with Alan, and chief
financial, they're trying to run a business
Gary: ... but then I'll come over the top
and be like, "No, this is working.
Hire more, and you're going to have a negative
P&L this year," but they're like, "But Alan,"
I'm like, "Fucking Alan works for me," and
it's a whole thing.
It's a whole thing, but it's been great, because
we're back to pushing from opposite directions.
I'm seeing it, right?
I'm letting the company do its thing, but
I'm a force that's equal to the company of
And I'm pushing, and now I'm starting to really
figure it out.
I'm kind of almost weirdly separating them.
I'm even thinking of things like a Gary tax,
And basically, that's just offense, right?
That's Lindsay saying, "Hey, I really see
I want to go for it," and I'm like, "Cool.
Gary tax it," and so while ... What that would
mean is that she can still run the business
or her division properly, subtract the weird
things I did dollars-wise ...
Gary: ... and then see if she's running an
actual business, because what was happening
was the leaders were all under Gary tax, and
they didn't know how to run a business ...
Gary: ... because my halo being able to create
top-line revenue protected all their inabilities.
And as we scale and I want to give them other
opportunities, I needed them to be able to
be capable outside of magic.
Tom: Yeah, yeah, for sure.
All right, there's one thing I have to [crosstalk
Gary: I've never talked about that before.
Tom: No, I love-
Gary: That was good, right?
I saw that you were loving it, and I was like,
and then I was like, "Man, that was, that's
cool," but that's a really interesting thing
for entrepreneurs that are scaling businesses,
because entrepreneurship is actually completely
in contradiction to running a proper business.
Tom: No, I've always said the reason that
we were successful at Quest was because we
knew to zig when everybody else was zagging.
You have to be able to make the counterintuitive
Gary: Have to.
Tom: And by the way, super fucking weird,
so when you and I met for dinner, God, like
five months ago at this point, I had pitched
what I pitched to you to I don't know how
many people, 30, 40 people, and every single
one of them looked at me like, "What the fuck?"
And they literally had no idea what I was
talking about, and I said, "Look, a huge part
of what's driving this is when Disney acquired
That changed everything for me, and I knew
what needed to be done.
I knew what that opened up in the market,
and you said, and I quote, "My entire life
is predicated on the fact that Disney bought
Marvel," and I was like, "What the fuck?"
It was like the ... The first time it went
from getting looked at like I was out of my
fucking mind to somebody who's like, "Yeah,
yeah, I know, I know."
I was like, it was very fascinating.
Gary: I remember that.
Tom: That's when you realize that it's the
ability to see that.
It's the ability to see the oblique angle,
and, more fucking importantly, it's the ability
to believe in yourself enough to rally a team
behind you and say, "This is what we're going
to do," because what I'm telling everybody
is, "We're going to build a studio bigger
Now, you can imagine how everyone looks at
Think of you in the early days saying that
you're going to buy the Jets.
Gary: I get it.
Tom: ... says you're a fucking idiot.
Gary: I get it.
Tom: So saying that, it's like that, to me,
is being an entrepreneur, versus a businessperson
who can run a positive P&L, and they understand
all that, and I'm fully going to steal your
notion of coming in like magic.
Tom: But, yeah, that's a key insight for anybody
that really wants to be an entrepreneur.
It's not the license to be reckless, because
I'm prepared to come in and now fucking execute
against building Disney.
Gary: What's super interesting is, and those
people that are CFOs, and CEOs, and COOs,
they think that's the magic.
I always laugh at them.
I'm like, "You're a commodity."
Gary: "There's millions of you.
That's easy to understand."
I always say, if you want to be an anomaly,
you have to act like one.
People want all these special things to happen,
but then they're acting like everybody else,
and that gets into the Saturdays in your 20s,
or just taking risk or things of that nature.
I totally agree with you.
I think about it as ... You know that picture
where it looks like two people kissing or
it looks like a glass of champagne?
I just basically think, at this point in my
business life, the world sees the glass of
champagne and I see the two people kissing.
I just can see it.
I know what's coming.
Now it's about where do you want to take advantage