The growth of social media has birthed many innovative and ambitious entrepreneurs and their empires - one prominent such success story is that of Gary Vaynerchuk.
A Belarusian native who, with his family, immigrated to the states in 1978, Gary epitomizes the perfect balance of working hard and smart, and in doing so, has become a famous figure in online circles as an entrepreneur and guru.
Advocating smart social, hard work and motivation, Gary has amassed an astronomical following of millions.
Vaynerchuk’s entrepreneurial journey began at an early age. By the age of 7, he had built a successful lemonade franchise before going on to sell tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of collector’s baseball cards and unique rare toys to his peers.
Gary later joined the family business, where he transformed his father’s local liquor store--previously known as “Shoppers Discount Liquor” to “Wine Library” into one of the most successful e-commerce platforms for selling alcohol in America.
This innovative idea catapulted the business from $3M to a whopping 60M in sales.
Vaynerchuk went on to appear on talk shows like Ellen Degeneres and Conan O’Brien due to popular demand and by sharing his thought-provoking insights on business on his wildly successful YouTube show WineLibraryTv.
Gary started WineLibraryTv while working on his father’s business WineLibrary.
Gary was born in Babruysk, Belarus, in1975. His parents were luckily afforded a way into America thanks to an exchange program.
The exchange program was designed to allow Soviet Jews to move to America in exchange for food.
As you can imagine, Vaynerchuk did not grow up with a silver spoon in his mouth. When he and his family moved to America, they didn’t have much to their name.
In fact, the eight of them had to share a studio apartment in Queens, New York before moving to New Jersey.
Even as a child, Gary Vaynerchuk was very ambitious. He was always trying to come up with new ways to make money.
Maybe it was the fact that he saw his parents struggle to make ends meet that triggered the entrepreneurial spirit in him, but either way, it sparked his first business idea.
The idea was rather cheeky, but he would take flowers from his neighbor’s garden and use his charm to sell them back to them at a considerable profit.
He later went on to build a lemonade stand franchise which he managed like a Wallstreet businessman.
Peddling on his big-wheel to and from various lemonade stands to collect his profits, he showed a rare acumen for business, especially for such a tender age.
In his teens, Vaynerchuk saw an opportunity in the baseball card market and he seized it.
By selling collectors baseball cards, he would often generate thousands of dollars in sales every weekend.
However, his business came to an abrupt end when his father forced him to go into the family business at the age of 14.
He went from making thousands of dollars on an excellent weekend to earning $2 per hour working in his father’s Shoppers Discount liquor store, where he spent most of his time in the basement breaking ice.
Although he was not doing what he wanted, Gary says that he learned a lot of valuable lessons. But his favorite business lesson was learning the importance of building long-term relationships with his customers.
At college, Gary discovered the Internet. He was instantly hooked on the idea of being able to connect with anyone in the world and saw an opportunity to use it sell stuff.
The internet's ability to connect people, coupled with his innovative thinking opened his eyes to the potential it could have on his father’s business.
Gary persuaded his father to allow him to build a website for shopper’s discount liquor store, and that was how winelibrary.com came into being.
With the internet at his fingertips, he used a variety of online marketing strategies such as Google AdWords, email marketing, flash sales, etc. to increase revenue.
Gary’s idea and marketing strategies were very successful and allowed him to grow sales on the father’s liquor store from $3M to $66M in a short period of 5 years.
While working for his father, Gary developed a successful YouTube channel called WineLibraryTv.
While the channel initially focused on providing wine reviews, he also shared tips, tricks and advice on appreciating wine.
Other than that, he hosted wine tasting segments as well as discuss other wine-related subjects. Gary’s YouTube channel became wildly popular and it set the stage for his rise to stardom.
He started getting opportunities to appear on television. People were captivated by his in-depth knowledge on wine to the point that everyone wanted to interview him. They nicknamed him “The internet wine guy”.
After making an appearance on Conan O’Brien’s show, Gary Vaynerchuk's ratings went through the roof.
At this point, he used his networking skills to build relationships with investors and business moguls, the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Kevin Rose, Ev Williams and Travis Kalanick.
These relationships drove him to venture capitalism, and he became one of the first investors in companies like Facebook, Tumbler and Twitter.
His ambition and desire to succeed did not stop there. Gary went on to become a public speaker. He gave his first-ever keynote at the web 2.0 expo in 2008 which inspired him to write his first book.
After growing his father’s business in 2008, Gary embarked on a journey to become the voice and mentor for online entrepreneurs. It drove him to write his first book, Crush It! which went on to become an international bestseller.
In his book, Gary reveals his core principles on media, marketing and communications.
To date, it’s still used by many upcoming e-commerce entrepreneurs today as a how-to guide and manual.
In 2009, Gary with his younger brother founded VaynerMedia. Using his tried and tested marketing strategies and zero startup funding, he was able to set up his company from a conference room at buddy media.
VaynerMedia company focuses on helping brands tell their stories across all social media platforms. It provides services like creative, media buying, production, mentorship, and strategies that have been used to scale million-dollar companies.
During the early stages of his company’s development, Gary was able to work on globally recognized brands such as NHL, the New York Jet which allowed him to grow his company quickly
Ten years down the line and VaynerMedia had increased its operations drastically. It now had a workforce of over 800.
The company’s portfolio had grown exponentially and included world-renowned brands like PepsiCo, GE, Johnson and Johnson, Chase, AbInBev and more.
He went on to author four more New York bestsellers which flung open the doors for his public speaking career. As of writing this, he is one of the most sought-after public speakers in the world.
Through the course of his career, Gary has managed to write five international bestsellers: As we’ve already mentioned, Crush it! Why now is the time to crush in on your passion (2009).
It’s a guide to using the internet to help businesses improve sales precisely the same way he did with WineLibrary. Gary V. wrote Crush It to help readers find their passion and use it to start a successful online business.
Thank You Economy (2011), was his second book. Vaynerchuk takes a deep dive into the modern marketplace and sheds light on critical areas that help companies build lasting relationships with their customers.
In this book, Gary encourages businesses to look beyond numbers when evaluating the value of social interactions in the economy.
In 2013, Vaynerchuk’s authored his third bestseller, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World (2013).
In this much-anticipated book, Gary provides a blueprint on how businesses can bond with consumers to beat their competitors.
He also shares the social media strategies that he used to grow his huge following and businesses.
According to Vaynerchuk, digital marketing isn't just about producing high-quality content but making sure each piece of content is tailored to suit specific social media platforms, mobile devices and gadgets.
This is the key to giving businesses an edge over their competitors.
His fourth book is titled #AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness (2016).
In this book, Gary draws inspiration from his wildly successful YouTube show and showcases all the helpful, controversial and exciting questions that he gets from his viewers.
It covers a variety of topics including how to launch products effectively, how to use twitter efficiently for startups, buying wine and so much more.
In his fifth book Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too (2018) Gary talked about why having a vibrant personal brand was essential to growing as an entrepreneur.
In Crushing It, he discusses the main principles of building a business.
Vaynerchuk is a hustler. His primary source of income comes from the various companies he owns, including:
In addition to owning those companies, Gary is a Partner to
Apart from being a highly successful business mogul, entrepreneur, author, public speaker etc., Vaynerchuk is also a philanthropist.
He’s a big believer in giving back to society; that’s why he participates in a variety of charity programs to help uplift those in need.
Gary plays an active advisory role in Ad Council — a not for profit advertising organization, Pencils of Promise — an organization that helps educate children, as well as CharityWater — which strives to provide people with access to clean water.
When he’s not helping improve the lives of fellow human beings, you can find him shooting his famous online documentary; DailyVee. In Daily Vee, Gary gives fans a peek into his daily life as a public figure and CEO in a dynamic digital era.
He also hosts a top 100 global podcast, GaryVee Audio Experience as well as a Q&A show #AskGaryVee, where he answers questions to common and not so common questions raised by fans on his social media channels.
Gary also shares valuable advice on entrepreneurship, business, marketing, sports and even family.
He recently founded a new company, BRaVe ventures, which is a collaboration between him, David Beck and Jesse Redniss—two popular TV influencers.
The main goal of Brave Ventures is to help Startups and Tv networks succeed in an ever-changing digital world.
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