Andrew Warner interviewing Gary Vaynerchuck on Mixergy Live at SXSWi 2011
As I mentioned in my last blog post, I’m at South by Southwest Interactive, one of the biggest tech conferences in the world. It’s my first time and I’m meeting a lot of cool people and learning lots. I haven’t been to too many panels but on Friday night I got to see Andrew Warner of Mixergy interview Gary Vaynerchuck, Ze Frank and Tim Ferriss in person.
I love watching the Mixergy Interviews – Andrew is able to get big name people to get really honest and open about their successes and their shortcomings. This evening was no different. Each of the folks here have done amazing things and thanks to a mix of Andrew’s probing questions, the candor of the interviewees and perhaps a bit of drinking, we got to hear a lot of real talk.
Here are some takeaways.
Gary is the author of Crush It! and The Thank You Economy (affiliate links), but is probably best known for his popular videopodcast – Wine Library TV – which is about to reach 1000 episodes and has helped him sell millions of dollars worth of product from his family-owned business. Here’s what I got from Gary:
Building a business with your family, especially your parents, is HARD.
Gary and his father would get into big fights about Wine Library. Even though the fights were always about what was best for the business, they were still painful and frustrating. Gary ultimately chose not to work with his father on another venture, Cork’d (which he ultimately spent “around 7 hours” working on) because he realized he wanted to own the whole business and his father would have always held that over his head. Now he’s focused on VaynerMedia which he co-owns with his brother – also challenging, but much better because they have more of a peer oriented sibling-sibling relationship.
Have an irrational belief that you are the best
Gary, who in some ways is quite humble about himself and his achievements, also has held the belief that he is The Man and better than pretty much anyone. He talked about how his mom built him up so much that he was honestly surprised that he wasn’t the best looking guy he knew when he was in his mid twenties. When he first started working at Wine Library after college, a woman in his town made a remark along the lines of “Aw, that’s so cute that you’re working at your Dad’s company.” and all he wanted to do was say “Lady, you don’t know anything. I’m going to blow this business up. Your son knows dick compared to me.”
I’ve run into Ze Frank’s stuff once or twice before but never really understood what his deal was. I still don’t think I do but at least I know he’s legit: according to Wikipedia, he’s spoken at several TED conferences, won a Webby award and from 2006-07, hosted the show with zefrank which Slate called “a new kind of improvised conversation/performance art“. Side note: apparently it was Wine Library staff watching Ze Frank’s show that motivated Gary to start Wine Library TV. Here’s what I got from Ze Frank: