At NJ Tech Meetup, Gary Vaynerchuk Talks About Investing In and Building Businesses

Photo: Aaron Price sat down to talk with Gary Vaynerchuk Photo Credit: Esther Surden
Aaron Price sat down to talk with Gary Vaynerchuk | Esther Surden

What does Gary Vaynerchuk care about? His family, proving himself as a businessman and someday owning the Jets — although he does admit that his passion to own the Jets could simply be a motivational tool that keeps him going.

Vaynerchuk, a well-known investor, successful entrepreneur, and much-followed social media impresario who settled in New Jersey as a child, sat down for a fireside chat with Aaron Price of NJ Tech Meetup on August 12 and talked about himself, entrepreneurship and how to back the right companies.

Right now Vaynerchuk is the CEO of VaynerMedia (New York, N.Y.), which employs more than 400 people, has raised a $25 million seed-stage venture fund called “Vayner/RSE,” and is raising “north of $150 Million” for another venture fund that will invest in companies that need Series B or Series C rounds. He plans to be very involved in the businesses he invests in at a later stage.

Some of Vaynerchuk’s thoughts:

  • Everyone has time to produce content. “I was running a 100-person, $60 million company from 2006 to 2014, and did all my own content. Here’s my message: Stop complaining that you don’t have enough time for content. Your actions speak much louder than your words. If you tell me you don’t have time to work 18 hours a day, you aren’t going to get sympathy from me.”
  • Create Self-Awareness: “One thing I do at VaynerMedia is make people feel safe. That allows people to be honest with you. Go home right now and talk to the 10 to 20 people you are closest to and make them feel safe, then ask them what you are good at and bad at. The only way to create self-awareness is to create a safe environment where others can tell you the truth.”
  • Money isn’t everything, but it’s not bad: “Everyone has his or her own relationship with money. I’ve known people that made $100,000 a year and were fine and they loved it, and I’ve known people who have made $14 million and say they need more. The ultimate thing I value is being able to do what I want to do at all times, which takes money for sure. Next, I want to play the [entrepreneurship] game.”
  • Be thankful and pumped. Times are good: “I honestly don’t understand what people complain about. … I don’t think that people understand how good times are right now. Before long, there will be a terrorist attack or Wall Street will screw up again or whatever will happen. I recognize that [the market] for tech is good and it is not so good in other markets, but complaining really sucks because there is so much worse out there.”
  • Fear and self-confidence in balance makes a great entrepreneur: “I think a lot of people have one or the other. … Right now we have a lot of entrepreneurs who are raising money, and losing money seems like a learning experience to them. They aren’t valuing losing other people’s money. I think that’s dangerous. … Raising money is a really bad way to learn how to run a business. … A lot of people can’t handle it. I do think that raising money is smarter when you have leverage. I just believe in leverage.
  • Bet on jockeys over horses, but don’t discount experience: I’m for the person over the idea, but I’ve watched people hustling and working 18 hours a day [on a bad idea]. It scares me how much experience matters. … It’s very attractive to be a businessman or founder right now. You can just say you are. That’s not real.

A video of the complete interview with Gary Vaynerchuk can be found here. [Caution: R rated!]

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