Things I Wished I Asked Gary Vaynerchuk

 
the-thinker

Note: The first installment mentioned below is now live. Gary Vaynerchuk and the Escalator Question.

Part 2 is now live: Gary Vaynerchuk Knows Himself Well

Part 3 is now live: Is Gary Vaynerchuk a Risk Taker?

Starting tomorrow (Monday April 1, 2013) I’m going to break down my interview with Gary Vaynerchuk into bite sized portions, talking about what I agree with, disagree with, and how my thinking has changed. But today I’m going to look back and lament the fact that I didn’t have an hour with Gary, that I wasn’t fast enough on my feet to ask him these questions.

What does it take to change your mind?

Gary is, as he stated in my interview, self-aware. He is also a very confident person, so what does it take for him to change his mind? I change my mind a lot but I’m guided by core values that bring me back to my true self.

How do you deal with doubt?

I asked about failure and it was the only time in the interview that I felt he was annoyed by me, by my questions. Failure is not something that Gary Vaynerchuk ruminates about and yet we all experience it and we all experience doubt. How does someone I revere, someone who has been so successful, handle doubt?

I asked Gary what he hoped people who listen to my interview, and the other interviews he does, will get out of them and he said that wasn’t something he thought about. But why does he write the books, why does he make the motivational videos, why does he talk about success, winning, and entrepreneurship, if not to get people to be more proactive and successful?

What is your response to these questions and what do you think Gary’s would be? Ask him on Twitter or Facebook and let’s see if he answers. I think he will.


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Prove Them Wrong!

 
Andy Murray with trophyFor any tennis fans out there I know I’m not being a spoiler to tell you that Andy Murray won his first major tournament Monday when he beat Novak Djokavic in an amazing five set match at the US Open. There were plenty of people who thought he couldn’t do it, didn’t have the extra little something to be a champion. I confess I also felt that at times including Monday evening as I saw his decisive lead chipped away forcing a fifth set.

We all face naysayers and our own doubts, but the people who persevere are the ones who keep coming back, tournament after tournament, failure after failure. These people believe in something no one else does (at least it sometimes feels like no one else believes).

I have two stories relating to that which I’d like to share. The first takes place in the principal’s office of my middle school when I was in 7th grade. I was not a very good student back then. I rarely did my homework prompting many parent teacher conferences and frustrating my parents. My science teacher, Mrs. Gillen (I still remember her name), was also quite frustrated with me. On this occasion she took me to the principal’s office to try to talk some sense into me. I remember her words very clearly. She said that I needed to apply myself, get better grades or I was in danger of having Brain“my brain atrophy.” Mrs. Gillen then asked if I knew what atrophy meant. I did and defined it for her. I think she was as shocked with my knowledge as I was with her idiotic statement. I knew my brain was just fine and that my real problem was boredom.

Needless to say, my brain did not atrophy and I have gone on to be quite successful in spite of Mrs. Gillen’s dire predictions that I wouldn’t. The second story is much more recent and involves a very embarrassing  mistake on my part.

Two years after accepting a new job with an increased salary I noticed that I wasn’t being paid properly, that I was short several thousand dollars a year. Yes it took me two years to realize this – as I said embarrassing. The company’s response was “too bad.” Unless I could prove that I was being paid wrong they wouldn’t do anything about it. In one meeting an executive said to me “after all the nice things I’ve said about you to (the president of the company) what do I say now? AJ’s still a good guy but he’s apparently not good with money?”

MoneyI smiled because I knew that was so far from the truth that it was indeed laughable, and said, “Well that’s your opinion and you’re entitled to think what you want but that doesn’t change the fact that you aren’t honoring the agreement I entered when I took this job.” I was able to prove my case and got the back pay I deserved.

In both of those examples the people I was dealing with had very little confidence in me but I kept moving forward, working to improve myself and achieve the desired outcome on my terms. It is hard when you feel isolated but that’s exactly when you need your inner voice to come through loud and clear. I’m sure Andy Murray had doubts, was fearful and nervous, but he stayed focused and knew that a positive outcome was still very possible. The same goes for you in whatever is giving you pause right now.

It’s up to you to prove the doubters wrong so what are you waiting for?


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Implementation Validation

 
The test of any plan is to implement it. How do you feel about it? Is it going as you expected or are there minor (or large) obstacles along the way? Maybe the plan falls apart completely or maybe you find an even better solution.

I’m a big proponent of multiple paths to the same destination; I pick my favorite, Plan A, but then set about working on Plan B, and then Plan C, and even a Plan D and Plan E. Have as many plans as you canEach one gets more desperate, I mean creative, but the point is that each plan is an escape route, a hedge against failure.

Implementing a plan means you believe in it, that you’re confident it will lead to the place you want to be. That can be scary sometimes as you second guess yourself and doubt creeps in. Doubt is OK, however, because it keeps you honest as you must justify each decision again and reevaluate it’s effectiveness. Putting a plan into action is not a exercise in rigidity, it about fluidity and flexibility.

Starting any business takes capital in spite of the headlines like “How to start the next Google with just $100.” As I begin funding a new venture I am testing the various plans I put in place over the years. One thing I’m learning is that it’s hard, mentally, to actually implement a plan.

I began selling stock to build a base of capital but I find myself wondering if now, the moment I’m hitting the sell button, is the right time. If you have a plan and believe in it, you won’t care about that one moment or those few dollars because you’re focused on the big picture, on progress. I hit the button and moved the plan forward.


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My Gullible Gut

 
Trust Your GutHow many times have you heard the phrase “go with your gut” or “trust your gut?” I used to think that way myself but I stopped a long time ago. Why? Because my gut is really gullible, my gut would believe anything!

I’ve never met a business idea, an investment, or a person I didn’t like, at least not at first. It’s called giving people the benefit of the doubt but I’ve changed and now try to give myself the benefit of doubting. I’ve become more careful, with a need to research and investigate before making a decision. That’s a good thing. If more of us investigated, asked the hard questions, then I’m sure our win rate would increase.

For someone like me who is optimistic and sees the benefit rather than the risk, balance is necessary. I have that balance in my wife, Julie. Sometimes I think she goes too far to the other extreme, skeptical and pessimistic about everything, and I mean everything, but I need that.

As I begin the investigation phase of my latest What Next venture, I present the positive aspects and Julie shoots them down. She has really good aim. If I can convince her, then I’m sure I’ve thought of everything, looked at every option, and can be confident that we should continue moving forward.

How is your gut? (I’m not asking if you have a six pack or not) Do you adhere to the adage, go with your gut? Let me know in the comments area below.


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