Gary Vaynerchuk (a.k.a Gary V @garyvee) is truly unique – a real ‘one-off’ in every sense of the word. In my opinion, he was also a trailblazer. Back in the late 1990′s, he soon became known as “The Robert Parker of the Twitter generation”. His legendary Wine Library TV wine reviews and videos for which he became famous contained passion, energy and enthusiasm. His innovative style created a ground-breaking and refreshingly different genre of wine communication. Gary V was born for social media and he maximised its potential to completely transform a situation and turn it into his advantage. He could very quickly spot an opportunity and go for it. For instance, he galvanised and developed his father’s US liquor store business, which was ticking over quite nicely and completely transformed it into a multi-million dollar success story. He did this by merging together selling wine and social media. For me, Gary’s greatest asset and strength is his entrepreneurial spirit. He demonstrates this time and time again and this is summed up in his own imitable style with a phrase which he coined – “Crush It!”. In other words, if you have the confidence, belief and a certain degree of entrepreneurial spirit, then anything is possible. Essentially, you can potentially turn your dreams into reality and completely transform your life, career and business.
However, Gary V is an American. A certain degree of brashness and passion comes with the territory and is part of his personality. To some this may be very charming, but to others, perhaps a little over the top. You may not agree with all he has to say and how he goes about it, but you have to admit, if you have ever watched any of his videos, he/they manage to captivate an audience. Again, by utilising the internet and via social media, Gary V achieved an audience of millions of avid followers. As he would say: “It’s all about the eyeballs!” He certainly “crushed it”. However, this is all very well, but at the same time you have to be yourself. To quote him: “It’s all in your DNA” – in other words always be yourself. Gary V has a special personality, which is entirely unique, yet there are plenty of people, especially even more now, who would like to aspire to and/or emulate him and are trying to achieve similar success for themselves. This is very understandable, but they have become Gary V clones and replicas. At the same time they are not truly being themselves because this is not in their DNA. For instance, since 2010 I’ve produced from scratch on my own more than 150 videos on You Tube. I’ve been a top-flight sommelier in London since 1997, with a wealth of experience and have managed to demonstrate that I’m no ‘one trick pony’. However, owing to my personality, I much prefer to conduct my wine reviews and interviews from behind the camera where I’m am genuinely more comfortable. I’m well aware that I’m no Oz Clarke, Jancis Robinson MW or Tim Atkin MW, who have the articulate ability, skill and personality to be truly great wine communicators. I believe it’s all about finding the right medium which suits you and having the opportunity to give of your best. Moreover, in Britain, we do tend to be a little bit more reserved and would regard more of a brasher style with a touch of sceptism.
Over here (in Europe and elsewhere), we are very fortunate to have a few talented wine communicators and bloggers and inspirational people who have been involved with/utilised the internet for many years. For instance, I am talking about Jancis Robinson MW, Tom Cannavan, Jamie Goode, Ryan Opaz, Simon Woods, Zev Robinson, Jayson Bryant, Neal Martin, Wink Lorch and Robert McIntosh amongst others. But all of them, as influential as they are and have become and important their own valuable opinions are, go about their craft in their own way. With regards to wine, social media is still in its relative infancy, yet it is becoming much more popular and there will be many more to follow. The whole dynamic of wine writing and publishing has now dramatically shifted onto the internet. There is more information freely available. In addition, there are many people who are guilty of ‘jumping on the bandwagon’, but unfortunately going about it in the wrong way. The situation has become much more competitive, because now there are more people doing it and they are all vying for attention. Moreover, now there is more ‘noise’ because online conversation involves more people and the ‘cliquey chattering’ has ramped up considerably. To put it another way, it’s similar to the school playground scenario, where “I’ve got more friends than you!” Jamie Goode wrote an interesting article on his blog here.
A couple of years ago (during 2009) I was very sceptical about Twitter. Since 2006, I had been blogging about food, wine and travel, but I was still yet to dip my toe into this huge ‘noisy’ lake of networking possibilities. Most of my wine and food blogger peers were on it and they always spoke very positively about it. However, it was only when I read Gary Vaynerchuk’s book “Crush It!” was I convinced that I had to get on it. Twitter is a very powerful form of media and can, provided you use it pro-actively, make a huge impact, widen your network of friends, potential colleagues and business associates, provide you with more exposure not only personally, but also for your business and brand, yet it does require care and patience. Moreover, it can work both ways and the flip side could be potentially very negative and destructive. You may wish to read an interesting article here.
If you’re thinking about getting involved with social media, then here are a few useful tips, which you may wish to bear in mind.
- Decide what you would like to use social media for – personal/business and fun/serious
- Utilise different forms of social media e.g Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, LinkedIn, Flickr etc etc for different situations and reasons, as they all have their advantages and functions. Try to make the most out of them.
- Focus on the quality of your content and what you have to say. It will take time to build up a following.
- Interact and engage. Share information, links and comments. These points are really important, as they can act as ‘internet currency’.
- Be yourself, display genuine sincerity and have integrity.
A couple of days ago, Gary V tweeted that he will no longer be making any more of his iconic Wine Library TV shows. His aim is to set up a completely new venture, which I’m convinced we will hear about in due course. To be honest, I’m not surprised or indeed concerned by his decision to move on, as I’m sure he will be a great success at whatever he puts his mind to and I know he is not afraid of a challenge. For me, he is a real inspiration. Coincidentally, this happened on the same day Steve Jobs (another inspirational and motivational figure in global media and technology) decided to step down from Apple. Hmmm….
All the best Gary and I’m sure we will catch up with you soon, some place, some time.
I would like to conclude this blog article on a positive note with one of my favourite quotes: “Don’t let someone’s success make you feel diminished or jealous, let it inspire you instead!”
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The epicurean odyssey continues…