There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth: only crew. --Marshall McLuhan
SXSW: Gary Vaynerchuk jams with the crowd
It’s a rare speaker that makes an entire room shine. Gary Vaynerchuk, the Wine Guy, is that guy. Journalist Jeff Jarvis, who was sitting in front of me during this presentation, tweeted that the key lesson of Gary is humanity. He’s a mensch.
He warned us it would be interactive. He started by standing at the door and welcoming everyone personally, to say thank you. And he meant it. He asked “Why do people show up at SXSW, do a powerpoint about how it’s all about social media, about crowdsourcing, about listening to the audience, but then pack the talk, answer no questions, then fucking leave the stage?
He was there to talk about the killer app that he sees the internet enabling: customer service. Every person in this room is going to be in customer service.
“I spent time building my list by answering questions. Not “Hey funny you mention Zinfandel I just did a show on this LINK.” I answered their questions. I gave a fuck in an era where companies soooo don’t give a fuck that that a company like Zappos comes along and gives even half a fuck everybody goes apeshit. Everybody is trying to be a 19 year old kid. They’re trying to close too fast. They undervalue the soft sell.
There was so much about this talk that was great, but it was largely the back and forth he had with the questioners. He was completely honest, he was authentic. He dissed nobody, even when he dismissed their ideas. One guy stumbled on his name, said it was Ben, and when Gary didn’t hear the last name asked “Ben Gay?” and baboom, the guy behind the mike comes back with “No, but I’m curious” to riotous laughter. “No. I’m married,” he said and Gary calls him up on stage for a hug and an ass-grab. “Hey, he took my wallet” said the guy when he got back, and magically a star was born.
When asked what wine and what website he would take to a desert island, he said a 1982 Salon Champagne. And Jizzhunt.com “Hey… Authenticity all the time. It wins.”
I was crying with laughter. He talked a lot about people reading his book and being inspired to leave their jobs as he did to pursue their passion. (noonononononon! was his advice generally when he hears this.) And this little nugget of wisdom really moved me:
I talk to people in their 80s and 90s all the time because they’ve played this game we’re playing. They’ve been there. And of all of them, I have never heard a single one say they wish they had made more money. They say I wish I had spent more time with my family, and I wish I hadn’t spent 50 years in that fucking factory. And Those people didn’t have the out that all of you have. The fact that you are here at SXSW means you have an out — you can go do what makes you happy. You have no idea how far ahead of the rest of the world you are.
Gary says “bless you” when someone in the crowd sneezes. That’s the kind of guy he is. He believes that people underestimate the value of please and thank you. Thank you, Gary Vaynerchuk. Thank you.
Here’s the riproarious rap the panel ended in: