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 “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:

And see the twit­ter stream here.

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