When talking about Gary Vaynerchuk, where do you begin? Do you start at the fact he’s currently one of the most influential online personalities or do you mention that he’s been in both Fortune and Crain’s 40 under 40 lists? Or maybe you mention that he’s started two multi-million dollar businesses and despite that, remains to date one of the most humble, gracious, and hardworking people you’ll ever meet. Whatever it was, to me Gary was my idol. I had seen him grow from 300,000 followers on Facebook to now 1 million and I am a firm student of his teachings.
Well I had the honour, the privilege, the (insert feeling blessed synonym) to meet Gary. How did I get the opportunity though? Literally in the most Gary way possible. Gary’s motto is hardwork and patience. Well what did I do, I continuously engaged with Gary’s social presence whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, Medium, Instagram, YouTube, or email. I sent him various emails, hell I even applied to be VaynerMedia’s Project Manager in NYC when I was 18. My point is this: Gary is right. You need to put in the effort to get whatever it is you want whether that be a job, a car, a house or even an interview. After two years of following him in the online world, I got an email back from his assistant Garrett telling me that “Gary wants to chat with you for five minutes.” Let me just say something – my immediate thought was oh he’s just saying “five minutes”, it’ll actually be like 15–20. Spoiler alert: it was literally five minutes. Gary doesn’t waste time, and not saying that talking to me is a waste of time (he said it wasn’t), but he could do a lot more than talk to a 19 year old kid from Canada.
Anyways, I coordinated a date and time with Garrett, and everyday for the next month, I thought of various scenarios of how the meeting would play out. Would he shake my hand or would he hug me? Would he ask me questions or was he expecting me to? All this made me even more excited for August 9, 2016.
I got into New York early on August 9 to check into Pace University. I was actually coming to NYC for another reason – the 2016 UN Youth Assembly. However on August 9, let’s say even during check in my mind was fixated on just one thing: meeting Gary. Anyways, once I checked in, I immediately left for VaynerMedia’s new office – 10 Hudson Yards. I got there at 1:14PM and the simplest way I could describe it is by saying it’s drop dead gorgeous.
I thought I could get a quick bite before I entered (though I did enter the office building first and got lost immediately). Anyways, after getting a bite to eat, and at around 1:30, I made the trek back to Gary’s building.
It seemed everyone at the front desk of the building knew who I was there to see given what I was wearing: a shirt designed by Gary’s team, a school bagpack, a hat, khakis and boots. After getting past a delightful guard, I was given a visitors pass.
I took the ride up with a UPS carrier to the 25th floor (in a very fancy elevator). When I entered VaynerMedia, I was blown away. It was nothing like I had ever seen. Pictures of Gary’s mantras on the wall, an LED screen featuring the staff’s Instagram posts, and in big black letters: VAYNERMEDIA.
I went up to the receptionist and in a voice that reflected my disbelief, I said “I’m here to meet Gary for 1:45.” I waited a few minutes until Garrett arrived and took me through a vibrant open VaynerMedia office space. When I got to Gary’s office, which by the way is 100% transparent from the outside, I saw Gary on his phone sitting down where he does the #AskGaryVee Show. Gary’s assistant went in and asked Gary if he was ready to which Gary said two minutes because he was wrapping up an email (man the guy looks like he sends a million a day). Anyways, outside his office I saw the true spirit of VaynerMedia. Employee after employee came up to me and shook my hand, asking me where I was from, how my internship at The White House went, what I was doing in NYC and how Canada was. I’ve never seen kinder strangers in my life. After two minutes, Gary left the office telling me he would be back in a second, and I went into his office. His office is one of the most beautiful spaces I’ve been in. I mean who wouldn’t want an office that literally overlooks Madison Square Garden! Of course, Gary is convinced the better view is of the Statue of Liberty (as evidenced by his move in DailyVee episode). I sat in his office, saw basically everything that was behind Gary in the #AskGaryVee Show and then admired the view.
After a few minutes, Gary came back, shook my hand, sat down, looked me in the eye and then just burst out laughing. He had obviously seen just how blown away I was to see him. We talked about many things from self-awareness to building a business to motivating yourself to social entrepreneurship. I noticed that Gary was very clear on what his view on things were and his ability to articulate his view was both persuasive and analytical. He listened very patiently and took an interest in whatever I say especially when I was talking about how Washington was and how working at the White House was. He even told me that the first time he met President Obama, he went up and said “What’s good Barack.” While we were talking, my favourite photographer D-Roc was in the corner videotaping us for a segment of a new DailyVee (which I am so stoked to see). I think the best part of our five minute conversation was when Gary explained why he decided to meet me. He told me that if I wasn’t self aware enough I wouldn’t be sitting in front of him and also that his view on business isn’t from a money perspective as much as helping people. He wants to provide lifetime value and he cares more about legacy than money. Of course, money is important to him – he wants to buy the New York Jets eventually, but Gary explained that throughout his career he could have made a lot more money had he not done a lot of work on his personal brand and on creating content for other people. In the middle of our conversation, I gifted him with a pen I bought from the White House Gift Shop and he put the pen right behind him so that now in every #AskGaryVee episode, I will be able to see it. That blew my mind. Literally.
After we were done talking and Gary had to go, we shook hands and I boldly asked him to take a photo with me. He was so enthusiastic about it, he grabbed my phone and said “let’s take a selfie.”
Selfie it was! And man it was epic.
He told me he loved my vibe and then he shook my hand once more and headed out of the room. I picked up my bag and said hi to D-Roc (another celebrity fanboy moment haha) and D-Roc said he loved my shirt! Gary came back right in time and said the same thing and asked me if I showed Michael who led the design for it.
And that was it. I left and walked away with this story. A story that started with an email and ended with an enriching experience I will never forget.