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October 23, 2018

Part 2: Success Squared with Gary Vaynerchuk and Friends

I finally manage to decompress from the mayhem of JT Foxx during the lunch break and am ready to take on the afternoon.  We kick off the afternoon with Adam Hudson, a serial entrepreneur, Amazon thought leader and in my opinion- an honest and genuine Aussie.  He starts off the session with the following:

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If you recognize the blurry face in the background that would be the one and only, Gary Vaynerchuk.  Now I’ll be honest here, I know of Gary and have casually followed him on social for some time now. So, this was the first time I heard about his clouds and dirt analogy, but it was a great way for Adam to kick things off.  For those of you that are like me and are not familiar with needing clouds and the dirt, allow me to quickly share my personal view about this concept. The clouds are your beliefs and where you want to be. The dirt is the actual work that goes behind getting you there.  To Gary’s point, you can’t worry or focus too much attention on all the stuff that happens in between. “The politics, the process, and all the crap that doesn’t matter.”  I think at this point, Adam had the crowd thinking about their clouds and questioning how much are they really willing to put the work into the dirt.  I know I did.

I mean, since that afternoon I’ve been contemplating how much time I’ve been spending on the ‘in-between’ versus the cloud and dirt.  I’ve talked about all the things I want to do or where I want to be, but realistically, I haven’t put that much effort into the execution.  Adam goes on to talk about the era of the mobile phone and how we are at risk of losing a sense of what’s going on around us.

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A great example just happened to me this morning.  I was at the gym and in the women’s locker room I spotted not one but two women engulfed on their phone.  They weren’t talking to anyone, but during the 15 minutes, it took me to change their eyeballs didn’t leave their phone.  I just thought, ‘helloooo… you’re at the gym. What could possibly be so important for you to be sitting on the bench and staring at your phone?’  Of course, I didn’t expect them to have a conversation with me, but it made me ask myself, “When do we take a moment just for ourselves without the unnecessary distractions?”  I’ll admit it that since I’ve been ‘retired’ I’ve definitely been spending more time on my phone. I’m not saying cutting off all phone time, but how do we expect to reach our goals or really enjoy life when we are constantly in our phones?  I know I could be way more productive with that time. I could be focusing more on the clouds and getting my hands dirty like I’m doing now.

Granted I feel like we sometimes get stuck in the middle and almost purposely distract ourselves for a couple of reasons.  First, we are comfortable with how things are and don’t feel the need to push boundaries. Second, we don’t know where to start or haven’t really found our calling.  I think Adam had some great ideas around Amazon that inspired many to rethink their current path. He goes on to discuss at a high level how to start off as an Amazon seller and practical tips about differentiating yourself.  I’ll admit, it even got me thinking, but then I realized that I like to shop more than sell. As Adam continued to talk about his services, I thought, ‘Now this is how you do it!’ What do I mean?

As a speaker at a conference like this, I think you have a responsibility to your audience to coach or give them tools to think differently about their career paths. In a way that inspires and motivates them to not be afraid to take risks.  Make sure that they at least walk away with one or two actionable insights that they can use when they leave that conference. I think if you also have a service that will help these aspiring entrepreneurs, then a soft sell in an environment like this is probably your best bet.  I mean this is how it’s done.

Know your audience needs and make sure you are providing value every step of the way.  By doing this you begin to build trust with a room filled with strangers. Captivate your audience and not just with your content but by showcasing how authentic of a human being you are.  If you genuinely care about the well being of others, then that will emulate in the way you present yourself. At the end of Adam’s session, he said, “Please feel free to reach out with any questions.  I’m here to help.” I honestly felt like he truly meant it and I probably will end up reaching out one of these days.

Now the crowd is amped up and ready for the one and only Gary Vaynerchuk.  Here comes Gary in all his New Yorker glory, balls blazing and he sure as hell didn’t disappoint.  Right out the gate, he starts off with the following:

From there the tone of the session was set.  Buckle your seatbelts because shit’s about to get real and there’s probably no one better than a New Yorker to tell you how it is.  I think one of my favorite moments when he starts off talking about the internet and how this is the essentially the ‘Rockefeller story’ of our time.  That social media is undervalued in Australia, which is true as I find that Australia is lagging when compared to the U.S. Throughout his talk, Gary urges the audience to capitalize on this moment because one day like many other forms of marketing the value of social media will eventually diminish.  It definitely won’t go away, but with the rise of AI (Artificial Intelligence) there will definitely be a new wave of marketing tactics that we have barely even scratched the surface of right now.

The discussion moves to focus on your customer needs and how to drive value through your content.  

Of course, he also talks about how he creates over 100 pieces of content per day and that it still isn’t enough.  I think this part made me cringe as a marketer because it definitely needed more context. Gary said it from the beginning that he is repeating himself but using different formats and updating the lingo as he goes along.  It’s all about perspective:

Yes, repetition and doing it in a way that resonates with your target audience is key, but it isn’t the only element that gets your audience to engage or take that desired action.  Another important factor is producing content in the format that aligns with how your audience likes to consume that information. If you are trying to educate your audience on how to build something at home that uses your product, creating a 20-page document that outlines every step probably isn’t the ideal format to use.  However, turn that 20-page document into a 3-minute video series that comes with a more simplified instruction booklet, well now you’ve got something. Why?

It’s about ease of consuming useful information that your buyer can then put to immediate use. Not to say a 20-page manual wouldn’t be useful to some, but I would say think about your customer’s needs first and how best you can help them.  Remember, everyone is looking for an easy solution that will save them time and money. If you become that trusted source of beneficial information then half the battle is won.  It’s no good though if you lack authenticity and are ‘pandering’ for engagement.  

A lot of what makes Gary and Adam great, is how authentic they are.  You can tell that they are actual practitioners of what they do. Gary used the example of influencer marketing and how there are many people that ‘pontificate on what it [influencer marketing] means to them.’  First, you can typically see right the bullshit just by asking a few simple questions around strategy, influencer selection, and funding. Second, those that pontificate are the noise. They are focused on the in-between and just because you google shit it doesn’t mean you are an expert.  Googling does not mean you’re in the dirt. It just means you know how to half-ass your way to an answer in a trending area that you are hoping to capitalize on. For the people that try to fake it til they make it are only ‘tricking the 90% of people that don’t matter and lose the 10% that do.’

This concept holds true not just in social media but in our lives.  Human beings are going through a fundamental change in how they connect with others.  Like most things in life, there is the good and the bad when it comes to the social web. The authenticity of who we digitally interact with is being questioned both morally and ethically every single day.  We are in an era of constant connection to multiple devices via multiple social media platforms. Some focus on keeping up with the Jones’s and admittingly are somewhat successful at the fake it til they make it approach.  At the same time, there is a huge rise in how the social web has empowered us to speak our minds and demand the truth. The question is are you going to just be a part of the noise or actually get creative like Gary says and leverage the medium to make an impact?  

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