This morning I had the pleasure of attending Gary Vaynerchuk's keynote speech at DIG SOUTH's 2015 kick-off. About 15 minutes into the talk, a client leaned over and asked, "Are you learning a lot?" And my response was "No." But that's not why I was there, anyway. Let me explain.
As Gary was dropping his usual truth bombs (like “if you’re not willing to run as fast as the market, it will crush you” and “if you don’t understand that your B2B is a media company first, no matter what you do, you will become vulnerable”), I saw little head explosions around the tent. And while I love hearing Gary Vee talk about the wave of the future and what you should and shouldn’t be doing to capture your audience on social media (don’t just Boost Posts on Facebook, do explore new platforms that are garnering people’s attention), I already knew all that. If I didn’t, matchstick wouldn’t (shouldn’t?) have any clients.
But I didn’t go to his keynote speech at DIG South this morning to learn something. I went to be inspired. And that’s exactly what happened. You see, it’s not what Gary was saying that was so inspiring, but rather his delivery, his presence and his seemingly unwavering passion for the Next Big Thing (can I even use that phrase without being sued by Samsung? Here’s hoping). You get a glimpse into how he handles his employees, his clients and his life in general. He’s got an enthusiasm and conviction that is absolutely infectious, which is why he is such an effective speaker.
So what exactly are his convictions? He’s got his finger on the pulse of the industry and knows that digital storytelling (think: adding legitimacy and perhaps even a soul to the practice of content creation) is the way to connect with individuals—whether from an individual or a brand. He believes in speed and action, being able to adapt to the ever-changing landscape, and honestly—leaving people in the dust who aren’t ready to do the same.
As I was listening, I was thinking this dude is my spirit animal. But have I been acting like Gary lately? No. It’s easy to lose your empassioned convictions when you’re running your business every day (client emails, status calls, employee troubles, HR issues, writing content). It’s easy to get caught up in the micro approach to clients’ marketing and matchstick’s brand. Zooming out and saying, what the fuck am I doing today that is inspiring? is something I used to take stock of all the time. And Vaynerchuk’s speech today reminded me that it has been far too long since I did that. Disruption doesn’t come from checking off a to-do list every day. It comes from rolling up your sleeves to solve problems, coming to work excited about dropping knowledge on clients and prospects, living your mission and being present.
So, no, I didn’t learn a lot from Gary Vee today. But I did get reminded of the fire inside me and inside the mission of matchstick—the people who love to curse in blog posts or walk away from prospective clients that just aren’t ready for the truth bombs—and that was far more important than having a list of takeaways to implement.