12/12/2013 05:32 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Patience and Empowerment: Figuring Out My Own 'Why'

Click here to watch the TEDTalk that inspired this post.

I've got a lot of admiration for Simon because I think we have a lot in common. To be honest, if you replaced "why" with Jab and "what" with Right Hook, you'd see a lot of similarities between what he's talking about and what I'm talking about in the new book. What really got me thinking was the concept of "why" as it applied to me, my career, and the products I've sold.

The "why" of Wine Library TV (the online wine show that made me "internet famous") could be boiled down to my sign off: "With you, and a little bit of me, we're changing the wine world."

When it comes to VaynerMedia, I guess you could say: "With you and a little bit of me, we can change the advertising world."

All along it's been a story of empowerment. And the dirty secret is that it's all through dictatorship. I assume all the power, but that also means I assume all the responsibility, all the risk, all the pressure, and all the cynicism onto myself in order to shield my customers. That allows them to experiment, break rules, and shift into new paradigms. I'm the air cover so that when something goes wrong, and they get hit too hard, they can be like, "Well, it was GaryVee," and I just say "Yup, that was me."

My role in life is to be a shield. It's what I've always been. In my family I always act as the emotional shield because I can handle everything. It's always been like that because it was based on self-esteem and not achievement. Now, at first it was deluded self-esteem because regardless of what I had, I just assumed I had it in me. My mom, bless her heart, tricked me into believing I was right.

What I get pleasure out of is disrupting the contemporary norms and finding better ways to do things. That's it. So my "why" has informed the "why" of every business I've ever created along the way, because my entrepreneurial ventures have all been reflections of myself.

But coming back to the talk, Simon's story about the Wright brothers persevering in face of better-funded competitors touches on the thing I think is the absolute most important part of this entire conversation:


Nothing worth achieving can be achieved without patience. When you look at those examples - Apple (and specifically Jobs), Martin Luther King, the Wright brothers - patience is the strand of DNA that ties them all together.

I showed up in the wine world as an unknown. I'd already built Wine Library into a thriving business, but in the scheme of things I was still just a kid with a camera. One thousand episodes later (the first several hundred largely unwatched), I felt like we truly had changed the wine world (or had, at least, helped). Parker wasn't the only voice out there. By that point there was a chorus of independent voices, and an army of bloggers continuing the democratization of wine reviews. My patience had paid off, so I was ready for my next challenge.

I took a step back from being a big guy in wine to being the small guy in advertising because I have the patience to empower the marketplace. According to the ad world, there are still plenty of people who have no idea who I am, but my "why" has continued to drive me as VaynerMedia picks up steam (and the interesting thing is that it's starting to pay off).

If your "why" is big enough, it's going to be a "why" that requires patience.

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