Gary Vaynerchuk | Photo courtesy UTEP Office of Special Events/Facebook
There was a lecture unlike most at the University of Texas at El Paso on Wednesday night led by a loud, hoodie-wearing, Jersey guy changing lives one f-bomb at a time.
El Paso welcomed best-selling author, entrepreneur and motivational speaker Gary Vaynerchuk in one of many international tour stops aiming to level-up aspiring marketers and entrepreneurs with a cocktail of kindness, humility and a splash (or two) of expletives.
As two gals running marketing, public relations and general community outreach initiatives for local non-profit organization Workforce Solutions Borderplex, here’s a review from a Generation Z member (Becca Ed – Little B) and me, the borderline Millennial (Big B) perspective of the heralded entrepreneur.
Question 1: Who’s this Gary V. guy anyway?
Big B: Gary V. is my daily podcast mentor on the commute to work that refines and maintains the mission of the organization I currently serve. I respect that he’s lived and understood business and marketing before the social media age; but honor him in that he’s mastered the principles in the ever-growing and changing terrains of digital marketing and social media platforms.
Beyond educating his listeners on the principles of marketing and business, he adds the gift of his personal attention to human behavior that he attributes to the trends of pop culture and consumer psychology.
He’s also my best friend, he just doesn’t know it yet.
Little B: Gary Vaynerchuk is a world-renowned marketer, influencer, entrepreneur and speaker. He is a CEO, creative guru, and is who many would refer to as the “secret weapon” for Fortune 100 companies we all know.
What makes Vaynerchuk far different from any other loudmouth in the market is how he identifies, sees, and ultimately projects himself to the world. You won’t often find him in a fresh-pressed suit, and you certainly are not going to hear the man tell you to be just like him.
On the contrary, Vaynerchuk is an immigrant who embodies so very much of what we on the Borderplex already know to be true of immigrants: hardworking, relentless and resilient. Vaynerchuk is at the top of the world of business and social media strategy, hitting all the marks in titles, board appointments and famous friends.
However, in the world of humanity, Vaynerchuk is just like everyone else: driven by his passions, empowered by his family, and saving up for a big purchase (I’m currently saving for a car, Vaynerchuk is saving to buy the New York Jets).
And whether or not we are talking about a car that runs without the possibility of combustion on the interstate, or the franchise and power house that is an NFL team, Gary Vaynerchuk, like the rest of us, faces the same, crippling hurdle of fear we all know all too well. But unlike most, Vaynerchuk chooses to acknowledge fear, and press on anyway.
This has taken him to be part of business ventures and opportunities abound. It also is what brings him down to the same level as any of us. While Vaynerchuk has the same fears we all do, he chooses to use that energy from those fears to press on and inspire others to follow suit.
Question 2: From a personal and a business standpoint, what were the biggest takeaways from last night’s conversation?
Big B: It may serve well to explain the personal ‘Gary Effect’ that comes from listening to his podcasts and devouring his countless videos and posts. If it’s not a jaw drop, the eyebrow furrow or a deep inhale of a good lesson, the Gary Effect can even go as far as prompting a voice memo or note to reference in my planning and journaling in life and career.
During Wednesday’s event, a new layer of awareness to the fusion of hustle and humility graced my perspectives. In a world of overly ‘flexing’ success and progress based on internal analytics of digital social approval platforms, the reality of hard work, ethics and even admission of personal struggles are undervalued.
Here stands a man who possesses the social leverage most social media influencers could only dream of, using his power to reverse engineer egos by advocating the most basic use of tools we all innately possess: the mere notions of humility and kindness as the foundation of all actions we take in life and business.
The common-sense use of applying those building blocks into any motive and plan is drowning in double taps, name-drops, perfection filters and aggressive keyboard heroes. Gary V. is not only a catalyst in the trend of personal development, his impact is leaking into those possessing leverage for real impact in their communities that go beyond American consumerism.
Little B: Vaynerchuk truly dives deep into the world of what many may consider as common sense. He speaks about the importance of humility, genuine hard work and self-acceptance.
From a business perspective, the night truly focused around the central theme of “truly loving what one does” and not always necessarily going for the cold hard cash.
Vaynerchuk emphasized the importance of not making it “big” quickly, and the cruciality of finding that craft in which one is the most talented in. He preaches and practices humility and believes that the money alone should not be the driving force behind a business. This trickles into the takeaways for individuals: entrepreneurs need to find passion.
Life is, indeed, too short to simply work to live. Vaynerchuk acknowledged that some may argue bills and life’s responsibilities lea them to these situations, but he stressed that the magic of the internet can allow you to start anywhere from scratch for free.
While businesses need to reflect a service mindset to humanity, individuals need to learn to become their own biggest advocates. When these two entities do this, the world of work could become more harmonious than one could imagine.
Question 3: As crusaders in the mission for development of the local workforce and economy, how will we harness the advice from Gary V. in tackling community challenges like raising wages, attracting businesses and retaining talent?
Big B: I will Tweet/email/text/Snap/DM/PM him and hope for a response! Should that response never come, first and foremost our mission to bring awareness to our work organization will be rooted on the practicality of Gary V.’s core directive of kindness.
From a bird’s eye view of anyone who knows or learns our organization, Workforce Solutions Borderplex is a non-profit that gives and supports in the form of education, training, job experience, confidence and overall quality of life, so we’re already on the path of compassion and empathy.
Bringing awareness to the existing benevolence via creation of effective out-of-the-box content is one strategy we already implement with the help of our partners and agency; in the near future, making use of non-traditional social media platforms and apps is something we will definitely take from his podcast guidance in addition to maximizing our outreach with hyper targeting on underpriced digital platforms vs. traditional media.
As far as our audiences? From former inmates transforming themselves to become contributors to society, military spouses or transitioning servicepeople looking for a new purpose, foster youth making the jump into adulthood and existing young talent finding it necessary to flee the city in search of better opportunities… the common denominator lies in faith within the city and mostly, faith within oneself.
With this, incorporating the belief that true-to-game hustle that not only contributes to ones immediate circumstances, but to the community’s circumstances as a whole in an optimistic domino effect. Harnessing the message of “you’ve got it in you, and what you’ve got can change the world” mentality in the differing demographic dialects is the strategy that I believe will successfully execute the exposure and effectiveness of our mission as an organization taking a page out of Gary’s book of life basics.
Little B: One of the single greatest concerns surrounding the workforce of El Paso is the consistent flow of talent leaving the city, which can especially be seen in the budding demographic of young professionals and graduates.
Vaynerchuk consistently talked about the “grass-is-always-greener” mentality, and how when one truly finds themselves in their own dream state, they almost always are unequivocally let down.
As a Coronado and UTEP graduate myself, I find in our schools the unjust painting of the Borderplex region as mundane and without opportunity, while jobs and schools in other parts of Texas and the US are praised on daily as if these cities are temples themselves. Fresh out of high school, I moved to my own “greener pasture” in TN, and I had an amazing time.
Grades, friends and my experiences were incredible. But I quickly realized just how much El Paso has to offer. Luckily, my family lives here, and the ultimate migration back was a simple decision. For many, who find themselves in jobs, relationships and crippling debt, a move can be off the table.
It’s important for organizations that fight to make the Borderplex economy and workforce strong also reach into the pools of education to do so as well. Teachers, counselors, parents and mentors alike must stop painting pictures of green idealistic pastures that can only be found 10+ hours away.
Help the youth of your life identify their true gifts and help them craft these gifts into fierce opportunities within our own community. Justify the world that is the Borderplex. The opportunities are rich and plentiful here, as they are everywhere else. Place does not make or break someone’s ability to succeed. Only they, and the people found within their inner circle, can do that.
Question 4: Gary V. promotes empathy, humility and hustle. How can members of this community who have a hand in economic development implement these ideals to better serve the Borderplex?
Big B: Highlighting the members on the front line of economic and workforce development, particularly those who deal first-hand with the disadvantaged populations executing a mission to transform quality of life, should take advantage of the changing journalism landscape.
Gone are the days of “if it bleeds it leads” in traditional news exposure like newspapers, television or radio with content run by a sole director. In a world of countless social media platforms giving the user in content distribution autonomy, acts of kindness trigger far more effective emotional responses than negative stories, prompting more social shares that promote awareness of the subject.
Further than going back to just his advised basics of humanity with kindness and empathy, the Advertising and Marketing 101 teaches us that promoting our product, service or message requires a connection with the target user to have a lasting, results-driven impact. Two birds, one stone; a very figuratively kind stone.
Knowing that, at the root of serving and conducting effective outreach lies empathy and humility as drivers of authenticity which are further catalyzed by hustle. In my book, that means not giving up until the desired results are attained.
For us, those results translate to economically elevating our region with a positive impact so resilient that the quality of life of all its citizens and businesses feel the effects for generations to come.
Little B: Our Borderplex region is vivacious and filled with opportunity. Perhaps the single-most important component in developing the workforce of today and tomorrow is truly seeing the value in each other, our community and all it has to offer.
When we strip away the competitive edge and focus more on nurturing our youth in developing a positive outlook on the genuine opportunities found within our region, our economic development will soar.
If we can stop looking for the “next big thing” a million miles away, and instead, embrace our own strengths and talents, then, and only then, can we truly grow to our greatest potential.
Cheers to kindness, humility and working for you.
Authors: Bianca Delilah Cervantes and Rebecca Ed | To view Bianca’s previous pieces, click here.