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On February 21, 2006, on a YouTube channel with zero followers, the world’s first wine video blog launched. Without fanfare, it opened on a guy in a blue sweater—maybe it was black, the bad lighting made it hard to tell—seated in front of a blank beige wall. On the table in front of him rested three wine bottles and a small, dark bucket that looked like it might have once held a potted plant. His skin was sallow in the sickly fluorescent light that barely illuminated his face, but he had a wide, optimistic smile. Looking straight into the Flip cam, he announced himself to his nonexistent audience in a subdued, serious, but friendly voice: “Hello, everybody, and welcome to the very first episode of Wine Library TV. I’m Gary Vaynerchuk.” The echo was so intense he might have been filming inside a cave.

Over time the show got more dynamic and exciting. The host started to let his huge personality shine. He wore Jets shirts. He paired wines with Lucky Charms and described flavor profiles in colorful, colloquial language, like grape-flavored Nerd candy and dead deer mixed with cherries.

He filmed another 999 episodes before announcing on March 14, 2011, that the show was over.

Well, not quite over. On that same day he launched Daily Grape, a kind of Wine Library TV 2.0 for the mobile era. That lasted eighty-nine episodes. And then he realized he really was done. He loved wine but he was an entrepreneur first, and there were just too many other things to do.

That character was me, of course. At the time I really did think I was done with daily video blogging forever. I could imagine the occasional interview or one-off video (have you ever seen my “Monday Morning Motivational” spot?), but a full show was too much. There was only one thing I didn’t count on: you, Vayner Nation. I missed you! I missed talking to you every day. I mean, sure I could talk to you anytime I wanted to on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, but video elicits a different energy and encourages a spontaneity and vibrancy that can’t be replicated on any other platform. I should have known that something was missing in my world when I realized that during every forty-five-minute speaking engagement the part I most looked forward to was the last fifteen minutes of Q&A. In fact, at one point I seriously considered making my whole presentation nothing but Q&A forever.

Meanwhile, the emails kept pouring in. Despite access to three books and hundreds of videos, people still had questions about how to successfully use social media—the new platforms and the old standbys—to build their brands, or how to market with native content, or even just how I do what I do. There was so much content I wanted to put out to help them, but with all my other obligations at VaynerMedia and elsewhere I just couldn’t get to it.

Then DRock emailed me. DRock is David Rock, and he wanted to make a short film about me. The story of what he did to convince me to agree shows up somewhere later in this book, and it’s a good one—a classic example of how to get yourself to the next professional level. He followed me around for a day and produced a gorgeous short film that perfectly encapsulates my entire philosophy about business and entrepreneurship. It’s called “Clouds and Dirt.” I enjoyed working with DRock so much I hired him to create videos for me full-time.

Then I looked around and saw that by bringing him on board I had accidentally formed the perfect content creation team—David for video, Steve Unwin for copy (a job eventually shared with India Kieser), and Zak Moy for design. On a whim, I pulled them aside and announced that I wanted to film a video, and they were going to help me.

And that’s how on July 31, 2014, on a YouTube channel with 30,000 subscribers, one of the world’s first business Q&A video blogs was launched. It opened on a guy in a blue-striped golf shirt smiling into the camera: “Hello, everyone, and welcome to the first #AskGaryVee.” Though the first episode started off almost as low-key as its wine-themed predecessors, by the second, the light and sound quality were professional grade and the host was bringing hard energy and straight thunder. He started posing weird random objects, Jets paraphernalia, and eighties collectible toys on the sleek blond wood table in front of him as he answered his viewers’ questions about social media, marketing, branding, and more. Subscriptions to the channel and eventually to the accompanying podcast ballooned as viewers kept asking questions, and he kept answering them.

At first I thought the show might be an every-now-and-then thing, but it was like riding a bike—as soon as I filmed the first episode, I wanted to do more. And so we did (DRock, Steve, and Zak didn’t know what hit them). It’s a challenge, of course. The world is much more mobile and much smarter than it was in 2006, when I started WLTV, and there is a lot more competition for eyeballs even than in 2011, when we finished Daily Grape. Which means I have to be even better. And I think I am, because I’m speaking from five more years of experience. That’s five more years of watching new technologies rise and fall, experimenting with platforms, advising clients, and talking to people about their dreams and goals.

That’s one of the things I love best about The #AskGaryVee Show. It’s not a platform from which I talk about things that are important to me; it’s a place where I talk about things that are important to you. You, the viewers, entrepreneurs, executives, and dreamers are the inspiration for the show just as the wines were the inspiration for WLTV and Daily Grape. And just as I could never run out of new wines to taste, there will never be a day when there’s nothing new to say about the state of business. It’s a constantly evolving and growing topic.

The other thing I love about this show is that in the end, I really did figure out a way to extend my favorite part of my keynote speeches. If you’ve never seen me onstage, I model my performance after the comedians I idolized in my youth, like Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, and Richard Pryor. My presentations are salty and brash, but even as they shock they tend to make people laugh. Hopefully, they also make people think. I like the Q&A part best because that’s the moment when people realize that I’m not a clever speaker with a few good ideas, but a devout practitioner with endless ideas. I can literally see the skeptics’ expressions switch from cynicism to admiration and respect as they realize that they can ask me anything—anything!—and I won’t dodge and I won’t rehash and I will do my absolute best to give them detailed, tactical answers they can start using right away.

The #AskGaryVee Show allows me to do that for people every day. I love the community that has developed around it. I love that it has become an integral part of my life. I love that it has introduced a new cast of VaynerMedia characters to the world. And I love that together our little team has created the apex of modern marketing—an ultimate jab-and-content distributor.

While the vast majority of questions lobbed at me have to do with launching start-ups, building personal brands, leveraging social media, and deconstructing platforms, I also get asked about leadership, hiring and firing, public speaking, and the perks and perils of mixing family and business. Also the Jets. And parenting in the digital era. And my thoughts on the value of traditional education. And my biggest mistakes. I tell it as I see it, with the benefit of a broader perspective than I had even just a few years ago. I’ve always known what it takes to succeed in the trenches, but now with the hands-on experience of growing two businesses, one from scratch, I also know what the aerial view looks like, and what works best when you’re responsible for creating culture, developing careers, and managing clients in a company that seems to double in size by the day.

I’ve been stunned at people’s appetite for this content, especially the Millennials. We’re increasingly reaching a young audience. It reaffirms my belief that there are gaping holes in the educational system, and entrepreneurs and innovators tend to fall through them, especially at the college level. They don’t need theory. They need practical, tactical information, stuff they can hear one minute and start applying the next—real-world advice that can be adapted and reshaped as the winds of commerce and culture shift.

Already I’m getting emails from people who have taken the advice offered on the show and are getting good results. I don’t think there’s any better measure of its worth. On the other hand, the show’s popularity also gives me a chance to see how many people say they understand hustle, and engagement, and biz dev, and jabbing, right hooking, and prioritization, but actually don’t. On a car ride to Philadelphia I decided to look up the accounts of the people who watch the show the most. Of the fifteen people I tracked down, fourteen haven’t changed a damn thing about how they communicate or do business since they started watching. So what are they getting from tuning in every few days? Maybe just the inspiration and motivation to keep trying. And maybe that means there’s someone out there whom I haven’t met yet, someone who hasn’t commented or sent in a question, one of those lurkers who drive me crazy with their silence . . . maybe someone reading this book . . . and that person will come across a thought or rant or piece of advice that will help her see her path to success. In episode 63, @bluearcherpgh asked me what I’d title a college or high school course if I could teach one. I am teaching it, right here and now. Consider #AskGaryVee my marketing master class. The difference between it and anything you might have studied in school is that I don’t want you to regurgitate what you learn; I want you to act on it right now.

So why a book now when the show and podcast are still going strong? We cover an incredible amount of ground per episode, and as they added up it led me to realize that if we consolidated all the information and ideas we discuss into one easily accessible package, you’d have a complete blueprint to what makes me and other successful entrepreneurs tick. And that’s exciting to me, and offers you something of value, and is therefore worthy of a book. And then there are a few other good reasons:

1.At the time of this writing, we have loaded 157 episodes on YouTube. Because they run 12–25 minutes each, it will take you hours to catch up if you’ve never watched them before. If you’re hustling the way you’re supposed to, you don’t have that kind of time to spare. And if you’ve already watched them all, unless you are one of a few rare and particularly skilled individuals, a little review won’t hurt you. Now you’ve got all those hours’ worth of information in one handy package you can finish on an airplane ride.

2.The world moves quickly. When it comes to tech or media, what was true only six months ago may not be true anymore. This is my chance to update my answers. And in many cases, though I stand by my original response, in the time since it aired I’ve been able to think deeper about certain subjects and have taken the opportunity to expand my thoughts on them or adjust to changes in the market.

3.My last few books have been narrowly focused on sharing with you the marketing strategies and tactics that work, and documenting the growth and development of social media. This book will also cover all the most up-to-date information on platforms and tech, and how to create native content that gets people’s attention. But it will go broader and deeper as well, revealing what I’ve learned not just in my role as entrepreneur and marketer, but as a leader, manager, and family man. I hope this book will offer a perfect blend of motivation, inspiration, data, strategy, and executable information.

4.We’ve also included many brand-new questions and answers pulled from fans across our channels as well as from our own employees. So you’ll find some familiar stuff in this book, and a lot that is new. Some questions have been consolidated or rephrased for clarity. Some are short and simple and silly, but I wanted to capture some of the fun we have on the show! All the topics are timeless, however, and you’ll find that even the most specific answers can frequently be adapted in all kinds of ways for almost every industry, service, and product. Now, you might be wondering if that’s a good thing. What could someone else’s question about optimizing social for the elevator industry, or the future value of Instagram, or Disney’s billion-dollar MagicBand possibly have to do with you?

5.Everything. Because a discussion of Disney’s MagicBand leads to a debate over the future of wearable tech, which leads to Amazon’s Dash Button, which makes it possible to reorder consumable products literally at the touch of a button adhered to household items. Imagine, just as you pour the last drop of detergent into the laundry reservoir, you can lean over and tap the detergent button affixed to your washing machine, and just like that, a new container is ordered and on its way. It doesn’t take a genius to see how that development might impact every single business on the planet. And if you read my answers to the questions about making great content for the elevator industry, how musicians can make a better living, or why Instagram is going to be worth a bazillion dollars soon, you’ll see that that information has everything to do with you, too.

My hope is that after you read this you’ll feel empowered and armed with a deeper understanding of the current business environment, including the ins and outs; the black, the white, and the gray; the IQ and the EQ; the details and the big picture surrounding everything it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, executive, CEO, and manager. I’ve been spending a ton of hours on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, Meerkat, Periscope, LinkedIn, and many other platforms, and from this man’s point of view we are living in an unbelievably interesting time. I haven’t felt this sense of disruption since 2006–2007, when Facebook and Twitter started to eat away at Friendster and MySpace. The stakes and the opportunities are high, and the next thirty-six months of hustle might just pay off more than usual for those people willing to put in the time and effort. See, many people are only just settling into Facebook or Twitter, not realizing that the world has already embraced other opportunities as well. The advantage is yours if you want it.

And now, let’s get on with the booooooooooooooooook!*

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