The One Word That is "Poison" For Your Business | Keynote from 2021 - Transcripts

March 18, 2023

  • Favorite
  • Share

Today's episode of the GaryVee Audio Experience is a throwback keynote I gave in Orlando, FL back in 2021! I use the majority of the time to provide the audience as much value as possible around marketing and business strategy in 2022 thats still very valuable in 2023! I cover a wide base of questions including LinkedIn ads, underpriced attention, scaling a personal brand, b2b strategies, and more.

Overall this is a really fun episode and I want your feedback on it! Enjoy!

My website:

Check out my new NFT project:

Join the VeeFriends Discord:

Tweet Me! @garyvee

Text Me! 212-931-5731

My Newsletter:


This is the super conference that all of you need to be at is finally here. Tickets have dropped to the original V friends holders but are now available to buy. I have a link in my bio for the people that have never bought an NFT but want to come because they've heard that Busta Rhymes and Deepak Chopra and Steve Bartlett and all these people are speaking, go to, C-O, drop the M, to see what's going on there. But the link in my bio has a site that we have on vcon that will let you fill it out and will help you get a ticket to our super conference, May 18th to the 20th in Indianapolis, Indiana. The conference is bananas. The 50 speakers I'm about to announce, bananas. This is the huge super business pop culture and innovation conference. I want everybody in my community to be there. So link in bio or click here because the team is using this in all sorts of formats to make sure you get to indie in May for the super business conference. This is the Gary Vee audio experience. There's two core things that I'm spending a ton of time on right now and they're pretty opposite. One is incredibly in the weeds and very tactical and very in the dirt which is what I would call contemporary marketing.

Whether you're in this room as B2B or B2C, including things that wouldn't make maybe sense to a lot of people within the industry of what they should be doing on LinkedIn or TikTok or things of that nature, they fascinate me mainly because I'm a businessman, right? You know, I am, since I was 14 years old, I've been involved in a family business or a business my whole life. So everything comes from the standpoint of oxygen to pay the bills. You know, I was born in the Soviet Union, grew up in a very immigrant family. My dad had a liquor store and from May 18th, May 18th, 1998 until this second that I'm standing, I've had the responsibility to make the payroll every two weeks of every day of my life. So my framework when it comes to marketing is actually extremely grounded in the practicality of actually building a business. And as I'm getting the gray hairs and getting a little more mature, I'm realizing how many people don't see marketing the way I see it. I see it as oxygen. I see it as the thing that everybody in this room should spend the majority of their time on. And most people when I give this talk or have a meeting or have navigated last 25 years are trying to find time to get to marketing. I'd rather be great at contemporary marketing than know how to balance my P&L. That's how my brain thinks about it.

And so as I'm gonna go into this right now, there's only one thing that I know that can double a person's business without them making a significant change in their product or service or having some fortune like their local competitor decided to retire. There's only one thing and that is marketing. And marketing is incredibly confused with sales. And I see it every day and I think people have incredible comfort with sales because they know what the ROI is in the very immediate. The conversations and the keynotes in the books that I wrote seven, 10 years ago about hey, print and radio and television, the things that I use to build my wine business, they're declining in value. I gotta look at Google AdWords or email or YouTube. That's becoming a non-conversation. I struggled to think that people don't realize that digital is a real serious form of marketing. What is happening though is as people have gone through that transition, the land of navigating digital marketing is incredibly vast and ridiculously up and down. You can waste an ungodly amount of money doing digital marketing and get nothing in return or you can spend a stunningly low amount of dollars and get very high upside and it just comes down to the tactics and just understanding it and I wanna spend some time on that. The other thing that I wanna spend time on is, is today is 16th? Tuesday, yeah.

So today was supposed to be the day my new book came out. If you guys can flash my screen one more time. So today was supposed to be the day that my new book came out 12 1�2 Leveraging the emotional ingredients for business success. I did a NFT promotion in August that if you bought 12 copies, I would airdrop you an NFT and sold 1.2 million copies, which for context makes it the most successful book of all time, or at least one of the top 10. And so they had to push it by two weeks and it'll be coming out in two weeks, but it's just really fun timing that today was supposed to be the day because it's really the other thing I desperately wanna talk to you about, which is my navigating not only my own career, but I was an early investor in Facebook and Twitter, in Uber, in Coinbase, I run an agency that's a 1,800 person global company that works with a ton of businesses. And something has really become very clear to me again in this older state, which is in business, we don't really talk about kindness, or empathy, or compassion, or accountability, or we don't talk about soft skills as a core, we talk about it as like a side dish, as a nice to have. And I think if you're very thoughtful about what's going on in the world right now, and I don't mean the over coddling and entitlement and that stuff, I mean people having options as employees, creating continuity, and actually building something very big instead of kind of okay or solid, I think we need to start having an advanced, dramatically different conversation on what team building and leadership actually is. And again, I don't come from a foofy place, the way this book was built was how I built my company. Internally, we call VaynerMedia the honey empire, honey over vinegar, but the word empire is not a soft word. We're trying to build the biggest company of all time. And I think to do that, you need continuity based on optimism and growth, not based on fear. And so those are the two things I really wanna double click on.

Let's start with the marketing thing because it's incredibly practical for this room. How many people by show of hands, because I'm gonna navigate because I have a field in the mix, how many people by show of hands, please raise them, are in the B2B business? Raise your hands, please. Hi, please. Thank you. And B2C, great. So predominantly B2B, I'll jump on both. So B2B, how many people here are running LinkedIn ads for their B2B business? And I mean ads in the feed, not email, things of that nature. Raise your hands, just curious. Great, thank you. So let's talk about LinkedIn ads.

This room is majority B2B. I couldn't employ, if nothing from this talk, nothing from this talk. You remember, except this one part, I hope this lands. Every company, hence person in this room, needs to be running three to four original pieces of creative as ads on LinkedIn a day. Three to four LinkedIn ads a day. All different, videos, pictures or words, all run as ads. Not your page and you post and you organically just get whatever LinkedIn puts it into the ethos. I mean, you actually target employees of companies or people's titles and you pay LinkedIn money in ad form to convert the business goal that you want. Disproportionately, in the last 18 months, the number one thing that I get emails about with the content that I put out around this, disproportionately this has been the thing that I've been most emailed about as a substantial game changer for B2B companies. Couple things that are important about this. Number one, as we go through this conversation, or if we get into Q and A and go deeper and you sit there and say, you know what? Screw it, I'm gonna do it, actually.

First and foremost, you cannot hire your 23 year old niece to do it. You can't hire a small agency, one person that you find, you, the human in this room, must, if you want the success from it. You don't need to do anything. Like just to really create the context, but if you would like your business to grow through an arbitrage that is incredibly obvious that will close, LinkedIn ads are not as good right now as they were 24 months ago when I started this conversation. Because more people have come in, and I'm sure everybody here is gonna understand the simple concept of supply and demand. It's the same rodeo since Myspace. Thing happens, Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, LinkedIn. It's all the same game, thing gets established, people come on board, the early movers, no different than real estate development, just with content, make content, they extract the biggest audiences. The big companies that I work with, the Pepsi's, the Budweiser's, the Ford's, they wait, they gotta get their laws down, they gotta figure it out, they're scared of it, they wait. Eventually three years in, they get comfortable, they start throwing money at it, it starts working, they start throwing real money at it, all of a sudden SMBs, mid-market companies like ourselves don't get as much real estate for free organically, or the ads cost too much against what we used to spend for it. It's the same show every single time. The number one advertiser on television in the first 10 years of television was Procter & Gamble.

That's why it's the biggest consumer brands company in the world. The number one advertiser on Google AdWords from 2001 to 2005 was Amazon. It's why it's who it is. When there is an arbitrage of attention, the world changes. The only thing that connects every one of our businesses here is the attempt to get attention, to tell somebody what we want, or what we have, and then hope the thing happens. It's how the world works. All the things that are happening geopolitically and politically in our country and the world, it's just cause attention has gone from main screen media to social and new dynamics happen. The reason back to being a Soviet boy, the reason when there's a coup in a country that at the same time they go after the palace, they go to the newspaper and radio and television station is because communication and the ability to talk to somebody and get their attention and make the thing that you want to happen is literally the only thing that matters. And so the thought that so many people in this room don't think about that as the first thing you do, even in parallel with the quality of your product, though I did have a meeting last week where I was very, very, very, very, very underwhelmed with the product and the person was very aggressive that they needed my agency to be hired, probably because he subconsciously knew how bad the product was, and it finally pushed me into the corner and I said, sir, with all due respect, I just want you to know one thing. We are the best marketing company in the world, which means the only thing that's about to happen is we're gonna speed up the world knowing that your product's a piece of crap. So I'm like, I think we should fix it first and then we'll market. So look, when I say it's the only thing that matters, of course the quality of your product.

Of course, when I look around this room, there's a ton of you that have substantial long-term relationships and reputation in a B2B environment that is absolutely driving your core business. My question is why people like to leave upside on the table. When I get into these combos of one-on-one or on stage, they're like, Gary, I'm good. I don't need LinkedIn. I'm like the king of the in Ohio. I'm like, that's nice, Carl. I'm like, how much business do you do? Seven million? I'm like, what's wrong with 16? To me, marketing is a conversation of ambition. I understand that people don't want to learn this. I understand that you don't want to spend 11 hours running ads on LinkedIn, tasting it, watching a bunch of videos, reading a bunch of stuff, so that you can then hire the person internally and know how to judge if they're good at it.

The biggest reason most companies don't continue to do social media is because they hired somebody that sucks at it and they don't know how to judge it and then they decide it doesn't work. You know what else doesn't work? A basketball. A basketball does not work for me. The ROI of a basketball for me has been about negative $10,000 because I've torn both my meniscuses. The ROI of a basketball for LeBron James is a billion dollars. Social marketing works at scale to trillions of dollars. We just might have not figured out how to make it work for ourselves. So for me, for this room, there are two core things that really stand out. One is LinkedIn and you need to go pot committed because again, what I've seen with the way ads are being spent and the way the organic reach is going down, how many people here use LinkedIn and know what I'm talking about, how it went from just a recruiting tool to now there's information content in there? Just raise your hands, I'm just curious. So you have a sense.

If you even sit for a second, think about if you've even transacted or been affected by a piece of content in LinkedIn, just reverse engineer yourself. It's there at scale for this room. The other thing that I think a lot of people need to debate and this is for the more ambitious and hungry, the more on the offense, the concept of becoming the media platform instead of just an advertiser. Meaning actually starting a podcast or YouTube show around the expertise of the business that you're in. Now this gets really foofy for a lot of people but it is absolutely, in my opinion, the place that creates the most guaranteed stability and growth of a business. The idea of becoming the publisher, not the marketer, right? I was just with several people in the back room and I was like, look, here's the framework I live in. I think most people in this room and when I say this room, I mean America and I mean the eight billion people on earth and whatever percentage of those people are in business, most people are in sales. They're sales, they're sales organizations. I'm sure if we're being honest, I can just see what you see by some of those light head nods. We are sales organizations and that's great, I love sales. When I was five years old, sales was my first business.

I walked around Edison, New Jersey. I went into people's yards, ripped their flowers out of the yard, ringed their doorbell and tried to sell them back the flowers. I love sales, that's me at five, I love sales. There's remarkable sales, it's called marketing. It's super hard because spending money on something that just branding doesn't feel natural to an SMB mid-market company and even big companies don't love it even though they allocate for it because Wall Street makes them. Super important, marketing, it's the whole actual game. It's the thing that I want you to get advanced at and LinkedIn, it will completely change your business, for real, 20, 40, 80% growth. It will, it can, it does if you get good at it. The problem is most people, a lot of hands went up. I feel like if this was a class where we went through all the ads, without even knowing and a lot of hands went up, just because I know 98% of what I see on LinkedIn is this, so I'm making the assumption that the math scales in this room. The marketing is actually just sales videos or a sales flyer. Most people want to go to marketing or really just doing sales.

None of you want to see that. Nobody wants an infomercial in their newsfeed. It's not value add, period. But marketing is the second framework, much stronger than sales in the medium and long term, harder to judge for people in the short term, which is why almost nobody does it. Definitely not in the size of companies that are in this room, for real. That's why I love LinkedIn so much. When I forced my dad to do it and buy newspaper ads or radio or direct mail, it was expensive. You can do LinkedIn for 6,000 bucks and get a real taste, not make a $30,000 commitment to a full page ad in the newspaper, so marketing. The third thing that I'm talking to you about right now is the concept of becoming the media company. What I've done with my career. The shows, the content, the vlogs. I don't make content.

I just live my life, we film it, and then we produce marketing for it. And so the concept of you actually, I'll give you a great example. One more time, please me, please, V to B company. Raise your hand. This is my number one. Starting a podcast in your very narrow niche, even maybe your town. Like, you could talk about concrete in a state or a town, narrow. We're not trying to be the letterman show here. You're not trying to win an Emmy. You're trying to get business. Starting a podcast where you interview the potential buyers that you're trying to get business from. So this has been a monster hit for a lot of people that have taken me up on this.

You start a show, that's a podcast, where you talk about things in general, but the people that you email on LinkedIn or on email to be guests are the people that you actually want to buy your product. This is really interesting human psychology. The people you're emailing or calling or trying to play golf with or have fake dinner with or hitting up on LinkedIn to do business with are often not interested in what you're trying to do and won't respond or say no. That same person when you're saying, so you're trying to hit up Barry. Barry, want to go golfing? Barry, let me introduce you to my guy. Barry, can we get together? Barry's not interested. Barry has his supplier. When you email Barry and say Barry, would you come on and talk about your amazing career of the last 30 years on my podcast? Barry's moonwalking to your office. This last tactic, because I've thrown this out in my content, different interviews and such, has been a major win for some small B2B, mid-sized B2B companies and I would highly, highly recommend the people in this room that have a little gift of gab, feel like they can do this to really push themselves.

I'm aware, very aware, I have a very introverted dad. You know, like, well actually he's not. He's come out of a shell but my mom's introverted in a lot of ways. I know that that last thing isn't for everybody. I know that you don't wanna put yourself on camera, feels uncomfortable, doesn't come natural, but please, if you happen to be one of the several dozens of people in here that the thought of what I just said is intriguing, please push yourself. It really works. The world is changing. I don't have to tell a single person here. What I'm trying to get everybody to understand is take your real life and put it into your business life. Here's what I mean by that. Remember, remember how many of you promised me that you would never get an iPhone because your Blackberry was so awesome and you needed to feel the buttons? Just curious.

How many people here have a Blackberry right now? Remember when you promised you would never get a Facebook account in 2012, 11, 10? We promise, even for some of the old school, and there's some old school cats in here, I see you. My favorite one was when the cell phone started getting traction in the late 90s. All of my, I've got a beeper, I don't need a cell phone people in this room. This is what we do. Even people that are progressive. I spent the last three years trying to convince people that made real money and changed their life on Instagram to get TikTok accounts. They're 26 and they said no. Humans say no. Many of you when you heard about Bitcoin, no. Many of you when you're hearing about NFTs right now, no.

It's just all no. It's exhausting and it makes no sense if you're a business person. No is poison in business. Good question. How many people here are retiring in the next 10 years? And before you raise your hand, I don't mean you're gonna have a huge year next year and buy an island. I mean you're old and you're finished. Raise your hands. Raise it high. All right, four. And you're definitely not in that, you just wanted to raise your hand. Four.

My friends, almost everything that dominates our society right now, Netflix, most of the social networks, none of them existed 10 years ago. What I'm really trying to tell you in this talk, and by the way, we're starting to get that place, so if you have any question of anywhere I'm going, or anything you know about me that you wanna ask a question, please line up now, because I wanna get into the Q and A, please do that while I'm wrapping up here. My friends, I'm trying to prepare you for what's coming. You guys hear about NFTs and people selling for $69 million and you're like scam, beanie babies, this and that. The blockchain is here. Every contract in the world in 15 years is gonna be on the blockchain. It's how you're gonna do business. So what are you gonna do the same thing you did with the internet? Which is fight it until you succumb to it and left all that opportunity on the table? How do we not see the patterns? It was one thing when the internet came and we didn't have that and so the world was one way. So I was very empathetic in 96, 97, 98,99.

Do you understand, in 1996, 90% of my conversations was trying to convince somebody somebody would buy anything on the internet? 50% of my conversations were trying to convince people that the internet wasn't a fad. Do you remember, some of you, if you paid attention to this, when the stock market crashed in 2000 with internet stocks and every article was, see the internets of fad? People don't like change. They don't like it. We don't like it. The problem is, you can do anything you want in your personal life. I like when people are like, Gary, I just don't get Facebook. I go, that's nice, Stan. I understand that you don't get it. How about the fact that five trillion people do? I love when people make decisions that are ideological on their human level and then deploy them in their business life.

You don't want money, you don't want your family to be more stable, you don't want your business to grow. You don't want somebody to come along and use this stuff and put you out of business. All of those things I have a funny feeling you are interested in. You may not wanna dance on TikTok, but I'm not asking you to dance. I'm asking you to pay attention to what's actually happening here. And we're just starting. Technology doesn't care about your feelings or how hard you worked to build your little moat locally on reputation. It just comes along and destroys. I spoke at a conference ironically in Orlando seven years ago, I was an early investor in Uber and ironically got booked, they didn't know, for the Limo and Taxi Conference Convention Center to speak. But it was early Uber, it hadn't really done its thing yet. And I stood there and I said, but friends, I don't know if you know about this, and it started, it was happening in San Francisco, it just opened in New York, it was early. And I was like, my friends, I don't know if you're paying attention, but there's this thing called Uber, you know, like I really think you might want to, like I think it's gonna be pretty disruptive, I compared it to Amazon and bookstores.

This room laughed me off the stage. First guy on the mic goes, Gary, do you know what politics is? I'm like, I sure do. He goes, we've got the, audacious, we've got these local authorities by the balls. We have our medallions, we contribute. I'm like, that's nice. I'm like, do you know what venture capital is? I'm like, Uber's gonna raise a billion dollars in cash, and I have a funny feeling that's more than you have, John. And I don't have to explain to all of you what happened there. No matter what you think your moat is and why not, I promise you there's one incredibly important thing that I want to leave with, and then please, please line up because I want questions, otherwise I'm gonna have DRock run around with the mic. Your business has a target on it. Every entrepreneur is looking at every localized business and trying to think about scale.

And they're going to use modern marketing to create a moat, just like Zillow did, just like Amazon did, just like I did with Resy, the restaurant app, and OpenTable, it's all gonna be the same game. The internet is where the real world is. We spend, everyone's like the metaverse and the VR and all this crazy stuff. We're living there now. Do you know how many hours are spent looking at this? Do you understand? We live there now. This has happened, whether you like it or not. You decided to be an entrepreneur and a business owner, or a senior executive, you decided. So that means you have to play on the field. In sports, it's obvious. When the greats, I will never forget, even though I hated them because I'm a Knicks fan, but Paul Pierce said something in some interview and I loved it.

He said something like, they asked him when he knew it was over, right, when he had to retire. And he said something like, it was interesting, it was just one random game and this scrub got by me and I realized this guy would have never gotten by me ever, ever, ever before and I can't believe he dominated me like that and I knew it was over. And it stuck with me. In sports, it's obvious. In business, it's not. It's like, whatever that gas is that is coming out of your car and then you just die in the garage because you didn't know, that thing. That's business. It's happening to you right now, but you just don't realize it. And that's because the technology lever, especially now, with what's going on with the blockchain, we have a blockchain and internet happening at the same time and what makes me sad is you can harness it or you can put your head in the sand. It's just a very binary game and I just don't know why you wouldn't. And so, that's that. I didn't really get to the culture part as much as I want to but I'm gonna sneak a little bit of it in.

All of that is fine and dandy. If you land three awesome people to run your LinkedIn or one, it's all fine and dandy. You don't know how to manage in 2021, you're gonna lose. The options are ridiculous. Every 17-year-old that I know, and I know a trillion of them, I have 10 million followers on TikTok, every one of them have no interest in going to college or working for anyone because they can make $100,000 a year on TikTok. This isn't about these Gen Z-ers and millennials being spoiled, this is called options. They're not lazy, they just don't wanna work for you. It's very important, this is probably more important than what I spent the most of my time on. If you don't realize that kindness and empathy and compassion and all those things your grandma tried to teach you are actually becoming the core things you're gonna need in your business to succeed, I love this new thing going on, the great resignation, and everyone's blaming the government, rightfully so, like if you pay people to stay home, they're gonna stay home. Like we understand that game, but let there be no confusion. There's a much more dangerous thing going on in there because that check is gonna stop. What's underneath there is options, right?

And I see a lot of head shaking, I'll tell you why. Many of you have been baffled by your kid or your kid's friend making real money on TikTok and they're 14 and you're like, what the hell is going on? This is happening. And so look, when I talk like this, I always laugh because I can always hear my dad or other people's voices in the crowd. Like I'm very empathetic to somebody sitting, listening to me right now and saying, you know what? I'm, I get it. Cause it's changing so fast and hard, it's like ugh, do I, you know, I've gone hard for 50 years. Do I really want a 30 year, do I really, that's on you, but it doesn't mean it's not happening. And that's the point of this talk today. Which is, a lot's happening. And I'd love to get into details, so I'll leave a lot more for Q and A,

but thank you for having me, thank you. So I think a lot of people are gonna be very very motivated to start their own lab. That's probably something that the full people that try it is gonna be the handful of people that are really really good at it. And then there's gonna be a bunch of people that probably struggle, that's right. That's right. That's right.

That's right. It's a really tough. Stick here, we'll go back and forth. It's a really tough question for me. People always ask like, you know, cause I'm so infatuated with tenacity and patience. Infatuated. Like patience, you know, for all my high energy, patience has been the foundation of my career. So I'm always scared to give a general answer to this question because it's, you know, because I know that there are many people that gave up on their podcast and YouTube show one month before they were destined to click. It's happened and so I think the question is results and time allocation, right? There's gonna be people here, if I'm looking at this crowd, I think I'm gonna get four people to give it an at bat. One of those four people is just gonna genuinely like it and by the way, on the podcast front, think about your interests. I went very narrow, think about something like a podcast called Golf and Business because you just love golf and the show is just interviewing people about how they do business in golf, golf, business.

So we're gonna play here a little bit and go a little more detailed but if somebody heard that and go, Lila, that's actually perfect for me and they do golf and business with Sally Thompson, she might just like it so much that it's almost, it doesn't matter, it's my entrepreneurial career. When I was making $48,000 a year at 29 or what I'm doing now, it all is the same because I'm just in it for the game and so for some people, the podcast is just gonna be an enjoyable hour of their week and they won't even care if it's business development. For other people of those four, they're gonna do two episodes, they're not gonna get a lead and they're gonna look at one of their teammates and be like, that Gary, he was full of crap and just give up in two seconds and then everything in between. So I think it's a very personal answer but I can tell you this, the biggest reason people fail with their podcast when they hear what I say is because they use it as a sales engine and not just content and let the karma and the brand fall where it may. I do a lot of business because the first thing you said to me back there is, hey, I'm a Jets fan too. Because of the way I do my content, people connect with me about my Jets fandom, they connect with me about my Jersey kind of roots, shoveling snow, lemonade, my baseball cards, my sneaker stuff, because I'm giving them a lot of things to connect with because I'm very comfortable in putting certain things out there. Other things I'm not, you know this, I don't put out any of my personal life. No, I'm a 12 and nine year old, nobody's ever seen them in their lives. So you're in control of what you put out but the podcast doesn't have to be, it can be incredibly narrow but as you just saw with the idea I had, and again, some of you care about sailing, some of you care about wine, some of you care, you can really interject some of that by just literally tennis and business, sailing, it's very strategical but traction, momentum always matters. I promise somebody here does it and the fourth guest is somebody they've been trying to open as an account and they do the podcast and they're gonna get a beer afterwards and on the way out, that person looks at them from the bar and says, you know what, let's talk next week about the actual business then they're gonna go in the car and say, God damn it, that Gary's a genius. So either I'm the worst or I'm the best but that's gonna be based on the variable of how good you are at it. I know it works, I have too many examples of it and just so you know what the way my career works from investing and operating a marketing company, I'm talking about hundreds and thousands, not like three people.

There's no focus group of one, I would never tarnish my reputation or my personal brand by pontificating thesis on the focus group of one or six.

This is scaled results. Thank you so much for listening to that entire episode. We wanna remind you to give Gary feedback so make sure you tweet him at Gary V. But if you're listening on Spotify, you can drop your comments, questions and anything in between in the Spotify Q&A section down below. See you in the next.