Ivan Temelkov
October 19, 2016

How Gary Vaynerchuk Helped Me Build & Grow a Business

I’m a huge fan of Gary Vaynerchuk. For many that know me personally, it’s quite evident. For the last 3-5 years I have been an avid follower of his work, business principles and methodologies. How can you not be though? He is probably one of the most practical and influential business individuals that I’ve encountered. So much so, that his content and business insight has helped me build my own practical brand. 

If you hop on over to Google and search for “what is Gary Vaynerchuk’s net worth” you will discover scattered information. Certain resources indicate that Gary’s net worth is around $10 million. According to an article published last year, he merely laughed at the confrontation of his actual net worth. Watch the video for a bit deeper insight into how Gary Vee labels himself. This is a person who took a family wine business from $5 million to $65 million in revenue.

Gary also owns VaynerMedia, formerly with his brother A.J. VaynerMedia, headquartered in New York City, now has multiple office locations including London, UK, now has over 600+ employees. A brand that caters to clients such as Pepsi and GE. He is also the host of the #AskGaryVee Show. Last but not least, he is a multiple New York Times Best Seller for books such as Crush It!, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, and most recently #AskGaryVee.

Yes, you could say that I’m quite intrigued by this man’s focus, dedication, patience and business drive. But to be realistic and practical, let me dive deeper into the factual information.

A Bit of a Background

I am the son of an immigrant. At the age of 14 (over two decades ago now) I arrived in a country that I knew nothing about. Like many other immigrant families, my parents strived for a brighter future of their children (my younger sister and I). My parents accomplished everything with their bare hands. A middle to lower class income family that believed in many traditional fundamentals. Work hard at your job, do what the boss says, be punctual, and the rest will follow. You know, everything by the book, according to traditional principles.

At a young age I became self-aware of the fact that I’m different. The way I dressed, walked, spoke and communicated with others. Little did I know that this mentality would be beneficial in business for me later in life. Gary Vee’s background and story resonated with me significantly because of our heritage similarities. He was born in Babruysk, Belarus. His parents also immigrated to the U.S. and struggled to adapt with a Western culture.

Setting aside the heritage similarities for a second though, what really resonated with me is the mentality similarities. I admit that these are hard to explain. For me personally, I was raised on very little. I learned to appreciate everything I had. You see, as reported by Forbes, 40% of the largest U.S. companies were founded by immigrants or their children. 16 of the most iconic U.S. companies were also founded by immigrants or their children – a fact reported by Huffington Post.

To make a long story short, I believe that there is a similar mentality and perception towards business between Gary Vee and myself. Not because he claims to be practical, self-aware or the hardest working person in business.

From a business perspective if I had to distill the specific facts about actual success, they would look something like this.

Quick Disclaimer: The following are in no particular order of importance or sequence. Although I truly believe that you should possess the following characteristics, qualities, and skill sets to be successful in modern business. 

#1: Bet On Your Strengths

Gary Vee preaches this all day long. In order to be good in business, it’s important that you exercise your strengths. For instance, over the last decade I have been professionally engaged in SEO & SEM endeavors. The majority of the jobs, gigs, and opportunities I’ve encountered revolved around these particular skills. Clients, agencies and companies hire me for these particular services. Obviously I have spent a fair amount of time in these areas. In the beginning it was plenty of trial and error followed by endless frustrations. Practice makes perfect though.

I became good enough at what I did that UMSL Digital invited me to teach SEO/SEM as part of their digital media marketing program.

#2: Work Your Ass Off

the-benefits-of-hard-workGary Vee has become linked with “The Hustle”. Obviously in no way, shape or form is he referring to the literal meaning of the word through a negative connotation. What he means by this is that you should be coherent of the fact that entrepreneurship and building a business is hard. Extremely hard. But it’s definitely not impossible to accomplish. Hence why Gary always talks about “The Hustle”. You should be prepared to work your ass off. Work harder and smarter than everybody else.

Sure, I’m a firm believer in hard work, but also an avid follower of strategy and tactics. Last year, I ran my father’s flooring company. In 8 months I took it from $250,000 to over $500,000 in gross revenue. This is a Year-On-Year comparison obviously. I worked hard but also smarter. There were plenty of 10+ hour long days. Sometimes even 6 or 7 day work weeks. There were times when it felt like a non-stop roller coaster. But in the end, it was all worth the effort.

In my experience, I would recommend the following 3 things to anyone seeking business success. These are exactly what Gary Vee preaches as well.

  • Strategy
  • Implementation
  • Execution


One of the most appealing pieces of content I find beneficial from Gary Vee is execution being the game. Just. Make. It. Happen.

#3: Ideas are SH*T…Execution is the Game

This statement was a bit mind boggling to me initially. A bit abrasive in fact, and probably even to some of you reading this article. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s pure reality. You could have the greatest idea about a product or service, but executing it is perhaps the truly imperative element of success. Ideas are meant to be shared, not confined. That is one reason why I’ve invested heavily into content marketing for my own brand. Storytelling is the natural evolution of modern business. Taking your ideas, discussing and sharing them with your target audience, then executing upon them.

One of the things that I realized the hard way is that it’s important to surround yourself with people who can help support your vision. People who can encourage you to follow through on your ideas. For instance, although it is live now, I’m still in the process of building my own brand – an agency – one that focuses heavily on the H2H component. In order to fulfill my idea, I’ll need plenty of support and resources. My entire mentality revolves around the fact that I’m openly sharing my ideas with others. I believe that transparency can be a huge component to business success. Pair that up with phenomenal storytelling, and it can turn up to be a winning combo.

#4: Be Prepared to Fail

Entrepreneurship is extremely hard. Running a business is extremely hard. Over 98% of entrepreneurs will fail at business. it’s a part of the game. There are many things that you will fail in when attempting to setup your own business. This is probably one of the scariest things and one that many of us have a hard time understanding. The human element of comfort drives us to strive for sustainability and consistency. It’s precisely why 60% of Americans hate their jobs but maintain status quo due to a steady paycheck.

If you want to be an entrepreneur, be prepared to fail. If you want to run your own show, be prepared to fail. Some fail more than others. It all depends on how you’re wired, what drives you, what motivates you and how you cope with failure. Last year when I ran my father’s business, there were plenty of frustrations. In some instances I was ready to hang up my hat and call it quits.

If you want to be an entrepreneur, be prepared to failClick To Tweet

#5: Digital Storytelling

I am absolutely baffled at how many brands these days are bypassing or barely touching upon this endeavor. Content marketing, blogging, writing or whatever else you want to call it, still takes precedence in business. Storytelling in the modern digital world takes on new heights but retains its core principles. You see, storytelling dates back at least as far as the Roman era. From a natural human standpoint, storytelling was a way to share words, ideas, and ultimately portray a realistic perception of a situation.

The modern version of digital storytelling upholds core fundamentals. Blogging, content marketing and writing convey valuable insights to prospects. Potential individuals and brands may turn into paying clients, and this is the element that many businesses tend to be missing. It’s imperative to tell the right story, offer added value insight, educate and forge new relationships. I have done more of this with my personal brand than anything else. There have been tremendous rewards as a result, with probably many more to follow.

#6: Genuine Customer Care, Service, & Attention

Going above and beyond to meet your clients needs is a key ingredient for your business success. Forget about getting paid or selling. Focus genuinely on addressing the needs of your customers. If you have to jump through hoops to show a sign of dedication and commitment than do it. In one of Gary Vee’s keynotes he shares a wine story from his Wine Library days. This is the one that talks about personal delivery of a case of wine by Gary Vee to a customer. A day before Christmas Eve which in essence was the busiest day of the year for wine. Now that I call going above and beyond to meet a client’s expectation.

Last year I noticed many instances where my father went above and beyond with his customers. Offering small fixes at no charge. Staying late on a Friday to finish a job. Working on a weekend so that a family could move into their new home. Talk about serious dedication. As result of his strong attention to detail his business generated a ton of repetitive business. This exact approach is the basis behind my personal brand. It is something that I would strongly recommend to you for your business.

#7: Stick To Your DNA

Everyone is wired differently. We each have a different perception of reality and approach it differently – including the business world. Gary Vee, for instance, is huge on company culture. He is a bit of a dictator of HR in a sense. For instance, you need to focus on surrounding yourself with people who are good at the things that you’re not. Granted you may be good at a lot of things. But realistically speaking, we are not all good at everything. Perfection is something we may strive towards, but it is striving for something that is impossible.

Positivity, happiness and inspiration, are things that most business owners thrive upon. Negativity is bad for business. In other words, stick to your own unique way of doing things. Everyone has their own drivers. It is precisely what separates you from the competition. Well, one competitive advantage anyway.

I do things my way and you should do things your way. It is absolutely in your best interest to pursue a route that works for you when attempting to build a business.

#8: Do Things That Matter

Realistically speaking, most businesses spend time and money on things that don’t matter. Some even try too hard to innovate and lose their focus. As Gary Vee would say, many of us are delegators and micromanagers. I wholeheartedly believe that statement is absolutely true. Through my various job endeavors, I’ve learned that upper management tends to be guilty of this more than anybody else. They tend to invest and shift their energy towards things that truly do not equate any value.

For instance, spending time and energy on efforts that do not yield any monetary value is a complete waste of time. Would you invest time and money on cold calling? Probably, if you had no idea what cold calling accomplishes. Although if you are someone who has experimented with cold calling, you would know not to bother with it again. I’m a firm believer that we live in a day and age of consumer persuasion. Educating and enticing prospects is one avenue that you should heavily explore for lead generation purpose. Not only that, but also business development purposes.

#9: Do. Not. Make. Excuses.

The biggest obstacle to success is lack of optimism. Many of us are not optimistic enough that we will succeed in business, regardless of whether we have what it takes to to be successful. So instead, we tend to make excuses about the things we hoped to accomplish but never did. This is an indirect statement from Gary Vee. I believe this mentality as well. Why? Because it’s real, rational and practical.

As human beings and business owners, we are inclined towards finding excuses. It’s the immediate element we turn towards as a resolution to our problems. When running my father’s business, there were a few instances where my mindset shifted in that direction. For instance, a client flipped their lid and I let it bother me. Instead of remaining optimistic and solution oriented, I would turn to frustration. So, in essence, rather than finding a solution to rectify the situation I would remain frustrated. That is NOT optimism guys. It’s another excuse to a problem that could have been rectified with a strategic solution.

There will always be problems in business. As humans we have a tendency of getting wrapped up in the minutia of it all and deviate our focus and energy.

#10: Overnight Success Is Non-Existent

Many of us are misled by so-called “Get Rich Quick” programs and methodologies. The truth of the matter is that many of us are too desperate success in the business world and sadly, there is no such thing as overnight success. Unless you were born with a silver spoon served on a platter, chances are that building a business will take lots of hustling, grinding, sweat, nerves, luck, serendipity, money and patience. Nobody will knock on your door and grant you business success. You have to go out and find the opportunities.

In my experience, a successful business owner is one that’s exceptional. One who goes above and beyond for his customers. A people connector and relationship builder. Someone who works hard with no immediate expectations.

In Closing

My friends, building and running a business is no walk in the park. But most of you already know this. Perhaps some of you might wish to impart some of your own learning experiences in the comments, below.


This article was previously titled “10 Facts From Gary Vaynerchuk That Helped Me Build & Grow a Business” and published on digitalwebstrategist.com. It is republished and minimally repurposed here, with permission.

Image attribution: Copyright: ‘http://www.123rf.com/profile_nattanitphoto‘ / 123RF Stock Photo

Hard Work image: Origin unknown, found here:http://www.successpraxis.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/The-Benefits-of-Hard-Work.jpg


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A digital marketing practitioner bringing nearly two decades of seasonality to the table with emphasis on Search, Social, & Content. I'm enthused about helping small businesses increase their digital footprint by utilizing the power of technology, web, strategic thinking, and targeted execution for maximum market penetration. CEO of @RazorSharpDigit, a human-centric digital brand but can be found @ivan_temelkov on Twitter as well.