A conversation with the host of Wine Library TV and author of Crush It.
Question: How is new media changing the way wine is judged?
Gary Vaynerchuk: You know, new media is redefining everything. If you're in the restaurant-loving world, as I am, the big thing you look for is a Zagat rating—and now I don't look at that, I look at my iPhone and look at what Yelp scored it. So this is going to far outreach just wine. Every single word of mouth business, which, I don't know if you know this, is every business in the world, is going to be affected by this shift. This is printing press big. This is not some little fad. This isn't about Twitter. This isn't about a Facebook fan page or Tumblr. This is game changing.
The Internet that we know, I know it went back further nerds, I'm sorry, but I'm talking about the one that we know—the one that AOL started sending CDs in the mail, is about 14 years old. And if you think about the impact globally, financially, business-wise, that it's had, it's staggering. And to be naive enough to think that it's not going to have a way bigger impact going forward, I don't even want to think about what's going to happen in five years. It's just a totally big shift; these are big waves and they're constant. This is a hurricane. This isn't a drizzle.
So I think it's on a big one on the wine industry. I know what Wine Library TV has meant to wineries that have gotten good ratings or bad ratings and when I can do something as one individual with zero costs, just sweat equity, and create a platform like Wine Library TV that has the same impact that things like the Wine Spectator and Robert Parker have had, which have had decades of a head start and millions of millions of dollars in tons of infrastructure that needs to be paid attention to and understood that it's replicatable in multiple platforms.
Question: Do you oppose the influence of wine critics like Robert Parker?
Gary Vaynerchuk: You know, I think its funny. I think there is this huge trend that everybody is so excited to diss Parker and Spectator and the 100-point scale, but at the end of the day, if you really go back prior to them coming alone, wine was this big. And I think that, at some level, it made it a little bit more inclusive. People understand what a 99 means in a 100-point scale, what an 81 means. Before you blame Parker and Spectator, you should blame the retailers and the wineries who have made them big. If I didn't put Robert Parker shelf talkers on every wine in my store, well when I e-mailed out saying 95 points Parker, we wouldn't mean anything, right?
So, well, obviously, not just me, I mean everybody. So I think that it's imperative for people to understand that I think it had a lot of value. Do I believe that community driven stuff like Yelp is going to be important? Sure, I do. That's why I bought Corkd.com and why I'm re-launching it now, which is actually—we probably just re-launched it, by the way, which is amazing.
So yeah. A big misconception of Wine Library TV, what I do, is people think I want to be the new Parker or the new Spectator. I have no interest in that. I just want to build wine self-esteem.
Question: Do you have a story of when you first fell in love with wine?
Gary Vaynerchuk: Yeah. You know what funny is that my Dad had a liquor store. We were Shopper’s Discount Liquors. That was the store I grew up in. Wine was not at play in my household. My Dad drank Vodka and Cognac because he’s a good Russian boy. That’s what we do. So, I first fell in love with wine when I realized people collected it. And so my reading began at 17, 16 because I wanted to know a lot about it because people collected it. That was my hook. I was a collector. The actual loving of wine started really happening at like 22, 23, when it started going from being a commodity to being, oh, man I really like this stuff. This is interesting. Look at these crazy flavors, like how the heck did that just taste like a racquet ball? Like, those kinds of things. Right?
So, there was one specific Amarone that I had at a tasting when I was 22, when I could really taste the chocolate. So much so that I walked outside and called my Mom. Remember when cell phones were like this big, like that. I called my Mom and I was like, “Mom, it’s going to happen. I can taste these things. I can’t believe this, but I just tasted chocolate in this wine.” And that was probably when I was, like oh this is really getting good. I was just enjoying it.
Question: Did dissatisfaction with your retail job lead you to Wine Library TV?
Gary Vaynerchuk: Yes. That's a great question. I think, you know, I turned 30 on November 14, 2005 and there is a one percent of unhappiness. Like, okay. I want to buy the New York Jets and so that's going to cost a couple billion dollars. Am I going to really make a couple billion dollars selling just wine? And the realization was I could have big, big things happen. I launched Wine Library in 1997, but the laws in this country—people watching this video right now in Boston can't buy wine from me.
So I want to do something else and at the same token, as I was feeling this itch in November, I went to a tasting in December and realized people did not have wine self-esteem. They wanted to drink the same 'ole stuff, they wanted to be jerk-offs to each other because they felt they knew something because they read it in the latest Spectator. I just felt the wine culture had a lot of opportunity to be much cooler and there is so many places around the world that I've traveled to where there isn't this uptight aspect to the wine industry. It's much more a part of culture and daily life and I felt like I was the kind of character, I knew my personality and my DNA and my hustle could create this platform that, not only would be successful then by virtue of that success, would create a different kind of culture.
It wasn't so much that I was dissatisfied as if it was just I wanted to change the game again. There was an amazing feeling for me when I launched WineLibrary.com in 1997. It was one of the first wine shops to do so—less than a handful—and it changed the game. It blew up my family business from a couple million dollars a year to a 50, 60 million dollar year business. I wanted to do that again. I want to be a pioneer. It's what I want to do.
So that's what I did with Wine Library TV.
Question: What mistakes did you make when you were starting Wine Library TV?
Gary Vaynerchuk: You know, if anything maybe I was little bit too aggressive. I just e-mailed everybody and was like, "Hey. Let's do this. Check out my show, what can I do for you." And the same token, I think—I don't think of that as a mistake. I feel as though I was a little bit more raw. I think six months later I was a little more polished, but I wasn't more selective. Everyone was like, "Why don't you get selective? Don't hit up everybody. Hit up the top tier. You can't blanket e-mail everybody." When people talk about marketing, I think that's crazy. I feel like Wine Library TV was itsy bitsy tiny in 2006 but if somebody hit me up they'd be really happy to have the relationship today.
So, what? Just hit up the top 500 Twitter people today? That's insanity, that is elitism. I pride myself in having a lot of hustle and that's what I did. If a top wine blogger was upset that I was hitting up everybody, that might have been a mistake in some people's eyes but not in mine. So I am sure a million mistakes. I built a big business around me, it's not the most scalable thing in a lot of people's opinions, but, to me, I understand kind of the vision that I see going forward and I try to stay away from mistakes. The mistakes I make are the opportunities I haven't taken, like big platform television and things like that.
I am sure there are mistakes in my no's, but there is very few—let's get really obnoxious—there is zero mistakes in my yes's because normally my threshold for a “yes” is first learning—not necessarily the results. I need to know this. I've thought about bc'ing companies just because I've never been bc'ed even though it's a stupid thing to do financially, for the learning process.
Question: Was there a big publicity moment that launched the show to the next level?
Gary Vaynerchuk: There was one big moment—that was the day I was on Conan O'Brien show, and Slate.com wrote a huge profile on the same day. This was in August 2007, so Twitter was still a baby and that whole community we all knew each other kinda sorta. So it became the only thing people talked about on Twitter—watch Gary on Conan—which was really cool. I was really starting to foray into the tech world, the Web 2.0 world, the social media world, whatever the heck you want to call it. It was one of the first people to kind of make it, right. Oh, my God. He's in his office talking about wine, he's not on the Conan O'Brien show. It went really well on top of that.
So it was a big moment. It was the first time wine was getting late night exposure. On multiple levels, it was an interesting and important moment, both in the wine business and in the tech space. I would say that is the one moment that really I can pinpoint. Other than that, I am not very big on analytics and metrics and paying attention to traffic and did we go 23% and this and that. I know what I am doing is right. There is no ounce of me that has any doubt and I work for myself, so there is no justifying it to the dinosaurs that sign my check. So it puts me in a very substantially good position in a lot ways, plus I've done it before.
I was making lots and lots of money; thousands of dollars a weekend selling baseball cards. I've built up a family business. In the first year, I ran it from three to ten million in sales. I know what I am doing. When it comes to making money and building brand, it's just something I was born with. I'm not going to pat myself on the back, this is just DNA.
Question: How did you capitalize on that exposure?
Gary Vaynerchuk: I'm a marathon runner. Capitalizing on something like that just doesn't [work]. I signed with CAA. I got more exposure. Nightline did a piece, Ellen did a piece. I got lots more Twitter followers. People cared more. There's a lot of things that happened, but at the end of the day, what I think is important is that people have to understand it's a marathon. Building a business doesn't happen in six weeks. There are no shortcuts. Getting a Twitter account isn't a magic potion. People roll up on me, especially in 2008, "I got a Twitter account." I was like, "Great. What do you want? A cookie?" It's not going to change your business, but at the same token, the people that think this stuff is silly and it's not important are just trying to draw lines in the sand because they don't want to be a part of it. That's a huge mistake because unless you're retiring in the next six to 12 months you better understand what this is all about inside and out.
Question: What is your vision for your upcoming ten-book series?
Gary Vaynerchuk: My vision is that I sell so many copies of Crush It!, that Harper Collins gets off my back and I can wing these next nine for the rest of my career. Is that a good answer?
Question: Can we tell HarperCollins that?
Gary Vaynerchuk: Oh, you can tell them. They know exact – you know the funny part is this. What I loved about it was I signed with Harper Studios. It’s a totally different model. I got offered almost as much for one book as these guys gave me for ten, but the rev share on the back end was substantially more. So, they’ve changed the model quite a bit, and I’m betting on myself, right? So, obviously I want to participate and win on the back end. So, I am very hungry to see what I can do with this book and I’m going to work really hard at it and I’m very confident.
Question: What is the best rule of thumb for buying a bottle of wine?
Gary Vaynerchuk: Yeah, so. I know you guys are big time and there is a lot of people going to watch this video, so for the people that watch this video if you leave with one thing out of this video, even though there is much more important things being said about life and happiness and making money about just playing the game perfectly in my opinion, this is what I want you to leave with. When you go into a wine shop, not only if you remember what you like or don't or know what you like or don't, no matter what it is, or you have no idea, just like the question was asked, you have to try a wine from a varietal you've never had before.
Please don't buy another Pinot Grigio, another Zin, another Pinot Noir, a different kind of a Chardonnay. No, Tannat, Chinon, Albarino. These are things I want you to look for. You've got to try a wine from Cahors, Bandol, from Torrontes from Argentina. So the answer is this, I can tell you right now, you are a wine expert if you spend two years and in that window you never order the same kind of wine. If you do that, and then once you hit all the wines you can kind of find Gruner Veltliner, Rieslings from Germany, Rieslings from Washington State. Different places making different grapes.
You are going to be shocked of what you know and how much you understand your palette because everybody who's watching this right now. Here's what you're really doing. You’re only drinking Coke and Sprite every meal, and you have no idea if Root Beer, Hawaiian Punch, Grape Soda, Black Cherry, you have no clue, tomato juice, pomegranate juice, you have no idea if you like those because you’re sticking to Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir. Please, for me, try something new.
Question: What are your best under ten-dollar wine recommendations?
Gary Vaynerchuk: There’s two countries right now that I think you can be very safe in finding some really neat stuff. One is South Africa; if you order a Chenin Blanc, very crisp, very clean, very aromatic, great with shell fish and light salads. You can get them for eight to twelve bucks, all day long. And in red, hands down, the dominant country in value in my opinion is Portugal. Portugal is just ripping. I think the quality out of Portugal for seven to twelve is staggering. I actually want to do a 20/20 investigation on how much these people are getting paid over there because I can’t figure out the math is going to be so good and they can delivery them for seven bucks. So, from Madoro, the Dow, Allen Casio, these are places that really make some great, great Portuguese wines.
Question: What’s more important when buying wine: the label, or the year?
Gary Vaynerchuk: What your palette likes. So the makers for sure, the pedigree’s important, right. You know this builder is good, you know this chef is good, and you know this car maker is good. You’ve got a reference point to know if the wine is going to be good. But, this is farming. I don’t care if you’re the best wine maker of all time; if it rains everyday you’re finished. So, that’s also very, very important. What I think is most important when you start learning is understanding the grape varietals. Understanding the difference between Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling and Pinot Noir, and Pinot Gris, and there’s a lot there that will really be the foundation of what you like.
Question: What’s an impressive question to ask a sommelier when you’re on a date?
Gary Vaynerchuk: The real move, like the date move, is to Google esoteric great grape varietals, right, and just like ask for like, “Do you have any late harvest Grenache from Banyule. Totally like throw off the som with the mad skills, but you’ve got only one move.
If you want to be a little bit more authentic, which I highly recommend, I think it is imperative to name off three wines that you’ve had in the past that you’ve liked, and ask the sommelier to go in a different direction with varietals, or from a different country, and to expand your pallet. I think there is a romance with being on a date of saying to your date, let’s explore some new stuff together kind of thing. I like Cabs, but what else would I like. Well, you might like Tannat because there’s big tannens and big fruit you know. And so that would always be something that would be my go-to move.
Question: Aside from Wine Library, what are the best places to learn more about wine?
Gary Vaynerchuk: I think if we’re living in the Google era, right? I mean, I feel like you could learn so much more by reading good blogs like VinoGraphy or Fermentation, Dr. Vino. There’s just too many good resources from the blogosphere, and from forums and – what I love about Corkd is not only can you review the wines, but then people can comment on those reviews. So, like creating theoretic conversations around wines I think is very cool. And so, I’m excited about the fact that I don’t think people have to spend $150 for a class, or necessarily buy a book. Both are so worthwhile classes, there’s that engagement, interaction, books that’s kind of there with you. I still think there’s nice romance about a book, though I’m thrilled for a Kindle or e-readers, or whatever. However you want it, iPhone, knock yourself out. It’s all about the content. But I think there’s so much free content out there that I don’t necessarily need to sit here and recommend a source that’s going to hit somebody in the wallet. Save those 20 bones to buy a good bottle of wine.
Question: Are bottles costing over $25 worth buying?
Gary Vaynerchuk: Yeah, we were talking outside and I was saying you’d be shocked what happens between 50 and 25. The wine world right now, 25 to 40 bones, you can drink world-class stuff. You start getting into the Chateauneuf-du-Pape world, the Priorat world, you start getting to wines that you can necessarily get to under $15, and they are really sensational. And really I feel that the quality of the wine, given the depressed market, and given the advances in farming, a $30 wine today probably tasted as good as most $60 to $80 wines a decade ago. That’s powerful. I mean, it’s powerful. That’s a very good direction for the wine drinker. I think it’s very obvious. And so, if I could say anything, if you are into wine, you start looking seriously into 25 to 40 bones, you can get some crazy stuff.
Question: Are wine clubs a good way to learn about wine?
Gary Vaynerchuk: No. You’re going to over pay. That’s all. I got nothing there. I mean, Wine of the Month Clubs are fine. Listen, I created one for Gary Vaynerchuk on Wine Library TV because I wanted to create one that was legit. I mean, people get ripped off. They’re paying full value for fancy packaging and a letter that says, “Thank you.” So, no.
Question: What’s the best way to find good wine values?
Gary Vaynerchuk: I think that the best way to do that is to find sources that you respect and trust, whether that’s Wine Library TV, or another blogger, or a local wine merchant that that’s the only way he’s going to keep you is by giving you great service and saying, “don’t buy that, try this.” But I really do think we’re going to see an explosion in things like Cork’d. I mean that’s why I’m so bullish on it and launching it now. I think Yelp has provided a platform that people understand that community-driven scoring has value and I think that’s going to come to wine in a big way.
Question: What are the most overrated winemakers and regions?
Gary Vaynerchuk: I think Napa Valley. You know, I hate being so anti-USA, right? I think Napa is massively overvalued. I think Priorat in Spain is over priced. The wines there tend to get into the $60 to $80 range. I think that there’s parts of Bordeaux that are overrated. I think the Left Bank overshadowing the Right Bank, meaning, PUAC and you know, the Medoc, those kind of wines – San Steff, those kind of wines tend to get more reputation than maybe a San de Milon and Pomerol. I think it’s a mistake. I think there’s a lot of places that get a – Barossa Valley, I mean, I like it, but it’s not insane. So, I think there’s a substantial – I should have started with Italy. I think Super Tuscans in Tuscany can get very overrated. I mean, so many of those wines start at $60-$70 a bottle and I think that’s insanity. So, I think there’s a lot. I think there’s a lot, especially when there are so many underrated places like the Provence, and Languedoc and McLaren Valley, or Clare Valley in Australia. I think it’s crazy. Okanogan and Kenda. Baja, California-Mexico. So, it’s interesting.
Question: What has been Yellowtail’s influence on Australian wine?
Gary Vaynerchuk: I think Yellowtail gets blamed for something that was happening also with Robert Parker and Jay Miller’s impact on Australia. Let me explain what I mean by that. Robert Parker is the gorilla in the room, very important wine critic, and he started rating a lot of Australian wines that were under $20; 92, 93, 94 points, the Marques Phillips stuff, Ball Buster from Tait, and those wines were getting big scores under 20 bucks. And so consumers started saying, “Well, am I going to spend $50 when I could spend $20.” And I think Yellow Tail came out at the same time, had this big marketing push and became this huge brand and created a scenario where people blamed Yellow Tail for everybody thinking Australia was a $10 price range category. So, all the premium Australian producers really got hurt in that period. But it was really because of the Parker scores and the economy was starting to soften, and Spain and Portugal were coming on strong with $8 wines. I think it was a perfect storm that Yellow Tail gets blamed for.
So, Yellow Tail has executed on something that’s always worked in the U.S., which is good marketing, and a little bit of sweetness. They have a little bit more sugar levels in those Aussie wines, and so people like that. And it’s easy to drink and kudos to them because they were very aggressively marketing and they really got a lot of support from some big retailers around the country like Sam’s and Total Wine. I thought they played that very smart and there was a lot of smartness to what Deutsch did there and I have a lot of respect for the way they built the brand. I think the goodness proves that wine can be cut – you know, you can still build big brands and leveraging marketing and pop culture.
I think the bad thing is, is that people fall in love with it and just drink that. I’m not as mad about – I don’t feel bad for the Australian business people, they’re the ones who relied on Parker and Spectator and never built a real business in the first place. So, I’m not so worried about them. I’m more worried about the consumer that drinks a magnum of Yellow Tail Shiraz every night and I want them to try different things.
Question: What wine-makers are doing the best at marketing?
Gary Vaynerchuk: Well, I think Tony Terlato did—[bringing] Santa Margarita into this country, that’s quite a feat. Kendall Jackson, Jess Jackson was one of the first pioneers of building a real big brand. What he did with KJ is monumental. But there’s not a lot of innovation on the retail side – on the producer side. Everybody ripped up their plants to plant Pinot Noir; it’s a lot of chasing, and not a lot of innovating. It’s kind of shocking. It’s probably why I was able to do so well in that world. Not because I was so good, but more because of lack of competition.
Question: Who are your heroes?
Gary Vaynerchuk: My Mom, and my Dad. He’ll punch me in the face if I didn’t add that in there. My parents by far. But, if you want me to break out of that for a second. I would say that I’m a storyteller. I think my success is going to be because I’m a great storyteller. And that’s how I build brands, I tell stories to the world. To me Walt Disney, Vince McMann, and the Notorious B.I.G. are also great storytellers that I respect.
Question: What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Gary Vaynerchuk: My Dad told me very early on, “Your word is bond.” Right? He said – it came at a good time, it was when I was into Wu-Tang Clan too, so, I’ve heard it in the hip hop Song, so it was probably a little more powerful to me, but the fact of the matter was my Dad told me, “You make a commitment,” I became the buyer of the store at 22 years old. He said, “You make a commitment, no matter what happens, you eat that wine. You made a commitment.” And that is absolutely to this day the reason I think I am doing well in a lot of ways. Because I think DNA-wise, I’m a very ADD type of character and a lot going on, but because that principle has been stuck in me, it’s helped me not have egg on my face probably a lot of times where it could have really hurt me and that’s a very substantial core of my principle.
Question: Describe an ethical dilemma you’ve face in your career.
Gary Vaynerchuk: An ethical dilemma. Probably with Wine Library TV. I remember I was doing a Cabernet Franc episode and I wanted to have a Cabernet Franc from every part of the world. And we only had one California – four or five of our California Cabernet Franc’s were out of stock, and the only one we had was from a good friend of mine, Shawn Larkin who let me sleep at his house once on a trip. And I did the show, we opened up the wines, and he’s always made great Cab Francs, so I was very confident going in that it wouldn’t be anything weird, but they were never too spectacular that I would give it 100 or anything right. And I didn’t like it. And you know how you can think really fast, and even though it was two seconds? I just remember thinking, ‘oh man, this is not interesting. This is not a place where I want to be sitting.’ And I went on and panned the wine and he really got pissed. You know, phone call, F-bombs, fight me after school, the whole nine. So, it was a very difficult thing. It was an interesting cross roads because nobody knew that I had stayed at his house in 1996. It was a long time ago, and so, it was tough. It was disappointing for me, but you know what the best part is? Now we’re back. Right? Like, he gets it. So it’s like, it’s cool. I just think, at the end of the day, you can’t win in this new world by not being 100 percent transparent.
Question: Why is it important for everyone to build a personal brand?
Gary Vaynerchuk: Your personal brand is your resume. If you think anybody is hiring off of a resume in three years, you’re out of your god-darned mind. Ninety percent of people I know Google you first anyway. No shock. So, whether you like it or not, I’m just laughing at people who don’t think they’re selling. Right? You know, the Hippie Movement in San Francisco in the tech space that sometimes busts my chops. They’re always selling too. They just don’t realize it. They think they’re selling in a different way, but they’re not. And when push comes to shove, if you’re not selling, you’re going to go out of business. And they always sell out to the big corporations, so, this hierarchy of ‘don’t be a sales person,’ or ‘don’t promote yourself,’ I understand, and being too much is definitely a bad thing and I’m might balk at that at time. I get it. But I’m just excited and I think that it is important to build a personal brand because it’s the only thing you’re going to have. Your reputation online, and in the new business world is pretty much the game, and so you’ve got to be a good person because you can’t hide anything and more importantly, you’ve got to be out there at some level.
I mean, if you have every left a comment on a blog, or if you create a profile page on any public site, you are a personal brand. You may not be a big one; you know Timmy in Accounting may have a Facebook page that’s public, and a Twitter. Timmy is a personal brand. He may not be hustling for it, but I promise you Timmy, if you want to be an Accountant at VaynerMedia one day, I’m looking that up.
So, it’s a platform that can allow you to do very special things; it’s not something you can run away from. Being an introvert is not a negative, you don’t have to be obnoxious, and over the top, you can be yourself. That’s just fine but to be naive to the world we are moving towards where information is at your fingertips and it’s readily available and everything you do is being monitored, if you have a problem with Big Brother, you take that up with the era that you were born in. Take that up with your parents, or God, or the world, but the fact of the matter is, you’re here and you’ve got skates on and a hockey stick and I don’t want to hear you crying about wanting to be a basketball player. And if that analogy doesn’t make sense, I understand. But the fact of the matter is this, we’re living in a very connected, transparent, everybody knows your business world, and I think you need to embrace that and harness it and not run away from it because really, it’s the reality of the marketplace.
Question: What’s the best way to take control of a personal brand?
Gary Vaynerchuk: Putting it out there. Right? Do you know how many junior level executives sit in meetings and want to vomit all over the place from what’s being said and say, Oh, my God. The senior manager, or the CEO, or my boss just doesn’t get it. The ability for you to create a blog, or to tweet about your thoughts, and I understand you can get fired, so you’ve got to be smart, I’m not telling you to go rogue here. People get mad at me when I say that. I’m not telling people to grab guns and go into Post Offices. I’m just saying this is America; it’s not Russia. You have the right to speak your mind. And so, obviously you’ve got to be respectful to the rules of the company that pays your bills and you can’t get fired and you don’t want to go on unemployment, but I think it’s very smart of somebody writing, I have an idea and just putting it out there. Because once you put out your smarts, you’ve got a real shot. And Vader Media charges tons of money. You know, a hefty, hefty amount of money a month consulting, but I put a lot of it out for free on GaryVaynerchuk.com. And the reason it works is because I talk in theory there, and when I have a client, we talk specifics. And there’s a lot of nuances and navigation through specifics and that’s kind of where that’s at.
Question: What is your secret of social media success?
Gary Vaynerchuk: I just want people who are watching this; obviously I understand the profile of people that would watch this, to understand that I, and plenty of the people that I respect, are not in the business of collecting a million twitter friends. This isn’t ‘Ha, Ha.’ I’m not here to joke around. We’re here to build big businesses. This is a platform shift.
You’ve got to understand, we’ve been playing under the same rules of society for a long time when it comes to telling stories, newspaper, magazine, radio, billboards, television. And television way up here with other print media that was quite important. I mean, this is big. Anybody can be in the game. I mean, that’s wild to me. That fact that you could become the authority about foreign affairs online, and not spend a lot of money is staggering. Now, you have to have the chops, you probably spent a lot of money on your college bills, or you know, learning it, or paid your dues, but the most important chocolateer in America can make $7 million a year. Right? Through sponsorship and speaking engagements and deals selling chocolate. That person can come out of the internet in 24 months for the grand total of $5,000 and a crap-load of hours. And I just don’t think people can believe in it because it wasn’t true 36 months ago. And I understand why people don’t believe in it, but I know it’s true and I’m excited for this shift because I think a lot of people that would have never been able to be really happy talking and conversating around the thing they love most are going to be making $79,000 a year and maybe not a buck-ten, but 79, but boy oh boy, waking at 11:00 eating Captain Crunch you know, hanging out with their kids and then the people who have the true talent, listen, I feel like I’m going to make billions from the platform. So, it’s just really a big shift, it’s a ging-change your business, everybody will be affected by it, and the quicker you wrap your head around – instead of making fun of it because you just don’t want it to happen, learn a little bit, touch it a little bit, don’t give up after three days, ‘oh this is stupid,’ and understand where it’s going because boy oh boy, there’s a lot of chatter about how stupid Amazon was in 1995 and 96 when I was doing WineLibrary.com, all of the same conversations from my industry, the wine industry, about how stupid WineLibrary.com was and how it wouldn’t work, and shipping laws. And it worked. And so did Amazon, and so did the Huffington Post, and so are many, many, many other things.
So, it’s reality. It’s only going to get much bigger and stronger, and it’s kind of like a lion. If you get a little lion and you have it when it’s a couple of days old, you can have it in your house as a pet. You just can. And when it’s a little bit older, it gets to that weird zone where it’s kind of like bigger, but you’re still kind of okay, bigger than a dog, not too scary. But eventually that damn lion is going to eat you, if you keep it in your house. And I think this Internet platform – not Facebook, not Twitter, not YouTube, the platform of the internet, it’s going to eat up every other one and so, you better pay attention.
Question: What new media niches have yet to be exploited?
Gary Vaynerchuk: it's really endless, right. I mean there is not that many people that own a space. Here's what I know. Anybody that spends a good amount of time on their computer and they think about wine, I've got a really good chance of being the first thing they think about. The fact that there is not a beer version of that and a coffee version, I -- and going to thing I believe in the most, I think tea in this country is going to be monstrous. When? Probably five to nine years from now. But boy oh boy, if you start laying down the foundation now, owning that niche, owning the pockets of tea drinkers in this country.
Starbucks is going to have a ten million dollar contract in front of you in eight years if you pump out -- if I switch to Tea Library TV right now and ran it hard for five years straight and did everything that I think about doing, there is not an ounce in my body that doesn't think I can make ten million dollars a year in five years.
So I think that there is yoga and gardening and sports center. Where's the sports center of the web? There is a lot of stuff. There is a lot of, a lot of niches. MMA. Who's the MMA personality online? Who's the person that everybody -- who's the Bill Simmons, the sports guy at ESPN version, for MMA online that every single -- I mean, there is money on that. Advertisers are clambering towards that sport and if you are the Internet voice, there is big dollars in that.
So I think that if people really follow their passions -- that's why I wrote this book -- and really owned that space because they love it, that passion, they'd spend the 18 hours a day in the trenches that are needed to build this business because this a marathon. I didn't stress about capitalizing on Conan because Conan was a little piece in a much bigger game.
Recorded on: September 15, 2009