Listen, when I was 30, I looked myself in my rear view mirror as I was driving from New York to New Jersey and I said,
“You’re actions don’t map your ambitions.” … “Your behavior has to back up your words.”
If I wanted to buy the New York Jets, I knew that something would have to change.
Eight weeks later I started Wine Library TV on YouTube and began the process of changing my career. When I decide something, it just happens. I go all in. 30 was the year I decided that I was going to become GaryVee. That I was going to live my life in the pursuit of my ambition. That I would not waste another moment on anything but my dream.
If you’re not happy, and you’re stuck in a rut, you need to do the same. You need to look in the mirror and become self-aware. Financially at 30 I was actually in a good place. On paper I had already accomplished success. But it was not enough. I knew that spending my time selling Wine wasn’t going to make me a billion dollars. I needed to adjust my strategy if completing my bucket list was going to become real.
To me, it’s just binary. You’re either in or you’re out. Every day between seven years-old and 18 years-old I was told that I had already lost, that I was a loser because I failed school.
But I knew inside that this was not the game that I was going to play. I was ultimately patient. I made it work.
I literally ate shit in that 12 year period while the market and the machine told me I would never win. I knew what my outcome was going to be. I just never gave up. A lot of people reading this may be in their 20s and 30s and 40s and “the machine,” or the market-place might be telling you that you’re going to lose, but it’s just not true.
8 years ago no one would even talk to me about social media and marketing. About building a creative agency. About building a personal brand. It doesn’t matter if you come from non-profit, or art or philanthropy or selling sneakers, the market can’t deny your results. And so even though I started my career in wine, no one could dispute my success when I started to win. You’ve got one life, forget about where you came from and focus on where you want to be.
It’s just the truth. This article is to empower you, to help you and to guide you toward making those decisions. I don’t care if you came from money, or opportunity, or connections. I don’t care if you started selling toys but now want to try doing a podcast. I just want you to be honest with yourself. Be truthful with where you are and where you want to be. Take that look in the rear-view mirror. Do your actions map you ambitions?
For me, it’s simply about staying the course and putting in the work and positioning yourself in the right place to succeed. Fuck what anyone else says. You have to do you.
So you know why I’m sitting here right now? At the top of one of the fastest growing creative agencies of all time… At a 150M dollar annual revenue business? At a company that has ambitions to become worth billions and billions of dollars? Not because I got lucky but because I outworked you. I went for it. Think about it. I out worked you. I didn’t come from money. I didn’t come from opportunity. I didn’t go to the best schools. I was a D & F student. I just think a lot of people feel this enormous pressure to get it right in their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond. But that’s false.
I’m 41 and I’m just getting started. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from or what you did before now. Each day is an opportunity to deploy your time and energy toward your dream. Think about what you want, reverse engineer that, and then execute.
I just hope everyone understands that being a multi-millionaire and having enormous success is extremely rare. Starting the next Facebook is once in a generation. Not everyone can stumble upon the next billion dollar idea. Facebook could have just as easily been Myspace. Mark is a tremendous founder and CEO, but I promise you when he started Facebook he didn’t anticipate 2 billion users of his product. You just can’t.
So it really goes to show, you just need to start. Start with an idea and an action. Anything will do. As long as you get it out in the market you can evolve and grow.
I know it’s cool to be a startup founder when you’re 19 but that doesn’t mean it’s what you need to become. Or if you’re working in finance now and want to be an artist. In 10 years because you mixed practicality with passion you might actually have a chance to win. That’s what I’ve done with Wine and now building Vayner.
In early 2006, I started Wine Library TV. I took an enormous risk and you can too. For 18 months, I did my show five days a week and nobody gave a shit. I had 30 to 75 views on every video for an entire year.
Look at me now.
Today I get 50 emails a day from entrepreneurs telling me I’ve been doing this and it’s not working. I have no traction, should I give up and do something else? Inevitably, I’ll email back and ask how long have you been doing it? The reply says three to four months and I’m like F you. You want this to be your life’s work and you’re giving up after four months?? Are you out of your mind? Patience is just so grossly underestimated. I was not very successful in the beginning. WineLibrary TV didn’t take off until mid 2007, a year and a half in of five days a week of doing a show everyday getting only a couple hundred views.
So you’ve got to keep putting in the work. One is better than zero.
There is no quick fix. No elevator to success. The hard work really matters and the patience is what overrides it. I didn’t need to get mine at 25. Heck, I don’t even need to “get mine” at 41.
This is the long, long game. I’m driven by the climb. It could be because I’m an immigrant and I just have this chip on my shoulder. Or Maybe it’s in my DNA. I don’t like winning. I like losing. I like the struggle. I like people telling me that I can’t.
I don’t give a shit if my payday comes tomorrow. I want the game.
The game is my life. There will never be a moment to quit. There’s no dollar amount. Nothing you can do to make me stop. The process, the journey and the hustle is the drug that drives me. It’s my oxygen. It’s what I love, and so every day is going to be the same. 24/7–365.
I’ll see you in 2019, 2020, 2021. I’ll see you in 2045. I may not be doing social media and marketing at that point. You really never know. So many of you are just playing for the short game. You’re crippled by your circumstances today dictating your possibilities for tomorrow.
You’re looking for the miracle hack and you think you have to get it right on your first try.
You’re going to look for that one move that’s going to change your career and you’re going to continue to search, and search and search and never do. You’ll be looking for the hacks, and the shortcuts and the easy way out and I’ll just keep putting in the work, the hours, the long term value, the strategy and the patience.
While everybody else is hoping and dreaming, I’m going to be executing. You play the short game. I’ll keep playing the long game and it’s time for me to get back to work.
Please take a step back. Use this article as a reminder. It doesn’t matter what you did before. It matters what you do TODAY.