There are people who hate Gary-Freaking-Vee.
I understand why. In the early days he told us to work our faces off and dropped a lot of f-words. As a result, burnout culture went mainstream.
The huge problem I have is that Gary changes from year to year. The early Gary was a lot more cocky, polarizing, and hard to stomach. Watch the videos of his live events, where people ask questions to him and he rips their face off with his answers.
It makes sense that Gary could be viewed as a selfie-loving Hitler.
Here’s what is missed: it depends on what version of Gary Vee you know. 2021 Gary is not the same as 2014 Gary.
Over the years Gary has softened. He’s matured. He’s quietly changed his message behind the scenes. Many people still see images of Gary Vee 2014 telling them to work 18 hours a day and to stop being a lazy ass.
It’s dumb to completely cancel someone because of one thing you don’t like about them. There are parts of Gary I dislike, but ultimately, what Gary Vee can teach us is far more important.
Innovation gets the big rewards
Gary did email marketing when it wasn’t cool. He made his dad’s wine business into a Youtube show when nobody did it. He went all-in on social media when people weren’t sure about Instagram and Twitter. He was right that kids and TikTok would go mainstream.
And the biggest innovation of all, NFTs, is what many people are missing. If you want to see the potential of NFTs then watch what Gary Vee does, and seriously, forget all the stuff he has said in the past.
Gary has taught dinosaur businesses, like beer company Budweiser, about NFTs. He’s been able to transcend the hyperbole and find practical uses for NFTs that the rest of us will be using for decades to come.
Even crazier, Gary is working with Mark Zuckerberg to put NFTs into the metaverse. The project slipped out during an interview a few weeks ago. Most people didn’t see it.
The metaverse is a digital world we could all live in one day, where we pop on our VR goggles and go to work inside of it. Gary is a big part of that shift. That transcends any mediocre views he has about how many hours a person should work. Who cares. Zoom out.
His LinkedIn completely screws with micromanagers and dictators. It’s changing an entire culture.
Gary’s content on LinkedIn is different. He has aimed a bazooka at many of the people who make our normal jobs hell.
Every day he posts content about how leaders need to get over themselves, how we need to be okay to fail at business, how we should ignore our parent’s hopes for our careers, how we should treat each other better at work.
Then there’s his leadership philosophy. He points out the silliness of micromanagement and dictator-style leaders. As a result he has one of the largest audiences on LinkedIn.
There isn’t a leader I’ve worked for who hasn’t seen at least one of his LinkedIn posts. He’s telling our bosses what we can’t say — because if we did, we’d get fired. This is a huge service to society that is overlooked.
How do we change work culture?
We change the conversation and have people who can reach our bosses, like Gary, tell them to stop being stupid adult babies that run around in diapers and create office politics so their egos can feel good and they can get a pissy little promotion.
He’s good for entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship is promoted on platforms like Instagram as the holy grail. Strange people in designer fashion drive Lambos and tell us to start businesses. They make it sound so damn easy.
Gary speaks the truth about entrepreneurship. He tells people on his podcast and at his live events that entrepreneurship is hard. He paints a realistic picture of what it’s like, rather than glamorizing it so he can sell tickets to a $2 seminar that won’t help anybody.
Sure, the message isn’t always perfect. I don’t agree with every word of his business advice. But what I love is he tells people to have a go. He lowers the standards. He tells us to stop romanticizing entrepreneurship and just get on with the work of earning a living doing what we love. Geez, I wish more people would share this message.
We have to stop demonizing losing. Losing is epic, I swear. Losing is like being alive — Gary Vee
Humility radiates off him
My views of Gary aren’t entirely anecdotal like many of his critics. I met Gary when he came to Australia. I thanked him in person for his book “Crush It,” which helped me start writing online seven years ago.
He gave me his phone and asked me to record a video so he could reflect later. He said something along the lines of “It’s all you man. Keep going.” I watched him interact with other people while, as a complete stranger, I had his phone in my hand.
The whole experience just felt like “this guy is actually a good human being.” A few of my friends have worked for Gary and say similar things about him. It’s hard to judge him solely on his online presence. A lot of who he is, is lost in the nuance of social media. You can easily think he’s somebody he’s not.
I’ve given up looking for perfect heroes. They don’t exist.
It boils down to this
Gary is a god to me because he’s left a lasting impact on my life. The 2021 version of Gary Vee is nothing like the original person people dismissed, or even canceled.
Gary has shown us the power of innovation, shifting culture, realistic entrepreneurship, and humility. This is a gospel we can all learn from to achieve our goals in life. Everything else is noise.