At SXSW I had the privilege to listen to Gary Vaynerchuk give one of the unofficial keynote addresses. SXSW is not an event you go to for the conference, but for the parties and networking. However, Gary’s talk was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. It was very motivational, and cut through all the crap of entrepreneurship.
One point that really struck me was the idea to be who you are, and not lie to yourself. Gary said a lot of people don’t like his loud, energetic personality. “If I was chilled just a quarter of a percent more, I would be more appealing to people.” But that’s who he is and he loves being who he is.
I’ve always been a person who takes strong stances on things, and I’m not afraid to disagree with the masses. I’m not saying I’m always right, I’m often wrong. But I always take pride in making my own decisions and standing by my views. I know I might rub people the wrong way when I do or say certain things, but that’s who I am and I won’t change for them. But I will listen to them, understand them, and try to win them over.
Gary was a successful businessman even as a kid. He started with lemonade stands, and then moved on to baseball cards and other things. Growing up, I know I was always scheming for ways to make money. Here’s one of my earlier memories.
When I was in fifth grade, I started delivering the local newspaper, The Daily Breeze. It was old school paperboy style, on my bike, throwing them as I rode. But I was actually pretty disappointed with how little it paid. The real money was in getting new subscribers. So I would go door to door getting people to sign up.
Turns out I got a pretty hefty chunk of money for each new subscriber I got, so eventually I figured I could give a cut of my bounty to the subscribers to incentivize them to sign up. But eventually I ran out of doors to knock on (I was 10, i couldn’t go too far!).
The newspaper increased the bonus for a new subscriber to something like $50 each, and it only cost $5/month to subscribe. So I opened up the white pages, and cold called people, offering free subscriptions for 2 months. There were some embarrassing moments (asked for someone who was deceased), but I learned and got better.
I could close someone in 2 minutes, and I had all their info from the phone book. I paid for 2 months service out of my pocket (didn’t even tell the newspaper rep i was doing this), and collected a giant check at the end of each month.
The actual newspaper delivery part of the job sucked, but I had to do to be allowed to sell subscriptions. I made quite a bit of money doing that, probably spent it on a 9600 baud modem and basketball cards :).
My most recent large scale business endeavor was when I found a great deal on Macs and sold them on eBay. I risked over $50k on my credit cards, but ended up making almost $20k in just three weeks. That’s a story for another time. 🙂