IMG_7994 Gary Vaynerchuck in his typical form was on the LeWeb stage in Paris last week talking about entrepreneurship to an audience of largely European start-ups, venture capitalists, media and bloggers. As always, he exuded passion and broke all the rules, asking Loic Le Meur to pull down the Twitter board during his talk since he wanted to focus on the "people who showed up" first, suggesting that the board was only a distraction from being present to the "hear and now."


I couldn't help but agree since while having a back channel is useful, I was distracted by the energy on stage with a trailing stream of comments to my left and right as well. He encouraged people to rethink how we view our customers…..he views customers and 'interested fans' as equals and says he tries to respond to everyone. When someone asked about balance, he was 'all for family/work/life balance, yet at the same time, suggested we have to be always be available to respond to the people who give us life. (my words, not his). Translation – customers give us life. Fans give us life. Without those supporters, our voice can easily be lost in the noise.

I've met Gary twice (it was in Paris in fact, a year ago at the Microsoft Biz Spark party — and once at a Tony Robbins event in Vegas) and heard him speak a number of times, and while he is always inspiring, the most interesting response to a question about how to respond to clients who want the social media ROI was this: What's the value of your mother?

While corny on the surface, here's the gist of where he was going with the comment. How do you truly value the ROI of great customer relationships? How do you value a brand who has focused all of their attention on providing great service to customers, their primary attention on giving back, i.e., Zappos? Rather than focus all of our attention on numbers (which investors and the board always want), if you do NOT value time and effort spent on engaging customers, listening to customers and responding to customers, he says, "you shouldn't "fucking be in business."

While so damn simple, here's the sad thing about how I felt about his response – it's the way I was molded and frankly, it's in my DNA, yet it's NOT in the DNA of the majority of companies I've worked with or observed over the years. And as for the clients who have been a huge success, they have either gotten that at the core OR they were simply on a road to a quick exit and didn't really care about the longevity of the business anyway.

Once again, thanks for your most authentic share Gary. Below is the video I shot from the front of the room and it's also posted on our YouTube channel.



footer creative commons