Gary Vee and the Empire of Favors

vaynerchukIn case you missed it, there was a feature story in the New York Times this week about Gary Vaynerchuk, our own poster boy for social media savvy and hustle. It was inspiring to see a self-made social media celebrity acknowledged through this major story but I also think there is an important lesson here about building power and influence on the web.

The article alternately wavered between characterizing Gary as a foul-mouthed marketing lightweight (“conventional wisdom framed as blazing insights”) to an inspirational savant (his clients include Pepsi and GE). But ultimately the writer gives him credit for creating the conversations, self-promotion, and ubiquity that has led to his meteoric success.

Whatever you think of Gary, the article is a validation that his path to power worked and the path was built with a strategy that is as old as business itself — the profound power of reciprocity.

Let’s take a look at this factor and explore the under-pinning of Gary’s success. The idea of reciprocity may seem familiar … but it takes on a whole new character on the Internet.

A profound power

In his books and speeches, Vaynerchuk emphasizes a simple formula: “give, give, give, give, then ask.” (Or his latest iteration: “jab, jab, jab, right hook.”) This is reciprocity in action — trading in on favors.

Gary’s signature move is constantly asking people through Twitter what he can do to help them  — and he has done some pretty crazy things. Sending a pie overnight. Shipping bottles of hot sauce to somebody who had run out. Delivering a person’s favorite hamburger just because they asked.

This might seem like a random way to run a media consulting business unless you understand the strong need we have to fulfill an obligation. Getting something seemingly for free has such an impact because we are psychologically obsessed to repay that favor, not on what we feel we SHOULD repay, but that we feel COMPELLED to repay.

Yes, some people may take advantage of Gary’s apparent generosity, but most of the time, the odds of reciprocity are in his favor because we become obligated to the future repayment of favors, gifts, invitations … and even tweets. So typical is it for indebtedness to accompany the receipt of such things that a term like “much obliged” has become a synonym for “thank you.”

The rule for reciprocity and the sense of obligation that goes with it is pervasive in human culture. It is so widespread that sociologists such as Alvin Gouldner reported that there is no human society that does not subscribe to the rule.

A backwards approach to selling

Another of the web’s great entrepreneurs, Michael A. Stelzner of Social Media Examiner, told me when I interviewed him for Return On Influence (which covers reciprocity and six other “weapons of influence”) that he came to a realization that his early career in sales and selling was all wrong.

“Long after I had cut my teeth in sales and marketing,” he said, “I discovered a better way to sell. I realized that if I simply did great things for other people, I didn’t really need to ask for their help. If I did for others precisely what I wanted them to do for me, I discovered that most people would respond and help me at an even greater level.

“My thinking was all backward,” he said. “Rather than looking for people who would bend to my will, I needed to bend my will to people. Instead of asking, ‘What have you done for me lately?’ I needed to ask myself, ‘What have I done for you lately?’

But here is the big difference between doing favors for people in real life and doing favors on the web. In real life, to do a favor, we generally have to “get our skin in the game”  — actively helping an unemployed friend, caring for a sick relative, recommending a colleague. But on the web, a favor is often just clicking a button. The effort behind the favor is almost nothing, yet the expectation of reciprocity stays the same!

A constant state of obligation

So, the expectations of reciprocity are amplified on the social web. There is a quid-pro-quo economy that drives a CONSTANT state of obligation. When you get down to it, you are creating authority that isn’t really earned — you are bargaining for it.

It’s not authority based on skill or how good you are at creating content, or the depth of your thinking — it’s an authority created by implied shame and guilt.

In the New York Times article, Vaynerchuk mentions that after doing a favor, he asks the person if he or she has ordered his book. How can you say no after getting a favor from The Man?

Put bluntly, Gary claims his strategy is to “guilt people into buying stuff.” Can that work as a long-term strategy? Is that building loyalty? A community? Is he building long-lasting relationships that lead to real business, or a house of cards built on stunts?

Gary’s brilliant move was to capitalize on the theater of his personality to build an agency, VaynerMedia, which already has nearly 300 employees. He no longer has to jab, jab, jab his way into fame and fortune because he has a team of talented people delivering creative paid media and social solutions. His new empire is no longer built by sending people hot sauce. It’s built on exceptional creative value and speed of execution as he pushes his team to react to micro-market opportunities for his clients. That’s smart. Really smart!

Is guilt the best strategy?

Gary found a way to monetize his short-term stunts and guilt trips by building something that can last. But sometimes breaking the cycle of reciprocity also has its place. Being selfless has a powerful multiplier effect on the social web because good deeds are not just experienced by the recipient, but potentially countless others who observe the act, or perhaps hear about it.

In the “real world,” selflessness creates legends. And legends wield tremendous influence. Legitimate influence.

Sometimes in business it makes sense to just give without asking, right? Is there room for that on the social web too?

Let’s hear your thoughts in the comment section …

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  • Gunther Sonnenfeld

    Nice piece, Mark.

    I got to know Gary a bit when he, Mitch Joel and I spoke at Gulltaggen in Oslo a few years ago; I mention this because what struck me about him was his generosity (time, insight, etc.) and his on-the-ground knowledge of how to actually operate a business. He’s undoubtedly a force for ‘social marketing’, but his real value is that he’s built a business (a business empire, really) through understanding people, relationships, and to your points, reciprocity. He’s also a really nice, relatively unassuming guy — pretty different from his on-stage personality, which is louder, more acerbic, etc. Marketing tactics aside, yes, he’s a legit influencer, and he gives a lot back to the community.

    Which raises some interesting ideas around what ‘true influence’ is — we have some idea of what that looks like online, but as the world requires us to take more action in our personal and business lives (which are merging; one example is how we practice ‘social responsibility’), it seems we have lots of opportunities to expand on this concept and create more iterative proxies and KPIs…

  • Every time I see GV’s mug, I want to ask him kindly to stop talking. Where does being rude get you? To the top of popular blogs obviously. Maybe growing up with manners wasn’t the wisest thing after all… I know, i know, I’m not a hater… just more a fan of politeness. My own personal opinion. Rock on GV.

  • Pauline Baird Jones

    I love this. Sometimes I dread following someone new on Twitter because the inevitable DM will follow asking for something. I can almost predict who will DM and who won’t. It’s usually something small, like “liking” their facebook page, but it’s like meeting someone for the first time and asking you to like them. LOL Let’s get to know each other first. O.O Even when someone hasn’t built in the obligation part, it is hard not to feel like you should do something when someone asks (is that a me thing, or a general thing? grin). I know I’m happy to help people who aren’t asking for favors, who are just being a friend. But I hate that feeling of pressure and it does affect how I feel about that person going forward.

  • Joe Cardillo

    I’m of two minds on this sort of thing – I don’t believe solely in reciprocity, because influence isn’t just about networks, it’s about appreciating the knowledge that exists in those networks. I think blindly giving away things to people is a strategy, and clearly it works. But when you go that route then you are married to volume, and not quality. It’s a tradeoff.

  • Gunther Sonnenfeld

    great point…

  • Randy Do u think I am not Polite? 🙂 I really want to meet you 🙂 I appreciate your POV and Think u sound awesome but don’t forget on stage I can get fisty but in real life I am a good dude 🙂

  • I dont blindly give away things, I do it more because it feels nice and its just fun that said I am aware of the effect on one when you actually provide value or effort and I think thats a nice place to be in someones mind. Also the quality is achieved because the quality is achieved for that person and that to me is what matters, 1 on 1 engagement at scale 🙂

  • It may just be the Canadian in me. My first intro to you was a HubSpot webinar where the language was… shall we say, “colourful and aggressive”. I told my staff I’d avoid other webinars you are in because the language was interfering with my learning. In all fairness, one of my staff listens to you all the time. I think it was one of your twitter marathons selling books.

  • Flattered Gunther, this story fills out my philosophy which is the “truth is undefeated” How I act will ultimately net out because people like yourself will jump into the comments here and paint a true story, that is how I live my life, I know my stage presence is one thing BUT WHO I AM is in what I do and how I act around people everyday!

  • You might enjoy my book Return On Influence Gunther. It covers these topics precisely. Thanks for the first-hand view and observation!

  • I have heard the same feedback about you many times although I have never seen you live. The foul mouth is part of your schtick. Maybe that’s what people love about you. But everything you say and everything you don’t say communicates about your brand. If it’s your brand, and it works, keep it, but if it is inconsistent with “who you are” and that is a real concern for you perhaps consider the feedback. Thanks very much for commenting.

  • The post was getting a bit long so I cut out a part but my own experience with this. I am deluged with requests for support both big and small. It adds up. I could spend all day, every day, doing return favors for perceived obligations!

  • Keep at it. People are uptight over the most trivial things on this planet.

    If use of the word “shit” during a speech seriously prevents someone from maintaining focus on the larger picture and learning something, that’s their problem.

  • I’m not, unless of course it’s non-stop.

  • Will Reichard

    Two of my favorite social media folks intersect! Such an interesting question, and one I was really glad Gary followed up on on Medium, because I have to admit I winced when I saw the word “guilt” in that article. It was obvious from the tone that the writer was waiting for that, and I’ve seen Gary at work for years now, and I know that’s not what’s going on. Gary is one of the best salespeople I’ve ever seen, and great salespeople know pressure never sells. Reciprocity … There’s magic in that concept. Nothing simple about it at all. As Gary noted in the follow-up, the secret is never expecting anything in return, especially not from anyone in particular, and Mark, I know this is something you , espouse as well–that giving away value is the cost of entry these days. It’s the ticket to the conversation. From there, you may get the chance to sell. And that’s what I hear going on. I think it’s very fair. You don’t expect the chance, but done right, everyone’s happy. And Mark, hats off as usual. You zeroed in on something that jumped out at me from an otherwise phenomenal (albeit skeptical) article. I don’t think Gary’s talking about philanthropy here. I would imagine that would be a different kind of conversation? Keep up the great work!

  • Meg Tripp

    When I met Gary in the early, early, early days of the Twitter, and started watching Wine Library, I was totally charmed by how straightforward and consistently HIM he his, all the darn time. I like that in people.

    I didn’t meet him in the flesh until I went to his first book’s tour stop in Boston, visiting my now-husband for the fourth? time. I wasn’t sure if he’d remember me or what… though I know that remembering who people are and acknowledging them is a value of his.

    We came up on the stage where he was signing books, and he jumped up and gave me a big hug and knew exactly who I was (complete with a reference to a week-old tweet) and wrote the most hysterical thing in my book. It was an enthusiastic reaction that had zero insincerity — something you might not expect at a book launch when 200 people are there for a piece of you — and we chatted like old friends.

    I still see that in him, though he’s kind of on another level now — I don’t think we’re friends on Facebook or Twitter anymore because he probably had to trim for the sheer amount of people who want to connect with him… and I’m an occasionally fickle follow (and a Pats fan, ha! Maybe it happened during the Super Bowl this year… 🙂

    The reason I say all of this is because I think he’s utterly serious about not expecting anything in return, and enjoying the act of giving. I think he gets a kick out of it. I’m just not totally sure if it’s something that works *on a business level* (because giving without expectation on a personal level is something I work to do) if you’re not a fierce, high-profile guy that a lot of people love/admire/want to be.

  • Joe Cardillo

    That’s fair. 1 on 1 engagement at scale is a specific goal, I’d argue larger reach lower impact. I don’t have a problem with it being a tradeoff, but I do think people misunderstand what it takes to get where you are.

  • you mean the insane work 🙂 ? lol

  • Will this means a lot to me!

  • Joe Cardillo

    Ha yes. Absolutely. Won’t find me working a room that well or getting thousands of emails a day that goes w/the territory.

  • I respect that Randy, I really do and I apologize for the dirty mouth, I hate “losing out” on great people like you because my adrenaline gets going on stage or livestream and I can’t wait to meet in person to apologize

  • yes and I can get “going” so I respect that Randy

  • Mark that I am no Polite or that I curse to much? or 1 in the same?

  • Alright, you are scoring some points here Gary. Not that you have to. 🙂

  • Thank You Joe! I mean it

  • sent u a tweet 😉

  • Next time you are in Calgary… I hear you have access to some great wines…

  • Joe Cardillo

    You see what he just did to us Randy…durnit.

  • You mean engage, share and otherwise get public. I’m kinda hoping it rubs off. 😉

  • Gunther Sonnenfeld

    Hey! Dude, you’re like, everywhere. Digging into the latest Inc. issue… 😉 And yes, the truth story is the linchpin!

  • Gunther Sonnenfeld

    You bet, and I will be sure to read the book!

  • Mark,

    Thanks for sharing a recap of the New York Times article and your own perspective on Gary’s influence and success. I had the enjoyment of hearing and watching, Gary V. present at INBOUND 2012 in Boston. Watching was half the fun. His intensity grabbed everyone in the room but his story had us hanging on every word. He mentioned the “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” book being in the works. Funny thing is he said the title would be “Jab, Jab, Jab, Jab, Jab, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.” Harper Collins must’ve won that fight.

    I was thinking about his presentation while reading this blog so I went back and watched it again. I hope it’s okay to share this link of his presentation: http://www.inbound.com/agenda/inbound-2012-presentations/keynotes/care-immensely-or-die

    And now, thanks to you Gary Vanderchuk, I’m inspired again and I need to order that book.

  • I have never heard that you are impolite.

  • Thanks for the comment and link Billy.

  • Awesome story. Thou rocketh.

  • Always and honor and pleasure to hear from you my friend. Thanks for the support and the insightful comment!

  • Boy he turned you around. We have just witnessed A Gary Vee case study in the comment section!

  • I think it was the absence of profanities. I swear, I DO have a spine.

  • @garyvaynerchuk:disqus rocks! I scored a copy of Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook the other day using the Wiñata app. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook will be my trusty sidekick in my new marketing/Salesforce admin career. Thanks for inspiring me to hustle again and not be complacent.

  • Mark,

    An interesting provocation. What works commercially in one case, may fall flat in another. Kudos to Gary, who has developed an enviable entrepreneurial track record.

    Broadly speaking… IMO generosity has a weak footing on parlor tricks and quid pro quo expectations. Taking a cue from the Tao, generosity is better enjoined as a habit that pays back in a more random and majestic way – constructed on cumulative equity not a transactional return calculus. I don’t know if you need to shelve your “self” in being generous – but that means elongating your horizon.

    Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go vote for a politician who promised to lower my taxes, increase services and usher in a new era of bi-partisanship within their first 90 days 🙂

  • rhonda hurwitz

    I’ve been a GV fan girl for a long time. Here’s why: he is absolutely authentic, with a 6th sense about the social web, and figured it out well before most of us. IMO the schtick and energy on stage is fun … and the wisdom underlying it is real. PS Why isn’t anyone mentioning the Nilla example/results mentioned in the NYT article? I can only DREAM about delivering results like that for my clients. One more thing — what do you prefer: the social media pundits (not mentioning names) who aren’t so social outside of their inner circle … a bit hypocritical … at least Gary walks the walk, or tries to … I respect that.

  • Here is the exception that proves the rule:
    My company is involved in training and reciprocity is one of the famous Cialdini principles we espouse.

    The ONLY audience where there was no acceptance or adoption or understanding of this principle was amongst long-term unemployed. (The training is funded by the government in an attempt to boost employability)

    These groups of (mostly) long-term welfare recipients do not believe or practice or recognise this principle – not even amongst friends. All I can think is that they have received so much for so long that the sense of entitlement overpowered their sense of reciprocity.

  • Thanks for taking your time to comment Jason.

  • Pure wisdom.

    Yes, we cannot fall into a trap of broadly painting the world with a strategy.

    One interesting entanglement of the social web and reciprocity is that people can usually detect a fake within 140 characters or less! : ) I do think there is something to the sum of value over time — a path, not a “process.”

    Thanks for the exceptional comment! PS Gina and Sela say “hi.” I saw them this week.

  • Honestly, if I sense a fake, I more or less tune them out … drop them from my lists so they are not even on the radar screen. I just get aggravated seeing schlock so I get rid of it. I surround myself with real people who are trying to learn, connect and help in an authentic way. Like you!

    So I really do not experience a lot of the hypocrisy you mention because i have weeded it out!

  • This is an exceedingly interesting observation. I have never heard of this. I could see though how a segment of people could be conditioned to “expect” favors. That is fascinating … and sad. Many thanks for teaching me something today!

  • Everybody is entitled to create their own persona, their own reality. Still, business is business. If you go into a meeting of Wall Street execs and drop the F bomb every sentence, you will not be invited back. And maybe that’s OK but you need to always be aware of your audience and choose your impact.

  • It’s because Gary actually IS a nice person.

  • Alex Adams

    Giving without asking – certainly there’s room for it in the social web and why not. Great things happen when you just give. That’s as true in the social web as in real life. Why do we need to make a distinction anyway? Surely the social web is just a natural extension of our real, daily lives. If you give freely of your time and knowledge then the medium on which it’s meted out really doesn’t matter.

    I think the problem lies when it’s disingenuous. A lack of sincerity will ultimately bring the proverbial house of cards down. From the observations I have of Gary, I’d say there’s a level of stage acting at play with the guilt tripping and method of delivery for sure but there’s an undeniable bedrock of genuine feeling and sentiment coupled with consistent and hard work on a foundation of real experience.

    It these factors that add weight to influence.

    The dangers come with copycats who operate at a superficial level without solid foundations and that real desire to give just for the hell of it.

  • You bet Mark – always a pleasure listening and leaning in with the grow community and thanks for the PS!

  • jennifer lehner

    The only thing I would ad to the conversation is that many of these “rockstar” (ugh…can’t stand the term) social media people have amazing, dynamic, engaging personalities. I don’t think there is a “secret sauce” in a case like this. In other words, I don’t think using a “method” in interacting with people can necessarily be replicated. David Siteman Garland is another one. Very energetic and entertaining. He has a huge following. (Also a lot of great information to share.) It is probably Vee’s unique personality, combined with knowledge and skill, that has brought him his success, not a one-dimensional guilt-tripping-by-giving methodology. In principal, though, as discussed in Adam Grant’s book “Give and Take” and in Baer’s “Youtility”, being helpful to people is a good thing to do. But if you think about it, that’s sort of a “duh”, or it should be.

  • Gabrielle

    The balance between reciprocity and entitlement is really important, me thinks. I definitely believe in giving first without tit-for-tat reciprocity intent, yet I suspect that we can “give too much” so that it actually starts to train people toward the entitlement attitude.

    That’s why I found what you mentioned that Gary does as brilliant! To nurture the reciprocity itch, he simply asks, “Have you ordered my book?” It’s like the call to action so they know what they are supposed to do. Thank you VERY much for pointing out this distinction for those who love to give, but have the tendency of being sucked dry in the process and wondering what went wrong! 🙂

  • Gabrielle

    From afar, it’s Gary’s personal interest and humility (though being a very public figure) that is so powerful in this “case study”! 🙂

  • I probably should’ve added a warning about some of the language in the videdo. It didn’t bother me but based on some of the comments, be aware there are f-bombs ahead if you watch it.

  • good! that means a lot to me

  • Interesting thoughts and discussion, Mark. I think, like most things, it’s about balance. As you mentioned, if you’re ONLY giving to get, people can tell. It feels inauthentic and you either feel guilty or not interested in helping. On the other hand, if you ONLY give without ever making the ask, people might not know how to best return the favor.

    Although some people will go the extra mile to look for ways to return the favor, it helps if you tell them how they can best help you. I know that’s hard for people (myself included!). But, I think there definitely is a reason why that works.

  • You’re welcome. I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

  • Yes Alex, I think. That copy cat syndrome is real and also present on the social web. And despite the largely imperfect communications (140 characters without tone) it’s pretty easy to sniff out a fake!

  • I have long been fascinated with this idea of personality type and success. My own theory aligns with yours around charm and out-going. I probably tend toward the introverted side so I’m not sure I’m a “natural” social media personality. I write and see what happens basically : )

  • Yesterday, I met a fan of the blog for lunch in Atlanta, much like I met you in Nashville several years ago. It was a result of an authentic connection and helpfulness without an expectation of reciprocity. I’m sure this connection will lead to collaboration, just as it did for me and you.

    I believe that pattern leads to strong and long-lasting benefits beyond buzz. I can only say it has worked for me, worked for you, and it is really the only path that is sustainable. I would bet that even for Gary Vee, the real benefits, the deep benefits, come from relationships that emerge from something more than a stunt.

  • Classic Robert Cialdini, his first principle of influence. Good stuff.

  • 100 percent agree. 🙂

  • indeed.

  • Sander Biehn

    I saw this over the weekend. The thing it screamed out to me is how focused social is on B2C. Everyone knows that my area of interest is B2B, but it still fascinates me how much that is missed by both the NYT and @GaryVee Have I been drinking too much cool aid here or do others notice that as well??

  • I had a job once . . . it was “score reading” for a TV broadcast of an orchestra. At the start, they paid me basic production assistant rate, to do a basic job. As I did the job over time, I started to notice things needing doing– the director had no one to get him coffee, there was nasty paperwork that there was no one hired to do, and I just started expanding the scope of the service I did, without being asked/told. Over time I ended up getting paid almost 10x the original rate, as each time they rehired me, I kept pointing out how I had not been paid for added tasks / value delivered the previous time.

  • I’m not sure how you determined that “social” is focused on B2B. What, or who, is “social?” : )

    I work almost exclusively in B2B and there are many companies, many examples of social being used effectively and creatively in various business sectors. The article only cited 2-3 companies and one of them was GE, which is almost exclusively B2B. IBM and Cisco are other companies I see as leaders in this space.

  • Good hustle Justin. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • jennifer lehner

    You are a great blogger, Mark. So we can all learn tips and techniques about how to be a better blogger, but few of us will be Mark Schaefers because it is rare for a person to be able to 1) conceive of so many original ideas and 2) communicate them so well. Also, while you may be an introvert, you are probably the most consistently helpful and approachable person in this industry. I’m not saying that someone can’t go from being a terrible blogger to being a great blogger, just saying that the ones that break through and last, who build something, and provide consistently good content, did not do so bc of one gimmicky approach. But I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. 🙂

  • Actually, I appreciate the feedback very much. I get a lot of comments from readers but very little feedback so I appreciate your views Jennifer!

  • First, thanks Mark for the great insights into influence and GaryV. I’ve followed GaryV on Twitter over the years. What I love most about this post is what happened in the comments that speaks to the reach, commitment and consistency Gary has at all levels. My question as an influencer among college students in a richly diverse college and an influencer among women and people of color begins with an observation. Anyone including Gary noticing how white this network of response is? This is what I keep noticing in social media and innovation networks (I’m a TED Fellow and used to be considered a great connector on Twitter — life took a turn in another direction for a minute).

    So my question is what do you think keeps these networks limited to predominately white people? Is there a racial and gender barrier (not to mention sexual orientation and nation) in creating the networks or who is helping these networks become socially integrated and sustainable across these differences, if anyone in your views?

    I love social media and its influence. It’s seems though similar patterns of segregated influence found off line remain online. Any thoughts? I often feel divided. I love what I learn and the connections I make but I’m still one of a handful of people of color or black folk in settings like this. Really curious of your perspectives on this relative to diversity within these networks of influence and generosity.

  • billy delaney

    You can’t fake a response! You will act as you are. Don’t we see enough fakery on a daily basis? Too many pretending to be something they are not. What i see is a man who responds from a genuine place. He often initiates the effect that causes the response, but until someone does something to move the marker, nothing happens of worth. Well done that man!

  • If the world ever ran out of coffee I think I’d switch to watching Gary Vee and Marcus Sheridan presentation segments each morning. I like the intensity these guys both have. I consider myself a good judge of character and I believe they are the real deal and believe they do what they say, and love what they do.

    Do what you say, love what you do + golden rule = happiness (and if that’s not success, what is?)

  • The Real Gary Vaynerchuk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLMvVMWmzG8 … … …

  • I’m back. On the topic of giving… each year, my staff and I select a charitable cause and volunteer our services towards educating and assisting them in their online efforts. We do this without a desire for recognition or reward. I’m certain others are doing the same. However, I take notice with others who volunteer and then run ads congratulating themselves, as is the case of many larger organizations working in the Calgary area just after the enormous floods we experienced in June.

  • Kind of a strange little video but thanks for sharing.

  • I have actually thought about this a lot and I don’t have an answer. I’m mystified.

    The “networks” don’t limit anything. They are just software programs. There is something else going on.

    In 2011, I started a conference called Social Slam. One of the reasons I started it was because social media conferences have become too expensive and elitist — they were dominated by the middle aged white guy rockstar club. So I went about to change that.

    I had an open invitation for people to apply to speak. Last year, I got about 200 applications. Less than 20 were women and there was one minority. So I went out and found them and we had more minority representation than any conference I have seen and more than 50% of the speakers were women.

    Still, in some respects I forced the issue. Is that right? Is that fair? Did I hurt the awesome people who took the time to follow the process and legitimately apply?

    If women and minority leaders don’t care enough to apply, why should I care enough to push and pull them into speaking spots? I’m conflicted on the issues but most of all I am downright confused by the lack of participation. I have never been able to get my head around a logical explanation on this Kyra.

    Unfortunately we will not be having Social Slam in 2014 but I continue to work to encourage young people and new leaders of every persuasion in other ways. Do you have a theory? I would encourage you to write a guest post on this topic.

  • Thanks for taking the time to add your voice Billy!

  • Agreed! Thanks for commenting Billy.

  • This is a very interesting topic — the balance of charity, social responsibility and shareholder value. I actually wrote a paper on this topic in grad school.

    I guess I am of an old-school mind that the number one mission of a company is to create stakeholder value. If you don’t accomplish that, you will go away. Part of that value is being seen as a good corporate citizen — you don’t pollute, treat your employees well and give back. So it is all tied together. I think it is a bit of an art to figure out the point when you are promoting to the point of being blatantly self-serving and annoying. I have seen so many companies go overboard on this stuff that it really taints your brand.

    I don’t think we should kid ourselves that Gary’s tactics are meant to sell stuff. The generosity and intense engagement are meant to support a brand and perhaps create a legend. And legends probably sell a lot of books : )

  • I am a big Cialdini fan and obviously use a lot of his stuff in Return On Influence.

  • Colorful personalities and stunts definitely sell – just ask Miley. O&G companies bragging about doing good. Is not doing good. Shareholder value focus is great for the bottom line but terrible karma.

  • I’m surprised you haven’t received more response on this. Especially from GV. Thanks for sharing your perspective Alex.

  • Joe Cardillo

    I think it’s culture that’s the limiting influence… this article does a good job of describing how to make changes http://qz.com/52277/etsy-figured-out-how-to-fin-more-women-engineers/

    As the Social Slam example highlights, it’s not enough to simply open up access and say, why is no one showing up? The ways in which we value people and communicate that value have to change. A practical example that hits home is my 4 year old niece. She’s barraged with messaging about what girls can and can’t do. Be quiet, don’t cause a fuss, “oh you’re such a cute little princess” but not “wow that is so cool that you love reading or taking apart a toy and rebuilding it.”

    @kyraOcity:disqus do you know Lauren Bacon? If not go check her out, http://www.laurenbacon.com and https://twitter.com/laurenbacon. She talks about all of this, and much more eloquently than me.

  • Understandable. He’s done some brilliant research.

  • Thanks Randy. What did you like? I’ve heard a number of times from Gary, and he is super successful, but like anyone (myself included!!) there is room for improvement.

  • Hi Alex. I think I was most impressed you took the time.

  • You’ve been kind. It’s not a popular message and Gary knows some things I do not because he is more successful than I am.

  • Your time is as much a gift as any.

  • Thanks. Are you in LinkedIn? I don’t see you there…

  • In a previous job on my first day at work I received a bottle of champagne from a sales person at a PPC agency. I had had brief dealings with him in the past and always found him to be a bit pushy. Recieving this champagne made me uncomfortable (and angry).
    I knew that he was counting on the rule of reciprocity to try to force me into using his agencies service.
    I put the bottle in the cupboard in the office kitchen and forgot about it.
    Gary Vee makes it work as he uses it appropriately in most cases and this is key. You need to always put yourself in the shoes of the recipient and see how you would feel if you were them – thankful and indebted or uncomfortable….

  • Chris Witt

    Mark,

    Thanks for introducing me to Gary. I’ll look into his stuff. (I’m new to all of this, so I’m embarrassed to admit I haven’t heard of him.)

    It’s a paradox. If I am kind, generous, helpful, expecting a return, I may or may not get a return. But the most I’ll get is a return. On the other hand, if I am kind, generous, helpful, simply because that’s who I am (or want to be), without expectations of reciprocity, I still may or may not get a return. But without fail I open myself to who-knows-what: the satisfaction of doing the right thing, a relationship, a kind deed from an unknown source.

    I like Gandhi’s injunction: “Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory.”

  • Time flys and so many other things going on. Will follow up and see what you’ve been writing since 10 months ago.

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