Gary Vaynerchuk on Self-Awareness

If any of you have been following the #AskGaryVee Book Club series on my YouTube channel, you will know that I have found an unimaginable amount of value in that book so far. Today, we are covering chapter 17 and it is all about self-awareness. It's one of those concepts that GaryVee promotes heavily across all of his content and the first quote I want to cover from this chapter really helps to set the tone for how important self-awareness is.

"If I could sell a formula made up of gratitude, empathy, and self-awareness it would be my billion-dollar coconut water idea." (pg 279)

Self-awareness is one of the most important traits to master when it comes to making your own success. When you have the ability to recognize what you suck at, you are much quicker to go all in on the areas where you excel. Being able to understand the areas of your business that you need to delegate to others, and those that you should keep close to your chest, is invaluable to building any kind of business.

What are some easy ways to become more self-aware?

This is the first question that really stuck out to me in this chapter. It's an obvious question for a book like this, right? People want to know what the quick and easy route is! They want to know how they can skip the years of development and discipline and just go straight to success. Gary could have been horribly severe with this question, but he came up with an excellent and practical answer.

"...embrace the people who tell you you're full of crap. Double down on those relationships, because they're the ones that will help you improve the most." (pg 280)

Depending on who you are, this can be easy or immensely difficult. I have been lucky enough in my own life to be surrounded by friends and family that tell me like it is. They praise me for my accomplishments and look out for me when they see me going down the wrong path. Some of you out there will need to cultivate those relationships. Don't pour you time into befriending toxic people, but find those individuals who aren't "yes men" who treat you with kid gloves no matter your failure. You want people who genuinely care about you to the extent that they will tell you the truth no matter what.

What's the most common mistake founders make when building a consumer-focused business?

Although the question was worded this way in the book, I believe Gary's response fits with any kind of business. Whether you are B2C or B2B, this wisdom applies.

"Not having the self-awareness to know they're not good enough to do it." (pg 281)

My company is entirely B2B and I have definitely experienced this. Honestly, I have experienced it more often than I would like to admit. It's a humbling experience to fully recognize that you aren't good enough to keep up with a particular area of your business and you have to hand it off to someone else. That is particularly hard because, as of writing this, I am the only employee of my business. When I suck at something, it is a matter of finding a service or some kind of automation that I trust enough to handle my shortcomings. Though this can be difficult, the faster you recognize your weaknesses, the faster you can hand it off and focus on your strengths.

What was the biggest decision in your life that made you successful today?

Here is one of those few areas where I depart heavily from Gary's perspective. It's not that I necessarily disagree with him, but I can't relate to his position.


"It was the day I made the choice to suck at school." (pg 284)

The primary reason I am disconnected from this concept is because I didn't suck at school. I was the kid that barely tried and somehow got straight A's on every report card. In college, I just sat in the front row of every lecture, halfway listened, and pulled off stellar grades every semester. Despite this lack of any kind of academic challenge, I believe I have the hustle to be successful. I don't think Gary believes you have to suck at school to be successful, however he never covered the alternative in his answer. He didn't send out encouragement to those A students and say, "Don't worry! Even if you had it easy in school, you can still have the drive, motivation, and hustle to succeed." I am disappointed that he left that out, but I am saying it now! Regardless of your grades, you can succeed!

What was the toughest thing you ever had to do for your career?

Historically, Gary's answer to this question has always been "leaving Wine Library", but for the book he decides to go a little deeper. He tells us that the toughest challenge has actually been putting himself out there; getting up front for all the world to see and for them to critique the way he does things. He has been blasted for his language, his attire, his so-called "arrogance" on-stage, and the list goes on. He says that has been the hardest part of his career so far, but then he goes on to say:

"You might not like that I don't dress up, or that I curse onstage, or that I self-promote, but if I execute, you just have to 'take it.'" (pg 286)

This is an inspiring quote for those that are trying to put themselves out there professionally. Even if you don't fit into some kind of box that society has created to define the "professional" in your field, if you are executing at a high level, they just have to suck it up. I often have to defend the fact that I go to potential client meetings in jeans. I tell those dissenters that I want people to know that what they see is what they get. I am not trying to sell myself as something I am not. My presentation is part of my brand. My ability to present them in an honest light on social media and through content is the key to my success as a professional, so why should I lie about who I am when we first meet?

Is it necessary to have an outgoing personality to be a successful entrepreneur?

This is so relevant to today's culture and I'm glad Gary decided to include it in this book. We see entrepreneurs on Shark Tank, we see the content that Gary puts out, and we think that we need to be those personable and outgoing people. That's absolutely not the case!

"Never make the mistake of thinking that you need to be louder or more outgoing, or fake a bigger personality." (pg 289)

The best way to succeed is to play to your strengths and be exactly who you are. If you are cut out to be an entrepreneur and build amazing businesses, but you aren't cut out to be the "hype man" of the brand, then hire someone who is! Find a partner who can be the face and voice of the amazing brand you have developed. You are not required to be outgoing and social to build something amazing!

In Conclusion

I just want to cover a couple quotes out of order here that I think sum up this whole concept of self-awareness.

"I know that the same things that draw people to me turn others off and keep them away. I'm okay with that, because I think I can help more people and get my point across better when I'm my unfiltered self." (Pg 279)

Be yourself. It's cheesy, but it's great advice. Don't try to fight for those areas where you are weak. Bet on your strengths, and if that turns some people off, they were not your target audience in the first place. There is generally an audience out there for everyone. You just need to be yourself and find yours.

"Now, here's the thing. If you do suck but you love the thing you suck at, do it! If you love singing more that breathing, go for that singing career. I would just like it if you could go for it with the full realization that you're most likely going to wait tables for your entire life. You can't be disappointed if you go in with your eyes wide open." (Pg 283)

You are allowed to love something that you suck at! You are even allowed to pursue that thing you suck at! It's just going to be much easier for you if you recognize that you suck at it. You aren't going to be fifty years old and still waiting for your "big break." You will be living a happy life, doing the thing you love to do, and understanding that you need to work another job to pay for that passion. Those of us who love the same thing we are strong in are unbelievable blessed. Not everyone ends up that way. Do what you love and develop the self-awareness to recognize whether or not it lines up with your strengths.