Gary Vaynerchuk – The Stream Economy [audio interview]


Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 7.34.08 PMGary Vaynerchuk (say Vay – ner – chuck) also know as Gary Vee is a wildly successful 36 year old New York Times bestselling author, who is also a self-made expert in social media and also the world of wine.

Gary displayed his entrepreneurial flair very early, and at age 8 was operating seven lemonade stands in his neighborhood.

He continued his entrepreneurial pursuits and spent every weekend of his college years working in his parent’s wine store. In 2006, Gary launched Wine Library TV which soon went on to attract an astounding 100,000 viewers daily!

Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 7.44.38 PMHis books include two New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers, Crush It! Why Now Is the Time to Cash in On Your Passion (2009) and The Thank You Economy, which explores the effect of social media on business. He has appeared on numerous television programs including Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Conan O’Brien and Ellen to MSNBC, CNBC, CNN and NPR.

Gary’s ultimate goal is to own the New York Jets!

I had the opportunity to interview Gary and ask him questions on the future of digital media. Listen to the audio by clicking on the player below. The transcript of the interview is also included.


Ellen: Gary, thanks so much for being here today!

Gary: Thanks for having me…

Ellen: Listen, I was really taken with something you said recently. You said we are now living in what you call a stream economy. Could you please expand on what you mean by that and specifically how that is going to impact our audience of online entrepreneurs who want to use digital content to promote their businesses?

Gary: So literally as you are asking this question I’m driving in New York City and I’m watching this gal go by looking at her phone, looking down at her phone, passing all the signage that is around her. There’s a guy right now looking down at his phone almost getting hit by the car that I’m driving and all he is doing is scrolling. Scrolling up and down, up and down.

And he’s consuming and I caught him and he’s on Facebook and so what I think in happening is when you’re an online entrepreneur trying to use content like you just mentioned…me when I was trying to sell wine…or any brand or business in the world, you’re trying to tell your story to the customer. And you’ve got to tell your story to the customer where the customer actually is.

And to me where the customer actually is…is head-down, in their mobile device using their thumb to scroll their Facebook feed, their Instagram feed, their Twitter feed, their Tumblr feed, their Pinterest feed and so I call that streaming right?

The stream of content that keeps going up and down, and so to me that becomes the place where we need to figure out how to story tell, and what works and how not to spam and how do you bring value there and so to me that is the singular most important place in the world to figure out how to do business in. Just like in 1996 the singular most important place to tell your story in was on a web page.

Just like in 1999 I thought the most important place to tell your story was through an email service. And then, figuring how how to tell your story through search. And so, this happens to be the latest place where our attention and the attention of our customers and potential customers are, and we as marketers and business people have to figure out how to get to them there.

Ellen: That’s really interesting to me because The Future of Ink is a multi-authored blog. How to you think the stream economy is going to hit the blogging world?

Gary: I think people need to use the stream economy to drive awareness to the blog. It’s really funny what I’m about to say because I come from blogging too, video blogging. Blogging is now long form. You know, blogging used to be short form, right? And it’s not anymore. Blogging is now long form and so you need to figure out how to maybe take the best…here’s what I’m saying…you know how when you read a magazine article and they always have two or three quotes featured?

I would say that’s what happens now. You’ve got to figure out what are those two or three quotes, how do you turn them into a picture, a video, something that captivates somebody on Pinterest or Instagram or Facebook and they click that and that drives them to the article. Got it?

Ellen: Sure. Makes perfect sense. So blogging you think will stay long form but we’ve got to use pieces of that content to drive folks over there via social media…

Gary: We continue to live through the fragmentation of information, right? When some novel, to lighter books to magazine articles to thirty second commercials…we continue to get faster, leaner and meaner, more ADD so we need to figure out how to use these platforms to drive awareness to the longer form thing so no different than a movie trailer, right? Why do they make movie trailers? Because that little two-minute video makes you go and spend money on a three hour video.

Ellen: Gary, there is so much emphasis now on content marketing, getting valuable content out there so it can be found and consumed by our potential clients and customers. One of the Big Mistakes that you pointed out that companies make, in your book The Thank You Economy, was that people spend too much time tweeting out or re-posting other people’s content and too little time creating their own. And yet a common complaint from a lot of my colleagues is that they have difficulty in coming up with content they deem as original and valuable on a consistent basis. What advice would you have for them?

Gary: That they might just not be good enough to do it! And I’m not kidding. Like if you’re not good enough to come up with…I’ve never had that problem. And that has a whole lot to do with my success. You know what I’d honestly tell them? Tell them that this is capitalism. And if they are not good enough to tell their story or come up with it, then they should invest in the skills to get better at it. They should take a journalist’s class, they should go to a seminar, they should maybe learn how to be an artist or PhotoShop or whatever it takes for them to be able to learn to communicate or maybe the written work isn’t the way for them to go.

Listen, I don’t think the written word is my best way of communicating. That’s why I like videoblogs so much. Maybe they should use SoundCloud and do more audio, maybe they should become a proficient user of PhotoShop and make pictures. The way you communicate comes in many different forms so what I would tell them is that if they can’t come up with original stuff that they are going to get non-original return. Meaning if you are just going to DJ and curate content, you are only going to get pennies and nickels. If you are going to create it, you’re going to get dollars. Got it?

Ellen: Love it! Gary, you have an almost uncanny sense of where the market is going…besides this transition to a stream economy, what do you see as an up and coming trend in the digital-publication-of-content world?

Gary: To me, the biggest thing to focus on is fragmentation. It’s always been content…a blog is content. To me, it’s native content, content that’s authentic to the platform. It’s understanding which hashtags to use on Instagram, it’s what kind of quality pictures to use on Pinterest, what are the trending memes or slang that they use on Twitter.

It’s not about trends, it’s about…the reason I’m going with this answer instead of something else is that I don’t think people realize how big of a deal this is and how much work this really takes. I’d rather much rather people listening to this interview put a lot of work into this micro-content thing because it’s going to be around and very important for at least three to five years.

Ellen: Gary, I’m very curious about this format that you are using right now…these fifteen minute interviews…basically doing 365 days of them…how did you come up with this idea and why are you doing this? Besides the obvious ones, the exposure, what are you learning? What’s going on with it?

Gary: I’ll tell you that almost everyone who’s my agents, my PR people they think the exposure is crap! They think I’m taking up way too much time doing this and far majority of these blogs as you know don’t…I mean I can go on CNN for thirty minutes and get much more exposure. I’m only doing it for one reason. There’s only one obvious to me and it’s not the exposure.

I want to thank the community that appreciates me. And so, if somebody wants to interview me, and if they can leverage my name to get more awareness for what they are doing, then I’m accomplishing what I’m doing…so many people support me day in and day out and I want to give back. It can be as zen as karma, or it could be long-term thinking for example I truly believe in my heart that when my book comes out in November, Jab Jab Jab, Right Hook, that you would’ve bought it right? I truly believe in my heart that you may buy five now instead of one because of this interview.

Ellen: That’s much more likely, absolutely.

Garu: And that’s it. For me, the only way I’m comfortable to get that return is to pay it forward first. And so, If I give back first, I’m putting myself in a position to get bigger returns. So I don’t need a direct ROI, right? What’s the ROI of all this time?

It’s not going to work out…the math will not work out. But I think it works out right…I think that you’re going to be at a conference and somebody’s going to say ‘Oh, Gary V. is so full of himself!’ And you’re going to say, ‘Let me tell you a story…’ You know?

Ellen: Absolutely…

Gary: And so I think the truth is undefeated and if you do the right thing, you get the right result. And so I’m doing this because I think it’s the right thing to do.

Ellen: Excellent…you know you mentioned another book. Is that one finished or are you in process?

Gary: I’m in process.

Ellen: Are you going to publish and promote it differently now given the phenomenal rise of digital publishing world, the Kindle, Amazon?

Gary: Not really, because I’m not worried about how the information gets distributed. Whether through a tree or through a computer. I care about actually building enough of an audience that will actually want to spend their hard-earned twenty bucks. Get it…right?

Ellen: Sure…

Gary: So from a promotion standpoint I’m going to continue to do what I’m doing which is engaging one by one, have deeper relationships and put myself in a position where people want to support it and buy it for their whole class, their whole community, their whole email list, their whole school.

How do I put myself in a position where my relationships are so deep so even if I have less, because I’m not trying to spam a big email list, or be on tv everyday, the 1000 I have actually buys ten copies instead of the 5000 I have buys one.

Ellen: Right. You know I see some authors going the electronic version first and then coming out with the hardcover. Do you have any strategy around this…

Gary: If they are self-published or with a publishing house?

Ellen: I haven’t seen a major author do that…

Gary: Yes, I think it’s much easier if you are self-publishing to sell electronically because the platforms are set up for you, you don’t have to worry about the printing, the distribution…it makes a lot of sense. If I self-publish ever, I’ll go electronic only and then we’ll probably print only a thousand copies and make them like limited edition art pieces.

Ellen: Great idea…Gary, what would be your best advice for our audience, this is the online entrepreneur who wants to use digital content to leverage his or her business…what must they absolutely know and do next…first if they are just starting out and also for someone who is a bit more established with an email list and a lot of content on the web.

Gary: I think too many people in this space, and I speak to them all the time, don’t recognize that they have to bring value and value can’t just be information. Information is a commodity. I’m smart, you’re smart, we’re all smart, right? Look at all the free content I give out. And I’ve had a lot of success. I’m not a guru, I’m a guy who has actually built businesses and made a lot of money doing it. And so my biggest advice for everybody is if you think you are going to make money just on information, you have to really re-think what is happening with the supply and demand for information in the world. You know? That’s number one.

Number two is access. Access is even more powerful than content. So what I’m doing right now is giving you access. And so for all the content and for all the videos, and interviews and books that you’ve watched, you and I now have a deeper relationship and a deeper business relationship. I would recommend to people to start thinking about how to scale access. And the only way to scale access is to put in the work. There’s no shortcuts. Put out content and lots of it. A gateway…but once you get them into your gateway, that’s when the hard work actually starts.

Ellen: Besides access, what are some other ways that people can bring that kind of ‘wow’ factor…I’ve heard you talk about ‘shock and awe’ you know…what are some ways to do that?

Gary: It’s all effort and access. I mean how you deliver it could be through products…you can sell products, you can give away products. You can sell access, you can give away access. It all depends on how you want to play with it. Believe it or not though, just think it’s effort, product, access. It’s not that complicated. There’s not that many things that people actually want to buy. And so, that’s what I really think. Effort as the halo to your product and your access.

If you are a musician, what are you selling? You sell your concerts, you sell your music. You sell a product and you sell access. Right? So if you’re a personality…I could tomorrow stop putting out content or put out less and start charging people a hundred bucks a month to see videos and to do Q and A with me and I would do very well. I would do very well. And how I got there was through putting out a lot of content and giving access. So it depends on when you want to cash in your chips. My new book is really going to explain this from a content standpoint but it’s an overall philosophy. How many times do you want to jab before you throw a right hook?

Ellen: Sure…so maybe we are making it too complicated when it really isn’t?

Gary: I think so. It’s really that simple…supply and demand and bring value. You know, too many people think they can just start out and say there’re a life coach or a business coach or an entrepreneur or a guru and I always ask them what have you done? The reason I think people should pay attention to me is because I now with Vayner Media two businesses that are over thirty million dollars in revenue. Like that matters, right? I see all these young people with lists, marketers and they are like this, that and the other thing…inspirational rah, rah, rah…and I speak to them all the time, youngsters and they are twenty-three and they are like I’m a social media consultant or a motivational speaker and I’m like well what have you done?

Ellen: I guess that makes them sit up and take notice. I hope anyway!

Gary: So I think that’s an important thing for people listening. You gotta really figure out why you think people should pay you. Right? Now, if it’s about how you make people feel, then that’s great. If you are able to get people to rah, rah or be inspired then that’s something. But when somebody has those skills they have a lot of value and that’s great. But if you are going to claim you are a business expert then you’ve needed to have built a business. Period. And not your own based on jving or lists or things of that nature. You know?

Ellen: Excellent advice…and speaking of that you once said that you’ve been gifted with what you call really good business DNA. Do you think that successful online entrepreneurs are just born with natural gifts or is this something that can be learned?

Gary: I think it’s a little bit of both. You know I think Lebron James and Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods and Serena Williams were born with something. Now they’ve put in the work to get the best out of it. But I do not believe that if you are not born an entrepreneur that you can be a great entrepreneur. You can be a serviceable entrepreneur. I can play basketball. Nobody wants to pay to watch me play! Right? So you can be an entrepreneur but if you’re not one…I think people really misunderstand entrepreneurship and how much of a special talent and gift it actually is.

Ellen: I have to agree with you there. Well Gary, our time’s almost up. Any last thing you want to leave our audience with before we go?

Gary: Just good luck and work hard and most of all, it’s never about dollars and cents, it’s about happiness. So try to figure out what makes you tick. Someone is always going to make more money than you. Somebody’s always going to have more fun than you. Just be you; execute against that. Work on your strengths more than your weaknesses and I think things will pan out.

Ellen: Fantastic…I’m waiting for the day you buy the New York Jets!

Gary: (Laughs) Thank you so much for that! Have a great day…bye now.

Ellen: Bye.

Your turn…what nugget stands out for you in this interview with Gary Vaynerchuk? Has your thinking shifted about how you will create content going forward?

Ellen Britt
Dr. Ellen Britt is the Social Media Influence Doctor, Mastermind Expert, Author and Online Marketing Strategist, Lover of Southern Food & Culture and founder of Pink Coattails, as well as the co-founder of The Future of Ink. Ellen is committed to the idea that every woman, no matter her education, experience or where she lives on the planet, can have a successful business if she so desires.
Ellen Britt
Ellen Britt


  1. Great interview Ellen. It seems like every time I hear Gary speak I get motivated to take things to the next level and this interview is no exception. I’m going to take action starting today. 🙂

    • Thanks so much Ileane! And I totally agree…there is NO substitute for taking action. We can learn something by studying and reading and watching videos, but until we take action and actually DO something, there is no real learning.