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#coiskiSXSW: 11 Best Answers from Gary Vaynerchuk’s SXSW Q&A Friday's #AskGaryVee session at SXSW was as entertaining as it was informational

Celebrating his 10th year at SXSW, entrepreneur and digital media titan Gary Vaynerchuk held a live #AskGaryVee session at SXSW in Austin, TX on Friday. Despite an intense morning playing some pick-up basketball (in which some coiski staffers participated), Gary still brought the fire. Out of the 20-or-so audience questions, check out some of his top and valuable answers* to the crowd’s best queries.

*Note: These Q&A’s are paraphrased. To hear the full session, check out his podcast.

Q: Just so we don’t ask you questions you hate, what kinds of questions do you want people to ask you?
A: This is the type of question I hate the most. When you answer peoples’ questions, you have to add value. I have to give you something. I personally don’t have any question; there’s nothing in particular I want to be asked. So, I don’t mind answering the same question again and again.

Q: I’m the CEO of a local company, and we’re finding it hard to raise awareness about what we do. How can we scale quickly?
A: One of the biggest mistakes small businesses make is over-expanding. Go tactical, and change your behavior to match. Right now there are three tactics to spread your content to the world: video, audio and text. If it were me, I’d focus on Facebook video ads. You can also try influencer marketing, and if you’re profitable, hire people to help you.

Q: I own a small business, and I’m finding I use video and social media a lot to promote what we do. How do you use these tools without falling into the negativity and emotional rollercoasters?
A: Stay on the side of positivity. Personally, I see all the negativity, but it doesn’t get me down because I understand life has its ups and downs. We are living in the greatest era to be alive. Ask any 80 year-old. Life would be much worse right now if the Black Plague was doing its thing. Nothing is perfect. But choose to play the offense of positivity. The only people that are loud today are mad.

Q: How do you balance your work and life?
A: Communication. I’m not worried about what everyone in this room thinks. I care what my wife thinks. As a society, we’re crippling ourselves when we try to reach that perfect work-life balance. I just try and over-communicate.

Q: What role is VR going to play in football (and in general)?
A: I think in 20 years, it could get interesting. Personally, I’m spending very little time on consumer VR. Business-to-business VR is growing and is getting close, but generally it’s much further away than people think. It’s not next year. Or the year after. We still have a long way to go. You should probably learn how to get a proper Facebook Ad right now, instead of spending time on VR stuff.

Q: How do you feel about the rise of entrepreneurship focus in colleges?
A: I’m concerned because entrepreneurship is becoming a “rockstar status” thing. It’s been put on a pedestal, but it’s making 15-22 year-olds feel like that’s the way to success. We’ve lost so many people to suicide because of that pressure, this world where “everyone wins.” Everyone thinks they’re building the next Facebook or Snapchat, but they’re not. There’s a ton of pressure on students, to the point that if you fail, everyone knows you failed. You have to love failing. I do. Losing is attractive to pure-bred entrepreneurs, and it’s the cost of entry to the game.

Q: Are you seeing more engagement on SnapChat or Instagram Stories?
A: I’ve actually seen some growth lately on SnapChat. People are always asking which one is better, but I say do both. You never know which one will add a new feature tomorrow and completely change the game.

Q: Why has Influencer Marketing been getting so much traction lately?
A: We stopped watching Seinfeld, and we started watching stuff on Instagram. Individuals no longer need middlemen to get there, they can go directly to the source. Influencers are powerful because they act as distributors and content creators.

Q: When do you know when to transition from defense to offense?
A: Offense is always the best defense. I’d rather win 157 to 152 (high score).

Q: What is the most disruptive thing in advertising right now?
A: I don’t know. But I’m really good at reacting to what I see. I’m spending a lot of time in new spaces, and I’m always asking if they’re going to be the next Snapchat or Instagram. Even when a platform has a hint of potential, I try it out.

Q: What is one piece of advice you’d give a YouTuber
A: Too many people today think they’re influencers before they really are. You need to just focus on creating good content and be patient.


All in all, Gary’s main takeaway from the panel session was this:

These are only a few of Gary’s answers, and of course, he was much more articulate during the session. Be sure to check out the full talk on his website in the near future.

Jon Zmikly

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