Last June I had the pleasure of attending the BlackRock WealthTech Innovator event. The headline speaker was Gary Vaynerchuk, the chairman of VaynerX and CEO of VaynerMedia, a five time New York Times bestselling author, as well as a prolific angel investor with early investments in companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Venmo and Uber. Below are the key insights and inspiration from the discussion, particularly relevant for entrepreneurs (and those who advise them!).

 

1. Entrepreneurs have more opportunity than ever before

The internet has changed everything and it has created more opportunity than ever before. It’s staggering to think that the internet has added 1.7 billion users since January 2012 – that’s 88% growth in terms of total internet accessibility. Over the same time 864 million people have joined a social network, giving them access to more information, entertainment and community online.

 

“30 years ago, your grandparents couldn’t build a business from the comfort of their own home or on the way to work riding on the bus or train. Your grandparents couldn’t consume content and learn about entrepreneurship from a hundred different sources while grabbing groceries and listening to a podcast on their wireless earphones. Most of your grandparents would probably struggle to have 500 people listen to their opinion in their lifetime and now we complain about having only 10,000 views or only 10,000 followers online. The distribution and disruption that the internet has enabled for us all is insane.”

Gary Vaynerchuk

 

2. The key to success: focus on clouds and the dirt

Gary believes the key to success, in any business, is to spend all your time focusing on ‘the clouds and the dirt’. What he means is that we should stop wasting time on things that don’t matter. The clouds are your vision and strategy, whereas the dirt is the intricacies of your craft.

Unfortunately, many people get so stuck in the minutia that they don’t see the bigger picture. Perhaps this is because they don’t know how to navigate or have the right skills or appetite to push forward and focus on bigger picture.

Clarity of vision and purpose with a deep understanding of, and dedication to, your area of specialism will build momentum for success. Forget all the stuff in the middle: the politics, the process, all the ‘stuff’ that doesn’t matter.

3. Billboards are dead

Not literally. This is a metaphor for the growth in social media and how we can use it to engage and interact engage with consumers. You cannot afford to ignore this channel.

For those of you who have attended a conference or event recently, you will have noticed the level of engagement (addiction?) people have with their smartphones. Live streaming via Twitter or LinkedIn to share insights from the room (to see what I mean check out these hashtags #CTG2018, #PFSpower and #humdub18) and then during breaks or when the event finishes, delegates become glued to their phones.

This illustrates the point that the attention of the consumer right now is on social networks, not anywhere else. Hence, the catch cry ‘billboards are dead’. With everyone looking down at their phones, how can billboards be worth the same price today, as they were five years ago? The future is social. And it works, so use it.

 

4. Ignore the mantra ‘fix your weaknesses’

 

“Don’t fix what you suck at, triple down on what you’re good at.”

Gary Vaynerchuk

While you should be competent in some areas, don’t try to master areas of weakness. Hone in on what it is that puts fire in your belly, then get tunnel vision and focus on that area. Ignore the voices telling you what and how, or why not and have a conversation with the one person who is holding you back. Often we don’t do what we most want to because we are worried about someone’s opinion, perhaps it’s your mother, father or spouse.

What is the one thing that scares most entrepreneurs the most? Regret. The fear of sitting back later in life and thinking ‘I wish’. For example, ‘I wish I had more money… spent more time with my family…’.

Now cast your mind forward 20 or 30 years, what will you most regret? Take action today and stop making excuses.

 

5. Become addicted to optimism

When you are addicted to optimism, positivity and kindness your point of view changes. If you choose empathy, gratitude, and perspective, nothing can stop you. Gary believes this is the way to win.

He is addicted to optimism, which you can see in the video below. It’s a keynote presentation he recently gave in Portland. It’s 2 hours long, so if you don’t have time now save this page and pop back later (mind, he uses some colourful language. Be warned!).

 

6. The future will be about audio and voice

Did you know that (and these figures are from more than 12 months ago) audio and streaming in particular is up 76% Y/Y is eclipsing video with 250B annual streams and this is just the beginning.

Alexa and Google Home offer another exciting space. More so than podcasting itself, Alexa offers an incredible opportunity. Gary says “If you consider podcasting to be the current go-to-destination for creative, then Alexa skills are the beachfront property vacation, yet to be discovered and booked up by the masses.”

A driver for this change is our ever increasing value of speed. Consumers are starting to replace entertainment (music) with information (podcasting) to get ahead. The reason people are consuming more content than ever is because the consumption tools are now portable and we want to take advantage of every second.

To help you get started, read this post on how to create a podcast and follow great financial planning casters like Pete Matthew, Chris Budd, NextGenPlanners and Martin Bamford.

I hope you’ve found these insights useful. We enjoy hearing from our readers, so if you have any comments to add or experience to share, please post in the space below.