He has also made a dramatic marketing switch over the last few years and is a great example of somebody who is actually making a lot of money using social media
He is the author of the upcoming book "Crush It, why now is the time to cash in on your passion." If you want an example or a lesson in personal branding and in using all the tools you've got, Gary is the poster child.
I conducted an interview with Gary and asked him to share some of his wisdom.
John: The slogan for Wine Library TV, for the two or three people that aren't familiar with it is, "changing the wine world." Gary, give me a little idea what that's about.
Gary: You know, because I launched winelibrary.com in '97 I had full time developers in 2004 or 2005. They were just cracking up at lunch with a show called Ze Frank, the show. The second I saw it and I realized it wasn't that expensive to now do video on the Internet, I knew that I wanted to be a part of it. My passion was wine, I was in the wine business. I thought I could help wine become a little bit more pop culture, a little bit more mainstream. So I started a show called Wine Library TV in early 2006, and it has definitely been the springboard for the next chapter of my career.
Prior to that from the age of 22 on I spent about six to eight years building the family liquor store business from a $3 to a $50 million business. I'm an entrepreneur, baseball cards, lemonade stand kind of guy.
I viewed this as a platform to have a voice and to build a brand. One around me and I took advantage of the time, the vision of it, and the tools that allowed me to tell that story in a far greater and less expensive way.
John: You have three rules I’ve heard you say you live by: love your family, work super hard, and live your passion.
Gary: The first rule one is so obvious. Imagine you've succeeded at everything you've ever wanted and then you get a phone call and somebody you care about dies. You're not happy. And so, if you live your life that way and you never let commerce trump time spent with people you care about when there's a decision, you win. I had a chance to speak in Israel this year and get paid a fortune. It landed on my sister's birthday and she said, “go, go, go, you'll come back the next day”. And I said “no way”.
If you're smart about making those decisions, that doesn't mean you shouldn't hustle and work every minute and all that good stuff. But when there comes a scenario where you have to choose, it always has to go to family.
John: A lot of people are concerned about starting a business right now. A quote out of your book addresses this and it says, “there's never a bad time to start a business unless you're starting a mediocre one”.
Gary: Microsoft was started and built in the recession. All a recession does, or down times do is make the best people win more. The pretenders aren't winning; they are not hitting doubles and singles. I knew stuff was going to hit the fan when my buddies, who had no entrepreneurial spirit in their bones, were flipping homes and making straight cash. I was like: “these guys should not be making money, they just don't know how and it's not in them. It's so robotic and easy right now, something's wrong."
That’s something that I think was obvious to me, and when you see average entrepreneurs hitting big scores, you know things are going in the wrong direction.
John: You talk a lot about DNA, and the fact that a lot of people are sort of wired for success with that. Do you want to expand on that idea?
Gary: I think it's massively important to know who you are. I think people fundamentally do know who they are, and it's important to understand that and put yourself in the best possible position to succeed. This understanding of self and positioning is what I mean when I talk about DNA. We are who we are. All this good stuff that's happening to me, it's because I was blessed with the DNA. I truly believe that.
John: There's an implication in your book that you suggest that, "If you're not participating in social media, you're not in business."
Gary: Correct. I fundamentally believe that if you are not fishing where the fish are today, especially where the fish are coming to, then you are making a huge mistake. It may not look like Facebook or Twitter in the future, but humans are going to engage in their computers. The end. Be apart of that conversation. If you are not going to that cocktail party and you're still giving a presentation in the other hotel room, you've lost.
Many people want to give presentations. So they are giving presentations in ballroom A, but the entire business world is in ballroom B having cocktails and talking to each other.
John: What are five our six tips you might have for people that are out there saying, "Gosh, I need to create a strong personal brand."
Gary: Step one: Have a home. Your Twitter profile, and your Facebook profile, and your YouTube profile are not your home. Have a domain that's you. Do everything in there and funnel everything back there. Have a hub. A lot of people don't - huge mistake in my opinion. You could do a lot of things from the hub.
Number two: Search.twitter It is everything to me. It's not about talking; it’s about listening. Search Twitter terms that are relevant to your business, and then engage by "@tommypants49, I agree with you. That wine is awesome." "@susan436, you should use chardonnay with that fish you are thinking about tonight." "@paulie I totally disagree, I thought that wine was massively overrated."
Three. Create content every day, blog post every day and video every day. Converse with the world every day, or as close as you can get to that.
Four: Manage your time. If you are working a full-time job, but you have a passion, when you get home, don't watch Lost. Stop playing Madden. If you want something, if you want a better life, you’ve got to work. So, you work at home and go to sleep at two AM.
And five: always keep everything in perspective. If you want to build a business, it's a marathon. Nothing happens in a year. And also make sure that when you put your head down that you don't forget your family.
John Jantsch is a marketing and digital technology coach, award winning social media publisher and author of Duct Tape Marketing [http://www.ducttapemarketing.com].