Gary Vaynerchuk hardly needs an introduction. An entrepreneur, investor, public speaker and author who grew the turnover of his family's wine store from $3 million to $50 million a year, he's also the co-founder of VaynerMedia, an agency that provides strategy and social media services to some of the world's biggest businesses. His books, blogs and Vlogs on business and marketing have firmly established him as one of the most influential entrepreneurial figures globally. So you might be forgiven for thinking that Gary has 'made it' - but in this blog he explains why the entrepreneurial journey is never over.
If you have ever listened to a keynote from a successful business person, they often talk about that one moment where they knew they “made it” and reached their goal. The moment that changed everything. The moment that became the climax of their tentpole success story and marked the end of the “hard part” to building a business.
I don’t like to think like that. I think it’s unfair for anyone to set the expectation that you can be finished putting in the hard work.
I can see why it’s easy to think like that after listening to business success stories, but you have to understand that picking out these pivotal moments is all hindsight, not foresight. Sure, it’s cool to hear successful business speakers recount how they “made it” and it may even be a little helpful if you can relate. But the truth is, having the mindset that the “made it” moment is the finish line to your goal, will only prevent you from pushing yourself further.
People always like to say “But Gary, isn’t your number one goal to buy the New York Jets?” That’s a common misconception. Why? Whether or not I end up buying the Jets is irrelevant. Because at this moment, I’m already living my dream. The reason I’m so happy, so comfortable, and so at peace with the idea of not buying the Jets is because I’ve already achieved my bucket list item. That bucket list item is to be in pursuit of buying the NY Jets, not just owning them. Get it?
Now that I’m in my forties, of course it’s easy to look back and tell you all the “a-ha!” moments I’ve had leading up to becoming a serial entrepreneur. I can remember when I was thirteen and realized that I wanted to be an entrepreneur--I knew I had the skill and the talent to do it. I can also tell you that when I turned thirty, I looked myself in the rearview mirror of my car and realized that I needed to start working towards my goal of owning the New York Jets. If I didn’t have those moments, you can bet that I wouldn’t be where I am now.
Your “moment” doesn’t come from what’s going to happen in the future; your moment is the second you decide to start. The only time you should ever be able to say that you’ve “made it” is the moment you decide to do something because, at that second, you’ve put yourself on the path that you want to be on.
This is what it comes down to: you can’t predict or control when (or if) your goals or any of those pivotal moments that keynote speakers talk about will happen. However, what you can control is when you decide to start laddering to your goals and your drive and perseverance after that. What really matters is the hard work and effort you put in now and for the rest of your life.
I’ve always had this mindset: focus on the how, not the what, and I’ll always be maximizing my potential to getting where I want to go. You’re never done and you can always do more.
Putting your efforts into the process of getting there is way more productive than anticipating when you’re going to get it. That’s why I like to define success by the process it takes to achieve any of my endeavors. I love the chase. I love the climb. Loving the process is just how I’m wired and it’s something I try to teach to all my employees at VaynerMedia, as well as the founders of all my startup investments. In the end, effort is what governs success, not the milestones you set for yourself.
I think about how I’m working towards my goals every day because that’s what’s going to matter. My focus on climbing the mountain is why there will be no devastation at my last breath if I don’t own the New York Jets. There would only be devastation if I didn’t go through the process of trying to get them.
It’s the effort, not the milestones along the way that determine your success. Just remember if you do reach your goals, your work isn’t done. Even if I do buy the New York Jets someday, it doesn’t mean I’m cashing in on my retirement plan. What it does mean is there’s a whole lot more work to be done, and that’s the part that excites me.
Don’t even think about when you’ll hit your goal, because it simply doesn’t matter. Too many people assume that when you reach it, the hard work is over. It’s not. Never let anything diminish your drive or make you think you’re done. Having this mentality is the difference between the people who’ve “won” and the people who will always continue to win.