“Doing good for other people is a good strategy” – Gary Vaynerchuk
Common slogans associated to the world of business are: “dog eats dog”; “survival of the fittest” or “if you’re second, you’re last”. Images that are used are usually strong, assertive, or aggressive pictures such as boxers in a ring, tigers or lions, or cold, impersonal depictions of city skylines or scowling, unapproachable business people with their arms crossed in front of their chest.
However, in a podcast interview with Tom Bilyeu’s Impact Theory on May 30th titled Gary Vaynerchuk on Why Perspective Will Make or Break You, Gary places a big emphasis on kindness, and lack thereof in business.
In the interview, Vaynerchuk talks at length about the influence his mom had on him growing up, and instilling kindness and positive attributes, which he tries to pass onto his own kids.
In a compelling anecdote, Vaynerchuk recounts when a VP he held in high regard gave her notice to leave his company. He was convinced he wanted her back, but instead of sabotaging her chances, he tried helping her succeed in her career knowing it would ultimately come back around to help him: “my way of getting her back was to trying to help her more than it’d help me. Karma is practical” (36:11). Ain’t that the truth. Too often, we allow feelings of retribution, revenge, or taking things personally to prevent us from stepping back and objectively looking at the situation; in essence, we allow our egos to get in the way.
Although Gary admits at first he wanted to put up as many roadblocks as possible to make the transition difficult for her – he decided to mentor her instead. He states that “doing good for other people is a good strategy” (36:22) – and is in part why Vaynermedia has such an amazing work culture.
A trait of a true leader is helping team members succeed by mentoring, coaching, and supporting them. A leader elevates those around them so everyone steps up their game…which ultimately gives that leader a reputation for creating and sustaining successful teams and surrounding themselves with high performing people.
Vaynerchuk then goes on to mention the influence Steve Jobs had on the business world: “I think Steve Jobs came along, became an icon, but the sad part of that narrative was that he did not treat his employees well” (45:00).
Just in case you needed a reminder, here are some examples (taken from Business Insider) of Jobs being a jerk, including but not limited to:
It’s undeniable that Job’s demeanour had an impact in the world of tech, and probably influenced the larger world of work. Vaynerchuk backs this up with his observation that “a lot of companies in Silicon Valley today run companies where they are mean, because they think it’s the right thing to do because they put Steve Jobs on a pedestal” (45:15)
One of my favourite parts of the interview is when Bilyeu asks what he wants his legacy to be. Essentially, Gary Vee wants to inspire kids to think they can be wildly successful, while also being a good person at the same time.
It makes sense – who wants to work somewhere where your boss is demeaning, overly demanding, and never appreciative for what you do. Even if your boss was Steve Jobs, a person can only endure abusive treatment for so long. Female employees even less. Women typically excel in work environments that are collaborative, not cut-throat.
Ultimately, kindness is a good business strategy. Take it from Vaynerchuk, who had enough business insight and vision to be an early investor in Twitter, Uber, Snapchat, and other successful ventures. Its indisputable he has an eye for business and trends. So, if Gary’s goal is to make a positive impact and make the world of business a kinder place, I encourage you to stay ahead of the curve and make necessary changes now. Worse case, you, your boss, your associates, or business partners will be less of an asshole. Which isn’t so bad…