American Icons: Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk and

He’s loud. He’s brash. He’s New York.

In spite of these qualities – or perhaps because of them – Gary Vaynerchuk may be one of the most recognizable and powerful stars to rise out of social media in the past decade.

And while he has his detractors, there are millions (1.32 million on Twitter; 1.15 million on Facebook; and 533,000 on Instagram) who are passionate fans. These are people looking to him for hope, inspiration and advice on how to turn their lives, careers and businesses into something successful. They want to find meaning in the work they are doing in their homes and offices and Vaynerchuk delivers, serving as a modern day Tony Robbins for the mobile society.

He has used the web to build a brand not only for himself, but for Fortune 500 businesses like General Electric, Anheuser-Bush and Pepsi through his company VaynerMedia. But long before that, Vaynerchuk understood the power of the Internet, capitalizing on the connectedness of the world wide web to help grow his father’s liquor store, Shopper’s Discount Liquors in Springfield, Massachusetts, from a $3 million a year business in 1998 to a $50 million a year one in 2003, utilizing a combination of traditional and not-so-traditional marketing campaigns (e-mail, Google AdWords and e-commerce).

According to this Fortune article, Vaynerchuk’s star took a turn in 2006 when he launched a web video series, Wine Library TV, that showed him tasting and discussing wines, quickly becoming a viral sensation and paving the way for his future success.

Today, he can’t be pigeonholed into any one specific category. He’s an author. He’s a motivational speaker. He’s a brand builder. And he’s a social media institution.

At American Sunglass, we’re most taken with his short, easy-to-digest videos that focus on simple, but important topics. In a recent one, he speaks about the power of optimism. In another, he talks about tackling Mondays with enthusiasm. And in a third, he touts the need for businesses to care about their customers.

His words aren’t polished. He swears regularly. He is manic. But his lessons are basic reminders of how success is attained: work hard; love what you do; and keep pushing. And repeatedly, he stresses the importance of focusing on your talents and refining what you do well.

When we think of the sunglass brands we sell, several come to mind that epitomize the ideals that Vaynerchuk emphasizes:

  • Celine – Sexy, chic, stylish. Celine is all of these. This is the brand women choose when they want to turn heads, impress and feel confident about who they are.
  • Maui Jim – Epitomizing the tropical lifestyle of the Hawaiian island for which they are named, this brand is suited for those who love being outdoors, particularly fishermen, boaters and those who prefer a day at the beach. Their patented PolarizedPlus2 technology is one of the reasons why Maui Jim is ideal for those who live, work and play near the water.
  • Ray-Ban – Since 1937, Ray-Bans have been the brand by which all other sunglasses are judged. That’s because they have perfected specific styles – Wayfarers and Aviators – which are cool, hip and trendy, withstanding the test of time when it comes to fashion.

Word of an Icon: “Whether you’re 9 or 90, stop trying to fix the things you’re bad at, and focus on the things you’re good at.” – Gary Vaynerchuk