On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.
For the longest time I had ambivalent feelings about Gary Vaynerchuk aka Gary Vee. There was just something about his aggressive, hustle-non-stop mentality and Instagram meme-ready quotes that rubbed me the wrong way. In fact, a part of why I started Balance the Grind was to push back against what has been commonly referred to as “hustle porn.”
Reddit co-founder, Alexis Ohanian, who came up with the term described it as “the fetishisation of people — particularly entrepreneurs or employees in the tech industry — overworking themselves.”
Safe to say, I just wasn’t a fan. To start off with anyway.
But, as time went on and I came across more of his content, the more I realised that it wasn’t just an act to sell speaking event tickets (in 2013 he was earning $40,000 to $50,000 for his speeches); this was genuinely who Gary Vaynerchuk was – a positive-minded, hard-working entrepreneur who really enjoyed putting in the hours.
There are not a lot of 20-year-olds who can say they worked every single Saturday of their entire 20s. Period. I did. I worked 50 to 52 Saturdays a year, from 22 to 29, until I met my wife and started having to build some level of work-life balance. That’s hard work.The CEO of a multimillion-dollar company explains what he did in his 20s to set himself up for success in his 30s | Business Insider
For those who may not know the Gary Vee story, here’s a bit of background: after graduating from college in 1998, he started working for his father’s liquor store, Shopper’s Discount Liquors, and helped take the business into the digital age by renaming it Wine Library and launching a daily YouTube webcast called Wine Library TV.
“We rebranded the store to Wine Library and that started my first chapter,” Vaynerchuk told Business Insider. “We grew the business from $US3 million to $US4 million a year initially, to $US45 million then $US60 million a year in a very short period of time.”
Then in 2009, after leaving Wine Library, Vaynerchuk and his brother, AJ, started VaynerMedia, a social media agency. Over 10 years later, VaynerMedia has grown into a global creative and media agency with offices in New York, Los Angeles, London, Singapore and Mexico City, and over 1,000 employees. The agency has worked with major brands like Pepsi, Chase and Budweiser.
On a personal brand front, Vaynerchuk now has 9.7 million followers on Instagram, 3.67 million on YouTube, 2.9 million on Twitter and nearly 5 million on LinkedIn.
Gary Vaynerchuk’s work-life balance
For the general public, it’s easy to follow Gary Vee on social media and imagine he’s working 24/7 with nothing close to work-life balance in his life. It’s a fair enough point, Vaynerchuk would be the first to admit that the hustler image he projects is important to his overall brand.
It’s no secret that I work a lot. And when I say a lot, I mean a shit ton. A five or three minute meeting is a normal occurrence on my calendar. I wake up at six and don’t stop working till ten or eleven at night. This is what works for me, and I’ll never try to tell you to be just like me.Before You Question My Work/Life Balance, Read This. | Gary Vaynerchuk
According to a 2020 interview with Men’s Health, on an average day, the VaynerMedia boss is up at 6am and working out by 7am with a personal trainer. “I usually work out for 45 minutes to an hour,” he told Insider. “The specific workout routine varies depending on the day of the week, what I ate, how much I’ve been traveling. There is no one big secret GaryVee workout.”
After his training session, Vaynerchuk will send his kids off to school, then start work at around 9am. He’ll spend several hours filming content for his new YouTube show, Tea With GaryVee, followed by a series of meetings for VaynerX, the umbrella company for all of the ventures he’s involved in, including VaynerMedia, VaynerSpeakers, VaynerProductions and VaynerCommerce.
Vaynerchuk will then wrap up his day and have dinner with his family at around 7.30pm, before popping back on the computer to spend time on emails. While Vaynerchuk’s long hours typically doesn’t leave much room for anything else besides business, he wrote in a blog post several years explaining how he balances out his work and family.
“I play in extremes. My daughter had a recital a few weeks ago, and I was the first parent in line for it,” he revealed. “On weekends, I am all in. 100%. I’m not playing 4 hours of golf. I’m not doing a lot of things other people are doing. I’m all in on the kids.”
“I’m not trying to argue that my normal Monday-Friday weeks aren’t intense; they definitely are,” he wrote. “But because of that intensity, I have found my cadence with my spouse and my children that directly balances it out.”
When it comes to sleep, it’s easy to assume that Gary Vee runs on very little sleep, but during a conversation between him and Arianna Huffington, he revealed that he gets roughly 6-7 hours of sleep per night.
“I always talk about hustling 18 hours a day, and working those kinds of crazy numbers, but boy, I am all in on sleep,” he told Huffington. “I sleep mainly six, sometimes seven, hours. It’s harder when I travel, but I’m a much bigger fan of sleep than I think than people realize.”
More recently, Vaynerchuk has been reflecting on the hard work position he’s been pushing for the past decade or more. “I think that message got taken too far,” he admitted in a 2020 Men’s Health interview. “I still to this day believe hard work is foundational, but I’m empathetic to it.”
“I could have done a better job to create more clarity about balance,” he continued. “And I think also I have garnered the wisdom over the last 12 to 15 years to realize, wow, when you’re a communicator, people are going to run with individual parts and take them directly out of context.”
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