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How I Met Gary Vaynerchuk and Lessons Learned


This article was written by App’n’roll’s Founder, Łukasz Anwajler.

I met Gary Vaynerchuk in March 2014 at VaynerMedia HQ in New York.  

Back then I was the CTO of FOAP (a marketplace with authentic images which we built from scratch). We were there to discuss the next steps of our project. Foap was the first of Gary’s investments in Europe using his fund Vayner/RSE.To prove this you can find me on one of Gary’s videos ‘Between the Clouds and the Dirtwhen we met in New York (I’m the blonde dude sitting second to the left).

What impressed me the most about Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary is an incredibly kind and warm person, I feel as though he genuinely likes interacting with other people and making new connections. There’s nothing false or pretentious about him. What impressed me the most was the level of speed that he operates on. His calendar was extremely busy but he still managed to fit us in and back then he had more than twenty meetings per day!

He’s a sharp guy who seems to process information really fast. I appreciated how straight to the point he was, he doesn’t want to waste his time. If you try to explain something to him that he already knows he will interrupt you right away. Some people might consider it rude but when you think about it, it makes sense not to repeat information unnecessarily.

After the meeting, I was so pumped with positive energy that new ideas kept coming to mind. It was as though he had set fire to my stream of conscious thought. There are so few people in the world who can truly inspire others. “Who is this guy? How does he do it?” I kept asking myself. I’ve never seen anyone so charismatic and full of energy in my entire life.

I started following Gary on all of his social media platforms, reading his articles, watching the Ask Gary Vee Show. The ideas just keep flowing.

Two years later, after Foap was successfully launched, I decided  to start my own company, a venture builder, with the same spirit I felt during the meeting with Gary at VaynerMedia.

5 Things I’ve learned from Gary and implemented in App’n’roll

1. Never underestimate what great company culture can do

Competitors can copy your ideas and tools, but it’s hard to copy company culture. I believe this is the foundation for any company success, especially in a fast-moving business environment. Great company culture can help you achieve big goals but also survive when things get tough. Gary talks a lot about culture and how it stems from the top. I agree with him that many leaders justify being disrespectful to their employees just because they have hard skills.

They think a combination of constant grind and adding the right people to their team is enough, it’s not. They always forget about the human part, making sure employees are happy where they are is crucial to maintaining company culture. Here at App’n’roll we do our best to make sure our employees are happy because we understand that this translates to better work quality and customer services.

2. Include empathy in your HR strategy

Empathy is not only connected with company culture but also with leadership skills. I consider these traits to be important and quite unique. To be a great leader, you have to be a great listener, you have to be able to empathize with your teams. I always try to understand my employees motivation, I want to know what drives them, what their interests are, why they love what they do.  Some people are driven by money, others by their status and some by opportunities for growth and self-development. When solving a problem sometimes it’s not easy to understand what the issue actually is and using empathy here is the best solution. It helps to keep teams motivated and helps with the retention of key members.

3. Lead by example

Gary talks a lot about leading by example. We all know the phrase: “Actions will always speak louder than words”. I realized that the best way to motivate my teams is to stay motivated myself and bring my own good energy into the office. Positive vibes go a long way. People look to me for examples of how to handle situations and how to behave. I’ve seen a lot of leaders praising motivational speeches about the importance of hard work but they never want to get their hands dirty when things get tough. Hypocrisy is rife. I know that I have a huge impact on company culture and this is a big responsibility for me.  

4. The more you do, the more you learn

In a fast-moving business environment, a startups ability to make quick decisions is especially important. I agree with Gary that it’s better to decide, test and react than to become overwhelmed with options, possibly crippling your decision to move forward. As Gary says in one of his articles:

“The moral of the story is: the more you do, the more you learn. The more you learn from doing, the more trust and ease you’ll have with making decisions. The more trust you have with yourself in making decisions, the easier it’ll become to act when the time calls for it. At the end of the day, when you come from a good place, there’s no wrong decision. There might be short-term consequences because you can’t always win, but long-term, net-net, you will come out on top.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

5. Execute your ideas

I love Gary’s favourite quote “Ideas are s*** and execution is the game. Everyone has ideas and ideas are nothing unless you do something with them”.

You’ve probably heard a lot of examples of Uber, Facebook and so on. None of them were new ideas but Zuckerberg and Kalanic were better at executing ideas than their predecessors.

App’n’roll is a venture builder and we also invest in new projects. However, we always remember Gary’s words to bet on the jockey, not the horse.

We like it when idea owners get some initial funding to check how they are doing with their MVP. No matter how good the idea is, if the founder is not executing his idea well enough we won’t risk our money on their project.

Finally: Have Fun

You need to have fun with whatever you’re doing. Fun is the gateway to a ridiculous amount of work and getting it done while enjoying it!

Therefore App’n’roll’s mission statement is ‘Having Fun Building Scalable Businesses’.

We’d love to hear from you

If you’re interested in hiring an epic development team, drop us an email (hello@appnroll.com) so that we can schedule a call.

If you’ve been inspired by Gary Vaynerchuk, let us know! Please feel free to share your experiences with us in the comments below or via social media (send us some photos or videos too), you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Behance and Pinterest, let’s connect!

To learn more about App’n’roll, take a look at out our website and our other posts.

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