The reality is, I’m driven by legacy. Every decision I make is predicated on the long term. It’s not about what’s in my bank account, it’s about how many people will attend my funeral.
I want to share my POV because I’m ultimately patient. If there’s one thing I hope becomes evident through my actions, it’s that I’m playing for the long game. I’m also extremely empathetic that my over the top energy and showmanship-like tendencies make that confusing. But I want to make this clear:
I genuinely want to leave a positive impact on the world. Not only on my friends and family and the 150 people closest to me.
The reality is, I think a lot people consider their children to be their greatest legacy. For me, I hope it can be that and something more. Because of the fact that I have been so blessed with this opportunity, personality, and energy, I am in a unique position to help.
I want my work to impact people. I want to make a real difference by allowing others to siphon my advice and become successful in their own pursuits. Whether as an entrepreneur, an artist, or a lawyer, or just a genuinely good and compassionate human being. I want what I do with the Vlog, VaynerMedia, PureWow, VaynerX, and these articles to be of real use. I’m documenting this journey, not because I’m self-aggrandizing and I want to watch myself win, (however, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I appreciate the attention) but because I think it will be the ultimate resource, the ultimate legacy and inspiration for generations to come.
Now, I understand that this topic gets inflated, and I’m not here to produce a puff piece about how great or how smart it is to think long term. I simply want to share my thesis, and describe why I believe adopting this philosophy can do others some good.
When you start to think about legacy, you develop an enormous amount of perspective and patience. The fact that I, at 41, still feel the energy, passion, and hunger of being 14 is a truth I want to distill. Because the truth is that one of my friends reminded me that the “talented ones are able to be patient.”
So many people in the world are looking for the quick transaction, and making decisions that will benefit them today.
Instead, I’ve chosen to go the other route. I’ve chosen extreme patience in the macro to dictate how I behave. I’m not thinking on a 10, 20, or even 30 year timeline. I’m thinking 50–100–150. I’m thinking long after I’m gone. It’s why I care; it’s why I engage; it’s why I produce | so | much | content | for | all | of | you. It’s why I still take selfies, It’s why I travel the world to speak. It’s why I’ll showcase the next 30 years of professional journey to show you the reality of what it’s like to be an entrepreneur. It’s why I give away my best marketing secrets for free.
But it’s more than that. It’s to show you my definition of a good human being. It’s to show you the small interactions, the impact, and the fans. It’s to show you the meetup at 3am, and the 600 emails I get every week. It’s to show you the selfie outside of Starbucks, and the thousands of you who are able to take my advice and actually go execute. And most importantly, it’s to show you how hard, how truly HARD, I’ve worked to make this happen.
And trust me, I am acutely aware that my legacy is more about what my community creates than what I create because the scale in which that potential lies is far greater than any one man. No one has complete control over how they are going to be remembered. In fact, what I do is only a small percentage of the equation.
What fascinates me is my community. To be honest, I think my real legacy is you. It’s the content you create about me. It’s how my rant on self-awarenessallowed to find your passion and start blogging about basketball, music, or dance. It’s the conversations with your friends about my videos, articles, or the vlog that no one will ever see. It’s your selfie in the bathroom saying @garyvee #hustle!
It’s the countless interactions that will go unseen. It’s the hundreds of thousands of lives I’ll touch just by being part of the conversation. It’s the 1,000, or 10,000, or 50,000 of you that will watch my journey and learn from the examples I’ve shown. It’s the girl that had the courage to speak to her teacher about being bullied, and was able to overcome her fears.
It’s my hope of being recognized as the people’s entrepreneur. The one who came from nothing, and worked for 68 years to make it all come true.
It’s my family, my employees, and everyone who ever believed in me. It’s the rural farmer in Idaho who didn’t know anything about Instagram, but decided to start an e-commerce business and make an extra 4,000 dollars a year.
It’s the 5,000 people who participated in the #2017 Flip Challenge,or the #2027 Flip Challenge, that made an extra 500 dollars that really made the difference.
And my hope is that it goes beyond that as well. Beyond business and beyond entrepreneurship, I think my legacy is going to be the guy who watches one of my videos and finally has the difficult conversation with his mom. Or the conversation with his brother that ends up saving their relationship.
It’s about the 5–10 businesses that I’ll build that will long outlast my time here. It’s about the 800 employees I have now, and the 8,000 I’ll have later. It’s about their lives and their families’ lives who have made it all possible. It’s about my massive financial success and my massive empathy, humility, and respect.
It’s about the work I’ve done with Pencils of Promise, as much is it my morning meals with my 5 year old son and 8 year old daughter.
It’s about my first visit to Hong Kong, meeting a 12 year-old entrepreneur who mentioned I inspired her to start her work.
It’s the person that trolls me on Instagram in a comment that says that I’m “full of shit,” that I then engage with, which makes them question their cynicism and start to reframe their perspective, converting to optimism over pessimism. It happens every day.
It’s why I produce so much content and try to affect so many people. I just feel an enormous sense of guilt and gratitude, which drives me to communicate.
It’s about the tens of thousands of people who may have only ever had a minute of my time, or two, or three, or 45, but end up having something nice to say about me. Whether it’s that I smiled, or I was positive, or energetic, or lived up to their expectation, or simply that I gave them my entire presence, focus, and attention.
I think it speaks to my ambition. I don’t care if you’re the CEO or an intern. A student or an artist. Interested in business, or think entrepreneurship is lame. Ultimately, my content is there to help. It’s a resource for you to analyze, interpret, and figure out what you want to do. I don’t care if you watch me and decide you want to work more. I don’t care if you watch me and decide that you want to work less.
For me, there is nothing more important than my wish for you to find what makes you happy. For you to use the one piece of advice from my one random keynote, one random status, or one random Instagram post, that inspires you to take action, reflect, or think about how great it really is.
To inspire self-awareness and even more so, to inspire you to act. I want you to stop pondering, stop debating, stop strategizing, and just execute. My hope is that you think long term, that you really go for it, and you don’t give a fuck about what other people think of you.
I’m here to #MakePositivityLouder because I just feel so responsible for sharing the light that I see.
I just hope people feel good about what I’ve done. I want to build the biggest building, not by tearing others down, but by building mine up. Tried and true. The real way. Not by raising a billion dollars, but by having real customers. By building a real business, with real revenue and real profits.
The truth is, I just feel compelled to give. I just feel like I’m lucky enough to even have something to give, and I feel like it’s even more about my actions than my words. It matters to me, and it drives me tremendously. I am dramatically more romantic about how I’m thought about when I’m gone, than I am about the toys, trips, and stuff that I can play with while I’m here. I genuinely don’t believe that most people think that way. I leave money on the table every day in pursuit of my legacy.
I’m very self-aware that I was given something; a gift, business skill, savviness, unbelievable intuition on where the market’s going, self-confidence. I’m even grateful for the shortcomings . I was never the tallest dude on the block. I’m an immigrant, and I couldn’t speak the language. I wasn’t the fastest. I wasn’t the prettiest.
But all of it adds up. All those circumstances have created a huge advantage for me to achieve. I had the world’s best parents who instilled in me the work, dream, and opportunity to do. It’s the chip on my shoulder, and I think if things hadn’t happened that way, I would probably be in a different place.
So to me, it’s all about perspective. Are you happy? Are you healthy? Are you able to understand the things you can and can’t control? I didn’t get to decide that I would be born in USSR, in a communist country, with no money and no hope.
I think that I was lucky to have grown up with nothing, because it gave me enormous empathy to have seen both sides. I know what’s it’s like to have zero and be struggling. I know what it’s like to be bullied in school, picked on, and told that I would never amount to anything. I know what it’s like to be an outcast, denied and ignored. I know what it’s like to be contrarian, and work for everything I’ve ever had. I have seen both sides. I’m pulling from opposite directions, and I think it’s my greatest strength.
The reason I’ll win is I’m selling something very real. I’m selling the truth. There’s no get-rich-quick scheme, or 2000 e-book. I’m showcasing the results and I’m giving it all away for free.
Do you know how it cool it will be, to document my journey and actually buy the Jets? To win six Super Bowls and own six companies? Do you know how cool it will be if it all works out? It’s just the results. I’m not confused. So many of you think VaynerMedia is it. VaynerMedia is just the beginning. It’s a preface to my next 20–30 years. It’s the setup, not the conclusion.
So for all the people that listen to what I say and actually execute it, the results are going to be far greater. That’s the greatest impact I can possibly imagine.
My legacy will only continue to grow because of the people that actually go out and execute. It’s as much about me as it is about my intern, my sales lead, or my personal assistant who goes on to start the next Uber, Facebook, or AirBnB.
If you watch what I’m doing and not what I’m saying you will begin to understand. I know what my legacy is going to be, because I know the 22 to 54 emails I get every single day are the precursor to the next 30 years. I got an email last night from somebody who was homeless two years ago until they started watching my stuff. I’m not confused about what it is, it has already happened.
And what that means is, I live a more noble life when I care more about my audience. When I care more about my legacy. Because my community is my legacy.
I just think it’s a conversation that we should be having more of. I understand that it’s something that most people shy away from because it seems too egotistical, or to pompous. but it’s not.
I want to challenge that. Because if one has real legacy ambitions, it eliminates short-term financial aspirations, which I believe lead to long-term financial accomplishments, and doing it in a far better way. I want to argue that legacy should be something we push more of in public conversation, not only in entrepreneurship. but in life, and it’s something more people should aspire to. I actually believe if you have legacy as your north star. it alludes to you doing things in a much bigger way.
When you genuinely care what every single person says behind your back, a funny thing happens. You start treating people like they matter. I am extremely proud of the hundreds of thousands of people that read this article, who understand what I mean. That know that this comes from the heart.
I think my actions map to my ambitions. Because my ambition is to have legacy, I treat it that way. I treat everybody I interact with, with kindness and respect. These days, as my notoriety has grown, I still treat people just the same. I look them dead in the face and I’m just in it with them for that one minute. and really care about they have to say! Because I am very appreciative and humbled for their attention. I will never get over it. I will never get over the fact that people actually care.
Your attention is a gift to me, and I intend to use it wisely.
And I know a lot of people reading this will say: “Easy for you, Gary. You have money now, so you can focus on legacy. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t.”
But at 12-years-old, I would sit and think about these things. At 24-years-old, long before the money came, I would act on these ambitions as well.
Whether you believe me or not is irrelevant. What matters is the truth to me.
Please go find someone from Edison, New Jersey, or Hunterdon County, New Jersey and ask them. It’s always how I’ve thought; it’s always how I was wired. I believe I have money because I thought that way. I don’t think this way because I have money.
For me, it’s about legacy.
Everyday, always, forever.
It’s about the long term and really treating people with respect. It’s about honesty, empathy, and self awareness. It’s about motivation, inspiration, and truth. It’s a conversation I think we need more of. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.