One of my hobbies/interests is food & wine. For the most part, my education as it relates to food and wine has come from personal experience (many restaurants and wine bars locally and in my travels, wineries, dinner parties, and advice from local retailers that I like) as well as reading: mostly print versus online sources. My intellectual curiosity drives me to keep seeking new information, tastes, and experiences and until recently I’d never heard of Gary Vaynerchuk (http://garyvaynerchuk.com) the “Wine Library Guy”. I first heard of Gary while reading Seth Godin’s “Tribes” book, and then again in Juliette Powell’s “33 Million People in the Room”, and most recently in “What Would Google Do?” by Jeff Jarvis. None of these are books about the wine business, but rather books about changing/open business models, social networking, and other general trends driving economic growth.
While Gary’s business has probably been covered at some point in “Wine Spectator” or other industry publications, I’d never come across his name and his business in these contexts. After seeing his name keep popping up in these aforementioned books, I went online and checked out a couple of his videos. While his style is much more forward than mine, I liked the passion and authenticity that clearly comes through in these segments. I also clicked on some of the links he has to various TV programs he’s appeared on from Letterman to Jim Cramer to Ellen DeGeneres to most recently the “Today Show” this past Friday. Yes, he’s hyping his brand (himself in this case, which he doesn’t apologize for) and his business (selling wine online and in his NJ retail shop), but again there’s an authenticity and love for what he’s doing that to me transcends the hype.
Final data point on Gary: I was doing some research locally (Milwaukee in my case) about social networks and came across the following blog exchanges about none other than Gary Vaynerchuk and whether he’s “real”: http://tiny.cc/kw8re . To me, this exchange clearly shows a guy who’s engaged in what he does, listens to customers and critics alike, and above all, loves what he does. Keep it up Gary!