is a located 30 miles south of Cleveland. It’s a pretty typical
town of about 25,000 people and not much out of the ordinary happens
there. But today, Gary Vaynerchuk,
one of the Web’s biggest celebrities, is streaming his popular
WineLibraryTV.com show around
the globe from the living room of a rabid fan that resides in Medina.
not a publicity stunt nor is it unusual for Gary to hang out with
anyone in his growing army of followers. They proudly call themselves
Vayniaks and more than 80,000 of them tune
in online every day to watch Gary talk about wine.
Gary signs books at the Learned Owl, Hudson Ohio
Gary is in
the Cleveland area as part of a national book tour to promote his
book “101 wines you should taste”. Cleveland isn’t
exactly the wine capital of the world. It’s also not a hub
for Internet geeks and online marketers, a crowd where Gary is also
very well known. Still, the night of the book signing excited Vayniaks
form a long line that winds around the building – many sporting
their WineLibrary T-shirts and “Bringing the Thunder”
who approaches Gary at the signing is treated like a friend. He’s
cordial, funny, and very welcoming. He’s got a huge personality
and tirelessly works the room for hours - signing books, posing
for photographs and socializing with a gigantic group of people.
He really seems
to enjoy hanging out with these folks, almost relishing being a
regular guy. His enthusiasm doesn’t seem forced or fake or
manufactured to sell more copies of his book. This is just Gary
being Gary. And it’s what has made him successful. This is
Gary at his best.
Vayniaks get interviewed after meeting Gary
your best buddy, your pal, and the crazy New York Jets fan that
doesn't care about talking smack to a room full of Cleveland Browns
fans that all just coughed up $20 to buy his book. These folks will
spend even more money that evening sitting in the fancy restaurant
sipping on wines he recommended.
while Gary is a marketing genius using Twitter
and other social media platforms to sell his product – which
is mostly himself – his is also a genuinely nice person. He’s
the real deal – someone that makes everyone around him feel
special – and that attitude inspires a huge amount of love
and adoration from his fans.
After the book
signing, there is a smaller gathering with 100 Vayniaks. Gary, who
is known for his loud, in your face, whip the crowd into a frenzy
energy, enters the room quietly with no introduction. For a moment
the room goes silent with awe like Mic Jagger just walked in. Then
the crowd acknowledges their admiration for Gary with a rousing
round of applause. He truly seems humbled and grateful.
around for a day is exhausting. He’s a bundle of endless enthusiasm,
energy and inspiration. And his passion is not only for wine but
for also football - more specifically his beloved New York Jets.
While in Cleveland, a Vayniak with season tickets in million-dollar
luxury suite has offered to let Gary tape an episode of WineLibraryTV
from Cleveland Browns Stadium and provide a guided tour. This fits
well with Gary’s mission to shoot his show from every major
stadium in the NFL.
Prior to going
into the stadium, Gary is sitting in the grass in the shade with
his laptop. He’s streaming himself to hundreds of people via
Ustream.tv and inviting people
in the area to come down and participate in the fun. One woman is
watching Gary live online and decides to jump into her car and head
to the stadium. Even though Gary’s never met her before, this
woman arrives to a warm greeting, like they were old friends. She
was immediately welcomed into growing group and now part of the
Live taping of the "thunder show"
The live streaming
continues as the group makes its way into stadium. Security guards
and other stadium workers aren’t sure what to make of the
crowd as they walk by with the open laptop streaming the footage
and Gary yelling angrily at the New England Patriots logo helmet
on the wall.
show-behind-the-show continues to be streamed live as the cameramen
discuss angles, set up equipment and the wines for the show are
brought into the luxury box. Now, it’s time for the official
show. There isn’t a script but WineLibraryTV.com has a format.
Gary says hello. Gary tastes wine. Gary gives wine commentary. Show
over. But even when the show is over, it’s not really over.
Gary continues to stream live. And Gary is always on.
30-minute drive to grab some lunch, Gary is on the phone the entire
time while his friend, Noah St. John, acts as his driver for the
day. Gary is constantly on his iPhone and checking email. However,
when you get 1,000+ emails a day and have a reputation for responding
right away, you don't have the luxury of dealing with it later.
And when the wife calls, you answer it, no matter what.
This is a full-time
job that takes him away from his family for large chunks of time.
He says he’s been on more than 50 flights since the start
of the year (2008). He’s also Twittering and answering emails
at all hours of the day and night, in addition to interacting with
his fans every chance he has. Each day spends more time responding
to emails than he does sleeping.
Spending time with Gary
A grilled cheese
sandwich and a few hours later, the lunch is over and everyone is
reminded once again that Gary never stops. He's in the area for
another night to host a private wine tasting at someone's home that
evening with a group of people that he’s never met before.
And he does all of this without a limo to wisk him away after dessert
or a handler or an entourage. It's just Gary.
been criticism of Gary from some that don't believe he’s sincere.
Instead, they want to believe that he’s just some guy from
New Jersey seek celebrity via the Web. Some say he’s only
interested in lining his own pockets by selling you something.
If any of those
naysayers spent just one day with him, they would probably be converted
to Vayniaks or collapse in a heap of exhaustion.
At lunch Gary
jokes with the group that he has a special gene that allows him
to like people more than he likes himself. Of course, no such gene
exists, but for just a second everyone in the group wants to be
buying whatever he is selling.
a video from the first time I met Gary from November 2007
at a party in Las Vegas at the Wynn.