What would you get if you took Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss and Joe Pesci, and mixed them together in a barrel—preferably an oak wine barrel from the old country? You might get Gary Vaynerchuk.

Over the last few years, Gary has transformed himself from manager of his dad’s New Jersey liquor store into a TV personality, cultural phenomenon and the world’s best known “social media sommelier.” His daily web-based wine-tasting shows on WineLibraryTV.com (WLTV) draw audiences of 80,000 and up. He has been featured in
The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and Time; appeared on The Ellen Degeneres Show, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Mad Money and Nightline; and given keynotes at technology events everywhere. And he’s just getting started. As The Guardian put it, “Gary Vaynerchuk is on his way to becoming the online Oprah.”

The man has boundless energy (that same Guardian article urged readers to go to his web site—“and be prepared for a jet engine in your face.”) and he devotes a good deal of it to being an evangelist for what he calls “social business.”

According to Gary, we’ve slipped over a threshold into an age where authenticity pays, personal passion equals power, and where, when you build brand equity, anything can happen. — J.D.M.


How did you go in a handful of years from your bricks-and-mortar business to having this far-flung following?

All I’ve done is use the tools.

There are tools in place now that have never been in place before. If you asked a businessman in the 1700s, “How in the world did you get your product everywhere?” he’d say, “By ship.” If you asked that question in the 1990s, the answer would be, “We used FedEx.” Today, it’s social media.

A few years ago there was no Twitter, Face-book or Ustream, no blogs and social networks to help you build product brand or personal brand equity.

The next wave of products—whether it’s vitamin water, a new rapper, sneakers or the newest hairstyle—are going to be built through this Internet world.

It could be something Perez Hilton says on his blog, or something a very heavily-followed Twitter person Twitters out, that’s really going to spark what I call Word of Mouth 2.0.

What do you mean by “word of mouth 2.0”?