What Entrepreneur Gary Vee Learned About Balance From A Dad Who Worked 18 Hours A Day

At some point, you run out of hours.

by Micah Abrams
Originally Published: 
Gary Vaynerchuk On What He Learned From His Father
Gary Vaynerchuk

If you don’t know who Gary Vaynerchuk is, chances are you aren’t on the Internet (thankfully someone printed this out for you.) The entrepreneur, angel investor, VC, and constant social media presence was always a natural-born hustler. But, before he was a social media thought leader, profane sommelier, and world’s biggest Jets fan, he was first-generation son of a Belarusian immigrant. Vaynerchuk’s father came to America and built a business without any family help, financial resources, or English.

“My dad is 62-years-old and still hustling at Wine Library in Springfield, New Jersey,” says Vaynerchuk. “He is absolutely one of my heroes, if not my primary hero along with my mom. So I have a dad, Sasha Vaynerchuk is a man that walks the Earth.” If you were about to #AskGaryVee something about work or family, here’s the collected wisdom from the guy that he would ask.

“I’m a child of a father who worked every minute. I didn’t even know him until I was 14 and we have an amazing relationship.”

On Having A Workaholic Father

“I’m a child of a father who worked every minute. I didn’t even know him until I was 14 and we have an amazing relationship. I love him with all my heart. That’s my experience. I have empathy for somebody who grew up in a household where their father was home every single day at 4 o’clock because he taught school and was home for the summers. That’s their reality. Everybody’s got their own spiel.”

Gary Vaynerchuk

On Family Before Family Business

“My dad and I had a successful family business because we loved each other more than we loved the business. My dad was 44 years old when I was 22 and came to run the business. He gave me unbelievable support and air cover to let me do my thing — which blows my head off now. In hindsight, I’m the whiz kid. But he was 44. There are 60, 70-year-old dads right now that are still micromanaging the family businesses and not letting the 45-year-old son or daughter do their thing. My dad did it at 44, in his prime. He loved me more than he loved the business. I plan on loving my children more than any other variable, so that’s what I’m going to do.”

“As I’ve gotten more comfortable in my own skin, his narrative has become more important to me.”

On Who Has The Real Success Story

“My dad came to this country with no language and zero dollars. We lived in a studio apartment the size of this office with multiple family members. He got a stock job for 2 bucks an hour in New Jersey, learned English, saved all his money, worked 18-hours a day, bought a store, had a business, and did this all in a 5-year period with no language and zero base. When I came along, the narrative is that I took [the Wine Library] from a $3 million to a $60 million business in 5 years. I think his story is lost.”

“I thought I was gonna be special entrepreneur, and I was always scared that people were going to say that my dad handed it to me because he had a liquor store. As I’ve gotten more comfortable in my own skin, his narrative has become more important to me. What was me being scared that [his story] would overshadow me has gone the other way around. I have a lot of passion for my dad’s accomplishments.”

On Not Becoming A Cliche

“For so many people, it immediately defaults to cynicism and ‘This guy is full of shit.’ I think I could have been a huckster because I have such good salesmanship, charisma, and — in its darkest version — manipulation ability. I believe I could have gone down that path. But my dad grabbing me at 14 and saying, ‘Your word is bond; honor, no lying,’ all those things, he definitely course-corrected me. It became something that was important to me. I don’t think I’m remotely as successful without my dad doing that. That single tactic — that shift in my early teenage years — changed my life.”

Gary Vaynerchuk

On His Dad’s Old School Business Ethics

“He is 62 going on 620 with the way he views the world from an honor standpoint. He has a radar. If you lie to him once it’s over forever. And when I say lie, I mean if you embellish too aggressively. I’m a meritocracist; I don’t expect anybody to do anything that’s not in their best interest. I think my dad sees it a little bit different.”

On The Yin And Yang Of His Parents

“I can see the entire world through my dad’s eyes. And then, I can see the entire world through my mom’s eyes. [Holds up a cup of water] Literally, my dad would think this is an empty cup. My mom would think that this is the ocean. When you have 2 extremes that way, you become able to navigate quite well. I can see the world [like my dad]: Cynically, defensively, negatively, and with practicality and caution. Those things bring a lot of value with it. My mom? Blind optimism, and a lot of vulnerability to that. That’s why she is not a businesswoman. So I have been able to mix them together and create my thing.”

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