Interview: Gary Vaynerchuk on resilience, events, and what he loves about Montréal
Gary Vaynerchuck builds businesses. Well, that’s the short way of stating it. The venture capitalist guru has his finger on the pulse of business trends, new technology, and human behaviour. He’s a CEO, a best-selling author, and one of the world’s most in-demand speakers. We caught up with Gary to chat about his upcoming appearance at C2 Online, what he thinks about the future of events, and—of course—why he loves Montréal.
Tourisme Montréal: Let’s start with C2 Online—what motivated you to say yes to this event?
Gary: I’ve been trying to say yes for 10 years! Funny enough, my mom’s birthday is in May. Her birthday one of my favourite events of the year, yet it’s always been the thorn that prevented me from attending C2 Montréal. I’ve been dying to do the event. This year, the world has created the opportunity. And it’s one of the great conferences of the world, so I’m stoked.
TM: What can attendees expect from your appearance at C2 Online?
Gary: I’m a very impromptu speaker. I think I’ll probably format my talk as a type of “state of the union.” But the truth is that I could end up going anywhere. I’m often affected by the person speaking before me. I like to continue whatever energy, whatever topic they’ve brought to the table. I’ll definitely be talking about modern communication and actionables and encouraging people to see possibilities.
TM: What does the theme of the event—resilience—mean for you?
Gary: It’s a great word, a great theme. It’s actually one of the most underestimated aspects of being a creative, of being an operator, of being an entrepreneur. A lot of young folks—let’s say in their late 20s or early 30s—didn’t really experience the economic crash of 2008, so they think hardship is not going to Cancun with their friends at spring break. So, this experience in 2020 is the first time they’ve had to deal with real professional adversity. We’re all born with different circumstances. I was born into a family that immigrated to America in the late 70s. This absolutely helped to build up resilience. My foundation is adversity, and the key to moving forward is resilience.
TM: What are the barriers for the industry to reinvent itself?
Gary: We have an ungodly amount of event professionals who have never focused on virtual events. Up until this point they’ve been doing things exactly the same way they’ve always done them. In a way, it’s no different than what I was yelling about in 90s: you have to get good at the internet. It’s the same in the event business. Be prepared to chart new territory.
TM: So, what is your take on virtual meetings?
Gary: Let’s just be clear that being in person [at an event] is such a big part of the ROI. Inevitably, you’re going to have a group of folks who won’t value the content. What do they value? The community aspect. The best virtual conferences are building closed meeting spaces where people can actually interact with each other, where there’s that social element. I loved Twitter in the early days because it was a micro community. I would get off the stage of a speaking event and I couldn’t wait to respond to everyone who had tweeted at me. This was a type of online meeting. We have to re-establish that energy through software, through innovation. Ultimately, the best virtual meetings will be able to emulate the ability to build relationships.
TM: So, you’re optimistic?
Gary: Sure. Ultimately, conference businesses in 2030 are going to be much stronger because of what is happening right now.
TM: Finally, it wouldn’t be a Tourisme Montréal interview without mention of Montréal. What are your impressions of the city?
Gary: I grew up in the wine business and I would take trips to Montréal in my early 20s… sometimes for bachelor parties, sometimes for family events. What always impressed me was the food and the wine, how it competes at a global level. I’m permanently affected by those early trips to Montréal. Then, of course, there’s the hockey. I love watching the Canadians play. Finally, when I think of Montréal I think of the quality of entrepreneurs and do you know what comes to mind? Sophisticated creativity. Montreal does a great job of elevated thinking, from a creative lens.
Read this next: Introducing C2 Online: Montréal’s iconic event goes digital