My Notes from: Gary Vaynerchuk on the State of the Advertising Industry

Damn, Gary Vaynerchuk gets me fired up.

Gary Vee Podcat

Here’s an interview he did about the state of the Advertising Industry.

I loved this so much, I asked a VA to transcribe it for me, so I don’t have to relisten for the nuggets.

Major theme: Be the one to put yourself out of business. If you don’t someone will do it for you.

Examples, excerpted from Gary V:

  • Craigslist killed classifieds
  • Dollar Shave Club should have been done by Gillette
  • Business Insider should have been created by WSJ
  • Sports Illustrated or ESPN should have built Bleacher Report
  • Conde Nast → Refinery29
  • Marriott → AirBnb
  • Why did IBM let Microsoft happen?
  • Why did Microsoft let Google happen?
  • Why did Google let Facebook happen?
  • Why did Woolworth’s let Sears happen?
  • Why did Sears let Kmart happen
  • Why did Kmart let Walmart happen?
  • Why did Walmart let Amazon happen?


“This is capitalism. This is historical. What happens is we wake up one day and major media companies that we grew up with are gone.”

“The Wall Street Journal and Sports Illustrated and USA Today and the New York Post, they killed somebody else too. We’re just living through it now as mature adults when it’s happening to them.”

Go listen on SoundCloud or download the podcast episode.

Or read the transcript below (bolding mine).  



What you’re trying to get from print you can absolutely get from Facebook right now at a lower cost. Which is reaching a lot of people that you are trying to target with a message to make them do something. The problem is they’re such an early part and immaturity of the creative and the media planning against that Facebook environment, that if the average person reading this takes the print budget, uses their marketing agency to replicate those dollars to create that event in Facebook, 8 out of 10 of them are going to get basically the same results only because the craft of the creative and the planning isn’t mature enough in Facebook planning environment. And so the answer is yes comma, but you need to make sure you know what you’re doing. Just like anything else. Like what’s the ROI of a piano or basketball? To me it’s nothing, to Billy Joel and LeBron it’s everything. So it’s not just theory, it’s execution.

But in theory, no most people shouldn’t. And by the way let me say one thing. I don’t think print is dead. I think people reading magazines and newspapers, I mean not as many as they used to, but I think I see them, people read them. It’s real, however the problem is the advertising, page 113 in Sports Illustrated, full page ad, cost is grossly overpriced in the 2017 environment. Well it used to be classifieds, right? But Craigslist came along and took care of that. Of course. They should be thankful that there is still going to be 3 to 5 more years of agencies and people that aren’t as attuned to what’s happening pushing and selling and buying this product. And they should take the profits of that and reallocate it to creating digital distribution that they can monetize over the next decade.

It’s very hard to guess 3 to 5 years out, but I would say that any common sense individual that’s reading this article that thinks that print advertising is the healthy advertising medium for 5 years from today is not the sharpest tool in the shed.

Well to that point, the people that I think I’m fascinated by are the people that allocate the media dollars in the biggest companies in the world. Either they are head of media, they are CMOs, the brand managers and then more importantly the real question is, why are they taking the advice from these media buying agencies that are in the middle that are telling them that it’s still a viable option? And the answer is because media companies that sell print are still making very big margin on that because it doesn’t take a lot of planning to give Hearst and Conde Nast or other mediums the money. And there is a lot of margin in that versus planning a proper Facebook campaign that takes a lot more time, effort and skill.

Yes, and it’s not that I’m smarter or I grew up with it, it’s that it’s a vested financial interest of media companies, media agencies that place media to still sell other things. Because there is higher margin in it. You make more money if your Fortune 500 company buys print than if they buy a lot of Facebook. Especially if they ask you to do Facebook properly and truly plan as many cohorts and segments as you need to to be successful at it. I mean this is the under lining non-talked about issue.

I sure can. That if you’re a big media publicly held company that is a media buying agency and you are, your client is Colgate or IBM and you’re a Star Commer media, and I’m not picking on any of these four companies, this is what’s happening, there is a lot of margin and it’s easier to sell through the traditional stuff than the new stuff because it’s always been accepted. It’s just an ecosystem of average.

Yes, yes, there is another thing. They are held to better metrics. There is no fucking metrics in a magazine ad. You don’t have to justify it. Like you place a full page ad in the Times and you take some kakemame calculation of circulation times how many people leave a newspaper on the subway and everybody high fives themselves.

And new stuff until something becomes accepted. Classic, just classic human behavior. Stunning, stunning, stunning. I mean 5 years is a long time especially when you’re going into meetings and eating shit in those 5 years, right? But I mean, Jesus, there were meetings I was in in 2011 where executives didn’t even know what Facebook was even though it was 4 or 5 years old, and monstrous.

No, not only has that not happened, it went from little to no knowledge to disrespect in 13, 14. To that doesn’t mean anything, who cares. That’s an afterthought. To now there’s not an executive on earth in the marketing media business world that is willing to have massive audacity to disrespect this environment. Right? They may not believe in it, but nobody is pounding their chest and peacocking in a boardroom saying Facebook is going to be gone in a year.

That’s right. Because it’s a land grab. It’s easy to buy beachfront property in Malibu, but what about in Nicaragua? And so to me the theory is, if you are going to buy beachfront property in Malibu, for that same cost you can buy 11 beachfront properties across Central and South America. Right? And the question is if only one of those convert, you actually made a financially sound bet.

That’s just not how media’s done, and so what you end up happening is the entrepreneurs eat up the upside and new businesses is being built.

And no measurement inside a corporate environment, so a dollar shave club can do it, but Gillette can’t. There is no reason a business insider should have been done by anyone else besides the Wall Street Journal.

You know what I mean? Like Sports Illustrated or ESPN should have built Bleacher Report, right? Conde should have built Refinery29 or (?? 6:30) right? So I’m a big believer, Merriott should have built AirBnB, I don’t know, some transportation company should have created Uber. That’s my general thesis of when you’re the leader, create an allocation of dollars to put yourselves out of business before somebody else does.

No, what stops it is to do what I just said means that the CEO, the board and the other leaders in every organization have to have worse numbers for 3 years because they are pouring dollars into something that doesn’t return anything, and that’s not in their bonus structure a positive thing. So human behavior takes over and they appease Wall Street in 90 day terms, don’t invest in the future and they don’t care because their retiring in 4 years. And real quick, before I get any further, even your hmm, like you know what’s amazing about all this? Everybody knows that truth if they are smart enough to understand it. Right?

What happens? What happens is what has always happened. Why did IBM let Microsoft happen? Why did Microsoft let Google happen? Why did Google let Facebook happen? Why did Kmart let Bradley’s happen? Why did Bradley’s let, why did Woolworth’s let Sears happen? Why did Sears let Kmart happen? Kmart let Walmart happen? Why did Walmart let Amazon happen? This is capitalism. This is historical. What happens is we wake up one day and major media companies that we grew up with are gone.

Of course it is, because the Wall Street Journal and Sports Illustrated and USA Today and the New York Post, they killed somebody else too. We’re just living through it now as mature adults when it’s happening to them.

Of course because when you have major innovation, AKA the maturity of the internet itself, everything speeds up. Just like when television became the major medium instead of radio, you had the whole new level of fame, different people emerged, different companies emerge, just like the printing press instead of like people talking at pubs. I mean this is exactly right. This is so cliche, so basic, so obvious, the problem is there’s just a lot of people that don’t have vested financial interest in it actually happening.

And TV will still be around. And people buy commercials 20 years from now. But they won’t pay as much and it won’t be as important. Nothing dies. Nothing dies, things just get exposed. Or they can understand that there’s other options. Like if you’re a real, like I love how everybody’s like journalism is going to die. No it’s not, journalism’s never been better because you have so many options. I mean, that’s right, if you’re a great journalist, if you’re a great investigative journalist, you are going to make more money over the next 20 years, not less, because the Washington Post and ABC are not going to keep as much of the percentage of the action.

I mean, it’s just evolution. I mean, all of a sudden, I love hearing people that like want to argue for Walmart’s existence. They are the same guy 10 years ago saying that Walmart was big and bad and killing local businesses. Now you’re fighting for Walmart cause they are the underdog against Amazon? Like, you know.

No. No because if you go with like B2B or things of that nature, then you have LinkedIn. Then you have the ability to target people on Facebook that are employees of. So if you are going to argue to me that I’m trying to target 50 to 70 year olds that read the Wall Street Journal, I’m going to argue with you that okay, let’s go even further. Are you trying to reach lawyers in a top 5 firm? Great, let’s run Facebook ads against people who are 50 to 70 years old that actually work, the data is there, work at these firms.

I mean, only because I know, go look you, go look at what Sotheby’s and Christie’s is doing on Instagram. They are selling hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of items on a single post on Instagram. I mean that is, you know what you just described? I’ll tell you why a lot of people told you that. The biggest issue in the marketplace right now is lack of practitioners. People are talking in theory.

Go ask that person that told you that luxury is still good the last time they spent meaningful money against hundred thousand dollar income level cohorts on Facebook and tried to sell something worth thousands of dollars. They have no answer for you. They may not have an answer for you on what it actually means to run a Tiffany’s ad in the New York Times. They don’t know.

You know, I’ll tell you where the strong opinions come from. I come from actually selling stuff, right? Like to me, this isn’t marketing theory, this is like results. Like, by the way, I have no vested interest. I’ll be the first guy that talks this way about Facebook and Snapchat if I don’t think there are a positive. I’m completely agnostic. I’ll give you another thing. If the New York Times wants to cut their full page ad rates by 75%, I’ll be buying.

Worth the ROI. All I trade is attention. It’s not the medium that I’m romantic about, it’s the value of attention to create the action that I’m most passionate about.

Oh, I don’t think they have to right? Like as long as the media buying agencies give them purchase orders and RFPs, great, right? Wait until the carnage that’s coming. And by the way, everything I just said to you, go watch a YouTube video in 2008 of me saying the same thing. So the bottom line is, they’ve had plenty of time to address this issue, but they have been romantic and emotional and stubborn.

And you know what it is, the other thing that’s really powerful is it really, the cliffs happen. Like it’s held up, it’s held up, it’s held up and then the bottom falls out. I mean look at the ESPN subscriber numbers. Oh my God, that blew my face off. Even for me. I’m like, oof. I looked at that and I’m like oof. If people don’t believe me now, this is the golden goose. Can you imagine 40 years ago if I stood on the stage and said, okay in the fall of 16, NFL ratings will be declining rapidly and 700,000 people in a quarter are going to unsubscribe from ESPN. Then they’ll say, okay if that happens then it’s real. Now that happened and people are still holding their breath. And by the way, game 7 is going to be watched a ton because the creative is the variable and the Cubs in the game 7, it’s creative that matters to the casual sports fan.

Correct, and by the way, the election and blow outs, I’m not sold that the NFL ratings are on the decline. But let me promise you something that is on the decline. Even if NFL ratings were up 35%, the consumption of the commercials in between the sport and that’s the punchline right? I don’t think Chase or Toyota or Coca Cola care about how many people are watching that drive, they care about how many people stay for the attention for them to sell against that drive. And that’s collapsing. And you saw my quote, I believe the Super Bowl is grossly underpriced. And by the way, massively.

My notes from Chow: Making the Chinese American Restaurant

Went to the Museum of Food and Drink in Williamsburg last week! It was awesome!

The exhibit was called Chow: Making the Chinese American Restaurant.

Chow Making the Chinese American Restaurant

At nearly every panel I felt a visceral connection. Here are some of the pieces that resonated, and why:


Chinese labor built the railroads

In my opinion, this sums up the Chinese mentality, pride, and way of life: “They did what no one else would do.”


The Chinese Exclusion Act

Interchange“Muslim” with “Chinese”  and this could be 2017.


Political cartoon of Chinese Exclusion Act at Museum of Food and Drink

More fun times.


The Repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act at Museum of Food and Drink

“Congress repealed Expulsion to fight [Japanese wartime] propaganda, not to combat racism at home.”


Chop Suey at Museum of Food and Drink

When I was 14, I started working at my uncle’s Chinese restaurant. That’s where I first learned what chop suey was. I remember asking, “Who the hell eats this?” I never even heard about it before!


Chinese takeout menus at Museum of Food and Drink

Cool menus.


Johnny Kan Restauranteur at Museum of Food and Drink

I wish there was more about Johnny Kan. Think about it: Chinese are still considered foreigners in the 50s. Wounds from institutional racism still raw. And this young buck’s got the vision to change the perception of what American Chinese food can be, making his way in a world where no matter how hard he works he’ll always be seen as a foreigner. Baller.


Plate from Johnny Kan's restaurant at Museum of Food and Drink

“The restaurant featured white tablecloths and an open kitchen design. In view of the diners and behind plate glass, Chinese chefs tended woks in white chef uniforms.”


Johnny Kan's menu at at Museum of Food and DrinkJohnny Kan’s menu had detailed descriptions and origin stories of each dish, to educate diners of what they were eating. Dude was content marketing in the 50s.


Joyce Chen Restauranteur at Museum of Food and Drink

Joyce Chen opened her first restaurant in the states in 1958. She also had her own cooking show, a cookbook, and introduced the flat-bottomed wok. That was one #nastywoman.


Chinese Restaurant wok station at Museum of Food and Drink

When I was 22, I asked the head chef to teach me a bit about cooking on the line. In this diagram, everything’s clearly labeled. In reality, all these sauces and spices are in unlabeled tin cans and are indistinguishable from one another. I made an order of Beef and Broccoli and then he kicked me out.


Chinese sauces at Museum of Food and Drink

So interesting to see the relationships between the sauces.


7000 Takeout Boxes at Museum of Food and Drink

Mad takeout boxes!

Summary: If Chinese American food is of any interest to you, you’ll love this exhibit. You can knock it out in 30 minutes (I was there for over an hour). At the Museum of Food and Drink in Williamsburg, open Fri-Sun until February 26, 2017.

How to Persuade People to Work for Free

In the last ten years, I’ve worked for free many times.

“Uh, no shit. It’s called an internship.”

Not so fast. I’m not just talking about internships (though of course, I did those too).

I’m talking about working for free outside the safety umbrella of a university. Without the structure of an internship program. As a grown-ass man with man bills to pay:

  • I worked on sets for indie movies and music videos.
  • I read scripts.
  • I researched for authors.
  • I watched Youtube videos.
  • I did casting.
  • I consulted on marketing plans.

All free work. In rare cases, yeah, it was an absolute waste of time. But in most, it fell somewhere in the spectrum of “best career decision ever” and “glad I did it, but never again.”

What differentiated work from landing on one side of the spectrum versus the other?

Recently I wrote about working in restaurants. And how my best work happened after pre-meal meetings, and I was reminded that “this work is important.”

In this case, rationally I’m aware the better I work, the better my service, the more I’ll make in tips. Logically, I know this… BUT in this case, there’s a second incentive at play here, more powerful than the money.

Continue reading…


The Importance of Pre-Meal

On January 13, 2009, we opened our restaurant, Shogun, in Delmar, NY and my father held our first pre-meal inside the kitchen. As the first of the soft-opening customers trickled through the front door, he shared this nugget of instruction:

“This is how you pour miso soup.”

We were about to open a Japanese restaurant — and we didn’t know how to serve the soup.

This is like asking for garlic bread at The Olive Garden and your server saying, “Garlic what?”

Case Studies: The Difference Pre-Meal Makes

I always thought pre-meal was the best part of a shift. Our pre-meals improved steadily: my father eventually moved past the soup, and instead, he’d remind us what was ’86ed, what the specials were, and what we should push that evening.

But it wasn’t my favorite part because I learned anything new, or made me feel more prepared.

I’ll get to what made pre-meal special in a moment. First, it’s worth noting how seriously other restaurants take their pre-meal. 

At Eleven Madison Park, for example, the maitre d will Google the name of every guest that evening. If he finds out a guest is from say, Detroit, and he knows a server is from there, he’ll put them together. If it’s a couple’s anniversary, he’ll figure out which anniversary

Before guests even step foot into Eleven Madison Park, they’re looking for ways to blow their minds.

This is part of the reason why Eleven Madison Park dominates — even though they only offer a $195 pre-fixe meal.

In a paper titled Impact and the Art of Motivation Maintenance, published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, researchers applied principles similar to the pre-meal to the fundraising process.

At the University of Michigan, researchers arranged for one group of call center works to interact with scholarship students who benefited from the school’s fundraising — a five-minute, informal chat where they discussed the students’ studies.

How much of a difference did it make?

Continue reading…

A Million Moments of Serendipity

Couple weeks ago, I was researching charisma, the ability to build rapport, that sort of thing. It led me down the path of the Charismatic Man: the Bill Clinton’s, the Dale Carnegie’s, the Neil Strauss’s…

All of which were extremely interesting.

But not the right context for me.

A familiar voice creeped into my ear as the deadline for this research approached, a voice rooted deep in the lizard brain, strong and powerful — but one of very limited vocabulary:

Why did you take on this project? You’re not smart enough to figure it out. 

You’re running out of time. You’re going to look like a fool. 

This is more than you can handle. 

I can’t say that I whirled around and told the voice to STFU, like the person at the movie theater who shouts at the Cell-Phone-Talker and everyone claps for. I’m not a “STFU” kinda guy…

I’m more a trench fighter. I dug deeper, like a seasoned WWI solider. Then I held my position, and paused… waiting for the signal to go “over the top.”

Then, I got the signal.

Continue reading…