BY KATHY KNIGHT
More than 150 business men and women recently sat listening intently, learning about doing business in The Thank You Economy, which also happens to be a book written by Gary Vaynerchuk!
This was the first session of a four-part conference called "Ready Set Boost" held by local businessman Robbie Britton at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.
The instructor for the first session was author Gary Vaynerchuk himself, a Wine Library entrepreneur, digital consultant, and social media personality, who makes his home in New Jersey.
What is the book, The Thank You Economy about?
This thought-provoking book addresses the issue that we have entered an entirely new business era. And in that era, the line of thought goes, one-way exchanges between business and client are history.
Three points made by Vaynerchuk in his antimated and enthusiastically presented talk include:
* "It is imperative that businesses learn how to properly and authentically use social media to develop one-to-one relationships with their customer base -- no matter how big -- so that they make an impact in their market now and in the future.
* Valuing every single customer is mandatory in the Thank You Economy.
* Only the companies that can figure out how to mind their manners in a very old-fashioned way -- and do it authentically -- are going to have a prayer of competing."
Although Vaynerchuk does not claim to be a "techie," in 2005, he began video blogging and is known as a true social media trailblazer.
He has close to one million followers on Twitter and was included in the BusinessWeek list of the top 20 people every entrepreneur should follow.
His first business book, Crush It! Why Now Is the Time to Cash in on Your Passion (published in October 2009) hit the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Associated Press Best-Sellers lists in its first weeks.
It mapped out Vaynerchuk's road rules for how to "Crush It" in today's business market by following your passion and building your own personal brand.
In the spring of 2009, Vaynerchuck and his brother AJ launched VaynerMedia, a new breed of agency that helps Fortune 500 companies like Campbell Soup Company, PepsiCo, Green Mountain Coffee, the New York Jets, the National Hockey League and the New Jersey Nets find their social media voices and build their digital brands.
The company has grown from 28 employees to 160 employees.
Some of his latest new companies include Zappos and the Oprah Winfrey Network.
According to background information about Vaynerchuk, he appears to have leaned toward the business world from a very early age.
When he was only eight-years-old, he was operating seven lemonade stands in his neighborhood and by the age of 10, he had moved into selling baseball cards at local malls.
In high school while working at his family-owned liquor store, Vaynerchuk started reading The Wine Spectator and wine books, and realized collecting wine offered an allure similar to his previous hobby of collecting baseball cards.
With a wealth of knowledge and an entrepreneurial spirit, he spent every weekend of his college years at his parents' wine store.
Recognizing the importance of e-commerce in 1997, Vaynerchuk launched Winelibrary.com and helped grow his family business significantly from $3 million to $45 million by 2005.
DRIVEN BY GRATITUDE
In an interview prior to his remarks at Ready Set Boost, Vaynerchuk said, "I am truly driven by gratitude. I was born in a country where capitalism reigned and during the Cold War. I have the best mother in the world. I have been so fortunate in my life...I feel I should give [back] as much as possible."
"I get e-mails daily," said Vaynerchuk, "with people saying, you have changed my life, I followed your advice. You can't put a price on that."
When asked if there is another book in the works, Vaynerchuk smiled and said, "I had said absolutely not after the last one, but Harper Collins wants to make it worth my while. And honestly, I have been thinking about what can entrepreneurs learn from corporate America and what can Corporate America learn from entrepreneurs ... it would make a good book."
This year's event of Ready Set Boost was so successful according to Robbie Britton that he has decided that the conference will be held June 19, 2013 and the keynote speaker will be Jeffery Gitomer, author of The New York Times best seller's Sales Bible.
Gitomer gives public and corporate seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts live and Internet training programs on selling, customer loyalty, and personal development.