I am so fucking angry at Gary Vaynerchuk (aka. Gary Vee) for the damage he will cause to thousands of peoples’ lives (if not millions) with the toxic views shared in one of his latest videos.
If you haven’t seen it, there is a video currently doing the rounds that is supposedly “essential viewing for all 20 year olds” and the advice given in it is downright harmful.
The video starts off great, really it does. His advice to not compare yourselves to others is on point. Life isn’t a competition and what matters at the end of the day is how you feel about what you’re doing, not how you compare to others.
So someone’s had more ”success” than you by the same age, who gives a shit? It doesn’t actually matter.
Especially in the age of social media where everyone shares the highlights real of their lives, and very rarely posts anything about their failures, comparing yourself to these airbrushed versions of others’ lives is a sure fire way to unhappiness and never feeling good enough.
Gary’s summary of this advice in the description of his video is perfect:
“Every second you spend thinking about what someone else has, it is taking away from time that you can create something for yourself. Spend that energy on your visions and execute.”
And his advice to not expect instant success too; all great stuff
But unfortunately Gary Vaynerchuk doesn’t stop there. No he decides to share his life advice on what it takes to be “successful” and this advice is so fucking hideously toxic I find it hard to express quite how angry and upset I am that over a million twenty-something-year-olds have listened to this crap and been made to feel bad about themselves as a result. Thousands of people have liked the video and commented, even people I know, saying things like:
“Biggest fucking reality check I got in my life!”
“Fucking best thing I’ve ever seen on any social media feed ever.”
The reason this disturbs me so much is because Gary Vaynerchuk’s life advice is that to be “successful” you need to JUST work for the next 10 years.
As he says:
“I gave up my entire 20s, all of ‘em. Imagine not doing anything fun or going anywhere for the next 8 years, including Saturday and Sunday. That’s what I did form 22 to 30.”
He says he spent 15 hours a day working, thinking about his business all the time.
He even goes onto say:
“You spent more downtime on not your career this weekend then I did in my entire 20s combined”
to the poor woman who is on the other end of his rant.
Which culminates in this gem of:
“You need to…realise that if you put your head down and just work for the next 10 years, no glamour, no new fucking car, suitcase, jewelry, trip, event, no Coachella, no fucking new fucking sneakers. Like fuckin’ work you will have it.”
AGGHHHHHHHHHHH Gary Vaynerchuk has single-handedly done more damage to the lives of twenty-something-year-olds that buy this crap in that 5 minutes than anyone else I’ve ever heard give life advice before*.
So fuck you Gary Vaynerchuk. Here’s the reality of why that advice is not just heinously toxic but also flat out wrong.
Working harder isn’t always the answer
Simply working harder will not necessarily make you achieve more. Sometimes it will even make you achieve less.
The 80:20 principle, which is a widely accepted theory as to the relationship between effort and results, states that roughly 20% of our efforts in any endeavour actually achieve 80% of the results. So, yes maybe Gary Vee got successful by working 15 hours a day and giving his twenties to his work but he probably could have achieved very close to the same results by working a lot less each day.
I spent years wasting my time doing this. Thinking that if I wanted to achieve anything I had to spend every waking hour of the day doing it, dedicating my life to it, living and breathing it or I wasn’t trying hard enough. But the reality is, I could have spent a lot less time working on those things and achieved very close to the same. Just because you’re “working” doesn’t actually mean you’re achieving more.
In fact it may even make you achieve less. For a lot of things, especially creative pursuits (which all business involves) our brains need downtime in order to process the information we’re trying to sort through.
When we’re working on something, just staring at the problem isn’t going to solve it. The mind needs time out to process things. To put them together in news ways. If we’ve been working on something and step away from it, our mind continues working through that problem in our time away. The problem doesn’t absorb our thoughts; our subconscious works through it without us even realising and makes connections that we never could have gotten to without taking that time out.
As Benedict Carey points out in the brilliant book How We Learn:
“The mind works on the problem off-line, moving around the pieces it has in hand and adding one or two it has in reserve but didn’t think to use at first.”
Also, for all greatness we need ideas and inspiration. Those come from the outside world, from the things we see, the conversations we have, experiencing how people do things in other industries. But if you spend your entire life working you’re never going to have that external stimulus to give you your ideas and inspiration.
The damage you do could last for years
Putting as much pressure on yourself as Gary Vaynerchuk is implying we need to in order to be successful could have much longer lasting detrimental effects than you imagine.
Working 15 hours a day every day and taking no downtime for the whole of your twenties will more than likely result in you suffering from stress. And take it from someone who’s been there, stress is a fucking bitch.
Stress has the potential to make you anxious, destroy your self-confidence, ruin your enjoyment of normal activities and can take years of work to overcome.
I suffered from stress in my twenties as a result of doing exactly what Gary Vee suggests. I became so insecure as a result of it that I would get nervous and start to sweat if someone just asked me how I was. I entirely lost my personality (after all you don’t fucking need that if you’re just working all the time).
The first presentation I gave after suffering form stress I almost hyperventilated and had to run out of the room. And I used to love presenting.
Stress stopped me from being me.
It took me years to undo that damage and cost me thousands of pounds. I had to take acting classes to get used to talking in front of people again. I ended up traveling the world solo as it was the only way I could think of to give myself the time and space to get back to being me. To actually remember what it was like just to enjoy each day and focus on being a person again.
You might not be around to see the pay off
What if you do what Gary suggests and devote all of your time and energy to working based on the promise of some shiny future where one day you’ll be successful but die before you get to the pay off?
Gary is basically suggesting deferring your life for the next 10 to 20 years. Don’t go have any fun, see your friends or do anything just for enjoyment.
JUST FUCKING WORK.
Because then, finally then, in 10 to 20 years time you’ll get the pay off and be “successful”.
The huge fundamental problem with this though is that you might never get to that payoff point. Even if you could know for sure that if you work your arse off, and just work, for the next 15 years then you will then be “successful”, whatever the fuck that means, you can’t know that you will actually definitely live long enough to get to the enjoyment part of your deferred life.
People die young. I wish they didn’t, I really do, but it happens. People get diagnosed with terminal cancer age 25 or run over by busses or killed it freak accidents. IT FUCKING HAPPENS so what you actually do if you decide to spend your entire twenties just working is risk that being your actual life. ALL OF IT. What you spend your time doing everyday is your life. If you were to die tomorrow do you not want to have enjoyed your life until that point? What Gary is suggesting does not sound enjoyable in the slightest. In fact it sounds fucking horrible.
It breaks my heart to think of all the people who may end up wasting what actually could turn out to be their lives as a result of this advice.
What would actually be a lot more beneficial advice to give, instead of this horseshit about spending all your time working, is to check whether the idea of success that you’re working towards achieving in the first place is actually right. The woman in the call says she wants to earn a million dollars by the time she’s 25. My question to that would be ”Why? What is it that you think a million dollars is going to give you? What happiness is it that you think a million dollars is going to be able to buy you?”
Success/happiness/life, all of it really isn’t about money. Sure we need a certain amount of money to survive and the more we have the easier certain things will be but money will not actually make you happy and feel fulfilled.
When I was in my twenties I too just wanted to be successful at business but then I realised that actually, it’s far more important to be successful at life. For me success no longer has anything to do with how much money I’m making or how big my business is, it is instead focused on whether I have freedom, whether I’m learning, whether I’m happy and whether I’m helping people.
“Success” can be defined however the fuck you want and not even challenging people on the assumption that it equates to wealth is irresponsible. Then going so far as to tell people that working all hours of the day is basically a requirement for success is just downright toxic and harmful.
So I’m not sorry when I say fuck you Gary Vee. Fuck you for encouraging another generation to think they have to suffer to achieve success. Fuck you for making them think they have to spend all hours of the day working or they’re not doing enough. Fuck you for perpetuating the myth that our lives should just be about work. Fuck you for the misery this video will cause so many. Fuck you for not encouraging the younger generation to think about whether there’s a better way of doing things. Fuck you for not challenging and inspiring people to consider whether actually they can have fun and still create great things in the process.
For those who haven’t seen it yet, here’s the video:
I’d love to hear your thoughts.