There’s a scene in Sex and the City 2 (which, I think, we all agree is 101% trite, grimful and offensive) where Carrie rants about her negative book review in The New Yorker magazine. She reminisces that she’s carried a copy of the weekly magazine in her handbag for 20 years. As have many New Yorkers.
This is Yet Another Thing I Love About New York: the culture of reading the New Yorker on the subway. The magazine itself is sublime reading. If you’re a writer, you should study it closely. Observe the different styles of writing, the free, creative way that mundane issues or a simple interview is approached. But I also love how parochial it is. It takes a small issue that’s buzzing around a big issue, something that everyone has noticed in their travels, and extrapolates eloquently. It’s Manhattan writ small.
Plus: its paperstock – fine and foldy – lends it to rolling up and fitting in a handbag.
I also love how old-school it is. The fonts, the illustrated covers, the cartoons inside, the intimate caption contest at the back. You could pick up a back issue from 1967 and it would look exactly like today’s edition.
To this end, I’ve copied and pasted a random article I read in this week’s edition. It’s perfect. It’s writing at it’s most free. It’s critical without being snarky. It plants an idea and leaves it suspended there, for the reader to create their own judgment. Good writing should do this: it should be an invitation to delve. Enjoy:
by Tad Friend June 7, 2010
In the future, everyone will be in touch with Gary Vaynerchuk. You’re probably already buds with him on Facebook (44,900 acolytes) or Twitter (852,000 followers). No? Really? You haven’t seen him on the Internet explaining wine, as the excitable host of the “Wine Library TV” Webcast, or on television—“Power Lunch,” Fox Business, etc.—explaining the power of social media, as detailed in his best-selling business book, “Crush It!”? You know, Gary V: the “Social Media Sommelier”? Not even on Ustream or Tumblr? O.K., somebody’s fired. Kidding, kidding—Gary V is all about humility. It’s just that it’s hard to believe, because Gary V’s messaging is so blowing up right now: “passion + expertise = personal brand”; “personal brand + social media = <–> dialogue”; “<–> dialogue = $$$.” Game on! Yes! Awesome! Game over!
What Gary V is really all about is relationships. According to the theory of Dunbar’s number, you can’t have relationships with more than a hundred and fifty people. But you can if you redefine what a relationship is. A relationship with Gary V means an ironclad guarantee that he’ll reply to your e-mail within four months, with at least a “thnx” or a “mwaa!” First, however, you’ll get a bounce-back message that directs you to a brief video. In the video, Gary V, looking sporty in a maroon rugby shirt, thanks everyone: “I don’t want anybody to not recognize how appreciative I am of the volume of e-mails I get.” He names assistants and handlers who can help with your biz-dev or media-op needs. Then he thanks everyone again, and again, and again, six times in all. His passion and sincerity make his eyebrows pop like upside-down Vs—V for Gary V! Branding!
A recent F2F with Gary V at VaynerMedia’s busy Tribeca offices started fifty minutes late, for which Gary V was profusely apologetic, as he was eager to begin explaining that he reads most of the twelve hundred e-mails he gets each day within an hour of their arrival. “Sayings like ‘You can’t please everybody’—literally, when I just said that, the way it processed in my mind was, ‘Why not?’ I’m willing to outwork most people, sixteen hours a day, so I start to think that one on one is scalable.” He sketched his decision tree: “If Oprah’s e-mailing and she wants me on the show, I respond really quickly. After that, it’s about length. If you write, ‘ “Crush It!” is great!,’ I’ll very likely write back. If you write your life thesis, then I don’t care how big you are, it’s hard to get back right away—it’s just the math of it.” But, ultimately, Gary V is about responsiveness; on a recent flight to Australia, he replied to e-mails from October. “People are so pumped that I answer at all. I mean, if I e-mailed Steve Jobs three years ago, and he e-mailed me back today, I’d be happy.” Is there a “Gary V’s number”—a point of e-mail inundation at which you’d have to surrender? “Sure.” When? “Never!”
Vaynerchuk eyed his buzzing iPhone and said, “I am surprised by how not-adopted the video reply has been. What keeps other people from doing it, I think, is that they think a video comes across as ‘I’m cool, look at how many e-mails I get.’ That perception doesn’t scare me, because I know who I am. So I understand you, Sally in Texas, why you’re, like, That guy is such a douche bag.
“But I’m doing this insane level of response”—he mimed some super-fast texting—“out of gratitude.” He thumped his heart. “I was born in the Soviet Union, and we were poor when we came here”—to Edison, New Jersey—“so it’s incredible to me that that many people are interested.” Vaynerchuk explained the “85-15” formula that drives the Gary V brand. “Eighty-five per cent of the crowd is going to fall in love with me—they’re going to feel it, wow. But fifteen per cent are going to think, This guy is obnoxious. I spend enormous time with them—every negative review of ‘Crush It!’ on Amazon has a response from me—and I can probably bring back ten of the fifteen. Five per cent will still think it’s a tactic. And I respect that, but I can still get them. You know why? ’Cause I’m a good dude. Nobody walks this earth thinking he’s better than I think I am—I think I’m great. At the same time, it’s so obvious to me that I’m nobody. And my brand is a bridge between those two ideas.” He laughed. “I feel that I articulated that well, you know? I’m going to steal that from myself.” The bridge-analogy brainstorm reminded him to shoot a new iteration of his e-mail-reply video, with a link to another video that he just made, about getting the work-work balance right. To learn more about the work-work balance, e-mail him at [email protected] ♦