A Year Ago, Gary Vaynerchuk Lit A Fire Under Me

And some notes To Remember

And some notes To Remember

Who Should Read This:

  1. People who are sick of trying to get respect from other leaders in the community

  2. People who are having trouble raising funding

  3. Every. Investor. Who Laughed at me on this day

Some Context

Flashback to February. I was working on a startup at the time and met my developer about two month prior to the day that this post is referring to. I was in straight up hustle mode. I was everywhere. I was emailing everyone. I wouldn’t say I was a no one but I I had little clout, few people knew who I was, and those that did just knew me as a founder trying to make his thing work.

Venture Madness 2016

The day was March 4th. The event was Venture Madness. VM is a pitch competition where 16 startups pitch eachother, march madness style, in a weekend long event. Those 16 started as 64 but there are two rounds of voting before the actual event. A couple weeks before the event, they made a huge announcement. Gary Vaynerchuk, my idol, was going to be speaking there. Even better, the day before he spoke, VM announced they were letting 100 people come and listen to him speak for free. #fuckyesletsGOOOOOO

I was the first of the 100 to show up. I was so excited. Not bashing on anyone, but based on several conversations I had that day, I think I was one of maybe 6 people in that room who actually followed Gary long before he spoke. I was stoked to say the least. It was going to be a great keynote.

The keynote started and he was crushing it. I was freaking out because I was breathing the same air he was, for the first time ever. What a smart guy. I had to ask him a question. It’s the question that has been burning inside of me for a long time and I needed to ask him. But obviously, I had to wait until he was done with his keynote. It was short. Maybe 20 minutes, and he was done. He was going to move into Q&A. This was my time.

He ended earlier than expected and the AV people were getting the mic’s for Q&A. I didn’t care. My hand shot up from the rafters, he saw it and told me to ask my question. I didn’t have a mic but I tried to ask my question anyway.

(The people who were “up here” were the ones who got the free tickets. Those down there were mostly investors and big players)

“My name is Mat Sherman. I am with Schmooz which is a software. I have a question about the difference between those up there and those down there.

A lot of us up here might be students who are building, developing, bootstrapping, and we got into here by knowing the right people. The only difference between us and them is $199. Right now, the room is set up, we are clearly different how do we get the respect from people like you and people down there, in regards to what we are building, developing, and how do we get acknowledged.”

If you listen carefully in the video linked in the end of this post, by the end of the question, I was getting laughed by the attendees. If you were there, you would have heard those laughs start mid question. The fire was lit.

Then Gary Responded.

“The first thing you need to realize is how little to zero that matters” -Gary

HUGE round of applause and a flurry of laughter…

“It’s insane to me how little respect I have towards them versus towards you. Or Vice Versa. It’s just a market. The #1 way for Venture Capital to work or to have connections is for people to come to you.”

A few smirks….

(I skipped 20 or 30 seconds into his answer to get to this next one)

“If you say Gary, I need 20k for this or that…well I see you shaking your head up there so if you don’t need money, you should never even think about them in your entire life. What are you gunna do? Celebrate you you dilute 20% equity in the company you built? Got it? It’s fucking backwards.”

“It’s. Fucking. Backwards”


I’m not going to reflect so much on this post because I know i’m going to piss a lot of people off. Take what you want from his answer. It did a lot for me, I hope it does the same for you. I do have a few notes.

  1. If you thought I forgot, you’re wrong

  2. If we have a ecosystem where investors laugh at the ones trying to make shit happen (I don’t think we do, as I have had much better experience with investors since this..but still), then shit really is backwards

  3. When you disrespect one of us, you don’t understand how damaging it is…to the ecosystem and to us an individuals.

  4. You can laugh when we have a billion dollar exit. Until then, we have some work to do.

There’s always work to do.

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Watch it all unfold via video…. thanks Vincent Orleck for livestreaming. (starts at 6:45)

Vincent Orleck - Gary Vaynerchuk live at #VM16 in...
Gary Vaynerchuk live at #VM16 in Scottsdale 󾮖🏻󾁈☀️www.facebook.com