How The Thank You Economy Changed My Life

In mid November 2011, right around the same time that Brent Koops told me about Amy Jo Martin (see my previous blog post), I was emailing back and forth with Jim Thiebaud, the vice president at Deluxe Distribution. Before moving out to California in December 2007 I was a sales rep for Deluxe for about 5 years in The Netherlands (yup, that’s Holland), so I’d known Jim for a while. If you know him, you know. If you don’t, he is the Henry Rollins of the skateboard industry. Down for the cause, 100% work horse, and always supporting good people.

On Saturday November 19th, if I’m correct, while he was driving to a hospital in Las Vegas to visit JT Aultz, who just had a serious accident, we had a 45 minutes phone call. After seeing what Amy Jo Martin (thanks Brent!) was doing with Shaq and The Rock (and some other teams and brands in the NBA/NHL) my brain was in overdrive. Could I be a social media consultant in the skateboard industry?

Jim told me I should read this book, The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk, as it had made a big impact on his way of looking at social media and branding. Reading a book? Me? Fuck, I don’t recall the last time I read a book, for fun. It must have been at least 10 years? But, as many, I have the utmost respect for Jim, so I couldn’t say something like “yeah, I don’t really read books”. Besides that, I knew my job at Sole Tech was anything but secure, so educating myself made total sense.

Not really sure if I could get myself to read the whole book (and yes, that’s sounds pretty stupid as I’m typing this) I went to the library and got a copy. On Wednesday November 23rd, the day before Thanksgiving, my wife and I went on a belated honeymoon to Maui. I started reading the book as soon as we took of from LAX, and right before we touched down in Maui, about 5 hours later, I finished the book. Besides being an easy to ready book, it was the style of writing (straight up, no difficult words), that really got me.

Having done the social media at Sole Tech for about 18 months (for Emerica, Altamont, and a bit of eS), and constantly having to try to convince people how powerful social media had become, it was amazing to read what a true social media expert was saying about all this. And I thought, at the time, that I was pushing the envelope and focusing on the possibilities of social media, pffff, not even close!

In the week on Maui I would read some parts of the book again, and as soon as I get back to California, I started watching various keynote speeches from Gary, and it blew my fucking mind. Everything he was saying made so much sense. One of the things that stuck with me early was his, “no tweet left behind” quote  meaning people should be replying to every person on Twitter, when they ask a question, tag your account, or talking about your brand/company/name (by using certain hashtags). Until then I was told I shouldn’t be doing that. While I saw how stoked people would get if I would reply (on behalf of one of the brands), and I felt that was worth a lot, the people above me didn’t see the value in that.

On December 1st I was laid off from Sole Tech, and ever since Gary has been my main mentor when it comes to social media strategy, and at least once a week I’ll watch some of his speeches. I’ve reached out to him on Twitter various times (he has close to 1 million followers!), and he has always replied to me. (And yes, he is in the social media business, but he also runs 2 companies.)

The Thank You Economy is the reason I started this website too. I would always “hide behind the brand” and I don’t think a lot of Emerica/Altamont social media followers knew Fred was running the accounts (it also doesn’t matter who is doing it). I’ve exchanged emails with a handfull of core fans that I’m still in touch with. All amazing people. (Marlone, Matthew, Joshua, James, Zach, you guys rule!)
I’m drifting sorry. So Gary talks about starting a blog of YouTube channel and start sharing your knowledge with people. Having a stutter doesn’t make me the best person for videos, but I’ve been writing blog posts for almost 10 years, so I figured that would be the one for me.
It’s still weird to me that I’m branding my own name, but at the same time I’m seeing that it’s working. I remember people asking me why I was giving free tips out, while at the same time I’m trying to get people to hire me. That this business model worked for me is very simple; I had to give something first, before I could take. I’ve helped a bunch of people out for free, and I still do, because I’m in it for the long run. “It’s a marathon not a sprint”, to quote Gary again. “Everybody in social media (marketing) today acts like a 19 year-old dude and tries to close on the first deal. No wonder it doesn’t work”.

To rap it up, do yourself a favor and read The Thank You Economy. If you work in social media, marketing, branding, but really this book is for everyone. Social media has changed things dramatically, so get with it, or stay on the sidelines and get ready to die….

* And for the record, FvS media Inc is in full effect. We work with about 30 different clients and help them with their social media. Crazy how it all worked out this way. And if I can do it, you can do what you think you can/want to do.

Here’s the conclusion of the book:

Here are 2 videos from Gary that I can watch on repeat any day.

This one is a 7 minute video from SXSW 2010 (yeah, that was in March 2010). He talks about Summize, which is now the search on Twitter, and Zappos, which is famous for the longest customer service phone call of 8 hours (without selling anything).

The last video is a 61 minute video of Gary at Keynote speech at the Inc 500. The is the 1st video I ever saw of Gary, and it’s still one of the best ones. Take an hour for yourself, put on your headphones, and listen.

Thanks again Jim Thiebaud for giving me the kick in the ass that I needed!