Why I Had A Mental Breakdown In Front Of Gary Vaynerchuk
4/26/On Monday April 18th, 2016, I met Gary Vaynerchuk.
He was the keynote speaker at Social Media Marketing World in San Diego and as usual, he dropped truth bombs, turned shit up, and left. Watching him live was a true gift - his energy and sincerity makes every person in the room feel like he's talking to them directly.
At 10:30 p.m. the night before, Gary held a meet-up at the Marriott pool. I had seen him post on Snapchat about holding these before, but I had no idea what it would be like... Let me tell you, the air was thick with anticipation. You could just feel every one waiting for him to show up. So much that it was quiet.
It felt like the 'calm before the storm,' or as if we were all friends trying to surprise our friend for his birthday.
Gary arrives and I watch him walk over to say what's up to Lewis Howes. The crowd notices Gary and people just begin to swarm in. Everyone goes nuts.
People cheer, 'Gary Vee, Gary Veeee!' A couple guys around me say, 'Dude this is so so-real.'
Everyone's eyes are just fixated on Gary, staring at him like he's God himself. I have never in my life felt a more connected moment with a crowd of people who were strangers to me. It was this positive feeling, knowing that every one there follows him, believes in what he does, and has been affected by him in some way or another.
I met Gary there, technically; but I really got the chance to talk with him the next night (I'll explain later.) When I got to the front of the crowd, I was nervous. My heart was racing - I had dreamt of meeting him and telling him about how much he has inspired me to work harder, do things for the right reasons, and how the content he continues to create will be one of the greatest sources I use for guidance, forever.
"Gary!" I hugged him and looked at him and said "I appreciate you being here and doing this... it's crazy. You're just so human." The people surrounding us laughed and shook their head eagerly in agreement. The look on people's faces; shocked of how cool he truly was and how kind and authentic he was in every conversation. Incredible.
I stood there to watch him interact with what seemed like 100 people and I can honestly say he was genuine to every single person. There was a man who asked him to record a video wishing his 15-year-old son happy 'fucking' birthday, another man wanted him to record a video giving a shout out to his wife at home, and one guy even put him on the spot to answer a question regarding entrepreneurship; Gary personalized every single response.
I couldn't believe it. I didn't know people like him actually existed. I knew he was an awesome guy but I didn't think he actually took the time (3-5 hours that night) to stand there and meet every single person and make each one feel like they matter. Talk about a wonderful human being.
The next night, after his keynote, I waited in line for 30 minutes to tell him I appreciate who he is and what he's doing. I felt like I had to put myself out there and talk to him before it was over.
When I got up to Gary he smiled real big, and he immediately looked at my name tag so he could call me by my name to make it personal. I opened my mouth by saying 'I just really wanted to tell you how much I....' And my eyes begin to soak up, my lips quiver a little, and it was pretty emotional from there. Trying to not take his time with my silly tears, feeling embarrassed, he starts to say "Olivia, tell me about it."
As unemotional as I could (which was still pretty freaking miserable), I told him my story: I graduated college in December and chose to put my dreams aside so I could help someone I love.
Just two weeks after graduation I went straight to work for my mother; I knew she needed the help and I would gain experience working for her. She owns a private college that she has put her heart and soul into; my mother was diagnosed with stage 3C breast cancer in 2009 and again with stage 4 breast and lung cancer in 2012. After her diagnosis her work truly became her outlet and her entire life.
I had dreams and aspirations to travel and to manage social media platforms for businesses, but I chose instead to move back to my small hometown to work for my family’s business. And I knew working for family entailed wearing multiple hats, not just the title my business card read.
Now while I’m not trying to sound ungrateful or entitled, I knew I was becoming the person I dreaded the most. I lied to myself, and made myself feel better by saying ‘Olivia, you’re helping people. You’re saving money. You’re spending more time with your family.’ All of these things were true, but they were excuses.
I let myself become comfortable in this position and stopped dreaming and working towards something greater. I knew I wanted to help people but I didn’t know how and was too ‘busy at work’ to take the time to figure that out. But I masked all of my feelings, and continued to go through the motions of a 40+ hour work week, doing things I wasn’t connecting with.
Being at the social media marketing conference and hearing all of these amazing individuals talk about their journey and their love for what they do made me realize what I had been doing. I broke down in front of Gary that night because I knew I had let myself down.
And here’s how Gary blew my face off:
GO AFTER WHAT YOU LOVE & TAKE RISKS. I knew my passion was in story telling and I was no longer doing that with my days. Just because you’re making a temporary sacrifice doesn’t mean you have to give up on your aspirations. Do what you love no matter what.
IF YOU WORK FOR YOUR FAMILY, DO IT FOR THE RIGHT REASONS. You don’t want to build resentments that can damage your relationships. I felt trapped and didn’t know how to tell my mom that I wanted to solely focus on social media marketing because I was afraid of letting her down. Be honest with yourself and your family right from the get-go. You’ll thank yourself later.
THROUGH SELF-AWARENESS, EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE, EMPATHY, & GRATITUDE YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE. These are all things that Gary addresses openly in his talks. Better knowing myself and managing my own emotions has allowed me to be vulnerable and open up to my family. It has allowed me to give to others while maintaining my self love.
I am beyond grateful for attending that conference and for meeting Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary gave me hope and was that voice I needed to hear, just at the right time in my life. If you don't know Gary Vaynerchuk, google him, follow him, watch his videos. His words and actions have truly changed my life and I am forever grateful for him.