Me at Archangel Summit:
“Is this an awesome day or what?” I say to the ladies at coat check—the custodians of my suitcase for the day. “Did you get a chance to see any of the speakers?”
“Gotta work,” she says. “We can’t all just do what we want all day and be entrepreneurs.”
Right, a lesser version of me thinks. ‘Cuz it’s, like, a total picnic, and all we actually do is hobnob at conferences, eat beef tenderloin and count our money.
“You’re right,” a better version of me says. “I’m very lucky.”
And dammit, ain’t that the truth.
Last week I spent a whole day in a room with some of the world’s most highly sought-after minds, talking about our loftiest goals—the ones most coveted in the deepest parts of our souls.
I want to tell you something about Gary Vaynerchuk. Because his presence at the conference was something Awesome—like, in the biblical sense.
Gary Vaynerchuk was exactly like a 17th century monarch, descending into the village to meet with his adoring subjects.
If his generosity, patience and compassion had limits, he didn’t reach those limits on Sept 20 at Archangel Summit. The Q&A session (most of his talk) was a long parade of adoring fans & entrepreneurs asking their most pressing questions, pitching their businesses, courting favours & laying their hearts bare.
Subject: “Can I come up on stage and get a selfie with you?”
Gary Vee: “Yes.” (Always, yes.)
Subject: “Hey Gary! I’m a huge fan. I’ve been following you since forever. I’m about to graduate school and VaynerMedia is a total inspiration and…”
Gary Vee: “Are you asking for an internship? You got it. Do you want to start now, or in May when school ends?”
Subject: “I lost family to drugs and gang violence. Now I’m starting a program to help troubled youth, but I need $2 million to buy a building.”
Gary Vee: “Brother, I’m in for $50,000.
And it goes on…and on…and on…for 90 minutes.
The proceedings continue behind the scenes, in the VIP lounge. Endless selfies. Endless requests for autographs. Endless pitches.
The people get bolder. Making bigger and bigger demands. Asking for bigger, more extravagant favours. Finally, it’s nearing 9 pm (roughly 3 hours since he took the stage) and he’s losing his voice. He leaves abruptly, followed by a trail of admirers wanting to ask him still more questions.
It was humbling.
It was beautiful.
At some points, it was kinda awkward.
When will it be enough? When will this never-ending thirst for favours be quenched?
After Gary Vee I emptied my wallet.
It was automatic. I couldn’t stop myself. I gave extravagant tips to the the bartender, the cabbie and the coat check lady. Quite involuntarily, I actually blew her a kiss on the way out.
When a disheveled, elderly gentleman at the bus stop tried to sell me a bedazzled ladies’ watch, I gave him $20. (Before you declare me a saint, I feel compelled to confess that it was the only bill I had left.)
When another local itinerant asked me for money, I felt ashamed that I had nothing left to give him. I even flashed the inside of my wallet at him as if to say, “I’m tapped man, it’s the truth!” Eventually I dug a toonie from deep in the recesses of my backpack. I pressed it into his hand exclaiming “It’s your lucky day!” like I was Oprah.
He shrugged and replied, “You got another one?”
When will it be enough?
My humble hypothesis: never.
And what a blessing.
Because while I may not be able to “just do what I want all day and be an entrepreneur”, the one thing it has allowed me to do is give—one of life’s greatest pleasures.
To buy bedazzled jewelry at the bus station.
To hire other entrepreneurs.
To give freely when my friends run fundraisers and kickstarter campaigns.
To refer business to other copywriters.
Do I sound braggadocious? (That’s not a real word, btw. I checked. Sorry, Trump.) Maybe I am. But it’s only because I’m incredibly proud to be an entrepreneur.
Every day on Facebook I get new sponsored posts about “hosting my first 5-figure webinar” and “booking myself solid with premium 1-on-1 clients” It’s easy to see why the entrepreneur’s life is so coveted. It sounds pretty awesome.
… so awesome there are legions of coaches with businesses entirely built on teaching others how to build their businesses teaching others how to build their businesses.
It’s like holding a mirror up to another mirror. It goes on and on and on. And the message gets fuzzier with each new impression.
Few of us actually get there.
But when we do, it is our absolute duty to give at least some of it back.
Image copyright Sable Awesome
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