L&D Advice from Gary Vee

He’s raw, he’s real, he’s hyper, he’s crude. According to his website, Gary Vaynerchuk is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO and co-founder of VaynerMedia. I’ve been reading and listening to him for a little while now and it dawned on me that what he’s advising businesses to do could really help learning and development.

At it’s core his advice is simply be fast and be real. He is also all about quantity but with authenticity and value. He get’s social media but more importantly he gets “social”. He recognizes that the human story is compelling and the less polished the better, equating it to why TV programs like The Kardashians and Real Housewives knock it out of the park in ratings as sitcoms come and go. Finally, he is about the person over the product. Where Simon Sinek advised to start with “why”, Gary Vee starts with “You.”

For example Gary would have applauded this. I was recently looking for a newer used vehicle and engaged with a dealership a few hours from here. After a couple of emails about a vehicle I was interested in I got this from them the next morning.

Volvo C30 Tour by Wendy 

(sorry, I don’t have a video player for my theme. Can you recommend one?)

This personal video told me more about the person behind the emails. I got to look into the car and hear it’s doors shut. I learned that the back cover was a bit tricky and could see at the moment it was mentioned that the car was recently cleaned. And again, “personal.” This video was made specifically for me.

Did I buy the car? No. But that’s only because my wife and I shifted to a vehicle that was more practical for a family of four (don’t ask.). But I’ll tell you this, I remembered this video and this dealership over the other 6-7 I was poking around.

Here are some of Gary’s tips I think L&D should latch on to now.

Document don’t create. In marketing terms this means stop looking for the perfect product pitch and start sharing your process. As for L&D, they still spends a ton of time on their courses and infographics and classroom design worrying over font, image choice and color scheme while their audience goes off and figures stuff out. Maybe just put a camera or a microphone in the face of an expert and ask them compelling questions, then put it out there ASAP.

Start now. Listen, ADDIE lives. The talk of it’s death are greatly exaggerated. The analysis, design, develop are all still happening just repackaged but everyone is still doing them. Enough already. If you’re less on the compliance side of L&D, shift to the Probe-Sense-Respond model presented by Dave Snowden’s Cynefin framework. This is his answer to being successful in complexity and don’t fool yourself, business is complex. Listen well, boil it down to the immediate needs and put a solution out there. If it works, scale it. If it doesn’t kill it.

Be Human. 99% of the time the highway is backed up is not because of the car accident but because everyone wants to look at the car accident. They want the emotional story to share, they are looking for the drama. If they weren’t you’d actually be going faster after a wreck! Flaws are real, mistakes happen and they are all a part of the human condition. Tell more stories, find more stories and share them, but more importantly help others to start sharing their stories without fear or the need for perfection. We have been learning through story for centuries. We are built to tell them and to dissect them. Don’t fight evolution.

Know your audience. Yea, yea I know you’re thinking this is about personas and focus groups and surveys and… No, it’s more a reminder to look at your product and really ask, “who is this for?” Are you really meeting the need of the struggling employee or are you fulfilling the wants of your manager or your own ego? The moment you utter the words “this is a cool feature…” you should punch yourself in the face. You’re selling now not solving. You’re either selling to yourself or some mid-level manager who signs your paychecks and feel good that she got her voice-over narration in your course.

Set your pride aside, stop being afraid, get real and real fast.

I’ll end with this quote from Gary. You can sub in the words L&D and learning where you see fit.

In a world where there’s an enormous amount of [social] content, if you don’t make someone stop what they are doing and create a response, you are going to lose. Whether that’s an action or an emotion, the true test of storytelling is how you feel or what you do after you consume it.