“You’re not going to be humble enough,” were Gary Vaynerchuk’s words to Adam. Can you imagine hearing that?
Adam Vazquez spent two years at VaynerMedia as an account supervisor. The full-service digital agency, founded by celebrated author and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, brought with it all the big name brands you could think of. Working on accounts like The North Face and L’Oreal made him feel like he could take on any client.
Before the left the media company, Gary Vaynerchuk sat down with Adam and gave him one piece of advice he’d never forget. Vaynerchuk told him he had the talent and desire to be successful, but if there was one thing that would hold him back, it would be a lack of humility.
He didn’t see these words come to life until he branched out on his own to start Strafire; a B2B content marketing agency that helps companies solve their marketing challenges through improved messaging and content.
While at VaynerMedia, it was easy to focus on earning a certain amount of money, growing a brand, and making sure projects reflected well on him. But while that was happening, his team was also being neglected. Success began to encompass so much more than just revenue. He had to let go of his preconceived ideas of what it looked like to be a successful entrepreneur, which he did by taking Vaynerchuk’s words to heart.
Taking A Humble Position
When you do creative work for some of the biggest brands in the world, it can sometimes, unfortunately, create feelings of being above working with “smaller” companies. It’s the ugly truth of a growing ego.
Thankfully, Adam was able to do enough self-reflection to realize that solely focusing on notoriety was a recipe for failure. He had to reset and reevaluate before he built something he wasn’t proud of. He wanted to be intentional about building a company that would mean more than just a paycheck and he wanted to serve these new, sometimes smaller, companies well.
Patience, understanding the bigger picture, and playing the long game became hallmarks of his leadership style.
Adam told us that when you’re in leadership, people expect you to be painting the bigger picture for them. And sometimes, as the leader, we lose sight of that even if we’re preaching it every day, so it’s important to reset and reevaluate repeatedly.
But the most important thing he’s learned is how detrimental one’s ego can be, especially when you’re the leader.
When you’re busy serving your team and your customers, there’s no time for ego. You don’t have time to think about yourself or your own desires when you are focused on serving the person next to you. Ironically, letting go of ego is often what brings the success you were hoping for all along.
When it comes to growing a business, the order should be:
- Grow yourself as the leader
- Grow your people
- Grow your business
While most leaders think the first thing they need to do is work on growing their business, the reality is that business growth is limited by the growth of the leader and the growth of the people. The people aren’t going to grow any more than the leader will; if they do, they’ll know something’s not right and seek employment elsewhere.
As human beings, we’re wired for growth. While companies dream up new and exciting perks to keep their employees happy, they often forget about something that doesn’t include more money: professional and personal development in their roles. Show your stars how they can grow with you.
Yes, success starts with you, the leader, but it only works if you have the humility necessary to put your team before your business. Focus on your growth, the development of your team, and your business will grow right alongside you.
This blog is based on a Lead to Grow podcast with guest Adam Vazquez. (If you don’t use iTunes, you can find every episode here.)