Living in the Clouds and in the Dirt
In Gary Vaynerchuck’s recent interview with Ken Coleman on the EntreLeadership podcast he reflected on of his latest book, #AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness.
Vaynerchuck opens #AskGaryVee with the line, “I spend all of my time in the clouds and in the dirt.”
As he explained to Coleman in the interview, the key to his success in business and meeting the needs of his agency’s clients is that – as a marketer – he is constantly concocting new strategies, learning about new techniques and technologies so that he can exude innovation at every opportunity. But just as importantly, he is getting his hands dirty by experimenting with all of these things himself.
Vaynerchuck describes himself as both the architect and the mason. He doesn’t just draw up the plans, he also lays the bricks. It is this dual perspective that allows him to be so effective at what he does on such a consistent basis; he knows his work inside and out.
I don’t think working like this is as common as it should be.
Many of us go to school or try to learn on our own the theories behind business, marketing, engineering, what-have-you through reading, listening to lectures, or attending seminars. Or we try to learn a hard-skill like accounting, programming, copy writing, massage therapy, through repetition. Far too few people venture beyond the discipline of their study or job description to learn about areas just a degree outside of their day-to-day.
Of course, the folks that do wander outside the learning that is required of them standout. I’m not just talking about the Vaynerchucks of the world. The disconnect between theory and real world application is often fueled by people who won’t cross the line into learning about an adjacent field of work. The folks that do however, cross that line, are usually able to resolve conflicts or circumvent them altogether.
These same people are able to demonstrate their worth across a variety of settings. That is, they don’t have a hard time finding work and they can command higher fees because they can talk the talk and walk the walk.
Knowledge Establishes Authority
In Vaynerchuck’s experience as a business person and as a public speaker it’s when he talks candidly – especially while answering questions – that he builds the greatest amount of authority. He explained to Coleman in this interview that the Q&A format of #AskGaryVee is modeled after the very same method of building report and authority for his personal brand.
Through speaking candidly people come to understand the detail in which he knows his work, not only is he capable of seeing the big picture, but he is familiar with the finest details that go into carrying out a digital campaign or running a successful business.
Professionals at any level can benefit from living in both the clouds and in the dirt. By doing so they can open themselves up to new job opportunities, higher earning potential, or simply the reward of being able to produce more meaningful work.
Learn to Live in the Clouds and in the Dirt
I think the hesitation to do so lies in our natural tendencies. Some folks prefer to work hard but not worry about the big picture, while others like to spend more time thinking about the big picture because it is less labor intensive.
If you find yourself at this same crossroad but you want to make more money or be more fulfilled by your work, you should know that moving beyond your natural tendencies (i.e. beyond your comfort zone) is the only way to achieve these things.
It is natural to feel resistance in challenging the limits of your comfort zone, but it’s the only way to grow.
The good news about challenging your comfort zone is that what is uncomfortable now can become just a regular part of life over time. Things won’t necessary get easier, but as you grow fewer things will actually limit your progress.
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