How Wine, Hustle and Storytelling Build the American Dream

Wine Hustle and Storytelling

I am an entrepreneur at heart.  It is in my blood, and I could not imagine life without it. 

I got my first taste of business from my father. His passion was aviation.  Against his parents’ wishes he joined the Air Force as soon as he turned eighteen.  When I was a small child he owned planes that he leased, taught flying lessons and spent every free moment that he could in the cockpit.  As he got older and had more children, his passion became his family. So my father traded flying for a corporate job and a secure middle class lifestyle for his family.    

My maternal grandfather was one of the youngest kids in his family growing up in Michigan.  With the family having more kids than food to feed them, my grandfather decided to set out on his own.  A little more than 100 years ago around the age of ten, he jumped a train heading west to follow his dream.  After many years of a rough living conditions and back-breaking work, he returned to his Detroit with enough money and wisdom to build his own successful business. 

These two great men in my life were all about passion and hustle, and that is why I feel such a connection to Gary Vaynerchuk.  The son of a Russian immigrant and small business owner, Gary was an entrepreneur at the age of 8.  By age thirteen, he felt like the richest man in the world with $30,000 in cash stored under his bed from selling baseball cards at the local mall.  As a young man, he turned his father’s average liquor store into a $45 million dollar per year business with a flip cam and a New York Jets bucket.  Most recently, Gary has been teaching the world’s corporations how to succeed in the New Economy.  Last week, I saw Gary give the keynote speech at the Real Estate Expo in Ft. Worth; and I was compelled to share this inspiring message with you.

Wine is Passion

Forced to work in his father’s liquor store as a teenager, he discovered that people had a love for wine and for collecting it.  Reminded of his early love for baseball cards, he set out learning everything that he could about wine. It soon became his passion.

The sad truth is most of us do not chase our passions.  We follow money, prestige, recognition or the latest trends.  Even if we achieve all of these things, it is not going to make happy. 

Who wants to live a life without happiness?   

Burned out on corporate America ten years ago, I set out to design a life that I could love.  I did not know what kind of job I wanted or where it would lead me.  I spent time in contemplation and prayer to develop a vision for my life based around my passions.


My Vision

1.    Be an entrepreneur

2.    Work from home with a flexible schedule

3.    Have relatively few employees

4.    Work with people

5.    Work in housing and real estate


This vision led me to where I am today and I love every minute of it.  I go to bed each night and wake up every morning excited about the day.

As Gary says, “Look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself; What do I want to do every day for the rest of my life? and DO THAT!”

Stop Crying… Start Hustling

Sports also run deep in my family.  My paternal grandfather played professional baseball and my father was a high school quarterback and near scratch golfer.  So it was no surprise that I was passionate about sports when I was younger.  I was good at most sports, but lacked the elite physical skills to be a great player and it bothered me. 

I thought that I was letting my Dad down until he said that I just needed to out hustle the competition.  He said that hustling was more than just speed.  True Hustle was using all of your mind and energy to dominate the other team.   

Gary would have said, “Hustle is it.  Without it, you should just pack up your toys and go home.”

If you do not get the energy, then you have not found your passion.  If you are having trouble with the mind consider these ideas to help you overcome your competition.

First, get rid of all of the time you waste during the day.  If you do not think that you waste very much time, keep a log for the next day.  It is amazing how those useless minutes add up.  Add in those things that help your efficiency without sacrificing the true human interaction.   

Second, discover your strengths and focus the majority of your time on those activities.  Get help to do the rest.  Gary calls this tripling down on your strengths.

Last, develop strong relationships with your customers and go out of your way to show your gratitude.  Relationships are the key to a successful life and business, and they should not be taken for granted.  Let this quote from Gary spin around your skull for a minute, “The reason we love our parents is because they loved us first. Every single company should take this advice.”

Listen to This

I was one of those kids who liked to sit around and listen to my family tell stories.  Some of them were funny and some were amazing, but all of them were incredibly entertaining.  I listened to these stories because they added value to my life.

The art of storytelling in business has been dying for decades.  However, with the incredible changes in media occurring daily, storytellers have an opportunity to make a comeback.  All of the legends were great storytellers.

Think about it.  What kind of phone would you be using if Steve Jobs couldn’t tell a story?

The folks in charge of the old media, television, newspaper and radio, no longer have a monopoly on content.  With mobile technology exploding, people will soon be consuming content everywhere on a number of different platforms.

This is game changing for entrepreneurs!

The ground floor costs to participate in new media are low. If done correctly, it will be much more effective and significantly less expensive than following the traditional model.  Leverage your message with authentic social media and you will never look back.

What now?

Are you starting to get excited about new possibilities, but do not know where to begin?

Consider what Gary said about his achievements, "I always say that the real success of Wine Library wasn't due to the videos I posted, but to the hours I spent talking to people online afterward, making connections and building relationships.

Also, realize this truth from Gary, “The only differentiator in the game is your passion and your hustle.”


What is your passion today?


Photo Courtesy of Silicon Prairie News via Creative Commons License

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