The Thank You Economy

A few years ago, I was doing a talk at some conference. As I came off stage, a guy came on after me. He grabbed the mic and started rapping. Or at least it seemed like he was rapping. I stood on the side of the stage and was mesmerized. Out came advice, stories, staccato, fast and furious, with intensity and passion. I said to myself, "I have to know who this person is."

That person was and is Gary Vaynerchuk and after that moment we became fast friends. We share the same passions; social media, community, technology, business, entrepreneurship, and the Jets. Some of those passions have worked out better than others.

Gary's first book, Crush It, was more or less a bookification of the talk he gave that day. If I could pick one book that would make you quit your job and do a startup, that would be it.

He's followed up Crush It with a second book that went on sale yesterday. It is called The Thank You Economy. Gary sent me an advance copy of Thank You and he asked me to hold off on talking about it until it went on sale.

Thank You is a different book. It is about the power of social media, communities, and real people on your business and brand. Gary talks about how the small store owner knows his customers, greets them when they walk in the door, knows what they want, their family members' names, and what is going on in their lives. And the result is loyalty, trust, and repeatable business. He talks about how social media and communities allow entrepreneurs and brands to do a similar thing at scale online.

Readers of this blog have seen this in action here at AVC. This is a lesson I learned myself seven or eight years ago when I started blogging. And it has impacted everything I do in business. The same is true of Gary.

This is an important lesson for entrepreneurs, business owners, and brands, large and small. Some of you have already adopted this way of doing business. If you have, then maybe you won't find this book that eye opening. For those who are just dipping their toes into these waters, this is a book you need to read. You can get it on Kindle or in hardcover form.


Comments (Archived):

  1. garyvaynerchuk

    Fred for you to do a blog post on this means so much to me, Thank You and for those who love Social, I hope the Old Spice case study explains the difference between Social media and The Thank You Economy

    1. RichardF

      “people embraced social media because communicating makes people happy” – you nailed it Gary and I haven’t finished the preface yet.

    2. Matt A. Myers

      I look forward to reading said case study. :)If anyone’s interested, I talked about my first encounter with Gary and its implications in my blog post entitled My Man Crush – for anyone interested, however Gary’s not the man crush – sorry Gary. :PIt’s longer but an entertaining read. :)EDIT: I decided to include the excerpt where I mention Gary;”It was a short casual conversation but important. And I didn’t tell him any of my ideas. I did however tell him of my past of being screwed and that I was locked up by it — I might have even said ‘fucked over’ because of how strong I felt – but I can’t remember now. If I did then maybe Gary Vaynerchuk’s talk the day before had some influence on me …so I’ll blame Gary for my cussing. 😛 That was my first exposure to Gary as well.”The short casual conversation I am speaking of was with Fred. 🙂

    3. baba12

      When did a Wall Street financial services institution come out and say we are sorry, we made a mistake and we will not foreclose on you. When we thank people it is because we feel they did something over and beyond what is required of them or if it was their etiquette such as holding the door open for you.But these days when you deal with corporate America generally you find yourself generally fighting them and expending energies that is not always fun.Social media can’t help if fundamentally the business motive is to screw the customer if you can, wanting to to do the right thing always is something that social media can’t make happen.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Makes me think of disingenuous thank yous so many people give. 🙁

        1. baba12

          Inadequacy is a matter of fact for most companies. The large ones have not much to worry and so they get away with it all the time.When you have a stupid gullible consumer you have it made assuming you have no conscience, that is par for the course in many sectors of the economy. Add social media to the soup mix and show how you really care.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            I worry of a period of an appearance of care from businesses, to fool newcomers, but they will learn – hopefully with not to much contractually or effort-wise binding them.There’s some commentary / thoughts that I’ve kept to myself – but makes me optimistic for the future of everyone. 🙂

      2. Dave W Baldwin

        Remember that social media, when it is in true full throttle, will enable the sharing of opinion regarding the screwers…in the meantime it is a matter of not selling out to the screwers and change the world.

      3. joeagliozzo

        99.999% of the mistakes in the “foreclosure” process have nothing to do with why the property was in foreclosure in the first place – the borrower stopped paying. The rest of it is just legal BS.Who really cares if some management flunky used a machine to sign documents?Wall Street has done a lot of bad things but the foreclosure process shouldn’t even be on the radar.

        1. CJ

          I do, a contract is valid both ways and if a customer is forced to his end of it (paying) then the business is forced to his end (whatever that is) and dissolution of that agreement is subject to the provisions therein and the laws enacted to govern such things. It’s why we have due process.

          1. joeagliozzo

            Actually that’s not true. The concept of “material breach” means that if the breach is not a major you can’t use it as a reason or excuse to void or rescind or terminate the contract.The foreclosing bank is arguing (rightfully IMO) that minor issues in the foreclosure process shouldn’t allow the borrower to completely avoid the OBLIGATION that they signed up for (namely repaying the loan).Note that I am not talking about predatory lending, etc. but rather the foreclosure process itself.

    4. daryn

      Really looking forward to reading The Thank You Economy, Gary. I vividly remember the talk Fred is referring to, at the first Web 2.0 NYC: epic inspiration.By the way, speaking of rapping, didn’t a couple guys finish out your q & a that day with a real rap?

      1. fredwilson

        i don’t recall that

        1. daryn

          it brought the house down at the end of gary’s q&a – wish there was a video online.

  2. Jakob Marovt

    Video of the talk Fred writes about in the first paragraph.…Truly Epic – “You collect Smurfs? – Smurf it up!”

    1. fredwilson

      Yup. Smurf it up was very memorableThanks for the link to that talk. So great

  3. Mark Essel

    I was overly critical of Gary’s first book where he gloated about cutting his neighbors flowers and selling them to her as a kid. My gut reaction was not to trust any source who applauded deceptive tactics to make a buck.But I have to admit I’ve seen alot of great ideas come from Gary and agree with much of his current framing of web businesses and startup growth. Even his latest book echoes a theme in my blog that gratitude is the currency of the social web.

    1. baba12

      In business all is fair. Cutting flowers of your neighbor and selling it to them or l drilling for oil horizontally under your land.It happens all the time, in the end it has to be inherent in the individual to want to do the right thing, generally when a business is driven by profit maximization then all bets are off and one has to ask if they value economic wealth more than being fair and honest.Social media is supposed to be a boon for big businesses to be able to make gullible customers to think they really care while screwing them over. Gary can teach them all how to make the feel good facebook page for Exxon Mobil or Goldman Sachs & continue to maintain status quo. Gullible customers will follow them on twitter, get badges and points etc and it will make them feel good while they are nicely f’ed.

      1. Mark Essel

        The social web will also expose fraudulent behavior which would appear to contradict what certain types of businesses are hoping for.

        1. baba12

          I hope so.I’d like to see many more wiki leaks on violations of rules and see more sunlight shed on many of the nefarious activities carried out by businesses, if Social media can make it happen great.

        2. fredwilson


        3. Matt A. Myers


    2. falicon

      I think the key to Gary is really just two simple things: Passion and Authenticity.Regardless of if you agree with his tactics, approach, or opinions…you can’t doubt that he’s passionate about everything he gets involved in. In fact I would go so far as to say passion is what drives everything that Gary is…sometimes this probably hurts him (some emotional decisions and feeling any sort of loss so much more than ‘regular’ business people), but more often than not it works out in his favor (and I think it probably ensures he wakes up excited and beyond happy just about every single day).I also think if you follow Gary at all you quickly see that it’s not just a show (well it’s a show, but not in a scripted kind of way)…he’s really doing all the stuff he says he’s going to do, he’s out there sharing his passion and it’s def. infectious…



  4. mike gilfillan

    Lots of great quotes from his video: “Hustle is the most important word. Ever.” “we’re building businesses here — it’s not about parties!” “your legacy is your ultimate life” “only way to succeed now is to be completely transparent”He’s definitely a great speaker and his points are all spot on, especially the part about “hustle”.

  5. panterosa,

    The more people connect into groups, around things that matter to them, the more people are able to share their passions. Supportiveness thrives in the ‘safer’ space with trust and knowing each other. Generosity and giving back increase dramatically in that atmosphere. It has blended business and personal beautifully, and integrated our lives.

  6. baba12

    To expect technology to enable the “Target’s, Walmart’s, Macy’s” etc to be able to have the same relationship that one has with their local stores is asking for too much and in many ways is dishonest.When you go to your local stores and the people working know who you are and your family etc it is a genuine relationship based on a personal relationship and not driven by sales. Also the relationship between the owners/workers and the customer is something the bigger brands can’t emulate even when using social media tools.Sure you can have your facebook entries and link with the big brands, but it is never a one to one relationship. The big brands/box stores etc are driven by a different set of values and metrics. The managers on the floor and clerks working the counters etc don’t have a personal relationship with the customer and there is no real incentive for them to build one. The notion that somehow these national brands will somehow use social media tools to build relationships with the customer that is HONEST, is a Utopian view.Customers would be better served to know that the reason they are customers of the big box stores and brands is driven more by convenience and price. They don’t expect to have a relationship that is similar to what they have with their local businesses they frequent.In the end one has to ask what kind of relationship do they want and have with the people they do business with.I like the idea Gary has for the Thank you Economy, but I doubt big businesses have any real interest in doing the right thing unless forced to do so, even thanking someone does not come naturally to them.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      “To expect technology to enable the “Target’s, Walmart’s, Macy’s” etc to be able to have the same relationship that one has with their local stores is asking for too much and in many ways is dishonest.”Indeed, it was these businesses who put the small business owners (who were experts) out of business. And they knew what they were doing.If we value relationships as beneficial things in society – then we should have rules / laws in place to facilitate and foster them; How that’s done I’m not totally sure.Why have rules / laws for this? Because the little store owners can’t compete with the pricing that Walmart bullies suppliers with; And if you don’t lower your price (and they’ll ask you) then they drop you as a supplier – and your business very well might die, and they will just go to a competitor. Apparently Walmart broke 4 or 5 laws for protectionist stuff, but Walmart got too big too quickly, and now no one knows how to deal with it — or that’s the last I heard anyway.

      1. andyswan

        Pardon me if I have little sympathy for business owners that insist on providing limited selection, inflated pricing and inconvenient hours. Sometimes, you really don’t want or need any help at all….you just want to get what you need and get out.I certainly don’t think that we should enact laws that prop-up these kinds of businesses when the consumer obviously prefers the alternative.People vote with their wallets. If a relationship is part of what you offer (it certainly is for me), then it will help you fend off those who undercut and overbuild……but you’ve got to recognize that it’s one part of the transaction….and you better keep your total value above your price if you want to thrive.

        1. baba12

          You would never like to live in a progressive society that exists in many European countries.

          1. andyswan

            There is nothing progressive about a “progressive” society. It’s the exactopposite. Progress comes from innovation, new efficiencies, and thecreation of wealth through voluntary transactions. Not restrictinginnovators.

          2. baba12

            And you believe that in Europe they are not innovating.If you go to Germany or Nederlands and look at their industrial output in engineering, science and technology then you would realize that they innovate and are creating wealth as well.We may have created the Google’s and Apples of the world but there are many others in the world that doing innovative things as well may not be what you may value necessarily. Also if Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi were progressive like California then possibly Apple and Google may have started up there. The Google’s of the world don’t mind paying higher taxes in California as the state has a different mindset. It is progressive, they were the first to adopt emissions standards or passing laws that have created many new technology innovations to come to market.If you have a progressive policy making apparatus then you can have innovation. If you think innovation leads to progress then I guess the innovation of a catalytic converters would have come about on their own without the passing of laws requiring emission controls.Companies try to thwart innovation by having laws passed to protect them, like for example labeling SUV’s as trucks allowed for auto manufacturers to not circumvent fuel efficiency standards. That is innovation right. Instead of making their SUV’s more fuel efficient they chose to go the easy route and a complacent regulatory agency(s) let it happen.I strongly disagree to think that progressive societies don’t lead to innovation.Progressive societies invest in sciences and then create the policies that allow those investigations in sciences to be transformed into products and services. That is a progressive society. Else lets just continue to believe that there were dinosaurs 4000 years ago and that the Sun revolves around the Earth.

          3. Matt A. Myers

            If progress comes from innovation, what happens when there’s innovation on our ideas, and our understanding of things is furthered? When our knowledge increases?Why should innovation on ideas be ignored? They certainly are used when in implementing theories of economies of scale, etc.. But they aren’t cool when they prevent a free-for-all in some area, right?Idea innovation is only seen as valid when economic productivity can go up, but not down?Someone correct me if I’m wrong..

          4. Donna Brewington White


        2. Mark Essel

          +1, and I’ll go edit my earlier comment now.

        3. Morgan Warstler

          I like you Andy Swan.

        4. PhilipSugar

          Agree fully.If you are small and as you say add a ton of value then you should like the big box stores. They weed out all the customers that shop only on price.If you add no value and people don’t want you to, then buck up, if somebody beats you on price because they’ve built the best most efficient distribution in the world…..stop crying.

        5. CJ

          Agreed, dish detergent is the same everywhere, but a good suit is something different entirely. Transportation scarcity created the rise of the local merchant, when goods became commoditized due to mass transportation availability the local merchant fell, at least those without some kind of value add. You want to compete against the big guys, add something the big guys can’t…service.

          1. ShanaC

            And bespoke clothing is thriving in the age of the internet.

          2. CJ

            Yes it is. Before it required a trip to Hong Kong or Korea, now it comes to you, several times a year in fact. Gotta love that.

      2. PhilipSugar

        Go to Japan and see how that works.

    2. falicon

      I’m a little on the fence here…I definitely understand and agree that a true one-to-one relationship is unlikely between a business and a consumer…but I think there’s more to the story than just “Customers would be better served to know that the reason they are customers of the big box stores and brands is driven more by convenience and price”Believe it or not, commerce is a lot more emotional (A LOT) than just convenience and price…To give you a quick example, in a shopping plaza near my house there is a WalMart and a Target (one parking lot)…both of these stores basically carry all the same stuff (especially in such a close geographic area) so if it was just about convenience and price, well the convenience is the same so it’s moot here…leaving just price…and if that’s the case, WalMart should dominate and Target should struggle…but the reality is that our Target does great AND our WalMart does great…but walk into either one at any given time and you’ll notice it’s a completely different type of person in each store (except for the rare exception like myself that just goes to both cause I’m fascinated by this sort of stuff).This is a quick and messy point, but I think it’s def. shows that there’s more than just price and convenience involved.All of which means to me, the ‘real’ trick to larger businesses and brands successfully using social media isn’t about trying to connect to every user in a one-on-one situation…but rather to be true and honest to the ‘type of customer’ they are already being associated with in their minds….ie. on a very high level view, I think WalMart shoppers are price first, brand second and don’t worry too much about keeping up with the Jones…while Target shoppers are more brand first, price second and are at least a little worried about keeping up with the Jones…so to me, WalMart should keep this in mind with all social media interactions…they should push deals based on price and they should give tips and advice around saving money (or making more money)…while Target would be better served focusing on helping people identify trendy brands or ways to appear more ‘trendy’ for less money…I think it’s still personal…it’s just not one-to-one per se…it’s more like one-business-to-one-target-demographic…and building a deeper/true relationship with that demographic is something brands and larger business can def. do via social media (and even across more than one demographic I think)…

      1. baba12

        The last paragraph I agree with fully. Building a relationship with a certain demographic.

      2. Mark Essel

        Totally agree with your Target vs Walmart analysis. The market will always segment into clusters or “regions of stability” if you’re a perturbation theory man. Knowing the core of your segment is essential to decision making, brand development, and the message you hope to instill in your clients.



  7. Dan Epstein

    If you’re on the fence about whether to read, send a tweet from the site (http://thankyoueconomybook…. and you get free access to Chap. 10.

    1. fredwilson

      Such a gary move

  8. Aaron Klein

    To me, the fascinating thing now are the tech brands who don’t do this.LinkedIn sent me a free trial of their premium account on Feb 11. Tried it and liked it but not $250/year liked it. Then Appsumo sends a 50% discount offer which I grab. Try to use the code but the LinkedIn site can’t figure out how to take my money since I already have a trial that expires March 11. Trouble is, the code expired yesterday.Two e-mails and two tweets to @linkedin later, and I still have nothing more than an automated ticket number and silence from them.A great example of how not to do engagement with people trying to give you money.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      You could potentially be the first person that’s encountered this or brought it to their attention – but they should reply…

      1. Aaron Klein

        Definitely could be. Although it’s clear that they are trying to spike their numbers in the run-up to the IPO…I’ve never before seen free trials nor have I seen 50% off deals anywhere.The combination of the two is what caused the problem, but that seems like an easy fix. Just actually flip my account back to basic status and then I can use the automated system to place the order.But to ignore two e-mails and two tweets and not at least say “we don’t know how to fix this yet, but we’re working on it and we’ll take care of you” is a pretty clear indicator that one of the largest social networks doesn’t get social networking. (All my respect for Reid Hoffman notwithstanding.)

        1. baba12

          they don’ have the tools so they will say. as I have maintained all it takes is for someone to say “we are sorry, will hope to get it fixed” but the person who is seeing those tweets etc at Linkedin is a lowly minion possibly a intern who does not have the authority to respond kindly.Top down management structures with rigid rules define most of the companies. Also the VC’s / shareholders would not tolerate businesses that do the right thing, would set a precedent that may be detrimental to their profits short term.

          1. Aaron Klein

            Many of your comments seem to imply that big companies care very little about people and only about profits. I think you’re wrong.The ones who don’t engage have simply grown too large without putting the people and systems in place to stay nimble and connected.Anyone can sign up for CoTweet and have all the tools they need to manage huge volumes of social messages.Heck, DELTA AIRLINES does a better job of engaging with me on social media. I was stuck on the tarmac in NYC a few months ago and missed my connection in MSP. Before I even landed @DeltaAssist had rebooked me into first class the next morning.Now THAT’S engagement – and from a “soulless corporate behemoth” no less.

          2. baba12

            No I am not stating they don’t care, they care for a price. As for what you experienced with Delta is great but just lets be clear here. There was a snafu causing you to miss a connecting flight, for Delta to rebook your flight was/is the right thing to do, not something where they went over and beyond what was required to do.What has happened over the last 30 plus years is the consumer has been diluted into thinking that they are getting a great service and companies have become more complacent and arrogant as they have diluted all the rules of engagement.All I am saying is it is naive to think that Social media tools can provide large businesses the same level of relationships one has with their local business entities.If you had said Delta had arranged for a hotel stay and picked up the tab for dinner etc, I’d say they care truly about their customers.You may read about the engineer at Renault who had worked 31 yrs and was fired for espionage only for Management to find out later it may have been a hoax and yet unable to say “SORRY”Businesses really do care about Profit and growth thats the bottom line always. They don’t get rated on how many tweets they send or facebook friends they have.

          3. awaldstein

            Aaron..big or small, most companies with a purpose do care and do respond. I choose to be optimistic and agree with you. I also believe in the ‘survival and growth of the most engaged’ theory of company success.LinkedIn is an exception and I’ve never been able to understand why they were really that exceptional. A post I wrote a long time ago, still hold true…’Looking for community on LinkedIn” @

          4. Aaron Klein

            (moved this reply out to a new thread, since we’re out of room…)…

          5. ShanaC

            I’m replying to your comment below:A lot of why we are stuck with rude companies is that there is a preponderance of single service for everything (conglomerates of airlines) with lots of little choices in between (small regionals) With this resource setup, the long tail of businesses need to be polite in order to gain customers, the big guys it doesn’t matter because they will exist from sheer volume of sales.

          6. CJ

            If the person responsible for providing customer service doesn’t have the authority to provide good customer service then that person, and the position is useless and the company has failed before they started.

        2. Matt A. Myers

          It’s funny how people who don’t get social can build these massive networks, eh? Hehe..

          1. Aaron Klein


        3. Donna Brewington White

          I use LinkedIn extensively as a database, but it has not yet tipped over into being a true social network. Not to mention the obvious goldmine it represents for me as a recruiter, LI is the business version of FB for helping me connect/reconnect on a professional level with people I’ve met over the years or to do research on people I’d like to get to know.They are more like a social networking tool than an actual social network.I think your experience probably does point to a deeper root problem — a disconnect somewhere that keeps them in the tool category and not a relationship sponsoring entity. I’d love to see them figure this out — more for their sake in reaching their potential.

          1. Aaron Klein

            Agree completely but even tool companies need to be able to engage with their customers well. Especially the paying ones. 🙂

          2. Donna Brewington White

            You want to know something interesting…I was doing some research on LinkedIn’s enterprise recruiting product and am now thinking that their customer is really the companies who buy the enterprise version for their recruiting teams. Not those of us who are premium users at $50.00 per month, but those companies that pay 10x that much per individual user (each recruiter within a company has to have a separate license).I just wonder if the real issue is who they view as their “real” customer.

          3. Aaron Klein

            I completely agree with you but it’s just my philosophy. You pay, you have the right to e-mail and get help in a reasonable amount of time.Free user? It’s sort of part of the implied contract that we may not be able to solve your every problem.The best web services still engage incredibly well with the free users too, though… 🙂

          4. Donna Brewington White

            Aaron — This is in response to your comment below but I ran into the same problem you did earlier — no longer had a “reply” button.I completely agree with you.If a company offers a service then it has customers whether or not the customers are paying! If I am treated poorly as a “free customer” then I’m probably not going to become a paying one.BTW, if I were a VC, I’d add customer service to the evaluation mix along with product and team. Just sayin…

          5. Aaron Klein

            Agree completely, though hopefully the team evaluation would bring out whether they have a “culture of engagement” or not! :)I love the perspective you bring to these things, Donna…

  9. Carl Rahn Griffith

    As a corollary to the old, wise expression – “Good manners cost nothing” – let’s not forget that “Bad manners cost everything”…

    1. fredwilson

      Word. Learned that the hard way. Was a total rude ass to the Gotham gal thefirst time we met

      1. kenberger

        She was super cool and fun to me when we first e-met over email. But I wonder if that changed at some point for some reason. Maybe because we’ve never met in person. I hope that changes (like it did for Howard, who rose above stalker-dom)!:)

      2. ShanaC

        That’s got to be an interesting story

      3. Carl Rahn Griffith

        You turned it around pretty well it seems, Fred 😉

  10. Dave Pinsen

    At an asset management company I once worked for, one of the first things we did every day was call every broker who sent in a mutual fund trade of $10k or more the previous day and thank them for the business. When we spoke with them, those conversations would often lead to other sales. That always seemed like a basic, common sense thing to do, and I assumed most businesses did the same.

  11. Barbara Pantuso

    I am looking forward to reading this book. In a Thank You MICRO-economy version, it reminds me of something we do in our home. We each say 3 things we are grateful for each day and it has to be SPECIFIC. We can’t say “I’m happy for my health”, which we are, but by focusing on the more specific, we give ourselves reasons to stop, take note, and appreciate more deeply the small things. And it’s these small gestures, the specific and personal recognition that is so applicable to great customer service in business. It’s also what makes scale so challenging.

    1. fredwilson

      I love that you do that. Our family may be too old (college kids) toinstigate that. But its a great routine

    2. Matt A. Myers

      It also helps with learning what gratitude is, and makes you appreciate others more.

  12. vankula

    Gary totally rocks. His time is on very short supply and he somehow manages to respond to ~70% of my tweets or @ messages. My favorite line from his talks around the time Crush It came out was “Just stop watching fucking Lost” in reference to people who say that they dont have enough time around work / family to develop a business idea and start to get it off the ground.Watch Gary’s very first WLTV episode here (he is closing in on episode #1000)…Then check out the most recent to see how far he has come. This should inspire you to stop planning and start doing.

    1. Andy Ellis

      “Just stop watching fucking LOST!” was terrific to hear him say to people bemoaning their lack of time. For me, I know I can carve out more time than I do and don’t blame anyone but myself.Gary is a great speaker and seems like a blast to be around.

    2. fredwilson

      The Lost bit is a hard winner down the line

      1. vankula

        Hit me like a ton of bricks at the time. I used to love watching Lost and Gary ruined it for me! Know what I love more? Staying up til 2am after I put the kids to bed working on my own idea then going to my day job feeling like I was productive.

  13. tannerc

    It will never cease to amaze me how many businesses overlook the “social” part of “social media.”These new tools for interaction and community development weren’t created with the advertiser in mind, the purpose isn’t to show up out of nowhere and blast everyone with your sales pitch. No, these websites are designed with social interaction in mind, if you can’t be human and carry on a conversation in these spaces then you’re out of touch.Gary gets it, and hopefully his new book will inspire countless others to understand it as well. 🙂

  14. paramendra

    The guy ends up on all sorts of panels.

  15. kidmercury

    yes. using social media to build new cultures, values, and economies is where it’s at.

  16. Aaron Klein

    We’re out of room on the Disqus thread for the conversation that Arnold, Baba and I were having, so I’m moving it out here so we can keep going. :)Arnold – well put and thanks for the link, I’ll check out your post!Baba, it was a weather delay that was not Delta’s fault. They definitely went above and beyond the call. And as pissed off as I was that it happened, they made it better and bought some loyalty from me.My point is that smart businesspeople understand that you don’t get profits without good relationships with people and social media is a great way to do that.I love shopping local, but the last time I arrived at the hardware store at 4:55PM to grab a $5 bracket, the employee said “sorry dude, we’ve clocked out already.” The bracket was three feet inside the door and he wouldn’t even take my cash.So this isn’t a matter of big vs. small. It’s a matter of WHO understands that PEOPLE drive PROFITS.The companies that don’t get it are usually (a) not consumer-facing and only sell to other big businesses, (b) monopolies or “political entrepreneurs” as Andy Kessler likes to call them or (c) have grown too large without the leadership to put the people and systems into place to stay engaged.I’d put LinkedIn in the (c) category. They want and need to care. They just haven’t done the work.

    1. awaldstein

      To simplify…the center of the marketing bullseye used to be Company; now its Customer.If you believe that and adhere to that principal, things fall in line. Put corner cases, and outliers and no-sayers aside, this holds true.

      1. Aaron Klein

        Brilliant!And thanks for reminding me of my greatest “need for improvement”: the ability to be concise AND powerful simultaneously. 🙂

      2. Dave W Baldwin

        Well said. That is what the foolish will forget as we move into real social media.

      3. Aaron Klein

        As a post script to this story, AppSumo responded to tweet #2, managed to get ahold of someone at LinkedIn and they made it right. So thanks to both companies, and LinkedIn, get yourself a CoTweet account. 🙂

      4. Donna Brewington White

        Arnold — so so true!I was at a tech conference this week (startups/early stage cos. presenting to VCs — how I got in is a long story — needless to say I felt like a pig in mud and THRILLED that I could attend a tech conference in Los Angeles!!!) — but point is –…several of the consumer internet companies talked about how they were disruptive. And do you know HOW? By being user/customer-centric!From BlogHer to to and even docstoc (not completely consumer, but…) and so forth. For someone for whom the dearth of decent customer service is a pet peeve, I can readily believe this. And even though I know this is an issue, I still found this to be a stunning theme.Who would have ever thought that “focusing on the user” is how a tech CEO would describe their company as being disruptive?

        1. awaldstein

          Great story Donna, thanks for sharing.Funny…I was at a conference this afternoon mostly about big media.Panel of execs from Verizon, Starz, HBO were asked where we were on the pendulum of whether Content or Distribution was the key today.All eloquently spoke like politicians in denial and said little.They are missing the point.The Customer is the center of the bullseye in that equation as well. Sure content rules but there is a growing generation who are not cutting the ‘cord’ but have never had cable, have never had a land line and don’t care about the reasons why they can’t have ala carte pricing on their shows without network strings. They just want it and they are quick becoming the mass market.They, the customer, are in the center and will drive change…faster than the networks could imagine possible. This may not be a hockey stick drop but a cliff.

          1. Donna Brewington White

            Is this reminding you of the railway companies?

          2. awaldstein

            Hadn’t thought of that.And realize I went off on a large tangent above;)

          3. Donna Brewington White

            Arnold — even your tangents are gems.

        2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


    2. PhilipSugar

      Good comment, funny that I had the exact same experience at a local hardware store (needed to grab some items for contractors working on my house).I think there is a (d) category: Look at customer service like it is a pain in the ass backwater to get stuck in.Go into a big casino, lets pick a top five biggest hotel in the entire World Mandalay Bay. Stand there and look like you’re lost. See how long it takes to have somebody ask you if you need help. Not only are they going to give you an answer, they are going to walk with you to make sure you get going in the right direction.

      1. Aaron Klein


    3. baba12

      Well, if I were the store clerk even if I was not authorized, i’d have taken your money or credit card info, made the transaction without the use of the POS system, left a note for the owner and be done with it. I may even have not charged you for the item, just given it to you and said come back when the store was open and pay for the part. But then again I think, most people have decided not to think, just do what is told to them and they don’t want to take the initiative waiting for the boss/owner/rule books to define it for them lest they loose their jobs after all business owners are also not thinking.. It is the easy way out.What I have been trying to state is about the idea that Social Media can level the playing field between the customer and the big business and be similar to the corner mom & pop store you have a relationship with.

      1. Aaron Klein

        And my point is that it’s the CEO’s fault for not fostering a culture that drives ownership of those decisions down to the customer-facing employee. So I think we’re largely on the same page.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          Nailed it. Culture! It’s everything.Piggybacking on what you said — although I realize I’m making a slightly different point…I say if you want to have happy customers, start with happy employees.I worked with a client that is known for their customer experience. It was really fun recruiting for this company because they believed that great customer experience began with great employee experience.

          1. PhilipSugar

            You know what the casinos do??They pay for employees on tipped wages for training.Most make less than minimum wage, but like bar tenders crank tips.So what they do is pay “tipped wages” when they train.Alfred Lin is the most amazing CFO I’ve met, and I think its because they were in Vegas.

          2. Donna Brewington White

            That’s really smart.Hey, I think I see a book in your future: Creating a Casino Culture 😉

          3. Aaron Klein

            SO true. +1

  17. PhilipSugar

    I work in this space.If you are big it starts and ends with how you view customer service. From what I’ve seen its fairly binary. You either view it as the core of your business or its a pain in the ass expense line item.Social media gives you tools, yes, but you have to have the commitment and that means money and people to give good service. Yup we give you tools that monitor your tweet stream, setup cases for incoming calls and emails, “clientelle” i.e. assign particular clients to particular associates, I could go on and on.But frankly it all comes down to the lowest item. Do you list your phone number and does a human pickup the damn phone? Seriously if you’re not doing that all the social media stuff is just a bunch of mental masturbation bullshit.The best I’ve seen is Zappos and our casino and hospitality clients, the worst I’ve seen are at some well known retailers where you’d think you could catch leprosy from a customer call.

    1. awaldstein

      Yes and no Phil.Yes…certainly the tools are not the answer and the medium is not the message in this case.No…re: phones. Intent is more important even though personal content is key.Case in point. Many in NY need to get fractional T1 speeds to our homes through Time Warner. They have support lines through offshore call centers. Useless. What many do is buy Apple WiFi to plug into the TW pipe (even though TW provides WiFi for free) to get real people with email addresses and direct dial lines to help solve connection problems.I do believe that the best companies (like Apple in this case) have a multifaceted problem solving ecosystem with phones as part. For Apple Cust Service is their strongest sales channel.

      1. PhilipSugar

        I think we’re in violent agreement here.Go to Apple support and you’ll see a phone number. Yes they have some cool stuff like scheduling your call, etc, etc. In your example you say people buy Apple WiFi to talk to someone.Go to Acer and try and find it.So when my son broke the trackpad on my Air, I called Apple, they called me back in 5 minutes, scheduled an appointment with a genius, went to the store, they graciously fixed for free.When the Acer netbook I bought as a throwaway for the kids wouldn’t recognize the battery after sixty days, after ignored emails, and emails that didn’t respond to my question, and me begging to tell them the problem as I knew better than them, eventually went back to Costco with me F’bombing Acer the whole time.I guess my point is this: Either you care or you don’t and social isn’t a magic “pixie dust” that some people make it out to be. Its like a pyramid, if you don’t have the base you can’t get to the top.If you have the base, man social makes nice frosting on the top.My point is that its a straight up “tell”. Have shitty or no phone support and social isn’t going to do squat for you.95% of our support cases are handled purely by email. People love the fact they get a written response almost instantly, have the response in writing, have a case number, etc. But if you call support, you will reach a human.

        1. awaldstein

          Hi Phil…a heads up that I used our conversation as an inspiration for a post and referenced our exchange. Post is”Customers rule” @

          1. PhilipSugar

            Here is one example from one day what I believe:

          2. PhilipSugar

            I’m sorry Andy but you were not using your two ears and two eyes tohear and see me and you have pissed me off and lost me.

          3. awaldstein

            Hi PhilMy apologies, clearly I have misunderstood you.

  18. kenberger

    I think we saw each other and talked at the conference you mentioned. You said Gary reminded you of Jim Cramer. I countered, “Mixed with Suze Orman!”.Today, Gary seems to be a bigger celebrity than either.

    1. fredwilson

      yup, i remember that

  19. Dave W Baldwin

    Hey Guys… I’m going to tell you the ‘outside the box’ story as I’ve told my associates. Don’t get pissed.It is time to step out of the smaller box you’re concerned with. There is a tool that can be developed (at a lesser price) that would be beneficial to ALL businesses big and small. The key is giving the consumer what works best for their tastes, time pressures, offering flexibility.In the end, it comes down to businesses in both categories will fail because they won’t use the tool and/or not use it right. The customer will move on.At the same time, this tool will offer the smaller business the chance to accelerate and by cooperating/collaborating with other businesses grow to the point where the ‘big’ businesses are of no concern. They will be able to foster a real time relationship with the customer and take advantage of the predictable ‘big’ business campaigns. The talented builder of goods will have the opportunity tp go direct to the customer at an earlier stage… gain customer base/keep customer base.There is only one logical way to do it, no matter how illogical it may come off….but in the end, you can bitch about WalMart or not worry about them.

  20. Neil Braithwaite

    Along with the “Like” button, I believe a simple “Thank You” button on FB, Twitter, AVC, etc. would go a long way to promote civility and genuine relationships.THANK YOU!

    1. Dave W Baldwin

      Good idea. My plan is to encourage users to say thanks to their VA (enforces positive to AI)… hopefully it would carry over to saying thanks to other people.

  21. FlyTyer1

    Bringing back the “small town” atmosphere of knowing your customers and giving them what they want-respect.

  22. ShanaC

    After reading though all the comments, it more that people are continually rude to each other. It is steeped into business practices. I think largely we’re now more disengaged from communities overall as part of a huge social shift (people report less close friends now) so we now accidentally have encouraged rudeness because most people we interact with are other and not us.



    1. fredwilson

      and on disqus too



  24. Donna Brewington White

    From your description, I know that I am going to love this book. Thanks for sharing this. And even though I am trying to break the habit of “loving” everything (so adolescent) — love this post!Had an aha moment with this sentence:”We share the same passions; social media, community, technology, business, entrepreneurship, and the Jets.”I think this is why a lot of us come to this blog daily whenever we can — we share these passions too.Except, who/what are the Jets?

    1. RichardF

      lol…nice one Donna

    2. Chris Wilson

      The irony of this blog is that the highly intelligent entrepreneurial types miss obvious references to West Side Story. Culture people. Culture.



  25. howardlindzon

    My book ‘your welcome Charlie Sheen’ is perfectly timed I think.

    1. fredwilson

      Timing is everything howard

  26. reece

    I just got my copy of the The Thank You Economy today.Most AVC’ers know I grew up in the restaurant business, so it’s no surprise that I love this angle and I think Gary’s right that the humanization of business will be an integral part of our future.Psyched to read it, Gary.

  27. J.R. Sedivy

    Crush It! was an excellent book and I can’t wait to read The Thank You Economy!

  28. fredwilson

    That’s a great story Charlie. That’s the store owner gary is talking about

  29. Matt A. Myers

    Great story.Like the big box stores – there’s not enough time (eg: not enough people on staff equating to more people time) to give you that efficient kind of knowledgeable help you’re looking for when you are going to receive a truly satisfying experience / memory / relationship / trust.Sort of related to lack of time / dilution of time – I had caught Gary’s eye in a tweet I sent him. We had a few DMs back and forth after with him saying we should connect soon.I followed up at least once or twice a month later with no response. Alwell.I understand he’s busy, and he replies likely up to a billion people per day – but I don’t have time or energy to hope to build a relationship further with someone if they’re not willing to give some of the attention needed.Gary’s a quantity machine; he has the resources to be so – it’s where he’s putting the majority of his focus right now anyway.I don’t have the resources to do so, so I have to be a quality machine (don’t have the resources yet anyway, so I don’t have the option); Not to say I’m wonderfully great at relationships (yet) but I’m growing.This fits quite perfectly applying it to big box stores (lack of time to increase profit / volume / exposure) versus ‘local shops’ (who focus on quality of relationships).If we value relationships as beneficial things in society – then we should have rules / laws in place to facilitate and foster them; How that’s done I’m not totally sure.

  30. Mark Essel

    On social automation: I once thought Seth Godin automated emails and even asked Fred, but was relieved to find out Seth’s just rapid fire processing a massive inbox and keeps his replies short. It’s pretty impressive considering he must get hundreds of emails a day.

  31. Mark Essel

    Enjoyed your post on social automation, but couldn’t comment. No disqus, not basic comment login, hosed.



  33. andyswan

    your quality serves you well. I know I’m not the only one that never “scans” a Myers comment.

  34. Dave Pinsen

    “This fits quite perfectly applying it to big box stores (lack of time to increase profit / volume / exposure) versus ‘local shops’ (who focus on quality of relationships).If we value relationships as beneficial things in society – then we should have rules / laws in place to facilitate and foster them; How that’s done I’m not totally sure.”I don’t think it’s primarily a matter of local versus chains — Nordstrom, for example, has long had a reputation for excellent service. Excellent service generally requires higher quality and more-motivated customer-facing employees, and it takes money to hire and motivate them. Higher-margin businesses (i.e., ones that charge higher prices) have more money available to do that.

  35. garyvaynerchuk

    Matt I am so sorry to hear I might have dropped the ball in an interaction, In TYE I talk about how someone like me or any other human being will have to fight and give effort because they are only human but that a Business or Logo will have it much better because they can put s many humans as they want behind it, I can’t, I do all my tweeting, FB’ing, Tumbling, Yobongo’n it all me and with that comes mistakes 🙁 more than a Business will have!

  36. Mark Essel

    Hey you going to be around next weekend (3/18). Wife wants to visit Amish country, I want to meet up. We’re thinking of heading out next Friday afternoon for the drive down and stay in one of the couple of small hotels in Lancaster.

  37. Mark Essel

    Never mind my initial response Mr. Swan, you got it covered below.

  38. Matt A. Myers

    Wow, thank you.

  39. baba12

    Very Funny… Hate is a strong word. I guess I have come a long way from seeing how businesses screwed you over and there was not way to get justice. Many of the developing countries are like that, America was like that back in 1900’s. Lets have a unfiltered beer like Blue Moon and talk more.

  40. Dave Pinsen

    Blue Moon is owned by Molson Coors, an $8.5 billion market cap company. An interesting choice for Baba12, who rages against big corporations. Perhaps if you ever meet him for a beer, you can introduce him to one of the fine, local breweries in your home state (for example, Stoudt’s).

  41. Dave Pinsen

    And of course Yuengling, the granddaddy of them all.Stoudt’s used to have a honey doppelbock — tasted great and had a healthy 8% alcohol content. When I was in college, a friend and I made a road trip out to Stoudt’s once to buy a keg of it from Carol Stoudt.

  42. Dave Pinsen

    Yeah, tough to beat a brewery within walking distance.

  43. andyswan

    I did somewhere else where he said the same thing.I do have some suggestions for his rules/laws:”Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Act””Anti-Greed Act””Equalization of Opportunity Act”etc…

  44. andyswan

    Let’s not gloss over that I really don’t give a shit, and may be annoyed, that an employee wants to discuss which batteries, milk and alarm clock I buy on a trip to Target.Some retail experiences are “the less relationship, the better”, as I’m sure Amazon can attest.

  45. ShanaC

    They’re amazing, they’ve offered to track down shoes for me

  46. Mark Essel

    Crazy schedule, will try tonight.

  47. PhilipSugar

    You still have a bottle of Pappy coming your way.I can take a ride up 272.

  48. Mark Essel

    caught it, mea culpa

  49. Dave Pinsen

    Sure, but since you bring up Amazon, remember that they bought Zappos. And Zappos’s key differentiator is its service, not low prices. There’s a place for both models.

  50. Dave W Baldwin

    As Dave Pinsen responded, there is place for both models. So we develop the tool that allows both models to happen simultaneously.That will be important as social media kicks into an actual high gear and enable the true market opportunities for shopkeepers, service providers and specialty manufacturers.Someday, someone will get it and laughingly spend way too much attempting achievement of that tool. There is a way to do it at a cost that is surprising.

  51. CJ

    Very good point about Zappos.

  52. Dave Pinsen

    You should add that link into your original comment as well.Also: Since true stories like yours are the best sort of marketing for a business, it raises the question of why more businesses aren’t trying to leverage them in a tactful and organic way. Think of how you typically tune out most promotional tweets. Now imagine if TMB tweeted a link to you story about the service Larry from TMB provided for your father. That’s the sort of link people would retweet.

  53. fredwilson

    seth spends >6 hours per day on emailit is a huge burden on him



  55. Matt A. Myers

    It’s okay. There’s still a chance it can be picked back up. :)And sorry, just saw this.Perhaps if you have a more direct way of leaving you voicemail or something similar for when I’m ready to show and tell about my projects?I realize you’re at SXSW so you might not see this. 🙂



  57. Matt A. Myers

    Mr. Dinosaur, you’re so smart!



  59. markslater

    authentic relationships don’t scale as they require attention. I wont use that software – as it will be selling fake authenticity.At a very base line – people want to talk with people not with machines. At the next level people want to have a conversation that is unique and establishes a connection, at the third level people want to feel that this connection may sometimes afford them a measure of preference or importance over others. (not in a “self important way although some people do take this position)Our local businesses are being washed away by a tsunami of check in addicted deal monsters: is little authentic about it – thats proven in the loyalty. its a mass sterilization of the local business ecosystem – scvngrs answer is to give you more discounts as a loyalty weapon!!! give me tools that help me build on authenticity with my merchants. because i’d much rather spend a dollar with someone that takes the time, makes a connection and occasionally makes me feel a little special