Me at Archangel Summit last week:
“Is this an awesome day or what?” I say to the ladies at coat check, the custodians of my suitcase for the day. “Did you get a chance to see any of the speakers?”
“Gotta work,” she says. “We can’t all just do what we want all day and be entrepreneurs.”
Right, a lesser version of me thinks. ‘Cuz it’s, like, a total picnic, and all we actually do is hobnob at conferences, eat beef tenderloin and count our money.
“You’re right,” a better version of me says. “I’m very lucky.”
And dammit, ain’t that the truth.
Last week I spent a whole day in a room with some of the world’s most highly sought-after minds, talking about our loftiest goals—the ones most coveted in the deepest parts of our souls.
Like this guy…
But I’m not gonna talk about Seth today. (I definitely won’t tell you about how my hands got all shaky taking this picture, or how fast my heart was beating while we “casually” chatted.)
Instead, I want to tell you something about Gary Vaynerchuk. Because his presence was something Awesome—like, in the biblical sense.
Gary Vaynerchuk was exactly like a 17th century monarch, descending into the village to meet with his adoring subjects.
If his generosity, patience and compassion had limits, he didn’t reach those limits on Sept 21 at Archangel Summit. The Q&A session (most of his talk) was a long parade of adoring fans & entrepreneurs asking their most pressing questions, pitching their businesses, courting favours & laying their hearts bare.
Subject: “Can I come up on stage and get a selfie with you?”
Gary Vee: “Yes.” (Always, yes.)
(Please, oh please watch this next interaction on YouTube. #Magic)
Subject: “I missed an internship fair to be here today, if you're looking for employee number 706. I'm available”
Gary Vee: “Did you just ask for an internship? You got it. Do you want to start now, or in May when school ends?”
Subject: “I lost family to drugs and gang violence. Now I’m starting a program to help troubled youth, but I need $2 million to buy a building.”
Gary Vee: “Brother, I’m in for $50,000.
And it goes on…and on…and on…for 90 minutes.
The proceedings continue behind the scenes, in the VIP lounge. Endless selfies. Endless requests for autographs. Endless pitches.
The people get bolder. Making bigger and bigger demands. Asking for bigger, more extravagant favours. Finally, it’s nearing 9pm (roughly 3 hours since he took the stage) and he’s losing his voice. He leaves abruptly, followed by a trail of admirers wanting to ask him still more questions.
It was humbling.
It was beautiful.
At some points, it was kinda awkward.
When will it be enough? When will this never-ending thirst for favours be quenched?
After Gary Vee I emptied my wallet.
It was automatic. I couldn’t stop myself. I gave extravagant tips to the the bartender, the cabbie and the coat check lady. Quite involuntarily, I actually blew her a kiss on the way out.
When a disheveled, elderly gentleman at the bus stop tried to sell me a bedazzled ladies’ watch, I gave him $20. (Before you declare me a saint, I feel compelled to confess that it was the only bill I had left.)
When another local itinerant asked me for money, I felt ashamed that I had nothing left to give him. I even flashed the inside of my wallet at him as if to say, “I’m tapped man, it’s the truth!” Eventually I dug a toonie from deep in the recesses of my backpack. I pressed it into his hand exclaiming “It’s your lucky day!” like I was Oprah.
He shrugged and replied, “You got another one?”
When will it be enough?
My humble hypothesis: never.
And what a blessing.
Because while I may not be able to “just do what I want all day and be an entrepreneur”, the one thing it has allowed me to do is give—one of life’s greatest pleasures.
To buy stolen jewelry at the bus station.
To hire other entrepreneurs.
To give freely when my friends run fundraisers and kickstarter campaigns.
To refer business to other copywriters.
Do I sound braggadocious? (That’s not a real word, btw. I checked. #Hillary2016.) Maybe I am. But it’s only because I’m incredibly proud to belong to this exclusive club of entrepreneurs.
Every day on Facebook I get new sponsored posts about “hosting my first 5-figure webinar” and “booking myself solid with premium 1-on-1 clients” It’s easy to see why the entrepreneur’s life is so coveted. It sounds pretty awesome.
… so awesome there are legions of coaches with businesses entirely built on teaching others how to build their businesses teaching others how to build their businesses.
It’s like holding a mirror up to another mirror. It goes on and on and on. And the message gets fuzzier with each new impression.
Few of us actually get there.
But when we do, it is our absolute duty to give at least some of it back.
So next time someone asks me (1) what I learned at the Archangel Summit, and (2) whether or not it was worth the cool $1350 for an upgraded ticket, my answer will be…
1) “That at every stage, no matter what, the point of the whole thing is to keep on giving.”
2) (…in my best Jane Bennett voice…) “Yes. A thousand times, yes.”