What Gary Vee Can Teach You About Feedback

Yesterday, my friend ( and occasional foe, but that’s another story) Gini Dietrich blogged over at Spin Sucks about how Gary Vaynerchuk used a (misleading? misrepresented?) statistic to prove a point in his book The Thank You Economy. Let’s just say it caused QUITE the conversation. (And I’m not bitter because I had the guest post on the same day. Nope, not at all!)

I’ll let you investigate on your own and peruse the comments here.

One result of the conversation – some of which was outright bashing – was the subject himself, Gary Vaynerchuk, joining in the discussion and addressing the comments head-on. What was ultimately refreshing about it was his focus on learning, even when he had to repeat over and over that he both agreed with what most were saying AND he was sorry he upset anyone.

Feedback is something I’ve tackled in this blog and with clients. It’s never easy. Accepting feedback for what it is – a gift – is difficult.

Gary was gracious, sometimes frustrated, and always HUMAN. It was an excellent lesson in how to accept feedback, even when you don’t like what someone is saying. Here are a few lessons Gary taught all of us:

  • Listen first.
    • While some commenters just wanted to join in the chorus and sing along with the Gary-bashing, there were at least kernels of truth in what they said. Gary patiently and repeatedly said “I learned from” or “Thank you…”
  • It’s ok to ask questions.
    • In some cases, defending yourself is as simple as asking the question. “Did you read the whole chapter?” He asked these questions without resorting to ALL CAPITALS or other freaking! devices to show his frustration and immediately cause an uproar. They were simple, honest questions.
  • Humans get frustrated.
    • After 122 comments (and counting) of many people saying the same thing, some of whom started by saying “I’m so sick of…” anyone might feel the heat. Gary expressed frustration but mostly turned it around by saying “I GET IT! I really do!”
  • You can acknowledge missteps without admitting failure.
    • Some companies/leaders get so hung up on not wanting to join a conversation because it would be “admitting defeat.” Gary basically said he learned from this, but didn’t need to say he was WRONG with a capital W.

The basic lesson for all of us is to pace ourselves when responding to this type of feedback. I thought both Gini and Gary handled their parts of the conversation well. And I give Gary a lot of credit for just showing up!

Full Disclosure: I make no bones about being a fan of both of these people, as I mentioned in the comments of Gini’s post. I don’t receive anything from either of them, except for the ways they educate me!

Photo Credit: TheFemGeek

Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the Chief Customer Experience Investigator™ and founder of 360Connext, a global consulting firm specializing in the cornerstones of customer experience: customer engagement, employee engagement and connections like social media. 360Connext serves mid-market companies and larger by helping them evaluate their true customer experience. The evaluations always lead to improvements which then lead to results like increased online conversions or loyalty.

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  1. says

    One of the best ways to diffuse the criticism is to join the conversation and not be defensive. Very few people do it well, but I thought Gary did a FANTASTIC job of showing up and responding. Not just to me, but to some of the community who made it personal.

    It’s hard not to take criticism personally. But, you’re right. If you can sit back and actually LISTEN, you might learn a thing or two.

  2. says

    Hello Gini

    Listening is one of the hardest skills to master and some people hear and react but they don’t truly listen.

    I tell you. Gary is one of the best and most passionate leaders on this planet. A great guy a true gent who leads with an exemplary attitude and focus on the importance of the social web to all of us.

    The only reason I am here, have a blog, or social media account is because I saw Gary give a presentation that inspired me so much I had no other option but to show up.

    I am in no way surprised by his ability to accept feedback and learn from it. All great leaders and entrepreneurs have this as a key tool in the box.

    And Gary is a great leader.

    Thanks for the post.

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