May 20 2014

A Day with Gary Vaynerchuk

Ted Alling and Gary V chat on a tour of Chattanooga“There is no doubt about it. You can cut the energy with a knife today.”

That’s what Lamp Post co-founder Ted Alling tweeted the day after social media king Gary Vaynerchuk came to speak in Chattanooga. It was an event in the making since November that had been postponed thanks to an ill-timed snowpocalypse. When the new date for Gary V’s visit finally approached, excitement built quickly. That anticipation, however, had nothing on the electric jolt of inspiration we’ve been feeling since Gary V laid down his words of wisdom, and the energy he bestowed upon this little Southern city.

Gary V admitted he didn’t really know where he was headed when he hopped on his flight. We were a little nervous about showing him a good time in the hours leading up to his speech. Two hours after Gary V arrived in the Scenic City, he sat down with Lamp Post Group leaders for a lunch of Champy’s Fried Chicken, and made this simple declaration. “I’m already in shock.”

What he found so shocking and exciting about our city are also some of ‘Noogans favorite things. The scenery. The startups. The attitude. The people. Over the course of lunch the ideas were flying even faster than usual. “Chattanooga needs to start a world class coding school,” Gary V declared to Ted at one point. “I mean, something crazy that draws people from all over the southeast to your city. My hunch is those people that go to school here won’t leave to San Fran or NYC. They will stay here.”

Those are the kind of rapid-fire ideas Gary V can’t help but spit out. It’s one of the qualities that has no doubt made him so successful, and one that makes him an especially exciting person to talk to. When he gets going with his ideas and enthusiasm, it’s contagious. Ever since his visit, people walk a little quicker around the office. There’s a greater sense of urgency to the deadlines and a bigger vision for the goals. There have been more meetings full of of fast-paced banter and intense visions for how things could be, and how to get there.

Gary V and Ambition co-founder Travis Truett talk shop over Chattanooga's tastiest fried chicken.

Director of Operations Tiffanie Robinson said how much she loved the energy he brought with him. “He shared some awesome insights, but my favorite thing was that energy he puts off. I really love being around people who are thinking about really big visions and are thought leaders.” What she concluded about Vaynerchuk could be said about cities at their best, “There are things about being around them that energizes you and makes you want to conquer the world.”

That innate ability to make you want to push harder and go farther is something we feel he has in common with Chattanooga. Chattanooga’s always been on the cutting edge, from Brock Candy’s innovations in sweets to the first Coca Cola bottling plant to opening what was for a time the largest fresh water aquarium in the world to boasting the fastest internet in the western hemisphere. There’s something about this place that gives you energy, that makes you work hard and dream deeply. Even when it’s hit hard times, Chattanooga has found solutions bigger than its problems. It’s unafraid to pivot.

Innovation, motivation, and actualization are three things that could apply to both the city and the social media king. It’s no surprise that the two saw something special in one another. Halfway through his stay Gary V tweeted

If we’re this energized after a single visit, we can only imagine the level of pumped up we’d be every day if Gary V were a part of the Gig City. The great news is that we’ve got the drive, zeal, and magic to keep up our history of living and working at 110% percent. It won’t be long until Chattanooga levels up again.