How Garyvee, Tim Ferriss, and Guy Kawasaki Became the Top 3 Influential Gurus of All Time


I’m Christian Martin and I want to talk about Gary Vaynerchuk, Tim Ferriss, and Guy Kawasaki: the top 3 most influential people in business and marketing. This is the story of before they became gurus.


Gary Vaynerchuk: Building Personal Brand Within the Social Media Landscape – Web 2.0 Expo NY:

Top 50 Marketing Gurus:

What We Covered


Have you ever wondered how the top gurus became absolute savages in business? These men and women are a rare breed of human; it must take a very specific upbringing to produce an absolute killer in business who can captivate the minds of millions of people, make hundreds of millions of dollars, and deal with the pressure of being one of the most successful people on the planet.

Sometimes I picture these men and women being trained from a young age to dominate everything around them, their CEO parents standing over them, throwing them food scraps, teaching them to aggressively sell like their life depends on it,  like a young Tiger Woods on the golf course with his Dad organizing his entire life around winning.


But then of course, I would be wrong.


You don’t have to have investors, CEO parents or be born rich to become very successful in business.


Sure, Tony Stark’s dad was a genius millionaire, but Peter Parker’s dad wasn’t even around.  What does that tell you?


Some of the most successful entrepreneurs had very humble beginnings


Like Gary V.


Before he  became the most prolific, 5x New York Bestselling author and Ceo of Vayner Media…


Like Tim Ferriss, before he found his claim to guru-ness with 4-Hour Work Week and helming the title as the first business podcast to exceed 100 million downloads…


And Guy Kawasaki, before he became an immensely popular speaking guest, a tech pioneer and now chief evangelist for Canva…


We’ll be looking at their humble beginnings and see what decisions they’ve made that turn them into the most highly sought after marketing gurus in the world. They weren’t all the products of old money, and were, in fact, the very definition of self-made.


I’m Christian Martin and I want to talk about the top 3 most influential people in business and marketing. This is the story of before they became gurus.

Intro Theme



Gary Vaynerchuk, better known as Garyvee, was born November 14th, 1975 in what’s now modern-day Belarus. After emigrating to the U.S. when he was three, he moved to Queens, NY and lived in a studio apartment with eight other family members. Later on, he moved to Edison, NJ and earned money. Not through an allowance or simple birthday money, but actually starting his own businesses…as a teenager.


Gary would pick up flowers from his neighbor’s yards and sell them on the streets. He would trade baseball cards and make thousands of dollars! He even had his own lemonade stand and franchised it, all while attending school at the same time.


   This makes me feel like a real schlub, when I was a kid, I had a lemonade stand, too. I made about 6 dollars… and it only cost my parents 14 dollars.


To promote HIS lemonade hustle, Gary would hang fliers down Oak Tree Road and Tingley Lane. In an interview with MyCentralJersey, Vaynerchuk described how influential these money-making ventures as a kid were to him.


Gary attended North Hunterdon High, and when he was 14, he joined his father’s wine business, Shopper’s Discount Liquors.


This is when his marketing skills began to blossom. After taking over the day-to-day operations from his father, Gary renamed the store to The Wine Library and took advantage of the growing digital landscape by promoting online sales of his products and creating the webcast “Wine Library TV.”

Just to give you an idea of how monumental of a move this was, the business went from earning $3 million a  year to nearly $60 million a year by 2003. That’s an additional $57 million/yr ...for those of you who struggle with rudimentary mathematics.


Gary earned his bachelor’s degree from Mount Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts in 1998 and continued building Wine Library for years until deciding to venture on his own as a solo entrepreneur.


He used many of the techniques he had applied at his father’s wine shop to his own projects. Yet Gary’s self-admitted breakout moment came in 2008, when he gave a keynote speech at Web 2.0 Expo in New York titled “Building Personal Brand Within the Social Media Landscape.”


Being ahead of the curve with social media (I mean, how many people were creating YouTube videos about the wine and spirits industry, especially in the 2000’s? …I can only think of like 5 or 6 off the top of my head.), it was no surprise that his speech was a success.


In 2009, Gary and his brother AJ founded VaynerMedia, the wildly successful advertising agency that brought in over $215M last year with over 700 employees, and


published Crush It! Why Now is the Time to Cash in on your Passion, which reached the number one spot on the Amazon Best Sellers list selling over 5,000 books in just one day.

Going strong as ever on social media, Garyvee is ranked as the most influential person in business and definitely considered as the #1 marketing guru by (Yes that’s a real website, check it out in the description below.)


The rest, as they say, is history.


Tim Ferris

The next guru person to make us all feel like dissapointments to our parents on our list is Tim Ferris.

This American entrepreneur was born July 20th, 1977 in East Hampton, NY. His father was a real estate agent and his mother was a physical therapist. His parents didn’t have a lot of money, but they would always buy books for him, which he says contributed to his love for learning.


He was rather small for his age, so his mom signed him up for wrestling when he was eight. This wouldn’t be his only foray into combat sports, as he would compete in the 1999 USAWKF National Sanshou Championship tournament in the 165 lb weight class.


Tim went to high school at St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH. This was pretty significant for him, as St. Paul’s was a very prestigious boarding school and for someone who grew up with a very modest home life, you can understand just how great of an opportunity he was given.


Yet with scholarships and help from his grandparents, he was able to attend, and even spent a year in Japan as an exchange student when he was 15. On this moment, he says it was “A huge formative experience in my life.” This led to his desire to major in East Asian studies in Princeton.

Also around this time, he has been more and more open about his bouts with bipolar depression. In a 2017 Ted Talk, Ferris elaborated about his condition, revealing that it nearly cost him his life when he was a senior at Princeton. It’s honestly quite a testament to how strong Tim is for being so transparent about his bipolar depression and just shows how even something as debilitating as mental illness can be overcome when you’re chasing your dreams.


It’s easy to think that those at the top don’t have the same challenges that us normal people do, but often they have the same struggles with mental and physical health, relationships and self confidence. It’s how they deal with these problems that make all the difference.


Tim worked in sales at a data storage company and later on founded BrainQUICKEN, a supplement company, in 2001. One of his Princeton professors would later ask him to provide lectures and discussions about his growth into a successful entrepreneur. However, by 2004 Tim was facing a string of personal and professional issues.


Tim took a sabbatical to London. It was here where he developed his mindset on efficiency, time management, and planning, which later on lead to his now-famous book, The 4-Hour Workweek.

Tim sold more than 1.3 million copies and spent more than four years on the New York Times bestseller list. Take THAT, Stephen King!


After the success of the 4HWW, Tim has been an active Angel Investor and advisor for startups like StumbleUpon, Evernote, Shopify, and Uber, just to name a few.


He’s probably sitting pretty on a pile of cash while chopping it up with celebrities on his extremely popular Tim Ferriss Show Podcast.


You know the rest of his story because this was everything about Tim Ferriss before he was a guru.


Guy Kawasaki

The last guru on the list is Guy Kawasaki.

Guy Kawasaki was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 30th, 1954 to a housewife and a fireman. He lived in Kalihi (ka-lee-hee) Valley, which was often considered one of the rougher areas in Honolulu.


According to Guy’s bio on on his website, one of Guy’s greatest motivators as a writer was his AP English teacher, Harold Keables, who taught him the importance of editing when drafting something.


I have ALWAYS found editing to be super importa-  (obvious cut-edit in video here)  

-one of the most important tools.


After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Stanford in 1976, Guy attended law school at UC Davis, mainly at the request of his parents. But he left shortly after, and later on remarked how he hated the law school experience and the general attitude of the instructors.


 That’s a nice perk about being a successful guru: You can complain about your instructors and people listen.  Nobody cares that I thought my 5th grade P.E. teacher was mean.


He did, however, earn his MBA from UCLA and worked at the jewelry store, Nova Stylings.


When asked about it in interviews, Guy remarked that, “The jewelry business is a very, very tough business, tougher than the computer business…I learned a valuable lesson: how to sell.”


Another great lesson here, especially for aspiring business owners. There is no true route to discovering how to market your products which means that any industry you start in can teach you something useful, no matter what the niche is.


Quick sidebar: If you feel like you’re in the wrong industry, definitely take the time to learn in-demand skills, like digital marketing, to jump careers.


While you’re learning these new skills, remember to keep a positive perspective and take unfavorable situations as a learning opportunity. You’ll never know when you’ll need your past knowledge to help you with future goals.


Alright, back to Guy Kawasaki:


In 1983, thanks to his Stanford roommate, Kawasaki was brought on to Apple as a chief evangelist (otherwise known as a brand ambassador).


In fact, guess which famous marketing campaign he worked on in 1984? That’s right…the Macintosh.

(A few seconds of the audio from the B-Roll)


He left Apple in 1987 to start up his own Macintosh database company, ACIUS, and stayed on for two years.


It was during this time that he began to focus on his writing and public speaking skills. If you need further proof of his success in that goal…Guy currently has thirteen full-length books. He even found time to write columns for Forbes and MacUser.


In 1995, Guy rejoined Apple. This was significant at the time because Apple was still recovering from its downward phase. From the late ’90s on, he would go on to fund and found numerous projects, including Fog City Software, the aggregator site AllTop, Garage Technology Ventures, and Truemors.


During the 2010s, Guy has stayed consistently busy. He joined Google in 2013 to devise a Google+ mobile device community, became a chief evangelist to the graphic-design website Canva in 2014, and stayed from 2015 to 2016 on Wikimedia’s board of trustees.


Guy has amassed over 10 million followers on social media and an estimated net worth of $33M.

So now that you know a little more about these three industry titans, what can we learn from it? Well, my point from earlier still stands. Anybody can become a successful entrepreneur. Your background, heritage, family life, those are a part of you, that will never change.


But those aspects don’t have to hold you back… Unless you are from Iowa.  For some reason, people from Iowa never become successful.  Ha, obviously I’m kidding. I don’t know why Im picking on people from Iowa.  John Wayne and Johnny Carson were both from Iowa!


  Anyway, whether you’re selling flowers on the street to make money, overcoming professional heartbreak and mental illness, or realizing the career you were preparing for isn’t what you really want, you have the ability to sell yourself and your products or services beyond what you think you’re capable of. If you’re still skeptical, just look at Garyvee, Tim Ferris, or Guy Kawasaki. They weren’t born with silver spoons, they used grit, determination and resourcefulness to make their dreams a reality..


It’s time for you to do the same.


What’s one decision you can make today that is bringing you one step closer to your goals?


Let me know in the comments down below and don’t forget to like and subscribe.


Oh and P.S.!


If one of your goals is being your own boss, working from anywhere, and/or to gain financial freedom, check out my free webinar where I show you how I made $9,000 per month in income with one Facebook ad– all while traveling. It’s crazy and I really get into it during the webinar.


Click the link in the description down below this video to learn more!


I’m Christian Martin, and I’ll see you guys next time!

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