Last week I had the opportunity to listen to two inspirational people speak, Gary Vaynerchuk and Malcolm Pray. You may know about Gary Vaynerchuk through his Wine Library videos on YouTube, or perhaps you’ve attended an event where Gary was the keynote speaker or know of Vayner Media, his consulting company. I doubt many of you know of Malcolm Pray.
Mr. Pray is a lot like Gary, although they are probably 40 years apart in age. Mr. Pray had a passion for a product when he was a kid. Cars. He he saw a Delahaye at the 1939 World’s Fair when he was 12 and fell in love. He collected every edition of Road and Track magazine, which he still has in his office, and consumed them. When he graduated from college his father wanted him to work on Wall Street. Mr, Pray wanted to be in the car business. So he joined a small dealership in Greenwich, CT, as a salesman. Several years into this job the owner died, so Mr. Pray did his homework, made a presentation for the family of the deceased owner, one for VW and one for a local bank and convinced all parties to sell the dealership to him, and the bank to fund him. He had a 10 year buy out with the family which he paid back in four. He added Audi and Porsche dealerships to his portfolio. He went on, over the next almost 50 years to become the largest Audi dealership by unit volume and margin in the USA. Along the way he started collecting cars, like Gary Vee collected baseball cards, and now has a collection of more than 50 classic and exotic cars housed at what he calls the Pray Achievement Center. More about that in a moment.
So how are Gary Vaynerchuk and Mr. Pray similar, although they represent two very distinct generations? Their passion for business and people, and hustling.
Both believe in engaging people and creating lasting relationships that drive business. As Gary says in his books, if you don’t work to earn the trust of your customer and develop a relationship with them, your competitor will. And Mr. Pray says no matter what you do, you will be in the people business, and that your reputation is the greatest asset you have.
Both believe there is nothing in life you can not achieve. Gary went from selling lemonade on street corners in Edison, NJ, and baseball cards from his vast collection, to leveraging the Internet to connect with customers and to drive sales for his family’s wine store. And, as I’ve said, Mr. Pray grew from a passionate car salesman to owning several dealerships, amassing a fortune, a world class automobile collection and the country’s largest Audi franchise.
And both believe you have to hustle. If you don’t a competitor will. If you follow Gary you will see he is always traveling to events to speak, asking people what they need and leveraging social media tools – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. – to spread the gospel of Gary. Mr. Pray did not operate in a world of social media, but he used basic people skills, looking people in the eye, shaking hands, training his sales team to be an extension of him, developing relationships with his clients before closing the deal. Gary calls this Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, the title of his next book.
Be passionate. Gary admits he loves business and the hustle of it, whether its lemonade stands, baseball cards or wine. One can adapt social media to reach your clients regardless of the product or service you sell. Mr. Pray was passionate about cars and engaging people as well. He preaches there are three kinds of people, those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who say “what happened”. He encourages everyone to find their passion and make things happen!
One more item about Mr. Pray. Since he sold his auto dealerships about 12+ years ago he has created the Pray Achievement Center (www.PrayAchievementCenter.com). This facility houses his automobile collection as well as memorabilia from his youth to today, including awards his autos have won at a variety of shows around the world. He uses this center to reach
children, whom he invites from schools across the region, and to speak with them about his past. He shares his story and tries to impress upon them how they can be just as successful in life if they “make things happen” as he did. In the past 12 years he has hosted over 8,000 children at the center, giving them steps on how to become a millionaire, as he has become. There is much more to his story, perhaps for another time.
Quite a week last week listening to these two motivating and inspirational people speak. And although they launched their careers in two different decades, with access to two different sets of tools and technologies, these items are just a means to reach and develop a lasting relationship with your customer before someone else does.
And as Mr. Pray has followed his passion and amassed an amazing automobile collection, here’s hoping Gary Vaynerchuk one day fulfills his dream of owning the NY Jets.