MORE THAN HER SOCIAL MEDIA: LIFE AFTER GARY VAYNERCHUK | INTERVIEW WITH BRAND DIRECTOR BRITTANY HOFFMANSeptember 9, 2017
Meet fabulous Brittany Hoffman, who was born and raised in sunny Los Angeles. After receiving her undergraduate degree in History at UCLA (she finished in only three years), she went on to get her law degree at Georgetown Law School in Washington D.C. More than that, she passed her bar exam in New York and had a personal working experience with Gary Vaynerchuk. Having travelled all over the world, Brittany has a global life and work experience that we want to share with you.
Brittany, tell us more about yourself.
Growing up in LA, I had always wanted to work in the entertainment or sports industries. Social media wasn’t around until I was in college, so TV was the fast-paced storytelling medium. Law school was supposedly the “safe route” to making good money and getting a crack at those industries in a more risk averse way.
I knew during law school that the typical law firm job was not going to be for me. It’s no surprise to me when I look back on it that my best classes there were Entrepreneurship and Negotiations classes. Now I realize that law and marketing/ branding are a very similar skill set. It’s telling a story and convincing people of a desired outcome.
After law school, I worked several jobs in the entertainment industry, trying to figure out where I would fit (a major talent agency, a management company, a production company, and a network). It’s difficult to know from the outside if you’ll like something until you’re actually in it. Whether it was the work or the culture or both, those places weren’t a fit for me either.
How did you meet Gary Vaynerchuk and start working for him?
I was told I needed to go to business school if I wanted to switch into branding. I thought that was ridiculous since I already had a graduate degree, so as I was studying for the GMAT (the exam to get into business programs), my boyfriend sent me a Gary Vaynerchuk tweet that said he was looking for employees in his new LA office. I had no idea who Gary was, but my boyfriend told me to look into Gary and his company and just apply. I thought there was no way I would get a reply if I just applied through the careers page, but I ended up getting a call and going through the interview process.
I met Gary 4 months into working at VaynerMedia at the company Christmas party and over the next few months we discussed the idea of me moving to NYC to work for him directly on his personal brand.
You had a great work experience with Gary Vee, tell us who is this fucking successful man and how was your work experience?
For those who don’t know who Gary Vaynerchuk is, he’s a serial entrepreneur, investor (Facebook, Twitter, Uber), public speaker, the CEO of VaynerMedia, and a social media force. That description doesn’t do his accomplishments justice. I don’t know anyone who he couldn’t make feel lazy by comparison.
His passion for work definitely permeated the culture at Vayner. You don’t go work for Gary and expect to work a typical 9 to 5 with an hour lunch break. I treated my time there as my MBA, trying to soak up everything I could.
I joined when Team Gary, the team was much smaller and less structured than it is today. It was great to be working with a small group of smart, dedicated people in a way that did not feel competitive internally. Definitely had a startup feel to it. Gary uses his own brand as a testing ground for other offerings within the agency, so we were free to experiment with different types of content and distribution that a traditional agency client might not support. I love when things move quickly, so the job was great for me. We were working on new approaches and tactics daily. The platforms themselves change all the time, so there is always something new to learn.
Gary is way too busy to be hand-holding, micromanaging, and direct mentoring. At the same time, he is very generous with his time if it’s asked of him. I never wanted to abuse the privilege. His hands off managerial worked really well for me because I could learn from his example and execute without needing to go through the red tape that exists at a lot of large corporations. I also got to wear many different hats, whether it was working with influencers, writing copy, or coming up with content ideas among other things.
What did you learn from him?
One thing I really took away from Gary was that for as much as he works, he works smart and he works patiently. By working smarter, I mean, he’s not sitting around taking useless meetings for hours on end. He’s known to schedule 5 minute meetings (instead of 30 min-1 hour) because that’s all the time it will take to have the necessary conversation. The most valuable asset is time and he is extremely intuitive, which means if he can get to the root quickly, he can move on to the next thing that needs attention. Even though he’s moving extremely quickly, he’s also super patient. Clients come in expecting to build the audience Gary has overnight. They don’t realize the monetary and time investment that he has put into building his brand.
Working for him legitimately changed the course of my life because it led me to a profession I feel very passionate about: personal brand and business building.
Did you also swear a lot during your work? 🙂
I naturally swear a healthy amount. I know Gary’s known for his swearing, but I honestly didn’t really notice it 🙂
On your Instagram you use hashtag #morethanmysocialmedia - what’s the main idea of it?
The main idea of #morethanmysocialmedia is pretty simply that there is more to me (and most people in general) than my social media. That seems like an obvious concept, but it’s very easy to get lost in what you see online. What I put out there is actually me, but it’s not the whole story. Society has always judged based on what you put out in public, but it’s just even easier to form those opinions at scale now.
There is an expectation if you are posting X type of content, you are X type of person. I like to play around with my image partially because it’s fun for me to have pictures taken and partially to gauge people’s perceptions. If I want to post a picture in a bikini at the beach, that says nothing about the quality of my work product or how I comport myself as a professional in the workplace.
I think it’s incredibly interesting how you can make people think and feel a certain way about you based on the content you put out there. You can really tell any story you want (Caveat: for a personal brand to really work, it needs to actually be authentically you). When I was working at Vayner, I was in the office almost all the time. However, that didn’t mean that I wanted all of my content to be Gary related or pictures of me in the office. I wrote a piece about a message I received congratulating me on “my lifestyle” because I often post pictures from my travels - this person thought I got to just lay around on the beach all day AND get to work for Gary, which is just not real life and an idea I would never want to sell. Those pictures ARE me, but that’s not necessarily me in real time (for that, you can just go to my Instagram Stories).
What drives you crazy?
Inefficiency. If there’s a faster and an effective way to do something, let’s get it done!
Your Motto You Don’t Get What You Don’t Ask For
On what occasions do you lie? The poker table.
Favourite place in the world
Currently, it’s Spain. I was in Mallorca a few months ago and the north coast was magical. I have a feeling I’ll fall in love with few more European cities over the next year or so.
What is the quality you most like in a man? Good judgement (lol)
When you come to London, what are your favourite spots? I was 15 the last time I was in the city. I need to come back soon!
Well, Digital Sekta will be happy to guide Brittany in London and show the best spots.
Want to connect with Brittany and get advice how to improve your branding? Well, this is especially for U: