My kids think I’m weird.
I talk in weird voices. I come up with weird games. I listen to Phish.
I like when they call me weird.
Weird is good, I tell them. Normal is blah.
You don’t want to be blah. Blah is boring. Boring people are forgettable.
I like weirdos.
They are interesting. They have crazy ideas. They have passion.
Weirdos separate from the pack. Weirdos change the world. Weirdos lead. Weirdos make us think.
When did weird become so weird? Why does the Merriam-Webster dictionary define the word so negatively? (“a person who is extraordinarily strange or eccentric.”)
We should teach our kids to be weird. Weird like Gary Vaynerchuk.
I had the opportunity to spend this weekend with Gary and his immediate family – his wife, Lizzie, his daughter and his parents.
Gary once offered to pay my kids to be Jets fans.
He hasn’t missed a PLAY in a Jets game in 30 years.
He comes over and goes right for the Fritos. And walks around the house with them.
He texts me just to tell me that he loves me. That’s weird. And I love it.
Gary is one of my close friends now. Weirdos seek each other out. And we stick together once we find each other.
Being a weirdo has worked out well for Gary. He operated 7 lemonade stands by the time he was 8. He retired from lemonade retail at 10 and turned to baseball cards. He was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author by the time we was 35.
1 million people follow Gary on Twitter and many more in real life.
Gary often appears on TV - Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, MSNBC, CNBC, CNN and NPR, just to name a few.
His latest company, social media agency VaynerMedia, has more than 200 employees and awesome clients, like Pepsi, Campbell Soup and others.
Gary thinks he’s going to buy the Jets one day. I won’t bet against him.
Most important to me ... my kids love Gary. Gary is weird. Weird is good.
Further down the weird spectrum is James Altucher.
The first time I met James, we had breakfast at the Red Flame diner in New York. He ordered French Fries and a vanilla milkshake.
James doesn’t attend weddings and is the only guy I know who has screwed Yasser Arafat out of $2 million, and then lost $100 million himself.
James has admitted he is guilty of torturing women.
When the president of Chile asked James if he would like to be run over by a tank, James said no thanks.
You’re probably thinking two things: (a) how am I friends with James; and (b) there is no way James could be successful.
James is one of the most successful and content people I know. I wish I spent more time with him.
He was a world-class champion chess player. He made a fortune in the hedge fund business. And he is a prolific investor and writer.
James was one of the first people I spoke to about Buddy Media. He had recently sold a startup of his own, Stockpickr, to TheStreet.com. I wanted him involved.
James invested. And made a lot of money. Most Normals would never have invested in an app company built on a college social network started by a husband and wife team whose most recent company was selling golf stuff.
I love James. James is weird. Weird is good.
Meet Peter Thiel. Peter is very, very weird.
I first met Peter at the former Clarium Capital office in New York. We were meeting at lunchtime. I walked into his beautiful office overlooking Central Park.
We sat at a round table right in front of his desk. Or at least I remember it being round but I could be wrong.
His staff set the table -- for one. The server brought out lunch for Peter. And then a drink. And didn’t offer me either.
I thought this was weird but was not even one bit annoyed. I was just happy to be talking to Peter. He's brilliant.
Peter studied 20 Century philosophy at Stanford. Normals don’t go to Stanford, in the heart of Silicon Valley, and study modern philosophy.
Like James, Peter is a wicked chess player, a national master, to be exact. What's with chess? I can't stand the game myself.
Peter pays kids not to go to college, invested in a company that bioprints meat for human consumption and thinks death is a problem that can be solved. But while we're alive, why not form independent ocean communities with their own laws and political system?
This all sounds weird, right? Maybe to all the Normals.
But remember ...
Facebook seemed like a pretty weird idea when Peter made the first outside investment in the company, netting him close to half a billion dollars in gains.
Paypal seemed like an even weirder idea when Peter founded the company, which was eventually sold to eBay for $1.5 billion.
Buddy Media was just weird enough for Peter to invest personally.
Speaking of which, I just saw Peter earlier this month in Austin at SXSW. He barely recognized me, which is cool because we haven't spent that much time together.
Come to think of it, he still hasn’t said congrats or thank you for the amazing outcome. Only in Silicon Valley, the home of weird, can you make someone a few million dollars in less than 5 years and not even receive a simple thank you.
If someone made me a few million bucks, I’d donate $100,000 to their favorite charity. Or name my next born after them (as long as their name wasn’t Herbert or something like that). Or maybe write a thank you note, at a minimum. Actually, I'd probably just send a text. But maybe I'm not weird enough.
Am I upset? No. Because I understand where Peter comes from. He’s a weirdo. Very smart weirdo. I love him for it and we need more Peter Thiels.
And we need more Cindy Gallops.
Cindy is half-British and half-Chinese. She was born in the UK and grew up in Brunei.
Cindy was the head of BBH, one of the world’s largest ad agencies, before retiring to change the world.
Her project IfWeRanTheWorld.com is trying to turn the world’s good intentions into collective good actions.
And she has turned her love of having sex with younger men into one of the most talked about TEDtalks and a new business to reinvent the porn industry, one crowd-sourced video at a time.
I love Cindy. Cindy is weird. Weird is good.
Gary, James, Peter, Cindy and other weirdos I know share a few common traits that propel them to reach their full potential.
Weirdos see the world as a blank slate for them to paint their masterpiece. Forget marching to their own drums. They make up their own instruments. Forget thinking outside the box. They don’t see boxes. They see circles and horizons and trapazoids.
Weirdos don’t see anything as impossible. Anything is possible. Just give us enough time.
Weirdos are contrarians. They think differently and act even more differently. Normals try to fit in. Weirdos stick out without really trying.
Weirdos aren’t driven by money. Money is a destination. Weirdos are all about the journey.
Weirdos don’t care what others think. They only care THAT they think and want to change HOW they think.
Weirdos come in all shapes and sizes, colors and countries. And they're not new to the tech industry, or industry in general.
Weirdos thought it made sense to get on the Mayflower from England to settle in a new land.
Weirdos thought we should get rid of slavery.
Weirdos insisted that women should also have a vote.
The world would suck if it weren’t for weirdos.
Instead of trying to get our kids to fit in, we should help them celebrate why they are different.
Let’s start to teach kids to embrace weird. Weird is good.
And let’s not stop until weird is normal.
(PHOTO: Flickr, @doug88888)
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