In today’s world, with such massive amount of media houses and services everywhere, is it even possible for one to start from the scratch and reach the very top? If asked this question directly, most people would probably answer that there’s no chance in hell for something like this to happen. However, Vice’s CEO Shane Smith begs to disagree on this. For those who are still not convinced, there is no better evidence than to examine Shane Smith’s own road to success, that closely mirrors that of his magazine Vice itself.

 

Fear as a motivator

Image courtesy of http://business-crunch.com/

Image courtesy of http://business-crunch.com/

One of the things that managed to push Vice to turn into a $2.5 billion revenue, from its humble beginnings in no more than two decades, were clear goals and strong motivation. Their goals, according to Shane Smith himself were quite simple and straightforward. First, to always have relevant content to offer to their audience, second to be able to fit that content into form which would attract as much audience as possible and third but definitely not least important to have enough means to continue doing so for as much as possible.

When asked about what served as motivator for this kind of strategy, Shane Smith answered that as a child and young adult he lived in poverty, so his approach to this will always be partially financial. In order to always remain able to send a message that no one else will, and in a way that no one else could, Smith understands just how important finances are. Therefore, as a main motivator for this, he singled out fear. Fear that once, because of the insufficient funds it might happen that they aren’t be able to do this anymore.

 

The issues that matter

Image courtesy of http://aws.amazon.com/

Image courtesy of http://aws.amazon.com/

Because of his incredible life story, his poverty in childhood, and troublesome adolescence, consisting of drug abuse and various other dangerous activities, Smith was always able to clearly recognize issues that really matter and present them in the right way. In his opinion, this is exactly what separates vice most clearly from other, more traditionally oriented media.

Vice’s relentless and somewhat aggressive approach, best reflected in the very attitude of their CEO, is exactly what attracted mass audience under their wing. Another thing, that is completely unique for Vice, is the focus on the content of news, above all else. This is especially important now, when Vice has gone both on TV while it still runs mostly online.

As Smith claims, the most important thing for them is content, at the moment, they are still creating content that is meant for online, but if it happens that it goes on TV or gets transferred into film it is still fine by them. All they want to do is send a message that is worth sending. Also, when confronted by media, if they plan to transfer their content for television completely, since there is still, more money there, Smith answered that what Vice plans to achieve is more like the success of television x 10, since he believes that future belongs to them.

Image courtesy of http://www.vice.com

Image courtesy of http://www.vice.com

All in all, what remains in the end, consistent and objective are results and in this case, the results are on Vice’s side. In just two decades, Vice had turned from indie magazine into a media giant worth several billions USD. Although some may call Shane Smith a megalomaniac or real life, modern Charles Foster Kane when taken all these numbers and facts into consideration as well as Vices future potential, one simply cannot think of him as anything else than realistic or even a modest man.

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Posted by James D. Burbank

James D. Burbank has worked for years in traditional as well as online marketing. He has worked in Central Asia, Europe and Australasia for years, helping US-based companies exhibit at trade shows in those parts of the world, among other things. He’s been on the ground for years and for the last few years, he has also been working in online marketing. James is currently on well-deserved hiatus and blogs about his experiences, the stuff he’s learned and more. Business and marketing all the way. He is also a father of two and a huge Utah Jazz fan.