Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk
This is a review of Varnerchuk’s 2009 edition. (I own the Audible version of this edition.) There will be an updated 2013 edition September of 2013. (As far as I can tell, it has yet to actually be released.)
Given the fact that the focus of this book is on social marketing, the 2009 version will be a bit dated. Regardless, the backbone of this book is philosophical. It’s about developing a certain attitude and passion for what you love. The lessons you’ll learn can still be applied today (with some adaptation). Even if on the off-chance, you’ll learn absolutely nothing, the author will at least entertain you. If you listen to the audio edition, you’ll get a sense of Varnerchuk’s showmanship. He does an awesome job of reading the book and keeping you engaged. He even throws in some stuff that you won’t find in the printed editions.
An All-American Story
Like most stars of the internet, you’ll never notice them until you stumble across them. I knew nothing of Vaynerchuk until I found this book. Now he appears all over the internet.
Gary starts the reader off with a brief bio of his family’s story. It’s to quintessential American story of a rags-to-riches. An immigrant family from Belarus (back when it was a part of the Soviet Union) moves to the United States with close to nothing. The family goes from hard-luck to his dad purchasing his first liquor store. It evolved into a one of the biggest wine-sellers in the country, with Gary’s out-of-the-box thinking and video blog, WineLibrary.com. The author talks about his early entrepreneurial efforts as a from raking leaves to running a chain of lemonade stands. He also tells of his story of how as a kid, he made money buying and selling baseball cards, using a loan from his dad. He ended up cashing out at local baseball card shows. Varnerchuk also goes into detail on how he established his video blog Wine Library TV while working for his dad and attending college. He used it to exploit a niche selling wine online.
Your Personal Brand
Varnerchuk goes into the concept of the “personal brand” online and in social media. In other words, it’s your image online. He talks about how he developed his “personal brand” during the early days of Wine Library TV while learning how to judge wine with his own authentic spin. The author then transitions into how he moved into his real passion, biz-dev. (Business development.)
Varnerchuk also hammers the point of being yourself. Be real. Don’t fake a personality. Don’t work a platform like podcasting if you can’t talk. (I learned that the hard way.) Work in a medium that let’s you shine. He stresses posting awesome content and doing so unfiltered.
He also makes a few predictions, including the resume becoming obsolete. Instead of updating your vanilla resume, you could be updating your LinkedIn account and announce your availability. So far this prediction hasn’t come to past. Job sites still make the resume a cornerstone of the a job search, and employers still ask for them (including references). But I’m pretty sure people who can work social media like a pro have no problem finding work.
He also predicts the end of traditional media, and it being replaced by the internet. Traditional media is sadly still breathing, but it has been transitioning to online sites, blogs, apps, and social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, etc. Just recently the WWE, UFC, Fox Sports, and NBC Sports have just launched digital platforms with live streaming video.
The author also breaks down important social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, providing examples of how they are used. Since video is a big feather in Varnerchuk’s cap, he also takes the time to talk about video services such as YouTube, Vididler, and UStream.
Varnerchuk also warns of the dangers of using analytics or metrics to determine how to conduct yourself online, or if you should drop a specific social platform. Sort of like a politician determining talking points and beliefs via exits polling. The author’s opinion is that all online outlets are important because the number of viewers you’re attracting isn’t as important as the quality of your visitors. You never know who your visitors are and their importance.
Another point Varnerchuk expresses is that it’s not the tools you use, it’s your content. He gives an example of how for Wine Library he went from using a $400 Sony camcorder to a using a cheap $100 flip-cam with bad lighting and all sorts of bad production values. Varnerchuk doesn’t care because he’s just being himself and sticking with what works best for him.
Vaynrchuk also lays down a challenge to the reader. He wants to you to chase your dream, but do it while thinking outside of the box. A butchered example from the book, is starting up a video blog on cars, and selling BMW on getting in on the ground-floor as a sponsor. I’ll have to agree with the author, that sort of thing would take massive guts, with enough ego to push something like that to a major corporation. But that’s the type of ambitious goal Vaynrchuk wants you to chase after. He’s pushing you to be unique and not just doing that same imitation as millions of other people.
Buy the Book
Actually, buy the Audible edition. It’s more up-to-date and entertaining than the book. Unless you’re a self-proclaimed SEO pro with actual success in getting websites noticed, you’ll still learn a lot from the book. You can buy your copy of Crush It! today at Amazon.