Shame on me. I must have been the only person that had not heard of Gary Vaynerchuk until Dan Schawbel wrote about him in his issue of Personal Branding Magazine. Then, during a business trip to New Jersey, I had the chance to stop in at the Wine Library and actually experience what I had only seen on Wine Library TV. Then I started looking into the best books of 2009 for Small Business Trends and ordered “Crush it” for review.
I had heard mixed reviews on the book. Some people felt that it was overly simplistic and shallow and others (like the readers who voted it as one of the best business books of 2009) felt that it was outstanding. So I’m going to see for myself.
Learn About Gary Vaynurchuk BEFORE Reading Crush It!
I’d recommend learning a couple of things about Gary Vaynerchuk BEFORE you read the book. It will give you a little perspective and context from which to get the most out of the book.
Gary’s parents are Russian immigrants who owned a liquor store. As a teenager, Gary worked behind the counter. To combat boredom, he started reading Wine Spectator. Since he was too young to train his palette on the wine, he decided to study all the different flavors associated with wine. This included obscure fruits and vegetables, grass, dirt, rocks, tobacco and wood.
As a college student, he started re-branding the business as Wine Library and establishing himself as an expert. One of the things that really aggravated him was the stuffiness and snobbery from “traditional” wine sommeliers. It’s this pet peeve, paired with his zest for wine, business and the internet that make Gary an interesting case study in personal branding and entrepreneurship.
Gary reminds me a little of Tim Ferris (author of the 4-Hour Work Week) and Mike Michalowicz (author of Toilet Paper Entrepreneur). He’s young, confident, entrepreneurial and a little in-your-face. In fact, I can understand why his style might seem sophomoric to some readers. Let me just say I’ve never spoken with Gary (but I’d love to) and I’m wondering if the book disappointed some readers because he’s so enthusiastic and he makes it all seem so effortless and fun. He truly believes that EVERYONE deserves to love what they do and be so passionate about it that they can’t help but be successful.
While I completely believe in this – and share that philosophy on many levels, I realize that there are some individuals who are truly gifted and inspired entrepreneurs. Gary has that magical mix of passion, well earned expertise and tireless enthusiasm and creativity – that not all of us can muster consistently. And this is where you might find “Crush It!” helpful.
Inside “Crush It!”
If one of your goals this year was to get over the economic doldrums of 2009, then this is a great way to start your year. “Crush It!” is an easy short read. There are no confusing or convoluted concepts here. In fact, if you’re a seasoned business owner, you might be one of those people who would find it simplistic and boring. And I get that. But I would also like to say that I found good nuggets in here; things that you know that you should be doing, but have found excuses NOT to do. Reading them here will get you inspired to move forward.
Here are just some of the topics I found interesting:
What real hustle looks like: I like this little bit on page 88 about hustle. Gary tells it like it is regarding how much effort and energy it takes to build a brand and a business – even when you are a gifted entrepreneur and are good at what you do AND know how to use the internet and social media. It doesn’t come easy. That’s why it’s important to love what you do.
Social Media Basics: The good stuff starts in chapter 10. There is a wonderful to do list on here that includes:
- Buying your name as a URL – the creative kick here is to use your personal brand to get a URL if your name is taken.
- Start a blog. Don’t laugh. There are still lots of small businesses and brand-worthy experts who haven’t done this. This is an absolute must.
- Get a “Flip” style camera and start doing videos (I started this in 2009. It’s been painful but worthwhile for my business).
- Create a Facebook fan page
- Open a Twitter account with your brand name
- If you’re doing a video, open a TubeMogul account. If you’re doing a written blog, sign up for Ping.fm (I’m on this one in the next week).
- Make sure you have a big fat button on your site that says “Want to do business with me”
These are all beyond basics. I’ve done some, but I haven’t done them all. How about YOU?
In fact, the whole book is really nothing more than basic tips, how-to’s, resources and examples that you may have already heard of, but may have never taken full advantage of. The benefit of reading “Crush It!” is in having a current case study of what one entrepreneur did to build his brand equity.
Why You Should Read This Book
If you’re looking for some wildly intellectual, deeply insightful or philosophical business strategy, you may not enjoy this book. This book isn’t academic. It’s practical and straightforward. “Crush It!” comes straight from Gary Vaynerchuk’s soul. If you’ve heard of Gary and wanted to learn about what made him tick – you will enjoy this book.
But, the best reason to read this book is because it’s fun, inspiring and full of great ideas and resources. If all you do is choose one idea to implement each month – you will be further ahead in building your brand and increasing sales.