Review of Crush It!: Why Now is the Time to Cash in on your Passion

Crush ItShame 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 (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.


Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."

23 Reactions
  1. Ivana,

    Crush It is one of my favorite books at the moment. I have added an image of the book as an overlay to my Twitter avatar as a sign of support.

    I learned about TubeMogul from @GaryVee’s book. I am planning to create short audio video clips on a regular basis during this year.

    I will put “a big fat button” with a similar text to “Want to do business with me” on my new [under construction] site at You are welcome to come up with a catchy phrase / copy for hiring me! 🙂

    Here is a tidbit from my post, Crush It Book and Tea Time:

    “Lo and behold! In appendix b: five business ideas I won’t get to – they’re yours, you could read the following on page 140:

    a tea blog

    I think the tea market in the United States is about to blow up, and for the person who wants to educate and entertain the masses there will be enormous opportunity to build a site much like Wine Library TV, Offer a tea-of-the-month club and you’ll be in serious business.”

  2. Addendum: If you want to watch my “spooky” Halloween video clip and read rest of the post, Crush It Book and Tea Time, please click on my name link (Martin Lindeskog) in this comment! 🙂

  3. Ivana,

    Read it. Twice. I didn’t want to miss anything.

    @JimKukral talks about Gary a lot. I usually trust Jim’s observations on things, and I am very happy I’ve learned about Gary Vee. Such passion this guy has…

    The Franchise King

  4. Loved “Crush It!” and frequently pull it off the shelf to inspire and motivate me. The chapter on “the best marketing strategy ever” is bound to be a classic: “CARE!”

  5. I bought this along with several others mentioned in Mashables reading list in November( Crush It! was the first one I read. Very interesting that of the books I purchased, more than the (5) on the intial list.ALL made mention and referenced back to Gary Vaynerchuk. Trust Agent,Six Pixels of Seperation,New Community Rules and now reading the Whuffie Facotr that also has rather glowing summary on Gary. That is powerful.

    These (5) books with Gary leading the way have really opened my eyes.I now believe that I have all the tools at my disposal to Crush It! & Burn the Ships. 🙂

  6. Gary’s book is truly a great read. I heard about it initialy from Mashables reading list in November along with (4) other great books:Trust Agent,Six Pixels of Seperation,New Community Rules and The Whuffie Factor.( I devoured the first 4 during the Holiday period -Nov to Dec, and now currently reading the Whuffie Factor. What is interesting is that of the (4)other books mentioned ALL of them referenced Gary Vynerchuck with very glowing comments.That’s POWERFUL stuff. I now have the tools at my disposal to Build my Brand….Burn the Ships and CRUSH IT!

  7. Gary V. has been my favourite social marketer for a while. Mainly because he is an entrepeneur who has made a living thanks in large part social media rather than just talking about it (there is so much talk about social media on the web, it’s refreshing to come across someone who actually talks about the subject in direct connection to what he does and the success he has achieved from it).

  8. WOW – these are terrific comments everyone! I especially agree with the concept that Gary V. used social media to build his business AND can speak about it from experience.

  9. Ivana,

    Yes, it is great to see how Gary Vaynerchuk has built his business by using social media and read examples of this in his book. It is interesting to see the power house of family Vaynerchuk and VaynerMedia.

    I like that you wrote a background (Learn About Gary Vaynurchuk BEFORE Reading Crush It!) I am reading Immigrant, Inc. at the moment.

    All the Best,

    P.S. Talking about books, have you heard about “Read This First: The Executive’s Guide to New Media-from Blogs to Social Networks” by Ron Ploof? This book is on my buying & reading list…

  10. I think that Gary’s straightforward attitude and simple approach are large contributors to why he has been successful. Too often in the business community we expect every success story to have some type of “secret”, something that once we learn we’ll get to join the club. Gary’s passion is his differentiation, plain and simple.

  11. Great review. Thanks for the balanced thoughts. I, for one, agree about the need to do video. I hope to get started on this by June of this year. There are a lot of great suggestions here, but my takeaways were the big fat Do Business With Me, and the recommendation to set up a TubeMogul account once I start doing video.

  12. This is definitely something to add to my shelf, It has been stressed over again that if you truly want to be successful, you have to be passionate for your niche, and once you learn to cash in on your passion, Success is Inevitable.

  13. This book is a great way to get inspired and motivated for 2010. I’ve seen Gary speak and his energy is contagious.

  14. Hey Ivana,

    I read Crush it! A few months ago and found very inspirational. I’d bring struggling to start a blog, but that book gave me the confidence I needed to get started. Straight away I had 50 topics I wanted to blog about.

    A must read for anyone planning on starting a new business.


  15. FYI for those interested in hearing Gary speak and meet him in person. He will be speaking May 22-23 at The You conference in LA go to or follow mia cucina on twitter.

  16. This is an informative and balanced review, Ivana. I watched Gary on a YouTube marketing video early last year and found him as you described – passionate and knowledgeable in his wine niche. He’s a great example of why it’s so important to create and promote a small business standardized service offering to build brand awareness and as former Inc. Magazine editor and successful entrepreneur John Warrilow says in his new book “Built to Sell,” to have an options strategy, not just an exit strategy for future growth and profitability.

  17. Great book! Good read. Very inspirational and motivational to those individuals that want to make 2010 a pivotal year.

  18. It is an interesting book. One thing I like about it is that Gary cautions to think about every business action before you take it. Otherwise it will be online for a long long time.

    On video, Gary is quite hyper. I wonder if non hyper types would do as well though

  19. Just finished reading this book. It’s inspiring. The biggest takeaway of the book for me was the hustle. It seems nowadays everyone talks about the hustle but never tells you how to do it. Gary actually lets you know exactly what you have to do and for how long you have to do it. Great book!

  20. Hi
    I am going to translate this book. Would you please tell me what the author means by “crush it!” in simple terms?
    I want to find the best equivalent.