CRUSH IT: Book Review

Posted by By at 22 February, at 16 : 07 PM Print

CRUSH IT: Book Review

Gary Vaynerchuck recently published a book about his experiences growing his own personal brand. Gary is well known on the Internet for building the brand: Wine Library TV and has taken his knowledge and written a book about building your own brand in his likeness.

I received a free copy of the book during Gary’s wine tasting at the Boston Wine Expo 2010 a few months ago. It was a great surprise as I was shopping around online to pickup the book anyway. Crush It is a great inspirational read for those looking to start their own “brand” now, using new media technologies and social networking. I quoted the word “brand” because this book isn’t a simple business book about starting a company, it’s more about building a reputation for yourself or your company.

I’ve given lectures myself at Keene State College about this very topic and I think it helps guide people to something more than a simple nine-to-five grunt job. However, this book isn’t going to equip you with the knowledge to quit your job tomorrow and start your own little venture into the world-wide-web, it’s going to motivate you and give you some guides to eventually getting to such a goal.

The book is much more valuable when you understand Gary’s perspective. He is teaching us his personal techniques to how he went from zero to one-hundred miles an hour using social media tools and new media in the video format. If you’re looking to start a blog that will someday make you money, this book will not get you any technical information. As a matter of fact, I’d start by learning more about blogging techniques, SEO and gathering an audience using other books or free online resources. Crush It, in this capacity, will mainly teach you how to react and understand your audience and encourage you to reach out and treat them as humans rather than just a statistics; this is still good information worth the USD $19 for serious bloggers looking to interact with their people.

The message within this book is simple: work hard and bust your ass. If you’re not ready to do that, seriously not mentally or physically prepared to work 14+ hours a day, then you’ll have a tough time putting his concepts to work for you. While it is mentioned a few times in this book, Gary doesn’t really care if you’ve got a typical 9-5 job, he wants you to come home and work on your own brand from 6PM to 2AM and bust your rump.

Crush It does not really talk to the technical aspects of building a brand outside of getting a content management system like WordPress or Tumblr and using social media tools like twitter and facebook. He does explain a bit about the theory behind buying/hiring a theme designer for your site but Gary is not a big technical guy, he’s really all about business and adapting to circumstances as they arrive. There are thousands of technical resources you can seek out if you’re looking to build up a website with all the tools needed to maximize your search results and track statistics and is beyond the scope of the book.

The premise of Crush It can be summed up by the word “people.” Gary Vaynerchuck documents ways to handle viewers and how to reach out and understand them. From big business to small startups, learning how to put yourself out there and act like a human with other humans can change a single statistic into a dedicated fan. You’ll learn to turn your passion for a topic into a conversation with like minded individuals (the audience/viewers) and build trust.

For Gary Vaynerchuck fans that follow his personal blog about building brands, you’ll find little new information within the Crush It pages. The book expands upon some of the information/rants he’s talked about in his video’s and can be used to re-enforce what you believe you took away from his 3-minute acts of brilliance. Should you still purchase the book? Of course fans should support his efforts, that’s a no brainer. I’m both a fan and a follower in his beliefs and I’d buy the book again (for real) because I’m seeking to learn all knowledge on the topic; even three pages of useful information is better than going without.

The only downside to Crush It is the fantasy world that I believe Gary sometimes lives in. He tells us to work until 2AM for the no-kids family or 3AM if you’ve got kids (since you’ve got to put family first). Unfortunately, this is not a realistic goal if you’ve got a job which requires you to wake up at 5 o’clock in the morning because of a long commute. Many of his ideas work great if you’re working the program as a full-time job and speaks to the fact that almost all passions/topics can build your brand to a USD $40,000+/year job.

In today’s times, a  $40,000 a year job might as well be poverty. I know in my world, 40k was barely enough to cover child care during the day. How long must I struggle at 40-50k a year before I can feed my family and continue the life I lived before following my passion? One reason many of us work the “grind” of a boring day-to-day job is because it pays well and allows us the comfort of living life without financial strife. The reality is, if you cannot make at least what you’re making in your day job then your “passion” is going to require some angel investors or other funding to get you to the next level (and help pay for health insurance). Kids, health insurance, mortgage and all these expenses are not really brought up in Crush It–Gary assumes you’ll just figure all that out on your own.

While the concepts in this book are solid ways to build inspiration, the reality of the situation is often left on the cutting room floor. Gary built his video show while also working at Wine Library (the store). Where does he buy all the wine from his show? Does he “borrow” it from the store or does he buy 10+ bottles a week out of pocket? The reality of the situation is this: if you’re looking to do something similar where are you getting the product you’re using on your own shows? Probably out of pocket as an expense, not for free until you get the traffic to start receiving “review copies” from those in the industry.

Overall, while many of the theories seem to forget the reality of the situation, the inspiration and knowledge about how to handle people and build your personal brands is solid information. For myself, this is a nice boost of self-confidence as it re-enforces what I’m already doing each night. The biggest issue many casual readers are going to have is getting your ass off the couch and implementing even 30% of the ideas within the confines of this text.

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