Bookshelf: Crush It!

“Crush It!” is a book by entrepreneur, wine evangelist and now social media consultant, Gary Vaynerchuck. I was trying to think of how I actually heard about him in the first place, and I remembered it was listening to him on “This Week In Startups”, hosted by Jason Calacanis. That podcast should be listened to to give you a flavour of the man, and in turn, give you an idea of what to expect in the book. On that podcast, he comes across as a passionate and driven man, and that comes across in the book. You can also see him live at the Rails 2010 Conference (if you don’t like swearing, give it a miss!).

The hardback is relatively short at 142 pages, but it’s a fast and flowing read. Let’s be honest though, this doesn’t have that much new in it, and given it talks about social media and came out in mid 2009, some bits appear dated already. However, that’s not what’s of interest in this book.

What Gary ‘Vee’ does in the book is put a lot of things into a framework, and unlike other dry, business oriented attempts to ‘get rich quick from the web’, this truly is written with passion and enthusiasm, indeed that’s the full title of the book: Why Now is the Time to Crush It! – Cash in on your Passion. On page two he lays it out:

“Love your family. Work superhard. Live your passion.”

If you’re used to Harvard Business Review style books which seem to make a few good points, but make you feel they’re just hiding the real meat of the subject so you’ll subscribe or attend a seminar, or just recite dry case studies to pad the book out, definitely read this book. This book is short, but self contained. It’s a basic manual to social networking.

So it is partly evangelizing how to work in a more social media affected, and effected era. He rails against CVs/Resumes, something I agree with, and points out how it’s more about your personal brand, whether or not you are looking for a job, and that since employers – or anyone – looks for your online presence, you need to own it and define it.  He also gives a lot of tips on how to do it, and gives real, recent examples, both good and bad about how other people and companies are doing it. It’s not just about “get a blog”, it’s a question of stitching together a blog, to Twitter to Facebook and so on, and driving traffic. He tends to focus on defining a niche and driving traffic at that, but even if you aren’t looking to build a business, that online branding is still very important, interesting – and useful.

Remember that this is exactly how Vaynerchuck himself broke out – as host of winelibrary.tv – which was an online extension to his family’s co-op beers/wines/spirits shop in New Jersey, massively increasing revenue and ultimately growing the business. He then grew beyond that to be a social media proponent, leading to the aforementioned speaking gigs, the book, and now a consultancy.

For the book though, is it worth it? Yes it is; business books tend to be boring, written by academics – this is a man who has done it and enjoyed doing it, so that’s what comes across. Again, this is more about how to mix the ingredients, and that’s what it brings to the table – as he says at one point – the only part of your product a competitor can’t replicate – is you.