Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk: take aways and thoughts

The basic philosophy of one of those early web pioneers, Gary Vaynerchuk, was the subject of his buzzy, well-selling book ‘Crush It’ back in 2009. I’ve only gotten to it now that the second in his famed 10-book deal is coming out.

The book does two very basic things: (1) outlines Gary’s general philosophy that the Internet offers an opportunity for anyone to make money off her passion and (2) gives very simple, early steps for doing so.

Here are my take aways from reading the book:

  • First, of course, I agree with much of his perspective and love his attitude, though, in building a business around news that now supports three people full-time, I read his chapter on journalism business with some degree of skepticism. 
  • In being supportive, Gary may be offering some false hope — By looking at the two objectives this book hits (his passion and very basic steps to start following the same path) I’d picture his audience are those somewhat new to the web. His spirit — which is a noble one — is about persistence, but I don’t believe hard work wins out all the time. Businesses succeed with hard work, passion, and skill, of course, but personality, luck and timing play a big part, too, I believe, and I think Gary’s success has quite a bit to do with personality, luck and timing. I wonder how much of the audience building some of his readers have are, indeed, his other readers and how much is real business momentum.
  • Gary’s impact is for big brands first, but his book is sold to little brands — Part of that is marketing from Harper Collins, of course, but I’m always a little skeptical of the ‘you can do anything you put your mind to’ mantra, as there are real audience building challenges some small brands and individuals will have, as noted above.

That said, sure, we all love Gary’s spirit, energy and direction. The book can be a fun, quick read, but there isn’t serious meat here. That may be for a future book. Below are some of the pieces I liked most:

  • We’re all in the customer service era with the advent of the social web and the tools that will continue to connect and offer some semblance of transparency.
  • In December 2008, he spent $7,500 on free wine shipping codes through a billboard, direct mail, radio and he also tweeted out the same offer. The billboard brought in 170 orders, the radio did 240 and direct mail did more than 300. He says tweeting brought him 1,700 orders in 48 hours. [p. 60]
  • Best business tweet of all time: “What can we do for you?” …This is something similar to what we’ve done with our readers, and I like the logic. [p. 72]
  • “If you contact me to complain a year after starting a business, you’re not listening.” — It takes much longer, he explains. [p. 90]
  • “Some entrepreneurs are really into creating the next big thing. Not me. I’m ab out identifying the next big thing and jumping all over it.” [p. 124]
  • “Five business ideas I won’t get to — they’re yours” [p. 139]

Aside from the simple basics that he shares, I think his philosophy can be garnered with a video presentation of his like this.