Crushing It! How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence – And How You Can, Too by Gary Vaynerchuk (Harper Collins, 2018)
Rating and Recommendation
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to be an entrepreneur and anyone who is specifically working to build their personal brand and presence on social media. However, I would also suggest you read about focus and attention management for an informed and balanced approach to social media use.
Description and 5 Lessons
Crushing It! is Gary Vaynerchuk’s follow-up to his 2009 title, Crush It!, and it’s essentially split into two parts.
Firstly, Gary Vaynerchuk – or GaryVee as he is known by his social media handles – revisits and updates some of the sentiments and pointers he gave in Crush It!. He discusses the principles that entrepreneurs should pursue when building their personal brands, which are intent, authenticity, passion, patience, speed, work, attention and content. According to Gary Vaynerchuk, these principles are the essence of building a personal brand because through them, you can create real value for your audience.
Secondly, he guides you through an exploration of most of today’s major social media platforms. He delves into how they can be harnessed to enable you to maximise your personal branding potential on each of them.
The usual suspects Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube make an appearance, as you would expect in 2018 (when the book was published), and Gary Vaynerchuk definitely demonstrates his understanding of how these platforms operate. He also discusses Podcasts, which have existed for between 10 to 20 years now but really blew up in 2014 after the incredibly popular Serial series. Interestingly, he also digs into platforms such as Amazon Echo and Google Home (he refers to these as Voice First), which are becoming increasingly popular ways for audiences to consume audio content.
Throughout this book, Gary Vaynerchuk uses case studies of people who followed his advice in Crush It! to illustrate how his principles can be made to work in real life. Some of his examples show how people have reached a level where you could say they have ‘made it’. Other examples are of people who are still striving to build and grow their brand.
The 5 key lessons that I learned from Crushing It! are:
- You create the life that you want to
live. Don’t wait for someone else to give you a pass to pursue your interests.
- Practice macropatience. Work with microspeed. Be patient when it comes to your long-term, big-picture goals (macro-patience) but on a daily scale, put in the work to actually get things done (microspeed).
- Hone your craft. Take the time to learn and develop your skills, because it’s all about creating actual value for your audience. There are some contexts where faking it ’til you make it just does not work. This approach will not build a sustainable brand.
- You will fail. Embrace this and learn how to use the lessons from your failures. The vital part is the growth that should follow the failure.
- Be active. There is a vast array of opportunities out there. Look into those that exist on platforms that you already use, and remember that more opportunities will arise on platforms that don’t even exist yet! Be intentionally engaged with these innovations – don’t just be a passive consumer.
I think that Gary Vaynerchuk’s overall argument in Crushing It!, which is the biggest takeaway from this book, is that personal brands are for everyone. He makes it clear that the low barrier to entry on social media and other digital platforms means anyone and everyone can use them as personal branding tools. Literally, all you need to do to get started is to sign up for a free account.
Something to be aware of is that there are some expletives peppered throughout the book. Just a note if this is something you are not comfortable with.
If I could only say one thing to describe Crushing It! it would be that Gary Vaynerchuk’s personality shines through in this book. The thoughts and ideas he presents convey the same GaryVee persona that he effectively expresses across his social media platforms.
Along with the case study examples, there are some fictional scenarios incorporated in the book that make a good point and that I also find amusing. So, Crushing It! is an enjoyable read and is genuinely insightful.
Honestly, when I first learned of Gary Vaynerchuk and explored his content on Instagram, I didn’t like him. He self-identifies as an “Alpha Male”, and his demeanour can initially be…a lot to absorb, to say the least. Even if you’ve been following him for a while, there will always a piece of blistering content where he gives that stony-faced, deadpan look and makes you realise not only does the shoe fit, but it was custom-built to the measurements of your foot.
But it was the substance of his message (that he likes to express so vehemently) which really caught my attention. Hard work; the grind; hustle; whatever you like to call it – this is the essence of Gary Vaynerchuk, and that is made abundantly clear in Crushing It!
He doesn’t promise that you will make millions from social media and digital marketing by reading his books. He definitely doesn’t tell you that it will be easy. In fact, in Crushing It!, Gary Vaynerchuk explicitly tells you that you’ll basically need to spend hours every day on social media platforms, interacting with your audience and other users to build your engagement. Easy? Not at all. The message isn’t that social media marketing is an easy way to make fast money. It’s that you will be more personally satisfied and fulfilled by pursuing your aspirations and putting in the work towards them than if you don’t. Building your brand on social media may form part of your strategy for doing this, so if you’re going to do it, throw yourself into the challenge.
I gave Crushing It! a rating of 7.5 out of 10 because after reading Deep Work, So Good They Can’t Ignore You and Hyperfocus, I’m not convinced to sign up for every single social media platform that exists, as Crushing It! seems to suggest. The ability to pay attention and deeply focus is crucial in today’s world. With such intense use of social media, as Gary Vaynerchuk advocates for, your capacity to do this could be depleted.
Whilst I gained a lot from reading this book, I definitely take it all with a good pinch of salt. I have some aspirations that don’t require me to prioritise social media like the strategy outlined in this book says I should. So, whilst I think everyone can adopt a Crushing It! approach to life, business and personal branding, I’m not sure that everyone must.
I was afraid that Crushing It! would be yet another unremarkable easy sell from yet another famous rich guy trying to tell us how to be like him. But I was pleasantly surprised.
Like me, you might appreciate an authentic and credible author when it comes to business/development books. With 12 million+ followers across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube, and the CEO position at several companies, Gary Vaynerchuk is no amateur in the increasingly intersecting worlds of business and digital marketing. My favourite part of Crushing It! is its no-fluff approach – Gary Vaynerchuk doesn’t spend the entirety of the book showboating. His focus is on delivering information that is useful. So, if you’re striving to cut through the noise and arm yourself with a solid social media strategy, add Crushing It! to your reading list.
This book is for those who are beginning to realise that it takes more than just tagging your posts with #entrepreneur to be an entrepreneur.
In a nutshell…
Crushing It! emphasises the importance of building your brand sustainably and encourages you to make smart moves, to work hard and to create real value for your audience. This is a refreshing perspective from a person who is crushing it on social media and in business in general.
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