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Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk

By Diane Danielson

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Gary Vaynerchuk's book, Why Now is the Time to Crush It: Cash in on your Passion, was another one of those social media books I put off reviewing since I never received a review copy in advance. While once again I was worried that it might be outdated, the fact I had to wait more than six months for it to come to my local library says something about its popularity. The bottom line: I'm glad I didn't cancel my hold on it.

Despite hearing a few complaints from friends that Vaynerchuk takes a lot of time at the beginning telling us all about what he's going to tell us later on in the book, this didn't really bother me because:

  1. It's short.
  2. I had seen Vaynerchuk speak live and in his videos. So, for me, I was reading the book and hearing and mentally picturing Vaynerchuk delivering the material live. That's half the fun.
  3. I liked the sections about how he got started. So often we read books by "experts" who seem to forget about the early years and just impart leadership lessons learned at Fortune 500 companies.
  4. I work with social media on a daily basis. I wasn't looking to a 2009 book to teach me anything new technically, but to spark some ideas (which it did). That being said, if, like my friends, you are looking for "how to's," this may not be THAT book.

On the other hand, if you're looking for "how do I get motivated to tackle something new, make some money and have a blast doing it," then this is the book to help you "crush it."

Here are a few samples of Gary Vee's straight talk and motivation (I labeled them "GV Gems" and added my own thoughts.)

Sidebar: I felt no guilt in grabbing a glass of wine to write the first draft of this review; in fact, it seemed kind of mandatory.

All you need to get started is effort.

GV Gem: "It's never a bad time to start a business unless you're starting a mediocre business."

GV Gem: "Let me reiterate that the process I am going to be talking about takes a lot of time, effort and focus, but not a lot of dollars, if any. That, my friends, is the game changer; everyone has a shot, not just those with extra cash."

GV Gem: "No one makes a million dollars with minimal effort unless they win the lottery."

What I liked most about Vaynerchuk's book was that it was the "anti-Secret." It's about hard work, hard work--and even more hard work. Must be that Protestant work ethic ingrained in me because that was what I also liked most in an earlier review of Kelly Cutrone's book.

Sidebar: Enjoying the cabernet I'm drinking right now, but thinking about the rose wine I bought for Mother's Day.

On using your personal brand to build your company.

GV Gem: "Wine Library TV was never about selling wine on the internet. It was always about building brand equity."

GV Gem: "The first generation built their brands on television and movie screens, radio, magazines and newspapers, and the new one will do the same online at a much lower cost, with no need for a gatekeeper's approval."

This is a new way of looking at things. In the old days (OK, the '80s and '90s), it was all about keeping the CEO/founder separate from the brand because how the heck could you ever sell it? I go back and forth on this all the time. A lot of my company is built on my personal brand. My twitter handle? It's @DowntownWoman, a play off the company name. Is this a bad thing or a good thing? I'm open to input.

On how to be noticed on the internet.

GV Gem: "To everyone who is freaking out because they fear the noise and distraction of all the additional content on the internet, you can relax. Quality is a tremendous filter. Cream always rises, my friends, no matter how many cups of coffee you pour."

On why traditional marketers and advertisers need to wake up or be crushed:

In December 2008, Vaynerchuk spent $7,500 to offer free shipping codes via three channels: a billboard, direct mail and radio. The results:

  • Billboard: 170 orders
  • Radio: 240 orders
  • Direct Mail: 300 orders.

Via Twitter, he tweeted at no cost the free shipping code and got 1,700 orders in 48 hours. Now, clearly he couldn't get 1,700 orders via Twitter had he not put a lot of time and effort into building his followers--and he doesn't pretend it's anything other than the result of hard work.

On metrics.

GV Gem: "It's not about how many viewers you have, it's about how passionate they are. If you must use them, analytics should remain a minor-league detail. Focus the majority of your attention on your overall brand positioning."

GV Gem: "Don't get obsessed with how many friends or fans are following you--the stats are only marginally important. What's important is the intensity of your community's engagement and interaction with you."

I found it interesting that he doesn't rely on metrics. I'm a huge fan of data. Love my data. But my beef is that many people are using outdated, irrelevant metrics for social media (as discussed in my review of Socialnomics). Yet, Vaynerchuck argues that who cares if you only get seven views if one of those seven is someone who matters. I get this to a point.

However, many of us don't have the unlimited time and resources to pursue every avenue all the time, and we have to make the best choices we can (which is what I love most about social media--you can track things and make informed decisions).

On investing in only the important stuff: content

GV Gems: "I only invest effort and thought into what I care about and what I need to create great content."

GV Gems: "Authenticity is what will make it possible for you to put in the kind of hustle necessary to crush it."

In this section Vaynerchuk dismisses the idea that you need the best equipment or the most polished production to produce great content. This is once again something I spotlighted in Socialnomics--worrying about perfection means you often don't get things done on a timely basis.

One exception to this was on web design. Vaynerchuk suggests that is the one place to spend some cash. I agree, with a caveat. It doesn't have to have all the bells and whistles: Remember, some of the most popular website interfaces are quite ugly: and, for example. It just needs to be easily searchable and shareable. Unfortunately, many websites built pre-social media really need a social media makeover.

Sidebar: Sadly, this includes my own site . . . guess I can have another glass of wine to toast the fact that as I write this. I finally made a decision to pull the trigger and spend some cash this summer on my own site.

You need to converse and adapt to create communities.

GV Gem: Vaynerchuk uses a great example of how you meet your neighbors or people at a business conference. You have to actually converse with them. Social media is no different.

GV Gem: You don't decide which community likes your product, so if a major force outside of your pre-assumed demographic loves your product . . . go with it.

This latter one is a good point and may be tough for entrepreneurs to swallow. I should know. When I started the Downtown Women's Club, it was a reaction to the women's business groups that snubbed me and my friends based on our youth. So it took me a few years to adapt to the fact that the bulk of our members are actually the very Boomers from whom we sought to differentiate ourselves. But hey, I'm not complaining! Well, OK . . . sometimes I do. But only when they want us to become exactly like the very networking clubs that excluded us in the first place.

Daily Dose bottom line: If you are a bootstrapping entrepreneur who needs a little boost of motivation to keep the dream alive . . . definitely worth a read. On that note . . . I need to get back to my real work and maybe a small glass of rose wine might just help me Crush It tonight.

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