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Book Review: Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk

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The Internet delivers an individual the opportunity to sell to a global market from the comfort of one’s home. This suggests that even the smallest of interests can build a sizable community on the world stage and can support a successful business. Gary Vaynerchuk writes in Crush It that the way to become successful in the modern economy is to appeal to a niche market – the one that is passionate about the things you are – and essentially “be yourself,” in order to “crush it.” The book’s concepts are strong, but its writing leaves a bit to be desired.

Vaynerchuk made his riches by boosting the performance of a wine store, and then taking that passion for wines online where he is known for video wine shows. He now is a published author and has several income streams surrounding his passion. He proposes that most of us have some interest that we are so passionate about, that we can build a business around it and become “the” expert – thereby developing a comfortable living for ourselves. There is definitely a base level of good advice in this book, but it’s coated with an unpalatable (to this reviewer) level of teenage bravado about “crushing it” and would have benefited from more demanding editing.

The genesis of Vaynerchuk’s success is that the business he brought to the big-time was making $4 million per year when he started, so to be blunt he had an advantage most people do not. Regardless of starting point, social media does provide just about anyone the opportunity to create and (possibly) monetize a personal brand. One of Vaynerchuk’s pearls of wisdom is – at least in 2009 – video is quickly gaining in importance. It’s frequently said that Youtube is becoming as important as Google; and we know from recent news that Facebook now routes as much traffic as Google. So by providing content on free sites that people want to share with others, we see that making a living from something you enjoy is realistic and possible. ‘Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Youtube, Ustream, TubeMogul and Ping.FM are the social media tools Vaynerchuk endorses as business builders.

On the positive side, the book’s conversational style reads like an interview with the author. It’s definitely not in a language that is hard to understand — the most difficult thing is not the concepts but rather the dedication required to bring them to life. Vaynerchuk argues that no-one must suffer through life working a job they hate, because the Internet provides the opportunity for everyone to build a viable business around a tiny interest even only a few thousand people worldwide care about. The problem is it may only be possible by devoting frighteningly -long hours to the pursuit – giving up, essentially, video games and TV as mindless pursuits. That’s why, Vaynerchuk argues, it’s the dedication that separates the failures from the successes.

In the end, I feel like the no-nonsense real estate agent brand Vaynerchuk describes in chapter three: I’m describing a book that I perhaps should put a heavier layer of veneer on, but I’m too committed to authentic reviews to do that: Vaynerchuk’s book is inspiring and contains good suggestions, but don’t demand too much of the writing.

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