Book Review – Crush it!

Last night I headed along to hear Gary Vaynerchuk speak at the Hillside club in Berkeley, one of the stops on his current tour for “Crush It! – Cash in on your passion”.

“Crush it!” details Gary’s techniques for growing his 60 million dollar wine business using social media, and spinning off a successful media company which consults to Fortune 500 companies. The message is relatively simple, but it’s a breath of fresh air in the sort of society where everyone wants instant results and get-rich-quick schemes to rescue them from boredom in a desk job.

At it’s simplest the core message is similar to Tim Ferriss‘ “4-hour work week” in that both authors propose that time spent working at a job you hate is intolerable and every effort should be made to escape if there’s an alternative idea you could be pursuing that would make you happy.

What’s different about the approach in “Crush it!” is that Vaynerchuk isn’t going to pretend that you can achieve success on a few hours a week – the key to his success is patience, perseverance, and in his own words “hustle”. He regularly works spartan hours answering every single email sent to him by fans and critics alike, and engaging with people on twitter to build personal brand equity.

Overall it’s quite a short book, and for people who’ve been using social media for a while, or following Gary’s conferences and speaking engagements might find it repeats what he’s said in the past. At the signing he mentioned that a large proportion of sales are “thank yous” from people he’s engaged with over twitter, facebook, winelibrary etc over the last few years – This in my mind definitely rings true about the power of creating personal relationships. Gary was happy to chat with people after the signing, giving advice on how people can ramp up their personal projects.

Some snippets from the book:

1) Don’t drop your job straight off the bat, work spare hours early in the morning or late at night to chip away at your passion project.

2) “It’s never a bad time to start a business unless you’re starting a mediocre business

3) “Do the right thing by your customers, because the right thing is never the wrong thing” – Customer service is everything: If you have to sacrifice money to keep your customer happy it’ll pay dividends it because that satisfied customer is going to tell everyone they know how you looked after them. Gary cites word-of-mouth as the most effective form of advertising he knows of,  quoting around an 89% repeat business vs ~12% for radio/tv/magazine business. He’s got a few nice personal stories of delivering cases of wine to customers when someone screwed up to turn around a sour customer relationship.

4) “Traditional media are going out of business, where’s that 3 million dollar a year ad spend going to go?” – Gourmet magazine is shutting down, yet online food portals are ramping up. That advertising spend has to go somewhere, and social media is going to grab the lion’s share of it.

5) Patience and hard work win in the long run – If you cut corners, eventually someone with more integrity is going to come along and clean the floor with you.

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