Book Review for “Crush It!” by Gary Vaynerchuck (Rough Draft)


In his book, Crush It!, Gary Vaynerchuk aims to give his readers advice on how to make the most money by living your passion. Vaynerchuk gives his readers three rules to live by: 1) Love your family 2) Work superhard and 3) Live your passion. While the first two rules appear throughout the book, the third rule drives the message Vaynerchuk sends to his readers. Vaynerchuk uses his own life story as a framework for the book. His story begins when family immigrated to the U.S. from the U.S.S.R. when he was a small child and follows his rise to internet celebrity through his work as a vlogger for his father’s wine shop in Springfield, NJ. He weaves his golden rules for modern internet success with his career. First and foremost, Vaynerchuk urges readers to live their passion. If they don’t plan on doing that, they shouldn’t bother reading the rest of the book. He stresses that anyone can be successful, no matter how weird or obscure their passion is, especially with today’s easy access to so many various social media platforms. According to Vaynerchuk, people simply need to define their passion, create their brand, and get to work spreading their message around the social media sphere. Vaynerchuk wants his readers to live their passion, and help spread their message through the social media tools available to them. As long as they love what they’re doing, anyone can be successful.


Gary Vaynerchuk writes to a very broad audience. His audience consists of anyone who has a passion that they are not pursuing, and are looking to fulfill their dream of doing what they love for a living. Because Vaynerchuk stresses passion over everything else, it seems as though his ideal audience could be of almost any age range. However, his ideal audience members must have passions and ideas about those passions yet think they can’t be successful by pursuing those passsions. The book was written for the average joe. The language is simple, making it a very easy read. Anyone can read Vaynerchuk’s book and have an idea of whether or not they have what it takes to pursue their passion. In addition, this is a very American story, told by someone who has truly lived the American dream. Because of this, American readers would connect more deeply with the story that Vaynerchuk tells in comparison to readers from other countries.

Group Points

Vaynerchuk takes a social constructionist approach in this book.

  • we do the same things as before, just via a different method (social media)
  • social media hasn’t changed what we do, but helped us do things more efficiently
  • the technology is useless if we don’t use it effectively (or at all for that matter)

Ethical implications of social media marketing

  • Authenticity:
  • Vaynerchuk emphasizes authenticity as key to your online/professional brand
  • Authenticity MUST be maintained when marketing your brand and dealing with advertisers
  • Issues of privacy settings can lead to personal and professional brand discrepencies

Create a community

  • have to have passion to keep readers
  • have to create an identity that users trust (authenticity) and be someone that they want to revisit again and again


  • I wouldn’t categorize this as a social media marketing book, more of a motivational book. This seems like a book that someone would read, be motivated to pursue their dreams, and then go search out other how-to books on social media marketing to realize their dreams.
  • I would have liked to see more on how to apply social media marketing strategies
  • All about passion. While I understand that passion is necessary to be truly successful, there are a number of other important factors and actions that need to be taken. What does Vaynerchuk think those are?

Can teens sext without causing a riot?

Sexting became a hot topic in December 2008 “when a national survey titled Sex and Tech was released reporting that 20% of teenagers had sexted.” Sexting has only persisted, if not escalated in use among teens. Defined as “the practice of sending sexually explicit images or text through cell phones or via internet applications,” modern technological affordances are more of an aide than deterrent when it comes to the sexting trend among teens. Apps like “Text Free” and “Text Plus” allow kids and teens to hide their sexting practices from parents who read through their texts so as to prevent it (ABC7 News).

More and more, adults are trying to find a way to combat the teen sexting epidemic. Though no one really knows why exactly it has become so popular among teens, many cultural “commentators assume that it is the result of an
overly sexualized culture combined with access to technology.” In most instances, convicted teen sexters (victims, perpetrators, and consensual texters alike) are charged as child pornography producers, possessors and distributors.

In Amy Adele Hasinoff‘s article Sexting as media production: Re-thinking dominant ideas about teen girls and sexuality online, she challenges the common notion that girls’ use of media is often irresponsible, dangerous, and
out-of-control because it involves sexual content. In addition, Hasinoff argues that the media, educators, researchers, parents and lawmakers should not view consensual teen sexting “as a technological, sexual, and moral crisis,” but rather as a harmless act of self-expression and pleasure.

A few days ago, an article in the Bradenton Herald revealed a University of Michigan poll that says that 81% of adults believe that an educational program, not criminal prosecution, is an appropriate consequence for teens who sext. Only 18% of adults believe that criminal prosecution is an appropriate consequence for teen sexting. In addition, most adults don’t think that minors who sext with other minors should face legal consequences. Many journalists and legislators have openly addressed this problem, but this poll really shows what the public thinks about the issue. While adults acknowledge with the fact that sexting is an issue that must be dealt with, they believe in education, counseling, and community service serve as more effective and appropriate punishments.

This study aligns with Hasinoff’s argument that teen sexting should not be viewed as a criminal action. Hasinoff argues that sexting enables teen girls to be more expressive, especially in regards to safer sex practices and sexual needs. With regard to safer sex practices, it only makes sense to encourage a media forum in which girls feel comfortable expressing themselves. Punishing teen girls with criminal charges for doing something that ultimately lets them express themselves is a counter-productive practice. Because of this, it makes sense that the majority of the public agree that there should be a less severe punishment for teen sexting.

Through education about sexting, teens can learn about the possible negative effects which include public humiliation and unwanted sexual attention. It is a practice that is often encouraged among adults to promote an active sex life, though more through text than pictures. Teens are getting mixed messages when they hear that it’s a criminal activity for them to partake in sexting, but adults are openly encouraged to do it by a number of publications and media outlets.

In our society, teen girls are told to abstain from sex and all things related. Because of this, many are afraid to express themselves when it comes down to it. Luckily, “some media researchers maintain that digital media offer potential benefits–for women and girls in particular–for navigating sexual relationships.” Hasinoff notes that “a study of teenage cell phone use in dating relationships suggests that girls can be more assertive when communicating through texting than speaking face-to-face.” Assuming that this is true, teen girls should not be criminals for something that gives them a voice. Thanks to this study, it appears that the general public agrees with Hasinoff’s assertion.

While sexting can have extremely negative consequences for anyone who takes part in the practice, effective sexting education and appropriate consequences for deviating from “normal” sexting practices such as sending nude photos or forwarding such photos without permission can help teen girls find their voice while still providing them a non-criminal way to do so. Though satirical, the sexting guidelines that Eddie mentioned in his blog post provide a good outline for both teens and adults alike in regards to sexting protocol. There is a right (or more right) and wrong way to consensual sexting, whether between two minors or two adults. Hasinoff provides some very good examples of why consensual texting between minors should not be punished severely, as it serves very much the same purpose as it does for adults. The University of Michigan study alludes to the fact that many adults in the US feel the same way as Hasinoff. Whether or not teen sexting will be completely de-criminalized remains to be seen. However, strides are being made in order to take a rational, educational approach to the teen epidemic that so many are worried about.

Social networking has its pros and cons when it comes to relationships…

In a recent article, ABC News published an article about how SNSs can both help and hurt relationships. In the article, Barbara Smith discusses the pros and cons of social network sites, especially when it comes to dating. One interviewee agrees that while sites like Facebook are great for keeping up with old friends, they aren’t necessarily the best for forging a relationship with a potential love interest. Lynette Williams, a life coach, argues that while online daters may get along fabulously online, the only way to know if there’s genuine chemistry is to meet in person. A survey of Utahns taken on Valentine’s Day shows that most people agree with the fact that nothing can compare to face-to-face interaction.

In addition, Williams points out that it is easy to get yourself in trouble on an SNS. It is easy to fall prey to someone falsely representing themselves. Reconnecting with someone can rekindle an old flame and/or cause trust issues with a current romantic partner. Over-sharing information by venting online can also have damaging effects. Most times, it’s much better to say it to the person’s face or not at all. Under-sharing information can also be damaging. Someone not listing a current relationship or fully disclosing other important personal information when on a dating site can be just as harmful or even more so. Williams argues that if your romantic partner refuses to list your relationship, to take it as a red flag.

SNSs have quickly become a big part of our social lives, both virtual and physical. After reading Nancy Baym‘s Personal Connections in the Digital Age, it is easy to see that this article examines SNSs from a social shaping perspective. This perspective can be seen in the title, “Social Networking Can Help And Hurt Relationships.” Smith discusses sites like Facebook as though they will greatly affect our relationships for better or for worse, “with the click of a key”. The technology itself isn’t seen as a detrimental or helpful tool by itself, but rather it is the user who determines how a relationship is helped (or hurt) through the use of an SNS.

This article gives lots of credit to the user in helping or hurting relationships. However, I think that this article is presented in a very logical way, and it is done through the social shaping discourse of new media. Social shaping acknowledges that the technology is powerful, but that the user/existing social forces are equally as powerful. Together, these two elements create the power that social media has in our relationships. I think it was very wise to shape the story in this way rather than through technological determinism or social construction of technology. In my opinion, both of these discourses give too much power to either the technology or pre-existing social forces. This is not a world where technology makes the rules, nor is technology completely shaped by its users. It’s definitely a combination of the two, and this article demonstrates that.

What Smith fails to acknowledge is how the SNSs themselves can add to or detract from our social lives regardless of what we post on them. In Life 2.0, we saw numerous relationships start or deteriorate because of the users’ addiction to the SNS itself. This perspective lends more to the technological determinist perspective, but it is an important aspect to examine. This article gives a lot of credit to the user’s use of the SNS, but when it comes to an actual addiction such as those seen in the film, the user gives up some of their power to their addiction. Needless to say, addiction to any SNS ultimately results in the demise of face-to-face interpersonal relationships. Watching the movie really helped me clearly see the negative affects that SNSs can have on our relationships. Before, I never thought of the consequences of “bad” use of SNSs to be so great, but it is clearly an issue that needs to be examined further.

Overall, I thought that this article did a good job of revealing the ways in which users fail to use SNSs correctly, which can lead to a damaged relationship. So much of the media today blames the technology for the harm done, but the people involved are just as responsible if not more so.

We’ve still got a long way to go…

In their article, Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship, Danah Boyd and Nicole Ellison give the history of social network sites and define what Social Network Sites (SNSs) really are and how they differ from social networking sites. They define social network sites as “web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system” (Boyd & Ellison 211). In Social network(ing) sites…revisiting the story so far: A response to Danah Boyd & Nicole Ellison, Dr. David Beer begins by acknowledging the framework that Boyd and Ellison’s research has laid out for SNSs, but takes issue with much of their argument as he believes that their definitions are far too broad.

First, Dr. Beer addresses the issue that the term “social network site” can virtually refer to anything. He argues that “rapid cultural shifts and the dynamic and disjointed nature of much contemporary online culture” create a “need to classify in order to work toward a more descriptive analysis” (Beer 518). By using this more descriptive analysis, Beer states that many sites that we consider to be SNSs are not—like Youtube for example, which he categorizes instead as “folksonomy”. Sites like Youtube allow you to connect with other people, but socializing isn’t the main objective or activity for users. Further classification of SNSs allows us to accurately name and describe sites.

Though I agree with Boyd & Ellison’s definition of a social network site, I disagree with the fact that that’s all an SNS is. The SNSs relevant to our society today are much more sophisticated than many of the ones in 2007 when the article was written. I think that a more detailed classification of SNSs is necessary because of the “dynamic and disjointed nature of…online culture” that Beer refers to. According to Boyd & Ellison’s broad definition of an SNS, a large percentage of today’s websites could fall under that category. To me, commenting on a posted video shouldn’t count as being social. I think that there has to be genuine social interaction between users for a site to be considered an SNS whether it’s a wall-to-wall conversation on Facebook, mentioning someone on Twitter, or checking in with your friends in on Foursquare. Classifying various sites by the way that they are actually used, not by intended use, is key to further understanding how SNSs function. It will make future research and analysis of the topic much more defined.

Next, Beer discusses his problem with Boyd & Ellison’s separation of online and offline living. He notes their distinction between offline ‘friends’ and online ‘Friends’ (Beer 520) and argues that the two are increasingly becoming the same thing as SNSs are more integrated into our everyday life. He argues, “we cannot think of friendship on SNS as entirely different and disconnected from our actual friends” (Beer 520). I completely agree with this statement. In the case of Facebook, all of my Friends are friends, or acquaintances at the very least. The notion of a complete stranger seeing the inner workings of my social life creeps me out. It’s part of the reason why I quit using MySpace along with millions of others, subsequently causing it to give up it’s crown as social network king.

In today’s tech savvy social world, most SNSs are used more to keep up personal relationships rather than form new ones. The sites that are used to meet new people like are, in my opinion, in a separate category from SNSs like Facebook and Twitter, which are also in a separate category from LinkedIn. This goes back to Beer’s argument that more detailed categorization of SNSs is necessary.

Though Beer disagrees with much of what Boyd and Ellison assert in their piece, there is one thing that they can all agree on, and that’s that there needs to be more research done on social media. I enjoy going on Facebook, tweeting, and going on Youtube just as much as the next person, but I can in no way say that I understand how they work with our social lives the way that they do. Social media has become such an integrated part of our lives whether it is used in entertainment, professional, or educational contexts. Despite the extreme popularity of social media, we still don’t completely understand it from an analytical perspective. In order to use social media to its fullest potential, we need to understand how it works and why.

Social media is changing daily, so it’s hard to give an exact definition for a specific SNS. However, with more research, we will be able to better understand the sites that we use as well as those yet to come. Boyd & Ellison had a good start to beginning this research, but it was done while the technology was still fairly young. As we continue to use the technology, improve it, and study its uses and effects, we can build off of the foundation that they laid as well as the additions that Beer added.