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

Summary

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.

Audience

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

Critiques

  • 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?

Crush It! rough draft

Gary Vaynerchuk speaks from his experiences throughout his how-to guide on creating your own personal brand in Crush It!. Gary’s purpose throughout this book is to guide everyday social media users on how to take the creative concepts they have and turn them into successful and very realistic business entrepreneurships. The audience he’s speaking to is thus not necessarily very tech-savvy individuals, but more so average people interacting with the media around them. However, he makes it clear that the only type of people who will attain successful results from Crush It! are those who have a passion to turn their dreams into their real lives, even if they have some reservations about how to get there. Without passion, he says, you have nothing (Vaynerchuk 8).

Gary doesn’t specify what types of personal brands users may want to establish because he has the same business model for all types of people. The entire book revolves around this idea of passion – everything he mentions relates back to the importance of individuals taking advantage of the best marketing strategy there is out there: caring (Vaynerchuk 90). He breaks the book up into a number of sections, including the importance of family, utilizing social media, monetizing your brand, maintaining authenticity, and leaving a legacy behind (which is more important that gaining monetary capital). Yet all these bits and pieces tie into one overarching theme: passion can get you anywhere.

While I can’t say I completely agree with Vaynerchuk that passion is all you need for success (I mean come on, this guy is a little too optimistic to think money means nothing!), Crush It! was certainly an interesting take on how the average person can really turn themselves into an entrepreneur with no past business endeavors. This being said, it’s clear that Gary believes in the social construction of technology as a discourse; he believes that the technology users create responds directly to their already existing social influences. The idea and creativity that those trying to create their own brand have didn’t come from the technology, but rather social media is a tool that can be utilized to expand and develop that brand. Your creativity and passion is what gets the ball rolling and the technology is just there to speed things up (Vaynerchuk 21).

Vaynerchuk also makes it clear that it’s important to not only be true to your clientele and brand, but also (and more importantly) to yourself (Vaynerchuk 33). He stresses the importance of maintaining authenticity when monetizing and marketing your brand (Vaynerchuk 73). The worst thing you can do is lose sight of your original goals; that’s when you lose passion and stray away from your true intentions of being happy (Vaynerchuk 10). That is when you let the currency get ahead of you, and it’s clear that Vaynerchuk believes it’s more important to leave a legacy of yourself behind than make money and lose your enthusiasm (Vaynerchuk 110).

This is very reflective of a number of concepts we’ve discussed throughout the course. His ideals about authenticity very accurately reflect different types of taste within social media that Bourdieu analyzes. If you’re the type to have an “authentic” profile on social media, you are presenting your true self to an audience, suggesting you are trustworthy and reliable. These are foundational concepts in Crush It!, as Vaynerchuk believes you can’t maintain a successful brand without being true to yourself and your customers. This might mean that those who identify with other types of taste, such as “prestige” where users feel a need to identify their tastes in relation to a certain type of hierarchy, may not be able to receive the same results from Crush It! as to those who would construct a more “authentic” social media profile like Gary Vaynerchuk.

Somewhat along the same lines, the author discusses the importance of marketing and branding yourself through the creation of a community. He makes note that sometimes creating the content is a lot easier than creating the community because you want to get users hooked and not lose them after one glance (Vaynerchuk 86). This all relates back to having passion and a vision: you need to create an environment, a practice, and an identity that users will trust and build a relationship with despite the fact that this will all be through social media. This very much relates to ideas and problems of community within online spaces in general.

Baym discusses how it was once assumed community would disappear with the coming of the Internet. However, this isn’t true – there are just different ways of communication online. These ways are through a sense of space, shared practice, shared resources and support, shared identities, and interpersonal relationships. These are the exact same types of necessary components of building your own online brand that Vaynerchuk discusses in Crush It! Both authors note the problem with maintaining a sense of community in an online world, but make it clear that while it may be a bit more difficult there is certainly something to gain from this, such as Ellison’s concept of social capital.