2018 Books: 2 for one. Gary Vaynerchuk’s “Crushing It!” and “Crush It!”

So… In case you haven’t gathered from my last blog entry – which is highly likely because I forgot to share it on social media – I decided that I’m posting my book list online as I read them. It seems weird voluntarily doing book reports or reviews or whatever it is that I’m doing, especially since I HATED doing them in school. If you’re looking for a CliffsNotes version from me, you’ll be seriously disappointed. Despite the books I’ve read on entrepreneurship over the years, I can honestly say that I really don’t know jack shit about it. So… This isn’t a place to come if you want expert opinion. I’m a terrible businessman.

Why am I doing this?

Two main reasons: I learn a lot by reading, but I’ll let things fall to the wayside if I get distracted. I am also bad about putting content on my website. So, now I’m going to do both. Maybe I’ll eventually do it in such a way that the habit will help serve me.

Why am I reading about entrepreneurship if I’m a shitty entrepreneur? The same reason I’ve been studying music for going on 36+ years despite getting nowhere. I can’t stop.

First off… If you don’t know who Gary Vaynerchuk is, look him up. He’s well-known enough especially if you like wine and branding. Branding. Not brandy. Then again, he might be into that, too. I don’t know; I don’t drink. These days, it’s more the Branding part. And flipping garage sale junk. Oh… and his open obsession with buying the New York Jets. Dude knows how to get his name out there and make money. That automatically places him 10,000 miles ahead of me. Anyway, I started following him a couple of years ago when I came across his “#AskGaryVee” series.

I read this one first… because I always do things backwards.

The first thing you need to know about Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence – and How You Can, Too (2018) – Man, is that a mouthful for a title – is that it is actually a follow-up to a previous Gary Vaynerchuk book: Crush It!: Why Now Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion (2009). When I read Crushing It!, I hadn’t yet read Crush It! Having now read both, I can honestly say that you don’t have to read Crush It! to understand that points that Crushing It! is making… but you get a lot more out of it if you do.  Crush It! may seem a little dated based on how social media has advanced over the past nine years, but many of the points and predictions Vaynerchuk made in that book have borne out.

Both books are essentially about developing and using Personal Branding to expand business and professional opportunities. In fact, one of the arguments Vaynerchuk repeatedly makes is that everyone – regardless of whether they are employed, unemployed, retired, or own a megacorporation/hot dog stand – should be branding themselves online. He iterates that doing so is even better than a resume, which I’m inclined to agree. Not that I’m an expert or remotely qualified – because I’m not – but common sense tells me that the first thing any potential employer is going to do is probably run your name through Google. If you’ve branded yourself right, they’ll find everything they need and will know exactly who it is they are interviewing. In my own experience, word-of-mouth and referrals have got me a lot further than a resume ever did. I’m sure there’s a place for it for someone else, but not me.

Anyway, the basic structure of Crushing It! is that Vaynerchuk analyzes these various social media channels – Snapchat, Facebook, Podcasts, etc. – and hits their strengths and weaknesses. He then explains how he has used them, often in conjunction with each other. This is where it really gets fun…

Vaynerchuk throws up these hypothetical situations with characters he invented and how they might build up on it. My favorite “example” involves two imaginary 75+ year old ladies – Blanche and Judy – who go to movies all the time and bicker hilariously while discussing them. Blanche launches a podcast series with the two of them, amass an audience, and in time get the attention of movie studios who fly the two of them to premieres just so they can argue over the movies. Completely ridiculous and improbable? Yes. And yet absolutely possible.

Yep. Unlike me, the case study subjects actually read THIS one first.

Also included in these chapters are case studies where actual people – all of whom have read Crush It! – have used these various social media avenues to create or expand their own ventures or even side-gigs. One of these case studies involve Daniel Markham and his young son Lincoln who have built a brand and following by creating YouTube videos where they cut open balls. Balls. Flipping through Google, it appears they’ve expanded “What’s Inside?” A square basketball… dinosaur poop… and a freaking autographed WWE Championship title belt. WHO DOES THAT?!

So… Are the books worth the read? I finished one and went back and bought/read the other one the same week while money is tight because I’ve got a $700 car repair bill. What does that tell you? There is plenty of food for thought and ideas I’d love to tackle, not that I see myself every being considered an expert in anything. There’s no question though that the landscape has changed and Vaynerchuk presents an approach to tackle it. If you’ve watched a few of his videos, you’ll see that he is – if anything else – consistent.

Let me know what you think.

TKP

2/21/18

2018 Books: The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone

This may come as something of a surprise, but I’ve always had a bit of fascination when it comes to entrepreneurship and success. Making this clear from the get-go: I’m a terrible businessman and I have been an abject failure at everything I ever attempted to do. I can definitively say I am not the intended audience of this book. Still… For some crazy reason, I often find myself drawn to books, shows, podcasts, articles, etc. about how entrepreneurs build successful companies and become recognized.

Anyway, I got messing around on Google when I should have been writing chord charts – I really need to stay off the internet – and started looking around for musicians who are actually making something a living through streaming revenues. (And of course… how they can actually do it.) I came across this guitarist whose name I completely forgot to write down who somehow managed to get onto curated playlists and break into licensing. One of the books he mentioned inspiring him was Grant Cardone’s “The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure.” (2011) For whatever reason, I immediately hit the online bookstores.

Google is on my shitlist. I used to love Google, but then Google Wallet stonewalled me FOR TWO MONTHS by holding money sent to me FOR MY FATHER’S FUNERAL EXPENSES. It will be a cold day in Hell before I use Google Wallet again. Their customer service was abominable and condescending the entire time and you had all these people passing the buck and no doubt getting a good laugh screwing over some nameless guy who actually NEEDED the money. After seven identity confirmations, three letters, ten phone calls, and even getting my BEST FRIEND to create a Google Wallet account – which they THEN said didn’t solve the “problem” – they finally returned the money to my sister two months to the date. She then Paypalled it to me and I had it that evening. Mind you I originally asked them to do exactly that.

FUCK GOOGLE.

Yes, I said it. If my website and my workplace website didn’t use Gmail and Google Calendars and products and my music collection wasn’t on Play Music, I’d get rid of every Google account I own.

Jeff Bezos had just donated $33 million in scholarships to Dreamers, so I decided Amazon would get my money this time. At $4.49 on Kindle, I just hit that dangerous “One-Click-Purchase” button and had the book on my tablet seconds later.

Honestly, my record for finishing books is not that great. Between Amazon and Google Books (fuck them), I’ve amassed a nice little “digital graveyard.” I’ve finished a few. Lewis Howes and Isaiah Hankel did fine. From Half-Priced Books, I can add Keith Ferrazzi, Peter Guber, and Tim Ferriss’s “Four Hour Work Week” to the list I’ve got cover to cover.

I haven’t finished a single Tim Ferriss book after that. (They aren’t bad… but I haven’t finished them. I really need to stop buying them.) I got Dave Asprey’s “Bulletproof” and read a couple hundred pages and stopped. I try to be open, but the pseudoscience and non-stop advertisements for his products finally got to me. Maybe I’m being too hard on Asprey, but there were just too many times I thought “Really, Dude?” Tim Ferriss is nuts, too, but I never felt like he insulted my intelligence.

Hey… You knew I was going to talk about the book eventually…

In comparison, I actually plowed through The 10X Rule fairly quickly. About three days, if I remember correctly. The biggest thing I appreciated was that it was relentlessly focused. (Go figure… and you can tell from this blog entry that I am not.) The main thrust is that people don’t achieve success because 1.) They set their goals way too low and 2.) They don’t take enough persistent action to achieve them. Cardone spends the rest of the book examining possibly whys, looking at how to fix these areas, talking about potential pitfalls, and – through it all – laying down a mindset to achieve success.

While I wouldn’t argue that it is anything ground-breaking – Gary Vaynerchuk also has a book languishing in my digital graveyard – I’d say Cardone makes the argument in his own way and based significantly on his own experiences.

Would I recommend the book to someone else? Honestly… yes. Not that I should be bragging about it, but it is my first “finish” of 2018 and at least inspired me to throw more stuff at the wall and perhaps not worry so much about whether it sticks or smears. Given the “life season” I am in and the directions where I feel myself drawn, the book was exactly what I needed to read at this time.

All the best,

TKP
2/1/18