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.
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.
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.