Crush It was Gary Vaynerchuk’s first book. Since its release, Gary has become a superstar on social media, impacting many successful artists and creators as an inspiration. He has been one of the best at leveraging every social media platform out there to spread his message, amassing hundreds of thousands of fans, and building an 8 to 9-figure digital agency.
I found out about Gary when he first transitioned from his family wine business, which he 10xed in sales, to becoming a social media expert and digital agency CEO.
This was one of the first videos I saw on his current YouTube channel. At the time he didn’t have many released.
I thought there was no way this guy could be successful on YouTube. The video showed that he didn’t understand the importance of lighting, content length, or viral formats of what makes YouTube videos popular. I had watched thousands of YouTube videos as a fan ever since the early days of the platform when 100,000 subscribers meant you were the #1 most subscribed on the platform.
Nonetheless, I found him an interesting guy because of the sheer amount of enthusiasm he would display in the keynotes. He had some interesting points on passion and the future. I kept tabs on him. As you can tell, I was wrong about Gary’s social media success potential. In a few years, he iterated and improved his content. He started collaborating with more and more influencers who loved what he did. He became a best-selling author over and over again with new books.
Crush It is the story of how Gary hustled, even as a kid, to build a successful wine business and how you can do the same. It’s not so much about social media as his newer books. It’s about inspiring you to succeed by hustling. I don’t have the genetics or inclination to sell stuff and flip items to make money. I wasn’t a gifted salesman like Gary, but I still felt like I had something to learn from him about how to be successful.
Here are the top lessons I learned from the book:
Storytelling is the most underrated, valuable business skill.
The key to selling is to be able to show someone the value in something that other people are missing that they can appreciate. Certain brands are ingrained in people’s minds, and no matter how much others sell to them, customers will stick to their brand.
Don’t ever complain or play the victim card.
Everyone has their issues they have to deal with, even trust fund babies. They just have different issues (psychological hurdles rather than physical). Everyone has bad parents or something that holds them back.
How to build a successful personal brand:
When building your personal brand, just be yourself. Your brand is going to look completely different from Gary’s, and THAT’S OKAY. Gary has distinct interests that you don’t have.
There are only three simple keys to success:
- love your family
- work hard as hell
- do something you’re completely passionate about
By success, he means happiness. He doesn’t measure success by money. If you’re not happy, one of these three is missing.
It’s better to make less money doing something you love. Anyone can get a decent salary job. You might as well choose one that you enjoy rather than one you hate.
How to tell if you should quit your job: Are you truly passionate about it? Do you moan on Monday mornings? Are you allowed to develop a public persona online on the side?
Know your strengths and weaknesses. Then, stick to your strengths. Gary knew blogging would be huge but he was honest with himself, and knew he didn’t have the talent for writing. He chose not to get a ghostwriter because it wouldn’t be authentic. He waited until he found a medium that spoke to him: video blogs.
Social media magnifiers your relationship and interactions with customers. A customer’s positive or negative experience can now be shared with thousands or millions quickly instead of just close family and friends through word of mouth.
Platforms are everything. The old ones are softening. He did a wine ad test of different mediums. Perfectly placed Billboard: 170 orders, Radio: 240, Direct Mail: A little over 300, A Tweet: 1700 orders in 48 hours.
Be flexible and nimble so that you pivot when you realize your audience is different. For example, if you do home cooking videos for moms and you find a lot of young college kids watch, maybe switch up how you deliver your content and what you cook to cater to your real audience. Chrystal is an example of a liquor that failed with this. When rappers started mentioning the brand, the founder told the media he wanted to distance his brand from rappers, which triggered a boycott.
Don’t worry about numbers (or subscribers or followers). Focus more on the quality of the relationships. That engagement matters more. One day, you will miss the intimate connection. Even if you have only six viewers, one of them could be the producer of NBC. You never know. Metrics can be misleading. This hits home for me since I’ve been cruising on ~30 views on my daily YouTube videos for years and ~30 daily podcast downloads.
The greatest marketing strategy of all time is to care. That’s it. If you care actually about your audience, you will never lose them. Appreciate them. It reminds me a lot of what Warren Buffett has to say about delighting your customers…
“Any business with delighted customers has a sales force they won’t have to pay; You don’t see them, but they are talking to people all the time.” -Warren Buffett
While I’m at it, here’s my Too Long Didn’t Read summary on his next book, Thank You Economy:
You can out care your competitors even if you can’t beat them in margins, distribution, or anything else.
Back in the wine business days, Gary had local business competitors who had established the first relationship with many local customers. Even though his business beat them in price, quality, and everything else, Gary couldn’t get these customers to leave his competitors because they cared about their customers and maintained positive relationships.
Gary’s latest book, Crushing It, is one of my favorites because it profiles actual success stories who took Gary’s advice. This book is the most actionable book of his books on success because it takes real-world case studies and details to model to improve your life.
Most people who hear advice never take action or see success from it. I’m eager to see what this book brings.