Lee Odden

Book Review: Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk

crush itI picked up a copy of Gary Vaynerchuk’s book “Crush It” to read on my way to DMA in San Diego. Get the book from Amazon (link above) not at the airport unless you’re funding your own stimulus package for airport book stores.

For readers that are not familiar with @garyvee and Wine Library TV, like I wasn’t when first  meeting Gary at Blog World Expo a year ago, Vaynerchuck is a poster boy for a small business that has leveraged passion, product and social media to stimulate incredible business growth and community around his brand.

After BWE, the next time I saw Gary was when he keynoted at Affiliate Summit early in 2009. That was an experience. His “tell it like it is” style isn’t for everyone, but personally, I like it.

That charisma and personality on stage is great for entertainment value, but it was the real-world insights and tips that he gave from his personal experience building a business using social channels that kept him top of mind for me and caused me to buy the book as soon as I saw it.

I don’t know Gary Vaynerchuk personally and he certainly doesn’t know me, but I thought it would be a good book to review for Online Marketing Blog readers.  The book is short, 140 pages or so, but that short form is consistent with his direct approach. It starts by outlining the importance of passion and Gary’s three rules for success in business and life: Love your family, Work super hard, Live your passion.

“Passion is everything.”

From there he shares his “hard working immigrant makes good” story of coming to the U.S. as a child from Belarus and numerous examples of how “hustle” and business savvy have been a part of his DNA from neighborhood lemonade stands to building up his father’s liquor store business from 4 to 50 million to creating another new business of his own, Vayner Media.

“It’s never a bad time to start a business unless you’re starting a mediocre business.”

The essence of this book is to find out what you’re really passionate about. Work your ass off, communicating that passion using whatever media format and channels are the best fit for you and the audience you’re trying to reach. The passion will show through in the content you create, the connections and community you build and the legacy (more important than short term financial gain) you leave from building the business.

“Story telling is by far the most underrated skill in business.”

Along with advice on creating content, choosing the right platform, being authentic, finding like-minded participants on the social web and social media marketing advice, he offers several ideas on monetization (some of which I’ll be implementing now), the value of patience and being adaptable.

“Be patient. In time, if you continue to hustle, you’ll grow your presence and improve your skills to the point where the fish – really, really big fish, will be jumping straight into your hands.”

Vaynerchuck admits his own contradictions, like do what your passion tells you no matter what, but also be adaptable in how you execute on your passion. He also makes a few comments that fly in the face of marketing (social or otherwise) key principles, like don’t pay much attention to analytics, but go with your gut.

“Anything is better than zero.”

Despite contradictions and rare advice that would make most marketers cringe, there’s no mistaking the success Vaynerchuck has achieved following “The Best Marketing Plan Ever” which he shares in the latter part of the book. He even goes so far as to offer a checklist and several business ideas he says he doesn’t have time to go after himself, so go for it.

“Legacy is greater than currency.”

For those looking for step by step instructions on how to develop a social media strategy and the specific tools to execute, this book has some of that, but it’s more about inspiration than “how to”.  To get anything out of a workshop or testing social tools yourself, you need to be inspired first anyway.

“Crush It” is an excellent book offering personal stories that illustrate the importance of passion, patience, hustle and the value of doing what you need to do to be happy. Success takes hard work and this book does a great job of showing anyone the framework for making what really makes them passionate and turn it into an online business.

After reading this book, I can imagine a significant number of people gaining the inspiration to start their own ventures with passion, hustle and a desire to “crush it”.

PoorSo SoOKGoodAwesome (8 votes, average: 3.25 out of 5)

Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Avatar DanielthePoet says

    I”ve been debating whether to get this book. I watch videos of Gary's keynotes and interviews and I've gotten the gist of his message. Do you think there's enough new content in the book to warrant a purchase?

  2. I bought 4 biz books at the bookstore before this one, so I think buying any biz book is worth it. For the $12 Amazon is charging, it's an easy decision. At least it was for me.

  3. Avatar michaelcarney says

    Lee, many thanks for the review. I clicked from here through your link to Amazon, where I downloaded the PDF of the first chapter of Gary's book. Unfortunately I have to say that — whilst your summary makes the book sound worthwhile — that first chapter sample really didn't do it for me.

    Which raises an interesting (if OT) question — if selling a book on Amazon or similar sites, should you just provide a sample of Chapter One, or should you create a customised extract which captures the magic of your book? I wonder aloud, as both author and marketer.

  4. Michael the 1st chapter was just a hello u know 😉 I think u will like it and if not let me know and Ill make good!

  5. Thank u for this review, I am flattered…However I am soooooooooooooooooooooooooo sooooooooooooooooooooooooo sad right now over the JETS 🙁

  6. thank uso much man!

  7. Avatar michaelcarney says

    Gary, I'm sure you're right about my enjoying the book as a whole (and thanks for the offer). My point really was that a first chapter of any book (and certainly mine fall into this category) is still picking up steam on the given topic and is seldom a good example of the sizzle actually contained in the book. A 'hand-assembled' sample drawn from your book, teasing some of the main learnings, would probably sell the contents rather more effectively.

  8. I also really enjoyed Crush It, finished (dog-eared and underlined) on the plane trip to Vegas for BWE09. (In fact, you can read my review here: http://www.flyteblog.com/flyte/2009/10/book-rev… ) Any book that makes you take notes in the margin is probably worth your time.

    As far as what Michael says below, you can actually read chapter 7 off Gary's site; that might give you a better flavor for the book.

    However, unlike Gary, I had no problems of the outcome of last night's Jets game. Go Pats!

  9. Avatar Rich Lazzara says

    Thx for the review. Having read the book myself I can say that YES, you should read this book. I think most people tend to get stuck with the “I cant do that” or “Yeah that person is just lucky” type attitude. The point is yeah you can do whatever you want AND you can do it today. There has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur than today. The digital marketing tools available to all really level the playing field. For the first time a kid with a video camera and an internet connection can compete with the big boys. Get our there and pursue your passion. Thats the bottom line.

  10. Thanks for an excellent book Gary!

  11. I have not read this book, but the review and the comments has made me order through Amazon. Any business, whether you had social media in the mix can be made successful, if you have passion and vision for it… Social Media is just another facilitator.

    As for the Jets, only if they had read this book, maybe they would have crushed the Bills… 😉

  12. Avatar Steve Tremko Bellante says

    I'm currently reading this book, and will admit that I have enjoyed it so far. My only complaint is that it does more inspire than to actually tell you how the different ways you can actually go about following your true passion in life. Still a good read though from a motivational perspective.

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  14. After seeing so many good reviews…..I should probably grab the book 🙂 I had to catch a connection or I would have followed you at DFW.

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  15. If you don't have time to read the whole book, you can get the cliff notes here

  16. Cliff Notes for Crush It? It's such a short book I can't imagine why.

  17. If you don't have time to read the whole book, you can get the cliff notes here

  18. Cliff Notes for Crush It? It's such a short book I can't imagine why.