Crush It! Why Now Is The Time To Cash In On Your Passion (Review)

This is the first in a series of Book Reviews that I am doing as part of the Life is Volunteer project where I'm working through several dozen incredible books on international service, leadership, social entrepreneurship, volunteerism, and unconventional living. Each time I finish a book that I think you might really like, I'll write a review here on the blog and share some of my favorite big ideas from the book.

The awesome book I just finished is called Crush It! Why Now Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk. It's a New York Times Bestseller and a book that was good enough, and short enough, that I was able to finish it in one sitting. Thanks Mend-Orshikh for letting me borrow it!

Quick Overview
Crush It! is about how the internet is changing marketing and leveling the playing field for businesses and individuals around the world. Gary makes a compelling case that each of us has an unprecedented opportunity to promote our businesses (big or small), our projects and our personal brand like never before. After convincing you of that, he spends the rest of the book showing you how to do it using his own experience as an example.

Whether you're a writer, marketing specialist, entrepreneur, wine connoisseur or someone who wants to represent their own "personal brand", the internet has opened up opportunities for everyone. Throughout Crush It! Gary tells his story of how he helped turn his small family-owned wine and liquor store into a multi-million dollar business thanks to online videos. Every week he features new reviews on and slowly over several years built a following of hundreds of thousands of people. Throughout the book he breaks down the way he did this and how anyone can do it, usually for free. This includes things like making websites (which I've done for free for a long time) and engaging with people using social media like Facebook and Twitter.

My Favorite Big Ideas
One of the key messages of the book is the idea of creating your own personal brand. He makes the point that in today's internet-connected world everyone has a brand online. Whether you like it or not when you type your name in Google something is coming up. Gary makes the case that, if you want, you can be the one in charge of that. You can create websites, profiles and products that have your name associated with them or your name can be at the mercy of whoever wants to write about you. Creating your own personal brand is the idea that you need to protect and promote things that you believe in: who you are and who you want to be. The idea is summed up very well in his checklist that appears at the end of Crush It! which I have provided at the end of this review. But before we get there, here is one of my favorite parts of the book:
Ultimately this book is not about making a million dollars, although it just might help you do that. It’s about ensuring your own happiness by enabling you to live every day passionately and productively. I measure my success by how happy I am, not how big the business is or how much money I’ve made.

Living your passion means that when you get up for work every morning, every single morning, you are pumped because you get to talk about or work with or do the thing that interests you the most in the world. You don’t live for vacations because you don’t need a break from what you’re doing – working, playing, and relaxing are on and the same. You don’t even pay attention to how many hours you’re working because to you, it’s not really work. You’re making money, but you’d do whatever it is you’re doing for free.

Does this sound like you? Are you living, or just earning a living? You spend so much time at work, why waste it doing anything other than what you love most? Life is too short for that. You owe it to yourself to make a massive change for the better, and all you have to do is go online and start using the tools waiting for you there.

Learn to live your passion, and you’ll have all the money you need plus total control over your own destiny. That’s a pretty comfortable place to be, wouldn’t you say?

I don’t care if your passion is rehabilitating abandoned ferrets; if you learn to tap into everything the digital world has to offer, you can turn water into wine – you can transform what you live into a legacy-building business that makes a crapload of money, and still be true to yourself.

Making connections, creating and continuing meaningful interaction with other people, whether in person or in the digital domain, is the only reason we’re here. Remember that, set the tone, and build legacy.

The Final Word
"If there’s any message I want you to take away," writes Gary, "it’s that true success – financial, personal and professional – lies above all in loving your family, working hard, and living your passion. In telling your story. In authenticity, hustle, and patience. In caring fiercely about the big and the small stuff. In valuing legacy over currency. Social media is an important part of it for now, but maybe it won’t always be. These concepts, however, are forever, no matter what the next business platform or social phenomenon turns out to be."

I thought it would be helpful to provide a checklist of all the steps you want to take as you build your personal brand:
  1. Identify your passion.
  2. Make sure you can think of at least fifty awesome blog topics to ensure stickiness.
  3. Answer the following questions:
    1. Am I sure my passion is what I think it is?
    2. Can I talk about it better than anyone else?
  4. Name your personal brand. You don’t have to refer to it anywhere in your content, but you should have a clear idea of what it is. For example, “The no-bs real-estate agent,” “The connoisseur of cookware,” “The cool guide to young-adult books boys will love to read.”
  5. Buy your use and .tv if possible – at
  6. Choose your medium: video, audio, written word.
  7. Start a Wordpress or Tumblr account.
  8. Hire a designer.
  9. Include a Facebook Connect link, Call-to-Action buttons, Share Functions and a button that invites people to do business with you in a prominent place on your blog.
  10. Create a Facebook fan page.
  11. Sign up for or TubeMogul and select all of the platforms to which you want to distribute your content. Choosing Twitter and Facebook is imperative; the others you can select according to your needs and preference.
  12. Post your content.
  13. Start creating community by leaving comments on other people’s blogs and forums and replying to comments to your own comment.
  14. Use Twitter Search (or Search.Twitter) to find as many people as possible talking about your topic, and communicate with them.
  15. Use to find more blogs that are relevant to your subject.
  16. Join as many active Facebook fan pages and groups relating to your blog topic as possible.
  17. Repeat steps 12 through 16 over and over and over and over and over.
  18. Do it again.
  19. And again.
  20. When you feel your personal brand has gained sufficient attention and stickiness, start reaching out to advertisers and being monetizing.
  21. Enjoy the ride.

I highly recommend giving Crush It! a read, it's a fascinating and helpful book. I'm also reading through the Thank You Economy right now, which is his second book, and I'm really enjoying so far. I look forward to writing a short review on that soon too. I would also love to hear your recommendations on other great books I should read! Please visit the Life is Volunteer Get Involved page page and join me on Facebook to tell me what you think I should check out! Oh, and if you want to borrow my copy of Crush It! just let me know!

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