Book review: Crush It!: Why Now is the Time to Cash in on your Passion

Book Reviews

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I love a good marketing brand; especially one that you can ask just about any person on the street about and they can identify with the campaign, person or company. I am always intrigued with campaigns that go viral or become a household name… companies like Geico, Nike, Amazon and more. However, if I were to get into a conversation with a small business owner and talk about campaigns from these companies and others, they would almost always look at me and say, “Sure they can do it because they have millions to spend.” And while there may be some truth to that, I began a mission to learn about ways that a common every day mom and pop business can make their mark and build a solid personal or business brand without the need for millions in backing. In fact, I was looking to ways to do it for little to no money at all.  And that search online led me to Gary Vaynerchuk’s book,

Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion

The book was published in 2009, and I just read it recently. Yes, I guess I am a little behind the times but who cares?  The book is timeless and everything that Gary talks about is as relevant, if not more so than it was in 2009.  I read mixed reviews on the book with some people claiming the content was simplistic and shallow while others said it was one of the best books they’ve ever read.  Since I often disagree with people on book reviews, I wanted to give Crush It! a read for myself.

When I say “read” I should really be saying “listen” since I have a long commute every day to the office and little free time to sit and actually read books, I decided to consume Crush It! in audiobook format and I am very glad I did since Gary narrated the book himself and his personality is incredible and he really keeps you engaged.

I know what you are thinking … “Gary Vayner-who?” That is what I said when I first saw the book.  So I did some research on Gary and I strongly recommend that you do to as you will have a much better appreciation for the book.  Gary’s personal website is


Gary’s parents are Russian immigrants who settled in New York when they came to America looking to take part in the “land of opportunity” and all it had to offer. Gary’s father worked at a liquor store and eventually owned his own store.  As a teenager, Gary worked behind the counter.  Since he was too young to actually consume what the store sold, he decided to read The Wine Spectator and learn all he could about wine. He was not able to train his palette on wine, so he decided to study the different flavors that are associated with wine, including obscure fruits and vegetables, dirt, tobacco, wood, grass and even sweat socks.

During his college tenure, he came up with a plan to rebrand the business as Wine Library and establish himself as an expert. He speaks a lot about DNA and how your DNA can guide you to the best path to build your personal brand.  In Gary’s case, it was a video blog called Wine Library TV.  Gary disliked the snobby and traditional wine aficionados and knew that he could do better. This paired with his passion for wine, business and the internet led Gary to grow Wine Library TV to having a staggering following, which was the foundation of the massive personal brand that he has become.

Gary is young, confident and has a very in-your-face personality that cannot help but captivate the reader (or listener). I recommend checking out a couple episodes of Wine Library TV prior to engaging in the book.  I can certainly see why some people might be turned off by Gary’s personality, like listening or watching Tony Robbins, you cannot help but becoming sucked in by his charisma and boisterous passion.  I am thinking that one reason that I have read so many negative reviews is because he is so energetic and confident that he makes it all seem so effortless and fun.  Gary continually reiterates that this book is not a “get rich quick” scheme and becoming successful will take more hard work, commitment and passion that you can imagine. If you follow his life’s story, you can easily see how what he writes can happen for anyone.

His formula seems simple; identify what you are most passionate about, develop a platform to build your personal brand, and work your butt off for as long as it takes to accomplish your goals. I whole-heartedly believe in his message and while I know that not everyone has the passion, expertise, enthusiasm and creativity that Gary does, I do believe that if you believe in yourself and you build your brand based on your passion, then everyone is capable of the success that Gary has earned.

A LOOK INSIDE “Crush it!”

If you are stuck in a job that you hate, or a business that is stagnant, then this book is sure to help get you motivated and at least thinking that there can be more for you in your future. “Crush It!” is an relatively short and easy read; the audiobook took me about 3 hours to finish. Everything that Gary writes (or says) is simple and straight to the point.  If you are a seasoned business owner you might find the book simple and boring, but if you really give it a chance, I am sure you will find gold nuggets that will start your mind spinning and you won’t be able to help but be inspired to take the next step. Even if you are working a job that you love, Gary gets you pumped to be all you can be, so to speak.


Working hard and hustling is resounding theme in the book and he makes no bones about it.  Don’t read this book thinking you are going to be rich and famous in a month.  In fact, even a year or two might be short according to Gary. I love that he really drills this into the reader.  Persistence, passion, drive and hard work WILL lead you to success.  I strongly believe this.

If you are not a social media expert, don’t like being in front of a camera or on a microphone or don’t like to write, fear not!  Crush It! is about getting you excited and looking past the excuses. It is about identifying your passion and burning a vision into your mind that you can turn that passion into your legacy. You don’t need to be good at everything, you just need to exploit the main thing you are good at and build from there.


A large part of the book contains references to various websites as examples, tools, tips and more. It is handy to have a way to write these down if you are listening to the audio version of the book.  In Chapter 10, Gary includes a to do list that can help start you on the correct path. The list includes:

  • Starting a Blog. Seems simple, right? Today you would think everyone has a blog, but you would be amazed at how many businesses don’t have one. It is a must and will serve as the basis for you building your personal brand.
  • Create a Facebook fan page.
  • Open a Twitter account with your brand name
  • Get an inexpensive “flip” style video camera if you intend to do a video blog.  It does not have to be fancy, it just has to work
  • Buy your name as a URL
  • Make sure you have a big button on your site that says “Want to do business with me”


If you feel like you are stuck in a rut, or you know you are capable of more than you presently have in your life, or if you wake up each day and are not completely happy, then run, don’t walk, and get a copy of Crush It!. This is not an academic book, but rather it is practical and straightforward. So if you are looking for a widely intellectual, insightful or philosophical business book, then you may not enjoy this book.  However, if you have heard of Gary, or you choose to learn about him before exploring this book, then I am certain that you will enjoy it.   If you can, I would strongly suggest getting the audio book as the words in the book are further enhanced by Gary’s fire, character, and passion.

Overall I would say that the best reason to get this book is because it is fun, inspiring and full of great ideas, resources, and motivation. Even if you get just one idea from this book, you will be much further along in the building of your personal brand or business.

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