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Tag: book review

Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk: Hard Work Trumps All

I just finished reading “Crush It! Why Now is the Time to Cash in on Your Passion” by Gary Vaynerchuk.  Again, I’m behind on this one.  This was one of the “it” business books of 2009 (NYT and WSJ bestseller).

Here’s the book’s website.
Here’s the Amazon review page.

 

If you’re not familiar with Gary, watch a few episodes of Wine Library TV.  In short, he’s extremely enthusiastic and inspiring.  Connecting personal branding, personal passion, and social media, “Crush It!” is brimming with obsessive energy and absolutely delivers on its title.

What feels like the single most important ingredient, though, is hard work.  Lots of it.  Very, very hard.  Ceaseless hustle.  This shouldn’t be a surprise, though, from a guy for whom owning the New York Jets “has been an obsession … since the third grade” (p 15).

 

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Web 2.0 Portraits - Gary Vaynerchuk (Gary Vee) by Sam Taggart (samtaggart.com)

 

Hard Work Notes and Quotes

On page one, he makes clear that hard work’s part of the formula: “You’re lucky because you live in an age of unmatched opportunity for anyone with enough hustle, patience, and big dreams.”  He bridges pages one and two with a reference to “a willingness to work your face off.”

His three simple rules for life: “Love your family.  Work superhard.  Live your passion” (p 2).

His “timeless” messages in the book: “Do what makes you happy.  Keep it simple.  Do the research.  Work hard.  Look ahead” (p 12).

Regarding the ceaseless nature of the effort: “No matter how successful you get, you cannot slack off … Stop hustling, and everything you learn here will be useless”  (p  13).

Regarding the modeling of learned behavior: “My dad worked his ass off, so much that I really didn’t get to know him until I was fourteen years old.”  (p 19)  Gary got to know him by … you guessed it, getting into the family business, Shopper’s Discount Liquors.  He helped grow the business from $4M to $20M between 1998 and 2001 (p 25).

An example of hard work toward your passion: “You should be reading and absorbing every single resource you can find – books, trade journals, newsletters, websites, as well as taking classes and attending lectures and conferences” (p 49-50).

What life looks like while crushing it: “There will be time for meals, and catching up with your significant other, and playing with the kids, and otherwise you will be in front of your computer until 3:00 A.M. every night … Expect this to be all consuming” (p 89).

The real, true and absolute bottom line on hard work: “Someone with less passion and talent and poorer content can totally beat you if they’re willing to work longer and harder than you are.  Hustle is it.  Without it, you should just pack up your toys and go home” (p 88).

By his own words, hard work and hustle are not just fundamentally important, then, they’re the difference maker.  This explains exactly why more people are not crushing it: “Too many people don’t want to swallow the pill of working every day, every chance they get” (p 88).

 

I appreciate that while drawing a wonderful, idealized image – making a living (or even getting rich) by living your passion – Vaynerchuk doesn’t sugar coat the requirements in any way.  There’s no magic.  There’s no silver bullet.  Instead, there’s reality and credibility.

Vaynerchuk does provide a nice formula to help you take advantage of inexpensive tools that have only recently become available (the “now” part of the title).  While the general outline and rough plan are his, the passion, patience and hustle, though, are all yours.  In theory, the hard work doesn’t feel like work if it’s about something you love.

Interestingly, Vaynerchuk’s true passion isn’t wine.  It’s business development.  This means that he’ll be even more interesting to read, hear, and watch in the coming years.

 

A note about Sam Taggart: he’s got a sporadic series of these portraits at his website – samtaggart.com.  I don’t know Sam; I found his site through a Google search.  This was – by far – the coolest image of Vaynerchuk on the internet.  I thought it was a nice inclusion because a) it’s a great image and b) it’s obviously born of personal passion.  Coincidentally, he’s a project manager for VaynerMedia.  Again, check him out.

 

The Mesh: Marketing, Environment, Culture

For a class I’m taking this semester in the MBA program at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, I got to choose and review the online marketing book of my choice.  The deliverables included a formal book review, a blog post, a video and an in-class presentation.

With my first two choices gone (David Meerman Scott’s The New Rules of Marketing and PR and Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing), I turned to Rework from the guys at 37 signals.  Rework turned out to be a little too general business for the purposes of the class, but I did write it up here earlier.

Fortunately, a brand new, big idea book was recommended by Seth Godin as I was still in search mode.  I ordered, read and reviewed The Mesh: Why The Future Of Business Is Sharing by Lisa Gansky.

book, business, marketing, online, social, mobile, GPS, businesses, share, sharing, share platform, access, ownership, Lisa Gansky

Cover: The Mesh

The Mesh was very obviously a labor of love for Gansky, whose personal and professional passions are evident in the book’s concept, premises, tone and style.  The describes her vision, illustrates it with examples and backs into the broader driving and enabling trends making Mesh businesses and strategies possible and advantageous right now.  It’s this drawing together of otherwise disparate observations that makes her book feel so fresh.

I’ve already written a review and collected several links for the class blog post.  Here, I thought I’d take a minute to observe how it so nicely connects the themes and sub-heading of this blog – marketing, environment and culture.

Marketing The Mesh argues in favor of a business model that both threatens traditional companies and creates opportunities for new ones.  A Mesh company or a Mesh strategy employs: a core offering that’s shared (access rather than ownership); web, social and mobile networks; increased customer interactions; increased layers of information and analysis of data; and offers that are more and more timely, relevant, personal and location-based.

Think Netflix versus Blockbuster.  Both rent DVDs, but Netflix is, at its core, an information company dedicated to making it easier and easier for customers to find, watch and review movies and television shows.  Meanwhile, Blockbuster is in bankruptcy protection.

Zipcar was another key example in the book.  With your mobile device, you can locate, select, reserve and unlock one of dozens of individually-named Zipcars parked around your city.  Each transaction provides data about who, when, where and how long the car is used.  Zipcar’s partnered with all kinds of other businesses in complementary ways to provide more – and more personalized – value to each customer.

Environment One of the underlying themes behind the share concept is an increasing population and limited resources.  The increasing population is also increasingly urban; this density is required for share platforms to scale properly.  At the same time, it’s clear that our disposable consumer culture is unsustainable.  Mesh companies need highly durable goods from their suppliers.  Through frequent and repeat use of shared goods and real-time data collection, Mesh businesses will understand each product’s strengths and weaknesses, like when and how it’s likely to fail.  While demanding greater durability from suppliers, they’ll be in a unique position to provide information to aid in that mission.

Culture There are many broad, cultural themes in The Mesh.  For example, acceptance and adoption of share platforms requires a shift away from ownership toward access and sharing.  Gansky also covers customers as communities within the same share platform.  So many of the factors that permit the Mesh characteristics and driving and enabling factors to be observed and formally captured in a book are temporal and cultural.

All three themes – marketing, environment and culture – are ever-present in this quick and fun read.  I recommend it to marketers, entrepreneurs, environmentalists, futurists and anyone broadly interested in what’s happening out there right now.

My blog post for class that’s loaded with links can be seen here.

My video review can be seen here:

 

Mesh, The Mesh, meshy, companies, company, business, businesses, Zipcar, Crushpad, Kickstarter, thredUp, Prosper, Roomorama, Netflix

Seven of the dozens of examples provided by Lisa Gansky to illustrate her concept of The Mesh.

Rework by 37signals: Setting Conventional Wisdom Ablaze

16 employees in 8 different cities on 2 different continents serving more than 5 million customers, including some of the world’s biggest brands.  How do 37signals do it?  They’re really eager to tell you.

Before I take on their book, I’ll give you a sense of the company, which exists almost completely online.  They design web-based software to that helps you run your small group or business.  The table below, including the names and images of each offering, is as stylish and clear as the book.  This product/service line was developed for their own use; they run their company on their own applications.

37 signals, basecamp, campfire, highrise, backpack, software, online, SaaS

The software offerings of 37signals.

Back to “really eager to tell you” … from the 37signals perspective, teaching is marketing.  That’s a perspective about which I want to learn more.  Of course, they’re really eager to teach me.

In addition to countless interviews, speeches and presentations – many of which are available online (here or here) – founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, along with several other members of the crew, put together a couple books.  I’ve read only one of them; this is my review.

Rework is their go at a “general business” book.  In it, 37signals explain how they do what they do – how they built and how they run their business.  I won’t belabor it in detail, since there’s already several tons of love and press about this publication.

In short, they set ablaze conventional wisdom about how business “needs to” or “should” be done.  Instead, common sense is put on its proper pedestal.  Meetings waste time.  Interruptions slay productivity.  Resumes are ridiculous.  Press releases are spam.  More features do not a better product make.  And on …

Though the hardcover contains 270+ pages, the layout and style make for a very quick read and begs for a re-read.  There are loads of wonderful illustrations accompanying each “verse,” which vary in length from three or four paragraphs to a page or two.  Each verse is one of maybe a half dozen pieces that make up a chapter.

It makes sense that Seth Godin’s endorsement stripes the top of the cover.  Rework is a collection of short essays as efficient as Godin’s blog posts.  An idea is introduced, supported by an example or two, then wrapped up.  The lessons are communicated so cleanly that they seem overwhelmingly obvious.  The writing is so straightforward and clear that these essays read in sequence as a series of punches.

As a sample, here’s the lead from the “Speed Changes Everything” verse from the “Damage Control” chapter:

‘Your call is very important to us.  We appreciate your patience.  The average hold time right now is sixteen minutes.’  Give me a fucking break.

As you might expect of a book that torches conventional wisdom about hiring, PR and marketing, growth, culture, management, venture capital and so much more, Rework is irreverent and refreshing.

Needless to say, I recommend the book highly – especially for those with an entrepreneurial bent.  Really, though, it’s a must-read for anyone interested in the structure and running of an organization.  For no other reason, you should read it for the gentle, but meaningful open-hand slap to the face it’ll give you about what’s happening in your day-to-day worklife.

I may write a couple follow-up posts about how the book functions as marketing and manifesto for the 37signals community and about the other companies 37signals name checks as illustrations of their points.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this interview of Jason Fried from O’Reilly Media:

Also, here’s a link to the 37signals “about us” page with company history, executive team profiles, statement of beliefs and more.

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