“Crush It!” by Gary Vaynerchuk
In the 2nd edition of “The Greatest Books You've Never Read,” you're going to meet one of the most animated entrepreneurs out there. His unbridled passion for wine and drive for success skyrocketed his online wine store from a thriving business into a multi-million dollar success story.
But the real kicker is how he did it.
His name is Gary Vaynerchuk, and the book that put him on the map is called Crush It! This book on the power of passion and how to utilize social media for success has motivated countless entrepreneurs, making it one of Inc.'s top books for business owners in 2009 when it released.
Needless to say, if you haven't read it yet, you owe yourself the pleasure of Gary's unique voice and unorthodox approach to business.
But first, a little history: Gary was born in Belarus on November 14, 1975, back when Russia was still the U.S.S.R., and his family immigrated to the U.S. in 1978. They lived in a small apartment in Queens, NY with 8 family members. His father stocked shelves in a liquor store in NJ.
Gary started as an entrepreneur at a very young age, “franchising” lemonade stands for his friends to run.
And yes, he actually went around on his big wheels bike to collect money from them.
At 11, he started selling baseball cards, earning about $3000 a month, until he was forced to work with his father in the wine shop for $2.00 an hour.
Hating the job, but recognizing people's love for the product, he made a decision at the age of 16 to create an online business selling wines.
And he dedicated the next 15 years of his life to learning about them.
He would read Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate every chance he got… as a teenager, he couldn't legally drink, so he studied various flavors associated with wine – obscure fruits and vegetables, as well grass, dirt, rocks, tobacco and wood…
While he “…probably consumed more New Jersey grass as a teen than any lawn mower,” all of this training allowed him to detect subtleties that an ordinary palate wouldn’t recognize.
The point is, before he really put himself out there, he became an expert.
He opened his website, Wine Library, at the age of 23. And between 1998 and 2003 he worked hard to build it up to a 50 million dollar business.
But the kicker, like I mentioned, is that he took a chance on something that no one really knew about…
In 2006, YouTube made its debut. And on February 21 of that year, Gary created a vlog (a video blog) called Wine Library TV that showed him taste testing all different kinds of wines.
Every weekday he created a new episode, showcasing his expertise and bombastic personality.
There was no special lighting and no fancy camera; just Gary and his wine.
The goal: “talk to people about wine instead of talking down to people about wine.”
Well, Gary's winning personality and accessibility eventually garnered him over 80,000 views per day.
In 2007, he was featured on Conan O'Brien, and his business exploded from there.
This is why Gary's book is such a worthwhile read – he has a no-holds-barred approach to entrepreneurship, and truly believes that passion, knowledge, and “sweat equity” are all you need to build a brand and a business.
In fact, because of recent social and technological trends, the cost of producing content has been driven low enough for anyone to give it a shot.
Gary says, “It’s never a bad time to start a business unless you’re starting a mediocre business.” If you are really passionate about what you are doing, all you need to do is showcase that using whatever media channels are the best fit for you and the audience you’re trying to reach.
What will happen is your love and energy will come through in the content you create, building a strong bond with your community, and ultimately lifetime support from your customers.
And the true key to success is longevity – people fail in business because they try to seal the deal on the first transaction, with no care about what follows.
Now, the other large element to Gary's success is his willingness to jump on marketing trends before they are popular – namely social media.
When Twitter came out, Gary thought it would be a good idea to listen to what wine drinkers were talking about.
(By the way, did you know that you could do a content search on Twitter much like Google? It offers very different results, but tells you what people are thinking about that term right now.)
He would then chime in to help them pick out better wines, showing his compassion and expertise.
Ultimately, they loved his input and started following him and his business, leading to more sales.
See what a simple kind gesture can do?
Basically, if you put in the time and effort, you will find success in anything that you want to do – guaranteed.
And the good news is, you are already an expert in your field!
All you have to do now is decide which avenue is the best for you to share your voice: perhaps you are a fan of LinkedIn; maybe Facebook is your comfort zone; or you could be just like Gary, and have a flair for video.
Regardless, if you conduct yourself in an honest and giving way, your passion will come through to your customers and you will have life-long fans.
On a slight side note, Gary has a new favorite social media platform that he mentioned in an interview back in January…
It's called Vine and he truly believes that if you master the art of the 6 second video, your business will explode.
Anyway, that just about wraps up this edition of “the Greatest Books You've Never Read.” Next time, I'll show you the most important marketing book ever written by one of the greatest copywriters that has ever lived.