24 Aug

Book review: Crush It!

I want to “crush it” just as much, or more, than the next guy or gal, but Gary Vaynerchuk’s book had gathered dust on my shelf for nearly a year.  Why am I late to the party?  For one, his style is a little over-the-top for my taste.  Once I finally read the book, however, I became a fan.

The author says that storytelling is by far the most underrated skill in business, and he displays his mettle in this area throughout Crush It!  Gary Vee’s success story is fascinating and entertaining, ranging from his growing a small business (his father’s discount liquor store) into a multi-million dollar operation to his dream of one day buying the New York Jets.  The entrepreneurial fire was first lit when he started hustling baseball cards as a kid.  (This brought back memories of all the 70s and 80s Cincinnati Reds cards collected during my childhood and tucked away in my basement for years.)

The book is primarily about building your personal brand and leveraging social networking platforms (“word of mouth on steroids”) to do so.  It provides helpful advice on how to create community on the social web.  For instance, don’t get caught up in the number of friends or followers.  Focus instead on the intensity of your community’s engagement and interaction with you.  The best marketing strategy ever, according to the author: CARE.

“Passion is everything.”  This is obvious if you’ve ever seen Vaynerchuk’s video blog, WineLibrary TV, and he constantly reinforces this mantra in the book.  I took this to heart and contemplated why I work in higher education and why I am passionate about it.  As Jerold Panas repeats throughout The First 120 Days: What a New College President Must Do To Succeed (review forthcoming), “It’s all about the students.”  It’s incredible to be part of the transformative impact higher learning can have and to see students succeed.

As fall semester begins on your campus, make it a point to increase your interactions with students this academic year.  Sit down with a group of students at the coffee shop, dining hall, or elsewhere on campus and just chat.  Do it on a regularly basis, and I’m certain it will bring enjoyment and value.  Pledge each week to show up someplace on campus where you’re not expected.  Spend your lunch offline; walk the campus and your halls.  Identify ways to connect with students and renew the passion and enthusiasm that originally drew you to the rewarding field of higher education.

“True success 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.”  Well-stated, Gary Vee.

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