BOOK REVIEW: Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk

By Kathy Zucker • Monday, December 2, 2013

I met Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) a few months ago at the Shorty Awards Industry Launch party. The thing that jumped out at me from his talk? “I just want to sell more shit.”

crushit-thumbnailWhen New Jersey Digital Moms founder Elizabeth Norton (@ElizabethNorton) urged me to read Gary’s book Crush It, saying it changed her life, I took it with a grain of salt. After all, the book is stocked in the marketing section at Barnes and Noble bookstores.

Crush It started off very strong, with the first three chapters talking about how anyone can build a business based on their passion, no matter how esoteric. Chapter One: Passion is Everything states the book is “about ensuring your own happiness by enabling you to live every day passionately and productively.” Chapter Two: Success Is in your DNA says “one of my first lessons in business – scarcity breeds desire.”

Chapter Three: Build Your Personal Brand talks about knowing yourself – when Gary considered becoming a blogger, he looked in the mirror and said, “Can you write? No…Damn!” Being authentic is critical to developing a following, so Gary “waited until I found a medium that spoke to my DNA – video blogs – jumped on it, and never looked back.”

There are some great tips on using social media in Chapter Six: Choose Your Platform. NOT using Facebook privacy filters, getting close to consumers on Twitter and scoring Tumblr reblogs are some great ways to create and spread the word about your brand. On page 64, Gary even shares his email address – a first for me in a hardcopy book. I loved his best business tweet ever, “What can I do for you?”

I was with Gary in Chapter Seven: Keep it Real…Very Real when he said “if you’re living your passion, you’re going to want to be consumed by your work” and it will leave you “relaxed and invigorated.” And then he lost me when he said that in order to crush it you have to make sure “your content is the best in its category” (thought, no problem) and then “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.” Um, problem.

Now, I am renowned for working hard. Friends and colleagues joke that they always check the time stamp on my emails and blog posts because they usually come at 4 a.m. When I won a Shorty Award, one of my votes actually stated it was BECAUSE I am a hard worker.

But I am a mom to three very young children. My entire life – including being a partner in three startups – is based on being available for my family. Okay, I may be checking email and updating social media at the playground, but at least I am physically there providing continuity for all three of my kids. Yes, I know, Gary’s Twitter bio says, “Family 1st! but after that, Businessman” but at no point in Crush It did I actually see him discuss how that works. What happens if one of his kids gets sick while he is on book tour out of state? Does he schedule his trips around holiday assemblies and graduation? If he is working harder and better than the competition, how does his family fit into the equation?

The whole reason why I started the Metro Moms Network in 2010 was to help parents find work that they love – emphasis on parents. Time is a major issue for both moms and dads – the United States has one of the least-generous parental leave policies in the world. One of the major criticisms of the Lean In movement is that most families lack the resources to enable either parent to “lean in” at the office.

When I read a book that tells me that I had better work harder than everyone else or give up, it makes me think that the book is targeted toward men or women without children – essentially reinforcing the status quo. It also made me want to write a book titled Do the Best You Can. My reaction shook several of my mom friends since they consider me to be the archetype of the dynamic, hard-driving work-at-home mom. And then I shook it off and kept going forward because in the end? I don’t need a book to tell me if I’m doing things right or wrong. That is what my gut is for, and it is telling me to go for it.

You can purchase Crush It or Gary Vaynerchuk’s latest book, Jab Jab Jab Right Hook, today at Amazon at 30% savings using code “BOOKDEAL.” Discount does not apply to Kindle e-books.

More – A Must Read: I Am Malala

Kathy_roundKathy Zucker, CEO of Metro Moms Network, mother of three young children and New York Life Keep Good Going Shorty Award winner and judge, writes about juggling career and family in an urban setting. Read her MomCondoLiving blog, follow her on Twitter (@KathyZucker), watch her on Instagram, friend her on Facebook and get moving with Youtube.

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  1. I listened to the audiobook and didn’t read the actually book. In the audio he does deviate a lot from the actually reading. He even does a shout out to his mom and later talks about his wife. I think “post book” he learned this and that is one of the things I like about Gary. He is after all learning right along with us. I watched him on wine TV at the beginning and was learning from him then….and thought this guy is nuts….but that nuts part of him was what made the book being read to me interesting. He is a dynamic person. I think he has wisdom in his book. and ……..I think you are a hard worker AND excellent in your field. Gary is trying his best….he just is a kind of take it as he is kinda guy. I hope he reads this review and comments. It will be interesting to see what he says. I think the family part came later for him. I noticed him dropping things and lining up priorities after this book was published.

    • Kathy Zucker

      Elizabeth, thank you so much for your feedback and perspective. Absolutely, Crush It was published four years ago and Gary has evolved as a person since then. I think that overall Crush It has many valuable insights and lessons – would love to learn more about how Gary has balanced his family and work since the publication of Crush It and am enjoying reading Jab Jab Jab Right Hook right now!


  2. It is still sitting in my kindle waiting to be read.

    • Kathy Zucker

      Beth, Crush It is definitely worth a read. If you are going to only read two chapters, I would focus on #s 5 & 6, which tell you how to create great content and what platforms to use.

  3. Sounds like I have a new book to read on my iPad commuting to work. I’m curious to read his thoughts about building a business and making it successful!

    • Kathy Zucker

      Debra, Gary definitely knows his stuff. Crush It makes me want to go out there and conquer the world and then I remember, oh wait, I have school pickup at 2:47.

  4. I hate to say it, but in my experience he’s right. Someone who’s willing to maybe work longer or a little harder than you can beat your even if their content sucks:( Thanks for the review. I’ll check out the book and the specific chapters you mentioned.

    • Kathy Zucker

      Karen, absolutely, somebody who is not willing to put in the work can be beaten by someone working hard. The question is, can you work harder in a different way? The internet allows people to engage in such a wide variety of angles that if you are willing to show up every day, several times a day, you could kill it from another perspective.

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