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Monday, February 8th, 2010

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2:21p
Finally, one that makes sense …
As those of you paying attention here may have noted, I've started going through a lot of “business” books, much against my historical reading patterns. Obviously, most of these have been in the “job search” or “career management” vein, relating to my own in-search-of-employment endeavors, reinforced recently by my penning the Chicago Tribune's “Chicago Now” blog, The Job Stalker, which has both caused me to buy books suitable for coverage there, and recently to be offered review copies.

Gary Vaynerchuk's Crush It! Why Now Is The Time To Cash In On Your Passion is one of the books that I bought, having seen it referenced so frequently in other books and on Twitter, that I figured that I really needed to add this to my reading list. I've been focusing a good deal of my recent attention of Social Media, as, frankly, there is a lot more call for it in the current Web than Virtual Worlds.

I am very glad that I picked up Crush It!, as it “spoke to me” in a way that many of the other books in the “future of work” or “personal branding” niches haven't. Perhaps it is Vaynerchuk's style, he's talking about how he did what he did, why he did what the did, and how he saw what he did in context of the wider economic landscape, in a very “conversational” mode (indeed, he mentions that he pretty much just talked about this into a recorder, and then sent it off to a writer to pull together into a book). As opposed to a book like Finding Work in the 21st Century, which pontificates on the “new world” of no jobs, but independent contractors, this shows what that could look like, not as some dystopian future but as a current exciting, engaging, and rewarding career path today. As opposed to a book like Me 2.0 this is also not an attempt to set up a “system” for the most driven young professionals to reach the early and gaudy success, but a look at how one (equally driven) guy made this work with the tools and resources he had in his life. Having read the other two books certainly made me appreciate this more, as (while firmly in that world-view) it's a very real and vivid illustration of not only how this can work, but how it can be a great adventure rather than an oppressive grind. While utilizing most of the specifics that Schawbel preaches in Me 2.0, Vaynerchuk isn't advocating an obsessive drive to super-successes, being very clear on what steps would be necessary to replace an average drag-into-the-office-everyday salary with income from activities linked to what one knows well, and what is one's passion. Also, this is more “ethically based” than most, with the author constantly framing activities within the context of how actions effect those around us.

Where the other books mentioned above might be a white paper on how the work world as we've known it is doomed, and a “manual” for devising a personally-branded career, this gets far more into the “why” while still detailing the “what” and “how”. While the style is easy to read, the book is quite dense with material (probably a good thing, as it is only a slim hundred and fifty pages!), neglecting step-by-step instructions for descriptions of broad-stroke processes and lists of needed activities. A reminder, however: this is a book for the “driven”, which is fine for an obsessive-compulsive fellow like me, but a lot of the world is not wired that way … here's a bit of a caveat Vaynerchuk presents:

You will do (those steps) over and over and over again as long as your brand exists. If that sounds tedious or repetitive, just close this book and go do your best to enjoy the life you've got because you're not cut out for this.
… I can't help but wonder what the “future” is for the folks who just punch the clock for a paycheck and spend the rest of their lives in search of distraction.

My regular readers are no doubt tired of my habit of rolling through chapter headings to give a sense of the book, but this is one of those books where it is a useful approach. I'm going to highlight and paraphrase to an extent here, however: “Passion is Everything” … “Build Your Personal Brand” … “Create Great Content” … “Choose Your Platform” … “Create Community” … “Make The World Listen” … “Start Monetizing” … “Legacy Is Greater Than Currency” (oddly, this list is pretty much every other chapter). The main message here is to identify your passion, play to your strengths (he talks about the difference between text, audio, and video), and staying true to your vision.

Again, if you have an interest in Social Media, and "Web 3.0", you really need to pick up a copy of Crush It ... it has to be "essential reading" for the evolution of the new economy. Needless to say, you should be able to find copies of this anywhere, I got mine through Amazon who had it at about 1/3rd off of cover (and, interestingly, the used guys don't have copies for much less than that). Highly recommended!


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