08 July 2010

I too like wine, but I wouldn't consider it my brand

Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk admits about a third of the way through CRUSH IT! that he doesn't consider himself a good writer -- fair enough, if he didn't go on to admit that he dictated this entire book to a better writer to fluff it up a bit. This isn't dishonesty, it's saving labor... yet CRUSH IT still sounds like a long and shouty lecture, so maybe not money well spent.

Vaynerchuk's secret to business success lies in the development of one's "personal brand," a self-statement that will allow you to decide what to go into business for and that will become your calling card for investors and customers. For Vaynerchuk, that driving passion was for wine -- convenient, since his parents managed a wine store as he was growing up, leading him naturally to move into selling wine online and then starting a video podcast about wine that also seems to contain a lot of comments about the New York Jets.

This concept of "personal branding" is everywhere now, bordered by precepts like "never comment online without using your full name" (...oops) and making your blog earn you money and so on. That it has been adopted by a fair number of assholes doesn't mean it's an unsound business strategy, and yet... Well, I would happily monetize the concept of not being an asshole, but that is a crowded space. Vaynerchuk admits that not every personal brand is scalable to the point where you can live off it, but is wisely silent on what to do if you discover this to be true about your brand. (Cut your hair and get a job, I guess.) Or what if you are interested in a lot of things that don't coalesce into a mission statement? What if young Gary's parents had owned a beer warehouse instead of a wine store?

I fear I'm coming out more negative about this book than I really feel in my heart. The chapters on using social media to drive business were not new to me, and a little lacking in useful example, but they're a decent introduction. Still, at 131 pages this is basically a puffed-up magazine article.

Photo: oc.metblogs.com

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