I first encountered Gary Vaynerchuk at FOWA Miami a couple of years ago. I’d never heard of him nor his video blog but the Carsonified guys were (and remain) big fans of his so I was interested to see his talk. As it turned out I only lasted a few minutes as his OTT personality and presenting style put me off (it was the end of a long day and i was jet lagged in my defence). Over the next few days though people were raving about his talk and when the video of the session was released I gave it another go. Now his style is no less in your face via video but at least you can turn the volume down and watch in stages ;0) He certainly had an interesting take on things like building reputation online and was clearly passionate about what he did (and I liked the idea that he was trying to take some of the snobbery and stuffiness out of the wine trade as well) but had a perspective on the world that was never going to mesh with mine (though I can see why he appeals to the kind of guys who love the idea of the start-up lifestyle.)
I pre-ordered his book on a bit of a whim after a tweet from Ryan Carson and it arrived this week. Its a slim volume – more of a pamphlet than a book (but I like this in a lot of ways, similar to Tribes by Seth Godin it means that it isn’t full of filler) and it covers his rise to geek royalty quickly and with a bit of humor before getting into the meat of the book which is about taking something you love and committing to it fully and using the powers of the social web to “Crush It” and make your fortune.
At times it reads a bit like something from a dodgy self help book or one of those ‘Make a Million Bucks’ seminars often ridiculed in movies and for the most part it isn’t really my scene. I don’t see my network online as something to be used to my own advantage and I’m pretty sure if anything I’d damage my reputation more than anything if I tried that. I’m also not interested in working every hour god sends in the pursuit of untold wealth. I admire those that are willing to do that but I’m not one of them.
That said the idea that you should only do a job you love resonates with me these days and I also like how he still put family ahead of everything in his priorities.
The fact that for much of the book he avoids talking about specific technologies is smart as well as we all know how quickly things can seem out of date and there is no doubting that he practices what he preaches. He peppers the book with his own email address offering further explanation of concepts mentioned in the book. If people take him up on that and he really does answer them then he deserves all the success in the world as that is a brave thing to do.
I hope he does one day get to buy the Jets – the idea of him being the owner of a big team is amusing. Maybe we can convert him to real football – I think he could do wonders over here as clubs are just starting to understand the web.
Anyway if nothing else the book did inspire me to get back to thinking about what really interests me and whether I could, if need be, make a living out of that. I’m lucky to be back at JISC at the moment and I really enjoy my work but there is no guarantee beyond a year contract and the public sector/academia might not be such a welcoming place by then. I’ve been thinking for a while about a few things a) working on becoming a better writer – maybe taking a journalism or PR course and b) focusing my blogging in a new direction with a little more discipline about the topic.
So today I started work on Pulp to Pixels a blog about the software, hardware and occasionally content involved in digital comics. I’ve used Tumblr which I am a fan of but to be honest on this occasion I have used it because it was recommended in the book. I am also going to start tweeting more about digital comics focused topics (in amongst the usual drinking and footy tweets) so we’ll see how this goes!