Main Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too

Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too

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Four-time New York Times bestselling author Gary Vaynerchuk offers new lessons and inspiration drawn from the experiences of dozens of influencers and entrepreneurs who rejected the predictable corporate path in favor of pursuing their dreams by building thriving businesses and extraordinary personal brands.

In his 2009 international bestseller Crush It, Gary insisted that a vibrant personal brand was crucial to entrepreneurial success, In Crushing It!, Gary explains why that’s even more true today, offering his unique perspective on what has changed and what principles remain timeless. He also shares stories from other entrepreneurs who have grown wealthier—and not just financially—than they ever imagined possible by following Crush It principles. The secret to their success (and Gary’s) has everything to do with their understanding of the social media platforms, and their willingness to do whatever it took to make these tools work to their utmost potential. That’s what Crushing It! teaches readers to do.

In this lively, practical, and inspiring book, Gary dissects every current major social media platform so that anyone, from a plumber to a professional ice skater, will know exactly how to amplify his or her personal brand on each. He offers both theoretical and tactical advice on how to become the biggest thing on old standbys like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat; podcast platforms like Spotify, Soundcloud, iHeartRadio, and iTunes; and other emerging platforms such as For those with more experience, Crushing It! illuminates some little-known nuances and provides innovative tips and clever tweaks proven to enhance more common tried-and-true strategies.

Crushing It! is a state-of-the-art guide to building your own path to professional and financial success, but it’s not about getting rich. It’s a blueprint to living life on your own terms.
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            * See? When I tell you that it’s not worth sacrificing long-term success for short-term economic gain, I speak from experience.
               When I finally got around to building up my YouTube presence around 2015, I had only about forty thousand subscribers. Imagine
               how many millions more people I could have reached during all that time if I hadn’t had my head turned by Viddler’s lucrative



            * Many sports internships are going to require that applicants be enrolled in a degree program or be a recent graduate of one,
               so in this case, make your tuition worthwhile and do your best.





            	 Title Page



            	Author Note


            	I: Get Pumped
                  	1: The Path Is All Yours

                  	2: What (Still) Matters

                  	3: The Eighth Essential—Content

                  	4: What’s Stopping You?

                  	5: The Only Thing You Need to Give Yourself to Crush It



            	II: Create Your Pillar
                  	6: First, Do This

                  	7: Get Discovered


                  	9: Snapchat

                  	10: Twitter

                  	11: YouTube

                  	12: Facebook

                  	13: Instagram

                  	14: Podcasts

                  	15: Voice-First






            	About the Author

            	Also by Gary Vaynerchuk


            	About the Publisher



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            About the Publisher


         HarperCollins Publishers Australia Pty. Ltd.

         Level 13, 201 Elizabeth Street

         Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia




         HarperCollins Canada

         2 Bloor Street East - 20th Floor

         Toronto, ON M4W 1A8, Canada


         New Zealand

         HarperCollins Publishers New Zealand

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         Rosedale 0632

         Auckland, New Zealand


         United Kingdom

         HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

         1 London Bridge Street

         London SE1 9GF, UK


         United States

         HarperCollins Publishers Inc.

         195 Broadway

         New York, NY 10007




         Podcasts are a godsend for two reasons.

            	Most people aren’t comfortable on camera. They think they look stupid. They worry about their hair, their glasses, or their
               makeup. They fuss over the lighting. None of it matters, but it’s enough to distract them from concentrating on providing
               the best experience they can for their viewers. Podcasts are far less intimidating.

            	Podcasts sell time, which is why everyone, including people who rock on camera, should try to create one. In this hyperspeed
               world, multitasking is everything, and it’s a lot easier to listen to a podcast while you check your e-mails and pay your bills than to watch a video. In addition, as of 2014, the 139 million total commuters in the United States spent 29.6 billion hours traveling to and
               from their workplaces.1 A lot of that commute time is spent in cars where drivers can’t watch videos (for now). They can, however, easily listen
               to podcasts. In the information age, podcasts allow us to efficiently and effectively maximize our knowledge.


         I’ve had a podcast since October 2014, right around the time that the podcast Serial, produced by NPR’s This American Life, became a sensation and thrust podcasting into the mainstream. But the truth is, I wasn’t following my own advice. At the
            time, I felt stretched too thin to produce yet another piece of original native content for a platform (yes, even I reach
            my limits sometimes), so all I did was put up the audio track from the AskGaryVee show. It didn’t do badly—I was always in
            the Top 25 podcasts in the business category—but I knew with more attention it could do better. In December 2016, I finally
            figured out how to rebrand it as The GaryVee Audio Experience, which was liberating. Instead of exclusively posting AskGaryVee
            content, now I could post a rant I’d recorded into my phone while boarding a plane, a clip from one of my keynotes, or an
            excerpt that didn’t make it into the DailyVee. Inserting variety and creativity helped the podcast’s popularity surge. Today my podcast sits comfortably and consistently
            in the list of the Top 150 podcasts on Apple’s Charts. Some of those who listen are brand-new to my content, and others already
            follow me on other channels. Either way, it gives me one more way to share my content, build my influence, and help people
            get started building the life they want.

            Podcasts 101

            Whether you’re uploading onto Spotify, Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, Stitcher, or any other podcast distribution platform, there
               will be very little you can do to differentiate one from another. You can run ads on Spotify and SoundCloud, but they’re still
               extremely expensive. Other than that, as of this writing, there are really no original, creative ways to build a personal
               brand within the podcast platforms other than by producing the best content you can. You’ll have to promote your show through
               your other social-media channels and encourage symbiotic relationships with others who have bigger platforms than you.

            The good news, however, is that iTunes will open podcasting analytics, so podcasters will be able to see exactly where people
               pause, skip, or sign off within their content. This will be invaluable in helping you learn faster how you can better tailor
               your content to serve your audience what it wants.

            Imagine This

            Let’s say you’re a seventy-five-year-old woman named Blanche. Your best friend is Judy. You’ve been inseparable since you
               were young girls growing up on the same block, and you’ve never lived more than a few miles apart. The two of you have raised
               a combined total of six children, been married three times, buried one husband, taken twelve joint vacations, adopted eleven
               pets, and over the past ten years, the only time you’ve missed your monthly standing date for a movie and lunch at Ruby Tuesday
               was that time when Judy was hospitalized with gallstones.

            One night, in line to buy candy before seeing Wonder Woman at the movie theater, Judy says she thought Kathleen Turner’s best performance might have been when she did the speaking
               voice of Jessica Rabbit. Here we go again. One of the reasons you like going to the movies with Judy is that you two rarely
               agree on the merits of a film, and it makes for great debate over burgers and fries afterward. But this time she’s taken you
               by surprise. You raise your eyebrows so high they climb right over your hairline. Better than Turner’s role in Romancing the Stone? Better than Prizzi’s Honor? Better than Peggy Sue Got Married? Judy holds firm. As you bicker, you can hear people chuckling behind you. Someone says, “They’re the new Siskel and Ebert.”

            That gives you an idea. After the movie, you and Judy head over to your favorite quiet corner at the local RT, but before
               the two of you exchange your thoughts about Wonder Woman, you pull out your iPhone and hit the voice memo button. You record your conversation. You go home, and the next day you
               call your nephew, who has a podcast about muscle cars, and ask him how to upload your “tape” onto the Internet. He gently
               informs you that you’re going to need to upload the MP3 file onto a podcasting platform, and that if you can wait until the
               weekend he’d be happy to show you a few simple steps and teach you to use the basic equipment you’ll need to get set up. If
               you can’t wait, he says, you can find all the information you need on the Internet. “Just Google how to upload a podcast and
               distribute it.” You decide to wait, but in the meantime, you call Judy and tell her that you want to go to the movies again
               next week.

            Thus begins the Blanche and Judy Show, a movie review podcast in which two elderly ladies share their thoughts on movies past
               and present. Your personalities, deep friendship, and chemistry make it a riot for listeners, but you also make it uniquely
               2018 by recording your conversations in the theater before the movie starts, on such topics as your strong conviction that
               Raisinettes are a disgrace to the grape and Judy’s memories about the ushers that used to escort ladies to their seats. You
               also interview four people as they walk out of the film to get their take.

            In three short years, yours is one of the Top 150 podcasts on Apple. The podcast is your pillar, but you use it to create
               microcontent, too. Judy’s sense of humor is often good for a quote, so you create memes and post them on Facebook and Instagram.
               You engage with people on Twitter and raise awareness of the podcast there. The two of you are interviewed by Entertainment Weekly and Variety. In time, it gets harder for you to get out of the house every week—your back often aches, and you’re most comfortable in
               your La-Z-Boy—but it doesn’t matter anymore because the studios are sending you and Judy their movies to preview. Thanks to
               the branding opportunities that have come your way, all of your living expenses are more than easily covered, and you are
               thrilled to know that you will be able to pass much more of the savings you and your husband accrued over a lifetime to your

                  How I’m Crushing It

                  John Lee Dumas, Entrepreneurs on Fire

                     IG: @johnleedumas


                  “I was dying a slow death in the cubicle.”

                  Sound familiar?

                  If you’re still young or in school, is it something you are trying like hell to avoid?

                  “I had this whole world of creativity inside of me, but I wasn’t able to use any of it. I felt like I was almost choking on
                     my own creativity because I had to be in a suit and tie and very formal. Everything was black and white, and I needed some
                     color in my life.”

                  Until he turned thirty-two, John Lee Dumas’s life had been as traditional as apple pie. The grandson of two military veterans
                     and the son of a JAG officer, service to his country was in his blood. He left his small town in Maine in 1998 on an Army
                     ROTC scholarship to major in American Studies at Providence College in Rhode Island. A member of the first round of officers
                     commissioned after 9/11, a year to the day after graduating college, he started a thirteen-month tour of duty in Iraq. He
                     spent four years on active duty before returning to the civilian world. He was at the start of a four-year stint as a captain
                     in the reserves, but otherwise he had no idea what to do with himself.

                  He tried law school but dropped out six months later. He then worked in corporate finance for a few years, but when he’d look
                     at the people working in the positions above him, he knew he didn’t want their jobs. He had a feeling that he was destined
                     for entrepreneurship, but he didn’t know what it really entailed or how to even begin. So he started reading self-help and
                     business books. In 2009, one month after its publication, he read Crush It! That was the book that inspired him to quit the finance job, move to San Diego (where he’d never been), and become a real
                     estate agent.

                  He kept at it for three years, but the job still didn’t feel like a perfect fit. He kept rereading Crush It! every year, though, and in 2012, something new struck him. I emphasized that, no matter what industry you worked in, you
                     had to build a personal brand. He realized that he wasn’t doing that at all. He had a personal Facebook page, but he wasn’t
                     even on LinkedIn or Twitter in any professional capacity. So he knew that needed to change right away.

                  The other thing that caught his attention was the idea of podcasting. He wasn’t really sure what a podcast was, so he decided
                     to research it. He discovered that they were free and offered focused, targeted content. All those self-help books and audiobooks
                     were getting expensive, and now he had to listen to even more if he was going to build a personal brand. Podcasts sounded
                     like they were right up his alley.

                  “And that’s when I fell in love with the medium. I became a super-consumer. For eight months, I listened to as many podcasts
                     as I could. And it struck me that, jeez, I’m driving to work every single day, I’m hitting the gym multiple times per week—I
                     need to find that seven-day-a-week show that interviews an entrepreneur and talks about their failures, lessons learned, aha
                     moments. So I went to iTunes to find that show. It didn’t exist! And I thought, I can’t believe this. Why not be the person to create that show?”

                  So what if he had no experience in production or interviewing people? “I thought, Well, if I do a daily show, I’ll get better quicker. Because all these people, they’re doing four episodes a month with their weekly shows. I’m going to be doing thirty episodes
                     a month. I just need to step into this void and do it, and I’m going to be bad. I’m going to do a hack job for a decent amount
                     of time. And you can listen to today’s podcast and go back to episode 15, and you can see, this guy isn’t the same person.
                     I was so bad. I was nervous, I was naïve. I was just hacking my way through it. But I kept doing it every single day.”

                  He didn’t just turn on a mic and start talking. Instead, he researched, diving into YouTube, absorbing all the free content
                     and advice made available by other podcasters, and he found two mentors. Unnervingly, both strongly advised against doing
                     a daily show, explaining that they made all their money doing other things beside podcasting. A daily show would preclude
                     all those other activities. It was the only piece of advice Dumas rejected.

                  “I was like, ‘You don’t understand. I’m so bad that if I did do what everybody else is doing, nobody’s going to listen. It’s
                     just not going to be good. So I have to do something different. I have to be unique. I have to do something that’s going to
                     raise people’s eyebrows.’”

                  Those two mentors, with their large virtual Rolodexes, were invaluable to helping Dumas land his first interviews. They weren’t
                     going to introduce him to A players, but they were willing to introduce him to the B, C, and D players who were still building
                     an audience, publishing books, and eager to share their stories with a neophyte in exchange for additional exposure.

                  It might sound as though Dumas has more confidence than the average human. Yet despite his conviction that podcasting every
                     day—learning by doing—would be the best way to create a quality product, and despite many of his early guests’ relatively
                     low profiles and the public’s almost immediate positive response, Dumas found himself almost paralyzed by imposter syndrome.
                     Who was he to reach out to anyone for a one-on-one conversation? But he soldiered on and worked through his doubts and fears.

                     I started my entrepreneurial journey with one strength, and that was discipline, and I can tie that directly back to the army.
                        But discipline alone is not going to get you anywhere. The two biggest areas I had to develop to go along with discipline
                        were productivity and focus. People who are “just disciplined” can do something all day long, but what if they’re producing
                        the wrong content? That’s where productivity has to come in. And you’re not going to be able to consistently produce the right
                        content unless you’re able to block out what I call the weapons of mass distraction.


                  He launched his podcast, Entrepreneurs on Fire, in September 2012. As his guests shared their interviews with their sizable
                     audiences, the podcast started ranking on the iTunes New and Noteworthy list. The dual effect meant that within two-and-a-half
                     months the podcast drew over a hundred thousand unique downloads. He started receiving invitations to conferences, which gave
                     him greater credibility and, along with his rapidly growing numbers, the opening to approach bigger names, such as Seth Godin
                     and Tim Ferriss, who had both just released new books, Barbara Corcoran, and yes, Gary Vaynerchuk.

                  Now he was ready to explore ways to monetize. He turned to his audience and asked them what they wanted, and he listened.

                     What I found very clearly was, if you are willing to commit to delivering free, valuable, and consistent content, you are
                        going to build an audience from that. Then, if you are willing to engage that audience one-on-one and ask them, “What are
                        you struggling with?” and then just listen, they will tell you what their pain points are, their obstacles, their challenges,
                        their struggles. And then you, the person that they know, like, and trust, who’s been delivering that free, valuable, and
                        consistent content for a significant amount of time, can provide the solution in the form of a product, or a service, or a


                  And he did. Like Pat Flynn, each month he publishes a breakdown of what the business earns from his various revenue streams,
                     which all add up to anywhere from around $200K to $300K per month. He also analyzes the company’s successes, so other people
                     can emulate them, and all the mistakes they’ve made, including money lost, so people can avoid making them.

                  Despite being a millionaire several times over, Dumas still reads Crush It! every year.

                     The thing that keeps coming back to me is the landgrab. That’s what I think so many people miss. All the time, people say,
                        “John, you’re so lucky that you started podcasting when it was nothing and now it’s the golden age of podcasting. You had
                        the landgrab.” And they’re completely right. My timing was perfect. It was super amounts of luck and great timing, but what
                        they miss is that there’s always that next thing. They’re not focusing on the next thing; they’re looking at the past and
                        there’s the next Snapchat, then there’s Instagram Stories, now there’s Facebook Live. There’s always that next opportunity
                        to landgrab and to become that person. Yes, I’m considered the “king of podcasting” in a lot of niches because I’ve been able
                        to build a seven-figure business around just podcasting. But since I’ve launched my podcast, there have been people that have
                        become the king of Periscope, and then the king of Snapchat, and the king of Instagram. Things that didn’t even exist when
                        I launched my podcast. And while people were saying, “John, I just missed the boat with podcasting,” I’m like, “Yeah, but
                        you’ve also missed the boat with all these other things.” So what I learned from Crush It! and continues to be relevant to me is, always keep your eyes on that horizon.




            Also by Gary Vaynerchuk

            	#AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness

            	Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World

            	The Thank You Economy

            	Crush It! Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion



What (Still) Matters

         Before we explore which platform you should select to support your pillar of content, I want to remind you that even a well-designed
            pillar will fall if it isn’t set in a solid base. What usually hamstrings entrepreneurs isn’t merely the mistakes they make
            when executing their vision, but the mistakes they make before they even get started. While it can be hard to pinpoint why
            some influencers build attractive, lucrative personal brands that succeed beyond their wildest expectations, it’s not hard
            to figure out why so many who attempt to do it fail. In general, it’s because they’re putting their energies into the wrong
            things. They care, but not enough about what really matters. And what really matters is a pretty short list: intent, authenticity,
            passion, patience, speed, work, and attention.


            In business, the how matters, of course, but the why matters just as much. Maybe more. Why do you want to be an entrepreneur?

               	To share your knowledge?

               	To help people?

               	To build something that leaves a legacy?

               	To make a good income to give yourself and your family financial security and breathing room?

               	To have fun with a creative outlet?

               	To create community?


            All of these are great reasons for building a business and becoming an influencer.

            Notice what isn’t on the list?

            With entrepreneurship becoming so trendy, a lot of people are calling themselves entrepreneurs who really aren’t. They should
               call themselves wantrepreneurs instead, and I wish they’d do this before they ruin the reputation of real entrepreneurs the same way unscrupulous brokers
               ruined how some feel about real estate agents or the way ambulance chasers and media hounds tarnished our opinion of lawyers.
               (And I wish they’d rename themselves before they waste a lot of time and potentially money). I promise you that getting into
               this game for the gold is the quickest path to long-term failure. When your intent is coming from the wrong place, customers
               may still do business with you if they have no other option (an increasingly rare situation), but they won’t tell others to.
               By definition, an influencer engenders positive word of mouth. If you don’t care enough to induce others to rave about you,
               all you’re doing is holding a spot for someone who really does care, the one who will waltz in and displace you.

            This book features entrepreneurs at all levels of financial success and all stages of influence, but those currently at the
               pinnacle of both share three characteristics:

               	A commitment to service

               	A desire to provide value

               	A love of teaching


            A number were inspired to create their products after unsuccessfully searching for those products themselves, sure that if
               they needed them, others did, too. They started teaching when all they found when looking for mentorship or inspiration were
               overpriced online courses that took up their time but didn’t offer anything truly useful. When creating their content, they
               vowed to take the completely opposite approach by offering solid content and real value. By their own admission, most didn’t
               start out as the most knowledgeable in their fields, and they certainly weren’t the most polished. But what they lacked in
               experience they made up for in earnestness, honesty, and humor. Every day their podcasts, photos, videos, and blog posts improved,
               drawing their audiences back again and again. They gave, gave, gave, gave, and gave some more, often for free. And customers
               came back again and again. Was it because they liked getting stuff for free? Sure, everyone does. But if a product stinks,
               even free won’t make up for your customers’ disappointment. In addition, a stinky product blows any chance you might have
               had to earn your customers’ trust and loyalty. No one comes back for products or advice that doesn’t work.

            Now, I’m the least naïve person you’ve ever met. Some may hate me for saying this, but I don’t believe that most of these
               people give so much away because they’re so goddamn selfless. They’re human, which means that, like everyone else, they have
               their own selfish wants and needs. But I also believe they are humans who fall into the 51 percent. That is, if your nature
               is at least 51 percent altruistic and only 49 percent selfish, you have a real shot at breaking out, because the vast majority
               of people are 70 to 99 percent selfish. Could you use altruism as a tactic? Sure, but altruism is not the kind of thing you
               can fake for very long. All the people I’ve known who’ve tried have been able to grow only so big before they were financially
               and/or emotionally broke. I’ll bet some of the people mentioned in this book started out using altruism as a tactic, and they
               were good at it because it came naturally. Then they noticed that consumers react pretty strongly when they feel that you
               give a shit about them, which gave them the incentive to play up that side of themselves rather than fight it, which is what
               most of us rocked in the cradle of capitalism have always been taught to do. Breaking the money-first rule is also how I got
               to where I am. I have never cared about the money. I do, however, care deeply, obsessively, about my legacy. I want the world
               to mourn me when I die, not just for being a decent human being, but for building something tremendous and predicting where
               the future of business lay. And then I want to fucking own the afterlife. Being good and generous and giving a crap is the
               only thing that will get me either of those goals. Three out of ten people don’t like me the first time they catch me online
               or hear me talk because they think I’m full of shit, and that my habit of giving so much away for free, whether it’s time,
               advice, or mentorship, is just a gateway to making money. They don’t believe anyone really cares that much. I do, though,
               which is why the majority of my haters eventually change their minds if they give me a fair hearing.

            There are a scary number of people who say they’re starting their business because they want to make the world a better place
               yet reveal themselves as frauds and hypocrites in answering one or two direct questions about their model. There are also
               a scary number of people who are so cynical that they can’t believe anyone does anything without expecting something in return.
               I acknowledge the duality of human nature, including my own. I want to buy the New York Jets (let’s be honest; I’m addicted
               to the process of trying to buy the New York Jets), which means I do what I do so I can make a lot of money. At the same time,
               I love how it feels to make a positive impact on people’s lives, which means I do what I do so I can help other entrepreneurs
               succeed. Embracing these two truths and combining them in my daily actions is why I win. It’s also why I leave ungodly amounts
               of money on the table. For example, many influencers, including some you’ll meet here, sell online courses. Courses can provide
               a hefty revenue stream, and done right, they can be incredible resources. I choose not to because I’m concerned that, once
               I put a monetary value on what I know, I’ll feel obligated to reserve my best stuff for the people willing to pay. It would
               create a conflict of interest that would go against everything I want my brand to be about. I do publish books, but other
               than an occasional personal anecdote, there’s no information in them that I have not discussed in a public, free forum somewhere
               else. For anyone with the time and inclination to do the online digging, the information is there for the taking, albeit sometimes
               in a less expansive, less detailed format. These books exist to save people time and to provide a portable resource people
               can easily refer to.

            In every decision I make, I consider the balance I’m willing to strike between selfishness and selflessness, with my selfish
               side often getting short shrift in the short term. I’m fine with waiting a few more years than I might otherwise have to to
               buy the Jets if it means I get to live with a clear conscience and the knowledge that I haven’t sacrificed my legacy. You
               may make a different decision. The truth is, you don’t have to be as altruistic as I am to win big; in a world where the standard
               is pretty much nothing, you have to be just altruistic enough. But believe me, if your every interaction and transaction is
               predicated on what you think you’re going to get out of it, nothing in this book will work for you. Consider yourself warned.

            At the other end of the spectrum, it’s interesting how often the product actually seems beside the point to many of the successful
               entrepreneurs interviewed for this book. Their passion isn’t entirely tied up in the protein powder, the training technique,
               or the beauty products. For many of them, to borrow the words of graphic design and branding instructor Jenna Soard (IG: @youcanbrand),
               founder of You Can Brand, their “truest love is watching the ‘ahas’ go off in people’s minds.” It’s in seeing how their product
               or service makes others feel, in helping customers solve problems, achieve more, or feel better about themselves. In short,
               the source of their success lies in how much they


            Still the best marketing strategy ever.

                  How I’m Crushing It

                  Lewis Howes, School of Greatness

                     IG: @LewisHowes


                  Lewis Howes knows the sound of a broken dream. For him, it was the snap of his wrist as he slammed against a wall during his
                     second game as a professional arena football player. An All-American football player and decathlete, Lewis at first refused
                     to accept that the injury meant he’d never play professional sports again. For six months as he recuperated from extensive
                     surgery in a full-arm cast on his sister’s couch in Ohio, he held out hope that he’d recover enough to resume his athletic
                     career. But after another year of trying and failing to rebuild the strength he’d once had in his arm, he had to accept that
                     it was over. For a lot of people, it would have felt like the end. He’d already survived childhood sexual abuse and been bullied
                     in school, where he had struggled to keep up due to dyslexia. Sports had been his refuge and his salvation, and he’d dropped
                     out of college to try out for the NFL. Now, despite all his efforts, he was left with nothing—no degree, no skills, and no
                     money. And it was 2008, when even people with ample amounts of all three couldn’t find a job.

                  What Lewis did have, thanks to his athletic training, was a belief in himself. He started pondering the question, “What could
                     I create if I could create anything in the world?” He already knew what it felt like to get paid to do something he loved,
                     so there was no question of taking any old corporate job he could get. But he needed to do something, because after so many months of living on her couch rent free, his sister was getting impatient.

                  A mentor suggested he get on LinkedIn. Lewis realized that the platform gave him direct access to lots of successful people,
                     people who might be able to lead him to opportunities or at least explain to him how they had gotten to where they were.

                  “All I ever wanted to do was be around inspiring people that I could learn from.” He spent the next year, eight hours or so
                     a day, connecting with local business leaders, inviting them to lunch and conducting informational interviews to learn more
                     about how they’d achieved their success. Thinking he might be a natural fit for a job in the sports world, he’d at first reached
                     out to a number of sports executives. As one person connected him to another person, who then suggested he meet with another,
                     his circle grew wider. As he learned more about LinkedIn’s possibilities, he optimized his profile, which then led to bigger
                     and bigger influencers agreeing to meet with him. By the end of 2009, he had thirty-five thousand connections.

                  At the time, Tweetups—in-person gatherings of Twitter users around a common cause—were a popular networking venue.

                  “I went to a couple and I thought, Hmmm, I’m building this following on LinkedIn. Why don’t I do a LinkedIn meetup?” So he did one in St. Louis, where he had once gone to private boarding school. Three hundred fifty people attended, and
                     thanks to selling a few sponsorship tables, he earned about a thousand dollars.

                  “So I was like, Hmmm, why don’t I see if I can do another event and charge five dollars at the door?” He did, and he made money off the entry fee as well as the sponsorships.

                  “And then I was like, Hmmm, I’m building a relationship with these venues. What if I asked for a 10 percent commission on the food and bar sales
                        from these networking events?” They said yes.

                  In short order, Lewis was bringing in a couple thousand dollars a month, enough to finally get off his sister’s couch and
                     move into his own apartment, the cheapest one he could find, a little one-bedroom for $495 per month in Columbus, Ohio.

                  People were astounded. How was he pulling this off? He didn’t have a real job, he didn’t have a college degree, and yet he
                     was bringing big influencers together all over the country and being asked to speak at conferences. All through LinkedIn.
                     They started asking if he could show them how to use the platform for their businesses, too. And Lewis thought, Hmmm.

                  Lewis started teaching other entrepreneurs and businesspeople how to optimize their profile and reach out to potential clients,
                     investors, or whomever they needed.

                  “I think because I came with energy and passion, I attracted opportunities. I attracted people to come to these events. I
                     became passionate about teaching, because no one else was talking about LinkedIn the way I was. I made it fun when LinkedIn
                     is very boring for a lot of people.”

                  Not long afterward, he found out that an entrepreneur named Gary Vaynerchuk would be having a signing for his new book, Crush It!, in St. Louis. Lewis reached out and offered to help promote the event on LinkedIn.* Given that he was helping promote the book, it made sense to read it. It was a long time ago, and he remembers very few of
                     the details today, except for one chapter: Care.

                     I never felt like I was smart. I never felt like I had the intelligence, or the skills, or the experience, or the credentials.
                        I didn’t have any of that. So when I read that word, I thought, Yes! I needed to continue to deepen my level of care! When I would meet with these influencers, I would never ask for advice.
                        I would just say, “I’m so curious to hear your story about how you became successful.” And at the end of that I would say,
                        “What’s the biggest challenge you have in your business, or your career, or your life right now?” and listen. And they would
                        tell me everything they needed. I said, “You need a sales guy? I’ve got three of the top ones right here. You need a programmer?
                        I’ve got this person. You need a designer? I met one last week. He was great.” I just became this connector to all the most
                        successful people. I never asked for a job. I never asked for business. That one-word chapter confirmed that when we show
                        up and we add value and we care, then we can learn how to make money around it later. But show up with value first. That is
                        how I built the last decade of my life.


                  Lewis was already teaching himself to be entrepreneurial and making a little money, but now, inspired, he really put on the
                     gas. Crush It! said you had to be niche, so he decided he wasn’t going to be “the social-media guy” like everyone else in 2008–2009; he was
                     going to be the LinkedIn guy. Crush It! said work fifteen-to-sixteen-hour days, so that’s what he did. “I was working my ass off.” He built up his expertise until
                     every social-media conference was booking him as the LinkedIn speaker. He also got creative.

                     I started approaching venues, which were mostly restaurants and bars, and built a relationship with either the manager or
                        the owner. I’d try thinking about how I could make my event valuable for them. How could I care for their biggest need, their
                        biggest challenges? So I started asking, “What is the night you make the least amount of money?” And they would answer “Tuesday
                        night” or “Wednesday night” or whatever it was, and I’d say, “OK. I’m going to bring you five hundred people on that night,
                        because I want to make every night a profitable night for you, not just the weekends. And I’m going to bring new business
                        leaders, a new audience of quality people to your business.”


                  Lewis did, and what was once these venues’ worst night became their biggest night. From then on, they were willing to let
                     Lewis host events any time he asked. He did, but he also started taking bigger risks.

                  “I just started to go for it and ask for what I wanted, even if I thought it wasn’t going to work. I started asking for 20
                     percent commission off food and bar, as opposed to 10 percent. I charged twenty dollars at the door instead of five. And I
                     started charging more for sponsorships.”

                  Because Lewis was bringing so much value to the venues, the sponsors, and the event attendees, all were more than happy to
                     pay a higher price for Lewis’s services. In one year, he hosted twenty events around the country.

                  He branched out into other service products, and in two years, the company was bringing in over $2.5 million in sales. But
                     despite the success, after a few years, Lewis was ready to do something new. “I became less passionate. There’s only so much
                     I can talk about how to add the right photograph and optimize your LinkedIn profile.” He sold his business and got started
                     on his next project, School of Greatness, a podcast that shares inspiring stories, messages, and practical advice from some
                     of the biggest athletes, celebrities, and business minds in the world.

                  Since its inception in 2013, School of Greatness has been downloaded tens of millions of times and makes a regular appearance
                     in the iTunes podcast Top 50. In 2015, Lewis published his New York Times best seller, The School of Greatness. He continues to coach, attend speaking events, and contribute articles to major media outlets. And while Lewis still loves
                     and uses LinkedIn, he has also focused his efforts on other platforms that drive the most traffic, downloads, and sales and
                     help him continue to build his audience. At this point, the only thing holding him back is that he’s just one man, so he has
                     hired a stellar team to help him run all aspects of the business, from podcast editing to Facebook ads to customer support.

                  “I feel like the luckiest guy in the world. I had to learn the skills I needed and become competent enough to match my confidence,
                     but the thing that surprises me the most is learning that it’s not about how much you know; it’s about how much you care.
                     We can create anything we want to if we have the passion, the energy, the hustle, and commitment to our vision. If I had been
                     a jerk all along the way and I didn’t care about people, there’s no chance I would have been able to do this. If you show
                     up with that energy and intensity every single day, good things are going to happen.



            Your intent will be reflected in your authenticity. You will be a thousand times more successful if you wake up eager to share
               and create something because you believe the world will enjoy it rather than because you have calculated that this is what
               you need to do to become an Instagram celebrity. Authenticity is a welcome relief to consumers who live in a society where
               they constantly feel that they’re being taken advantage of or hearing only parts of the whole story. Don’t try to fake it.
               Eventually you’ll be shown for who you are. Instead, figure out how to use the modern platforms—Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube,
               and all the others we’ll cover in this book—to give away that good stuff you’ve got, whether it’s your incredible fashion
               sense, your hilarious brand of comedy, your innovative team-building strategies, or your stunning flower-arrangement ideas.
               Figure out the best platforms to showcase your true self, your craft, your joy, and your love for what you do. The more authentic
               you are, the more people will be willing to forgive your inevitable mistakes and stumbles.

            I mentioned above that a good chunk of my audience is converts, people who thought I was just a blowhard until they realized
               that my message was consistent and that I kept being proven right. Even if people don’t like me, few ever doubt that I’m for
               real. There are three things working to my advantage in this regard: number one, I genuinely don’t give a shit what people
               think, which allows me complete freedom to do and say what I want; number two, I care immensely what everyone thinks and will
               spend an insane amount of time responding to skeptics who take the time to tweet or comment their criticism, to help them
               see where I’m coming from; and number three, which might be more important than numbers one or two, I always respect my audience.
               I believe in people’s intuition, and I believe that most are very good at sniffing out hypocrisy and opportunism. Exploiting
               your consumers because you think they’re dumb—for example, selling them an expensive online course that’s mostly fluff and
               nonsense—is, well, dumb. You may count on people’s ignorance to make a lot of money in the short term, but you will be in
               a mess of manure the minute your customers find out you’re taking advantage of them. That goes for corporations as well as
               personal brands. All it takes is a single viral video of a customer getting forcibly dragged off a plane to expose a company’s
               crooked policies. When you disrespect your customer, you’re one social-media post away from having your whole business tumble
               down around you. I have no interest in taking that kind of risk, and neither should you.

                  How I’m Crushing It

                  Lauryn Evarts, The Skinny Confidential

                     IG: @theskinnyconfidential


                  Lauryn is the willowy, sassy bombshell behind and in front of the lifestyle site The Skinny Confidential. When asked to describe
                     her passion, she says it’s about building community and bringing women together. But she also chafes a bit at the question.

                     I can’t stand when people are like passion, passion, passion. It’s so much more than passion. Execute. I see a lot of people
                        in my generation talking about ideas and saying what they’re going to do. I hate talking about what I’m going to do. I don’t
                        think I talked about The Skinny Confidential once for the whole year I was building it until it was here. Because I like to


                  That’s probably why her father, also an entrepreneur, thought to give her a copy of Crush It! for Christmas the year it came out. At the time, Lauryn was still a TV broadcasting and theater major at San Diego State.
                     She was bartending, teaching Pure Barre and Pilates, attending class, and getting bored out of her mind. A creative, independent
                     spirit, she felt that college was a waste of time, yet with no alternative in mind, she felt she had no choice but to do what
                     was expected and get a degree. Along the way, however, she had noticed something that piqued her interest. With Crush It! fresh in her head, an idea started to form.

                     There were not a lot of platforms online that were inspiring women to be unapologetically themselves. There are a lot of men
                        like Gary and Tony Robbins and Tim Ferriss, all these strong amazing men, and I didn’t see a woman in that space. I wanted
                        to create one. And it wouldn’t just be about me, me, me and the outfit I was wearing, but a place where I could bring models
                        and moms and everyday women together to connect and share their secrets. I wanted to provide value, which is something I definitely
                        learned in Crush It!


                  Lauryn used her iPhone notes and a binder to collect a tremendous list of ideas for content. Then, although she was dead broke,
                     she hired a Web developer, paying him in ten fifty-dollar installments. For a year, she refined her craft and built her credibility,
                     continuing to teach and earning her license online as a fitness and nutrition specialist. “Another thing that Crush It! said that resonated for me was, ‘Always put your money back into your business.’ So, I was like, work, work, work for tips
                     and then put it back right into The Skinny Confidential. And then work, work, work for tips and then right back to The Skinny
                     Confidential. I had zero dollars in my bank account for the longest time.”

                  When she finally did launch, she kept her content narrowly tailored to health-related topics. “Find that niche that you’re
                     so good at and ride it, and ride it, and ride it until you can slowly expand out.” In retrospect, she might have been able
                     to start diversifying her brand within three months, but her brutal schedule would have made that difficult.

                     I would shoot all my photos from 2:00 to 3:30, bartend from 4:00 to 12:00, come home, write my blog post from 12:00 to 2:00,
                        wake up, teach Pure Barre, teach Pilates, go to school, rinse and repeat, five days a week. And then on the weekend, I would
                        do Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and the e-mails and all the other little stuff that comes with it.


                  Slowly, methodically, she started expanding the scope of her brand into other categories: wellness, beauty, home décor, and
                     clothes. But she didn’t make a penny for two-and-a-half years. “The biggest mistake I see influencers make is, they’ll work
                     with every brand on the planet. It’s all about how many brands can they work with, not about the audience, not about the readership.
                     I see no longevity there. I’m more focused on building my own brand than other people’s brands.”

                  She finally monetized after being approached by a brand that she wore all the time anyway, and today she earns “definitely
                     a very good amount,” which translates to enough to provide a comfortable life, as well as employ a graphic designer, an assistant,
                     a project manager, an editor, a photographer, and a back-end developer to help her with the day-to-day operations of the business.
                     But she continues to turn down brands every single day, even offers of $10,000 to $15,000 to collaborate for a single blog

                  Nothing was off-limits on The Skinny Confidential: “Storytelling is so underrated.” Lauryn wrote about essential oils and
                     diet tips, but also boob jobs and Botox. She began introducing new characters from her life, mining her relationships for
                     deeper content and fresh stories to share with her readers. Her beloved grandmother, known as The Nanz, became a fixture on
                     the site, giving Lauryn a way to offer an unexpected perspective on her chosen themes. She unveiled her boyfriend, Michael,
                     when they became engaged; the blog now has a whole Michael-dedicated space called Him, and the couple produces a podcast together.

                  Naturally, readers were privy to all the details of Lauryn’s engagement and wedding. But they’ve also been invited to share
                     the darker moments. Lauryn’s sad, tender ode to The Nanz following the matriarch’s unexpected death invited a flood of empathetic
                     replies. When jaw surgery left her face grossly swollen for two years, Lauryn, who admits that until then “I led with my looks,”
                     showed the pictures and talked about how the disfigurement affected her self-esteem. Readers raced to support her when she
                     shared the story of how she had listened, stunned and hurt, as two brand executives, unknowingly still connected to her by
                     conference line, sneered at and ridiculed her following what she thought had been a promising phone call. The moment also
                     gave her a chance to explore the hypocrisy of brands who claimed to empower and champion women, but only so long as those
                     women fit a certain mold.

                     I took all my hurt and I put it into this blog post. And I could not believe the response. Women from all over the world were
                        writing in with stories about how they had heard someone talking about them or been bullied or put themselves out there and
                        been bashed for it. It was really cool to be able to bring everyone together and lift each other up.

                     Everyone says put yourself out there, be your authentic self, but when your authentic self is not what they like, they talk
                        back. It was a very weird experience. But instead of silencing me, I’m just going to continue to put myself out there even
                        more. And I hope that I responded in a way that can make me a good role model if my readers, especially younger girls, ever
                        find themselves in a situation like that. If I can change someone’s mind about being catty . . . if I can use the platform
                        to call that out and say there’s nothing cool about being mean, whether it’s cyberbullying or bullying or talking shit about
                        someone, then that’s a good goal.


                  While it’s unfortunate that she didn’t document that first year when she was gathering her ideas and strategizing the trajectory
                     of her business, in her case the process does seem to have sharpened her ideas so that she wasted less time and was able to
                     act more purposefully once she did launch. She is an admirable model of speed and patience.

                     This is something that I’ve been working on for six years every single day, seven days a week. There’s been no day off. If
                        I’m on vacation, I’m working. And I still have so much work to do. I just did what Gary said in Crush It!, which is constantly hitting it day after day, never giving up, keeping my blinders on, focusing on my own shit, and really,
                        really doing me. Doing me to the best of my ability. Crush It!, and his other books too, allowed me to just be who I am and not be sorry about it.





            I know many people working in jobs that make them heaps of money who aren’t happy, but I don’t know anyone who works around
               their passion every day who isn’t loving life. As I said earlier, I could take some shortcuts to make more money and thus
               shorten the time it takes for me to meet my goal of buying the Jets—but I don’t, because those things wouldn’t make me happy.
               I’d rather wait and get there on my own terms. We’re on this earth for only a short time, and the bulk of our adult days are
               spent at work. It’s worth taking the steps necessary to make sure those hours are as rewarding, productive, and enjoyable
               as possible.

            Every one of the people interviewed for this book agreed that there’s no point in trying to be an entrepreneur without passion.
               Your business can’t be just a job; it has to be a calling. Andy Frisella, founder of nutrition and fitness brands Supplement
               Superstores and 1st Phorm, explained it best:

               You’re going to go through a time where you’re not going to make any money. It’s not going to be a week, it’s not going to
                  be a month, it’s not going to be one year. It’s going to be years. And during that time, if you don’t love what you do, it’s
                  going to be very hard to stick it out. That is something that people don’t understand when they hear, “Follow your passion.”
                  They hear rainbows, unicorns, bullshit. But the truth of it is that it’s important, because if you don’t enjoy what you’re
                  doing, you’re going to be that much more likely to quit when shit’s hard.


            When you’re passionate about what you’re offering the world, whether it’s a sales training method or vintage toys, the quality
               of both your product and your content will more likely be what it needs to be to get noticed, valued, and talked about. Interestingly,
               many of the people we interviewed pointed out that you don’t even have to be passionate about the product or service you’re
               offering. What’s imperative is that you are passionate about giving. That’s what Shaun “Shonduras” McBride discovered. Before
               developing his massively successful personal brand on Snapchat, he sold jewelry online. The guy was a skater and snowboarder;
               he had little interest in jewelry per se. But after reading Crush It! in college, he decided to sell jewelry to test the book’s principles and confirm what his instincts told him were true: that
               engaging with customers and involving them in the development of his brand would pay dividends no matter what he sold. As
               you’ll see later in this book, he was right.

            Finally, most entrepreneurs will tell you that passion is protective, buoying you when you threaten to become overwhelmed
               by the stress and frustration that is a natural by-product of entrepreneurialism. Passion is your backup generator when all your other energy sources start to sputter. And passion keeps you happy. When you love what you do, it makes every choice easier. When you decide to keep working the
               nine-to-five you hate because you need the health benefits until your business takes off, when you agree to work for less
               money than you want because the experience will pay off later, when you eat shit—passion makes it all go down easier.

                  How I’m Crushing It

                  Brian Wampler, Wampler Pedals

                     Twitter: @WamplerPedals


                  Brian Wampler’s parents, both commissioned sales reps, were more entrepreneurial than the average mom and dad, but they raised
                     Brian to follow the money and do the job that paid, “regardless of whether you are passionate about it or not.” So after Brian
                     graduated high school (by the skin of his teeth) he went to work in construction. A few years later, at the age of twenty-two,
                     he went out on his own as a remodeling subcontractor. It wasn’t his passion, but it was better than working for someone else,
                     better being a relative term—he hated what he was doing.

                  His real passion was guitar, in particular trying to make the guitar sound the way it did in popular songs. That sound is
                     created through guitar pedals, small electronic boxes guitarists manipulate to create various sound effects and tones. When
                     a friend introduced Brian to an online forum for people interested in customizing existing guitar pedals, Brian dove in.

                     For the next few years, I would work all day, getting home about five p.m., eat dinner and spend some time with the family,
                        then spend the rest of the evening learning all about electronics through reading and experimentation. I did this every night,
                        not stopping until three or four a.m. . . . sometimes staying up all night and then going into work and doing it all over

                     In many of these forums, many of the questions are asked by laypersons who have no experience in electronics. Most of the
                        people answering were either engineers or talked way over the head of the person asking the questions. When this person asked
                        for the answer to be simplified, they were scoffed at. . . . Basically, there were artist types of people asking a question
                        and heady engineering types refusing to dumb down the answer. I was once one of those “artist types” of people in the very
                        beginning. So, once I figured everything out on my own, I simply made sure to explain things in a very easy-to-understand-and-digest
                        manner so others could learn more easily.


                  (Which, incidentally, is exactly what I did for wine.)

                  He also started selling his own modified guitar pedals online. That led to questions from customers, which added to the number
                     of hours Brian spent replying to comments and answering e-mails and even phone calls. He finally published a series of e-books
                     to consolidate all the information he was disseminating. Then he started selling DIY kits with parts and instructions for
                     modifying particular pedals. When customers and retailers started asking him to build and sell them custom pedals, he created
                     his own line, which is how Wampler Pedals was born. He quit the construction industry and made his living selling all these
                     products. Demand kept rising.

                  Brian realized that he wasn’t going to be able to keep this pace up and invest the same amount of time in all of his products.
                     Something was going to have to take priority. It was while trying to decide which direction to pursue, in early 2010, that
                     he came across Crush It! The lessons he took away radically changed the way he ran his business and helped it grow.

                     	1. Embrace Your DNA: “I probably owe my marriage to this idea. Before reading the book, my wife and I were trying to do everything
                        at once—design new products, build them, market them, find new retailers domestically and internationally, keep up with customer
                        service, ship everything in a timely manner . . . manage employees, etc. This created a lot of friction because I really sucked
                        at everything except designing new products, creating content, and talking to new and potential customers. After reading the
                        book, she and I decided to outsource everything to outside contractors or hire people that brought in the qualities that I
                        did not have.”


                  His epiphany also helped him figure out which side of the business he should concentrate on.

                  “I realized that I wasn’t an engineer—the books I was writing were fairly complex electrical engineering ideas that I was
                     simplifying to bring them to an audience that wanted them, but my heart wasn’t in it as much as it was with creating something
                     new, something that inspires other artists to use it as a tool to make their art, and creating something with my name on it—something that my great-grandkids will be able to look back on one day and
                     say, ‘That was my great-grandpa.’ So, I stopped selling all of the DIY products and focused on just that.”

                     	2. Storytell: “At the time, many of the other companies were faceless. I simply started being myself in an authentic way and
                        became the first president of a musical instrument company who did his own product demos. This was very odd at the time to
                        many other companies. However, our customers loved it! They realized that I was an actual guitar player who happened to make
                        pedals, rather than an engineer who happened to dabble in a little bit of guitar. This difference, though it may seem minor,
                        was huge for us, and a key to our success.”

                     	3. Go Deep, Not Wide: “Analytics don’t tell the whole story. In a nutshell, I decided to stop chasing numbers and focus more
                        on creating content that brought more value to our customers. A thousand views and a hundred comments are much better than
                        ten thousand views and one comment.”

                     	4. Everyone Needs to Become a Brand: “I insisted that everyone who worked for me become a face of the company alongside me. They
                        had to understand that everything they posted online reflected the brand. Equally important to me, by understanding the fact
                        that everyone is basically a brand, they would have an advantage over others should they decide to pursue something else outside
                        of my company.”

                     	5. You Got to Be You: “I jumped in with both feet, convinced that, if I followed my passion with extreme vigor, something, somewhere
                        would happen. . . . I just had to be patient and work harder than anyone else in my niche.”




            It’s interesting that passion and patience go hand in hand. To live in line with your passion will probably require that you
               go slower than you might want to. It will definitely mean that you say no more than you say yes. Bide your time; you cheapen
               yourself when you make deals while holding your nose. Remember, you’re only crushing it if you’re living entirely on your
               own terms.

            It’s not impossible to make bank when you build a business with the sole goal of getting rich, but very often entrepreneurs
               who get rich quickly sacrifice their chances for wealth for the long term. When I was just starting to grow my family business,
               my friends who graduated college at the same time that I did also went to work. They started making money and spending it
               on trips to Vegas and hot girls and nice watches. Me? I was making money, too. In the first five or six years, I grew that
               business to $45 million, and not many years later, it was a $60 million wine empire. When a normal twenty-six-year-old dude
               builds a $60 million business, he leverages it for twenty-year-old dude things. Yet I lived in a one-bedroom apartment in
               Springfield, New Jersey. I drove a Jeep Grand Cherokee. I had no watches, no suits, and no flash. I could have paid myself
               hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, but the most I took was $60K. I kept my head down like an ox with a plow, putting
               almost every dime I earned back into the business and focusing all my energy on building a personal brand around unparalleled
               customer service, both in the store and online. When not talking to customers, I was the most boring human being on the planet.
               Today I not only have everything I ever wanted (except the Jets), like all the other entrepreneurs in this book, but also
               I’m having the time of my life. Some achieved success in a relatively short time; most worked their asses off for years before
               anyone knew who they were.

            You have no reason to start acting like something special until you actually have something special to show for it. Even then,
               don’t act special; the moment you do, you’ll start moving in the opposite direction. Take my advice: eat shit for as long
               as you have to. That means be a bigger man or woman than everyone around you. That means the customer is always right. That
               means you put your employees ahead of you. That means you don’t take many vacations, maybe for years, and your only time off
               is to mark important holidays and to be there for your family (or your friends who are like family). Be patient. Be methodical.
               Pay off your debts. Unless your brand is glamorous, live simply, and even then be practical and calculated. Put yourself last.
               Once you’ve reached your brand and business goals, then you can start living it up (without putting yourself into debt, because that’s insane).

                  How I’m Crushing It

                  Alex “Nemo” Hanse, Foolies Limited Clothing Company

                     IG: @Foolies


                  The day after Alex “Nemo” Hanse turned thirty, he was in New Orleans to try to meet a few women.

                  Not just any women. Specifically, some of the stars listed on his T-shirt, like Taraji P. Henson and Ava DuVernay, who were
                     in town to attend the Essence Festival, a four-day megacelebration of black culture in general and black women in particular.
                     It’s the T-shirt that put his clothing brand, Foolies Limited Clothing Company, on the map.

                  But what’s really interesting about his presence at the gathering is how he got there.

                  His fans and customers gave him birthday money to pay for it. They literally sent him the money to buy himself a plane ticket
                     so he could attend and connect with people who could help him grow his brand.

                  That’s some pretty spectacular customer love and loyalty. Alex must have been doing something right.

                  Alex has always had a strong entrepreneurial spirit. His mother died when he was in the fifth grade, and since he didn’t have
                     a father figure, he was taken in by a family friend (who had twelve kids of her own). He was grateful to have a roof, but
                     at school he got tired of getting picked on for his raggedy clothes and shoes, so he’d carry around a big duffel bag stuffed
                     with chips, candy bars, and Capri Suns that he could sell to earn a little money. He also worked after school at a car wash,
                     where he got paid under the table because he was underage. “I was just trying to survive.”

                  In 2005, when he was a student at the University of Florida, Alex was a rapper. “Dropping bars and spitting hot lines of fire . . .
                     at least, in my mind I was.” While Googling “How to create a brand for a rapper,” he found an article that said a rapper needed
                     to create an identity for his fans. So he and his “brother of another color,” Billy, a big supporter of his music, worked
                     to come up with some kind of catchphrase. “And we’re sitting around saying, ‘Man, this idea sounds so foolish. This is so
                     foolish of us.’ We kept repeating it and playing around, and we started saying, ‘Yeah, we’re Foolies.’ And it was like, ‘What’s
                     a Foolie?’ And I said, ‘I guess somebody who’s dumb enough to try something and figure it out in the end.’”

                  After graduating in 2009 with a degree in sports medicine, Alex couldn’t find a job, so he kept concentrating on his music
                     while working at an AT&T store. Then he and Billy decided that rappers needed a clothing line. They had no money, so they
                     ironed the word foolies on a dirty white T-shirt. They did what Alex calls the Daymond John effect: “Put it on one person, take a picture, you take
                     it off. Put it on another person, take a picture, take it off. Because you don’t have money so you can’t give shirts to everyone,
                     but if you can post pictures on Facebook and Twitter and make it seem like everyone has a shirt, maybe other people will want
                     it, too. And that’s what started happening for us, slowly.”

                  The shirts were created to bring attention to Alex’s music, but they soon became his main output. He came up with clever ways
                     to deliver an extra special experience to his customers. When he had a special sale, he’d send customers who bought a shirt
                     a custom link to a YouTube video of himself singing a song with their name in it, or some other personal message. He shipped
                     the shirts inside miniature paint cans, the idea being that when you opened the can you’d be releasing your dreams. And he’d
                     send a handwritten letter to every customer, along with a dream journal, “because that’s the biggest thing that people don’t
                     do: they don’t write their goals down, so they can never manifest and come to life.”

                  As soon as customers received their order, they’d post a picture to social media. Except, interestingly, sometimes they didn’t
                     post the shirt—they posted the letter, the can, or the dream journal. They’d thank Alex, saying it had been years since anyone
                     had written them a letter, and some attached the letters to their refrigerators or bathroom walls.

                  The company eked out an existence, barely, while Alex kept working a day job, tutored, mentored at Boys and Girls Clubs, and
                     couch-surfed. It was hard going, but he kept at it. Reading Crush It! in 2015 “was a confirmation that I wasn’t crazy. I’d go to pitch competitions and these fake investors would chew me out:
                     ‘How is that scalable? Why are you writing letters to every customer?’ I started reading the book and thought, Man, somebody finally gets me. It was like finding a long-lost friend or meeting your twin after being separated and you didn’t even know you had one.”

                  He realized his problem was that he wasn’t creating enough content. “I went all-out motivational, plastering Facebook with

                  In September 2015, he watched on television as Viola Davis won her first Emmy. That same night, Regina King won her first
                     Emmy, too. “I was bawling. My brand has never deliberately focused on black women, but they’ve always supported me. So I was
                     like, ‘Man, we need to make something motivational based off of this dopeness that these black girls are doing.’ That’s when
                     we listed all the phrases, like a regular graphic.”

                  The graphic was a list of ways in which people could emulate the black female powerhouses of our era: write like shonda. speak like viola. walk like kerry [washington]. be fierce like taraji. be strong like regina. lead like

                  “I posted the graphic right before work at about eight thirty in the morning, and around maybe ten fifteen, my phone started
                     buzzing. So I go to my Facebook page and I see forty-plus shares. I had gotten shares before, but this was a weird number,
                     and it kept increasing. What was going on?”

                  The reason Alex’s phone was buzzing incessantly was because best-selling author, speaker, and digital strategist Luvvie Ajayi,
                     aka Awesomely Luvvie, had posted the graphic to her page. She messaged him and told him he needed to put those names on a
                     shirt. “She didn’t even know I had a T-shirt company. She just thought I was a random guy, which is crazy how God works and
                     how everything just lines up.”

                  Then Ava DuVernay reposted the graphic on Twitter.

                  “It started freaking going everywhere.” Alex quickly added a few more names to the graphic—Lupita [nyong’o], Uzo [aduba], Angela [bassett], and Queen [latifah]—and turned it into a T-shirt with the Foolies logo on the back. 

                  That detail, the logo placement, is important to what happened next.

                  A few months later, on a Wednesday, Alex got an e-mail from Essence asking for shirts for a youth choir to use at an event called Black Women in Hollywood. They needed them by Sunday in time
                     to tape the show later in the week.

                  “It was a Hail Mary mission.” It usually took weeks to get T-shirts printed, and on top of that, he had just switched printing
                     companies because the previous one kept blowing him off. The new company managed to give him a quick turnaround time, and
                     he shipped the shirts in time for the event.

                  There was no footage when the event itself happened, but soon afterward he got an Instagram alert. It was a picture of the
                     girls wearing his T-shirt, and standing there with her arms around them was Oprah Winfrey.

                  He’d had no idea the event was sponsored by the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).

                  He and his COO, Kim, started plastering the shirt everywhere they could. When the show aired on OWN, at first there was no
                     sign of the choir. Alex was sure the segment had been cut. Then, right after a commercial break, there they were.

                  The T-shirts looked fantastic, but Alex realized that maybe putting the logo on the back instead of the front hadn’t been
                     such a good idea. “We had wanted the shirt to be about the graphic, not about us, and we wanted to make sure that our customers
                     knew that we always had their backs. Real smart, genius.”

                  That night Shonda Rhimes tweeted out a picture of the shirt, tagged to Foolies, and posted it to Instagram, too. “I’ve never
                     gotten so many notifications in my life,” says Alex.

                  Since then, any money Alex has earned has gone back into the business or into free shirts for influencers. There are a few
                     new versions of the shirt, listing different actors. He tries to attend as many conferences as he can where he will meet other
                     influencers, volunteering to work there because he usually can’t afford the ticket price. He recently received a comped ticket
                     to the BlogHer conference from someone who heard him speak about Foolies at another event several months earlier and wanted
                     to make sure he could go.

                  He’s committed to motivating people to reach their goals with more than just a T-shirt. “I don’t want to just sell you T-shirts.
                     What happens if you don’t buy one? Is it now over for you to be motivated? Why not serve just to serve?” To that end, he launched
                     a podcast called Dream Without Limits Radio, where he collects stories of dreamers, game changers, and people living out their

                     So the podcast numbers are interesting. I think more people are following me as a whole than necessarily listening to the
                        podcast. The episodes will fluctuate, so we’ll probably see two or three hundred, or we’ll see fifty, forty-five. I’m OK with
                        those numbers only because the responses that I get and the people, they’re the fifty or two hundred who really want it. It
                        doesn’t sound as cool because I don’t have tens of thousands of listeners, but I know those fifty or two hundred are the ones
                        who are actually taking it and doing something with it, and that’s what I’d rather have. Because they’re gonna be the ones
                        who give me two, three, four thousand later.

                     I get to bring on people of color and women, who don’t get highlighted enough. You’ll see all these dope women on there. I
                        love guys, but I know where my market is, and my niche. People tell me, “Oh, you need to expand and talk to all these people,”
                        and I’m like, “Gary gets it.”


                  Alex mentored a lot of students at the University of Florida and continues to visit middle and high schools to talk to them
                     about entrepreneurship and getting out of the ’hood. When his brand started to take off, a number of his former mentees told
                     him that it made perfect sense that this would be his calling. “This has always been what you’ve been doing. Now it’s just
                     in the form of a clothing company.”



            I love a good contradiction, but this isn’t one. Patience is for the long term; speed is for the short term. The pressure
               that builds between the two produces the diamond.

            Speed is one of my two or three obsessions in business. I will always gravitate toward the thing that allows me to live my
               life more efficiently and do my work faster. It’s one of the reasons I’m so excited about voice-controlled assistants like
               Google Home and Amazon Echo (see more in Chapter 15). Entrepreneurs—heck, humans!—care about time and convenience, and it’s just
               faster to spit the toothpaste out and say, “OK, Google, remind me to buy more toothpaste,” than it is to grab your phone and
               type “toothpaste” into your shopping list. If you’re just starting out, you’re going to be slogging it alone for a long time
               before you can hire an assistant to help you manage your time. In the meantime, put whatever tools you can find to good use
               to keep you moving through the day and using your time wisely and efficiently.

            You need to constantly be in do mode. I see you out there overthinking your content and agonizing over your decisions, taking
               forever to make up your mind. Your confidence is low, and you’re worried people will call you a loser if you make the wrong
               call. Get over that quick. I love losing because I learn so much from it. The reason I don’t talk about my failures much is
               not because I’m hiding anything, but because once I’ve seen I’ve made a mistake, in my mind, it’s over. I’ll admit it: I was
               wrong in 2010; location-based chat app Yobongo was not the next great startup. But what good does it do me to dwell on what
               didn’t work out? I’d rather look ahead to the next thing that I’m sure will. My track record speaks for itself. Being unafraid
               of making mistakes makes everything easy for me. Not worrying about what people think frees you to do things, and doing things
               allows you to win or learn from your loss—which means you win either way. Hear me now: you are better off being wrong ten
               times and being right three than you are if you try only three times and always get it right.

                  How I’m Crushing It

                  Timothy Roman, Imperial Kitchen & Bath

                     IG: @imperialkb


                  Timothy Roman got by with a little help from his friends.

                  Once he got rid of the old ones, that is.

                  Timothy is the son of Russian immigrants who brought him to the United States nineteen years ago, when he was eleven. His
                     parents got busy doing what immigrants do: working, trying to get by, and adjusting to a new country, a new language, and
                     a new way of life. They expected Timothy to do his part by doing well in school and getting into college.

                  Problem was, Timothy hated school. “I failed everything miserably. I couldn’t concentrate. Always, my head was floating around.
                     I was always doodling some stuff, whether it was plans, or ideas, or dreams, or counting my profits. I don’t recall any formal

                  The profits Timothy is referring to were from his dual revenue stream. See, he was putting his natural entrepreneurial tendencies
                     to use. By the time he started high school, he was DJ-ing and selling mixes. He was also selling weed. In tenth grade, when
                     he realized he was making the same amount of money as his teachers, he told his mother he was dropping out and getting his
                     GED. She thought he was dropping out to be a DJ, and that was indeed the original plan; the drug dealing was just supposed
                     to be supplemental income. Pretty soon, though, things reversed, and for about ten years, that was Timothy’s life.

                  “I was in a poor neighborhood. Nobody has the knowledge or anything to influence you enough to say, ‘Hey, you know, you can
                     maybe try to do something legally, and try to become an entrepreneur, and start a small business, and work really hard, and
                     try doing that.’ You know, that wasn’t even a conversation.”

                  Until he finally wound up in jail (which is how his mother found out how her son was really making his living).

                  When he got out a month later, he was determined to change. He started by eliminating all his old friends and making new ones.

                  “One was doing Web development and SEO [search-engine optimization]. Another was selling high-end real estate. Another one
                     was selling high-end furniture. But all created these situations themselves and were like-minded. We really clicked immediately.
                     They respected me, and I couldn’t wait to learn the way it’s supposed to be done.”

                  The friend who sold real estate let Timothy crash on his couch. He also introduced Timothy to his father, who owned a construction
                     company, who then offered Timothy a position. At the same time, Timothy, who thought he might like to be a website designer,
                     was spending a lot of time trying to educate himself via YouTube. That’s how he somehow came across a Gary Vee video. “I find
                     out that he’s Russian and that his parents are immigrants, and immediately there’s this crazy connection and I really get
                     sucked in. I got hooked.” He plowed through all the video material he could find, and when he realized the only other way
                     to get more information was through Crush It!, he read that, too, even though reading was so difficult for him that he’d read only one book (Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness) in his life until that point.

                     I’d never had a sounding board, no one to say, “Hey, you know, you can do this. Go out there; get it done.” The message from
                        Crush It! was, no matter where you are, who you are, color of your skin, where you’re from, size, shape, and all that good stuff, if
                        you really feel like you’re good at something, if you put in the work, I guarantee you, you will get somewhere. You know,
                        it’s hard to get your mind around it when you have no experience with that, but I kinda just took it and ran with it.


                  That was the end of 2012. Within six to eight months of working with his friend’s father, Timothy was sure that he wanted
                     to start his own company, a kitchen and bath specialty contractor. In two-and-a-half years, he went from pushing paper to
                     closing projects, becoming the owner’s right-hand man. That was just during the day. After work, until two or three a.m.,
                     Timothy studied.

                     I would learn everything I possibly could about the construction industry, read magazines, learn architects’ names. I wanted
                        to have so much information on day one of my business that if I had a conversation with a client, I could deliver so much
                        value. I was trying to learn so much about the product that people would not look at my age and lack of experience as a weak
                        point but overlook that when I told them everything that I know.

                     I was computer savvy and had some basic skills, so I would work on the website. I would try to write content. Contractors
                        didn’t have proper marketing materials. Forget about SEO. The ones who had websites were really big companies with ten trucks.
                        Your regular kitchen-and-bath guys were all in their forties, fifties, and sixties and have been in business for twenty or
                        thirty years. They’ve established so many relationships that some are doing business literally through word of mouth. I knew
                        that it would take me years to establish word of mouth the traditional way. I was doing things that other contractors didn’t
                        even understand, and it was very time-consuming. We didn’t have all the apps that we have today that can automate it for you.


                  Through his work, he’d developed relationships with subcontractors, and with his boss’s blessing, he spent all his time outside
                     of his day job planting the seeds for his own company through Facebook and YouTube. Little by little, people started to engage
                     with his content. If someone liked a picture, Timothy sent a thank-you message. If someone e-mailed for an estimate and he
                     was able to get an address, that person got a thank-you note and small gifts around the holidays. He landed his first projects
                     by the middle of 2015. Fortunately, he didn’t have to be at work until 9:30 a.m., which gave him several hours to focus on
                     his own projects before his day had even officially started. This meant that by lunchtime, he could just run out to check
                     on his subcontractors’ work, leaving his evenings free for e-mails and sales work.

                  Once he had three projects lined up, he informed his boss he was ready to quit. His schedule didn’t ease up, though. He just
                     filled those hours with more work, more engagement, and more content creation. He uses Snapchat Stories and Instagram Stories
                     to share behind-the-scenes peeks at projects, and now that he has a showroom, he can easily introduce new products when they
                     come in.

                  Two years after going out on his own, Timothy’s company crossed the million-dollar sales mark, with projections to hit $2.5M
                     to 3.0M by the end of 2017.

                  “You know, I make sacrifices and crazy decisions every day, knowing that it’s all going to work out. Now it just becomes routine.
                     Owning your own business sounds really, really scary, and it’s a lot of responsibility. But Gary was like, ‘What’s the worst
                     that could happen? Go for it. The market will tell you if you’ve got it or not.’”

                  Incidentally, Timothy’s mother is incredibly proud. “My mother is in tears every time I tell her about some new accomplishment,
                     or project that I’ve done, or a milestone I’ve crossed. It’s just been, you know, really great.”



            I’ve audited a lot of people over the years who on the surface seemed to be doing everything right. They’d established a good
               niche, they were personable and interesting, their content was on target and valuable, yet they expressed frustration that
               they weren’t meeting their business goals. When I looked closer, I’d see that they were still playing golf or tweeting about
               the previous night’s Walking Dead episode. Let me make this as clear as I can:

            When you first start out, there is no time for leisure—if you want to crush it. There is no time for YouTube videos or shooting the shit in the breakroom or an hour-and-a-half
               lunch. That is, of course, why entrepreneurship is often seen as a young person’s game. It takes a lot of stamina to get a
               personal brand and business off the ground. It is a lot easier to devote all your time to a new business endeavor when you’re twenty-five and single with no one to answer
               to but yourself. Still, 95 percent of the people reading this book, even the young ones, probably have some kind of obligation:
               college loans (many are likely still in school), mortgages, child support, elderly parents, or dependent families. Most probably
               already have a job. Maybe you’ve got a flexible schedule because you’re driving for a rideshare company or working part-time
               or nights. But most of you are working nine to five or even eight to six. Your only prayer to one day live the Crush It! life, therefore, is to deploy ungodly amounts of work from seven p.m. to two a.m. Monday through Friday, plus all day Saturdays
               and Sundays. Ideally you’ll be building your business around the thing you love to do for fun and relaxation, so it won’t
               feel like losing your leisure time. The only additional thing you will have time for is your family. They deserve to get the
               best of you, so make sure you don’t let the work creep in to all of your time with them—unless you can make them part of it,
               which would be wonderful. Bring them