Occasionally I talk to photographers who have been in business since before the digital revolution and the growth of the internet. They all sound the same. They grieve the changes that have caused business to slow - or in some cases - come to a grinding halt. They grieve the fact that clients are hiring newer, less-experienced photographers than them. And they're largely oblivious to how powerful the internet is and how drastically it has changed the game. They want to keep doing the same things that worked for them in the past and are angry that they aren't yielding the same results. When listening to these photographers, I rarely have an opportunity to get a word in edge-wise. I just let them vent. But if I could say something and they were open to listening, I might be inclined to say something along the lines of what Gary Vaynerchuk says in his book Crush It!: "Crying about how things should be instead of embracing how things are doesn't do anyone any good." The game is changing and only the strong will survive.

Not only are we as photographers needing to adapt to new forms of communication and technology, we are also coping with a struggling economy. Gary says that in order to survive in an economic downturn you need to have a relevant and differentiated product or service, be adaptable and know how to tell your story. He says that thriving economies actually enable mediocre companies to exist: "Booming economies like the one that recently ended keep all kinds of businesses afloat that should have sunk a long time ago. Once the winds shift, there's only room left for the best."

If you are someone who is interested in turning your hobby into a business, someone who is tentative about blogging and social media, or someone who has been in business doing the same thing since before the internet took over the world - this would be a great book for you to read.

Crush It! is written by Gary Vaynerchuk - a man who spent years building his family business from a local wine shop into a national industry leader. When he realized the potential of the internet, he started a video blog and harnessed the power of social media to grow his personal brand into a $50 million business.

I gave this book 3 stars. The thing I liked most about it was that it was a story of a real person who made it big and the steps he took to do so. I also liked how motivational Gary's writing style is. You can tell he's all about the two things he proclaims - passion and hard work.

Gone are the days of starting at the bottom and working your way to the top by putting your time in and building seniority at a corporation. The internet has presented the biggest shift in history in how we do business. And with the opportunities that social media offers ANYONE can jump in, build their brand and start a thriving business. That's the good news.

The other side of the coin is that in order to succeed you need to be passionate, work your butt off and be willing to adapt. Note: Being adaptable is a recurring theme.

I only gave the book 3 stars because I didn't find a lot of content that was new or helpful to me and some of the social media info is already out of date. But it is a quick, easy read and it did have some tidbits that I took from it. Like always, I wrote my own set of Cliff's Notes in the front of the book complete with page number references:
Here is a sampling of what I wrote and took away for myself:

-Tell stories that make people care about your product as much as you do. Storytelling is the most underrated skill in business.

-Creating community is about starting conversations. Social media is a perfect tool for this!

-Join every online conversation about my passion. After blogging on a topic, comment on the mention of it wherever I can find it online.

Gary affirmed my belief that your business and your personal brand need to be one and the same. The authentic you is the one thing that differentiates you from everyone else so you need to smear yourself all over your business. And even though you will walk away from this book with a ton of motivation to CRUSH IT! - you need to remember that building your brand is more akin to a marathon than a sprint.

We live in an exciting time where the internet makes it possible for us to grow our brands and businesses on our own. It's time to embrace change, pursue our passion, work hard and put one foot in front of another as we run our race.
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