Twelve and a Half Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success

Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success by Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk, known to his friends and fans as Gary Vee, is a forward-thinking business leader and angel investor. He has had long, successful careers in both wine and marketing and has been an early investor in companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Venmo, Tumbler, Snapchat, Coinbase, and Uber. The 2021 book Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success is his sixth book. All have become bestsellers.

Twelve and a Half Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success focuses on 13 “soft” skills that have led to Gary Vee’s success and he believes accelerate business success. He defines these 13 soft skills and shares real-life scenarios where these ingredients will make you a better leader. The book’s final section includes some exercises that will help you develop each ingredient.

The 12.5 Emotional Ingredients

Each ingredient has a short chapter in the book. I’ll share the definition of each of these soft skills followed by a summary of Gary Vee’s explanation of why it made his list.


“The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”

A man showing gratitude towards a woman who is showing she is thankful - Twelve and a Half Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success

As you read this post, you should be grateful that you are in the top 1% of the most advantaged people who have ever lived. You have access to electricity, a phone and computer, the internet, and the ability to read – these attributes alone put you ahead of much of the world today, and everyone from a century or more ago.

We are all blessed with opportunity. Be grateful.


“Conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motivations, desires”

Gary Vee’s explanation of how self-awareness has benefitted him reminds me of Rule 1 of the Personal Kaizen 10 Rules for Life. We must understand what we are good at and have experience in versus what we do not understand. For example, I have always enjoyed playing basketball but must be self-aware enough to realize that I am never going to become a professional basketball player.

Self-awareness can help us leverage our strengths and develop our weaknesses. Gary Vee notes that some employees (especially those in younger generations) are over-confident in their abilities. They demand a raise or promotion without understanding their areas of improvement. We all need a good amount of self-awareness in our business and personal life.


“The fact or condition of being accountable; responsibility”

Pawns showing a team vs a leader

Accountability is the most challenging ingredient for many. Self-esteem is predicated on the outcomes of our actions, and when things don’t go in our favor we are quick to blame others. Accountability is understanding that we are all in control enough to accept responsibility for outcomes.

In my work as a consultant, I am quick to assume accountability for a change that might go poorly. I help the teams I work with understand that the bigger risk is usually not trying to improve. These same teams often accept accountability the next time there is a change to make.


“Hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something”

Gary Vee insists we all choose optimism over pessimism. We agree – and have made this part of our 10 Rules for Life. Rule 4 is to Live in the moment with a positive mindset and it encompasses both gratitude with optimism.

Gary Vee notes that optimism is a perfect teammate with tenacity. You have to believe you can attain a goal in order to push through.


“The ability to understand and share the feelings of another”

Empathy - Twelve and a Half Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success

Gary Vee states, “Empathy is like the cheat code in business and life. I actually think empathy makes the other eleven and a half ingredients easier to use. You can handle the situation if you can feel the feelings of others involved.”

You should combine empathy with some of these other ingredients of success to better deal with the challenges in both life and business.


“The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate”

Gary Vee insists on deploying kindness even with people who have stolen from him or put him in a bad situation. He notes that he is, “passionate about practicing kindness to create a safe environment when delivering bad news or having difficult conversations.”


“ The quality or fact of being very determined; determination”

Climbing a mountainside - Twelve and a Half Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success

Gary Vee explains that tenacity is easier if you work in an area you genuinely love (rule 1). This should also prevent tenacity from becoming burnout.

Conviction and tenacity work together; when you have conviction in what you are doing it is easier to be tenacious.


“ A strong desire to know or learn something”

The keywords for Gary Vee in the definition above are strong and learn. You need both a strong work ethic and a strong focus on continuous learning (personal kaizen) in your life. Gary Vee’s career has involved exploring new opportunities in both social media and NFTs (non-fungible tokens) in cryptocurrency. His tenacity and conviction for NFTs stems from his curiosity about new technologies.


“The capacity to accept or tolerate delay trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset”

A young female business owner

Gary Vee insists that we all need to be much more patient in our careers. Many of us begin our working career at 20 (or even before) and can expect to work for the next 45 years – or more if we love what we do. Patience allows us to learn and grow when we are young, try out different career paths, and take time to enjoy the ride. We should never be worried about falling behind others -as long as we practice the ingredients in this post we are certain to find success in our careers.


“A firmly held belief or opinion” 

Stating your convictions publicly is a vulnerability. You might be wrong. But Gary Vee sees conviction like religion; when he becomes convinced about something nothing is going to stop him.

Nobody wants to follow a leader who doesn’t demonstrate conviction for their cause. This doesn’t mean ignoring data and facts, but it does mean not wasting your time questioning every strategic decision you make.


“A modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness”

A business owner holding a basket for a customer and helping him select produce - Twelve and a Half Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success

Humility has always been my number one value in life, and it is also the final rule in our 10 Rules for Life – practice radical humility. We should be humble when dealing with everyone –including our customers and competitors.

Gary Vee calls this ingredient one of the most important but hates that the dictionary definition is a “low view” of yourself. His preferred definition is, “a comfort in one’s own understanding of one’s position in the world.”

Gary Vee also explains that humility can create a comforting feeling of safety that allows for smart business risks. If he were to lose everything in a business decision he knows he can always accept living in a cheap apartment in a cheap place and starting over with the knowledge and expertise in these twelve and a half emotional ingredients.


“A strong desire to do or achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work”

This is the final ingredient Gary Vee describes in the book before the book turns to sharing examples of using these 12.5 ingredients in work and life scenarios. Without ambition, it is hard to maximize your potential.

Gary Vee has always stated his ambitions publicly. This helps him hold himself accountable to the goal. No matter your ambition, he suggests you should live your life focused on the journey, not the destination.

Kind Candor (the final half ingredient)

“Balancing kindness with candor when providing feedback”

Two men at an office table where one is reviewing and giving feedback to the other.

Gary Vee, explains how he has avoided giving critical feedback to employees to avoid confrontation. Later, he would fire them and they would have had no opportunity to adjust their behavior or grow from the feedback. Gary Vee’s explanation of kind candor is akin to the radical candor we have written about previously. Kind candor is about caring personally enough to challenge directly.

Gary Vee includes this as his final ingredient but acknowledges that he has not fully mastered kind candor in his life. Thus, it is only a half ingredient for him. Which of these ingredients above have you fully mastered? Are there any ingredients you do not have at all? Which are only “half” mastered emotional ingredients that need more practice?

Putting it all together

The second half of the book, Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success, provides real-life scenarios where Gary Vee explains how you can use these 13 ingredients in combination for excellent leadership. A short section at the end of the book provides examples for developing each of the ingredients in the book.

Gary Vee is a social media influencer with over 30 million followers across his various channels. He also blogs regularly and has a popular podcast – The GaryVee Audio Experience. If you enjoyed this summary of the book, please check him out.

Did you agree with his 12.5 ingredients of success? What soft skills did he miss? Let our audience know in the comments below.

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