top of page

Inside "Twelve and A Half" with Gary Vaynerchuk

One of the most iconic entrepreneur influencers of the 21st century has spoken exclusively to Emotional Intelligence Magazine about his aim to revolutionize how we can lead ourselves and others by popularizing essential skills like emotional intelligence.

Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia, creator of VeeFriends, might not be to everyone’s taste. While some oppose his candid “no fu*ks given” attitude, you cannot argue that Gary doesn’t practice what he preaches. He is known for his kind candor — the “half” in his latest best-selling book, Twelve and a Half — and his ability to connect with his fans, employees, and customers alike from an authentic place of gratitude and compassionate understanding.

In our candid interview, Gary states, “All this ‘foofy-foofy’ stuff that I love so much, like nice, kind, empathetic, sympathetic, compassionate, and patient … all of this ‘stuff’ that so many people associate with, ‘That's nice, but that's not real.’ Or, ‘That's what my grandma talked about, that's not what happens in business.’… My point is, if you lean into all these good things, you'll make more money. … Why can't you be wonderfully nice and also an assassin in your business capability?”

This one statement is the overarching message in Gary’s latest best-selling book, Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success. The title refers to the number of intangible skills that Gary emphasizes are essential in achieving tangible results, specifically:

1. Gratitude

2. Self-Awareness

3. Accountability

4. Optimism

5. Empathy

6. Kindness

7. Tenacity

8. Curiosity

9. Patience

10. Conviction

11. Humility

12. Ambition

And his 'half': kind candor.

What is the ‘half'? Gary explains that our ‘half’ is a skill we are aware is our weakest emotional component which we put effort into strengthening and fine-tuning. For him, it was candor. He realized that he was kind to his employees but not candid due to his avoidance of confrontation. Over time, Gary found that the lack of candor led to entitlement in many of his employees. That said, Gary defines his half as ‘kind candor.’

For anyone well-versed in emotional intelligence (EI), this book illuminates topics that are not commonly discussed as typical elements of EI, such as tenacity, conviction, and ambition—which we found to be highly refreshing. As a result, you may find yourself—as we did when reading this book—audibly saying, “Yes! Exactly! Thank you! Preach!” And for those of you who may be new to EI, it is a comprehensive guide to understanding, using, and managing your emotions, i.e., developing our emotional quotient (EQ).

Gary points out that the collective mindset in business decisions is almost exclusively based on hard data that can be measured, graphed, and predicted. Anything outside of that is primarily viewed as a risk or nonessential. Unfortunately, there isn’t yet a way to accurately measure the effects a leader or employee’s self-awareness, curiosity, or humility has on an organization’s bottom line—although we know it most certainly does.

It’s no coincidence that EI is such a hot topic of conversation today. Organizations that developed these intangible skills reported improved morale and better performance, engagement, and customer satisfaction that directly impacted their bottom line.

Some leaders will still resist adopting these proven mindset shifts and behaviors due to a deep-rooted stigma that emotions are a weakness, soft, and have no business in business, or they use EI as a means to an end—leading to short-term results.

Gary powerfully conveys throughout his book the twelve primary ingredients that have led to his success in life and business—and which can lead to your own. Don’t let the title fool you into thinking this book is solely for business owners and leaders. Gary makes it clear that everyone is a leader. “Anybody who has even one person to manage is a leader.” That one person could be yourself. If we can learn to manage ourselves effectively and compassionately, we can lead and influence others to do the same.

However, it is essential to remember that while compassion is a universal language, how we utilize EI to motivate, communicate, and lead will vary depending on the individual and the situation. In the second part of his three-part book, Gary provides thirty-five real-life scenarios, explaining how we can combine these various skills and attributes to handle a range of situations. He says, “Developing these twelve ingredients individually is the starting point, but knowing how to ‘cook the meal’ is the real takeaway.”

Check out more from our exclusive interview with Gary:


Emotional Intelligence Magazine:

"Early into the book, you talk about the importance of essential skills like emotional intelligence, and that organizations dismiss these essential skills due to the lack of metrics around them. I’d like to take it one step further and say that organizations seem to be founded on intellect versus intuition..." [Gary chimes in]

Gary Vaynerchuk:

Emotional Intelligence Magazine:

Would you care to expand upon the concept of being versus doing and its impact on results and connection?

Gary Vaynerchuk:

Emotional Intelligence Magazine:

We live in a society that often defines success for us in the form of things, money, and status based on position. This script is encoded in many of our brains at a young age; consumerism, advertisements, pop culture, and institutions tend to reinforce this system of beliefs. When you add a lack of self-awareness and curiosity, which are two skills that aren’t often taught or positively reinforced during our prime years of development, it seems we are left with a culture that lacks clarity as to what they truly want out of life. What advice would you give someone to help them distinguish their heart’s desires from these indoctrinated, superficial beliefs of success and happiness?

Gary Vaynerchuk:

Share your thoughts on Gary's latest book or his insights from our interview in the comments below.


I look forward to reading the book. Gary has caught my eye several times on LinkedIn as a George Carlin of business philosophy. His rowdy, clear, expletive laced commentary holds the sucker punch surprise of a tender heart. He appears to be the exact voice we need to speak to our very deep, culturally ingrained beliefs that emotions (and kindness) are best suppressed in business. Presenting in a direct, tough guy tone, he challenges the toxic masculinity and "survival of the fittest" mindsets that are the misguided basis of many of our American business and economic practices.

Replying to

Well said! Gary definitely challenges the status quo.

bottom of page