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  • Toby Sinclair

Twelve and a half by Gary Vee | Book Summary

Twelve and a half by Gary Vee

⭐ Toby's Rating: 7/10 - Recommended For: Leaders and Managers

3 Big Ideas from Twelve and a half 💡

  1. Twelve and a half by Gary Vee explores how emotional intelligence helps you succeed

  2. The growth potential of most businesses is limited by the emotional intelligence of their leaders.

  3. Kindness without candor creates entitlement

2 Best Quotes from Twelve and a half by Gary Vee 💬

The strongest person is someone who’s able to deploy kindness in the face of the opposite.
Technical skills are a distant second to mastering soft skills.

Tobys Top Takeaway

Gary Vee and I share a challenge in common: Kind Candor. Early on in Twelve and a half, Gary shares his personal challenge with sharing feedback in a direct and candid way. This is the "half" in addition to the twelve ingredients below.

I realized that kindness without candor was creating entitlement within my organization. By giving positive reinforcement again and again without critical feedback, I created delusion, which led to entitlement. I have a visceral reaction to confrontation, and so I was very bad at giving critical feedback for most of my career. After twenty-four years as a business operator, I’m heartbroken that there are people out there who don’t feel great toward me because I wasn’t able to be candid with them. I would fire them without giving them enough feedback, or I would create situations that forced them to quit. I didn’t see the beauty of candor, the humanity in it. I didn’t realize that candor actually is kindness. I can think of many times when some kind candor would’ve taken my success to a higher plane. All my unhappiness in life and business has resulted from my inability to deploy kind candor when necessary.

I'm a self-confessed people pleaser. I often have a challenge giving direct feedback and can often avoid conflict. I really resonated with how Gary shared this challenge in Twelve and a half.

My takeaway: You can be kind, be candid, and hold your ground all at the same time.


Big Ideas Expanded 💡

The bias toward short-term metrics can also make emotional intelligence a “nice to have” rather than a requirement. It creates a scenario in which a leader looks the other way when one employee makes everyone else in the office miserable, just because that employee happens to be bringing in the most revenue.

The Emotional Ingredients

  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


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

If you’re truly grateful for what you have instead of being envious of what you don’t have, you’ll be a dominant force in business and, way more important, in life.


Conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.

Self-awareness has a close relationship with self-love and self-acceptance. I’m realizing right now that it’s one thing to be self-aware. It’s another thing to look in the mirror and say, “Hey, you’re not good at X.”

The best part of acknowledging your weaknesses is that you can then start navigating around them. For example, I don’t have the work ethic to put up a painting on a wall, because I don’t like doing it. So, I’ll find someone else to do it.

But I don’t overstress this point, because most people work only on their weaknesses, not their superpowers. Yes, I want to level-set my weaknesses, but I’m more interested in taking my strengths to the moon.


The fact or condition of being accountable; responsibility.

The greatest misconception is that avoiding accountability will lead to happiness when in reality the reverse is true.

I’m continuing to learn that leaders need to mix kind candor with accountability. Too much accountability can give way to entitlement and resentment down the road for both managers and employees.


Hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.

Optimism is a word that has become controversial in some ways. There’s a misconception that it means the same thing as delusion.

Choosing optimism over pessimism is, at the end of the day, wildly practical. It doesn’t mean being naïve or blind to the downsides in business or in life.

I think of optimism as a map. It helps me see my destination. It’s one of the many reasons why I value the journey over the outcome. Optimism makes the journey so much more fun than pessimism.


The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

I deploy empathy and kindness against hate because I know it takes more strength to be empathetic.

When you can feel what another is feeling, you develop an extraordinary ability to manipulate human beings. I believe it’s the ultimate superpower.

Empathy is like a cheat code in business and life. I actually think it makes the other eleven and a half ingredients easier to use. You can handle any situation if you can feel the feelings of others involved.


The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.

For me, it’s about being kind to those who have put me in a difficult position. Being kind is easy when it’s easy. Being kind when you’re under pressure is tough.

The strongest person is someone who’s able to deploy kindness in the face of the opposite.

You can be kind, be candid, and hold your ground all at the same time.


The quality or fact of being very determined; determination.

If you want to be successful in anything, I do believe that tenacity is essential. However, it should never come at the expense of your peace of mind and happiness.

Burnout is physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress. Tenacity is determination.


A strong desire to know or learn something.

The word curiosity is underrated in our society. It feels fluffy, academic, and childish, but I believe it’s one of the most important characteristics for success in business.

Curiosity mixed with empathy can lead to intuition.

The two words that stand out to me in the definition of curiosity are strong and learn. To maximize the value of curiosity, you need a strong work ethic. You need a strong desire to continue learning, no matter how much you’ve accomplished.


The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

When you have a good relationship with time, the pressure is lifted and you can do so much more.

Insecurity festers without the fertilizer of patience.

When you don’t enjoy the process, you become more vulnerable to burnout.

When you’re patient as a leader, you can give your employees room to grow and develop over time.


A firmly held belief or opinion.

Stating your convictions out loud is a vulnerability. You might be wrong.

Conviction is the north star that keeps you on track, helping you be tenacious throughout your journey, despite the inevitable difficulties.


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

Humility is a requirement if you want to cultivate a lasting positive reputation and leave an admirable legacy.

It’s one of the most attractive traits human beings can have.

Let me ask you this question: Would you want to have the people who know you the least think you’re the best, and the people who know you the best think you’re the worst? I genuinely believe this is a question most people need to ask themselves.

It would be the greatest devastation of my life if I achieved my financial and professional goals, but the people who knew me the best spoke about me the worst. I never want that legacy. It would crush me.

When you have a fair, modest view of yourself, you have a significant advantage over others, because you’re willing to do what they aren’t.

My definition of humility would be “a comfort in one’s own understanding of one’s position in the world.”


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

People tend to have an unhealthy relationship with ambition partly because they use it as a cover-up for their insecurities.

Life is a joy when you have good relationships with your ambitions. I wake up every morning and chase my dream, yet I’m so not in need of achieving it. It’s a beautiful blend of conviction and humility. I fully believe I’ll make it, yet I don’t need to make it.

At the other extreme, are you afraid of telling others about your ambition because you fear they’ll think you’re delusional?

I love talking about my ambition publicly, in front of the world, because it holds me accountable.


Real-Life Scenarios where these Emotional Ingredients help:

  • negotiating a raise

  • getting your boss to recognize your efforts

  • watching your colleague get a promotion over you

  • confronting a business partner who stole from you

  • voicing mental health concerns at work

  • improving your team’s enthusiasm, drive, and overall performance

  • being thrust into a management position unexpectedly

  • staying ahead of the curve with new innovations

  • deciding whether to stay at a job or pursue a side hustle full-time


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