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A lot of you out there have probably heard me rant about empathy and the difference between EQ or IQ. For those of you who are unfamiliar with when I say “EQ,” I’m talking about my emotional intelligence—the emotional intangibles: empathy, gratitude, and intuition. Some of you have even asked which is more important when running a business. Based on my content, most people probably think I’m going to say that EQ is the most important.

But, the real answer comes down to self-awareness. If you are a CEO or a leader or an operator, you need to be self-aware and double down on whichever one is your strength. For me, that’s EQ and I go all in on it.

I admit that I actually think I’m below average when it comes to IQ. By conventional standards, I’m not “smart.” I’m not well read. Heck, I don’t even like reading. Sometimes I wish my on-the-spot math skills were as good as my brother AJ’s. I was extremely bad at school and at a young age I recognized it wasn’t my strength.

None of that matters to me because I feel like I’m an all-time great when it comes to EQ. I’m so confident in my emotional abilities that I have included in my will that, if humans somehow ever find a way to measure EQ, I want to be dug up and tested. I think that I could be a baseline for understanding people with a high emotional intelligence. Outlandish, I know, but I truly believe I’m one of the greatest emotional beings out there.

I’m an all-time great when it comes to EQ.

However, for the time being, EQ isn’t quantifiable and that’s probably why it’s so hard to teach all of you how to be more empathetic or self-aware or grateful. Despite that, there’s no doubt about EQ’s potential and power in business.

Employing EQ has allowed me to set the foundations for multiple successful companies. For example, my EQ allowed me to give back to the community in a way that a lot of other business leaders don’t or can’t or don’t want to. This builds leverage with my consumers, whether they’re clients at VaynerMedia or someone buying a bottle of wine at Wine Library. It also allowed me to build a great company culture at VaynerMedia. EQ is my biggest strength and it’s something that I have bet on historically and will continue to when it comes to life and business.

To me, EQ is and was…

  • The intuition that people were going to spend all their time on mobile devices 4 years ago and never wavering on that thesis, even though a lot of people didn’t believe it yet
  • Knowing that if I spend enough time with this one employee, she’d break through from her negative upbringing and lack of self-esteem; she would become a great executive in my company instead of someone that I needed to fire
  • Understanding that people are going to try to leverage me to serve their best vested interests, but I know exactly what they are doing. I can appease them while also getting what I need out of the relationship. I’m playing the long game. I’m playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers
  • Knowing what people think of me and using that knowledge to understand them better. Are they going to assume that I’m an overly aggressive huckster because of a Facebook video or did they do the homework and realize that I provide valuable content for free
  • After our first date, knowing that I would marry my wife. (We got married within a year.)
  • Meeting Jerome Jarre for the first time and knowing that he was going to be famous on Vine
  • Meeting Mark Zuckerberg and, within four seconds, knowing he was going to be one of the greatest CEOs of this generation
  • Understanding, as a kid, that the internet was going to be a big thing even though at the time I had only spent 11 minutes on a computer. Ever.
  • Knowing that email marketing in 1997 was a good idea
  • Starting a YouTube show (Wine Library TV) less than a year after YouTube came out
  • Trying to become one of the greatest personalities on Twitter because I believed in the platform
  • Making an early investment in Snapchat years ago and waiting until it hit scale (now!) to tell all of you to use it

It’s the emotional intelligence, not the data—the information—that tells me what to do.

However, I recognize that not all of you are like me nor do I expect you to be. I know a lot of you out there are more IQ and that’s okay. I can picture a bunch of you out there sitting in your rooms by yourselves, running math, and data, and building tech, and that’s what you like. You’ll make tens of thousands or hundreds of millions and be happy about how you did it. That might be your strength, but it’s not mine. But, I hope the list above (even though it’s a few of my accomplishments) at least shows you how powerful EQ can be.

If you are a CEO or a leader or an operator, you need to be self-aware and double down on your strengths.

You have to be self-aware and bet on your strengths. Most people probably aren’t 90/10 or 80/20 like I am on EQ vs. IQ. The vast majority probably sit in the gamut of 70/30, 60/40, or 50/50. The big takeaway is to find out which one you are and how can you use that to set yourself up for success.

If you liked this article, check out Episode 94 of the #AskGaryVee Show: