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Hey everyone. It’s officially two months until the debut of my best book yet. Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success will be out on November 16th. Since this is my sixth business book, it was important to me to offer something new. That being said, I’m kicking off this blog series as a preview and guide to the central themes of the book. Introducing the Road to Twelve and a Half.

With this book, I really wanted to provide a different take on what it means to be successful. That meant offering a different perspective about what it takes to win in business and in life. It’s not about a “dog-eat-dog” mentality or a “black and white” approach. It’s about mastering soft skills, identifying your weaknesses or “halves,” and boosting your EQ, aka your emotional quotient or intelligence.

I’m so excited for you guys to read Twelve and a Half. The book itself is full of scenarios, anecdotes, and engaging exercises to really help you deploy these traits in your everyday lives. Until then, this blog series will give you a glimpse into what you can expect!

Now, let’s kick things off with the first ingredient on the Road to Twelve and a Half: gratitude.

What is Gratitude? 

Before we talk about why gratitude is so important, we have to first understand what it really means. Let’s check out the definition: 

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

I truly believe that gratitude is one of the most underrated traits, and it makes me sad because it’s such a core part of my DNA. In fact, this trait is so important to me that I named not one, but two VeeFriends characters after it: Gratitude Gorilla and Grateful Gar.

My OG community knows that this isn’t a new concept for me. I’ve actually been very public and vocal about the importance of gratitude for years. For example, seven years ago I published this blog post called A Note on Being Grateful. If you want a breakdown of where my gratitude really comes from – if you want to understand who I am – read that. Many of you may also remember “400 Trillion to One.” For those of you who didn’t know, those are the actual odds of you becoming a human being…If that doesn’t make you feel grateful, I don’t know what will. 

I’ve talked a lot over the years about many different concepts – grinding, ambition, etc. The truth is, the reason I’m able to stay so focused on those things is because I operate so deeply from a place of gratitude. It’s the foundation for everything else. 

Why Gratitude Comes Naturally to Me

Simply put, my productivity is completely predicated on the gratitude I have for the things I’ve been gifted. When you come from certain circumstances, it’s hard not to appreciate what you have. 

I was born in the former Soviet Union in Belarus — a country where you couldn’t vote or leave of your own free will. I was raised by a woman who instilled in me more self-esteem than you can imagine. I understand just how much good shit I’ve been gifted in life, and in my eyes, I just can’t let that good stuff down. I’m not grateful because I’ve worked hard, I work hard because I’m grateful.

Why Gratitude is So Hard for People

Thankfully, I was raised by parents who made sure this trait was instilled in my mindset and DNA, but I have overwhelming empathy for those who didn’t. One of the reasons I chose gratitude as one of the 12.5 emotional ingredients is because I see so many people struggling to grasp it and underrating its value. 

Why is that? 

1. They’re Looking Up Instead of Down 

There are several reasons people lack gratitude for what they have. A big one is that they’re not quantifying their luck and realizing just how fucking hard it is to actually become a human being. Add on to that other factors, like being born in America, or having good parents, or living in a safe neighborhood, for example, and you realize you’re actually doing pretty great. This problem is best summed up by a line in chapter one: 

“People look upward at those who rank higher, but they don’t look downward at the billions ranked lower.” Gary Vaynerchuk

If you have any doubts at all about just how good you actually have it, watch this video of me reading an excerpt from my book. Then, watch it again…and watch it every day until it clicks 💡


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A post shared by Gary Vay-Ner-Chuk (@garyvee)

2. They’re Dwelling or Complaining 

Another reason people struggle with gratitude is that they’re too busy complaining. Everything is everybody else’s fault or just the end of the world. The truth is, people give too much power to their mistakes by replaying them over and over. Enough of this “fail” stuff – you didn’t fail. It’s just a minor setback. 

Life isn’t so permanent and your supposed failures aren’t fatal. In fact, they’re awesome because they give you context and learnings to execute against later on. Of course it’s hard to see what you have to be grateful for when you’ve convinced yourself that everything is make or break. Stop dwelling, stop complaining, and stop looking back. It’s messing with your neck.

I understand that some people might genuinely be going through hard times. They might truly be looking at some bleak circumstances. To those people who feel like they can’t be grateful because times are rough, I would ask this question: What is the alternative? 

The real reality is, if you’ve decided that life is too bleak, I’m asking you for the solution. People are obsessed with complaining for the sake of complaining, without trying to come up with a productive answer. The problem with that is, nobody’s listening to you anyway, unless it’s another upset person. 

This is why happiness finds happiness and darkness finds darkness. If everybody right now who thinks about the single person they know that is the most unhappy – most likely somebody in your family or a very good friend – they’d realize that person only interacts with two people: a) somebody else who is just as unhappy or b) an extremely positive person who enables them to be unhappy.

The point is that you’ll get more of what you’re looking for…and gratitude is a lighter, more productive way to focus your energy and attention. 

Their Relationship with Time is Fucked Up

I could go on…but the last reason I’ll give for why people don’t remain grateful is simply that they’re scared. They’re scared that they’re running out of time. They’re scared that their best years are behind them. To those people, I say stop freaking out about the time that has passed and start getting grateful for all the time you have left – because it’s more than you think. 

I’m almost 46 years old. Guess what? I know I’m only just getting started. If that weren’t the case, I wouldn’t be devoting the next 40-50 years of my life to solidifying VeeFriends IP in society and culture. I set big goals because I’m grateful that time is on my side. It’s why I’m so patient…but more on that trait later on in this series. 

Guys. If you take anything away from this blog or this book, let it be this. Over the next 45+ years of my life, these 12.5 traits will ebb and flow in terms of what I’m focused on…but right now, at this moment in time, it just felt like gratitude was the right one to open the book. 

By its essence, gratitude is always pointing you in the right direction. 

Gratitude and Perspective

Let’s go back to the odds of you being born…400 trillion to one. Stop and think about how ridiculous that is. You’re probably more likely to win the lottery 10 times in one lifetime than to become a human being. You’d have better odds winning 98 NBA Championships in a row. You could have been a tree, or a dog, or a rock. Now, how much better do you feel about your life? That’s the importance of gratitude and perspective. 

Gratitude and perspective work hand in hand. Once you have perspective, you don’t look upward at the people doing “better” than you…you don’t dwell, you don’t complain, and you don’t waste more time thinking about the time you’ve already wasted. You gain a greater appreciation for the failures and mistakes because of the lessons you learned, and you move on to better execution.

Perspective really opens up your eyes to how much more grateful each of us could be. It’s not a matter of “glass half empty” or “glass half full”…it’s about being grateful even when there’s only one drop in the glass, because you know exactly what to do with it. 

Key Ingredient

Whatever is bothering you right now, take a breath, be grateful for what is going well, and realize what you can and can’t control. If you can’t control something, let it go and focus on what you can control, which is how much and how often you deploy gratitude in your life. 

It’s not just about having gratitude – you have to show it. What’s the best way to show your gratitude? – communicating it. Whether it’s with your family members or friends, your team members or coworkers, the best way to show people your gratitude is by saying it out loud and saying it often. ❤️

Thanks for reading. I really hope you enjoyed the first blog in the Road to Twelve and a Half series, and I hope you’re as pumped for the book release on November 16th as I am. For more information on the book as well as national and international pre-order links, check out Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success.