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Life Is the Meal. Flavor It Well!

Gary Vanynerchuk is a passionate entrepreneur that leverages social media to become one of the greatest. I have been following him on Instagram and Youtube since college, in 2018. His content is enjoyable because he motivates and inspires me to achieve on another level. I just finished reading his newest book Twelve and a Half Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success (EIN).

This book offers a sense of conviction that any problem can be solved with emotional ingredients. Even when a work-place problem doesn’t have an immediate solution, there are emotional steps that separate successful from unsuccessful business practices. Although, general life management is not his focus, Gary’s ideas have much greater application.

His intention is to rewrite the outdated idea that “only the strong survive” (xi). Sometimes, we do not have the best view of rich and successful business people. I see their nice cars and expensive watches on Instagram and wonder what kind of snakey moves got them there. Gary aims to destroy that idea by highlighting and defining twelve and a half emotional words that were foundational to his success and could also help others.

Did you know that when anyone makes a comment, they are referring to your work? That’s what Gary explains. People only have a small perspective of the actual colleague and, therefore, can only cast judgment on the work. Gary reminds us that the more we treat business as something less serious than life, the better we can operate.

This particular idea took me a second read to digest fully, considering comments I get from my family, friends and coworkers. Gary explains, “People fear others’ opinions, so they develop an ego-defense mechanism against their own mistakes. It’s a form of avoidance disguised as a solution” (19). People’s opinions are all positive, negative, and neutral, but every comment reflects a different level of understanding.

Even my mom and girlfriend occasionally offer me an opinion or suggestion that I might choose not to agree with. Despite their best intentions for me, I simply disagree because they don’t know exactly how I feel or the entirety of the situation. This is fine. Actually, it is liberating because we can take responsibility for deciding what is a good or bad decision. Everyone can have comments, but we should decide what ideas are best to consume.

This is where one of my emotional ingredients of accountability has evolved. Every problem or success is my fault. I am fully accountable. This may sound difficult, but the opposite is impossible. There are probably people who make everyone happy and seem to make every right decision. But listening to and trying to comply with every single person would be impossible and crazy making. Everyone could have a different—but still valid—point.  

A secondary gain from following Gary’s philosophy is the understanding that we can make better decisions by being empathetic to the intention of the commenter. Empathy is the ability to understand people’s feelings. Practicing empathy makes any situation easier and more manageable.

Accountability and empathy are only two of Gary’s emotional ingredients. All of the ingredients are like items in a chef’s recipe: all must be used simultaneously and appropriately. The half ingredient is the weakest. Gary argues that all of us also have at least one that we consider difficult or that does not come naturally to us: “You might learn that you’re not ‘full”’ (xvii). The better we can understand what our half ingredient is, the better we can work on it or work around it and grow.

My weakness ingredient is patience. Maybe this ingredient becomes easier with age. Maybe perspective and optimism will also give me more patience. I like to chase after tangible and noticeable success. But reading this book makes me want to slow down and be patient because happiness is in the process. Fully utilizing the other emotional ingredients helps me deploy more patience.

My strength ingredient is my tenacity—although at times, I might misuse it. In the right context, I put my head down and get the work done. But Gary explains that although it is natural for young adults to be ambitious, exercising control over tenacity helps people reach a higher level of success and better enables people to overcome difficulties.

Patience and tenacity almost seem like opposites, but there is a sweet middle between them that I would like to strive for. I will be able to work on patience better when I put more thought into my life decisions. I am only twenty-two. I want to use my tenacity to explore more of my curiosity and health. Tenacity may be the ingredient that helps me work on patience, but I will need a lot of patience to stay tenacious in my journey. Gary stresses that we should focus on improving our weakness because oftentimes it is our most difficult challenge. Our strengths help us leverage all the emotional ingredients; therefore, it is important to work on those, too.

These ingredients make me want to be more intentional with my decisions. Last month, I exercised my accountability by putting in my two-week notice as an assistant manager at Popeye’s. I wasn’t happy there. I didn’t see a future. I am blessed to be in a financial situation where I can breathe and think more about what journey I seek. Self-awareness and gratitude lead to greater patience.

Gratitude is another of my ingredients, but reading this book makes me want to put the word into practice. After all, there are different levels of gratitude. This emotional ingredient can be practiced every day. The happiest people do this. Gary explains, “If I wake up in the morning and nobody I love has passed away or come down with terminal illness, then my day starts off great. If people closest to me are OK, I’m good. I won” (8-9).

Gary grounds his gratitude in the most simplistic way. This is a change in perspective many of us may be able to use. If we are truly grateful, we will be stronger in all other aspects of life. Gratitude is so simple. It leads to happiness. This makes me believe that happiness may also be just as simple and achievable. It is all in the mindset and has nothing to do with status or financial worth. All these emotional ingredients are only that. Life is the meal. The better my ingredients, the better life will taste.

Work Cited

  • Vaynerchuk, Gary. Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success. Harper Business, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2021.
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