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Book Review: Twelve and A Half

Updated: Feb 15, 2022






If you follow Gary Vee, you would likely have seen his latest book, Twelve and A Half. The book was launched in Nov 2021 and I have learned a ton watching from his Youtube videos in the past few years.


Why is it called Twelve and A Half?


Good question. I didn't think too much when I bought his audiobook because I know each time he delivers value. Later I learned that they were twelve and a half ingredients to his success.


What are the ingredients?


I am not going to be a spoiler and share everything with you. However, I will be sharing some of my key learning points from the book.


1. Self-awareness

If you follow Gary, you will know that he reiterates this point countless times across the years.


I find this one of the hardest to do. How do you sit down, admit and acknowledge that you are weak in that area?


I used to escape from the problems and hope that they will disappear. Logically speaking, we know that being an ostrich doesn't help. Emotionally, it did help. Or at least temporarily.


(How did I overcome this challenge? I will share more later in the post.)


And even if we know that is weak in certain areas, how do we know if we are not blind-sighted by other areas?


That is where I find Gary's advice is very helpful.


I want you to answer a few questions about yourself and how you’d typically respond in a variety of different situations in both business and life. Then, send those questions to the ten people closest to you professionally and personally through an anonymous Google Form that they can fill out.

Brutally honest. Brutally insightful. Brutally helpful.


I haven't got time to do it yet. Hence, if anyone is keen to help me out in these areas, do let me know and I'll be more than happy to send you the Google Form.


2. Kindness

I would think I'm a kind person. I don't expect anything in return when I help people.


Across the years, there are people who took advantage of my kindness. Asking me to do things beyond my scope or taking advantage of my situation,


After a while, I got jaded easily.


There are times when I asked myself if I'm stupid. But these sentences altered my thinking and blew my mind away.


Kindness is based on the recipient’s terms. Not yours.

Are there also times when we jump to conclusions about others? For me, I realized that I'm especially so when the car in front is slow and I'm in a rush to the next venue.


You don’t have full context on anybody else. You don’t have 100-percent insight into what’s going through their mind or the events in their childhood that molded them into who they are today. So how can you judge them?

Breathe...be kind.


And this brings me to another important point.


3. Empathy

When I first started out, it was difficult for me to deploy empathy because I was struggling financially.


Along the way, as I began to learn the ropes of prospecting, sales and financial planning, I realized that the more empathy I apply, the easier it is for me to close the deal.


My mindset changed from "I want to close a deal while helping this person" to "How can I help this person and show that I really understand, able to value add and probably show the blind spots in his/ her financial mindset and behaviour?"


Yet, I find it especially difficult to have empathy towards people who are unappreciative. I reckoned that's normal right?


Again, another mind-blowing perspective from Gary.


You can see why I always deploy the most empathy and kindness to the nastiest people (talking about a typical situation where a small mishap escalate to a nasty argument and ruin everyone's day).
They’re adding to their own unhappiness with their bad behavior. Those are broken, insecure individuals who often project their own unhappiness onto somebody else who’s also unhappy, and they both start arguing. That’s what happens at many companies, and that’s what I’m trying to change with this book.

4. Conviction

After being an intern at a stat-board, I realised that office politics is not for me. I'm sure most people would agree with me.


However, what I failed to learn when I was younger was whenever there are people, there will be politics. I was also surprised to learn that politics exists in a non-profit organization too! 😅


Looking back, I'm glad I didn't know about it back then and held on to the conviction to work for myself rather than others.


That's why when Gary spelled out the following paragraph, it resonated with me instantly.


When you follow your convictions against society’s pushback, one of two things will happen: either you’ll be right, or you’ll be happy you saw it through. If you quit your well-paying law-firm job to start a clothing line and it fails two years in, you don’t need to feel ashamed for not keeping your job like your mom told you to. You can feel relieved that in your eighties and nineties you won’t be asking yourself, “What if I’d taken the leap?”

I started my own business and failed. Lost much money and was financially lagging my peers by many years.


I joined the financial planning industry thereafter. It was a 50-50 situation back then because I wasn't confident if I would be able to do a great job. Especially after my earlier fiasco.


My parents almost went nuts upon hearing my decision. There were numerous times they asked me why I didn't get a government job and asked me if I wanted to quit and join them. It still wasn't too late...


However, looking back, I'm glad that I took the leap of faith.


Though I may be working longer hours than most people, I have never been happier.


More importantly, I managed to achieve breakthroughs in my career, every year (thankfully). Very appreciative of the guidance, help and support from the Infinity team.


Though financial planners are considered self-employed, we run our business as though it is a team effort.


Looking back, it was one of the best decisions I had made.


I had achieved the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) in the past two years, and targeting to achieve at least a double MDRT this year.


(A little plug here. If you are in gridlock and have not achieved any progress in the past years in the financial planning career, or you are looking to be in a more fulfilling career with proportionate effort to reward remuneration, I welcome you to pm me. We can hang out for coffee or zoom for further discussion.)


5. Curiosity

Remember earlier I was sharing about how I overcome my fear and evaded the problems I faced?


Well, I started getting curious about my own behaviour and began doing more reflection and research.


Instead of going with the mindset of I am bad at this area, I asked myself, why did I fail so badly?


What were the lessons I can learn from this episode?


How can I protect myself from such fiascos again?


It was only when I switched the lens, from being a destructive and dismissive perspective to a constructive and curious one that I began to come out of my shell and ask more helpful questions.


What Gary mentioned below is so true.


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.

Most people are playing safe, too safe. The unspoken risk has now become most people's blindspots.


Sorry to be a bearer of bad news. If you are not progressing when you are young, chances are, you are indirectly signing yourself up to be on the way down.


If you find that you have learned much from this post, I strongly encourage you to check out Gary's latest book.


And I hope I do get some referral fee (maybe in the future), but well, I'm deploying kindness here because I really feel that this is a very useful book for people who wants to achieve a breakthrough or scale higher heights.


If you have read the book, tell me what you have learned too! Curious to hear your perspective!




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