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Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success Paperback – March 25, 2014
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An academic, Grant explains that added to hard work, talent, and luck, highly successful people need the ability to connect with others. We learn givers give more than they get, takers get more than they give, and matchers aim to give and get equally; all can succeed. The author’s aim is to explain why we underestimate the success of givers, to explore what separates giver champs from chumps, and what is unique about giver success. Emphasis on teams and the rise of the service sector offers givers access to opportunities that takers and matchers often miss. In the first section, the author explains his principles of giver success, and, in the second part, with insightful stories he explores the costs of giving and how givers can protect themselves against burnout and becoming pushovers; helping others does not compromise success. Grant concludes with his hope that this book will provide his young daughters’ generation with a new perspective on success. A worthy goal for this excellent book. --Mary Whaley --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“Give and Take just might be the most important book of this young century. As insightful and entertaining as Malcolm Gladwell at his best, this book has profound implications for how we manage our careers, deal with our friends and relatives, raise our children, and design our institutions. This gem is a joy to read, and it shatters the myth that greed is the path to success.”
—Robert Sutton, author of The No *sshole Rule and Good Boss, Bad Boss
“Give and Take is a truly exhilarating book—the rare work that will shatter your assumptions about how the world works and keep your brain firing for weeks after you've turned the last page.”
—Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind
“Give and Take is brimming with life-changing insights. As brilliant as it is wise, this is not just a book—it's a new and shining worldview. Adam Grant is one of the great social scientists of our time, and his extraordinary new book is sure to be a bestseller.”
—Susan Cain, author of Quiet
“Give and Take cuts through the clutter of clichés in the marketplace and provides a refreshing new perspective on the art and science of success. Adam Grant has crafted a unique, ‘must have’ toolkit for accomplishing goals through collaboration and reciprocity.”
—William P. Lauder, Executive Chairman, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc.
“Give and Take is a pleasure to read, extraordinarily informative, and will likely become one of the classic books on workplace leadership and management. It has changed the way I see my personal and professional relationships, and has encouraged me to be a more thoughtful friend and colleague.”
—Jeff Ashby, NASA space shuttle commander
“With Give and Take, Adam Grant has marshaled compelling evidence for a revolutionary way of thinking about personal success in business and in life. Besides the fundamentally uplifting character of the case he makes, readers will be delighted by the truly engaging way he makes it. This is a must read.”
—Robert Cialdini, author of Influence
“Give and Take is a brilliant, well-documented, and motivating debunking of ‘good guys finish last’! I've noticed for years that generosity generates its own kind of equity, and Grant's fascinating research and engaging style have created not only a solid validation of that principle but also practical wisdom and techniques for utilizing it more effectively. This is a super manifesto for getting meaningful things done, sustainably.”
—David Allen, author of Getting Things Done
“Packed with cutting-edge research, concrete examples, and deep insight, Give and Take offers extraordinarily thought-provoking—and often surprising—conclusions about how our interactions with others drive our success and happiness. This important and compulsively-readable book deserves to be a huge success.”
—Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and Happier at Home
“One of the great secrets of life is that those who win most are often those who give most. In this elegant and lucid book, filled with compelling evidence and evocative examples, Adam Grant shows us why and how this is so. Highly recommended!”
—William Ury, coauthor of Getting to Yes and author of The Power of a Positive No
“Good guys finish first—and Adam Grant knows why. Give and Take is the smart surprise you can't afford to miss."
—Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness
“Give and Take is an enlightening read for leaders who aspire to create meaningful and sustainable changes to their environments. Grant demonstrates how a generous orientation toward others can serve as a formula for producing successful leaders and organizational performance. His writing is as engaging and enjoyable as his style in the classroom.”
—Kenneth Frazier, Chairman, President, and CEO of Merck & Co.
“In this riveting and sparkling book, Adam Grant turns the conventional wisdom upside-down about what it takes to win and get ahead. With page-turning stories and compelling studies, Give and Take reveals the surprising forces behind success, and the steps we can take to enhance our own.”
—Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President of People Operations, Google
“Give and Take dispels commonly held beliefs that equate givers with weakness and takers with strength. Grant shows us the importance of nurturing and encouraging prosocial behaviors.”
—Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational
“Give and Take defines a road to success marked by new ways of relating to colleagues and customers as well as new ways of growing a business.”
—Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos.com and author of Delivering Happiness
“A milestone! Well-researched, generous, actionable and important. Adam Grant has given us a gift, a hard-hitting book about the efficacy of connection and generosity in everything we do.”
—Seth Godin, bestselling author of The Icarus Deception and Tribes
“Give and Take will fundamentally change the way you think about success. Unfortunately in America, we have too often succumbed to the worldview that if everyone behaved in their own narrow self-interest, all would be fine. Adam Grant shows us with compelling research and fascinating stories there is a better way.”
—Lenny Mendonca, Director, McKinsey & Co.
“Adam Grant, a rising star of positive psychology, seamlessly weaves together science and stories of business success and failure, convincing us that giving is in the long run the recipe for success in the corporate world. En route you will find yourself re-examining your own life. Read it yourself, then give copies to the people you care most about in this world.”
—Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optimism and Flourish
“Give and Take presents a groundbreaking new perspective on success. Adam Grant offers a captivating window into innovative principles that drive effectiveness at every level of an organization and can immediately be put into action. Along with being a fascinating read, this book holds the key to a more satisfied and productive workplace, better customer relationships, and higher profits.”
—Chip Conley, Founder, Joie de Vivre Hotels and author, Peak and Emotional Equations
“Give and Take is a game changer. Reading Adam Grant's compelling book will change the way doctors doctor, managers manage, teachers teach, and bosses boss. It will create a society in which people do better by being better. Read the book and change the way you live and work.”
—Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice and Practical Wisdom
“Give and Take is a new behavioral benchmark for doing business for better, providing an inspiring new perspective on how to succeed to the benefit of all. Adam Grant provides great support for the new paradigm of creating a ‘win win’ for people, planet and profit with many fabulous insights and wonderful stories to get you fully hooked and infected with wanting to give more and take less."
—Jochen Zeitz, former CEO and chairman, PUMA
“Give and Take is a real gift. Adam Grant delivers a triple treat: stories as good as a well-written novel, surprising insights drawn from rigorous science, and advice on using those insights to catapult ourselves and our organizations to success. I can’t think of another book with more powerful implications for both business and life.”
—Teresa Amabile, author of The Progress Principle
“Adam Grant has written a landmark book that examines what makes some extraordinarily successful people so great. By introducing us to highly-impressive individuals, he proves that, contrary to popular belief, the best way to climb to the top of the ladder is to take others up there with you. Give and Take presents the road to success for the 21st century.”
—Maria Eitel, founding CEO and President of the Nike Foundation
“What The No *sshole Rule did for corporate culture, Give and Take does for each of us as individuals. Grant presents an evidence-based case for the counterintuitive link between generosity and finishing first.”
—Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen, coauthors of Difficult Conversations
“Adam Grant is a wunderkind. He has won every distinguished research award and teaching award in his field, and his work has changed the way that people see the world. If you want to be surprised—very pleasantly surprised—by what really drives success, then Give and Take is for you. If you want to make the world a better place, read this book. If you want to make your life better, read this book.”
—Tal Ben-Shahar, author of Happier
“In an era of business literature that drones on with the same-old, over-used platitudes, Adam Grant forges brilliant new territory. Give and Take helps readers understand how to maximize their effectiveness and help others simultaneously. It will serve as a new framework for both insight and achievement. A must read!”
—Josh Linkner, founder of ePrize, CEO of Detroit Venture Partners, and author of Disciplined Dreaming¶
From the Hardcover edition.
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So, let me explain.
There are three broad styles of interpersonal dealing: taking, matching, and giving. Takers are those who try to take more than they give. Matchers are those who try to give and take proportaionally and conditionally. Givers are those who give more than they take. Takers are primarily self-oriented, matchers are other-oriented as a means to being self-oriented (I'll help you when I think you will help me) and givers are primarily other-oriented.
Here's the counter-intuitive part. If we look at the most successful people - the happiest, the most likely to be promoted, etc - they are generally givers, and if we look at the least successful, they too often tend to be givers. (Takers do moderately well, but over time, few want to deal with them. Matchers do okay too.)
This book is an attempt to explain why being a giver is a good 'strategy' for success, as well as under what conditions giving is a failing 'strategy.' First, the positive: simply put, people appreciate givers and giving often makes people want to give back. Since givers help others and often put others' needs as a priority, givers often garner (without deliberately trying - AND THAT IS KEY!) a network of support from others they've helped. Want to communicate most effectively? Ask more questions to others than you give answers, ask for advice, and be aware of how you can help others. Want to bring out the best in people around you? Believe in them by recognizing and appreciating their strengths and contributions. Want to be successful? Don't think of personal relations as zero-sum games (where others can only win to the degree you lose), but positive sum games (if you win, it doesn't mean that I lose, but we can all win together).
It sounds obvious, right? But it isn't. Even when we may be givers in our personal lives, we often become matchers or takers at work. Even if the success of a giving strategy seems intuitive, it is equally intuitive that getting ahead requires receiving as much as or more than you get, spending most of your time working on things that will obviously benefit you, and not spending more time assisting others at work than getting your own stuff done. But Grant cites a growing body of research showing that giving - under the right conditions - really is the best overall 'strategy.'
Of course, I said "under the right conditions." What are those conditions? Well, for starters, one must give with some sort of purpose. Those who don't see some sort of result from their giving often burn out. (So, fundraising telemarketers burn out less when they can talk with those who their efforts have helped, and teachers burn out less when they see what their more successful students go on to do.) Also, one must give to others and things that the giver is interested in. (Volunteering for projects and to help people I care about is much easier and fun than for those I care little about.) Lastly, one must watch out not to be exploited by takers, who can often seem like givers in their agreeableness, but be exploitative in the end. (And Grant gives some good advice on how to detect real givers versus takers who are good actors.)
So, all of this is what Grant calls 'otheerish giving.' Giving selflessly versus giving a bit selfishly is, Grant writes, what ultimately separates successful from unsuccessful givers. Give, but make sure one is giving with a sense of purpose, and to people and things one cares about. Give, but not when it comes AT THE EXPENSE of one's own projects.
And this is the one area of criticism I have for Grant's otherwise well-written and VERY interesting book. He doesn't do a great job distinguishing between matchers (those who give when they think there will be something for them in return), and otherish givers (those who give selectively). .On its face, I think I have an understanding of the difference, but the ideas are very closely related.
One other small area of criticism: does it make sense to urge others to give, but then point out that giving is a good strategy to success? If one adopts giving as a strategy for success, then doesn't that mean, in a sense, that they are takers (giving because they expect to gain more than they give ultimately)? Grant warns against this tendency, telling us that giving because one expects ultimate benefits - is often a self-defeating strategy that others can detect. But, doesn't the mere fact that Grant's whole point is to show that and how giving is ultimately a winning strategy mean that many people WILL adopt it somewhat artificially because they expect a payoff? (I don't see how its avoidable.)
Anyway, I did gain a lot from this book. Not only have I found myself monitoring some of my interpersonal dealings by the advice given in this book, but it's given me insights into what working styles many of my colleagues have (which affects how I deal with them). Very good book that not only conveys some very interesting research, but should be able to give people some good and usable advice.
Oh, and as a final teaser... chapter 3 explains why Jonas Salk - typically renowned as a giver for refusing to patent his polio vaccine - is actually a taker.
Which one best describes you in business?
Of course, in marriage and friendships, we contribute whenever we can without keeping score. We also shift from one style of behaviour to another, across different work roles and relationships. However, we all have a primary style and it has been shown to play as much of a role in our work success as hard work, talent, and luck.
Which style of relating is most likely to end up at the bottom of the success ladder, and which style on top? Pause here for a moment and reflect on your personal experience.
Research demonstrates that givers sink to the bottom of the success ladder - they make others better off, but sacrifice their own success. In a study of more than 160 engineers in California the least successful engineers were those who gave more than they received. A study of more than 600 medical students in Belgium, showed the lowest grades going to those described as givers. Salespeople were no different, with givers generating 2 ½ times less in annual sales.
“On average, givers earn 14% less money, have twice the risk of becoming victims of crimes, and are judged as 22 % less powerful and dominant,” reports author Professor Adam Grant, the youngest full professor of the Wharton School of Business.
If the givers are at the bottom of the success ladder, who then is at the top—takers or matchers?
The data reveals a surprising pattern – the givers again! “This pattern holds up across the board,” Grant reports. “The top performers were givers, and they averaged 50 percent more annual revenue than the takers and matchers.” It was only at the start of medical school that givers underperformed. They increased their scores each year and by the sixth year, the givers earned substantially higher grades than their peers. When the givers became doctors, they climbed still further ahead. And this pattern holds true across occupations.
David Hornik, a venture capitalist, is admired for his commitment to acting in the best interests of entrepreneurs. When he gives an entrepreneur a term sheet - a bullet-point document outlining the material terms and conditions of a business agreement - he also suggests that they shop around to ensure they get the best deal for themselves. Other investors, and if it is a promising deal there are always others, give entrepreneurs a tight deadline to respond to their offer in order to prevent shopping around.
The best venture capitalists have an acceptance rate of nearly 50% of the term sheets they offer. In the 11 years as a venture capitalist, Hornik has offered 28 term sheets and twenty-five have accepted.
“In this book, I want to persuade you that we underestimate the success of givers like David Hornik,” Grant asserts.
Giving can be more powerful and less dangerous than most would believe. “Givers reverse the popular plan of succeeding first and giving back later, raising the possibility that those who give first are often best positioned for success later,” Adam explains. The venture capitalist Randy Komisar remarks, “It’s easier to win if everybody wants you to win… (If) you don’t make enemies out there, it’s easier to succeed.”
Success is less about raw talent or aptitude, and more about the strategies givers use. Givers are not necessarily nice, and they’re not necessarily altruistic.
In a purely win-lose interaction, giving rarely pays. Most of life is not win-lose. People who choose giving as their primary reciprocity style end up reaping rewards. One reason why givers take time to succeed, is that it takes time for givers to build goodwill and trust, and establish reputations and relationships that enhance their success.
“Being a giver is not good for a 100-yard dash, but it’s valuable in a marathon,” says Chip Conley, founder of Joie de Vivre Hotels. Today, speed is making the long-run shorter, and technology is amplifying the advantages of being a giver. In the past, most people worked in independent jobs that rarely required collaboration, so it was fairly inefficient to be a giver. Today, more than 80 percent of Americans work in service jobs where giving is not a choice, but a business necessity.
Steve Jones, the former CEO of one of the largest banks in Australia, commissioned a study of successful financial advisers. It was not financial expertise or effort that made for success, it “was whether a financial adviser had the client’s best interests at heart, above the company’s and even his own.”
All this needs to be calibrated by observation, that too many givers become pushovers and doormats, and fail to advance their own interests. What differentiates successful givers from failed givers is the degree to which the givers expressed two key motivations: self-interest and other-interest. Self-interest involves pursuing power and achievement, and other-interest focuses on being generous and helpful.
This is well illustrated by a study of “Caring Canadian” award winners. The award is made by the Governor General of Canada to honour volunteers. In their life stories, these highly successful givers mentioned a quest for power and achievement almost twice as often as the comparison group. They also had roughly 20% more objectives related to gaining influence, earning recognition, and attaining individual excellence.
Takers score high in self-interest and low in other-interest and selfless givers score high on other-interest and low on self-interest. Selfless giving is a form of pathological altruism, an unhealthy focus on others to the detriment of one’s own needs.
“If takers are selfish and failed givers are selfless, successful givers are “otherish”: they care about benefiting others, but they also have ambitious goals for advancing their own interests,” Grant concludes.
Much food for thought.
Readability Light --+-- Serious
Insights High +---- Low
Practical High --+--Low
*Ian Mann of Gateways consults internationally on leadership and strategy and is the author of
Strategy that Works
If you live and work by the "Art of War" then this book is going to challenge many of your notions of ruthless winner and in place it might show how diplomacy with a hint of generosity wins over all else in the longer term.