Give and Take - Book Review

October 16, 2022

In this blog post, I will review the book "Give and Take" by Adam Grant. I believe that learning and growth are fundamental human needs. Sharing insights from this book serves as a form of active learning for me and hopefully for you as well.

2022 10 16

Firstly, who is Adam Grant? He is a young professor at the Wharton Business School and is known for his insightful research and books. By his mid-thirties, he had already authored five best-selling books.

In "Give and Take," Grant challenges common assumptions, such as "winner takes all" and "nice guys finish last." These expressions reflect the perception that being too giving allows others to take advantage of you. This fear is often reinforced by TV shows and movies that suggest successful people must be ruthless. For example, the film "The Wolf of Wall Street" portrays finance as an industry where greed is good, and success requires one to be a monstrous alpha male.

According to the book, this perception is untrue. Grant outlines four pillars of success: strong motivation, capabilities, opportunities (or, in other words, luck), and the way you interact with others. He categorizes people into three types: takers, matchers, and givers.

Takers focus solely on what they can gain. Matchers give favors only when they expect something in return, adhering to a "quid pro quo" mindset commonly found in politics. Givers, on the other hand, prioritize others' interests over their own, helping people without expecting anything in return.

In real life, people often exhibit a mix of these styles, adapting to different situations. So which style is most successful, particularly for salespeople? Surprisingly, the book reveals that the top 10% of salespeople are givers. Why? One reason could be the principle of reciprocity: people are more inclined to assist those who help them.

Data also shows that givers are either top performers or bottom performers. The difference lies in setting boundaries. Givers who don't set boundaries find themselves depleted, with no time left for personal growth. Those who do set boundaries are more effective and find that helping others often contributes to their own development.

Instead of prioritizing wealth, power, pleasure, or competition, I favor and prioritize values like helpfulness, responsibility, social justice, and compassion. It may seem counterintuitive, but adopting a more altruistic attitude can result in mutual benefits in relationships. Research indicates that those who regularly give their time and knowledge to colleagues often receive higher raises and promotions.

In summary, the key principles for success are: 1) Show up, 2) Work hard, 3) Be kind, and 4) Be a giver. Striving to make people laugh, entertaining them, and contributing to a better world are crucial for building a good reputation, especially in a tight-knit work environment. It's not a zero-sum game; the goal is to help one another. If there's any way I can assist you further after you've read this blog post, feel free to reach out.

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Victor Leung, who blog about business, technology and personal development. Happy to connect on LinkedIn