Give and Take

Give and Take: A revolutionary approach to success

by Adam Grant

This book caught my attention for two reasons, the author and the opening story. Adam Grant has been published in major publications including the NY Times and his series that he co-authored with Cheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. The key question in the opening story about two men in Silicon Valley – one an entrepreneur and one a venture capitalist – explores such an intriguing inquiry of who finishes first: those who are more generous (givers) or those who are less so (takers)?

Adam, a business professor at the preeminent business school at Wharton, seems to be on a mission to debunk the myth that takers take it all! He kept my interest throughout the book by seamlessly weaving together stories and research about how givers (other-oriented vs self-less) achieve more success than takers (opposite of givers) and matchers (those who aim to preserve an equal balance of giving and getting.) One of my favorite stories begins with a 2011 study by Fortune magazine which conducted extensive research to identify the best networker in the United States. The goal was to use online social networks to figure out who had the most connections to America’s most powerful people and the winning networker was connected to more of Fortune’s 640 movers and shakers than anyone else on LinkedIn. He has connections to everyone from Netscape cofounder Marc Andreessen to the former chef of the Grateful Dead! And, this networker extraordinaire gave 5X as much as he gets. For example, he has written recommendations for 265 people on LinkedIn.   The real benefit to giving is that they get the best of both worlds: the trust of strong ties (people they have trust) and the novel information of weak ties (people who are acquaintances or friends of friends).  Adam explains in his book that people tend to get jobs and new information from weak ties rather than strong ties – therefore, the reason why giving is a great long term strategy.

If you want to learn how you can be more successful, create culture in which giving is the norm, and just have more fun and learn more, this book will show you how. On the other hand, if you are suspicious and think it is weak to give and will be taken advantage of, read on. I recommend this to my clients – the self-less givers, the matchers and the takers. Which one are you?


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