Are You a Giver or Taker?

Adam Grant has a sneaky way of getting under your skin!  The Wharton business school professor and author of the book “Give and Take” really challenges you to look at the world and look at those you work with as givers, takers or matchers.  You can’t help but categorize yourself and just about every other colleague you’ve worked with over the years as you go through this terrific book.  At times you want to flinch, challenge his premises, but then he counters with one great study after another.  What makes the book eminently readable however, are the anecdotes.  From studies of medical school students to anecdotes on investment bankers, Grant leverages his background as a social scientist and presents an alarmingly clear premise on who indeed comes out on top – the giver, the taker or the matcher.

While in the middle of this book I attended a dreaded networking event.  We all attend events like these.  The uncomfortable moment when you enter the room and your worse fear is realized … you do not know a soul in the room!  On the car ride over, I formulated a plan.  I would attend this networking event as a “100% committed giver”.  I vowed to help as many people in the room as I could.  I vowed to connect people, really get to know a handful of people and see if there was anything I could do to leverage my network to make their lives better.

And the results?  Wow!  I’m not 100% sure how all the pieces will fall, but I left that event so much more energized than when I entered.  I was able to connect a current client with a private equity group and wouldn’t you know it, I picked up a client!  All because I was having a blast “giving”!

I’ve always felt that I was a giver, but from time to time I fall into the matcher category and there certainly have been times when, generally under stress, that I could be categorized as a taker.

Grant’s terrific book will convince you that “good guys” can finish first.  In fact, givers just don’t win out over takers – in the long run they smoke their counterparts.  Yet givers do it because it is the right thing to do – it just happens to be a great business strategy and an awesome way to conduct your life.

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