Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant

Summary
  1. People tend to operate as either givers, matchers or takers. In today’s increasingly connected and competitive world, it is in fact the givers who tend to come out on top (but also the bottom). Highlights what effective networking, negotiation, influence and leadership skills have in common
Key Takeaways
  1. Successful people tend to have motivation, ability and opportunity but more importantly, success depends on how we interact with other people. We always have a choice to make – do you try to claim as much value as you can or give as much value without worrying about what you get in return. These are the two ends of the reciprocity spectrum – takers and givers, self focused vs other focused. Most people of course fall somewhere in between and are known as matchers – believing in equality and “tit for tat”
  2. Givers tend to be either amongst the most successful or the least successful of their group or peers
  3. Givers are just as competitive and ambitious as takers but they realize that giving has a cascading effect that over time far outweighs any short term gains they might get from taking. People root for givers to win whereas takers often make others envious. Givers succeeding creates more value for themselves and others
  4. Abraham Lincoln is a top notch giver and early in his political career he gave up political power for the greater good. This showed his true nature and won him many friends which supported him fully when he later ran for president
  5. Life isn’t zero sum. Givers realize this and their seemingly self sacrificing decisions ultimately work to their advantage 
  6. The giving advantage compounds over time and eventually reaches a compounding, flywheel state
  7. Success doesn’t have to come at the expense of others
  8. Strong networks help you connect with people with diverse skill sets, knowledge and power. How people think about and use their networks says a lot about them. Over time, givers deliver far more value to their network than they receive. The more altruistic you are, the more benefits you’ll gain as others sense you are genuine and wanting to help
    1. Andy Rifkin is an ideal example of a giving networker
  9. A true measure of a man is how he treats someone cannot help him at all
  10. Regardless of who they are, you should always be asking “how can I help this person?”
  11. Weak social ties hope you reach into new network and meet people or ideas you never otherwise would have had access to. Weak ties actually tend to help for that strong ties as they serve as bridges to other people sectors jobs and opportunities
  12. 5 minute favor – you should be willing to do anything for anyone that takes you less than 5 minutes without expecting anything in return
  13. Frank Lloyd Wright worked more as a taker and this could have been part of the reason for his dry spell
  14. George Meyer is an extremely talented writer and has helped many shows from The Simpson’s to Seinfeld and is a grade A giver
  15. Givers see interdependence as a strength rather than weakness
  16. Ability to empathize and see the other persons point of view is a vital skill to have 
  17. Pronoia – The opposite of paranoia where you believe people are going out of their way to help you or speak kindly about you
  18. Dormant ties are a powerful and neglected source of ideas and opportunities
  19. Givers tend to be more open and secure with themselves and this leads them to be more open to take risks and encourage others without seeking credit
  20. Establishing a culture with psychological safety, knowing that you can take risks without being punished, is vital for any organization
  21. Do everything you can to minimize perspective gaps. Continually put yourself in other’s positions to see how you’d feel or react
  22. New research indicates that interest and motivation precede talent, not the other way around. First teachers tended to be caring, kind and patient (Givers)
  23. Gritty people much more likely to achieve their goals and where givers tend to focus most of their energy as it often has the biggest payoff. There is a very close connection between grit and giving 
  24. Givers tend to be less vulnerable to the sunk cost fallacy as they are more open to feedback and their ego less tied to results
  25. Givers more open to the expertise of others, even if it challenges their beliefs
  26. Two main sources of influence – dominance and prestige (power and authority vs respect through admiration). Givers aim for prestige as it is more sustainable and less polarizing. Questions lead to powerless communication which can evolve into prestige.
    1. Side note – article on Melting Asphalt on this topic is fascinating
  27. Power of opening self up and being vulnerable can’t be overstated. This is especially true for experts. Some blunder, weakness or other flaw helps make the expert more human and like able (lawyer with stutter)
  28. People often get suspicious of powerful and persuasive pitches which is why questions and listening are often more effective in winning people over
  29. Advice seeking is a form of powerless communication and leads to group trust and more influence 
  30. Being “other interested” sets apart sustainably successful givers from temporary givers who are more self interested
  31. Givers burn out when they don’t see a way to effectively help. Sometimes all it takes is a change of context to get remewed energy
  32. Chunking giving has larger “feel good” effects than spreading giving out
  33. Volunteering about 100 hours per year seems to be the tipping point for givers to gain energy
  34. Giving for sense of enjoyment instead of duty much more gratifying
  35. Developing a strong support network of givers is important. Especially during stressful times
  36. Be careful not to stereotype affable people at givers and cold people at takers at this it’s often not the case
  37. Givers can protect themselves from takers by becoming matchers with takers
  38. Givers who aren’t assertive enough can imagine they are advocating on belated of family or others in order to gain more confidence. Fighting for others is often easier than fighting for oneself
  39. Common ground is  a major influence on giving behaviors. Uncommon commonalities is an especially strong connector
  40. People often take more than their allotment when they don’t know that they are deviating from the norm
  41. Assuming people are either givers or takers often is a self fulfilling prophecy
  42. Always aim to help your counterparts in a negotiation as much as possible
  43. Reciprocity rings – a group of people you can turn to to ask a favor or request of
  44. Tips to become a better giver – connect people who have some sort of connection (even if very weak), rekindle dormant ties, practice powerless communication, get better at asking for help
What I got out of it
  1. By honing your giving skills you can help others and yourself more than you ever thought possible. The ultimate win-win mindset