๐Ÿ“š Success through giving: lessons from "Give and Take"

๐Ÿ“š Success through giving: lessons from "Give and Take"


9 min read

Why did I read this book?

Recently, my mentor in employment and work culture in Korea, Minhee Jung, recommended this book to me to better understand the ways in which we can make connections. At first, I was not sure if the content of the book would clash too much with my way of thinking.

I come from a Spanish family where Christian values such as generosity are implicit in my culture. This, combined with a strong sense of helping others passed on to me by my parents, fueled my childhood dream of becoming a policeman, and later, a fireman. However, my aspirations changed and ended up changing my dreams again to become a software engineer. I believe that my life experiences have shaped my perspective, and sometimes restrained my ability to fully embody those giving values.

This book has offered me a new perspective on something that has always brought me fulfillment: helping others. It has reawakened this desire in me again as well as showing me how successful people achieve their dreams while helping others.

Below, I have saved quotes and annotations divided by the different themes of the book. This is according to my understanding of the book, your experience may be different and these annotations may or may not be that helpful to you.

Givers, takers and matchers

The main argument in the book is that in a networked world success depends on how we interact with others. The author suggests there are three different styles: Givers, those who give to others without an expect for a return; Matchers, those who give to get something in return; and Takers, those who are only motivated about what they can get from others.

The giving mentality

"I'll sum up the key to success in one word: generosity," writes Keith Ferrazzi. "If your interactions are ruled by generosity, your rewards will follow suit."

The main quality of givers that is described through the read of the whole book is generosity. This is the main characteristic of givers that make them what they are, being free in giving or sharing.

Instead of aiming to succeed first and give back later, you might decide that giving first is a promising path to succeeding later.

Giving to get something back is a matcher's mentality. Givers don't do things to succeed; if you do, it probably won't work.

The people at the bottom of the ladder are givers, but also the most successful ones.

The way these both givers operate make the difference between becoming a giver who is treated as a doormat and becoming one who knows how to identify people who want to just take things from them, the takers.

This is what I find most magnetic about successful givers: they get to the top without cutting others down, finding ways of expanding the pie that benefit themselves and the people around them. Whereas success is a zero-sum in a group of takers, in groups of givers, it may be true that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

They way givers treat others

When selling, givers ask questions in a way that conveys the desire to help customers, not take advantage to them.

When selling, givers ask questions and try to understand the client needs. They believe they are there to help their client. That is why clients trust sellers who are givers, because they really care about them and their necessities.

But when givers are advocating for someone else, pushing is closely aligned with their values of protecting and promoting the interests of others: givers can chalk it up to caring. And by offering relational accounts, givers do more than just think of themselves as agents advocating for others; they present themselves as agents advocating for others, which is a powerful way to maintain their self-images and social images as givers.

Givers are open about the fact that they are there to help, pushing themselves to protect and promote the interests of others. That helps them build their image.

In my own research, I've found that because of their dedication to others, givers are willing to work harder and longer than takers and matchers.

Givers are willing to put all their efforts for others, thats why they are also the ones that have to exert their efforts out of a sense of responsibility and work harder than anyone else.

How givers think of others

As a giver, Inman built this championship team with an approach that mirrored C. J. Skender's: seeing potential in players where others didn't.

Often, when people has to give a value to people, they tend to see what the other person can put on the table. Successful givers don't act like that. They see the potential in the other person and think of how far they can go in the future. They can find diamonds in the rough.

"Even when people are well intentioned," writes LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, "they tend to overvalue their own contributions and undervalues those of others."

When we work in groups, our perception makes us to underestimate others' contributions. We think of a higher estimation for our work than work done by others.

Givers like Meyer do this naturally: they take care to recognize what other people contribute

Another attribute of givers, they recognize other's people work, they don't underestimate other's efforts.

Networking and relationship building

Adam Rifkin believes that we should see networks as a vehicle for creating value for everyone, not just claiming it for ourselves.

The traditional way of networking is based on the norm of reciprocity, the famous "quid pro quo", you get something and you give something back. But the giver's approach is to build networks to be able to generate more value. In other words, give and take back in order to give or help more people.

when everyone contributes, the pie is largers, and givers are no longer stuck contributing for more than they get.

When giving, force the people you are helping to also give so they help other people.

Advice seeking is a form of powerless communication that combines expressing vulnerability, asking questions and talking tentatively. When we ask others for advice, we're posing a question that conveys uncertainty and makes us vulnerable. Instead of confidently projecting that we have all the answers, we're admitting that others might have superior knowledge.

Asking others for advice is also a giver's way of acting.

The 5-minute rule

His giving is governed by a simple rule: the five-minute favor. "You should be willing to do something that will take you five minutes or less for anybody"

This is the 5-minute rule. Is not about thinking about what the other person can do for you. Is not about trading value, but adding value to the other person. You shouldn't be thinking about whether if the people you help will contribute back to you. Be confident that someone else will do something for you down the road.

Weak ties and dormant ties

One of Rifkin's maxims is "I believe in the strength of weak ties"

Strong ties are our close friends and colleagues, the people we really trust. Weak tries are our acquaintances, the people we know casually.

Strong ties are people who are close to you and somehow share the same social circles. Since weak ties are often formed by people who are not close to you, these people get you to know others from different circles that you wouldn't be able to get to to know. For instance; to land a new employment, weak ties are more likely to help you get there than strong ties with people you know better.

Dormant ties offer the access to novel information that weak ties afford, but without the discomfort.

When you made some kind of tie with someone, that tie is not lost over the time, it just becomes a dormant tie. Dormant ties are very powerful because you have already made an environment of mutual trust we was built a long time ago and makes the conversation today smoother. You just need to reactivate the dormant tie.

Balancing self-interest and altruism: otherish givers

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.

Be a otherish, not a selfless giver. You need to also act for your own interests and avoid becoming a doormat. You need to be a hybrid engine between "self-interest" and "caring for others".

These resilient health care professionals were otherish givers: they reported that they enjoyed helping other people and often went out of their way to do so, but weren't afraid to see help when they needed it.

To be a giver is to go out of your way to help others but also to get help when you need it. This is the moment when you take back what you payed in forward. This help could be for yourself or, again, help others.

I'll also argue that an otherish style helps givers sidestep the land mines of being too empathetic and too timid...

Successful givers can't be that empathetic and timid.

Adapting giving strategies

Trust is one reason that givers are so susceptible to the doormat effect: they tend to see the best in everyone, so they operate on the mistaken assumption that everyone is trustworthy.

Successful givers need to know who's likely to manipulate them so that they can protect themselves.

The most effective negotiators were otherish: they reported high concern for their own interests and high concern for their counterparts' interests.

The dangers lie less in giving itself, and more in the rigidity of sticking with a single reciprocity style across all interactions and relationships.

... Although many successful givers start from the default of trusting others' intentions, they're also careful to scan their environments to screen for potential takers, always ready to shift from feeling a taker's emotions to analyzing a taker's thoughts, and flex from giving unconditionally to a more measured approach of generous tit for that. And when they feel inclined to back down, successful givers are prepared to draw reserves of assertiveness from their commitments to the people who matter to them.

As a giver, you can't act the same way with all people. Givers need to change their strategies so they are not used by others. They need to recognize takers and change their strategy.

The impact of giving in professional settings

Successful givers get to the top without stepping on others, that is something a taker would do.

We spend the majority of our waking hours at work. This means that what we do at work becomes a fundamental part of who we are. If we reserve giver values for our personal lives, what will be missing in our professional lives? By shifting ever so slightly in the giver direction, we might find our waking hours marked by greater success, richer meaning, and more lasting impact.

We spend most of our lives working. If we want to live as a giver, we should be givers at work too.

"Focus attention and energy on making a difference in the lives of others, and success might follow as a by-product."

This is the mentality that givers should adopt. Immediate success may not be possible, but by embracing this mindset, success will come sooner or later.