April 2013 Business Book :: Give and Take : A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam Grant

I have to give another thankful shout out to my local NPR station, particularly Radio Times hosted by the one-and-only Marty Moss-Coane for introducing me to another great business book.  Last month I read, Give and Take : A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam Grant and I highly recommend it.  I enjoyed all of the thought-provoking examples he offered that support the idea that givers (people who repeatedly help others even when it does not directly benefit them) can be and are the most successful people (more so than takers and matchers).

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Samuel Johnson, as quoted in this book, once said, “The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.”
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I was impressed with the way Grant explains that contrary to popular belief, “assertiveness and projecting confidence” do not always serve us well, and that givers take more of a “powerless communication” style that is quite effective in presenting, selling, persuading and negotiating.  Since givers value the experience and perspectives of others, they’re more likely to ask questions, seek advice and admit their weaknesses.  This is powerful since making yourself vulnerable seems counterintuitive to the goal of gaining trust and prestige.  Grant, however, offers a personal example of the way exposing his own vulnerability worked to charm 23 colonels in the U.S. Air Force when he was giving a presentation about motivation at the young age of 26.  By pointing out his lack of life-expereince right-off-the-bat, Grant was able to establish a rapport with the seasoned military officers that gained him the trust and prestige he needed to effectively present his material.
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Have you heard of the pratfall effect?  It’s when we are charmed by someone we perceive as competent when we witness them making a mistake (like imagine your favorite college professor having technical difficulties with her KeyNote and then you suddenly like her more for some reason –she seems more human).   It’s also when we are annoyed by someone we perceive as incompetent when we see them screw up.  The pratfall effect also reflects the benefit of exposing your vulnerabilities since it can set the stage for successfully making your case about something (as long as they don’t already think you’re an idiot).

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It’s so true that people love to talk about themselves.  When you think about people you really like, it’s probably because they ask you questions about yourself and they remember details about things you’ve told them.  One of the reasons givers are able to help people is because they ask questions.  When selling things to people, like I do, it’s important to ask questions.  I try to do this from the beginning so that I can better serve my clients.  DSC_9691 copy
At the end of the book, Adam Grant, being the giver that he is, provides an “actions for impact” list of resources and ideas for implementing the principles in his book.  One idea that peaked my interest was the Five-Minute-Favor.  This is anything that literally takes 5 minutes that could benefit someone else.  So for example, you can think of two people who share something in common and introduce them via e-mail.  Think of all the ways they would possibly benefit from knowing each other.

As soon as I read that I put my book down, jumped on the computer and sent an email out to two new mom’s I know who live in the same neighborhood who didn’t know each other.  I had been meaning to do it for a while, but reading about the Five-Minute-Favor inspired me to do it!  And it only took about 3 minutes!  They’re meeting for a playdate next week.  Yay!

Another idea is to reach out to one person who you haven’t spoken to in a while and find out how they’re doing, what they’re working on and how you can help.  So simple, but so awesome!

DSC_9716 copyAdam Grant also mentioned in his resources section, the GOOD thirty-day challenge.  Click here for a link to more information about that!  And thank you for reading!!


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