Thursday, November 21, 2013

Book Review: “Give and Take: A revolutionary approach to Success”

Can you be a big boss if you are not greedy? Can you move to higher positions if you spend you time giving to others? Isn’t it better to take as much as possible? And to grab every opportunity you have to get promoted? Why would you help others if you don’t get back more or at least equal?

This book argues with conventional view on how people succeed.

The book splits people into three categories: Takers, Matchers, and Givers. It could be that most of people are Matchers. We always try to pay it back. Entire world is build on that - you pay people. There are people who would smash you into the crap if you stand on their way. It is commonly accepted that these people get what they want. There is type of people who help others without second thoughts.

Adam Grant, the author, says that takers get to high positions quickly, but only givers stay there for long. Though it could happen that givers got trapped and become doormats or pushovers, the book brings some tips on this.

One of the reasons I liked the book is that it provides a lot of research information. Book is not written out of thin air it bombards with facts to support ideas. Studies and research results provided in the book are thought-provoking. Just reading them is very interesting and sometimes even exciting.

For example if you were to ask wife and husband to give a percentage of their contribution to their marriage life. Ideally it should sum up to 100% and be 50%/50%, but turns out everyone thinks that they contribute more so you get something close to 130%.

Or did you know that your name could easily affect your choices in life? People with name Dennis are more likely to be Dentist. At least this is something author brings as the fact. On the other hand I just googled why this might be not truth.

There are many more of similar studies and facts about successful people in the book. I enjoyed reading them.

Some are questioning if book is truly bringing new approach to success or it is just useless junk. I found this interesting question posted by Iryna:

Hi Adam,
While reading a book, I decided to conduct a research. I interviewed my friends and co-workers and asked them to pick four values and arrange them from most to less important. I used values from the list presented in Schwartz study.
I found out that all the men picked values from taker list. Wealth, power, pleasure and winning. The majority of women picked helpfulness, responsibility, social justice and compassion. So, according to my research, women tend to be more giving then men. (Was not surprised of course by this result). However, as you know the majority of executive positions are still occupied by men. The question is, does "take and give" approach work when it comes to gender? Or man who is a taker will always be a step ahead of a giving woman?
Thanks,
Iryna

It is very legitimate question. I also think that book brings some controversy thoughts. Splitting people just by givers and takers didn’t seem good enough to picture successful person, since many givers were and are not successful. Frequently because they were doormats/pushovers, burned out or just went unnoticed. I’m wondering if we could maybe come up with idea of successful person that also shares similar properties of giver, but also has what’s best from taker.

Let me try: I think the way to succeed is to give people something that they need and value more than it actually costs for you. Even though I used word “give” and it probably sounded like takers motto. But why would that taker be bad? He is just smart, and besides he is helping others by giving them what they want. Isn’t he? I think that supporting other people is very wise, since they will watch your back. Building solid social network is important and you indeed can only build it by sincerely helping. Giving credit and prising people is also very important and a must.

Important is to know what others need and what it is you can give them back.

I honestly love to give and help, but what I love even more is to get. When I was reading the book I though that I mostly fall into matchers/takers group and was a bit ashamed (since they are bad, right?). But I just took assessment on the website of the book: http://www.giveandtake.com/Home/ChooseAssessment

Here are my results:

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Doesn’t look that bad, does it? What are your results?

Pay it forward is exactly what this book advocates for. This is what my former scrum master did when she gave me this book and one more book. I’m really thankful her for this. I should be paying forward as well.

Dear readers this blog post is my payment to you. I don’t know you – I just share thoughts with you, but sometimes this might help me. It did in the past, since blogging pays off.

Do I recommend to read this book? YES! Definitely. It worth reading even if in the end you will find yourself not agreeing with some conclusions.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Andriy,
    I am glad you liked the book -- your former scrum master :-)

    One thing I am interested in: I noticed that I when I did the questionnaire at http://www.giveandtake.com/Home/ChooseAssessment that I started to guess the "right" answers according to book ...

    e.

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    1. Hello my former scrum master :)

      Yes, you are right. I think this could be the reason why people who read the book are more givers than those who did not as per that assessment. We should have took questionnaire before reading the book ;)

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