Give and Take (Book Review)

Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam Grant divides people into three distinct groups; takers, matchers, and givers. In 320 pages we are educated on why nice guys finish first. How powerless communication can be strong, and how from worrying you can go to success. Supplemented with a rich body of research, this social psychology book should be the one you get to read now!

Giving is the act of expending energy whilst not expecting anything in return. Richard Dawkins has argued that genes are inherently selfish, but on the group level, we can be amazingly altruistic. Givers are not the people at the centre of attention, they can very well be sensitive introverted people. What they are is considerate, consistent, caring and cooperative. Where takers and matchers see the number of shares/pieces of the pie as fixed (the former wanting to take a piece, the latter exchanging one), the givers look for ways to enlarge the pie for everyone to take a piece.

A word of caution is in its place here. When giving a person must in all cases not manoeuvre away from his or her own desires. A giver should be wary of himself or herself and others alike. A clear goal should lead his or her life, do know what you yourself want to achieve, whilst helping others. The people you help should in the first instance be everyone, but when confronted with a consistent taker, take your space and do not get overrun by his or her requests. Do not become the sucker.

Give and Take is filled with rich examples of successful givers. This ranges from Fortune 500 executives to volunteer teachers in the tougher neighbourhoods in America. One of the recurring examples, maybe even the role model of givers, is Adam Rifkin. He has been called the most connected man in America and has connections ranging from Hollywood to The Capital. He has not done this by taking resources from people or working his ass of (which he probably also does). He has achieved this by utilizing two principles. Giving people 1) a chance to connect to someone else that may help them to achieve something better together, and 2) giving honest five minutes feedback to people. But of course, these two skills are only two of the many things a giver does.

Adam Grant, a Wharton professor, has worked a long time on this masterpiece of a book. It is complementary to Quit by Susan Cain, they both emphasize that a great leader is not the extraverted he-man, but has other less superficial characteristics. Grant has also managed to spot how trends work, and via this is very alike to Malcolm Gladwell in identifying connectors. In the end, it all boils down to presenting man with a more stable long-term strategy to gaining resources. Sometimes being the nice guy in the room will have you overlooked, but in the long-term will get you ahead. Become convinced yourself by reading the book.

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