Give and Take


The Last Lecture
Opening up – Pennebaker
The Rare Find – George Anders
The Smartest Guys in the Room

Takers: Takers are individuals who prioritize their own interests above all else. They often seek to maximize personal gain without much consideration for how their actions impact others. Takers may engage in behaviors such as manipulation, exploitation, and opportunism to advance their own agendas. While takers may achieve short-term success, their relationships tend to be transactional and lack depth, which can hinder long-term success and fulfillment.

Matchers: Matchers are individuals who strive to maintain a balance between giving and taking. They operate on the principle of reciprocity, aiming to reciprocate favors and maintain a sense of fairness in their interactions. Matchers are willing to help others but expect quid pro quo – they are more likely to give when they anticipate receiving something of equal value in return. Matchers often seek to uphold social norms and values of fairness
and equity.

Givers: Givers are individuals who are inclined to contribute to others without expecting immediate returns. They are generous with their time, knowledge, resources, and support, often prioritizing the well-being of others. Givers thrive in collaborative environments and are motivated by a genuine desire to help others succeed. However, if taken advantage of consistently, givers can experience burnout and exhaustion.

Good Returns

Success depends heavily on how we approach our interactions with other people.

“Above all, I want to demonstrate that success doesn’t have to come at someone else’s expense.” – David Hornik

The Peacock and the Panda

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” – Martin Luther King Jr

“If you set out to help others, you will rapidly reinforce your own reputation and expand your universe of possibilities.” – Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn founder

"The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." - Samuel Johnson

“If we create networks with the sole intention of getting something, we won’t succeed. We can’t pursue the benefits of networks; the benefits ensue from investments in meaningful activities and relationships.” – Wayne Baker

"If you insist on a quid pro quo every time you help others, you will have a much narrower network." - Reid Hoffman

“When you meet people, you should be asking yourself, how can I help the other person?” – Guy Kawasaki

“I believe in the strength of weak ties.” – Adam Rifkin, movie director

“The key to success in one word: generosity. If your interactions are ruled by generosity, your rewards will follow suit.” – Keith Ferrazzi

The Ripple Effect

A defining feature of how givers collaborate: they take on tasks that are in the group’s best interest, not necessarily their own personal interests. This makes their groups better off: studies show that on average, from sales teams to paper mill crews to restaurants, the more giving group members do, the higher the quantity and quality of their groups’ products and services.

Research shows that givers get extra credit when they offer ideas that challenge the status quo.

Finding the Diamond in the Rough

“When we treat man as he is we make him worse than he is, when we treat him as if he already was what he potentially could be, we make him what he should be.” – Wolfgang von Goethe

Natural talent matters, but once you have a pool of candidates above the threshold of necessary potential, grit is a major factor that predicts how close they get to achieving their potential.
This is why givers focus on gritty people: it’s where givers have the greatest return on their investment, the most meaningful and lasting impact.

Setting high expectations is so important. You have to push people, make them stretch and do more than they think possible. It makes them better learners.”
“They need to make a significant investment, and it pays off. Forcing them to work harder than they ever have in their lives benefits them in the long run.” – Skender

One of the keys to cultivating grit is making the task at hand more interesting and motivating.

“Talented musicians and athletes were initially taught by givers, teachers who liked children and rewarded them with praise, signs of approval, or even candy when they did anything right. They were extremely encouraging. They were enthusiastic about the talent field and what they had to teach these children. In many cases, they treated the child as a friend of the family might. Perhaps the major quality of these teachers was that they made the initial learning very pleasant and rewarding.”

Factors of why and when escalation of commitment happens:

  • Sunk cost fallacy – when estimating the value of a future investment, we have trouble ignoring what we’ve already invested in the past.
  • Anticipated regret – Will I be sorry that I didn’t give this another chance?
  • Project completion – If I keep investing, I can finish the project.
  • Ego threat (single most powerful factor) – If I don’t keep investing, I’ll look and feel like a fool.
People actually make more accurate and creative decisions when they're choosing on behalf of others than themselves.

Because of their dedication to others, givers are willing to work harder and longer than takers and matchers. Even when practice is no longer enjoyable, givers continue exerting effort out of a sense of responsibility to their team.

The Power of Powerless Communication

“Speak softly, but carry a big stick.” – Theodore Roosevelt, US president

Takers tend to worry that revealing weaknesses will compromise their dominance and authority. Givers are much more comfortable expressing vulnerability: they’re interested in helping others, not gaining power over them, so they’re not afraid of exposing chinks in their armor. By making themselves vulnerable, givers can actually build prestige.

Expressing vulnerability is only effective if the audience receives other signals establishing the speaker’s competence.

“Most of us find that communicating our thoughts is a supremely enjoyable learning experience.” – Pennebaker

“I don’t look at it as selling. I see myself as an optician. We’re in the medical field first, retail second, sales maybe third. My job is to take the patient, ask the patient questions, and see what the patient needs. My mind-set is not to sell. My job is to help. My main purpose is to educate and inform patients on what’s important. My true concern is the long run is that the patient can see.” – Kildare, glasses shop salesperson

Asking questions is a form of powerless communication that givers adopt naturally.

Expert negotiators spent much more time trying to understand the other side’s perspective: questions made up over 21 percent of the experts’ comments but less than 10 percent of the average negotiators’ comments.

Out of curiosity, are you planning to vote in the next presidential campaign? Just by asking you that one question, I’ve just increased the odds that you will actually vote by 41 percent.

If I tell you to go out and vote, you might resist. But when I ask if you’re planning to vote, you don’t feel like I’m trying to influence you. It’s an innocent query, and instead of resisting my influence, you reflect on it.
→ This doesn’t feel like I’m persuading you. You’ve been convinced by someone you already like and trust: Yourself.

By asking people questions about their plans and intentions, we increase the likelihood that they actually act on these plans and intentions.

Research shows that if I ask you whether you’re planning to buy a new computer in the next six months, you’ll be 18 percent more likely to go out and get one.

Talking tentatively didn’t establish dominance, but it earned plenty of prestige. Team members worked more productively when the tentative talkers showed that they were open to advice.

New research shows that advice seeking is a surprisingly effective strategy for exercising influence when we lack authority.

Asking for advice encouraged greater cooperation and information sharing, turning a potentially contentious negotiation into a win-win deal.

Seeking advice is among the most effective ways to influence peers, superiors, and subordinates.

Advice seeking actually encourages others to take our perspectives.

“He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged.” – Benjamin Franklin

Regardless of their reciprocity styles, people love to be asked for advice.
Expressing vulnerability, asking questions, talking tentatively, and seeking advice can open doors to gaining influence.
→ Those who do often find that it's useful in situations where we need to build rapport and trust.

The Art of Motivation Maintenance

“The intelligent altruists, though less altruistic than the unintelligent altruists, will be fitter than both unintelligent altruists and selfish individuals.” – Herbert Simon, Nobel Prize economics

Successful givers are just as ambitious as takers and matchers.

Givers don’t burn out when they devote too much time and energy to giving. They burn out when they’re working with people in need but are unable to help effectively.

Create an opportunity for giving that is also personally rewarding, drawing energy from the visible impact of your contributions.

Think more about your own well-being and find a way to improve it by giving in a new way.

When people give continually without concern for their own well-being, they’re at risk for poor metal and physical health.

One hundred hours of giving and volunteering per year seems to be a magic number when it comes to giving.

One is able to work much harder and longer when one gives their energy and time due to a sense of enjoyment and purpose, rather than duty and obligation.

“There is now a consistent and strong body of evidence that a lack of social support is linked to burnout.” – Christina Maslach
For every 1inextracharitablegiving,incomewas3.75 higher. Giving actually seemed to make people richer.

Other studies show that elderly adults who volunteer or give support to others actually live longer.

Chump Change

How givers avoid getting burned:
They become matchers in their exchanges with takers. It’s wise to start out as a giver, since research shows that trust is hard to build but easy to destroy. But once a counterpart is clearly acting like a taker, it makes sense for givers to flex their reciprocity styles and shift to a matching strategy.

The Scrooge Shift

“How selfish so ever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, although he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it” – Adam Smith, father of economics

People are motivated to give to others when they identify as part of a common community.

People often take because they don’t realize that they’re deviating from the norm.
In these situations, showing them the norm is often enough to motivate them to give-especially if they have matcher instincts.

Research shows that at work, the vast majority of giving that occurs between people are in response to direct requests for help.

Out of the Shadows

“Some people, when they do someone a favor, are always looking for a chance to call it in. And some aren’t, but they’re still aware of it-still regard it as a debt. But others don’t even do that. They’re like a vine that produces grapes without looking for anything in return. After helping others, they just go on to something else. We should be like that.” – Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor

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

A set of practical actions you can take:

  1. Test your Giver Quotient.
  2. Run a Reciprocity Ring.
  3. Help other people craft their jobs-or craft yours to incorporate more giving.
  4. Start a Love Machine.
  5. Embrace the Five-Minute Favor.
  6. Practice powerless communication, but become an advocate.
  7. Join a community of Givers.
  8. Help fund a Project.