Achieving Success, Are You A Giver or a Taker?

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By Vikki Hankins|

‘Good guys finished last’. Does this apply to entrepreneurs as well? Does success only come to those that aggressively pursue clients? Wharton Professor, Adam Grant addresses these questions in his book entitled, Give and Take, Why Helping Others Drives Our Success.

By nature I believe myself to be a giver. However I’ve found that in business, those that get ahead faster oftentimes are takers. Givers are people with compassion that tend to place others before themselves. Takers place themselves first and care less about how another feels. In business, takers place their agenda before the clients, whereas givers tend to care more about the client and their results.

In a piece I recently read, New York Times Best Selling Author, Adam Grant paints clear pictures of the giver and the taker, yet introduces a third term to describe ‘even exchange’; the matcher. The matcher believes in tit-for-tat, and relationship governed by even exchanges of favors.

Here are a few points that I took away from the abstract for the book:

  1. …success depends heavily on how we approach our interacts with other people.
  2. Takers like to get more than they give, whereas givers like to give more than they get.
  3. Givers and takers differ in their attitude and actions towards other people.
  4. Matchers strive to preserve an equal balance of giving and getting.

As entrepreneurs, surely both categories need ‘results’ in order to become a success, but how one goes about it is what makes the difference. In my opinion there has to be a happy medium for both the giver and and the taker.

Due to countless episodes of Little House on The Prairie (their town store), I believe the exchange of merchandise for currency can still operate as it once did, with grace and dignity.

Within this abstract that I read, Grant shared the story of a giver who at first seem to end up with the short in of the stick, questioning his abilities as a business owner, but the tables turn – in his favor. So it is possible to use true ‘keep the client first’ practices and run a successful business! Give and Take, Why Helping Others Drives Success help us figure out how.

Adam Grant is Wharton’s top-rated teacher. He has been recognized as one of HR’s most influential international thinkers, BusinessWeek’s favorite professors, the world’s 40 best business professors under 40, and Malcolm Gladwell’s favorite social science writers. Previously, he was a record-setting advertising director, a junior Olympic springboard diver, and a professional magician.


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