Sunday, April 14, 2013

Learning to Become a Successful "Giver" as an Entrepreneur

There is a new book that I have recently added to my reading list called Give and Take by Adam Grant, which is about how some of the most successful people in life are categorized as "Givers" or people who try to add value in others’ lives without expecting anything in return. The author, Adam Grant, is a professor at Wharton who has done research studies around motivation and has categorized people as Givers, Takers, and Matchers to determine what traits successful people have in common.

The surprising fact that I learned from a interview with the author and articles about the book is that it turns out that Givers are over-represented at both the top and the bottom of professional success.  What differentiates those Givers at the top versus at the bottom is that the Givers at the top learn how to set boundaries for themselves instead of helping everyone all of the time without taking their own interest into consideration, which helps keep them from burning out or becoming a doormat.

Most entrepreneurs view being a Matcher as the safest strategy when it comes to networking. When someone helps them or makes a connection for them, they will remember that favor and try to return the favor down the road. However, one way we can all learn to become more of a Giver without feeling like we need to help everyone all of the time is to think of what we can offer someone else that is valuable, but may only take us a few minutes, performing acts that have a high benefit to the other person at a low cost to ourselves. This way Givers will be less likely to run out of time, energy and resources when helping other people.

In order to learn more about applying these principles, I went ahead and took the free self-assessment online to learn what my own default style was on the book's website:

I found the assessment helpful in confirming how I viewed myself on the Give and Take spectrum, but it also helped me reflect more about what types of giving I enjoy. Both making introductions and mentoring not only give me a sense of helping others, but both of these acts also cost me very little and I know they can be valuable for the people I interact with.

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