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Giving is the Secret to Getting Ahead: A New Strategy for Business Success by Wharton professor Adam Grant

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Much of Adam Grant’s book sets out to establish the difference between the givers who are exploited and those who end up as models of achievement. The most successful givers, Grant explains, are those who rate high in concern for others but also in self-interest. And they are strategic in their giving — they give to other givers and matchers, so that their work has the maximum desired effect; they are cautious about giving to takers; they give in ways that reinforce their social ties; and they consolidate their giving into chunks, so that the impact is intense enough to be gratifying.

The studies are elaborate and the findings are nuanced:

It is easy to walk away from the book forgetting the cautionary tales about people who give too much and remembering only the wash of stories about boundless generosity resulting in surprising rewards: a computer programmer who built a Web site at no cost for music fans (one of whom turns out to be an influential figure in Silicon Valley); a financial adviser who travels to take on a client thought to be impoverished (only to find that person sitting on a significant fortune); the writers who start out working free on a project for a friend (and somehow end up among the most successful in Hollywood).

The 3/31/13 New York Times Magazine cover story is very long and VERY good:

Worth spending some time reading.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Professor Grant last year. His work is ground breaking.

One round of giving enables another:

When Grant calls on a work contact and asks her to meet with an undergraduate seeking work, chances are that contact is more than happy to enable Grant’s favor, because she has already been the beneficiary of more than one from him herself.

The path to success is filled with people helping to clear the way.

From the point of creativity, Grant’s undiscriminating helpfulness also reaps professional benefits, Berg says. “The best ideas occur to people who are touching multiple worlds and domains. And in our field, he’s at the nexus of a lot of them."

It's not a transactional form of reciprocation.

It's more of a "I am helping you because it makes sense for both of us"..

For more thoughts on this, see the Five Minute Favor:

Adam Grant's book Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success comes out April 9:

Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success: Adam M. Grant Ph.D.: 9780670026555: Books

I recommend this book highly. Makes a fine gift, too.

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