Give and Take – Giving Works!

GATThe idea of people being givers or takers is not a foreign concept to most of us. We think of Mother Teresa as a giver and Kenneth Lay as a taker. However, Mother Teresa’s form of giving is not what being a giver in business means. This was thoroughly laid out in Give and Take by Adam Grant, which I read recently for a management class. Grant’s key point came down to the idea that givers are the most successful people in the business world – and there is a vast amount of scientific evidence to back this up. However, they can also end up at the bottom, so understanding the reasons why are important.

So, what is a giver in business? The same general concept from Mother Teresa applies – someone who gives (time, resources, knowledge, advice, etc.) without any expectation of getting something in return. The important aspect to understand is that successful givers look out for themselves and prevent being taken advantage of; this group of givers is described as being “otherish.”

For me, the most important thing I took away from the book is that givers can be and are the most successful people. There are exceptions to every rule, but the evidence is clear. I would self-identify as a giver and was given an evaluation of 80% giver and 20% matcher through Grant’s evaluation tool. A matcher is someone who will give, but expects something of equal value in return.

The book is filled with evidence and stories of those who have found great success as a giver. There were several other concepts presented that stood out to me, which I have described below.

  • Chunking: By grouping together the time spent helping others, givers are able to focus on their own work more effectively. This could mean volunteering for six hours every other Saturday instead of an hour a day, or scheduling every Tuesday afternoon as the designated time to help others at work.
  • Meyer’s Code: This code comes from George Meyer, an accomplished comedic writer whose work is likely known to 99% of every person in the United States. He laid out four items as the giver’s code of honor. They are simple, but often rare qualities.

Show up • Work hard • Be kind • Take the high road

  • Grit: This simply means having passion and perseverance towards long-term goals. Grit is more important than raw talent when it comes to looking at what can be accomplish.
  • Reciprocity Ring: The idea behind the reciprocity ring is getting a group of people together and having each person ask for something from the group; such as a group of CEO’s or MBA students. People just start helping each other. The examples given in the book range from career advice to process improvements. This very powerful concept boils down to people helping people who otherwise may have not.

Feeling that I am a giver, this book – more than anything else – served as motivation that I am not destined to fulfill the idea that nice guys finish last. Being seen as a giver who takes care of himself at work is a good thing. So, there is no reason to hide that you are a giver – own it and live it.

This really was a great read and I would recommend that you check it out, which you can do by clicking here.

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Defining Your Values

Similar to creating a mission statement, defining your values is one of the crucial first steps when beginning a business venture. Why? Because when you face tough decisions, this is what you lean on as a guide. Those decisions are easier to make when you have given yourself permission to make the difficult call. The difference between a mission statement and core values is an important detail; your mission should forge the reason for the business to exist and vales define what you believe in.

Core-ValuesWhen you take the time to set your core values and then define what they mean to the business/organization, you force yourself to evaluate how and why you do business. This means having to look at the suppliers you use, customers you target and product/service you sell. By doing this, you can look at your preferred outcomes and determine if they fall in line with your values. There are several good examples of companies with well-defined core values. In no particular order: Zappos, Southwest and Chevron.

I have listed several steps to help you focus in on the values most important to you. I believe the ideal number of values is between 3 and 7; any less and it won’t cover the full spectrum of your business, and with too many the message can get lost.

  1. What are your personal values? Personal values almost always reflect the business decisions being made. Why set business values you would have a personal problem living up to?
  2. How do you want others to define you? What would you want in a testimonial and what do those words mean to you?
  3. Look at your competition. This is NOT to copy, but to see what drives them. Would you have the same values? If so, what would set you apart from them?
  4. Get the entire team involved. With a small business/company, everyone can get involved. If you have too many people to fit in a room, find a way to let everyone’s voice be heard.
  5. Lock them in and send them out! Once they are set, make an announcement. This doesn’t have to be over the top, but make sure people know what drives you and your business.

Once completed, you are off and running. Values are not a required piece of any business, which is why I feel they are so important – values will set you apart. Defining the values of your business will serve as an essential piece of the foundation that success is built upon. To close, here are a few words from Steve Jobs talking about using values when tough decisions need to be made.

To get you started, please share what you believe your three personal values are in the comment section below.

Related Post: Your Mission – For Business and for Life

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