“Give and Take” by Adam Grant

My second recommendation is by Adam Grant, called “Give and Take,” (Viking, 2013).


The subtitle is “A Revolutionary Approach to Success,” which I think is unfortunate, because it gives the impression that this is a facile and superficial self-help book. It is anything but. Having said that, it is “a revolutionary approach to success!” Go figure. It’s a book about how our social interactions and attitudes towards other people affect our success. Adam Grant, an award-winning Wharton professor, provides compelling evidence that demonstrates those people who give more than they take are more successful in the long run, than takers who help others only when the benefits to them outweigh the personal costs. Givers, on the other hand, give help whenever the benefits to others exceed their personal costs.

There’s a third type of person he calls a matcher whose style is to balance giving and taking in a sort of quid pro quo. Their relationships are governed by an even exchange of favours.

Through some fascinating case stories, Grant illustrates each style and provides research to support his claims that givers rise on the ladder of success and stay there much more frequently than takers or matchers.

He also explores the downsides of giving. For instance, a problem givers can experience is giving too much and becoming a door mat. In his chapter, “Chump Change: Overcoming the doormat effect,” he discusses how a giver can prevent the traps of being too trusting, too empathetic and too timid.

Successful givers, says Grant, get to the top without cutting others down. They find ways of expanding the pie that benefit themselves and the people around them.