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Good Returns

The Dangers and Rewards of Giving More Than You Get The principle of give and take; that is diplomacy—give one and take ten.
—Mark Twain, author and humorist

On a sunny Saturday afternoon in Silicon Valley, two proud fathers stood on the sidelines of a soccer field. They were watching their young daughters play together, and it was only a matter of time before they struck up a conversation about work. The taller of the two men was Danny Shader, a serial entrepreneur who had spent time at Netscape, Motorola, and Amazon. Intense, dark-haired, and capable of talking about business forever, Shader was in his late thirties by the time he launched his first company, and he liked to call himself the “old man of the Internet.” He loved building companies, and he was just getting his fourth start-up off the ground.

Shader had instantly taken a liking to the other father, a man named David Hornik who invests in companies for a living. At 5'4", with dark hair, glasses, and a goatee, Hornik is a man of eclectic interests: he collects Alice in Wonderland books, and in college he created his own major in computer music. He went on to earn a master’s in criminology and a law degree, and after burning the midnight oil at a law firm, he accepted a job offer to join a venture capital firm, where he spent the next decade listening to pitches from entrepreneurs and deciding whether or not to fund them.

During a break between soccer games, Shader turned to Hornik and said, “I’m working on something—do you want to see a pitch?” Hornik specialized in Internet companies, so he seemed like an ideal investor to Shader. The interest was mutual. Most people who pitch ideas are first-time entrepreneurs, with no track record of success. In contrast, Shader was a blue-chip entrepreneur who had hit the jackpot not once, but twice. In 1999, his first start-up,, was acquired by Amazon for $175 million. In 2007, his next company, Good Technology, was acquired by Motorola for $500 million. Given Shader’s history, Hornik was eager to hear what he was up to next.

A few days after the soccer game, Shader drove to Hornik’s office and pitched his newest idea. Nearly a quarter of Americans have trouble making online purchases because they don’t have a bank account or credit card, and Shader was proposing an innovative solution to this problem. Hornik was one of the first venture capitalists to hear the pitch, and right off the bat, he loved it. Within a week, he put Shader in front of his partners and offered him a term sheet: he wanted to fund Shader’s company.

Although Hornik had moved fast, Shader was in a strong position. Given Shader’s reputation, and the quality of his idea, Hornik knew plenty of investors would be clamoring to work with Shader. “You’re rarely the only investor giving an entrepreneur a term sheet,” Hornik explains. “You’re competing with the best venture capital firms in the country, and trying to convince the entrepreneur to take your money instead of theirs.” The best way for Hornik to land the investment was to set a deadline for Shader to make his decision. If Hornik made a compelling offer with a short fuse, Shader might sign it before he had the chance to pitch to other investors. This is what many venture capitalists do to stack the odds in their favor.

But Hornik didn’t give Shader a deadline. In fact, he practically invited Shader to shop his offer around to other investors. Hornik believed that entrepreneurs need time to evaluate their options, so as a matter of principle, he refused to present exploding offers. “Take as much time as you need to make the right decision,” he said. Although Hornik hoped Shader would conclude that the right decision was to sign with him, he put Shader’s best interests ahead of his own, giving Shader space to explore other options.

Shader did just that: he spent the next few weeks pitching his idea to other investors. In the meantime, Hornik wanted to make sure he was still a strong contender, so he sent Shader his most valuable resource: a list of forty references who could attest to Hornik’s caliber as an investor. Hornik knew that entrepreneurs look for the same attributes in investors that we all seek in financial advisers: competence and trustworthiness. When entrepreneurs sign with an investor, the investor joins their board of directors and provides expert advice. Hornik’s list of references reflected the blood, sweat, and tears that he had devoted to entrepreneurs over the course of more than a decade in the venture business. He knew they would vouch for his skill and his character.

A few weeks later, Hornik’s phone rang. It was Shader, ready to announce his decision.

“I’m sorry,” Shader said, “but I’m signing with another investor.” The financial terms of the offer from Hornik and the other investor were virtually identical, so Hornik’s list of forty references should have given him an advantage. And after speaking with the references, it was clear to Shader that Hornik was a great guy.

But it was this very same spirit of generosity that doomed Hornik’s case. Shader worried that Hornik would spend more time encouraging him than challenging him. Hornik might not be tough enough to help Shader start a successful business, and the other investor had a reputation for being a brilliant adviser who questioned and pushed entrepreneurs. Shader walked away thinking, “I should probably add somebody to the board who will challenge me more. Hornik is so affable that I don’t know what he’ll be like in the boardroom.” When he called Hornik, he explained, “My heart said to go with you, but my head said to go with them. I decided to go with my head instead of my heart.”

Hornik was devastated, and he began to second-guess himself. “Am I a dope? If I had applied pressure to take the term sheet, maybe he would have taken it. But I’ve spent a decade building my reputation so this wouldn’t happen. How did this happen?”

David Hornik learned his lesson the hard way: good guys finish last.

Or do they?

According to conventional wisdom, highly successful people have three things in common: motivation, ability, and opportunity. If we want to succeed, we need a combination of hard work, talent, and luck. The story of Danny Shader and David Hornik highlights a fourth ingredient, one that’s critical but often neglected: success depends heavily on how we approach our interactions with other people. Every time we interact with another person at work, we have a choice to make: do we try to claim as much value as we can, or contribute value without worrying about what we receive in return?

As an organizational psychologist and Wharton professor, I’ve dedicated more than ten years of my professional life to studying these choices at organizations ranging from Google to the U.S. Air Force, and it turns out that they have staggering consequences for success. Over the past three decades, in a series of groundbreaking studies, social scientists have discovered that people differ dramatically in their preferences for reciprocity— their desired mix of taking and giving. To shed some light on these preferences, let me introduce you to two kinds of people who fall at opposite ends of the reciprocity spectrum at work. I call them takers and givers. Takers have a distinctive signature: they like to get more than they give.

They tilt reciprocity in their own favor, putting their own interests ahead of others’ needs. Takers believe that the world is a competitive, dog-eat-dog place. They feel that to succeed, they need to be better than others. To prove their competence, they self-promote and make sure they get plenty of credit for their efforts. Garden-variety takers aren’t cruel or cutthroat; they’re just cautious and self-protective. “If I don’t look out for myself first,” takers think, “no one will.” Had David Hornik been more of a taker, he would have given Danny Shader a deadline, putting his goal of landing the investment ahead of Shader’s desire for a flexible timeline.

But Hornik is the opposite of a taker; he’s a giver. In the workplace, givers are a relatively rare breed. They tilt reciprocity in the other direction, preferring to give more than they get. Whereas takers tend to be self-focused, evaluating what other people can offer them, givers are other-focused, paying more attention to what other people need from them. These preferences aren’t about money: givers and takers aren’t distinguished by how much they donate to charity or the compensation that they command from their employers. Rather, givers and takers differ in their attitudes and actions toward other people. If you’re a taker, you help others strategically, when the benefits to you outweigh the personal costs. If you’re a giver, you might use a different cost-benefit analysis: you help whenever the benefits to others exceed the personal costs. Alternatively, you might not think about the personal costs at all, helping others without expecting anything in return. If you’re a giver at work, you simply strive to be generous in sharing your time, energy, knowledge, skills, ideas, and connections with other people who can benefit from them.

It’s tempting to reserve the giver label for larger-than-life heroes such as Mother Teresa or Mahatma Gandhi, but being a giver doesn’t require extraordinary acts of sacrifice. It just involves a focus on acting in the interests of others, such as by giving help, providing mentoring, sharing credit, or making connections for others. Outside the workplace, this type of behavior is quite common. According to research led by Yale psychologist Margaret Clark, most people act like givers in close relationships. In marriages and friendships, we contribute whenever we can without keeping score.

But in the workplace, give and take becomes more complicated. Professionally, few of us act purely like givers or takers, adopting a third style instead. We become matchers, striving to preserve an equal balance of giving and getting. Matchers operate on the principle of fairness: when they help others, they protect themselves by seeking reciprocity. If you’re a matcher, you believe in tit for tat, and your relationships are governed by even exchanges of favors.

Giving, taking, and matching are three fundamental styles of social interaction, but the lines between them aren’t hard and fast. You might find that you shift from one reciprocity style to another as you travel across different work roles and relationships. It wouldn’t be surprising if you act like 3a taker when negotiating your salary, a giver when mentoring someone with less experience than you, and a matcher when sharing expertise with a colleague. But evidence shows that at work, the vast majority of people develop a primary reciprocity style, which captures how they approach most of the people most of the time. And this primary style can play as much of a role in our success as hard work, talent, and luck.

In fact, the patterns of success based on reciprocity styles are remarkably clear. If I asked you to guess who’s the most likely to end up at the bottom of the success ladder, what would you say—takers, givers, or matchers? Professionally, all three reciprocity styles have their own benefits and drawbacks. But there’s one style that proves more costly than the other two. Based on David Hornik’s story, you might predict that givers achieve the worst results—and you’d be right. Research demonstrates that givers sink to the bottom of the success ladder. Across a wide range of important occupations, givers are at a disadvantage: they make others better off but sacrifice their own success in the process.

In the world of engineering, the least productive and effective engineers are givers. In one study, when more than 160 professional engineers in California rated one another on help given and received, the least successful engineers were those who gave more than they received. These givers had the worst objective scores in their firm for the number of tasks, technical reports, and drawings completed—not to mention errors made, deadlines missed, and money wasted. Going out of their way to help others prevented them from getting their own work done.

The same pattern emerges in medical school. In a study of more than six hundred medical students in Belgium, the students with the lowest grades had unusually high scores on giver statements like “I love to help others” and “I anticipate the needs of others.” The givers went out of their way to help their peers study, sharing what they already knew at the expense of filling gaps in their own knowledge, and it gave their peers a leg up at test time. Salespeople are no different. In a study I led of salespeople in North Carolina, compared with takers and matchers, givers brought in two and a half times less annual sales revenue. They were so concerned about what was best for their customers that they weren’t willing to sell aggressively. Across occupations, it appears that givers are just too caring, too trusting, and too willing to sacrifice their own interests for the benefit of others. There’s even evidence that compared with takers, on average, givers earn 14 percent less money, have twice the risk of becoming victims of crimes, and are judged as 22 percent less powerful and dominant. So if givers are most likely to land at the bottom of the success ladder, who’s at the top—takers or matchers?

Neither. When I took another look at the data, I discovered a surprising pattern: It’s the givers again.

As we’ve seen, the engineers with the lowest productivity are mostly givers. But when we look at the engineers with the highest productivity, the evidence shows that they’re givers too. The California engineers with the best objective scores for quantity and quality of results are those who consistently give more to their colleagues than they get. The worst performers and the best performers are givers; takers and matchers are more likely to land in the middle.

This pattern holds up across the board. The Belgian medical students with the lowest grades have unusually high giver scores, but so do the students with the highest grades. Over the course of medical school, being a giver accounts for 11 percent higher grades. Even in sales, I found that the least productive salespeople had 25 percent higher giver scores than average performers—but so did the most productive salespeople. The top performers were givers, and they averaged 50 percent more annual revenue than the takers and matchers. Givers dominate the bottom and the top of the success ladder. Across occupations, if you examine the link between reciprocity styles and success, the givers are more likely to become champs—not only chumps.

Guess which one David Hornik turns out to be?

After Danny Shader signed with the other investor, he had a gnawing feeling. “We just closed a big round. We should be celebrating. Why am I not happier? I was excited about my investor, who’s exceptionally bright and talented, but I was missing the opportunity to work with Hornik.” Shader wanted to find a way to engage Hornik, but there was a catch. To involve him, Shader and his lead investor would have to sell more of the company, diluting their ownership.

Shader decided it was worth the cost to him personally. Before the financing closed, he invited Hornik to invest in his company. Hornik accepted the offer and made an investment, earning some ownership of the company. He began coming to board meetings, and Shader was impressed with Hornik’s ability to push him to consider new directions. “I got to see the other side of him,” Shader says. “It had just been overshadowed by how affable he is.” Thanks in part to Hornik’s advice, Shader’s start-up has taken off. It’s called PayNearMe, and it enables Americans who don’t have a bank account or a credit card to make online purchases with a barcode or a card, and then pay cash for them at participating establishments. Shader landed major partnerships with 7-Eleven and Greyhound to provide these services, and in the first year and a half since launching, PayNearMe has been growing at more than 30 percent per month. As an investor, Hornik has a small share in this growth.

Hornik has also added Shader to his list of references, which is probably even more valuable than the deal itself. When entrepreneurs call to ask about Hornik, Shader tells them, “You may be thinking he’s just a nice guy, but he’s a lot more than that. He’s phenomenal: super-hardworking and very courageous. He can be both challenging and supportive at the same time. And he’s incredibly responsive, which is one of the best characteristics you can have in an investor. He’ll get back to you any hour—day or night—quickly, on anything that matters.”

The payoff for Hornik was not limited to this single deal on PayNearMe. After seeing Hornik in action, Shader came to admire Hornik’s commitment to acting in the best interests of entrepreneurs, and he began to set Hornik up with other investment opportunities. In one case, after meeting the CEO of a company called Rocket Lawyer, Shader recommended Hornik as an investor. Although the CEO already had a term sheet from another investor, Hornik ended up winning the investment.

Although he recognizes the downsides, David Hornik believes that operating like a giver has been a driving force behind his success in venture capital. Hornik estimates that when most venture capitalists offer term sheets to entrepreneurs, they have a signing rate near 50 percent: “If you get half of the deals you offer, you’re doing pretty well.” Yet in eleven years as a venture capitalist, Hornik has offered twenty-eight term sheets to entrepreneurs, and twenty-five have accepted. Shader is one of just three people who have ever turned down an investment from Hornik. The other 89 percent of the time entrepreneurs have taken Hornik’s money. Thanks to his funding and expert advice, these entrepreneurs have gone on to build a number of successful start-ups—one was valued at more than $3 billion on its first day of trading in 2012, and others have been acquired by Google, Oracle, Ticketmaster, and Monster.

Hornik’s hard work and talent, not to mention his luck at being on the right sideline at his daughter’s soccer game, played a big part in lining up the deal with Danny Shader. But it was his reciprocity style that ended up winning the day for him. Even better, he wasn’t the only winner. Shader won too, as did the companies to which Shader later recommended Hornik. By operating as a giver, Hornik created value for himself while maximizing opportunities for value to flow outward for the benefit of others.

Présentation de l'éditeur

An innovative, groundbreaking book that will captivate readers of Malcolm Gladwell, Daniel Pink, The Power of Habit, and Quiet

For generations, we have focused on the individual drivers of success: passion, hard work, talent, and luck. But today, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. It turns out that at work, most people operate as either takers, matchers, or givers. Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.

Using his own pioneering research as Wharton's youngest tenured professor, Grant shows that these styles have a surprising impact on success. Although some givers get exploited and burn out, the rest achieve extraordinary results across a wide range of industries. Combining cutting-edge evidence with captivating stories, this landmark book shows how one of America's best networkers developed his connections, why the creative genius behind one of the most popular shows in television history toiled for years in anonymity, how a basketball executive responsible for multiple draft busts transformed his franchise into a winner, and how we could have anticipated Enron's demise four years before the company collapsed-without ever looking at a single number.

Praised by bestselling authors such as Dan Pink, Tony Hsieh, Dan Ariely, Susan Cain, Dan Gilbert, Gretchen Rubin, Bob Sutton, David Allen, Robert Cialdini, and Seth Godin-as well as senior leaders from Google, McKinsey, Merck, Estee Lauder, Nike, and NASA-Give and Take highlights what effective networking, collaboration, influence, negotiation, and leadership skills have in common. This landmark book opens up an approach to success that has the power to transform not just individuals and groups, but entire organizations and communities.

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Détails sur le produit

  • Relié: 320 pages
  • Editeur : Viking Adult (9 avril 2013)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0670026557
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670026555
  • Dimensions du produit: 16,1 x 2,7 x 23,6 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.3 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (3 commentaires client)
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3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Philippe Korda sur 15 mai 2013
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Les travaux d'Adam Grant sont remarquables et réellement novateurs. Les différents articles qu'il a publiés depuis quelques années pour la Harvard Business Review sont passionnants. Il y démontrait notamment à quel point les entreprises sous-estiment, parmi les facteurs de la motivation de leurs salariés, le besoin d'être utiles et de trouver un sens à leur travail. J'attendais donc son livre avec impatience...
Pour l'essentiel je n'ai pas été déçu. C'est un ouvrage très complet et documenté sur les "styles de réciprocité" dans le monde du travail ("giver", "taker", "matcher") et la démonstration que seuls les comportements généreux des "givers" permettent un succès à la fois individuel, collectif et durable. La force du livre tient dans les nombreux comptes rendus d'expérience de psychologie sociale, avec plein de chiffres étonnants. Je recommande sans réserve la lecture de ce livre, mais aussi celle des différents articles récents de Grant, dont beaucoup d'éléments très éclairants ne sont pas repris dans le livre.
Si je ne mets pas cinq étoiles, c'est plutôt pour des questions de forme : le livre est très "américain", avec de multiples anecdotes plus ou moins crédibles, la référence constante au succès (en résumé, "soyez un giver et vous allez réussir") - alors que le lecteur de ce genre de livre cherche des clés de compréhension des organisations et pas forcément des recettes pour devenir riche !
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Dan Merry TOP 1000 COMMENTATEURS sur 31 août 2013
Format: Relié
Adam Grant est la nouvelle coqueluche de la littérature des affaires et malgré les apparences son livre doit être placé loin du rayon développement personnel. En effet, le livre est une étude académique qui traite de l'impact du style de réciprocité que l'on adopte sur la vie professionnelle. En l'occurrence, il défend une thèse à contre-courant, définit, classifie et démontre qu’une forme appropriée d'altruisme est une des clés du succès. À force d'exemples, études de cas il entraine le lecteur dans la vie d'individus aux histoires fascinantes. De ce qui est du style, il s'agit d'une écriture académique allégé agrémentée de copieuses références bibliographiques. D'un point de vue personnel, j'ai apprécié le livre que j'ai trouvé nuancé et rafraichissant, je pense avoir intégré certains de ses enseignements et c'est pourquoi je le recommande. Bonne lecture.
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Je vous recommande cet ouvrage sur la base de l'extrait suivant :

"So if givers are most likely to land at the bottom of the success ladder, who's at the top, takers, matchers ? Neither. When I took another look at the data, I discovered a surprising pattern : it's the givers again
The worst performers and the best performers are givers ; takers and matchers are more likely to land the middle"

A mon sens un livre incontournable pour tout manager et tout collaborateur qui travaille sur les médias sociaux
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235 internautes sur 245 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Are You an Otherish Giver? 10 avril 2013
Par Kevin Currie-Knight - Publié sur
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
I've been reading this book for a few days now - finished it yesterday - and I am already finding myself changing a bit of how I operate. According to the book, I am usually a matcher - one who gives reciprocally, when I figure I can receive in return. And there isn't much wrong with that. But, according to Adam Grant and his bevy of research, otherish givers are usually the most successful.

So, let me explain.

There are three broad styles of interpersonal dealing: taking, matching, and giving. Takers are those who try to take more than they give. Matchers are those who try to give and take proportaionally and conditionally. Givers are those who give more than they take. Takers are primarily self-oriented, matchers are other-oriented as a means to being self-oriented (I'll help you when I think you will help me) and givers are primarily other-oriented.

Here's the counter-intuitive part. If we look at the most successful people - the happiest, the most likely to be promoted, etc - they are generally givers, and if we look at the least successful, they too often tend to be givers. (Takers do moderately well, but over time, few want to deal with them. Matchers do okay too.)

This book is an attempt to explain why being a giver is a good 'strategy' for success, as well as under what conditions giving is a failing 'strategy.' First, the positive: simply put, people appreciate givers and giving often makes people want to give back. Since givers help others and often put others' needs as a priority, givers often garner (without deliberately trying - AND THAT IS KEY!) a network of support from others they've helped. Want to communicate most effectively? Ask more questions to others than you give answers, ask for advice, and be aware of how you can help others. Want to bring out the best in people around you? Believe in them by recognizing and appreciating their strengths and contributions. Want to be successful? Don't think of personal relations as zero-sum games (where others can only win to the degree you lose), but positive sum games (if you win, it doesn't mean that I lose, but we can all win together).

It sounds obvious, right? But it isn't. Even when we may be givers in our personal lives, we often become matchers or takers at work. Even if the success of a giving strategy seems intuitive, it is equally intuitive that getting ahead requires receiving as much as or more than you get, spending most of your time working on things that will obviously benefit you, and not spending more time assisting others at work than getting your own stuff done. But Grant cites a growing body of research showing that giving - under the right conditions - really is the best overall 'strategy.'

Of course, I said "under the right conditions." What are those conditions? Well, for starters, one must give with some sort of purpose. Those who don't see some sort of result from their giving often burn out. (So, fundraising telemarketers burn out less when they can talk with those who their efforts have helped, and teachers burn out less when they see what their more successful students go on to do.) Also, one must give to others and things that the giver is interested in. (Volunteering for projects and to help people I care about is much easier and fun than for those I care little about.) Lastly, one must watch out not to be exploited by takers, who can often seem like givers in their agreeableness, but be exploitative in the end. (And Grant gives some good advice on how to detect real givers versus takers who are good actors.)

So, all of this is what Grant calls 'otheerish giving.' Giving selflessly versus giving a bit selfishly is, Grant writes, what ultimately separates successful from unsuccessful givers. Give, but make sure one is giving with a sense of purpose, and to people and things one cares about. Give, but not when it comes AT THE EXPENSE of one's own projects.

And this is the one area of criticism I have for Grant's otherwise well-written and VERY interesting book. He doesn't do a great job distinguishing between matchers (those who give when they think there will be something for them in return), and otherish givers (those who give selectively). .On its face, I think I have an understanding of the difference, but the ideas are very closely related.

One other small area of criticism: does it make sense to urge others to give, but then point out that giving is a good strategy to success? If one adopts giving as a strategy for success, then doesn't that mean, in a sense, that they are takers (giving because they expect to gain more than they give ultimately)? Grant warns against this tendency, telling us that giving because one expects ultimate benefits - is often a self-defeating strategy that others can detect. But, doesn't the mere fact that Grant's whole point is to show that and how giving is ultimately a winning strategy mean that many people WILL adopt it somewhat artificially because they expect a payoff? (I don't see how its avoidable.)

Anyway, I did gain a lot from this book. Not only have I found myself monitoring some of my interpersonal dealings by the advice given in this book, but it's given me insights into what working styles many of my colleagues have (which affects how I deal with them). Very good book that not only conveys some very interesting research, but should be able to give people some good and usable advice.

Oh, and as a final teaser... chapter 3 explains why Jonas Salk - typically renowned as a giver for refusing to patent his polio vaccine - is actually a taker.
119 internautes sur 135 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
I want to live in a world where givers do well. 12 avril 2013
Par Adam Rifkin - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
First, a disclosure: I'm one of the people whose stories are featured in Adam Grant's book.

I don't read a lot of books, but I'm glad I read "Give and Take".

I agree with the reviewer who says the book is worth reading for the first and last chapters alone.

The first chapter explains why people who give are more successful in business.

The last chapter ("Actions for Impact") is a short, useful list of practical tools to apply the book's principles in life.

The rest of the book is filled with good stories, too, but those are a bonus.

I think overall this is an important book. If more business leaders succeed through principled giving of time, energy, connections, and knowledge, the world will be a better place.

I want to live in a world where more people have this kind of success.
136 internautes sur 159 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4 Star Book . . . Give Or Take A Star . . . 31 mars 2013
Par Bradley Bevers - Publié sur
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
I have been looking forward to this book because I have heard so many positive things about it leading up to its release. It is a very well written book, and I am looking forward to reading more from Adam Grant in the future (a business professor who is a professional magician too . . . only good things can come from that combination). As talented as Grant is, and you can tell just from reading it how much work he poured into the book, I felt that it fell short in ways that other recent books have succeeded.

The basic premise of the book is that "Givers" are more successful in the long run, for a variety of reasons. This is especially true now in the United States because so many people, up to 80%, work in a service industry. Giving pays huge dividends, and Grant proves his theory with anecdotal evidence backed up by research studies.

What I Liked:

* The first chapter was very good. The argument that givers are more successful across a wide variety of fields is made succinctly, and the evidence is hard to argue with.
* Love all the practical tools in the last chapter.
* Stories chosen throughout the book are all new to me - no rehashing from other business books, which is a plus.

What I Didn't Like:

* Though the stories are different, I was not compelled by most of them. They were interesting, but the connection to the chapter material lacked in some places.
* The first and last chapter were great, but I would rate the middle as mediocre. Every chapter felt like it was just too long, like the publisher had a quota to fill and just stretched the material as far as it would go to get up to 300 pages.
* While I agree with the premise, I'm not sure I would be convinced if I hadn't already been on his side before reading the book. Did not read like a persuasive book.

I wish the author would have interspersed more practical application throughout the book. A book in a similar vein, To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, offers practical sections at the end of each chapter. Pink also argues for a new approach to business based on our service economy and, while he doesn't define them as givers, they come to many similar conclusions. Because I just read Pink's book and because of all the practical application, I will be recommending it over Give & Take should anyone ask. Would be hard to recommend reading both - as good as Grant's book is, there are others available that are more suitable for a wider audience.
256 internautes sur 309 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Renaming of well-known concepts and practices; Trivial new content; Annoyingly bloated and preachy 18 avril 2013
Par Douglas B. Moran - Publié sur
Format: Relié
In reading reviews of this book, ask yourself whether it is the book being reviewed, or is it the premise (concept) of the book. I re-read the reviews that enticed me into reading this book and found that, under a critical reading, they seemed to be predominantly the latter. And when you encounter a review that lauds the book as "new", "revolutionary"... while also contrarily reporting its content as "well-known", "proven" or an established part of the reviewer's professional life, be skeptical.*

My background: I am in my 60s and I now read this category of book not for myself, but to assist in my mentoring of others. I spent my career in high tech, 30 years in Silicon Valley.

At the core of my negative reaction to this book is a difference in world view. The book claims that "givers are a rare breed of people" (inside of jacket). My experience is that they are hardly rare**, and there are daily reminders of that -- for example the response to the recent Boston Marathon bombing. What you see are many people who are _reflexively_ givers (no pause for calculation). Note: I am not denying the existence of "takers" and "matchers", but take issue with the book's estimates of their numbers as being too high.

The book's subtitle "A Revolutionary Approach to Success" reveals how divorced from reality it is. The characteristics of the "giver" have long been taught in a wide range of leadership courses -- the only thing new here is the name. The "Servant Model" of Christianity (and other religions) is often invoked in these leadership courses, including some by the US military.

The book even argues against itself: It opens with a study claiming that "givers" dominate the group of most successful people and later argues that this is not invisible. No matter -- much of the rest of the book is spent using examples to argue for the existence of such people. And much of what this book highlights as making someone a giver is misdirected -- in my experience, those actions are side-effects or peripheral to the core. Although working on this periphery might help with the core, my experience is that it is not very effective (analogy: Forcing a smile can somewhat improve your mood, but actually being happy is better).

The book seems to come from within a bubble where the "me first" culture is seen as normal and pervasive.[6] Speculation: The author may be wrongly projecting what he sees in his MBA students as being representative of the business world and wider society. If you don't reside in such a bubble, much of what is in this book is tediously obvious.

The book is dominated by inept parables -- the type you might sit uncomfortably through during a church sermon from a mediocre preacher (except they are from the business world rather than the Bible). These parables have little instructive content other than "It is good to be a giver" and "Givers can be winners",[5] but this comes only after plodding through a page or two or more of mostly irrelevant biographic detail. Many parables use such extreme cases that they can be regarded as only motivational. The parables didn't cover anything about leadership and character that I hadn't learned before going off to college, but then I grew up in the days when supervised youth activities were the exception and thus we had abundant opportunities to observe and practice.

One expects books of this category to be bloated with excessive repetition that is compensated for by a writing style that allows the reader to breeze through and get its few nuggets. I found the parables so annoyingly presented that I could not do this. Part of my annoyance is that the template for parables signals that they are inauthentic and manipulative. Part is that the stories are so single-minded and narrowly focused on "the message" that they avoid any analysis as real-world situations, thereby undermining credibility and relevance. Add to this that many come across as just a way for the author to flaunt the people he seems to know (a type of taker he labels a "peacock").*** I have used "parable" for the stories to emphasize that these are not "case studies", as one might expect from an author who is a business school professor, or even very simplified versions of such, but rather theology.

The book's presentation of Freecycle as exceptional illustrates the basic analytic failings of this book. First, Freecycle was just another creation of a community or corporate culture -- something that has long been a basic part of leadership and Organizational Psych. Second, Freecycle didn't really create anything new, but rather provided a much larger scale alternative to what had long been happening on a wide range of email lists, discussion groups,... And that sharing of physical goods had been a natural growth of the sharing of information on those groups, which had built upon ... Rather than creating a new culture, Freecycle was largely recruiting, and facilitating, people already well into that culture (and was much appreciated).

Interspersed with the parables are accounts of various psychological studies. If you have taken the normal introductory courses in Psychology and Organizational Psychology, or done equivalent readings, much of this will already be familiar to you, or at least unsurprising. And the presentation of these studies is motivational -- in keeping with the tone of the parables -- rather than analytical.**** I understand that an author may well want to include such material for newbies, but the book's format should allow more typical readers to easily ID and skip it. This book does the reverse.

The book makes brief and shallow excursions into how being a "giver" can get you into trouble, but I judge it to only be enough to alert the reader to existence of such problems, but not enough to provide real-world assistance.

Disclosure: I didn't read every page of this book. I read the initial chapters and then started a pattern of skipping a few pages and reading to see if there was anything worthwhile. My rating of 2-star (Amazon's interpretation: "I disliked it") is based upon its having been a total waste of time, and I was very tempted to give it only 1 star ("I hated it") because of its fraudulent promotion.

---- Footnotes ----
* Recognize that the publisher, not the author, controls the hyperbole in the promotional materials. I expect potential customers to recognize such as advertising and to be skeptical of its claims -- I down-grade the book only when it crosses a threshold of being misleading about whether one would want to buy the book. I have a different standards for reviews because they present themselves as independent evaluations, not ads.

** One should remember that the creation and growth of the Internet was powered by a vast community of "givers": people (and companies) freely contributing design, software implementations, tech support, computing resources and network bandwidth. Although the business school perspective on the free version of a commercial product is that it is a "gateway", the reality (personal experience) is that it is recognized that the conversion rate will be tiny and the motivation for making the free version available corresponds to what this book attributes to "givers".
Silicon Valley (pre DotCom boom) was routinely portrayed as being powered by honest partnering in contrast to Microsoft which was an abusive "partner".

*** Remember that a book review is not about what the author is or isn't, but what the book itself is. It is to help the potential reader make a decision whether to spend money and time on the book.

**** Caveat: One of my Psych professors cautioned that, based on the subjects in the typical experiment, the field would more accurately be called "Psychology of undergraduates at major research universities" (early 1970s). General awareness of this problem now has its own acronym: WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic).

5.[Added 2013-04-22] As an example of giving, the book describes a CEO who religiously writes thank-you notes after each meeting, _failing_ to consider the potential practical reasons for such behavior, which can range from the mundane to the strategic (or it could be OCD from childhood training). A note can simply be confirming contact details (eg for an activities log). The note may be primarily for the writer's benefit -- reenforcing memory of what was important in the meeting. The note may be an informal confirmation of what came out of the meeting. The note may politely set the boundaries on subsequent interactions -- something that may be different from the assumptions going into the meeting. ... This sort of narrow, distorted interpretations permeate the book, making it unsuitable even as an alternative to more traditional materials on this topic.

6.[Added 2013-04-26] What the book calls "powerless communication" has long been taught as techniques in leadership, negotiation and persuasion (and even interrogation). My inference was that the book was positioning this in contrast to an approach that emphasized _establishing_ dominance, possibly even bullying the other parties. If true, this is a Strawman: One of the basic lessons about leadership is that power based on bullying and related methods is expensive and fragile, if not illusory, and likely to be transient.

-- Douglas B. Moran
33 internautes sur 40 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The ideas in this book can change the world 9 avril 2013
Par Srikumar S. Rao - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
This book talks about `givers', `takers' and `matchers'. Givers are rare and they help others instinctively, frequently at cost to themselves. Their open-handed generosity makes the world better. Takers tilt the reciprocity balance toward themselves and put their own interest above that of everyone else. Matchers try to balance giving and taking and expect direct reciprocity when they help others.

Now, in a competitive world takers should rise to the top, right? Givers are so busy helping others that their own work suffers. And, indeed, many surveys find that those at the bottom of the heap have higher `giving' scores than those above them who tend to be takers and matchers.

Proof that `good guys finish last', right?

Hold your horses. It turns out that those at the very top also have higher giving scores than the average of those below them. In other words givers dominate at both the top and bottom.
Why this is so and what do the givers on top do differently from those at the bottom is what the book is all about. It also reinforces a thesis I strongly hold. If you want to get ahead, then help as many others as you can without keeping score.

Givers on the top are `otherish', meaning that they do not deplete themselves and quickly learn to give the most to other givers. It's a little bit like the admonition you hear from a flight attendant every time you board a plane - in case of a decompression, first put the mask on yourself and then try to help others. They differ from matchers because they do not try to balance their giving and taking.

There are host of super stories throughout. The opening vignette is about a venture capitalist who agreed to fund an entrepreneur but gave him all the time in the world and placed no restrictions on his offer. The entrepreneur went elsewhere.

But he was so impressed by the way the venture capitalist handled himself that he went back to give him a part of the deal and then became a fervent advocate and helped him get many other clients. That is the way it works.

In a popular course I teach called Creativity and Personal Mastery there is an exercise called The Other-Centered Universe in which participants set out to help someone with no strings attached. Their reward is the privilege of being able to help. They are not even allowed to expect a `thank you'. If they get one, that is a bonus. If they regret not getting one, they violated the spirit of the exercise. Participants report that they feel extraordinarily good after doing this exercise.

Now Grant provides `proof' that behaving in such a manner not only makes you feel good but also likely places you on a fast track to success.

His examples touch many industries and occupations. Politics is largely absent with the exception of a shining example of a politician who achieved truly great things as a by product of his unstinting giving. Many of his former opponents became his supporters or, at least, helped him at crucial junctures.

That politician is Abraham Lincoln - certainly a person worthy of emulation.

Now, it is readily obvious that the world will be a vastly better place if there were many more givers than takers. Can you imagine what would happen if politicians in our troubled areas - such as the Middle East - became genuine givers sincerely interested in the well-being of their political adversaries?

Great thought, but unlikely to happen, right?

Is it possible to `convert' a taker to a `giver.' I know it is because, in my course, it happens repeatedly. Every participant comments on how giving everyone else is. I now know why this happens. Takers are highly sensitive to the context in which they operate. When they are in a situation where the `norm' is giving, then that part of them surfaces and they often give much more than they take and also much more than they would have normally given. They cleverly figure out that if they are perceived as givers, others will give more to them and they want that.

So a national conversation about givers and takers could get everyone sensitized to such behavior and have persons evaluating one another in terms of their `giving' and `taking' behavior. When such a conversation is taking place, takers tend to become givers.

Initially takers become givers because they are sensitive to reputation and do not want to be labeled as takers. But, eventually, when they have done it long enough, they become genuine givers.

And, with the high profile Adam Grant has, this book could just start such a national conversation. And when takers become givers, all of us will benefit and the world will change for the better.

One caveat, the indexing is terrible. When you read it, have your highlighter in hand and a pen. Mark sections you want to return to and persons who you would like to know more about. Many mentioned in the book such as Scott Gerber, Jonathan Haidt and Sameer Jain do not make it to the index.

Finally, there are stunning insights in the book that you can use immediately for great personal benefit. For example, Grant reports on a study that showed men consistently outdoing women in a negotiating game. A simple shift had the women running rings around the men.

This is a technique that I have used and teach and it absolutely works. It is not gender specific - a later story shows how a man used it to gain a substantial salary increase.

So what is this method? Get the book to find out. I will tell you this much - the answer is on page 205.
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