Adam's New Book: Give And Take
--Nipun Mehta
3 minute read
Mar 29, 2013

Adam Grant is on the cover of this Sunday's Times Magazine (print edition), and the story is currently most-read across the NY Times website: Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead? This is exciting news because the feature of the article is his book, Give and Take, about ... generosity!

Incorporating several decades of social-science research on reciprocity, 'Give and Take' divides the world into three categories: givers, matchers and takers. Givers give without expectation of immediate gain; they never seem too busy to help, share credit actively and mentor generously. Matchers go through life with a master chit list in mind, giving when they can see how they will get something of equal value back and to people who they think can help them. And takers seek to come out ahead in every exchange; they manage up and are defensive about their turf. Most people surveyed fall into the matcher category — but givers, Grant says, are overrepresented at both ends of the spectrum of success: they are the doormats who go nowhere or burn out, and they are the stars whose giving motivates them or distinguishes them as leaders.

Having read the advance copy of the manuscript, I can say that the book rocks. Written in a Gladwell-esque way with lots of thoughtful research, it tries to convince you to shift towards the giving end of the spectrum. Moreover, its written by someone who walks his talk.  As the NYT article cites, the Giving Professor writes 100 recommendation letters every year, he responds to hundreds of emails everyday, he lets his students file through his LinkedIn profile to make helpful connections for them. And in fact, I know the last bit :) because sometime last year, Adam wrote to me of a graduate student who had a strong reason to ask one question of the Dalai Lama. The meeting happened, as the student flew down to India for his half hour meeting and ended up being profoundly transformed.  Adam is not only a giver, but sensitive to inner transformation that empowers his skilfulness.

Adam, of course, is no stranger to ServiceSpace. Sometime last year, he shared on a Forest Call, "Excuse the reference, but when I learned about ServiceSpace, I was like a teenage girl who just discovered Justin Bieber! Just simply elated beyond words. More than 25 people must've forwarded me the talk on giftvism, and what was most amazing was how diverse those people were." Although he had already submitted his book manuscript by the time he learned of us, he went back and retrofitted us into the book! :) Since then, he's been an active member of our Service Ambassadors team, hosted our talks at UPenn, held brainstorming sessions with our in-house Wharton vets (like Ashish) about implementing the culture of generosity on campus, and will soon be coming to an Awakin gathering in California.

Thank you, Adam, for who you are, and for spreading kindness and generosity through the corporate and academic worlds. 

Posted by Nipun Mehta on Mar 29, 2013

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