Give and Take: Definitely One To Read

August 6, 2013

Today’s post is from Soles4Souls’ CEO, Buddy Teaster:

I am mostly finished with a really terrific book called Give and Take by Adam Grant. While the subtitle “A Revolutionary Approach to Success” didn’t wow me, the ideas, research and conclusions certainly did. Here’s a quick overview from the author’s website:

Using his own groundbreaking research as the youngest tenured professor at Wharton, Grant examines the surprising forces that shape why some people rise to the top of the success ladder while others sink to the bottom. In professional interactions, it turns out that 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.

This topic is especially relevant for the kind of work we do at Soles4Souls and the kind of people who are attracted to it.  It’s a stereotype that the not-for-profit world is full of giver types who are often burned out by the very work they profess to love.  But just like those who donate time, shoes and money, there are many motivations for people to have a career in the non-profit space.  What I like about this book is that it gives a context to understand what “success” can look like for people who are wired to give, regardless of their profession.  It also gives me a way to think about the fact that there are plenty of matchers and takers in our business, just like in any other.

Of course, I’m drawn to this book because I see myself as a giver.  It’s part of the story I tell myself and part of my self-image.  Before reading the book, I highly urge you to take the short 15 question assessment at to see the mix of the three types Adam Grant talks about.  It was eye opening for me and I’m definitely going to ask for feedback from others to see how closely what I believe about myself tracks with how others see me.  That should be interesting!

So if you are wrestling with the questions about the value of helping others versus taking care of yourself, along almost every dimension of life, you could not do much better than to read “Give and Take.”  And that’s a recommendation I’m happy to give with no expectation of return!