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Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success Paperback – March 25, 2014
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—Robert Sutton, author of The No *sshole Rule and Good Boss, Bad Boss
“Give and Take is a truly exhilarating book—the rare work that will shatter your assumptions about how the world works and keep your brain firing for weeks after you've turned the last page.”
—Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind
“Give and Take is brimming with life-changing insights. As brilliant as it is wise, this is not just a book—it's a new and shining worldview. Adam Grant is one of the great social scientists of our time, and his extraordinary new book is sure to be a bestseller.”
—Susan Cain, author of Quiet
“Give and Take cuts through the clutter of clichés in the marketplace and provides a refreshing new perspective on the art and science of success. Adam Grant has crafted a unique, ‘must have’ toolkit for accomplishing goals through collaboration and reciprocity.”
—William P. Lauder, Executive Chairman, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc.
“Give and Take is a pleasure to read, extraordinarily informative, and will likely become one of the classic books on workplace leadership and management. It has changed the way I see my personal and professional relationships, and has encouraged me to be a more thoughtful friend and colleague.”
—Jeff Ashby, NASA space shuttle commander
“With Give and Take, Adam Grant has marshaled compelling evidence for a revolutionary way of thinking about personal success in business and in life. Besides the fundamentally uplifting character of the case he makes, readers will be delighted by the truly engaging way he makes it. This is a must read.”
—Robert Cialdini, author of Influence
“Give and Take is a brilliant, well-documented, and motivating debunking of ‘good guys finish last’! I've noticed for years that generosity generates its own kind of equity, and Grant's fascinating research and engaging style have created not only a solid validation of that principle but also practical wisdom and techniques for utilizing it more effectively. This is a super manifesto for getting meaningful things done, sustainably.”
—David Allen, author of Getting Things Done
“Packed with cutting-edge research, concrete examples, and deep insight, Give and Take offers extraordinarily thought-provoking—and often surprising—conclusions about how our interactions with others drive our success and happiness. This important and compulsively-readable book deserves to be a huge success.”
—Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and Happier at Home
“One of the great secrets of life is that those who win most are often those who give most. In this elegant and lucid book, filled with compelling evidence and evocative examples, Adam Grant shows us why and how this is so. Highly recommended!”
—William Ury, coauthor of Getting to Yes and author of The Power of a Positive No
“Good guys finish first—and Adam Grant knows why. Give and Take is the smart surprise you can't afford to miss."
—Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness
“Give and Take is an enlightening read for leaders who aspire to create meaningful and sustainable changes to their environments. Grant demonstrates how a generous orientation toward others can serve as a formula for producing successful leaders and organizational performance. His writing is as engaging and enjoyable as his style in the classroom.”
—Kenneth Frazier, Chairman, President, and CEO of Merck & Co.
“In this riveting and sparkling book, Adam Grant turns the conventional wisdom upside-down about what it takes to win and get ahead. With page-turning stories and compelling studies, Give and Take reveals the surprising forces behind success, and the steps we can take to enhance our own.”
—Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President of People Operations, Google
“Give and Take dispels commonly held beliefs that equate givers with weakness and takers with strength. Grant shows us the importance of nurturing and encouraging prosocial behaviors.”
—Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational
“Give and Take defines a road to success marked by new ways of relating to colleagues and customers as well as new ways of growing a business.”
—Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos.com and author of Delivering Happiness
“A milestone! Well-researched, generous, actionable and important. Adam Grant has given us a gift, a hard-hitting book about the efficacy of connection and generosity in everything we do.”
—Seth Godin, bestselling author of The Icarus Deception and Tribes
“Give and Take will fundamentally change the way you think about success. Unfortunately in America, we have too often succumbed to the worldview that if everyone behaved in their own narrow self-interest, all would be fine. Adam Grant shows us with compelling research and fascinating stories there is a better way.”
—Lenny Mendonca, Director, McKinsey & Co.
“Adam Grant, a rising star of positive psychology, seamlessly weaves together science and stories of business success and failure, convincing us that giving is in the long run the recipe for success in the corporate world. En route you will find yourself re-examining your own life. Read it yourself, then give copies to the people you care most about in this world.”
—Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optimism and Flourish
“Give and Take presents a groundbreaking new perspective on success. Adam Grant offers a captivating window into innovative principles that drive effectiveness at every level of an organization and can immediately be put into action. Along with being a fascinating read, this book holds the key to a more satisfied and productive workplace, better customer relationships, and higher profits.”
—Chip Conley, Founder, Joie de Vivre Hotels and author, Peak and Emotional Equations
“Give and Take is a game changer. Reading Adam Grant's compelling book will change the way doctors doctor, managers manage, teachers teach, and bosses boss. It will create a society in which people do better by being better. Read the book and change the way you live and work.”
—Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice and Practical Wisdom
“Give and Take is a new behavioral benchmark for doing business for better, providing an inspiring new perspective on how to succeed to the benefit of all. Adam Grant provides great support for the new paradigm of creating a ‘win win’ for people, planet and profit with many fabulous insights and wonderful stories to get you fully hooked and infected with wanting to give more and take less."
—Jochen Zeitz, former CEO and chairman, PUMA
“Give and Take is a real gift. Adam Grant delivers a triple treat: stories as good as a well-written novel, surprising insights drawn from rigorous science, and advice on using those insights to catapult ourselves and our organizations to success. I can’t think of another book with more powerful implications for both business and life.”
—Teresa Amabile, author of The Progress Principle
“Adam Grant has written a landmark book that examines what makes some extraordinarily successful people so great. By introducing us to highly-impressive individuals, he proves that, contrary to popular belief, the best way to climb to the top of the ladder is to take others up there with you. Give and Take presents the road to success for the 21st century.”
—Maria Eitel, founding CEO and President of the Nike Foundation
“What The No *sshole Rule did for corporate culture, Give and Take does for each of us as individuals. Grant presents an evidence-based case for the counterintuitive link between generosity and finishing first.”
—Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen, coauthors of Difficult Conversations
“Adam Grant is a wunderkind. He has won every distinguished research award and teaching award in his field, and his work has changed the way that people see the world. If you want to be surprised—very pleasantly surprised—by what really drives success, then Give and Take is for you. If you want to make the world a better place, read this book. If you want to make your life better, read this book.”
—Tal Ben-Shahar, author of Happier
“In an era of business literature that drones on with the same-old, over-used platitudes, Adam Grant forges brilliant new territory. Give and Take helps readers understand how to maximize their effectiveness and help others simultaneously. It will serve as a new framework for both insight and achievement. A must read!”
—Josh Linkner, founder of ePrize, CEO of Detroit Venture Partners, and author of Disciplined Dreaming¶
From the Inside Flap
- Amazon's best books of 2013
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- Amazon customer favorites: one of the top 100 print books of 2013
- Translated into two dozen languages
- ASIN : 0143124986
- Publisher : Penguin Books; Reprint edition (March 25, 2014)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0315782145
- ISBN-13 : 978-0315782143
- Item Weight : 8.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.67 x 8.47 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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I have believed in this cliché my entire life. I could probably think of at least a dozen examples in my life where I saw a self-centered person hired, promoted, or in some way rewarded while I (or someone I know) is ignored, passed by, or even punished. In those moments, it can be completely debilitating. That’s why the “nice guys finish last” cliché is so powerful. It feels so true.
However, there’s a difference between something feeling true and something being true.
In Adam Grant’s Give and Take, he identifies three types of people: givers, matchers, and takers. Givers are the selfless ones. Matchers are the quid pro quo group, and takers are the selfish ones. Conventional wisdom tells us takers get ahead, but in Grant’s research, givers rise to the top more frequently.
As I read this book I was kind of in disbelief the whole time, but page after page, Grant hit me with more evidence. I definitely think of myself as a giver (though I know I’m not perfect, I’m sure I have regretfully done some matching and taking in my life) and if you look at my life right now I don’t think anyone would identify me as losing. Perhaps then I am evidence that over time givers rise to the tops as takers are exposed and matchers ignored.
This book is a case for giving: who gives, how to give, and where it takes us. There is one caveat to all this: it has to be authentic. Giving to get ahead is matching, not giving. People can see right through that.
I feared this book would be a “cover spoiler” which I define as a book where the title or cover gives you all the information you really need and the entire book just repeats itself over and over again 200+ pages, but this book is full of wisdom and insights. I think this book is a great investment for leaders young and old.
Here’s a great excerpt from the end of the book that wraps it up neatly: “We spend the majority of our waking hours at work. This means that what we do at work becomes a fundamental part of who we are. If we reserve giver values for our personal lives, what will be missing in our professional lives?”
The author tells sequences of tedious rambling stories. And they get worse because he segues from one story (without making a point) to another and segues again to a third story.
In order to instill a point narratives work better than abstractions because they cause the reader to simplify the input in their own world view and words. However ive read 130 pages and he hasnt made a point.
"You might think givers are more attached to investments than takers, but that isn't right" okay, well you still haven't explained how to identify dispositions like giving, taking, or matching in the lab. So three undefined categories might intuitively suggest something empirically falsified. But it doesn't matter because the concrete terms being referenced aren't explained.
Early on it is explained that giving, matching, and taking are game strategies, but that is defeated by saying "no one is one". And that needs to be extended into non game scenarios. What indicates one role or another?
What premise is there for model legitimacy? Do givers have more mirror neuron firing? Do takers have more serotonin?
The problem is that these stories dont lead to any medically useful premise. Because the historical stories are post hoc prescriptions that actions confer character, but without the timely comment offering meaning.
It boils down to a morality prescription under a new word, nothing more.
Which one best describes you in business?
Of course, in marriage and friendships, we contribute whenever we can without keeping score. We also shift from one style of behaviour to another, across different work roles and relationships. However, we all have a primary style and it has been shown to play as much of a role in our work success as hard work, talent, and luck.
Which style of relating is most likely to end up at the bottom of the success ladder, and which style on top? Pause here for a moment and reflect on your personal experience.
Research demonstrates that givers sink to the bottom of the success ladder - they make others better off, but sacrifice their own success. In a study of more than 160 engineers in California the least successful engineers were those who gave more than they received. A study of more than 600 medical students in Belgium, showed the lowest grades going to those described as givers. Salespeople were no different, with givers generating 2 ½ times less in annual sales.
“On average, givers earn 14% less money, have twice the risk of becoming victims of crimes, and are judged as 22 % less powerful and dominant,” reports author Professor Adam Grant, the youngest full professor of the Wharton School of Business.
If the givers are at the bottom of the success ladder, who then is at the top—takers or matchers?
The data reveals a surprising pattern – the givers again! “This pattern holds up across the board,” Grant reports. “The top performers were givers, and they averaged 50 percent more annual revenue than the takers and matchers.” It was only at the start of medical school that givers underperformed. They increased their scores each year and by the sixth year, the givers earned substantially higher grades than their peers. When the givers became doctors, they climbed still further ahead. And this pattern holds true across occupations.
David Hornik, a venture capitalist, is admired for his commitment to acting in the best interests of entrepreneurs. When he gives an entrepreneur a term sheet - a bullet-point document outlining the material terms and conditions of a business agreement - he also suggests that they shop around to ensure they get the best deal for themselves. Other investors, and if it is a promising deal there are always others, give entrepreneurs a tight deadline to respond to their offer in order to prevent shopping around.
The best venture capitalists have an acceptance rate of nearly 50% of the term sheets they offer. In the 11 years as a venture capitalist, Hornik has offered 28 term sheets and twenty-five have accepted.
“In this book, I want to persuade you that we underestimate the success of givers like David Hornik,” Grant asserts.
Giving can be more powerful and less dangerous than most would believe. “Givers reverse the popular plan of succeeding first and giving back later, raising the possibility that those who give first are often best positioned for success later,” Adam explains. The venture capitalist Randy Komisar remarks, “It’s easier to win if everybody wants you to win… (If) you don’t make enemies out there, it’s easier to succeed.”
Success is less about raw talent or aptitude, and more about the strategies givers use. Givers are not necessarily nice, and they’re not necessarily altruistic.
In a purely win-lose interaction, giving rarely pays. Most of life is not win-lose. People who choose giving as their primary reciprocity style end up reaping rewards. One reason why givers take time to succeed, is that it takes time for givers to build goodwill and trust, and establish reputations and relationships that enhance their success.
“Being a giver is not good for a 100-yard dash, but it’s valuable in a marathon,” says Chip Conley, founder of Joie de Vivre Hotels. Today, speed is making the long-run shorter, and technology is amplifying the advantages of being a giver. In the past, most people worked in independent jobs that rarely required collaboration, so it was fairly inefficient to be a giver. Today, more than 80 percent of Americans work in service jobs where giving is not a choice, but a business necessity.
Steve Jones, the former CEO of one of the largest banks in Australia, commissioned a study of successful financial advisers. It was not financial expertise or effort that made for success, it “was whether a financial adviser had the client’s best interests at heart, above the company’s and even his own.”
All this needs to be calibrated by observation, that too many givers become pushovers and doormats, and fail to advance their own interests. What differentiates successful givers from failed givers is the degree to which the givers expressed two key motivations: self-interest and other-interest. Self-interest involves pursuing power and achievement, and other-interest focuses on being generous and helpful.
This is well illustrated by a study of “Caring Canadian” award winners. The award is made by the Governor General of Canada to honour volunteers. In their life stories, these highly successful givers mentioned a quest for power and achievement almost twice as often as the comparison group. They also had roughly 20% more objectives related to gaining influence, earning recognition, and attaining individual excellence.
Takers score high in self-interest and low in other-interest and selfless givers score high on other-interest and low on self-interest. Selfless giving is a form of pathological altruism, an unhealthy focus on others to the detriment of one’s own needs.
“If takers are selfish and failed givers are selfless, successful givers are “otherish”: they care about benefiting others, but they also have ambitious goals for advancing their own interests,” Grant concludes.
Much food for thought.
Readability Light --+-- Serious
Insights High +---- Low
Practical High --+--Low
*Ian Mann of Gateways consults internationally on leadership and strategy and is the author of
Strategy that Works
Top reviews from other countries
Grant’s idea is that, at work, most people operate as either takers, matchers, or givers. Takers want to get as much possible out of another person, matchers want to give and take in equal measure and givers don’t expect anything for their contribution. If you’re interested, you can take a quick quiz online to see which category you fall into: Give and Take Quiz
“As Samuel Johnson purportedly wrote, “The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.”
To explain these concepts, Grant uses a series of very detailed examples. As the majority of these examples are North American, I found the majority of them really hard to relate to. I’m not into American politics or sports and I don’t have a great interest in American business culture either (I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a full episode of The Simpsons!). I feel that the examples were much longer and much more detailed that necessary and that meant that by the time I got to the actual point, I wasn’t that interested. Something that we discussed at the book club was that, as well as being American, the majority of these examples are from privileged white heterosexual males. This book could have been a great opportunity to explore a whole range of examples and backgrounds, so it’s a disappointment that Grant chose not to.
When I reached the end of the book, there was a section which listed ‘Actions for Impact’, things you can do to apply the principles of the book to your life and work. Looking through the list, I noticed that my workplace already has the vast majority of these things in place, and I wonder if this could be partly why I couldn’t connect with the book so much. I’m thinking that perhaps I am already accustomed to some of these ways of working in my day to day life and therefore couldn’t find a way to connect.
I think the ideas in this book are good and it’s interesting to know that givers are ultimately more successful than takers, but I did find the book overall to be quite tedious and I probably wouldn’t recommend it for this reason. I can’t help but feel that the content of this book would have been better digested in a shorter format, such as an article or podcast.
Overall rating: Whilst I don’t think it’s revolutionary, I found the topic of “Give and Take” to be quite interesting and it sparked some really great discussion. The overall style wasn’t to my tastes though and I’d have preferred not to have had the lengthy, detailed examples that dragged this book out for me. I wouldn’t recommend it as a book, but won’t be ruling out the work of Adam Grant going forward, because I think the message is good, it’s the format that didn’t quite work – 2 stars for the book.
The book is full of stories of successful givers and tips on how to become a successful giver: look to sort out other people's problems and it will pay off (sometimes serendipitously), you will be better at HR decisions (you're not so determined to be right; you want what's best for other people and the organisation), you can be good at influencing (don't do this through a power play but through modesty - stammering can be helpful), and you can keep from burn-out through making sure you see the direct results of your giving and through 'chunking' it so it happens in big bursts and not through a drip feed of good actions. As to why some givers end up at the bottom of the heap, that's because they are 'selfless' rather than 'otherish' givers - that's to say, they don't set any boundaries and aren't good at asking for help for themselves. It's amazing just what people will do to help you - or others - if you ask them. And they'll be likely to go on helping once they start...
So far so good - and I certainly enjoyed reading this - it's persuasive and surprising.
If I felt less than 100% convinced, though, that's partly because Grant has so little to say about 'takers' (and yet he acknowledges they sometimes make the world go round - Michael Jordan is one example he quotes) - and on this, there are other books (Maccoby's book on narcissistic leaders, which points to the highs and lows of the taker in working life). It's also because he doesn't really go into what makes people 'takers' or 'givers' in the first place - is it a given or does it depend on what you learn in your family as you grow up about 'how we behave round here and what gets us what we want in this environment'?...Perhaps there will be a sequel..