What I’m Reading: Give and Take


I like to think that when someone close to me recommends I read something, it’s probably worth reading. When two people close to me recommend I read something, it’s definitely worth reading. The two people who know me better than anyone else, my mom and my sister, have been telling me about this Wharton professor, Adam Grant, and the research he has done into the benefits of giving in the workplace. My mom took it upon herself to send me a copy of his book, Give and Take, and so I find myself only in the first chapter and already provoked, questioning, and hooked.

He raises all the big issues immediately, posing questions that leave me distracted in thought even hours after I close the book. What’s on my mind right now is the question of when we start giving. Just the other day I found myself telling a fundraiser that I plan to be a big donor, but not until I have more money to give, meaning it may be a few years before I’m successful enough that I can donate. But then Grant stopped me in my tracks, almost serendipitously as though the universe knew I was going to give my spiel about waiting to donate and decided it had to intervene and teach me a lesson.

Grant says that what distinguishes some of the most successful business people in America is whether they are givers or takers. Of the successful givers he says:

These 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.

When Grant says “give first,” he means “give early.” He is proposing that we shouldn’t wait until we’ve climbed the ladder and achieved success to give back, but rather we should give now, in that giving now may actually be the key to our future success.

Why will giving now instead of later actually help us in the long run? Guess I’ll have to keep reading to find out.


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