Career Advice: Give

This blog is a rant.

I’m probably getting old and cranky (ok, not probably) but I am tired of people who want ‘help’ — get it through the generosity of selfless people and then boom – they take and take and largely never give back. All the ‘takers’ just stopped reading! I didn’t really expect to change any ‘takers’ but I am hoping to get to the ‘matchers.’ (read on!)

In his research-based book, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success Adam Grant (Wharton School)has identified three types of people — givers, takers, and matchers. Matchers return favors tit-for-tat (they care above all about fairness), Takers try to tilt most things in their own favor (focus on themselves), Givers are generous (focus on others).

Most people are givers in their personal relationships. Interestingly, at work, people change. Grant notes,  “An extraordinary number of people who are in a giver mindset at home are a matcher or taker at work.” Only 8% describe themselves as givers at work because most people think “givers are chumps who will fall behind in the game of work”.

Grant’s research shows that givers are among the most successful people in business and may also be the happiest. “There is powerful evidence,” “that givers experience more meaning in their work than takers or matchers.”

Back to my rant. I have probably met one on one with 500 people in the past 5 years. Many people thank me and that’s all I ask. But there’s a whole segment of people (both men and women) who act like they’ve never met me when I see them later. They are so focused on themselves… they don’t even remember meeting me! Often these are the same people who.. didn’t offer to buy the coffee (when they asked to meet me), never asked me one question about myself, never bothered to write an email saying thanks or following up in any way. In the tug of war of life — are you helping to pull for the greater good or shoving people out of your way?

Ok. I’m done.

Photo credit: Navy & Marines in tug of war   NYCMarines  (I wouldn’t bet against any of these fine human beings)

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  • By Mike, June 13, 2013 @ 12:25 pm

    This is also especially true in today’s job-search (read: networking) realm, where give-and-take is critical, and expected. BE ready to help others in their job-search, just as you expect them to help you in yours.

  • By Carl Hoffman, June 14, 2013 @ 10:56 am

    In my former profession that involved raising money I trained many to be successful. Many not only did not thank me but also stabbed me in the back. I became bitter and experienced burnout. Now I don’t expect anything and I am never disappointed. I think most look after their own self-interests and in the process only hurt themselves because they refuse to cooperate with others. I have lived long enough to see justice because the ones who stabbed me in the back received the consequences of the recent economic downturn because they stayed around too long.

    I want to thank you for your blog. While I do not respond every time I do read every entry and gain insight. I consider you one of my muses. I have read most of your book recommendations. I value your opinion. I recommend James A. Roberts book “Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don’t Have in Search of Happiness We Can’t Buy.”
    As I approach retirement and scaling my desires back I have found this book helpful.

    I consider myself a giver at work and in my advocation (art). I get an adrenaline rush when people connect and great things happen. My present mission is to help artists. That rush is more important to me than money.

  • By Deborah, June 14, 2013 @ 1:01 pm

    Hi Carl, thanks for the kind words. I’m happy that our dialogue continues!

    Looking forward to checking out the book you recommend. You rock!

  • By hunter log, June 14, 2013 @ 4:35 pm

    I just want to say how much I enjoy this information. I also like “Career Advice: Give” for the title. I appreciate you sharing this with the rest of us Deborah.

  • By Curt U. Obrien, June 16, 2013 @ 3:21 am

    It is said that there are basically two kinds of people in the world – givers and takers. That is there are people whose dominant characteristic is to give to others. There are also people who are basically takers, always expecting to get or “take” something from others.

  • By Yvonne Cleveland, June 18, 2013 @ 12:09 pm


    Part of the issue is regional, part has to do with distractions and part is spiritual. I am trying my best to relocate and one of the reasons is because I don’t like the people here. I am a frequent visitor to Niagara Falls and Burlington, Ont., Atlanta, GA and I’ve recently visited Denver and Boulder, CO, Houston, TX and Charlotte, NC, in all those places there is a common theme with the people–hospitality and politeness! They are glad that you came and are spending money there. I’ve had people encourage me and my husband to relocate to three of those places (Houston doesn’t count because it was my cousins, but still).

    As for the distractions everybody knows what those are.

    Finally, the spiritual stuff. The bible describes in II Timothy 3:1-3, what the end times will look like:

    Evil in the Last Days
    1This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good.

    I think that sums up what we are experiencing.

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