Give and Take Book Summary By Adam Grant

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Give and Take, by Adam Grant, is a revolutionary book that dispels traditional notions of success.

Based on extensive research and scientific evidence, the book provides an inspiring look at how giving to others can be the key to achieving both career success and personal fulfillment.

The book offers a new model for understanding why some people excel while others don't, illustrating how those who are generous with their time, ideas and knowledge often find the most satisfaction in life.

Give and Take gives you invaluable insight and advice on how to bring out the altruistic nature of your own character -- unlocking amazing potential for greatness and fulfillment.

Give and Take Book

Book Name: Give and Take (A Revolutionary Approach to Success)

Author(s): Adam Grant

Rating: 4.4/5

Reading Time: 21 Minutes

Categories: Career & Success

Author Bio

Adam Grant is a renowned organizational psychologist and professor at Wharton Business School.

He has been recognized in his field for both his research publications, numbering over 60, as well as presentations for renowned organizations such as Google, Facebook and the United Nations.

His book, "Give and Take," published in 2013, examines how individuals can achieve professional success while helping others.

With this work he has become one of the world's primary experts on leadership within an organization.

The Selfish Nature Of ‘Takers’ And How It Impacts Our Life

Selfish Nature

Takers have a very distinct mindset – they’re always focused on what benefits they can get from others, no matter the cost.

They expect to be rewarded for everything they do and don’t take accountability for their own actions.

This selfish outlook leads to a highly competitive mentality, where takers strive to get as much out of every situation as possible without regard for other people’s well-being.

People like Kenneth Lay and Michael Jordan are prime examples of a taker’s worldview in action.

The former CEO of Enron sold off millions in stocks and landing 20,000 people unemployed without any apologies, whereas Jordan argued for the opposite when it came to salaries between owners and players depending on which role he was taking up at the time.

At the end of the day, all takers see life as a ruthless game, believing that there is only so much “pie” and they must take the biggest slice for themselves before anyone else gets it.

Because their primary motivation is self-interest, their focus will always be on what advantages they can reap no matter who gets hurt in the process – making them tough to relate with but easy to recognize.

Givers Are Generous People Who Value Collaborative Achievement Over Personal Credit

Givers possess a unique trait that sets them apart from others – a desire to help and create success for the group.

They give far more than they get and are generous with their time and knowledge in order to benefit those around them.

They strive to provide value and will often go unrecognized in the process, but the feeling of helping others is its own reward.

A great example of this altruistic behavior is George Meyer, who helped shape over 300 episodes of The Simpsons but was only credited for 12.

Yet, rather than being focused on personal credit, he was driven by the goal of seeing the show succeed.

Similarly, he invented the word ‘meh’, yet it wasn’t until much later that he remembered he had created it himself.

Givers are focused on collaboration and creating abundance amongst many people.

That’s what motivates their generosity and kindness – a desire to make a positive difference in someone else’s life without expectation of something in return.

The Matchers Way Of Life: Striving For Fair, Balanced Exchange

Matchers are determined to maintain balance and equality in their exchanges, making sure that everyone gets what they deserve.

They aren’t content with one-sided deals like takers or with unrequited giving like givers, instead preferring a fair exchange of goods, knowledge and services.

This approach is often seen in parenting relationships—sometimes parents will require children to do something in order to receive a reward or favor.

But despite this bartering-based approach to family life, matchers’ ultimate goal is an even playing field which gives each person what they’ve earned.

In the workplace, too, the principle of matching remains strong: employees help each other out when it’s mutually beneficial for them both, trading skills and expertise with no strings attached.

Online platforms such as Craigslist are typified by accommodating transactions which both parties benefit from; this type of exchanging is at the heart of the matcher mentality.

While neither giving nor taking can be seen as outright wrong according to Matchers, some type of equitable exchange is what they strive for—and it’s hard to argue with that!

How We Adapt Our Behavior To Suit The People And Situation Around Us


Who we are around greatly affects the way we act, without us even realizing it.

Whether you realize it or not, the people you interact with can have a huge impact on how much you give or take.

Take, for example– this online community encourages its members to give away unneeded items such as cameras or baby supplies for free.

When takers sign up and begin interacting with the community, they quickly learn that giving is expected which causes them to give more than usual.

This behavior has also been observed in studies on human-to-human interactions.

In one study conducted at Manchester United Soccer Club, fans were asked to assist an “injured” runner who wore either a MUsclte T-shirt or a plain T-shirt.

The results showed that 92% of fans stopped to help when he was wearing the team’s shirt, yet this percentage drastically reduced to 33% when he had nothing identifying him with the football club.

This demonstrates just how much our willingness to give is impacted by our perception of similarity between ourselves and the other person.

It’s clear that both the environment we are in and those around us have a profound effect on how much we choose to give or take – whether it’s in physical groups like what was observed by Manchester United experiment or virtual groups like those found on

Takers Pay The Price Through Taker Tax: How Excessive Taking Can Damage Your Reputation And Limit Your Success

Takers, who consistently take and don’t give back, eventually experience a loss of respect from peers.

This can damage their reputation in ways that will have long-term implications for their success.

For example, Jonas Salk developed the polio vaccine but failed to thank those who had worked with him.

As a result of this selfishness, Salk wasn’t inducted into the National Academy of Sciences or awarded the Nobel Prize – something many other polio researchers were.

It’s possible that his lack of acknowledgement hurt his chances of these honors.

Similarly, Frank Lloyd Wright refused to pay his apprentices and even charged his own son for living costs – actions which alienated those he worked with and tarnished his reputation with clients, resulting in lost business opportunities.

Ultimately, when taken to extremes, taking without giving back results in taker tax: The spread of information about a taker’s bad behaviour damages their reputation over time – making it more difficult for them to reach future successes.

Givers Achieve Success By Putting The Greater Good First

Givers can be the most successful people in society because they take an interest in the overall good of their community.

This is illustrated by two examples: Abraham Lincoln and Jason Geller from Deloitte Consulting.

Lincoln sacrificed his own chance at a senate seat in order to help Lyman Trumbull win, knowing that Trumbull shared his goal of abolishing slavery and had a better chance at winning.

Trumbull eventually returned the favor which helped Lincoln’s career down the line.

Similarly, Jason Geller made use of an information management system he created for his colleagues at Deloitte Consulting, instead of keeping the knowledge to himself like many others would have.

His supervisors noticed this generosity, and eventually promoted him to partner—the youngest at Deloitte!

These stories show that focusing on helping others rather than taking personal gain leads to greater success in society.

Givers often achieve top positions in their fields when they focus on the greater good.

The Pleasures Of Being A Giver: How Giving Can Benefit You And Your Network


Givers understand that the more you put out, the more you get in return.

This is why successful givers put a lot of effort into cultivating their networks and using them to help not only themselves but also others.

Adam Rifkin, for example, received advice from a former colleague he hadn’t seen in 5 years to benefit a new venture of his even though he never reciprocated directly before.

This is made possible because of the trust and willingness to help cultivated in the giver’s network.

Instead of feeling awkward or uncomfortable asking something out of someone they haven’t seen in years, givers have no problem doing so thanks to their good reputations and their desire to pay it forward when they can.

It doesn’t matter if what they offer isn’t reciprocated immediately; as long as they give enough and often enough it will eventually catch up with them.

Because of this mindset, resource and knowledge pooling becomes beneficial for everyone involved—givers, receivers, and all those in between

Givers See Potential In Everyone And Use It To Help Others Succeed

Givers have an incredible ability to see potential in others that may otherwise have been overlooked.

They recognize great qualities and the potential for success even when raw talent is difficult to identify.

Stu Inman, a renowned NBA basketball manager, found massive success in drafting formerly overlooked players like Clyde Drexler – who would later be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame and become part of ten All-Star teams.

Similarly, C.


Skender, an accounting professor, has seen dozens of his students win medals for their CPA exams; one student even made it to the White House as Barack Obama’s personal assistant.

The common thread between these two examples is their giver’s instinct: they both believed in those who didn’t seem promising at first, investing their time and energy into nurturing them and helping them develop into top professionals.

This is exactly what makes givers so formidable when it comes to finding and fostering talent – they don’t just recognize skillsets but also believe in individuals despite any area where they may need improvement or guidance.

As a result, not only does each individual reach their highest potential but the giver themselves can benefit from the shared successes of everyone they mentor!

Powerless Communication: Givers Have The Upper Hand In Encouraging Cooperation

When it comes to getting ahead, givers have a secret weapon – powerless communication.

Rather than raising their voices and trying to dominate, they focus on the other person and ask questions.

This softer approach has been found to be remarkably persuasive.

A study of optometry companies showed that the top sellers were those who acted as givers – rather than trying to push sales, they asked questions to better understand what their customers needed.

An example of this is Kildare Escoto, who is LensCrafter’s number one giver and salesperson thanks to his powerless communication style.

Another great example of this skill in action is “Annie”.

When her workplace closed, Annie asked for advice from her HR manager instead of making demands – her valued relationship led her to gain unlimited access to the company’s private jet so she could transfer while still studying at the old location!

Overall, powerless communication can be incredibly beneficial in getting positive results without dominating someone else.

Givers have a real advantage when it comes to using this skill effectively!

How Givers Can Avoid Burnout And The Abuse Of Takers: Witnessing Impact And Knowing When To Draw The Line

Witnessing Impact

Givers can only experience success if they find ways to avoid burnout or exploitation from takers.

Thankfully, the remedy for burnout is to witness the impact of their efforts.

For example, Conrey Callahan was an overworked schoolteacher on the brink of burnout until she formed a mentoring program.

It actually added time to her schedule, but it also enabled her to observe how she was helping her mentees prepare for college and reap the benefits of her generosity.

This experience rejuvenated her energy not only in her mentoring but in her teaching as well.

Another important factor to address is taker exploitation: givers need a strategy that allows them both to indulge their instinct to give and protect them from being taken advantage of.

Mathematically speaking, a generous tit-for-tat style of interaction helps – never forgetting a good turn done, and occasionally forgiving a bad one.

In practice this means matching takers’ behavior most of the time and reserving kind gestures when doing so seems appropriate.

This offers givers some control and encourages positive responses from others due to their kindness.

Finding meaningful ways to witness your own impact while preserving hospitality towards takers are key ingredients for giver success in the long-term.

Wrap Up

The final message of Give and Take is that giving more than you get can result in great success for both individuals and groups.

Traditional wisdom had taught us that in order to achieve success, you must take from others whatever advantages or resources you can get to survive.

However, research has proven that it’s those who give – not take – who ultimately win out.

Givers focus on helping others and creating success for their group, while takers are focused solely on what benefits they will gain.

Matchers strive only for a fair exchange with those whom they interact with.

Furthermore, successful givers leverage their network to benefit themselves along with others and utilize what is known as “powerless communication” when interacting with people.

At the same time, it is essential for Givers to avoid burnout or being taken advantage of by other takers in order to become successful.

If these steps are followed then the rewards of being a giver can be immense!

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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