There are books that provide just the right turn of phrase that it becomes part of our long-term understanding.
I think of Multipliers: How to Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown. Every person in a leadership position is either on the “Multiplier” end of the spectrum, actually making people they lead better at what they do, or on the “diminisher” end of the spectrum, actually diminishing the capability of the people they “lead.” You read this, and you say, “Yep. That’s true. I know both kinds of leaders.” And the vocabulary sticks with you. – “Oh, she’s a multiplier; oh, he’s a diminisher.”
Or, Adam Grant’s Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success. In this book, Adam Grant divides the world into three types of people:
#1 — Takers — self promoters, interested in self, interested in “getting”/“taking”
#2 — Matchers — still pretty self-promoting; reciprocal in order to “be successful”
#3 — Givers — though somewhat concerned about personal success, genuinely “give” in order to …give; in order to “help the other person be successful” – with no expectation of return
(• but, there may be some return
• and, there is some expectation/hope of “paying it forward”).
And, it sticks with you. “Oh, he’s a giver. She’s just a taker.”
I’ve been thinking about this “Give and Take” spectrum. I heard an interview on NPR’s TED Radio Hour with Steven Johnson, author of Where Good Ideas Come From. (Listen to the segment, and/or read the transcript, here). The discussion was about Elon Musk’s decisions to “give away” all the Tesla patents. Here’s a great excerpt from Steven Johnson:
STEVEN JOHNSON: Ben Franklin, like, never patented anything he did, and he always kind of released any information about what he’d come up with as widely as possible. And he had a great explanation to this, which is he said he sent his ideas out into the world so that they would attract the attentions of the ingenious.
We all work hard. We all want to be paid for our work. But, so much of what we do would be so helpful to so many. So, maybe a new spectrum to consider would be this one:
Hoarders – keep it all to self
Sharers – share with as many as possible
Take one of my “products.” I read books, prepare comprehensive synopsis handouts, and present my synopses and record the presentations, and then make these available for purchase. (Please, I invite you to purchase some of my synopses at 15minutebusinessbooks.com).
But, there is not a week goes by that I do not send a pdf of one of my synopsis handouts, or a few such handouts, for free, to people after a conversation. I have a conversation, and think “this handout could be helpful.” So, I send it. And, usually, I am thanked for it. And I appreciate appreciation. But I send it not to be thanked, but to be helpful.
I do not do this in order to get someone to then buy some other synopses from our website – although, if they do, that’s great. I really do this to try to be helpful.
(And, by the way, sometimes a person will read my handout and then buy and read the book).
I probably could do more to “give.” I do know this – I read Adam Grant, and realized “I do not want to be a taker; or a matcher. I want to be a giver.”
Find ways to give yourself away. That’s really the call of Liz Wiseman, Adam Grant, and… the ages. “It is better to give than to receive.” Yes, it is. Still pretty good advice.
What do you have that you can give away, and not hoard for yourself?
I speak monthly at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas, along with my colleague Karl Krayer. We each present synopses of best-selling, useful business books. Each synopsis includes our multipage, comprehensive handouts. The handouts, and the audio recordings of our presentations, are what we make available on our companion site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com. Check it out! (Note: our April 3, 2015 event is the beginning of our 18th year for the monthly First Friday Book Synopsis). See Karl’s comment below.