The Three Things It Takes to Be Wildly Successful

Have you heard of Adam Grant? If not, you soon will.

Not only is Dr. Grant the youngest tenured professor at The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, he’s also their highest-rated teacher in their MBA program. His new book, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, is getting a lot of buzz lately and here’s why.

Dr. Grant’s research shows that in our technological world, our relationships play an even more important part in an individual’s success. We need to operate in a much more interdependent manner.

3 trends in relationship interdependence

This means that relationships and our personal reputations are ever-more critical in shaping the opportunities that come our way, innovative idea generation, referrals, and promotion recommendations. He describes three major trends behind the rise in this interdependence:

  • Project-based work is on the rise. People are coming together as part of a project team for a short period of time to collaborate. Having strong interpersonal skills has a huge impact on the results the team is able to achieve.
  • Shift to a knowledge and service economy. Having a “service mentality” to meet client/customer needs will make or break you. You have to understand and CARE about their needs.
  • The rise of online social networks. You and your reputation is out there for the world to see. Anyone can easily check you out – potential employers, business partners, teammates. Identifying who you’re connected to on LinkedIn and tracking your behavior on social media happens without you even knowing about it.

Dr. Grant’s research has been focused on uncovering the factors that contribute most to an individual’s success, beyond the basic attributes of hard work, talent and a bit of luck. What he discovered is that those who put the interests of the team (others) first are the ones who will achieve long-term success.

3 ways to become more of a “giver”

In his book, Dr. Grant describes three types of people: Takers, Matchers, or Givers. “Takers” strive to get as much as possible from others and “Matchers” aim to trade evenly. “Givers” are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.

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So how can you begin to behave more like a Giver and add value? Dr. Grant’s research suggests these three things:

  1. Be willing to give more than you receive. It could be something as simple as sharing an article, introducing two people who might be able help one another in some way or take time to share lessons learned/teach someone something.
  2. Find your “helping” speciality. What is your area of expertise? Use it to help others. Are you a great negotiator? Can you offer some advice or play part in rehearsing for a negotiation session? Are you a networking master? Invite people to join you at an event or make introductions.
  3. Figure out a way to make an unpopular task in your group or department more fun, interesting or meaningful. How about playing music while filing or putting together binders? It’s a small thing that doesn’t cost anything and can make the daily grind much more enjoyable and engaging.

What really makes me happy about this research is that it proves that GOOD GUYS/GALS CAN FINISH FIRST!

Helping others does ultimately serve you best and sets you up for a wildly successful life. Amen to that sista!

This was originally published on PeopleResult’s Current blog.


25 Comments on “The Three Things It Takes to Be Wildly Successful

  1. Thanks, Martha. It’s so true. Relationships are so important because there aren’t many ways to be successful on your own without working and collaborating with others. Great reminders!

  2. Great insights Martha – and I love the idea that his central challenge is to become a “giver” and tilt away from the other two options!

  3. Great read Martha, very timely I had just seen a story on Dr. Grant this week-end. Good to know good guys/gals can finish first.

  4. I agree with the notion of helping others and have a sense of service at work, but some countries are not yet prepared for this “revolutionary” set of mind. “Takers”
    have more advantages in countries like Portugal where team work and sharing
    emotions isn’t yet well interpreted (at least in most companies). Anyway I
    believe it’s the right way of doing things. Helping others to grow and develop
    their skills and being alert to customer service in every action we take turns
    our work more productive and, ultimately more fulfilling.

    1. Thanks for your comment Sofia. Interesting perspective on some countries not being prepared for this “giver” approach. I had not thought about that. Hopefully, there will be a shift in the thinking and it will gain some traction.

  5. Just finished reading his insightful and engaging book. Very easy reading, filled with lots of psychological studies and real life examples to back up his points. Great read, highly recommended.

  6. This is a wonderful message to share with the World, imagine what a different place this would be if we removed the Takers from the equation and replaced them with the Givers….what a harmonious environment we would live in:-)

    LOVE IT!!!! Thank you for sharing…..

    1. Thanks Lisa! I know it’s exciting to think about this can change the work environment and beyond!

  7. This is really the Law of Reciprocity at work here. Whatever you give will come back to you in kind, maybe in multiples. Giving of yourself without expectation of reward is always the best gift you can give yourself. Besides, you may never know who you are helping; one day they may be someone who can greatly help you.

  8. Another great read and a nice reminder that we oftentimes forget. Get naked with your customers and and collaborate as a team to achieve greatness. As others have pointed out, it takes teamwork to become successful – you can’t do it on your own too often. Thanks for sharing!

  9. great indeed. A book worth reading and applying. Giving has always been and will remain a veritable tool for success in any field of life’s endeavor. Try it today and your life will neer be the same again. Cheers!

    1. Thanks for your comment Robert. The “giving” approach can change work environments and have a ripple effect in the world.

  10. this is terrible advice. start with something better – know thyself. if you tell a person who is inherently a ‘taker’ that the secret to success is giving… well, you might have some unintended consequences. this one size fits all kind of advice really irks me.

    1. Everyone is entitiled to their opinion Stan. You simply don’t have to follow the advice is you don’t like it.

  11. Theoretically this sounds great but I cannot help but wonder if Dr Grant has ever worked in corporate America —- the reality is, takers take advantage of givers in the work world and those on top are typically takers.

    1. I agree, there is a strong history of “takers” taking the top jobs in corporate America, but perhaps there’s a change coming! I certainly hope so. Personally, I have seen some of the “good guys” finish first and his promotion of the research will inspire others to take that “giver” approach as well.

  12. I love the service oriented attitude written about here. I think a lot of times people tend to think about what they ‘should’ be doing. I found a source that connected the dots for me (a book called the Audacity of Success, found at the site of the same name). I didn’t know the REAL meaning of success personally, until I came across the info. Some of that is referred to above also, yet unless coming from an authentic place of ‘being’ rather than ‘doing for x reason’ I won’t be jumping out of bed in the a.m. looking forward to my day and creating the results I want. Got it now 🙂 Great words of wisdom above that echo the same sentiment. Thanks for the share!

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