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Evolution Bookshelf: Give and Take

Another recommended read for the year: Give and Take by Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist. I was so captivated by Grant’s theories that I was actually disappointed when the book ended.

Give and Take interestingly highlights three types of people: takers, matchers and givers.  When networking and dealing with coworkers, takers seek an advantage, matchers seek fair exchanges, and givers freely help others.

It struck me as an insightful way to think of colleagues, suppliers, customers, family and friends.  Is this person out for themselves?  Is this person only willing to give because they think they will get something in return?  Or, is this person giving freely to lend a helping hand?  I know that when I’m dealing with someone that truly wants the best for everyone, there is nothing better.

Understanding the three types of people can also be valuable to your management strategy. When givers are in the group, they ignite creativity, energy and a safe environment for others to succeed. Adding just one taker to a group could spoil the whole bunch because they will take advantage of others to get to the top and damage team morale. Matchers work more neutrally and often initiate justice if they witness takers exploiting givers.

Mr. Grant discusses in detail what types of people win (reach their goals) in the short and long-term.  As I listened to the book, I started pulling for the givers, hoping that they would end up ahead in the long-term (after all, life is a long-term game). I was happy to learn that takers and matchers tend to hover in the middle. Givers eventually become leaders while uplifting others along the way…or else they end up last.

What separates the givers who end up first, and the givers who end up last? For givers to end up first, they need to maintain their energy, commitment and focus. To succeed over the long term, it is imperative that givers focus on initiatives that are relevant to their own goals and passions. They learn over time to focus on their passions and focus their giving on tasks that re-energize them. Givers who fall tend to experience burnout from extending help to others without receiving adequate help or recognition in return.

You will have to read the book for more on what separates the successful givers from the less successful givers, and I would encourage you to do so! It will give you a whole new perspective on the people around you, both personally and professionally.

To further ignite your interest, listen to this TED Talk featuring the author himself:  Are you a giver or a taker?

Have suggestions for additions to my reading list?  Please leave a comment below!

Posted by: Brendan Anderson A co-founder and managing partner at Evolution, Brendan has spent the past 20 years as an investor and manager of businesses ranging from manufacturing to financial services. @Brendan_Andersn

Comments (2)


  1. Brad Turner:

    Dear Brendan:

    Thank you for recommending this book. I plan on giving copies to my children and a number of my colleagues.

    Happy Holidays,


    • Brad, Thanks for the note and hope those that receive it enjoy! Would welcome your thoughts on the book. Enjoy the Holidays! Brendan

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