Psychology Melbourne Blog

News and Insights from the Science of the Mind

Business psychologist's success secret - give to get

Business psychologist Adam Grant, the highest-rating professor at the famed Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, has been gaining increasing recognition for his book Give and Take, which suggests that giving is the secret to getting ahead.

Professor Grant is taking his own advice, with a service called Granted. Sign up, and he will send you a free monthly newsletter and videos on work and business. You can also assess your personal style of giving and taking on the site, and download the first chapter of the book.

Grant has consulted to companies like Google and Goldman Sachs. His advice to them is that they must change the way they hire, evaluate, reward and promote their staff.

What makes this message quite compelling is the fact that he supports somewhat New Age concepts as "karma" with convincing evidence, and advances reasons why sometimes tentative speakers are more convincing than assertive ones and why sales people who ask questions of their customers do better in the long run than those glib hard sellers.

His message essentially is that givers build strong networks and those they help tend to reward their generosity, sometimes years later.

He does warn, however, that one should take steps to avoid becoming a doormat ... having once been one himself. As a young diver, who gave so much help to his rivals that they ended up beating him in competition. 

The givers who excel, he writes, are willing to ask for help when they need it.

"Successful givers are every bit as ambitious as takers and 'matchers' [who try to maintain a balance between giving and taking]. They simply have a different way of pursuing their goals."

And when givers succeed, he claims, it creates a ripple effect, enhancing the success of their colleagues.