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Give and Take

A Revolutionary Approach to Success

By Adam Grant
  • Read in 16 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 11 key ideas
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Give and Take by Adam Grant

Give and Take offers a breath of fresh air to traditional theories of what it takes to be successful. Backed by ground-breaking research, Give and Take demonstrates how giving more to others, rather than competing against them, may be the secret to profound success and fulfillment.

Key idea 1 of 11

Takers are self-centered, and focused only on what benefits they can get from others.

We all know people who seem to care only about themselves, completely disregarding the needs of others. These people are takers.Everywhere they go, it seems their primary concern is hogging as much money, status and admiration as possible.

Typically, takers promote themselves eagerly, favoring words like “I” and “mine” rather than “we” and “ours”. They also tend to be domineering, using forceful language to persuade others, while unabashedly flattering powerful people to get ahead.

So why are they so selfish?

They simply see the world as a competitive place. To a taker, life is a ruthless game where you take everything you want, helping others only if the personal benefit of doing so outweighs the cost.

A prime example of a taker is Kenneth Lay, former CEO of the energy giant Enron. Along with taking out colossal loans from the company, Lay sold off $70 million in stocks in a well-timed effort to take care of himself before the company went bankrupt, leaving 20,000 people unemployed.

But the average taker is not necessarily evil or corrupt. A less caustic example is legendary basketball player Michael Jordan. As a player, Jordan spoke out in favor of increasing the share of team revenues given to players, only to argue for the opposite when he became an owner. His philosophy: “To be successful, you have to be selfish.”

Although their underlying motives may differ, all takers hold the same worldview: they believe that there is a limited amount of “pie” for everyone and it is up to them to take the biggest slice for themselves.

Takers are self-centered, and focused only on what benefits they can get from others.

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