Give and Take by Adam Grant [Book Summary – Review]


We all recognize people who appear to think more for themselves, fully ignoring the interests of others. These individuals are takers. Wherever they go, grabbing as much wealth, status, and popularity as possible seems to be their biggest priority. 

Usually, takers advertise themselves enthusiastically, choosing terms like “ I ” and “ mine ” rather than “ we ” and “ ours. They often seem to be dominant, using persuasive words to convince others, while praising influential persons unashamedly to get ahead.

Then why are they so self-centered? 

The globe is merely seen by them as a competitive field. Living is a greedy game for a taker where you take what you want, only assisting others if the private gain of doing so exceeds the expense. 

Kenneth Lay, the former CEO of energy company Enron, is a perfect example of a taker. Lay disposed of off $70 million in stocks in an excellently-timed attempt to take advantage of himself before the firm went bankrupt, leaving 20,000 employees unemployed, in addition to taking out massive debts from the corporation. 

But it is not completely negative or immoral for the average taker. Iconic basketball player Michael Jordan offers a less corrosive example. As a player, before he became a shareholder, Jordan talked in favor of the share of team income provided to players, only to claim the contrary. His motto:” You have to be greedy to be successful.” 

While their fundamental motivations can vary, both participants share the same viewpoint: they think that for everyone there is a finite quantity of “pie” and it is up to them to choose the greatest slice for themselves. 


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Chapter 1 – Givers are motivated by the urge for the community to assist others and generate progress.


Any of us can remember a moment when the kindness of another person reached us. Maybe they guided us, provided us a career opportunity, or supported us with a tough job, all without asking anything in return. These individuals are contributors. 

The giver’s cornerstone characteristic is that they give way more than they get in most deals. Through their expertise and time, they are compassionate and they will always simply avoid personal credit for the sake of a shared purpose. Their primary emphasis is to have support for others; it is either meaningless or a benefit to see their assistance reciprocated. The way givers see it, supporting other people is their incentive, as it also helps the givers feel nice. 



A typical case of a giver is George Meyer, the Emmy Award-winning writer for The Simpsons. Without requesting for personal credit, Meyer regularly urged other authors to use his suggestions. So, while he helped form more than 300 The Simpsons series, he is only credited for 12. Nonetheless, watching the show thrive was what applied more to him than keeping track of personal credit. The term ‘meh’, an expression of frustration, was also coined by Meyer, which Bart first used on the series and can be found in the dictionary today. Meyer, though, was so unworried with taking credit even here that he completely forgot it was he who coined the word. The popularity of the series was genuinely his biggest aim.

Givers recognize the advantages of collective success and aim for as many individuals as possible to generate wealth. 


Chapter 2 – Matchers aim for fair, reciprocal transactions with others somewhere between givers and takers. 


“I’m going to do anything for you if you do anything for me.” This is the gamblers’ calling card: people who want to lend as much as they get. Matchers are readily identifiable for their attitude of tit-for-tat. You can see them negotiating a deal with their children over mowing the grass or enlisting the aid of a neighbor who owes them a favor to take them to the airport. However, unlike takers or givers, the goal of the matcher is to be equal and fair to all sides in their discussions, not just one. 

The planet should be a fair playing field for matchers where people equally share information, expertise, and money. When interactions are uneven, matchers are unhappy, because if they support others, they demand contact, or else they feel irritated. However, this goes both ways: if a match gets a favor, they will be compelled to repay it immediately. This tendency for reciprocity often suggests that there is generally an intention to “cash in” the favor later if a matcher offers to assist others, which they think is fully justified.



Since matching appears reasonable to most individuals, most of us are simply matchers. Matching is a rational approach to cope with others, particularly in the workplace where matchers, by exchanging skills and experience, can support themselves and their peers. On platforms such as Craigslist, where users trade goods, cash, and resources in an equal manner, matching is often the most common interaction form.

They perceive it as an exquisite equilibrium between unconditional giving and careless taking, whether those that match are selling commodities or trading favors. 


Chapter 3 – How much we give or take is influenced by with whom we associate. 


When was the last time that you felt motivated to act in a certain way by a team? While each of us has a unique governance style of either sharing, taking, or balancing, we all adapt our actions to fit particular individuals and conditions. 

In a collective setting, it is part of our existence to adhere to what we think is required of us. Takers, for instance, are typically more forgiving in public because they don’t want to look to anyone miserably. On the other side, when they don’t want their compassion to be interpreted as a vulnerability, givers can suppress their kindness at work. 

Freecycle.org, where users give away unnecessary things such as lenses or baby goods for free, is one group that affects its users. The anticipated norm of offering causes takers to offer more than they usually would when they sign up for the site and engage with the group. 



In addition to group strain, how much we find of ourselves in the other person is another aspect shaping our kindness: the more alike he or she is, the more willing we are to donate. In one report, fans of Manchester United soccer found a “wounded” runner. 92 percent of the fans intervened to support him while the runner was sporting a Manchester United T-shirt. When the runner wears a white T-shirt, this proportion plunged to 33 percent. The implications of this research suggest that we are more willing to offer to people that look like us. 

In summary, without even understanding it, it is possible that both you and those around you dramatically influence their actions according to who they are with. 


Chapter 4 – Chronic takers lose esteem for and destroy their reputations.


Popular sense maintains that you must take what you want to excel. Past precedents, however, illustrate that when individuals take too many, they lose respect. If this arises, their reputations are negative, threatening their additional likelihood of succeeding when people no longer want to associate with them. 

Assume, for instance, the scientist Jonas Salk, who created the polio vaccine with the aid of his research staff, other scientists, and thousands of healthcare workers and volunteers. Salk refused to acknowledge those who had collaborated for him at an infamous news conference celebrating the accomplishment, frustrating his squad to the extent of crying. His greed inevitably backfired: Salk was never inserted into the National Academy of Sciences, although many other polio scholars were, and the Nobel Prize was never won. Some argue that he could not acknowledge others that led to him not being regarded for these awards.



Admired architect Frank Lloyd Wright also had a name for the unreasonable taking: He did not compensate his students and made them quote his name on all their work. Perhaps more surprisingly, Wright invoiced him for all the housing expenses he had incurred as his son when his son worked for him and demanded payment. One of Wright’s clients also claimed that, because of his disrespect for those who worked for him, he chose to employ his students rather than Wright himself, thereby hurting Wright’s business.

Salk and Wright’s explanations illustrate that takers are likely to be taxed by takers. Taker tax means spreading the news about the negative conduct of a taker, which in turn harms their reputation, a common tactic used by individuals to intimidate takers. 

Thus, while some takers may achieve good periods and even make useful improvements to humanity, they ultimately appear to be punished by the tax on takers, hampering their likelihood of continued growth substantially.


Chapter 5 – The top jobs in society are often achieved by givers because they concentrate on the collective good. 


Most agree that taking is more successful than giving when it comes to achieving career achievement. In typically fiercely competitive careers, such as business and politics, this is especially true. Oddly, though, in such settings, it turns out that givers also excel, as their belief in serving others often helps them. 

Abraham Lincoln is a prime case of someone who worried more about giving than taking for himself for the public good. Lincoln pulled out of a presidential primary until he was president to encourage rival Lyman Trumbull to win. Lincoln resigned his position because the objective of ending slavery was held by him and Trumball, and Lincoln felt that Trumball had a greater chance of succeeding. For Lincoln, ending slavery was more important than personal development. Eventually, when he stood for the senate again, Trumball returned the favor by finally becoming an advocate for Lincoln. 



The heroism of Jason Geller at Deloitte Consultancy can be seen as a more recent instance of how working on the common good helps givers. To collect and store data on the customers and rivals of the company, Geller created a knowledge retrieval scheme, and rather than accumulating the data so that he could profit from it, he made it public to all his employees in the expectation of making the whole company do well. This graciousness made a major image on his managers, one of the youngest at Deloitte, who shortly promoted him to partner. Givers have a stake in the common good. They will climb to the top because of this, reaching strong and prominent positions. 


Chapter 6 – To support others as well as themselves, active givers build and use their large networks. 


Did you ever feel weird asking someone you haven’t seen in years for a favor? Individuals that offer tend not to feel that way. While they may lose contact over time with certain contacts, a sense of faith and a desire to contribute is retained. This makes it possible for givers, even after long periods of being out of touch, to ask for things for themselves or somebody they know. 

The 106 Miles network, a twice-monthly meeting where entrepreneurs come together to interact and combine their expertise, was co-founded by Adam Rifkin, a perennial giver, and Fortune Magazine’s best networker of 2011. Rifkin enables people to get jobs through this case, provides them with input on their business plans, and links them to those in his massive network.



But he also benefited from his serious intention to help others through establishing relationships. He was quickly able to get recommendations about a new business he wanted to launch from Excite co-founder Graham Spencer, someone he hasn’t spoken in 5 years, because he is so well known for his graciousness. This is a common advantage for donors: re-connecting is simple when they seek assistance from even a somewhat inactive network since the other party understands that the giver is not seeking acknowledgment or greedy gains.

Givers assume that accumulating resources and knowledge is advantageous for everyone. Thanks to their bright reputations and their ability to pay for the support they get, their networks are vivid. 


Chapter 7 – In anyone they encounter, givers see the value, making them excellent at discovering and cultivating talent. 


When given an opportunity to tutor others, several individuals first search for roots of talent to see if their time is worth spending. In this regard, though, givers vary: instead of waiting for evidence of skill, givers expect talent in all and cultivate it from the outset. Their protégées are always extremely competitive because of this early-stage encouragement, and this quality is typically mirrored back on the givers. 

In the way, he picked players for his squads, famed NBA basketball boss Stu Inman offers a fascinating example of a good giver. While Inman skipped on several basketball stars, including Michael Jordan, in drafting the once underrated Clyde Drexler, who later established the Basketball Hall of Fame, ten All-Star teams, and the Olympics, he found huge success. For his efforts to identify undervalued players and for his devotion to those he helped grew, Inman was greatly admired. Another individual who, by having faith in those who initially did not seem enticing, has achieved success is C. J. Skender, an award-winning professor of accounting. The success of Skender resides in cultivating and coaching its pupils. Skender wrote letters to every one of his students who sat the Certified Public Accountant exam at one time, having now taught almost 600 classes, praising those who passed and those who did not. 



The outcome of this hard work?

For their CPA results, more than 40 of Skender’s students have won medals. One former classmate, Reggie Love, also went on to become a personal assistant to Barack Obama. 

By accepting the excellence of all, suppliers offer fertile ground for the growth of all, which therefore generates the giver’s success. 


Chapter 8 – Powerless interaction has a strong benefit for givers. 


We would likely say it takes confident, proactive language if anyone asked us what type of contact produces the most success. Yet new findings suggest that we can flourish by engaging in a powerless manner, as opposed to raising voices and showing conviction. 

Powerless conversation means relying on the other person; getting suggestions and answering questions, for instance. This lighter style has a surprisingly convincing influence instead of becoming powerful, which evokes opposition. This approach is simple for givers since they are involved in others.

An analysis of optometry firms has convincingly shown the persuasiveness of powerless interaction: opticians who were the most visible givers were also the biggest sellers. The explanation was their way of communication. Optician Kildare Escoto, for instance, distinguishes from other salespeople in that he asks clients about their desires and lifestyle instead of pitching a deal. Posing questions creates trust in clients and encourages them to represent them better. Consequently, Escoto is the number one giver and sales representative for LensCrafters. 



Another instance of powerless interaction is demonstrated by “Annie,” a scientist who worked whilst studying for her MBA at a Fortune 500 business. She was given a move to another place when the facility she worked at shut, but this would have meant halting her research. Annie requested guidance from her HR boss rather than expecting a solution from the company, saying,” What would you do?”  Annie was a respected worker, and this helpless attitude resulted in her having unrestricted access to the private plane of the organization so that while still training at the old position she could move to the new destination. 

Powerless interaction can be particularly favorable. This classic giver tactic persuades people to be more open to us, rather than making demands on them.


Chapter 9 – Givers are only effective if exhaustion can be prevented or exploited by takers. 


Thanks to their graciousness, many givers thrive. Sadly, this is not always the situation and others end up striving to appease everybody by stressing themselves. Givers need to understand how to remain motivated and cope with takers who misuse their generosity to prevent such exhaustion.

Interestingly, a new study reveals that the exhaustion cure lies not in minimizing the hours spent serving people, but in being able to experience their effects. 

An overstressed schoolteacher, Conrey Callahan, was burned out until she agreed to create a coaching group. This was counterintuitive at first sight since the program simply applied hours to her time. It also allowed her, though, to work collaboratively with mentees as they trained for university, and thus see first-hand the advantages of the assistance she provided. She feels revived with her mentoring and coaching as a result. 



In addition to exhaustion, takers who misuse their graciousness can feel “walked over”, hence the term “doormat”. To prevent this, givers need to find a technique that encourages them to fulfill their urge to donate but also prevents them from abuse. Such a communication tactic is identified by mathematical biology as gracious tit for tat. That is, “never forget a positive turn, but often excuse a bad one.” In fact, this means providing the actions of match takers much of the occasions, but indulging their compassionate nature by giving the occasional kind action to the takers. This gives a feeling of control to givers while fostering good actions in others in reaction to their generosity.

These two aspects allow givers to attain long-term success, seeing the effect of their initiatives and reigning in their over-zealous tendency to give in the presence of relentless takers.


Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam M. Grant Book Review


It will result in tremendous individual and community results by offering more than you receive. 

We’ve historically been indoctrinated to assume that we need to fight with others and get what we need to excel. New studies and historical proof, however, shows that it’s not generally the takers who ultimately win. Those who give can achieve excellence and, in contrast to those who take, together with them, they create success for others. 


The following concerns were addressed in the sections of this book:

What are the three major types of interaction between individuals and others? 

  • Takers are selfish and rely only on the advantages someone might supply them with.
  • Givers are motivated by the urge for the community to assist others and generate progress.
  • Matchers aim for fair, reciprocal transactions with others somewhere between givers and takers. 
  • How much we give or take is influenced by with whom we associate. 

Why does taking not succeed in the long term?

  • Chronic takers lose esteem for and destroy their reputations. 

How do you turn into a giver that is productive?

  • The top jobs in society are often achieved by givers because they concentrate on the collective good. 
  • To support others as well as themselves, active givers build and use their large networks. 
  • In anyone they encounter, givers see the value, making them excellent at discovering and cultivating talent. 
  • Powerless interaction has a strong benefit for givers. 

How do you prevent being a bad giver?

  • Givers are only effective if exhaustion can be prevented or exploited by takers. 

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Savaş Ateş

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