The Go Giver – Book Review

The Go Giver is a business parable that offers a lively read written by Bob Burg and John David Mann. In The Go Giver, the reader rides along with Joe, a high charging ambitious account executive, as Joe is introduced to “The Secret”, a simple, yet powerful framework that focuses Joe to change his outlook and approach to work resulting in dramatic constructive changes.

Joe learns that “The Secret” can be summed up in a single word, “giving”. His mentor notes “In fact most people just laugh when they hear that the secret to success is giving. Then again, most people are nowhere near as successful as they wish they were.”

To make the distinction between where our minds normally are versus where they should be, Joe’s mentor details, “the majority of people operate with a mindset that says to the fireplace, ‘first give me some heat, then I’ll throw on some logs’…And, of course, it just doesn’t work that way.” Once I get paid more, then I will become an excellent employee. Once I get that degree, then I’ll take the classes. That’s just an immature and backwards approach that most of us take.

The book encourages the reader to change our perspectives from looking in to looking out. Our default seems to be to think about what we need, what we want, what are our objectives, what do we want to achieve. In The Go-Giver, we see that looking at others and how we can serve and help them accomplish what they’re after will, inevitably, help us get what we’re after. As legendary, San Francisco 49rs coach, Bill Walsh’s book title affirms, The Score Takes care of Itself. If we do our job and focus on how we can contribute, it’s only a matter of time until we’re well taken care of.

Joe learns that this concept follows a five-step process, and his mentor is willing to work with him provided Joe commits to both making time each day over the next week to learn these steps as well as to take some action to try each step on the day it is learned. The reader is encouraged to recognize that those who are successful are willing to share their hard-won wisdom. Those who have gone before and achieved things want to help the next generation coming through. Their willingness to help is related to how eager you are and how willing to act on their contributions are.

The five steps to success are presented as laws. They are the Law of Value, Compensation, Influence, Authenticity, and Receptivity.

The law of value is the first and core point of the Giver philosophy. Our focus should be on what value we are providing or offering others. How are we making their lives better. What we sell, produce, give, needs to be of value to the person we’re working with. Every business and individual depend on offering something valuable to others. We should be asking first, not will this make money, but is this needed by others, does it add value to the lives of others? This should be our driving force. Those committed to adding value first and foremost will outdo, out achieve, and out earn those only looking out for number one.

The second law is that of compensation. The compensation we can reasonably command in any marketplace is tied to the number of people to which we’re adding value or the quantity of value we add to someone. Essentially, can we scale our value? Can we reach many people with our efforts? If yes, we can command high compensation. For example, movie stars and athletes touch millions of fans. Social software applications fit this bill as well. Adding value to millions of people’s lives is adding immense value. They are well compensated as a result. If I can only walk one dog for someone, I can only be compensated for the value of walking a dog for one individual which is much less. There are two spinoffs to the law of compensation. First, there are no limits to compensation as there are no limits to the number of people to which you can add value. Second, your compensation is largely influenced by you. You choose, you decide how much value your efforts add to whom.

The third law is influence. The idea of influence encourages us to look out for others interests first. Try to be both likeable and helpful for others. This may not translate into immediate reciprocity but will build a network of those who are “invested” in your success. You will be top of mind, and they will think of ways to try to look out for you and help you. Influence is less what we typically think of as factors of power – money, prestige, status, titles and more how do we make others feel.

Authenticity is the fourth law. We’re not trying to put on airs or fake our way into people’s lives. Being who we are is important and expressing vulnerability is part of being authentic. The most important thing we have to give is ourselves.

The final law is receptivity. We are encouraged to be open to external forces and circumstances that may help us. We get what we expect. The world doesn’t give us what we want but reflects back to us who we are. Rewards or help may come at the strangest times from the strangest places. It’s not better to give than to receive, but they both should be considered equally important. By not being open to receive we are denying others the opportunity to give.

Finally, the story comes full circle, and we see our main character, Joe, successfully living the principles his mentors were kind enough to share with him. He further rewards their willingness to share their wisdom by not just acting on the lessons learned but seeking to share them with another aspiring individual.

The essential message of The Go Giver is well delivered through an entertaining parable that is a quick and easy read..

Questions to Consider Inspired by the Book:

  • How am I adding value today in my work life? Who do my efforts benefit? In what way?
  • How can I parlay my efforts today into helping more people?
  • How can I check in with colleagues to see what obstacles they are facing? What can I consider doing or offering to help them manage some of their headaches?
  • How can I be more of myself today at work?
  • How can I help someone that is just getting going and starting out in this industry?
  • Am I open to hearing and receiving help that is being extended by colleagues?