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“Bob Burg is the greatest teacher of networking in the world ”

~ John Milton Fogg, author, The Greatest Networker in the World

Give and Take – An Interview with Adam Grant

April 11th, 2013 by Bob Burg

Are all givers financially successful? Not necessarily. Are all givers financially unsuccessful? Not necessarily.

What about takers? Or…matchers?

In this fascinating new book by Adam M. Grant, we learn that not all “givers” are what you and I would call “Go-Givers.” Though, we also learn that pretty much all takers are what we would call “go-takers.”

Adam Grant photographed by Michael KamberSo, why are some types of givers hugely successful in practically every facet of their lives while other givers are the proverbial “doormats?” And, can one change from doormat giver to ultra-successful giver? (Hint: Yes!)

By the way, must one be either selfless or selfish? Actually, it turns out neither one is particularly productive.

On the other hand, what about… “Otherish?”

This was amazing: Remember Kenneth Lay, the major villain in the Enron scandal? He appeared to many to be a giver. But, of course, he was the ultimate taker. It turns out the warning signs were there long before it finally came to the surface. And, in retrospect, it wasn’t that difficult to see? The author tells us how we could have known, had we only known what to look for.

Book Yourself Solid IllustratedIn this masterpiece of a book, we learn the who, what, when, where, why and how of a topic that can open up entire new worlds of understanding; both about how human beings operate…and about your personal and professional success.

And, it’s a great read. While highly-researched, it is filled with entertaining stories that begin with counter-intuitive points and are then brought home in a way that causes the reader to say, “of course, makes perfect sense!” Sort of a “Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers meets Robert Cialdini’s Influence.”

At just 31, Dr. Grant is the youngest tenured professor at the prestigious Wharton Business School as well as its single highest-rated professor. An award-winning researcher, teacher and corporate consultant, he is also a record-setting salesperson; the lesson from which he would use as a basis for his subsequent work on this topic. Dr. Grant is a former Junior Olympic springboard diver as well as a professional magician.

He also happens to be as humble and kind as he is brilliant.

Enjoy our chat.

Did some of what Professor Grant said shock or surprise you? What key takeaways did you receive that will affect the way you see giving, taking and receiving? How will the information in this chat change two things for you: your awareness of your own style…and the awareness of others’ styles?

Please feel free to share with us.

TECHNICAL NOTE: If you are having trouble playing the interview, please make sure Adobe Flash Player is installed in your web browser. If not, then download Flash Player. Or right-click here to download and select “Save Link As…” to download the audio file to your computer.

32 Responses to “Give and Take – An Interview with Adam Grant”
  1. Bruno Coelho said at 1:30 pm on

    An instant add to my wish list at Amazon!

    Thank you for one more magnificent interview and for introducing me to another Master of the Art of Giving 🙂

  2. Bob Burg said at 1:37 pm on

    Bruno: Thank you for your kind feedback, my friend. So very glad you enjoyed the interview (Psst, move this one up from “wish list” to “get list.” You’ll be glad you did.)

  3. Marty Wolff said at 1:59 pm on


    I first heard of Adam on a webinar with Daniel Pink. I ordered Adam’s book THAT day. It arrived yesterday and last night I read the first three chapters. Your interview, as always, will be a guide for me as I read through the book and absorb the lessons. AND, as soon as I started reading it, I thought, I sure hope Bob Burg is aware of Adma’s work!

  4. Bob Burg said at 2:02 pm on

    Marty: Thank you. What a very nice and thoughtful compliment. Means a lot to me!

  5. Randy Stelter said at 2:29 pm on


    WOW!!! Fascinating interview. I am ordering the book. I know when you recommend something this strongly it has to be great. Sure do appreciate all you do for so many.

  6. Bob Burg said at 2:30 pm on

    Randy: Thank you. So glad you enjoyed Adam. And, greatly appreciate your very kind comment! 🙂

  7. William Butler said at 4:07 pm on

    Great interview Bob!

    You’ve been a TREMENDOUS help to me personally in interviewing Adam.

    I especially resonate with the ‘pitfalls’ of givers, as I have continually given,
    sometimes beyond the point of exhaustion. I yet have much to learn.

    My motto is BE LOVE TO OTHERS… so I really appreciate hearing the word ‘otherish’
    because love is other-centered as opposed to self-centered.

    Kind Regards.

  8. Bob Burg said at 4:15 pm on

    William: Thank you. So glad you enjoyed that. And, indeed, if you’re giving the correct way, you’ll never fall victim to being a “doormat.” And, Adam does a terrific job of explaining in the book how many people have moved from “doormat giver” to “successful giver’ (what we would call Go-Givers) 🙂 Great motto, too! 🙂

  9. Donna said at 5:51 pm on

    I really liked this interview…..I am going through cancer treatment next week….I am a real go-giver……and I do get back as well….I look forward to the book….

  10. Bob Burg said at 6:50 pm on

    Donna: Thank you. Glad you enjoyed the interview. I’m very sorry to hear about the cancer. Sending you prayers and best wishes for complete and total health!

  11. Jim Swink said at 5:55 pm on

    Bob great interview! Will be ordering my book soon!

    Love the term “otherness” which is a good descriptive word of a healthy Go-Giver. When I first got into sales in the 70’s much of the training was how to become a successful ‘Taker” and being a “Go-Giver” wasn’t even an option.

    Bob, do you find when a “Go-Giver” makes a sale everyone wins; when a “taker” makes a sale the customer loses; and when a “door mat” makes a sale he/she loses?

    Again your interviews are very inspiring and thought provoking!

  12. Bob Burg said at 6:59 pm on

    Jim: Thank you. Glad you enjoyed the interview. I know you’ll enjoy Adam’s book, as well. Yes, “otherish” was very cool because it begins with the “other” which is where the focus should be, while still taking ourselves into consideration, which is also important. Very cool! A Go-Giver, by his/her very nature, is “otherish” or – by definition – he/she is not a Go-Giver, but simply a giver. In terms of your paragraph about a sale, I’d say you are totally and completely right on the mark, Jim. Of course, most likely the “taker” will lose in terms of a reputation that will keep them from obtaining those personal walking ambassadors that are so important. But, in terms of immediacy, absolutely, he/she can win in the immediate-term. Usually, however, even in the short-term, the Go-Giver, because of their “other-focus” (or, being “otherish”) is more effective in communicating value to their prospect so, even in the short-term, they are more likely to succeed than is a taker. Thank you for your very thought-provoking comments and questions.

  13. Martha Mayo said at 9:21 pm on

    Hi Bob,

    Such an awesome interview you gave with Dr. Adam!

    I listened to a Dr. Adam interview on NPR Monday driving back from Raleigh. The entire time I was listening to it, I was wondering “What would Bob Burg have to say?” Now I know!

    Awesome as always!

    Thanks for sharing the interview,


  14. Bob Burg said at 9:30 pm on

    Martha: Thank you so much for your kind comment about the interview. So glad you enjoyed it! Yes, Adam shared some terrific wisdom in our chat. And, his book is amazing!

  15. Martha Mayo said at 10:27 pm on

    Bob, Yes, he did share terrific wisdom. My book was delivered this afternoon – will begin reading it tonight!

    Thanks again for all you do,

  16. Bob- Another excellent interview– and I have ordered the book and can’t wait!!
    Warm regards, Andrea

  17. Bob Burg said at 2:41 pm on

    Andrea: Thank you. So glad you enjoyed it. And, glad you ordered his book. I’ve studied (and loved!) your fantastic books and teachings enough to know that you will love Adam’s book!

  18. Doug Wagner said at 2:05 pm on

    Great interview. The part that at first was not intuitive at first listen is that the givers were at the top and bottom but then when you think about it a bit, it rings true. Go-Givers at top and givers who don’t understand receiving at bottom.

    Makes a lot of sense and I can see people in the real world that I know in both categories.

    You can help so many more people in the world if what you do is sustainable and scalable.

    Looking forward to reading the book.

  19. Bob Burg said at 2:43 pm on

    Doug: Thanks. Your conclusion in the first paragraph was absolutely perfect and right on. And, the examples that Adam provides in the book illustrate both sides of the coin perfectly. And, yes, we do indeed see examples of both on an ongoing basis. Love your third paragraph, as well. Of course, you help people to do that, so you know from whence you speak (and, thank you for giving me the opportunity to use the seldom-uttered, “whence”) 😉

  20. Doug Wagner said at 2:52 pm on

    Bob: Henceforth, let there be more “whence”s in life.

  21. Lene Jytte Hansen said at 5:35 pm on

    WOW – GREAT interview!!! I’ll definately get this book. My ears was as big as Dumboes!!!! THANK YOU Bob 🙂 And THANK YOU Adam 🙂

  22. Lene Jytte Hansen said at 5:44 pm on

    Have ordered this AWESOME BOOK! I’ll get it soon. Really looking firward to read it – it will be among my favorite together with your books Bob – The Go-Giver. WOW I’m all fired up! Got to promote this book 🙂

  23. Bob Burg said at 5:50 pm on

    Doug: LOL!

  24. Bob Burg said at 5:51 pm on

    Lene: Thank you for your always kind, gracious and encouraging feedback. And I KNOW you’re going to love Adam’s book!

  25. Christie Ellis said at 10:38 am on

    What a wonderful interview! I know Dr Grant said the word “Otherish” shouldn’t be in anyone’s dictionary, but I really like that word. It gives name to a term we have long been missing. Thank you for introducing Dr Grant to this community. I am looking forward to reading the book with highlighter, post-its and pen in hand 🙂

  26. Bob Burg said at 3:13 pm on

    Christie: Thank you. And, I agree with you; I think “Otherish”is a great word and totally rates dictionary inclusion! 🙂 So glad you enjoyed the interview and the wisdom shared by Dr. Grant!

  27. Bruno Coelho said at 11:18 am on

    Just saw your reply now Bob!

    Yes – I’ve talked about this interview with my wife and she said: “Forget the wishlist – this one is going straight to the shopping cart!”

    You know the quote “Behind a great man is a great woman rolling her eyes” 😉

  28. Bob Burg said at 11:21 am on

    Bruno: Sounds more like she’s the person right beside you encouraging you on to greatness! 😉

  29. Bruno Coelho said at 11:24 am on

    🙂 She really is Bob – partners in business and in Life!

  30. […] – Openness to the other person – Give & take […]

  31. Rob Peters said at 4:33 pm on

    Excellent interview Bob!

    Understanding the differences with successful “Go-Givers” and those Givers that do not succeed! Going beyond Selfless and Selfish to “Otherish”

    Just fantastic knowledge that will create value for my clients and partners as well as myself in the Relationship Capital (RC) advisory services business.

    Thank you so much!

  32. Bob Burg said at 4:58 pm on

    Rob: Thank you for your kind comments. So glad you enjoyed the interview and found such great value in Adam’s teaching!

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