It took me a long time to read Give and Take although not for the reason you might think. While I did find that Adam Grant has a tendency to repeat himself from time to time, overall I found the book to be thought provoking. I often put it down to consider a point and observe my colleagues and myself in action to see if I observed the same things the author saw in his research. So this review has been a bit delayed, but not because the book was not interesting or compelling, but rather because it was so applicable and observationally accurate in my day to day life.
The premise of the book feels both natural and surprising. The idea of a spectrum with “givers” at one end (those who offer time, resources, connections and energy to help others with no real intent or focus on reciprocity) and “takers” (no explanation needed) on the other makes great logical and intuitive sense. The surprise (spoiler alert but a small one since it happens in the first chapter) is that the givers end up at both the top and the bottom of the success range. As Dr. Grant explores these themes, he draws us in with stories and then expands on the observations with research and data. This is the new model (pioneered by Malcolm Gladwell) for books of this type and for good reason. It’s fun to learn new ways to look at our relationships and at success.
Cleverly there are no quizzes in the book to show whether you as a reader are a giver or a taker (although they are available on the author’s website). And of course everyone I talked to about the book identified with the givers and empathized with the idea of being too giving. While the author does focus primarily on the benefits and pitfalls of the givers which is consistent with the theme of the book, it did leave me wondering whether it’s truly possible to change from one category to another or if this simply allows takers to disguise themselves a bit better.
Overall Give and Take was a solid read with some great insights for both work and life. Did you read it? What did you think?