A Revolutionary Approach to Success

giveandtake

For generations we have focused on the individual drivers of success: passion ,hard work, talent and luck. But in today’s dramatically reconfigured world, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. Give and Take illuminates what effective networking, collaboration, influence, negotiation and leadership skills have in common.

Adam Grant examines the surprising forces that shape why some people rise to the top of the success ladder, while others sink to the bottom. In professional interactions, it turns out that most people operate as takers, matchers or givers. Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.

Using his own groundbreaking studies, Grant reveals that these styles have a dramatic impact on success. Although some givers get exploited and burn out, the rest achieve extraordinary results across a wide range of industries. Praised by social scientists, business theorists and corporate leaders, Give and Take opens up an approach to work, interactions and productivity that is nothing short of revolutionary. This visionary approach to success has the power to transform not just individuals and groups but entire organizations and communities.

Over the past three decades, in a series of groundbreaking studies, social scientists have discovered that people differ dramatically in their preferences for reciprocity –– their desired mix of taking and giving. The two kinds of people who fall on opposite ends of the spectrum are called takers and givers.

Takers have a distinctive signature: they like to get more than they give. They tilt reciprocity in their own favor, putting their own interests ahead of others’ needs. Takers believe that the world is a competitive, dog-eat-dog place. They feel that to succeed, they need to be better than others. To prove their competence, they self-promote and make sure they get plenty of credit for their efforts.

The opposite of a taker is a giver. In the workplace, givers are a relatively rare breed. They tilt reciprocity in the other direction, preferring to give more than they get. Whereas takers tend to be self-focused, evaluating what other people can offer them, givers are other-focused, paying more attention to what other people need from them. These preferences aren’t about money: givers and takers aren’t distinguished by how much they donate to charity or the compensation that they command from their employers. Rather, givers and takers differ in their attitudes and actions toward other people. If you’re a taker, you help others strategically when the benefits to you outweigh the personal costs. If you’re a giver, you might use a different cost-benefit analysis: you help whenever the benefits to others exceed the personal costs. If you’re a giver at work, you simply strive to be generous in sharing your time, energy, knowledge, skills, ideas and connections with other people who can benefit from them.

In the workplace, give and take becomes quite complicated. Professionally, few of us act purely like givers or takers, adopting a third style instead. We become matchers, striving to preserve an equal balance of giving and getting. Matchers operate on the principle of fairness: when they help others, they protect themselves by seeking reciprocity. If you’re a matcher, you believe in tit for tat, and your relationships are governed by even exchanges of favors.

Giving, taking and matching are three fundamental styles of social interaction, but the lines between them aren’t hard and fast. You might find that you shift from one reciprocity style to another as you travel across different work roles and relationships.

It’s clear that givers, takers and matchers all can –– and do –– achieve success. But there’s something distinctive that happens when givers succeed: it spreads and cascades. When takers win, there’s usually someone else who loses. People tend to envy successful takers and look for ways to knock them down a notch. In contrast, when givers win, people are rooting for them and supporting them, rather than gunning for them. Givers succeed in a way that creates a ripple effect, enhancing the success of people around them.

 

How To Transform Your Limitations Into Advantages, and Why It’s Everyone’s Business

THE INS AND OUTS OF CONSTRAINTS

As marketing consultants Adam Morgan and Mark Barden, authors of a new book entitled A Beautiful Constraint, began their research into constraints (e.g., too little time, too little money) and how to overcome them, they divided the world into three kinds of people: victims, who lowered their ambitions when faced with constraints; neutralizers, who did not lower ambitions but instead found different ways to achieve them; and transformers, who saw constraints not as barriers but as something that could be used as opportunities. Transformers, according to the authors’ theory, even believed that constraints could be leveraged to achieve even greater ambitions. In fact, the authors identified two sub-types of transformers — the responsive transformers, who successfully responded to constraints, and the proactive transformers, who deliberately imposed constraints on themselves to spur greater creativity and ambition.

For the authors, world-class graphic designer Michael Beirut, whose clients include the New York Ties, Saks Fifth Avenue, Disney and The Clinton Foundation, represented the transformer type. However, when they interviewed Beirut, he disagreed slightly with their concept. Victims, neutralizers and transformers were not three distinct types of people, he told the authors, but three stages through which everyone goes through as they face constraints. “This was an important shift in our thinking,” the authors write. “If we have a tendency to initially react one way to the imposition of a constraint, we need not see this as fixed and final. We all have the potential to move from victim to neutralizer to transformer.”

In A Beautiful Constraint, the authors lay out a six-step methodology for progressing through the stages — a methodology that addresses mindset (do we believe it is possible?), method (do we know how to start to do it?) and motivation (how much do we really want to do it?). After discovering in the first step the potential of the transformer stage, that is, using rather than defeating constraints, step two (also focused on mindset) involves, in the authors’ terms, breaking path dependence. Most people, the authors write, eventually come to depend on certain well-trodden paths that they take to achieve their goals or commitments. Becoming a transformer requires understanding that we must break our dependence on these paths.

The next three steps deal with the method for breaking this dependence and discovering ways to use constraints. Step three is to ask propelling questions — questions that will propel us off the comfortable tried-and-true paths. Step four is to adopt a can-if mindset: instead of thinking, “we can’t because …” transformers consistently say, instead, “we can if …” Step five is to create abundance — to recognize that we inevitably have more resources than we think we have. After the three “method” steps, the authors close their methodology with the final step, linked to motivation: activating emotions, which explores the potent role that emotions — from fear to excitement — play in generating the passion and persistence required to transform constraints.

Each step is supported with multiple examples. For example, the creators of the FIFA 13 game faced the constraint of a long load time, which frustrated their gamers. A propelling question — “How can we make waiting a valued part of the experience?” led to a can-if solution: “We can turn loading time into one of the most rewarding parts of the game if we think of it as a chance to build skills and make better players.” The solution to the loading constraint was thus: skill-building games that gamers could play during the load.

This book highlights the full potential of print publishing: engaging graphics and illustrations and a clear design reinforce and support the insightful and inspiring lessons of A Beautiful Constraint.

The Revolution That’s Transforming Everything

“By one estimate, 90 percent of all of the data in history was created in the last two years. In 2014, International Data Corporation calculated the data universe at 4.4 zettabytes, or 4.4 trillion gigabytes. That much information, in volume, could fill enough slender iPad Air tablets to create a stack two-thirds of the way to the moon. Now, that’s big data.”  Steve Lohr

Steve Lohr has covered technology, business, and economics for the New York Times for more than twenty years and writes for the Times’ Bits blog. In 2013 he was part of the team awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting. He was a foreign correspondent for a decade and served as an editor, and has written for national publications such as the New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic, and the Washington Monthly. He is the author of Go To: The Story of the Math Majors, Bridge Players, Engineers, Chess Wizards, Maverick Scientists, and Iconoclasts—the Programmers Who Created the Software Revolution. He lives in New York City.

In his book Data-ism, Lohr makes several claims about the explosion of data:

  • That Big Data is the next phase, in which vast, Internet-scale data sets are used for discovery and prediction in virtually every field.
  • That this new revolution will change the way decisions are made.
  • That relying more on data and analysis, and less on intuition and experience, can transform the nature of leadership and management.

In our upcoming Soundview Live webinar, The Revolution That’s Transforming Everything, Steve Lohr explains how individuals and institutions will need to exploit, protect, and manage their data to stay competitive in the coming years. Filled with rich examples and anecdotes of the various ways in which the rise of Big Data is affecting everyday life, it raises provocative questions about policy and practice that have wide implications for all of our lives.

Join us on April 16th to learn how big data affects your business decision making, and post your questions for Steve during the webinar.

Work Less, Worry Less, Succeed More, Enjoy More

Classic Book Review: Living the 80/20 Way

In Richard Koch’s previous book, The 80/20 Principle, he explained with numerous examples how 80 percent of results come from just 20 percent of causes or effort. For example, 80 percent of sales usually come from less than 20 percent of customers, fewer than 20 percent of drivers cause more than 80 percent of traffic accidents, and so on. In his latest book, Living the 80/20 Way, Koch examines the fundamentals of personal success and shows readers how they can apply his “less is more” and “more with less” ideas to their best 20 percent for better success with money, work, relationships and the good life.

Living the 80/20 Way does more than show readers how to do things differently: It also shows them how to “do less in total.” Koch explains that if we do more of the things that bring us joy, we can do fewer things in total and still transform our lives. Convinced that anyone can benefit by working less and fulfilling their passions more, Koch writes that rebalancing your life not only creates greater health and happiness, but it can also lead to far greater success.

Koch starts his book by explaining how the way most of us organize our personal and social lives is a mistake; we should live to work instead of working to live. His point is that if we have more self-confidence and the right philosophy, we can accomplish more than we do now, enjoy the work we do more, and spend less time working so we can spend more time with our families and friends. Koch writes that if we apply the 80/20 principle to our lives as individuals, “we could enjoy life much more, work less, and achieve more.”

A More Productive Way
According to the 80/20 principle, a small minority of causes leads to a vast majority of results. Koch writes that if we know what results we want, we can look for a more productive way to get those results. He explains that if readers apply the 80/20 principle to the way they organize their private and social lives, they can make more money, gain more status, get a more interesting job and make life more exciting.

Koch writes that getting more with less delivers on two promises:

  1. It is always possible to improve anything in our lives, not by a small amount, but by a large amount.
  2. The way to make the improvement is to ask, “What will give me a much better result for much less energy?”

Although expecting more with less might seem to be unreasonable, Koch writes that this is exactly the reason why improvement is possible. By deliberately cutting back on what we put into a task and yet asking for much more, we force ourselves to think hard and do something different. He explains that this is the root of progress.

Koch writes that the trick to getting more with less is picking activities offering a higher reward for less energy.

Blossoming Sidelines
Throughout Living the 80/20 Way, Koch asks many questions that force the reader to question the way he or she spends time. “Could you spend more time on the things you enjoy, even without quitting your day job? Could a hobby, interest or sideline in your life blossom into a new career?” Koch urges readers to find out by spending more time on the things they enjoy. By trying out new projects while you are still working at your normal job, he writes, you can experiment with different ideas until one clicks.

Time Revolution
Another idea found in Living the 80/20 Way is the dismissal of time management. We should manage those things that we are short of, such as money, he explains, and since we are not short of time, it is inappropriate to try to manage it. Instead of managing our time so that we can speed up, Koch writes that we should look to “time revolution” to slow us down and help us to do fewer things. Instead of writing a “to do list,” we should make a “not to do list.” Act less and think more, he writes. “Stop doing anything that isn’t valuable, that doesn’t make you happy.”

One of the primary points that Koch repeatedly returns to is the idea that the present moment is where we need to live. By confining ourselves to the present moment and enjoying it, he writes, we can be proud of our past and hope for our future. “The 80/20 view of time makes us more relaxed and ‘connected.'” Once we are connected, Koch shows us how we can focus on our best 20 percent and find the personal power, happiness and success that are waiting there to be sparked into life. ~

Why We Like This Book
Living the 80/20 Way
offers readers a shortcut to their personal destinations by presenting the questions that need to be asked along the way and providing a philosophy that can be applied to each step. By emphasizing focus and enjoyment while discussing work and success, Koch presents a road map that can help anyone get farther on his or her personal journey to success in business, life and relationships. Vivid stories about those who have embraced his lessons help to make them more actionable.

What Is Self-Reliant Leadership

“Self-Reliant Leadership is synonymous with knowing which questions to ask yourself and having the courage to answer them and act.” Jan Rutherford

In Rutherford’s book The Littlest Green Beret, he tells the story of making it in Special Forces in spite of his young age (17) and small stature (5′ 4 1/2″). He teaches that self-reliant leadership requires three mutually supporting concepts:

1. Self-Awareness: Leaders understand their strengths and short-comings and how those traits affect their ability to create willing followers.

2. Selflessness: A leader needs to have a steadfast passion for serving others, and that requires putting others first.

3. Self-Reliance: Leading means being out front and there are more naysayers than supporters when trailblazing. Self-Reliant leaders believe in leading by example to develop followers who have initiative, persistence and determination.

If your goal is to become a self-reliant leader, then you’ll want to join us on April 9th to hear Jan Rutherford tell the stories of how he learned self-reliance as he moved up the ranks in Special Forces. Register for Self-Reliant Leadership: Embracing Adversity as the Crucible to Strengthen Character and Culture today.