Adam Grant recently stopped by MTV to talk about his new book, Give and Take. Who is Adam? Oh, just Wharton’s youngest (and highest rated) tenured professor. NBD. After several years of researching what CEOs know that the rest of us don’t, Grant came to a pretty crazy conclusion: The secret to success is … being a “giver.”
With unemployment of recent college grads still at an all-time high, it can seem like clawing your way to the top requires taking anything from anyone until you get there. Thankfully, Grant’s research reveals that that is NOT the road map to success — this is what is:
+ Be a giver.
A “giver” is a reciprocator, someone who constantly gives to others with no strings attached and is happy to do so. Givers are the mentors you call to go over every bullet point in your resume, the teacher who stays after class to chat about that paper with you, and the classmate who never fails to give you all the credit you deserve for that group project. According to Grant, the most successful CEOs fall into the “giver” category. Although being a giver can set you back initially (givers sometimes have a hard time going for that promotion, raise, etc.), in the long run givers win. By being so awesome to work with, givers gradually build a solid network of connections. Who you know can be super-crucial for landing that job you’re after.
+ Don’t be shy — use your “weak” connections.
Just because your mom and best friend aren’t execs at your dream company to work for, doesn’t mean your camp friend’s sister’s dog walker’s neighbor isn’t. If you’re hitting dead ends in your network of close friends, cast the net wider. According to Grant, you’re almost twice as likely to get a job through “weak ties” than strong ones. It can feel super-random to hit up that guy you gave directions to that one time. But when you’re an all-star giver, you tend to make a good impression on people — even if you’ve met only once.
+ Spot the takers.
Unfortunately, the world is not completely made up of givers. Takers are people who use others for personal gain without even considering returning the favor. They are your freeloading roommate who eats the last cookie, that coworker who acts like it was all THEIR idea, and your deadbeat ex-boyfriend who always “forgets” his wallet. Spotting takers can be tricky. Most takers don’t realize that they’re like this, which can make it difficult to stage a “taker” intervention. Even if you can’t beat ‘em, though, you don’t have to join them. Grant suggests doing small favors for others instead — especially connecting people you feel can help out each other.
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