The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea
October 12, 2015
Bob Burg and John David Mann's book has become a movement, and it is now out in an expanded and updated edition.
They will tell you it's not really a secret. But the ideas, lessons, and perhaps truths they share in The Go-Giver have been used by CEOs and business owners to turn their businesses around, by teachers to better prepare their students for the world, by sales and customer service teams to train their employees, by law firms who pull acrimonious matrimonial disputes back from the brink, and by so many others to define and find success.
From book clubs to executive councils, law firms to prayer groups, energy conglomerates to nursing homes, pizza shop managers to graduate school professors, people wrote to tell us how they were using the book. And it wasn't that they were saying they liked it. They were saying something better than that.
They were saying it worked.
[...] All [these success stories] seem to suggest that the "secrets" in The Go-Giver must be startlingly new and original. They aren't, of course. The ideas are as old as humanity. ... while the world may at times appear to be a dog-eat-dog place, there is actually a set of much kinder and vastly more powerful principles operating beneath the surface of casual appearances.
And that set of principles boils down to: putting others' interests before your own. It is a remarkably simple notion, but it is usually seen as anathema to doing business, or as a sure way to quickly go out of business. If anything, people think that giving is something to be done when you've become successful in business, a charitable donation you can afford once you've clawed your way to the top. What Bob and John will tell you is that giving is the way to become successful—not just to become a "good" person, an upstanding family man (or woman) or a decent religious person, but the path to walk toward becoming a successful businessperson. The secret, simply put, is giving. That may seem counter-intuitive or like professional martyrdom, but as the book's mentor, Pindar, proclaims:
"Most people just laugh when they hear the secret to success is giving. ... Then again, most people are nowhere near as successful as they wish they were."
It actually seems rather obvious when you think about it. Putting others' interests ahead of your own means you can empathize with their needs, and then meet them. It means you put the design of a product or service to meet those needs ahead of the selfish desire to make a profit off their existence. And that empathy will actually yield more returns than more selfish motives in the long run, because it leads to a better products or services—results that are not only more sustainable, but that naturally expand as others learn of their real benefit. Within the workplace, it means that you're actively supporting and elevating others, and sharing the knowledge you've gained to help them on their way. And this is not something you do "at your own expense." Rather, by doing so you are forming allies that support and elevate you in turn, not only repaying you with interest but multiplying the investment you've made in them for you.
The Go-Giver is a parable, so these lessons, and the Five Laws the authors put them into, are easily digestible and perfect for groups. It will help reframe how and why you go to work. As the Q&A with the authors at the close of the book (new to this edition) tells us:
Pindar says the three universal reasons for working are: To survive, to save, and to serve (p. 55). Another way of describing this might be: to have a job, to pursue a career, or to follow a calling. Most people focus on the first, Pindar adds, but the genuinely successful focus on the third.
The Go-Giver is quick reading, but it will stay with you for a long time to come.
And the great thing is that Bob and John prove their lessons with the book itself. By coming together and giving so much to others in the form of their "little story," they have a national bestseller and a platform that not only continues their work, but continually enriches them (in every positive sense of that word) in turn as their journey continues and more people learn of the book. As they say in the Introduction, " started as a book but soon became a movement."
We have 20 copies available to those that would like to join.