The Art of Successful Giving: Adam Grant

I created a series of sketch notes for Tiffani Bova’s “What’s Next” podcast where she meets brilliant people to discuss customer experience, growth and innovation. Tiffani Bova is a Global Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce. I will post sketchnote versions of selected podcast episodes that enlightened me. Tiffani is also the author of a WSJ bestseller book “Growth IQ: Get Smarter About the Choices that Will Make or Break Your Business

We don’t accomplish anything meaningful in isolation. We have to interact and work with other people to get anything significant done. And our approach to these interpersonal interactions play a huge role in our ability to focus, work and add value.

Too often, we often see people who are generous with how much they share with others without any expectation, people who wait to get something first before they start giving and people who simply use other people’s skills and approaches to get their own work done.

In this episode of What’s Next podcast with Tiffani Bova, Adam Grant shares his insights on successful giving. He outlines three styles of interpersonal interactions in teams and organizations – giving, taking and matching. Here’s what they look like:

  • Givers: “What Can I do for you?”
  • Takers: “What can you do for me?”
  • Matchers: “I’ll do something for you if you do something for me”

Earlier in my career, I often ended up doing other people’s job simply because they delegated their work to me as my seniors. Over a period of time, I had to learn to say no and set boundaries (and the truth is I still find it difficult to say no sometimes). If I timidly served all requests that I got, I would have spread myself thin accomplishing things for others but not for the purpose I was serving.

I did not want to be a failed giver who thinks they have to give in every role and relationship.

Adam Grant mentions that that successful givers set boundaries on who they help, how they help and when they help and focus on giving where they can add maximum value.

What resonated with me the most was that successful giving is not about being nice and agreeable all the time. In fact, as Adam points out, successful giving (and adding real value) happens by being disagreeable, challenging the status quo, giving tough feedback and pointing out problems.

Effective teams, he says, is a combination of givers and matchers where as takers suck the energy out of the team and they should be screened out.

Do check out the full podcast episode here for more ideas. Here is a sketch note summary of some of the key insights.

Tiffani Bova AdamGrant v1 600px

Other Sketchnotes from WhatsNext Podcast:

In 100 Words: Giving Attention


Everybody we meet is trying to get attention through tactics. More clicks, eyeballs, likes. What if you focus more on giving attention?

What do you deeply care about? What are you trying to make happen? Who are you trying to help? These are good questions to find out what truly matters and then pay attention to only those things.

“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” – Simone Weil

That’s what great leadership is all about. Not just competing to get more attention but using the privilege of leadership to pay attention to enabling people and things that matter.

 Also Read at QAspire:

In 100 Words: Generosity and Growing Others

Photograph by Tanmay Vora


The best way to grow is to help others grow. In process of elevating others, you have to elevate yourself. However, you have to adopt a posture of generosity and abundance.

In school, I heard a story of a farmer who was known for producing best crops and sharing his best seeds with other farmers in the vicinity.

When asked why, he said, “It is a selfish act. Winds collect pollens and carry it to adjacent fields.  If my neighbors use the best crop, the quality of my crop would also go up.”

What seeds are you sharing with others?

– – – – –

Stay Tuned: Subscribe via RSS, Connect via Facebook or Follow us on Twitter. You can also subscribe to updates via email using the section at the bottom of the page. Looking forward to the conversations!

GIVING is GROWING (Generosity and Leadership)

I am on my way to Helsinki (Finland) and it turns out again that traveling is the best time to read/think/write. Thanks to offline blogging tools, you can now write anywhere. I wrote a blog post earlier while traveling in a VR Fast train between Helsinki and Tampere.

This time it is Delhi IGI airport.

I have a wait time of 6 hours (past midnight) before I catch an early morning flight to Helsinki. I asked myself, “How do I productively use this time to ‘give’ something valuable to readers of this blog?” This got me thinking about the power of GIVING. The act of giving forms the core of all human transactions and yet, in the race of stiff competition and survival, we often tend to hold things back.

Acts of Giving, Generosity, Service and Helpfulness – Why do they matter? Consider the following:

  • We spend all our life trying to keep ourselves happy (via material acquisitions) only to realize later that true happiness is in GIVING, in selflessly helping people and serving customers.
  • True act of service is to give selflessly without expecting results. This also relates to theory of Karma (preached by Lord Krishna in the great Indian Epic Mahabharata). Even Bible says “give and so shall you receive”. But we often don’t pay heed to these while we struggle to compete and survive.
  • It is said that we learn more when we teach. Similarly, we get more when we give.
  • When you give and receive in cycles, you form strong and authentic relationships.
  • To me, the best act of giving is to help someone when they are in need, to add value to them via meaningful conversations and genuinely offer help. In fact, you have to first offer help before you get the right to seek help.
  • Giving is beyond just money or material wealth. You can give your service, knowledge, love, care, attention and time.
  • As a leader, you can only “get” the best performances if you “give” your best attention. You can manage your people ordinarily (as a job) or you can engage with them and seek to give them more and more.
  • I heard a phrase “All life is give and take” – you see, here as well, give comes first and then take.:)
  • When you demonstrate generosity in giving, you create a positive ring around you which not only keeps you happy but also positive and motivated.
  • Acts of giving lifts our spirit and makes us lighter from within. When we give, we become selfless, leaving selfishness aside. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet can vouch for this.
  • Just as you look for opportunities to grow, you should also look for opportunities to give. More you give, more you grow.
  • From a business perspective, when you meet requirements, you “satisfy” the customer. When you give more than their expectation, you delight them. Delighted customer brings more business. It is cyclic process of giving and receiving.
  • Giving is at the fulcrum of wealth creation process.

If you agree to these ideas, I would like to leave you with three critical questions:

  • What positive difference are you bringing about in someone else’s life by giving your knowledge, ideas, love, care, attention and time?
  • How many times did you refrain from sharing some very useful information in your organization fearing that your competitors would get better than you?
  • When did you last “exceed” someone’s expectations?

On that note, have a wonderful Sunday and a great week ahead!

Photo Credit: Kris Litman’s Flickr Stream