Are you a giver or a taker



So, here we are starting a New Year…tick…tick…tick…I’m reminded of the days that pass and how I need to cherish each one as I learned of the passing of a young man from Tanzania who interned in our office during his days at Linfield College…All too fast. ..

So, let me share with you this month something that I hope is going to help me (and maybe some of you).

Carpe Diem – Seize the Day…

Sunday morning, I listened to a TED Talk. It ended up being my version of church this Sunday.

Adam Grant is an organizational psychologist, who gave a talk titled,

Are you a giver or a taker?

Here are a few thoughts that he shared:

  • He interviewed 30,000 people and determined:
    • Givers make up 25% of the “population.”
    • Takers make up 19%.
    • Matchers make up 56%. (Matchers are quid pro quo You do something for me. I’ll do something for you.)
  • Takers produce paranoia.
  • Brian Little coined a term “Pronoia” – that turns paranoia upside down.


Pronoia happens

 when other people applaud your well-being.


  • Statistically, givers are over-represented at the low end of an organization’s productivity. Interestingly, they show up more at the high end of the productivity spectrum as well.


Givers make the organization better.


  • Let a taker onto a team and people stop giving. But adding a giver has less of a positive impact than adding a taker has negative impact. Kind of like loss aversion…Weed out the takers! Grant speaks of the people who are “disagreeable takers.” He calls them fakers, and says to be careful…Fakers are known for kissing up and kicking down.


I would ask, can you win over the takers and the fakers? Can we “convert” them?


Can the generosity of giving

become contagious?


Do you have a culture that is characterized,

not by people tearing people down

behind their backs,

but where people say glowing things about co-workers behind their backs?


Grant goes on to sort of redefine success:

Success is more about contribution.


The most meaningful way to success

is to help other people succeed.


  • This is “Pronoia.”
  • Make it safe to ask for help.
  • Protect givers from burnout.


And that, my friends, is, at least for me, some good food for thought. After reflection on what Adam Grant had to say, I wanted to share it with you. To a great 2017!



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