Networking for Success

with Adam Rifkin

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Givers give more than they receive

Adam Rifkin

Co-Founder of PandaWhale, Most Networked, Giver

Lessons Learned

Pay attention to whom you are giving to and why.

Saying no is an important part of giving.

Take breaks and make them meaningful.


Lesson: Networking for Success with Adam Rifkin

Step #1 Give: Givers give more than they receive

Give and Take was written by a Wharton professor named Adam Grant. He is a great guy and he was introduced to me by a friend, Jennifer Aaker who works in the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She's a professor there. She studies happiness and meaning in life as it applies to business and so she had collaborated with Adam Grant before and when Adam Grant was writing the book Give and Take he asked her if there was anybody who came to mind that he should talk with who could provide anecdotes that would be useful for the book and she said, ''You should talk to Adam.'' And so she introduced Adam Grant to me, Adam Rifkin and we talked a bunch and some of the stories ended up in the book.

In his book Give and Take, Adam Grant talks about givers, takers and matchers as three strategies that we do whether consciously or not in business and the givers tend to give more than they receive. The takers tend to receive more than they give and the matchers are much more transactional about it. They try to match the amount of giving they do with the amount of receiving they do. The book itself talks about who is most successful in business and it's actually pretty surprising that the most successful people in business are the givers because the book also talks about who the least successful people in business are and those are also the givers. And so the book explains why some givers are very successful and some are unsuccessful and then it talks about the strategies for being a successful giver when you're doing business.

You have to pay attention to who you are giving to and why and basically it's not that you keep track of it like the matchers. It's more of determining who is worth spending the time giving to and who is not and actually being willing to say no and that's a challenging thing for a lot of givers to do because they want to give. But you come to realize that not all giving is created equal and some giving actually makes the world better or makes business better and some giving just drains you of resources. The thing that the successful givers do the best is they're mindful of how much resources they have to give and they don't go past that. So they don't spend past the energy that they have. It's really interesting and the book Give and Take is worth reading if for nothing else just to understand how that kind of plays out in business.

One of the concepts that's explored some in the book that I've talked with Adam Grant outside of the book Give and Take is the falling, which is people who get into a habit of giving, it becomes very hard for them to ask for help because they're so used to being the one who offers it and so we talk about this concept of one of the things that you can give somebody is the ability to help you. But if all you're doing is going outward and not allowing anybody to give back to you, that's ultimately very selfish and that's counter intuitive but he's got a lot of research that backs that also. So sometimes the givers have to give the ability to help them and that was amazing insight, because it suddenly gave the givers permission to say, "It's not all about what I can give. Sometimes it's actually opening myself up, is the thing that I can give."

Sometimes being a giver hurts productivity and sometimes it helps productivity. So I never really thought of it in terms of its relationship to productivity. I think that being a giver is important because it helps not just the person that you're helping but it does help the ecosystem around you and you can see this both in personal life and professional life. When somebody goes out of their way to help somebody else, that somebody else is now of the attitude of, ''Well, actually I'm doing better as a result of this. Maybe I can do it for somebody too.'' And so it cascades. So I think to bring it back to use of time, you can't optimize every single second of the day. You have to take breaks from your work to be more productive and if you're going to take those breaks, you should do something good with that. And I think that's really what it comes down to is, don't work all the time and when you do take breaks, do something meaningful with it.'

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