It Just Takes 3 Things To Be Wildly Successful

Have you heard of Adam Grant? If not, you soon will. Not only is Dr. Grant the youngest tenured professor at The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, he’s also their highest-rated teacher in their MBA program. His new book,  Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success is getting a lot of buzz lately and here’s why.

Be a Giver

Dr. Grant’s research shows that in our technological world, our relationships play an even more important part in an individual’s success. We need to operate in a much more interdependent manner. This means that relationships and our personal reputations are ever-more critical in shaping the opportunities that come our way, innovative idea generation, referrals, and promotion recommendations. He describes three major trends behind the rise in this interdependence:

  • Project-based work is on the rise. People are coming together as part of a project team for a short period of time to collaborate. Having strong interpersonal skills has a huge impact on the results the team is able to achieve. 
  • Shift to a knowledge and service economy. Having a “service mentality” to meet client/customer needs will make or break you. You have to understand and CARE about their needs.
  • Online social networks. You and your reputation is out there for the world to see. Anyone can easily check you out – potential employers, business partners, teammates. Identifying who you’re connected to on LinkedIn and tracking your behavior on social media happens without you even knowing about it.

Dr. Grant’s research has been focused on uncovering the factors that contribute most to an individual’s success, beyond the basic attributes of hard work, talent and a bit of luck. What he discovered is that those who put the interests of the team (others) first are the ones who will achieve long-term success. 

In his book, Dr. Grant describes three types of people: Takers, Matchers, or Givers. Takers strive to get as much as possible from others and Matchers aim to trade evenly. Givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.

So how can you begin to behave more like a Giver and add value?  Dr. Grant’s research suggests these three things:

  1. Be willing to give more than you receive. It could be something as simple as sharing an article, introducing two people who might be able help one another in some way or take time to share lessons learned/teach someone something.
  2. Find your helping specialty. What is your area of expertise? Use it to help others. Are you a great negotiator?  Can you offer some advice or play part in rehearsing for a negotiation session? Are you a networking master? Invite people to join you at an event or make introductions.
  3. Figure out a way to make an unpopular task in your group or department more fun, interesting or meaningful. How about playing music while filing or putting together binders? It’s a small thing that doesn’t cost anything and can make the daily grind much more enjoyable and engaging.

What really makes me happy about this research is that it proves that GOOD GUYS/GALS CAN FINISH FIRST!

Helping others does ultimately serve you best and sets you up for a wildly successful life. Amen to that sista!

Martha Duesterhoft is a Partner at PeopleResults.  Follow her on Twitter @mduesterhoft or connect via email at