THE BLOG
11/24/2014 04:53 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How to Become a Successful Giver

One week ago, Adam Grant was the featured speaker for H'University, a social impact initiative by Harry's where University students are able to hear from different influencers from different industries and backgrounds. Adam Grant is the highest rated professor at Wharton, and the author of the best-selling book Give and Take. He has pioneered the "givers revolution," and believes that giving is a key part to becoming successful.

Adam Grant giving a talk about giving. Photo taken from the Mack Institute of the Wharton School of Business

The 3 Types of People: Givers, Matchers, and Takers
Adam Grant started out by explaining his theory of givers, matchers and takers. Givers are people who just genuinely love giving and helping others. Matchers are the people who keep tabs on favors and are always thinking about matching what is given to them. And finally takers are the people who try to take advantage of others, and are always keeping track of what they can get from others.

The thesis of Adam Grant's best-selling book Give and Take is simple: givers can be successful. But this is where it gets tricky because there are the successful givers and the failed givers. Grant explained that successful givers choose wisely how they give, and why they give while failed givers are often taken advantage of because they don't know how to say no.

"5 minute favors"
He then transitioned into how we could become successful givers ourselves, and introduced the concept of doing "5 minute favors", which was made famous by serial entrepreneur and Fortune's best networker Adam Rifkin who would do five minute favors like making introductions, giving feedback and making recommendations for others. Grant emphasizes how spending just five minutes to help someone can go along way in building relationships.

Grant's advice to people who want to become givers, and really add value to the life of others is to pay attention to what people need, what they are working on, and what keeps them up at night. We often ask people "How are you doing?" but don't really ask them, "What are you working on?" Grant believes that the latter question is where givers should begin, because once you know this, you can easily offer to help them if it's within your expertise, or connect them with someone you know.

Creating a culture of help seeking
Grant identified how one of the biggest problems we have as humans is that we're afraid to ask for help. A lot of us aren't willing to ask help but if you think about it, asking for help can actually make the person on the other side of the table feel really good because people like feeling smart.
When you go to people for advice, you give them an opportunity to give; you flatter them as well. Moreover, Grant emphasized how the greatest way to build a relationship is to seek advice, because you create meaningful opportunities for others to contribute to your life. So Grant's advice, "Get in the habit of meeting new people and throw them a simple advice question or two."

Chunker vs Sprinkler
Grant then talked about a recent research done on being a "Chunker" versus being a "Sprinkler," and which type of giving is more effective. So basically, Sprinklers do one random act of kindness once a day while Chunkers stack them all in one day. Most people assume that the Sprinklers get more out of their giving but studies have shown otherwise. But the research showed otherwise. Chunkers got a bigger psychological boost because they felt a stronger appreciation and sense of fulfillment from helping others. The key takeaway? Set aside one chunk of time every week just finding ways to help others.

On how long before the giver's investment pays off
Grant made it clear that givers are much more likely to succeed in the long run versus the short run. Moreover, the more you try to give to get, the more you won't succeed. You give because you enjoy helping others. Grant talks about how being a giver helps you build quality relationships, and these relationships expose you to more opportunities over the long term.

Asked what he's working on right now, Grant talked about his current research and sequel to Give and Take, "Take and Give: Why Selfish Bastards Succeed," where he tries to understand why takers get away with some of their actions, and still become successful.

Grant ended by talking about how motivation is very important in becoming a genuine giver. "Givers see the best in people they interact with. And they give because they enjoy helping others."

To learn more about this concept of giving and other theories of Grant in business and life, head over to his Huffington Post column.

Here just a few of my favorite Adam Grant articles:

Why You Shouldn't Say "You're Welcome"

How I Overcame the Fear of Public Speaking

The Most Valuable Business Degree Doesn't Exist