At a networking meeting I was introduced to a book written by Bob Burg and John David Mann, "The Go-Giver." Following my initial impulse I was able to quickly borrow the book from the library and found it to be a quick read.
A quick read doesn't mean there isn't potentially life changing wisdom. Many people in business eager to get ahead picture themselves as go-getters. What does that mean? Many of us take it to mean that we are always looking for opportunities and pushing to take advantage of them. This book gives a little (but potentially life changing) different perspective.
It is told anecdotally about a go-getter who has always been looking for ways to get business. Things aren't going well and the pressure is on to make a quarterly quota. Time is running out and Joe has to find some lever to help him reach his target. By chance he is steered towards a very successful man and he thinks maybe he can develop some leverage through this man.
The contact represents a change in focus, although Joe is resistant and skeptical. Instead of getting some support in his strategy, a new way of approaching business is suggested. Gradually you as the reader (and mostly identifying with Joe) realize the title of the book comes from not getting business, but more giving business.
Joe is, over a period of 5 days given 5 laws of Stratospheric Success. This is not just a theoretical discussion as he is expected to put each law into action before the next day. He is skeptical as are most readers. Gradually although the story might seem a bit unrealistic, you start to realize you do know of people who live this way and they are not only successful they are enjoying life more than the rest of us.
The five laws are of value, compensation, influence, authenticity and receptivity. They are not difficult, but you really should read the book. It won't take you very long and it comes in easy chunks. There is a wisdom that you can apply to get more out of business and your personal life.
For those who need more encouragement (or excuses) I will explain a little further. The essence of their belief is the first law of value. Your worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment. We are all familiar with the complaint that a worker won't do something because "they won't pay me what I am worth." The truth is we all want to buy more value than we have to pay, although we will accept (if we don't have time to look elsewhere) equal value. As buyers we all want to get as much value as we can for as little cost as possible. It makes sense that if we are trying to sell something (our services for instance) we need to offer a lot of value and if we don't understand that we will lose to those who do understand it.
The other four laws logically fit the first premise. The author dances around with the expected criticism that being nice doesn't always pay. My own suspicion based on my experience is that there certainly are a lot of people looking to take short cuts to success or have a different definition of success (based more on money and power). Another underlying view I have accepted (via Sharon Drew Morgan) is that in fact sales people will do better if they realize they are servants. It is only by serving the needs of customers that we will be accepted as sales people. I think the views are compatible.
There are a few plot twists, but they serve to make a point. The story is very easy to read and pulls you along painlessly.
It takes a strong person to go against common perceptions. It starts with a strong understanding of values. The Go-Giver is a simple story that will deepen your understanding. I plan to hunt down an earlier book by Bob called "Endless Referrals".
Thanks to Art Dyck for drawing my attention to this book and to Bob Burg.