Saturday, November 12, 2011

Book Review: The Go Giver

The subject of today's book review, The Go Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea, written by Bob Burg and John David Mann repackages some enduring human relationship truths in a business setting.

In the popular style of the instructional fable, The Go Giver tells the story of a frustrated salesman who feels that he is working harder and harder, but not getting ahead. He eventually seeks the help of a mysterious "Chairman" who sends him to speak with different individuals, each of whom shares one of five "laws of stratospheric success". Ultimately, the hero learns the lessons and begins experiencing the success he's after.

The title turns the familiar label of a go-getter on its head and suggests that the route to business success is not in trying to turn quick deals, but in authentically giving of yourself, helping people, placing others interests ahead of your own, and being open to receiving what others have to offer.

The Go Giver is a short (one or two sittings) read, and the concepts are easy to grasp. The fictional stories are inspiring and the bottom-line message is plain: generosity of spirit and service to others will bring business success.

I have two concerns with The Go Giver. First, the atmosphere feels mono-cultural and may inadvertently discredit the concepts for some readers. Second, the message delivered is really one about being a good human being. It's a vital message and important in today's world.

Selling the idea as a way to personally enrich yourself is tough for me to swallow because:

a) It's contradictory - trying to give authentically without a profit motive (but with a profit motive).

b) While the principles discussed are clearly important, running a successful business requires additional knowledge and skills.

c) There are plenty of kind and giving people in the world who do not make a ton of money.

In the end, The Go Giver succeeds in providing valuable reminders that living authentically and helping others is simply a better way to live. I agree that these provide a good foundation and way to do business for any person, but I could not in good conscience tell anyone they can expect financial "stratospheric success" as a result.

Happy Reading!

David M. Dye

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Twitter: @davidmdye
David shares twenty years experience teaching, coaching, leading, and managing in youth service, education advocacy, city governance, and faith-based nonprofits. He currently serves as Chief Operating Officer for Colorado UpLift and enjoys helping others discover and realize their own potential.

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