I’ve been reading Adam Grant’s marvelous book, Give and Take, Why Helping Others Drives Our Success. The book is worth your time, and its conclusions have pleasantly surprised millions of readers.

Adam Grant contends that some people are naturally takers. They’re the people who go into an interaction trying to get as much as possible and give up as little as possible. A smaller number are givers. Most people match the behavior of whoever they’re interacting with.

Grant cites studies that separate givers into two groups, “selfless” and “otherish.” The selfless givers always put the needs of others ahead of their own. They’re often regarded as chumps because takers exploit selfless givers. They’re also likely to burn out. Otherish givers are willing to give more than they receive, but they keep their own interests in mind.

Our team often goes beyond the point of diminishing financial returns for a clients’ best interest. Some competitors think our team is stupid to spend thousands of dollars of time and effort for our client’s last objective, when we won’t receive even $100 more. Yet part of our distinctive team culture is the aim to treat our clients the way we would like to be treated.

Permit an analogy. Suppose your dearest, most loved person needed a slew of tests including a CAT scan. The MD gets the reports just before it’s time to leave for a big family vacation. The information is complicated; some results are unclear and even contradictory. Would you want a “quick and dirty, pretty good guess,” or the best the physician and team could muster?

People who are called to a craft or who are seeking a level of excellence will push past mediocre and strive for their best. Takers will leave on time for the vacation. You want the giver as your physician. But selfish or otherish?

Let’s return to Adam Grant’s book and a very interesting finding. Studies compared when otherish givers were negotiating in different situations. When the giver was negotiating for themselves, they frequently made a small request and were often easily put off. But if the giver was negotiating on behalf of someone else, the giver routinely asked for more, was more persuasive, and more persistent. Otherish givers negotiate harder for others than they do for themselves.

“It is more blessed to give than to receive” according to New Testament. Tony Robbins asserts that “giving is living.” Focusing on others’ best interest enables and empowers us to do things that ordinarily exceed our capacity or imagination.

That insight changed the way I think about choosing professional advisors. From now on, I’ll try to find knowledgeable advisors who are otherish givers. I think I’ll get better results.

What do you think? What do you look for in a professional advisor?

Note: There are 280+ pages of other value in the book, but to quote Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”


Terry Moore, CCIM, is the author of Building Legacy Wealth: How to Build Wealth and Live a Life Worth Imitating. Read his “Welcome to My Blog.

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