Book Review: The Go-Giver

The Go-Giver Book Review LeadershipBottom Line Up Front: This 127-page book is a quick read and its engaging story lays out some unconventional truths in a simple, easy to understand story.

A friend sent me this book and I’m glad he did. I didn’t learn anything drastically new, but the concepts are shared from a simple and fresh perspective. For instance, I know the importance of authenticity, but I like how the authors remind you that you are the most valuable gift you have to offer. The general theme of the book is that concentrating on what you can give (instead of just focusing on what you can get) will, in the long run, get you all you hoped for and more. Embedded in the story are some practical examples of what this radical generosity might look like in everyday business.

From a leadership perspective, it reminds me that leaders must be generous. The flow of a leader’s life must be outward, not inward. Leaders must pour themselves into their organizations, not suck up resources. They must give to their subordinates, not take from them. They must lavish benefits on others, not insist on their “fair” share. However, in order to continuously export value, leaders need to be learning, growing, and receiving as well.

Pros:

  • It won’t take long to read. I don’t consider myself a particularly fast reader and I finished the book in two days (literally 2 subway rides and half a flight to LA from NYC)
  • It focuses (obviously) on giving as opposed to getting; placing emphasis on value, service, selflessness and authenticity along the way.
  • It doesn’t leave out the importance of receiving – as most literature about generosity is want to do.

Con:

  • I generally dislike the genre of business parables. I know they convey truth in a short simple story, but they always seem too neat and tidy and…well…not like real life. This one’s no different. I guess, for me, Jesus set the standard for parables – and he’s a tough act to follow.

Overall I recommend The Go-Giver if you’re looking for a quick read that summarizes the unconventional truth and profound power of radical generosity.

Update (2/9/10): John David Mann (co-author of The Go-Giver) emailed me the day this review posted and thanked me for the review – like a true Go-Giver would. He also addressed my reservations about the lack of real life examples and let me know that he and Bob Burg have penned a sequel entitled Go-Givers Sell More which includes almost two dozen real life stories of how people have applied these principles. Their new book is due out next week (February 18, 2010). I’m looking forward to it.

Why do you think it’s important for leaders to be generous?

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