Adam Grant’s “Give and Take” was recommended to me by the Executive Director of Branding. I had heard Adam Grant on NPR talking about his new book “Originals” and enjoyed it. So I picked up “Give And Take” to listen during a cross-country flight.

“Give and Take” is a good affirmation for those who in game theory terms are considered “cooperators.” It is ahead of the curve and fits with the ongoing shift to a digital economy one which is not defined by limits but rather is exponential in nature.

Grant’s central thesis is that “givers” produce better results and he provides numerous detailed case studies on why this is the case. The book is a bit long, however, given that his thesis is counter-intuitive for so many – I can understand why he felt the need to err on the side of example overkill.

There is a lot of good information but right now what really resonates with me are tricks for cultivating talent, including setting high expectations, assuming the best in others, and guiding people to paths that interest them.

In the early days of the data & analytics center of excellence I helped start-up, I found the best determinant of success was whether the project was interesting. Selfishly I didn’t want to work on boring projects and I was always thinking forward to the next client pitch. I also I didn’t want to pitch projects to super talented data scientists who could be working at Google. It seemed obvious to me that this would be an important criterion, and I was proud to see that the business cases I submitted not only received funding but were used as best in class case studies.

I read recently that nearly any problem can be overcome with hustle and grit. After I left that role, I saw too many projects, selected only on financial metrics. Inevitably those projects lose focus, precisely because the team did not have a clear vision, interest, and determination to succeed. Generous leaders INSPIRE, they coach, they tell the stories to their team to help them connect, find purpose, and meaning in their work.

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