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To Mike and Myrna Burg and Alfred and Carolyn Mann, who gave us everything.
Giving, touching others’ lives, expanding the circle of our concern to include others, being authentic, and being always open to receiving as well as giving. That’s not just a children’s fairy tale—it’s a good description of many of the most amazing people I’ve encountered.
And while they may live and work in different countries and in different fields, they all share the same core giving philosophy. This book captures that philosophy and shows that it is more than a fable, a parable, or a pipe dream. It’s real—a path that people can follow in their daily lives.
People want to believe that this is the way the world can work: that living with a focus on others isn’t just a nice goal but that it can be a way of life, and can lead to a life that is full, rich and fulfilling. But then, too often, we feel pressured by the voices (both external and internal) of cynicism and resignation, telling us, “It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there—you’ve got to look out for #1.”
Too many people think, “Oh, sure, once you’ve achieved success and financial stability, then you can afford to be a giving person!” But in this book, Bob Burg and John David Mann—who, among other things, have given us the term go-giver—tell us that, in fact, being a giving person is how you achieve success in the first place, however you define success.
Too often people hear “be a giver” and think of charities and writing checks, of “giving back” once we have already done well for ourselves. But that’s only one very specific facet of giving. By “be a giver,” Bob and John mean be a giving person, period: one who gives thought, gives attention, gives care, gives focus, gives time and energy—gives value to others.
Not as a quid pro quo, not as a strategy to get ahead, but because it is, in and of itself, a satisfying and fulfilling way to be.
Introduction to the Revised Edition
Not long after The Go-Giver first appeared, we got a letter from a man named Arlin Sorensen. The CEO of an Iowa IT firm, Arlin had organized a Go-Giver–themed summer retreat for more than two hundred peer-group companies. Inspired by the ideas in the book, several conference participants flew out to another state, on their own dime, to help brainstorm solutions for a colleague whose company was on the verge of closure. The firm pulled back from the brink and saw banner profits the following quarter—and the two men who’d done the consulting were surprised to find that what they learned in the process helped boost growth in their own companies, too.
All of which, Arlin told us, was a result of his reading our “little story about a powerful business idea.”
And Arlin wasn’t the only one sending us reports like this. People in all sorts of businesses started telling us that our story was changing the way they did things. Chambers of Commerce told us they were adopting Go-Giver precepts as part of their professional code and giving copies of the book to their members to help their businesses become more successful. A fitness club challenged its staff to continually come up with creative improvements in the business based on the book’s core principles. A legal firm reported using the book to help more effectively negotiate matrimonial disputes.
The Go-Giver started as a book but soon became a movement. Our hero Joe’s struggle to gain an advantage in his business (some “clout and leverage,” as he put it) and his encounters with his mentor’s counterintuitive principles describing how the world really works (“the more you give, the more you have”) seemed to strike a chord—and not only in the world of business. Before long we were hearing from parents, teachers, pastors and counselors who were using the book in their work, and in their lives, too.
· A high school teacher in Indiana told us he was taking his school’s senior class through the book because he found it “better equipped them to do well in the world.” He has done it with every graduating class since.
· An executive chef at an exclusive Houston country club started using it to train his management team to reach even higher levels of excellence and member satisfaction.
· A Lithuanian expat in London moved back to her homeland and started her own publishing company just so she could share the book with her compatriots in their own language. “Your book will change our country,” she told us.
From book clubs to executive councils, law firms to prayer groups, energy conglomerates to nursing homes, pizza shop managers to graduate school professors, people wrote to tell us how they were using the book. And it wasn’t that they were saying they liked it. They were saying something better than that.
They were saying it worked.
Business owners told us the book helped them make their businesses more successful. In some cases, struggling businesses experienced a complete turnaround after implementing the “Five Laws of Stratospheric Success” Joe learns in these pages. Companies large and small started using it to train their sales and customer service teams to generate both more sales and happier customers. People reported using the Five Laws to great effect in their marriages and approach to parenting.
All of the foregoing might seem to suggest that the “secrets” in The Go-Giver must be startlingly new and original. They aren’t, of course. The ideas here are as old as humanity. One of the messages we hear most often is some variation of “This is how I always thought (or always hoped) things worked. . . . I just never quite knew how to put it into words.” When these readers crack open the pages of Joe’s adventure, they tell us, they discover something they always knew somewhere inside themselves: that while the world may at times appear to be a dog-eat-dog place, there is actually a set of much kinder and vastly more powerful principles operating beneath the surface of casual appearances.
But don’t take our word for it.
After reading what Joe and his mentor Pindar have to say, we invite you to take the next step and explore it for yourself. Follow Pindar’s Condition: test every law you read here and see what happens. “Not by thinking about it,” as Pindar tells Joe in chapter 2, “not by talking about it, but by applying it in your life.”
Enjoy—and our best wishes for your stratospheric success.
Bob Burg and John David Mann
1: The Go-Getter
If there was anyone at the Clason-Hill Trust Corporation who was a go-getter, it was Joe. He worked hard, worked fast, and was headed for the top. At least, that was his plan. Joe was an ambitious young man, aiming for the stars.
Still, sometimes it felt as if the harder and faster he worked, the further away his goals appeared. For such a dedicated go-getter, it seemed like he was doing a lot of going but not a lot of getting.
Work being as busy as it was, though, Joe didn’t have much time to think about that. Especially on a day like today—a Friday, with only a week left in the quarter and a critical deadline to meet. A deadline he couldn’t afford not to meet.
· · ·
Today, in the waning hours of the afternoon, Joe decided it was time to call in a favor, so he placed a phone call—but the conversation wasn’t going well.
“Carl, tell me you’re not telling me this . . .” Joe took a breath to keep the desperation out of his voice. “Neil Hansen?! Who the heck is Neil Hansen? . . . Well I don’t care what he’s offering, we can meet those specs . . . wait—c’mon, Carl, you owe me one! You know you do! Hey, who saved your bacon on the Hodges account? Carl, hang on . . . Carl!”
Joe clicked off the TALK button on his cordless phone and made himself calmly set down the instrument. He took a deep breath.
Joe was desperately trying to land a large account, an account he felt he richly deserved—one he needed, if he wanted to make his third-quarter quota. Joe had just missed his quota in the first quarter, and again in the second. Two strikes . . . Joe didn’t even want to think about a third.
“Joe? You okay?” a voice asked. Joe looked up into the concerned face of his coworker Melanie Matthews. Melanie was a well-meaning, genuinely nice person. Which was exactly why Joe doubted she would survive long in a competitive environment like the seventh floor, where they both worked.
“Yeah,” he said.
“Was that Carl Kellerman on the phone? About the BK account?”
Joe sighed. “Yeah.”
He didn’t need to explain. Everyone on the floor knew who Carl Kellerman was. He was a corporate broker looking for the right firm to handle an account Joe had nicknamed the Big Kahuna, or BK for short.
According to Carl, the boss at Big Kahuna didn’t think Joe’s firm had the “clout and leverage” to put the deal together. Now some character he’d never heard of had underbid and outperformed him. Carl claimed there was nothing he could do about it.
“I just don’t get it,” Joe said.
“I’m so sorry, Joe,” said Melanie.
“Hey, sometimes you eat the bear . . .” He flashed a confident grin, but all he could think about was what Carl had said. As Melanie walked back to her desk, Joe sat lost in thought. Clout and leverage . . .
Moments later he leaped up and walked over to Melanie’s desk. “Hey, Mel?”
She looked up.
“Do you remember talking with Gus the other day, something about a big wheel consultant giving a talk somewhere next month? You called him the Captain or something?”
Melanie smiled. “Pindar. The Chairman.”
Joe snapped his fingers. “That’s it! That’s the guy. What’s his last name?”
Melanie frowned. “I don’t think . . .” She shrugged. “No, I don’t think I’ve ever heard it mentioned. Everyone calls him the Chairman, or just Pindar. Why? You want to go hear the talk?”
“Yeah . . . maybe.” But Joe was not interested in some lecture happening a month away. He was interested in only one thing—and that one thing needed to happen by the following Friday, when the third quarter came to an end.
“I was thinking, this guy is a real heavy hitter, right? Charges huge consulting fees, works only for the biggest and best firms? Major clout. I know we could handle the BK account, but I’m gonna need some big guns to win the deal back. I need leverage. Any idea how I can get a line to this Chairman guy’s office?”
Melanie looked at Joe as if he were proposing to wrestle a grizzly bear. “You’re just going to call him up?!”
Joe shrugged. “Sure. Why not?”
Melanie shook her head. “I have no idea how to contact him. Why don’t you ask Gus?”
· · ·
As Joe headed back to his desk, he wondered how Gus had managed to survive this long at Clason-Hill Trust. He never saw him do any actual work. Yet Gus had an enclosed office, while Joe, Melanie and a dozen others shared the open space of the seventh floor. Some said Gus had gotten his office because of seniority. Others said he’d earned it on merit.
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