Legal columnist and former trial lawyer Victoria Pynchon wrote a fascinating review of The Go-Giver that included some wonderful insights.
For example, the review starts right out by referring to the book as, “The Go-Giver: A Guide to a Life Lived Richly.” What a great way of holding the book’s message!
Victoria also makes a point or two with which I respectfully (and I mean that) disagree. See what you think:
”Unfortunately, as a guide to financial success, The Go-Giver is more fairy tale than instruction manual. All of the business icons Joe visits ascribe their riches to acts of authentic generosity. It is apparent from the context in which these stories arise, however, that the key here is neither virtue nor the inherent satisfaction to be found in giving.
“The key is choosing the right people to give to — those with wealth, monied connections or the power to create economic opportunities for others.
“If we are moved to visit shut-ins; bring recovery meetings to incarcerated felons; or make micro-loans to third-world entrepreneurs, this book is not for us. This is focused giving and the focus is on the ‘haves,’ not the ‘have nots.’”
To me, there is a flaw in this logic and its conclusion—but before I yammer on about it, I’d love to know what you think.
Is Victoria right about this? And if not, why not?
I wonder if Ms. Pynchon has had the opportunity to read any of the “Walking Ambassador” letters. Maybe I’m being selfish with my giving but I give for me, as much as the person I give to. Choosing who you give to would be like choosing who to say thank you to, or which of your children to get a birthday present for. If your sole purpose to give is to gain, you are doomed…no matter what classification of person you choose to give to.
Very gracious of you to mention my review in your blog. I wrote it some time ago for the sadly defunct Complete Lawyer. Reminded of it by a twitter friend, I posted it to my own blog, which made its way, via hashtag to a twitter discussion of your book. #gogiver.
The most happy benefit of this random set of circumstances has been my ensuing twitter conversation with you, finding commonalities and trading insights. How interesting and immediate the world has become.
As to Joe V’s comment, I haven’t read the Walking Ambassador Letters but will immediate add them (it?) to my list. Thanks for the recommendation, Joe.
Joe is right as well to say that generosity must be truly open-hearted and not self-seeking. We walk a razor’s edge when know that generosity is rewarded (in ways material as well as spiritual) and yet continue to engage in those acts wherever we are and whomever we’re with, without expectation (or even hope) of material reward.
My only criticism of the book was what I read as a focus on material benefit when I believe the rewards are primarily spiritual. I have seen many people despair and give up their spiritual paths when they did not lead to material success, mistaking property, power and prestige for the goal rather than as the impediments to a life richly lived that they can too often be.
A pleasure, Mr. Mann, to have made your acquaintance in this odd way social media is drawing all of us together.
The only way I can truly give is to do so without expectation. I give because it is loving, human and heartfelt. Period.
I can hear the naysayers: “What? You’re gonna give money to a bum on the street who may use it to buy drugs?! You’re enabling!”
My only “rules” in this regard: Does it appear this person’s basic needs are being met? Are my basic needs being met?
If so, I give.
The act of giving – simply and nicely put forth by Maya Angelou:I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.
You have an interesting take on the book. May I suggest that you may not understand what the word Gift means.
A gift has no strings, expectations or attachments. A gift is exactly that. What the person does with it is up to them, not the giver. I know this is a parochial Christian view but is is also very freeing for the giver.
At the risk of detracting from the wonderful comments here about giving, may I point out that the 5 Laws are not about random acts of kindness. Those are wonderfully liberating to the giver, tremendously beneficial to the recipient and generally necessary for humans to live in harmony with each other but they are not a strategy for anything – except a richer, more fulfilled life.
But even the first Law – which so many people focus on to the exclusion of the other four – says “Your true worth is determined by how much more you GIVE in value than you take in PAYMENT.” The example given of Ernesto and his attention to his clients as individuals and the culture he then built in his restaurant of continuing to add value, had nothing to do with random acts. It had to do with adding value to something that already had value for which he expected to receive fair compensation. So how is it that we need to be careful who we give to?
Random acts of kindness require no strategy, only opportunity, and those are not at all rare. Applying Law #1 in your BUSINESS only requires that you have a business and people you desire to do business with. Those are the people to whom you provide that additional value because those are the people who are using your service or product. The question is not WHO (all clients without exception is MY answer) but HOW (knowing what your clients perceive as valuable and delivering it consistently.) Applying Law #1 in your LIFE requires only that you share your life with others. See the WHO and HOW questions above.
The book is a parable – it is not a fairy tale. It may not give practical how-to instructions but the criteria for stratospheric success (which I define as “without limitations”) are clearly defined by examining and applying ALL 5 laws. Focusing only on the giving – and that in the context of random acts of kindness – is like saying you followed the recipe when all you added was the sugar and the butter. Don’t blame the pastry chef if your cookies don’t hold their shape.
I understand Ms. Pynchon’s view point, as that was an easy misconception to fall into at first read. Luckily, Giving is just a part of who I am anyway, so I read on.
What the book helped me understand was that my block to receiving was getting in the way of the cycle. As Dixie (above) noted, the five lessons together are what makes the formula work. Besides, how do you know who is the “right” person to give to? If your goal is to provide fantastic service to everyone you come in contact with, you will be successful. If the only way you measure success is financial, it would be a limited world view.
I don’t move in big and rich circles, but I notice as I give I always recieve back ten fold and my life is enriched. This book just gave words to what I have always felt.
But, there is always room for more opinions to encourage us to GIVE more thoughts to.
If you want practical how-to instructions regarding the Go-Giver’s 5 Laws of Stratospheric Success…
then read “Go-Givers Sell More”.