Are you a “Giver” or a “Taker” ?

There are two types of people in the world in my opinion. There are “givers” and there are “takers”. This article explores the issue and emphasizes the importance in becoming a “giver”. I’ll also give you some personal examples where “giving” has rewarded me over and over.

This article is taken from my article archives and offers a timeless lesson worth remembering.

It’s 4:30am here as I write this article. I just finished a Question and Answer conference call with a seminar group in Nigeria about a PowerPoint presentation they just saw me deliver on IT due diligence in a merger and acquisition environment. I wasn’t there but they watched my slides and heard me speak in a flash presentation. It’s 11:30am their time and the second time I’ve done this to support the Nigerian company hosting the seminar.

When you work with people all over the world like I do, your hours can be a bit out of the ordinary, but I love it. The reason I bring this up will be clear later in the article as it is a prime example of what “giving” can do for you.

Look around. If you observe people closely, you will find that people tend to fall into one of two categories. A person tends to be someone who “gives” or will tend to be someone who “takes”.

“Givers” are willing people who truly want to help others. I think nurses and teachers are some of the best examples of this. Teachers are not as concerned about what they can receive as much as what they can do to help others. Nurses have similar characteristics.

In my own family, I believe most of my relatives are more “giving” in that they don’t really ask a lot of others and aren’t always looking for “what’s can you do for me”. On the other hand, I have a couple relatives who are really interested in only doing things that will do something to promote their agenda.

In management, “takers” can be detrimental to the IT organization’s success, especially when the “taker” is an IT manager or CIO. In an IT management role, you always get a more positive acceptance with clients, employees, and senior management when they view you as one who “gives” versus one who always wants to “take”.

What does this mean?

“Givers” go the extra mile. They don’t just do the job, they work hard to ensure that when they do a job it is thorough and complete. They make certain the quality is there and they want people to know, “my name is on this project”. They “give” when they aren’t necessarily asked to “give”. It’s second nature to them because they inherently understand that, “it’s better to give than to receive”.

We have all heard this phrase. Well, I can tell you from personal experience that it is truer than you might ever believe possible. I have many examples in my personal and professional life where my family and I have reaped huge benefits because of a simple “giving” gesture, even when I wasn’t expecting anything in return.

A challenge in our world of technology is that supporting technology is a dynamic and ever changing business. Because of the amount of change that occurs we constantly need things from others. We need our employees to do their jobs, to do it in a quality manner, and to pay attention to the details.

We need assistance from our clients as we implement new technologies or support the technologies of their business environment. The point to this is that to be successful IT managers and CIO’s, we are highly dependent upon others.

If you are predominately a “taker”, someone who only deals with others when you need something, it becomes more challenging for you to approach others and ask for their help. Actually the difficulty is not in asking for the help (“takers” have that game down very well).

The difficulty lies in getting the help or getting help in a quality, committed effort that is going to make your project a real success.

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Let’s say that person is your client, a Department Manager in your company. A Department manager is extremely busy with issues in his department and is challenged to make improvements that help him achieve department objectives. When the CIO or IT Manager approaches him and asks for help by allocating department resources to work on an IT project, who do you think he is going to help?

You got it; the Department manager will eagerly seek a way to help the IT manager who has been “giving” and helping him attain department objectives much more quickly than he will to help the IT manager who always “takes” more then he “gives back”.

It’s a simple issue really; we all want to help those who have shown they truly want to help us.

Managing employees works the same way. Our ability to exhibit to our employees that we are genuinely interested in their success and that we do things to help them succeed is key. When we do these things we are “giving”. In my mind, “giving” is a key responsibility of an IT manager, not an option.

Some examples of “giving” to employees are:
–  establishing processes to help employees succeed
–  developing employee performance plans that include training and education investments that grow their skills
–  rewarding individuals and teams for excellent performance
–  telling your employees you appreciate their commitment to the job and focusing on the quality of their work
–  working with an individual to develop his/her career plan
–  even coaching an employee on improving his/her performance

Back to my Nigeria example:
In my business, I’m able to “give” quite a lot, and it always seems to return tenfold. I may not realize it immediately, but I receive much more back in the long run than what I believe I “give out”.

A perfect example is the Nigerian project. It all started in 2004 when I was asked to travel to Nigeria to make a presentation about the importance of IT due diligence in a company acquisition. Unfortunately, there was no way to make this happen in the timeframe needed, , , so I declined the invitation.

In an email message I received back, it was obvious that the group needed help, , ,  the message was professional, sincere, and heartfelt.

What I agreed to do was to put an online PowerPoint presentation together that would address their business objective and that they could present to their audience. They agreed and paid me for the project.

Here is a key part of the story, , ,

  • All I was required to do was to develop a 1-hour PowerPoint presentation on a topic that I’m very familiar with – IT Due Diligence.
  • I was already paid so there was no tangible incentive for me to do more than what was requested to fulfill the project commitment.
  • I had never worked with this group before so there were no personal ties to motivate me to do more than what was minimally required.
  • I was very busy at the time so I didn’t have a lot of extra time to do more.

The bottom line is that I could have provided the minimal requirements of our agreement and the client would have been very satisfied with the project.

Here is the distinction of “giving” versus “taking”.

I decided to do more than what was minimally required!


Simple, I genuinely wanted to help the Nigerian company make their conference a success. So, I made suggestions of things we could add that I thought would help improve the experience of attending the conference for their clients.

The end result is that in addition to the 1-hour PowerPoint presentation I developed for them to deliver, I added several things to make their conference a real success:

  • A second 45- minute presentation on Key Considerations in Conducting IT Due Diligence in a Company Acquisition
  • A Case Study that could be used as an exercise to point out issues associated with conducting an IT due diligence
  • Two e-books and due diligence tools I sell that discuss the process of IT due diligence and assimilating the technology resources of acquired companies
  • The right to make CD copies to give to each conference participant containing the presentations, e-books, Case Study and tools, , ,  a fairly comprehensive IT due diligence package for an IT manager.
  • Time for me to sit in on a Q&A conference call that would be conducted immediately after showing my first presentation. This meant being available at 3:30am my time.

The Nigerian company was more than pleased as you might expect by the “extra’s”. Some of these “extra’s” were already produced so it took me no additional time or effort, , , but I also didn’t have to offer them.

The key here is that I was automatically looking for ways to help make their project a success as soon as I got involved and committed to the project. I wanted to “give” versus “take”.

I was not looking for anything above the initial payment made for the single presentation we had agreed upon; in fact it never entered my mind.

Well, good things happen to those who “give”. The reason I’m taking a second Q&A call this morning is because the Nigeria company was asked to hold a 2nd conference, , , the first one was such a big success that many who couldn’t attend wanted the information and requested a repeat conference.

The company paid me a second time to replicate what we did in the first conference. All I had to do for this second conference project was be available for the 3:30am phone call.

My objective was not to “take” or “get” more; it was simply to do what I could do to help them succeed in their project. The result was getting paid twice for essentially fulfilling one consulting engagement, , , but guess what, , , it was a win-win for the Nigeria company as well as for me.

UPDATE – September 2010

This little Nigeria conference project and the business relationship we developed has led to significant business ventures. First, there was the 2nd conference. Then we delivered a trial IT Manager Institute training program in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2005. This has led to joint ventures in delivering 8 IT Manager Institutes in South Africa, Nigeria, and United Arab Emirates in the last 6 years. I might not have delivered any of these classes if this relationship had not been created, , , and I had not “over delivered” what was expected.

My point: “when you give, you get back much more”.

“Giving” is part of my basic nature and it has been developed over time. I didn’t always understand this issue early in my career, , , for a long time I was a “taker”. I can tell you that I believe I started being more of a “giver” in 1986 and when I did my career literally took off.  This is material for another day, but suffice it to say that I believe there is a direct cause and effect in “giving” and career growth.

I highly recommend you begin seeking ways to start “giving” to others and go out of your way to help others be successful. You will be surprised at how successful it helps you become in return.

Plus, it’s a lot of fun helping others.

One response to “Are you a “Giver” or a “Taker” ?

  1. It is an amazing feeling to find someone who speaks your language so fluently. I understand you perfectly! It feels good to give and even better when “takers” become givers because of your gesture of giving unselfishly.

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