Give or Take

ImgresAnn Mehl, who is an Executive and Business coach, wrote a great end of year piece that she sent out to all her colleagues and clients about giving or taking.  It got me thinking about the topic give or take.  I have always been more of a giver than a taker.  I am always delighted when someone gives to me but I never expect it.  

Ann writes that most people who are successful share common traits: things like passion, hard work, innovation and persistence. But there's another ingredient that people often overlook, and that is generosity. The most important question she asks is how much of ourselves are we willing to give?

One of the constants I have seen in the technology/start-up community is that the majority of people I come across are willing to share their advice and their own personal experiences that others can learn from and it is obvious that most truly care.  I have seen entrepreneurs approached on panels by random people who want to introduce them to someone who might be a huge help to them with no interest for something in return.  I've heard of someone making a game changing introduction for nothing in return.  It is commendable and certainly goes under the heading what goes around comes around.  

A woman who has read my blog for years and years first connected with me in London to talk about a topic that is near and dear to her which is are you thriving or surviving.  I put them both together.  It is easier to give in your personal life.  It is more difficult to take the time out to do that in your career.  You learn how to survive at work but it is much more interesting if you can learn how to thrive.  Thriving and giving make people feel better about themselves and in turn are happier people.  

There is only so much giving a person can give in a day to people that is outside their world from work to personal.  It is a good time to start the year thinking about give or take, survive or thrive.  The little shifts in the way we think about these topics and react to them can be life changing. 

Comments (Archived):

  1. emmastia

    Great post for the new year. This is something that everyone struggles with, especially women. I can honestly say I think I finally figured it out in the past year. You have to commit to less and thrive rather than overextend and survive. No one likes to say no but you will be better and happier if you do. And really prioritize sleep – this cannot be overstated enough.

    1. Gotham Gal

      saying no is tough but it is always empowering.

      1. emmastia

        Rohan, oddly enough right after I read Joanne’s post, I saw something about the Adam Grant book on twitter. love it when the zeitgeist gets involved :)Joanne, your comment about saying no = empowering would be a great topic of a joint post from you and Fred. it is also a great theme to emphasize to young women, along with “lean in”

        1. Gotham Gal

          Good idea…will start to think on that.

  2. Rohan

    Joanne, book recommendation on this topic – “Give and Take” by Adam Grant. 🙂 Really good book.

    1. Susan

      I just finished reading “Give and Take.” Excellent book.

      1. Rohan

        Ah. Nice. Did so last month. Was a really nice food. Now on Decisive by the Heath brothers.. promising to be awesome!

    2. Gotham Gal

      checking it out.

  3. falicon

    I feel *really* uncomfortable when I think I’m more on the take than the give side of things…I’m much much happier to be the one giving (and I agree – I see this a lot around NYC tech; such a great thing).BTW (and small shameless plug) – this is also a massive part of coaching, teaching, and parenting (ie. a *fundamental* thing behind Coach Wizard and our general mission of helping kids develop life skills through activity)

    1. Gotham Gal

      teaching that through sports coaches is a great thing at such an early age.

      1. falicon

        Thanks! And of course I agree! =)…should mention that we are *starting* with sports and coaches…but the long term plan is that we extend into lots of other activities (our system can be used to help parents engage with their kids through other things like chess, lego robotics, skateboarding, etc.).Really all the ‘non academic’ things that bring so much life experience and lessons to kids and have a positive life impact on the world as a whole…*thats* what we’re all about (as you can see, still figuring out just how to best clarify and share the story myself)

  4. pointsnfigures

    speaking my language. thanks for this post. One question I’d ask the community-do coaches work? I have tried it once and it failed horribly. When do they work? Why?

    1. Gotham Gal

      I have worked with several ceos who are huge fans of the coach. Absolutely work

      1. pointsnfigures

        I know of one, JLM. I have referred people to him and they have had great results.

        1. emmastia

          Coaches definitely work. But like finding the right trainer or right the therapist, you need to find the right fit. I know Fred Wilson’s former partner, Jerry Colona, is a very good one in NYC.

    2. TanyaMonteiro

      It’s seldom that one finds the right coach (or anything) first try.

  5. kathryn jones

    Yes! When I first became involved with the online video/startup community in 2006 I was shocked at how much I enjoyed networking events and how interesting and lovely most of the people I met were. At the crux of this was that at every event there was a sense that we are all in this together, everyone has something to offer and almost across the board, everyone was looking for ways to help one another, regardless of personal gain. Such a change from the “not enough to go around” ethos that I experienced so often in the performing arts community from which I came. Six years later it makes so much sense to see which community is striving and which is struggling. Let 2014 be a year of Thriving for us all!!!