* Book Review: Give And Take by Adam Grant – Inspiration For The Treehouse Series

17 Seconds #52 – A Publication For Clients And Other VIPs Of Clocktower Law.

In the summers of 2003 and 2004, the perfect treehouse took shape in a four-stem maple in the back yard of a house in Acton, MA. The treehouse was built by Erik J. Heels and his three children: Sam, Ben, and Sonja. Shown here in all four seasons: winter, spring, summer, fall.
In the summers of 2003 and 2004, the perfect treehouse took shape in a four-stem maple in the back yard of a house in Acton, MA. The treehouse was built by Erik J. Heels and his three children: Sam, Ben, and Sonja. Shown here in all four seasons: winter, spring, summer, fall.

Last summer, I read “Give And Take” by Adam Grant. That book now has a position of honor as a “top shelf” book in my office.

Thanks to one of my mentors – the late, great Prof. David Gregory – I have been writing in my books since 1992, a practice that I learned from another top shelf book, “How To Read A Book” by Mortimer J. Adler, which was recommended to me by Prof. Gregory. (See Books To Read Before Law School.) Writing in books helps you learn more from them, helps you make them your own, helps you re-read. Suffice it to say that I wrote a lot in “Give And Take.”

The basic premise of the book is that you can be a giver – in business and in life – and be a champ, not a chump. It’s a book that demands action:

“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.”
     – Japanese Proverb

Among the actions that I took as a result of “Give And Take” are the following:

  • I reviewed my existing contacts and eliminated those I could clearly identify as toxic takers. These are the folks who contact you only when they need something. They are not your friends. You know who your friends are? Those who show up when you ask them to move your piano.
  • I reviewed my existing networks (collections of contacts) and focused my efforts on those networks with a higher giver/taker ratio. The ratios were surprising easy to determine.
  • Clocktower began sponsoring the Treehouse series, events focused on giving back with no specific expectation of return. I joke around have about one idea per decade. I’m pretty sure that Treehouse is it.

Givers are not necessarily good, takers are not necessarily bad (read the book). But working with authentic givers can be rewarding personally and professionally, and eliminating toxic takers can be cathartic.

What is a giver? What is a taker?

Some things, like most software apps, are easier to demonstrate than describe.

So what does a giver look like? Like Adam Rifkin, who has not only made a lot of money but has also spent a lot of time giving back. Adam Rifkin’s LinkedIn profile includes extensive details about his mission and values. He talks about himself, but he also gives detailed thoughtful recommendations for others – lots of others! Adam Rifkin is a featured giver in “Give And Take” – and for good reason.

And what does a taker look like? Like Grant Cardone, who made sexist remarks on stage while speaking at Drift’s Hypergrowth conference earlier this week. Grant Cardone’s LinkedIn profile includes lots of references to money. He also talks about himself – but not much about others. The organizers of that conference, simply by reading Mr. Cardone’s profile, could have easily eliminated him as a bad fit both for Drift’s culture and for the #MeToo generation.

Who would you rather get to know?

Whither Treehouse

I don’t know where the Treehouse series is going. I do know that I want to have more attendees, more events, and more sponsors. So far, nobody has said, “Wow that Treehouse event was a waste of my time!” So, thanks to “Give And Take,” I think I’m on to something. If you receive an invitation, I do hope you will attend!


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