Last updated on April 18th, 2019. Posted in Business Fundamentals.
In this summary review of The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann, you'll get three big key take-aways that will very likely flip your perspective on business and how you sell. As the book details, selling, marketing, and business aren't what you think they are. Ready to discover what it's all about? Then let's jump into it!
I love books that completely obliterate your existing beliefs and force you to re-think your view of the world. This is how you grow. It's how you develop your thinking and upgrade to a better, more useful perspective and set of beliefs. On the subjects of business, selling, and marketing, The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann is one such book.
Now if you'd prefer to watch a video review summary of The Go-Giver, scroll down just a bit to the embedded video.
Written as a short parable, The Go-Giver's message is centered around five powerful laws that are learned one by one by the story's protagonist, Joe, who takes the reader along with him on his journey.
Some of the laws that we learn alongside Joe include The Law Of Value, The Law Of Compensation, and The Law Of Influence. As we, and our protagonist Joe, are taken through each of these, they're clearly explained by several mentor-characters as the story progresses.
There are of course many more lessons and pearls of wisdom throughout The Go-Giver in addition to these three big take-aways. So be sure to grab a copy for yourself.
Meanwhile, let's get started with the first big take-away...
The first big take-away from The Go-Giver is, The Most Important Question In Business. And that question is, does it serve?
This might sound a little bit strange (new ways of looking at the world always do), so let me explain. Practically everyone looks at their business, their prospects, potential investments, and product ideas, and asks, "How much money can I make?"
In other words, "What's in it for me?"
I know I've been guilty of this.
The Go-Giver flips this around and suggests that this isn't a bad question to ask per se, it's just a bad question to ask first.
So, does your product or service serve others? Does it solve an important problem? If it doesn't, then nobody will be interested in it. Nobody will care. That's a harsh truth that all business owners eventually learn. But if you can help people, if you can fix a problem, if you can provide value -- if the answer to the above questions is a resounding "yes!" -- then you can ask the second question, "How much money can I make?"
So we have it backwards. First confirm that we are serving a need. Then ask if there's money to be made.
If you like, you can phrase this second question in different ways:
It might seem odd, scary, or maybe even silly to first ask, "Does this serve?" but really, if you give it more than passing consideration, it begins making complete sense.
After all, the purpose of business is not to make money, but to innovate and solve problems. The only way to do that in a viable manner is to provide value to enough people to make it all worthwhile.
If you manufacture 8-track players, poorly written short-fiction, or typewriter ribbons...sorry, you're just not serving anyone. Maybe a handful of aficionados will tune in to what you're doing, but there just isn't a large enough group of people who are interested in what you're doing to make it worth all the trouble.
It might sound harsh. It might crush dreams. But it's better to get this sorted out ahead of time. So before you invest years of your life and tons of your money into a venture, determine if what you do serves a market large enough to make it worth the effort.
So that's the first big take-away from The Go-Giver -- does it serve. As you mull that around a little, let's move on to summarize the second big take-away...
The second point from The Go-Giver that we'll summarize is what you could call your business's unfair advantage.
As a business owner, whether you know it or not, you have several unfair advantages that others just can't compete with. An unfair advantage could be proprietary technology, patents, or other things that are intrinsic to you and your business.
However the Go-Giver points out that one of our huge unfair advantages is...ourselves.
Whether you're conscious of this or not, we want to be around, work with, and do business with people we like. We're social creatures. We're attracted to people we like, and repelled by people we dislike. We all want to connect with other people who share our values and world-views -- even the introverts who'd never admit it!
From a business perspective, we don't want to work with those who turn us off, or with faceless companies and corporations. We want to work with real human beings...people we know, like, and trust.
This ties into what's called personal branding. The phrase "personal branding" has been thrown around a lot in the last few years, but truthfully, it's nothing new. A blacksmith three hundred years ago had a personal brand. Cleopatra had such a strong personal brand that we still know about it today. Your neighbour has a personal brand, and so does the mayor of your town or city.
Your personal brand is simply your reputation. It's your style and personality. It's what people say and think about you.
I'll tell you a quick story that happened recently to illustrate this, and how it can negatively impact a business.
There's a little shop not too far from my house. They sell home decor, area rugs..that sort of stuff. Not really my thing, but I go with a friend sometimes. Well, each time we've been in the owner is...let's say less than friendly. It's like we're in her way. Like we're a bother. My friend and I start whispering to each other, "This is weird...this is uncomfortable. Let's get the heck out of here!"
For a business, that's the kiss of death.
This business owner's no doubt spent a lot of money on inventory, on setting up her store, on advertising, and so on. She took on all the risk of getting her small store off the ground. All that money, effort, and risk...and she's blowing it with her bad attitude. Her personal brand stinks!
That's an example of bad personal branding.
So who you are, your unique style and perspective, which is shaped by your personality and experiences, becomes your unfair advantage (or in this shop owner's case, her unfair disadvantage).
And all of this ties into the importance of being authentic and genuine -- into being an honest, real person. But many people in business think they have to be something they're not in order to succeed.
Understand that everyone's BS detector is on high alert at all times. People can detect when someone's being phoney or fake.
So long as you solve a problem and deliver value, so long as you're honest and genuine, people will be drawn to you. There are no tricks. No secrets. No magic. That's all there is to it. And people will accept your oddities and quirks. In fact, they'll embrace them. It's what makes you a human being.
This reminds me of a quote from another book from 1923: "[Smooth talking salesmen] create the suspicion that an effort is made to sell [the prospect] on other lines than merit." This book was written in 1923! 1923! Back then, they knew that being inauthentic, that being a "smooth talking salesman" didn't work and turned people away.
Yet, when most of us think of selling, this is what we think of. When we think of succeeding in business, we think we need to be someone we're not.
With the birth of the internet and social media, we're dialling back to small town authenticity and personal relationships. Let's call it small shopkeeper charm.
We may not be geographic neighbours, but we're neighbours online, where we commune around common interests and people we like.
Imagine Mayberry had an infinite number of bakeries. Which one are you going to shop at? The one where you really like the owner, who knows you by your first name, who has your order ready before you even show up. Mayberry's now online.
So being your authentic, genuine self is another big message in The Go-Giver. So what if you're a little weird. We all are in our own unique ways. And that's what gives people charm and uniqueness.
"Fake it 'til ya make it" doesn't cut it. Being someone you're not is shallow. People can spot that nonsense from a thousand yards out. It sets off their BS detectors, and repels them away in the opposite direction.
Alright, so that's the the second point from The Go-Giver. Now let's move on to the third and final take-away...
Alright, here's our third and final take-away from The Go-Giver, trust and take a leap of faith.
But trust in what, exactly? Well, the over-arcing philosophy of The Go-Giver is giving. Service. Helping others. This can be best summarized from this passage...
How would you feel if I said to you, "Listen, give me some money first, and then I'll help you out with what you want?" It's a total turn-off, isn't it? To me, this is like running up to the man or woman of your dreams and yelling, "Hop in the sack with me!" Well geeze, could we maybe get coffee first?!
And it's the same in business. Let's make sure we click together first before anything else happens. What's the rush? Let's take our time and make sure this is a good fit. As business owners, we do this by helping our audience first, and put off thinking about ourselves.
You have to give generously first, before you can ask for anything in return.
And whether potential customers wind up buying from you or not isn't the point...as surprising as that might sound. Instead, you have to trust that a large enough percentage of your audience will reward you. And that's where the leap of faith comes in.
So you have to be generous and simply trust, take a leap of faith, that if you take care of others first, that your needs will be met too. Maybe not right away, but eventually. On a long enough time-line, you'll eventually get everything you need in exchange for helping others first.
To take this a step further, here's a quote from The Go-Giver's Q&A section in the back of the book: "Money is not a measure of your goodness or worthiness; it's a measure of your impact." And further, "What we're suggesting is that you simply set your self-interest to the side. You don't deny it, suppress it, or try to eliminate it; you just defer it for the moment."
That's what this is really all about.
If you're in business for you, you're gonna fail. If you're in business for others, you'll flourish.
If you're having trouble trusting that everything will work out in the end, and taking a giant leap of faith (admittedly, this can be hard to wrap your head around), consider this: When you're driving down a street or undivided highway, what's to stop oncoming traffic from crashing into you? Ever think about that? Sure collisions happen every day, but with no physical barrier preventing cars from driving into oncoming traffic, you'd think it would happen a lot more often.
But it doesn't. Why? Self-interest and trust. It's in everyone's best interests not to crash into anyone else, and everyone has to trust each other in the process. But we think nothing of it. We take all of this for granted and just hop in the car and go. But really, you have to put your complete faith and trust in total strangers.
You have to trust others and have faith in them that you'll arrive safely at your destination.
Re-read that sentence.
What's your destination? Where are you going? Put your faith in others that it's all going to work out.
More broadly, without faith and trust in others, it's every man, woman, and child for themselves. It would be a Mad Max Thunder Dome free-for-all out there. Humans did the whole tribal warfare slaughter-fest thing for a long, long time. Then we figured out that killing and pillaging didn't work as well as co-operating and helping each other. Communities and entire civilizations suddenly flourished. And here we are.
On a more personal level, you just have to trust and have faith that if you add value to others, help them, and give them what they need, that everything will work out just fine for you.
Set aside your own concerns and take care of your audience first. Take a leap of faith and believe that if you look after them, enough of them will look after you.
So that's my Go-Giver review summary -- a highly influential book that helped me establish a deeper understanding of business, marketing, selling...and life.
In fact, I'd say my entire business model is built around the philosophy of giving and adding value first, all wrapped around my personal style and brand.
If there's a single book that that I could point to as a summary of my core business philosophy, that encapsulates my outlook on business, customers, and selling (and I've read a lot of them) the closest would be The Go-Giver.
To summarize, the three big take-aways from The Go-Giver were The Most Important Question In Business, which was does it serve?, Your Unfair Advantage, which is your personality and style (or if you prefer, your personal brand), and lastly Trust And Take A Leap Of Faith, which was trusting that if you help others first, you'll get your needs filled too.
Of course, these just summarize only three big take-aways from The Go-Giver. Don't forget there are actually five laws that the story's protagonist, Joe, learns throughout the book. Every time I re-read The Go-Giver, I find another great nugget to chew on.
For instance, before I let you go, I'll leave you with one more juicy thought from the book: "There's nothing wrong with making money. Lots of it, in fact. It's just not a goal that will make you successful." (Page 11)
That's pretty profound when you think about it. There's nothing wrong or immoral with charging for what you're worth. There's nothing wrong with being compensated for the value that you provide. That's how the whole game that we're all in works. But money, really, is just a byproduct of the value you've provided to the market.
Money is a byproduct, not the sole end-goal.
If you're in business just to make money, then it's guaranteed you won't make any.
As stated at the very beginning of this post, The Go-Giver is about shattering those limiting beliefs and upgrading them to something much more useful. Sometimes this process is painful. After all, you're shifting your perspective on the world. And that's always a worthwhile endeavour.
At around 130 pages, The Go Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea, by Bob Burg and John David Mann is an easy read that I know will change your outlook and business philosophy.
In fact, The Go-Giver is actually the first in a series of four books in the Go-Giver series -- there's also Go-Givers Sell More, The Go-Giver Leader, and The Go-Giver Influencer. They're all fantastic books in their own way, flipping traditional business philosophies on their heads and forcing us, the reader, to rethink how we handle our businesses, our customers, and ourselves.
If The Go-Giver and it's ideas are piquing your interest, you can easily find this book on Amazon, or check out further reviews and summaries on Goodreads. Finally, you can take a look at the book's official website.
I hope you enjoyed this summary and review of The Go-Giver. Go grab yourself a copy, and prepare to have everything you think you know about business flipped upside down!
I know you'll love it!