The Go-Giver: A Little Story about a Powerful Business Idea

Are you as successful as you dreamed of being at this point in your life? If you are, congratulations! If you’re not, you’ve perhaps second-guessed your education or career choices. Maybe you think you will have to work harder and faster. But before you’re too hard on yourself, consider trying the old proverb: “Give and you shall receive.”

I realize that this may seem counter-intuitive in today’s competitive world. The Go-Giver, however, claims that the secret to success is giving. Authors John David Mann and Bob Burg know you’ll be skeptical: “Most people just laugh when they hear that the secret to success is giving…Then again, most people are nowhere as successful as they wish they were.” Furthermore, they challenge the law of scarcity and say the 50-50 partnership principle is a losing position. Instead, they ask readers to think exclusively about helping others achieve a 100% win. It’s a business philosophy that places altruism before one’s own interest.


This 127-page book is written in a short story format. It’s the tale of Joe, a young professional who is hard-working and ambitious; he however, lately finds his hard work disappointing in sales results. Inadvertently, he finds himself seeking the mentorship of an older gentleman named Pindar.

The mentor—practicing the method he preaches—gives Joe his Trade Secret, with one condition: he too must give it away to others. Joe goes through a set of meetings that teach the Five Laws of Stratospheric Success, and through that process he achieves a transformational experience. In the end, Joe learns that giving is truly the secret to success and abundance.


The Trade Secret is found in these five laws:

  • The Law of Value. Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment. This book challenges us to not simply employ this tactic for self gain, but to learn to embrace this as a way of life.
  • The Law of Compensation. Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them. In a sense, you’re in control of your own compensation because you can always find more people to serve.
  • The Law of Influence. Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first. This in turn creates a network of ambassadors who become personally invested in seeing you succeed.
  • The Law of Authenticity. The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself. Be authentic!
  • The Law of Receptivity. The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving. This is the byproduct of the first four laws.

Try each one of these for each day of the work week. You have nothing to lose. Hundreds of thousands of people have tried, and the book has achieved a core following.

I was given this book in 2009 by one of GE’s general managers. Since then I have distributed about 20 copies to direct reports, colleagues, and friends. I do believe that if people authentically behave altruistically, they will be more successful, regardless of their personal definition of success. The book is a simple and powerful reminder that the more you give, the more you get.

By the way, if you’re still skeptical, the book went on to become a national best seller, topping the lists at BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal, and Amazon, among many others. It has also stood the test of time, through continued book sales, current seminars, and a lively internet community ( You can buy it in any bookstore, and it’s very likely that you’ll find it in your public library. Enjoy!

PS—I’m looking for good books to review. Please send recommendations of the best marketing books you’ve read in 2011 and 2012 to


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