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The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John D. Mann.
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The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann is a business parable that contradicts the notion that to be successful, you need to be a go-getter, a competitive hard-charger focused on getting new clients and making ever-bigger deals. Instead, the authors contend you should make giving rather than getting your first priority in business and in life—and success will follow. Becoming a “go-giver” means giving value to others, not as a strategy or quid pro quo, but as a way of leading a satisfying life.

In the parable—in which a mentor guides a frustrated go-getter named Joe to success and fulfillment—the authors explain why and how to become a go-giver by practicing the Five Laws of Stratospheric Success.

Joe’s Story

Joe, a go-getter at Clason-Hill Trust Corporation, was having a bad third quarter. He lost a contract that was up for renewal and failed to land a new account he had hoped for. As a last-ditch effort to gain an edge, he scheduled a meeting with a wealthy business consultant, who he hoped would help him connect with and influence clients.

At their first meeting, the consultant, identified only as Pindar or The Chairman, shared his counterintuitive “trade secret” for success: giving.

He said most people get things backward. They strive to get something, usually money, before giving anything. This is as foolish as wanting to get heat from a fireplace before adding logs, or wanting interest from a bank before making a deposit. Instead, successful people focus on giving—and that creates success. The more you give, the more you have.

Pindar agreed to teach Joe how to practice it via the Five Laws of Stratospheric Success—on the condition that Joe apply each law the day he learns it. Each day for a week, Pindar arranged for Joe to meet a successful person who embodied one of the laws of success. Day by day, Joe found the lessons changing his life in ways he never imagined.

Five Lessons

1) The Law of Value: How much more you give others in value than you receive in payment defines your worth.

For Joe’s first lesson, they met with Ernesto Iafrate, owner of Iafrate’s Italian-American Cafe, one of a chain of restaurants Ernesto owned. Ernesto started his restaurant career with just a hot dog stand. Following the Law of Value—giving more in value than he received in payment—was the key to his success.

Ernesto gave exceptional value to his customers beyond the food they bought from him. He made buying a hot dog a memorable dining experience by building relationships with his customers—he remembered not only customers’ names and preferences, but their children’s names and birthdays as well as many details of their lives. Children brought their parents and parents brought their friends and associates to his stand. Several customers became Ernesto’s partners and he opened a chain of restaurants and began buying commercial real estate. His philosophy for running a great restaurant was providing better food and service than customers could pay for.

Joe questioned whether giving more in value than you get in return amounted to giving away money. Ernesto replied that asking whether something makes money is the wrong first question. He said the first question should be whether your enterprise serves and adds value to others. If the answer is yes, then ask whether it makes money. You should give, not as a strategy, but as a way of life. When you do, profits or other benefits follow because people want to do business with you.

2) The Law of Compensation: Your income depends on how many people you serve and how well you serve them.

Joe’s next meeting was with Nicole Martin, CEO of a global educational software...

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The Go-Giver Summary The Go-Giver Guide Introduction | Chapters 1-2

The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann is a business parable that contradicts the notion that to be successful in business you need to be a go-getter, a competitive hard-charger focused on getting new clients and making ever-bigger deals. Instead, the authors contend you should make giving rather than getting your first priority in business and in life—and success will follow. Becoming a “go-giver” means giving value to others, not as a strategy or quid pro quo, but as a way of leading a satisfying life.

In the parable—in which a mentor puts a frustrated go-getter on the true path to success and fulfillment—the authors explain why and how to become a go-giver by practicing the Five Laws of Stratospheric Success.

(Shortform note: To help readers navigate the story without losing sight of the principles, we’ve summarized the storyline, main characters, and five laws at the beginning for easy reference. A chapter-by-chapter summary and exercises then follow.)

The Storyline

Joe, a go-getter at Clason-Hill Trust Corporation, was having a bad third quarter. He lost a contract that was up for renewal and failed to land a new account he had hoped for. As a...

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The Go-Giver Summary The Go-Giver Guide Chapters 3-4: The Law of Value

The Law of Value: How much more you give others in value than you receive in payment defines your worth.

Joe and Pindar had their second meeting at Iafrate’s Italian-American Cafe, a popular restaurant, judging from the crowd size. Ernesto, the head chef/owner, joined them at their table. He explained that he started his career with just a hot dog cart. His stand became popular, eventually being voted the best outdoor dining experience in the city. He started a restaurant with the help of a mysterious investor, known only as “the Connector,” then came to own a half-dozen restaurants. Later, he invested in commercial real estate; his holdings totaled several hundred million dollars worth.

The key to Ernesto’s success was the exceptional value he gave his customers beyond the food they bought from him, starting with his hot dog stand. He made buying a hot dog a memorable dining experience by building relationships with his customers—he remembered not only customers’ names and preferences, but also their children’s names and...

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Shortform Exercise: Giving Value

The authors of The Go-Giver contend that you should make giving rather than getting your first priority in business and in life—and success will follow. The first principle in adopting a giving approach is to give more in value than you get in payment.


Can you think of an experience—for instance, a business or personal transaction—in which you received more than you paid for or gave in return? What was the experience and how did it make you feel?

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The Go-Giver Summary The Go-Giver Guide Chapters 5-7: The Law of Compensation

The Law of Compensation: Your income depends on how many people you serve and how well you serve them.

At their next meeting, Pindar introduced Joe to Nicole Martin, CEO of Learning Systems for Children Inc., a maker of educational software sold around the world.

She explained that she was a former grade school teacher who came up with some games for her classes to promote children’s curiosity and creativity. They worked so well that she wanted to share them with more children, so she consulted a software developer about digitizing them. Along with some investors recommended by “the Connector,” Nicole and her developer started an educational software company that ultimately brought her games to twenty-five million children.

Regarding the first two “laws,” she told Joe: The Law of Value determines your potential income. However, the Law of Compensation determines how much you actually earn. It states that your income depends on how many people you serve and how well you serve them. So your income reflects not only your value/worth, but also your impact.

There are two implications of the law, Nicole said:

1) **You get to determine your level of...

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Shortform Exercise: Enlarging the Number You Serve

In the book, the Law of Compensation states that your income depends on how many you serve and how well you serve them—in other words, on your impact. You can increase your income and success by finding ways to serve more people.


Think of an aspect of your work or personal life in which you serve others—for instance, helping customers or working with the PTA at your children’s school. How would you describe the impact you’re making?

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The Go-Giver Summary The Go-Giver Guide Chapters 8-9: The Law of Influence

The Law of Influence: Your influence (social capital) is determined by the extent to which you put other people’s interests first.

Joe and Pindar next visited Sam Rosen, a financier and owner of the Liberty Life Insurance and Financial Services Company, the most successful financial services company in the world. Sam explained that he’d started his career as a struggling insurance agent. But his fortunes changed for the better when he began focusing on giving rather than getting—he became his company’s top salesman. In his later years, he began working with nonprofits and became a philanthropist.

Sam told Joe that besides giving, a key to success is expanding your influence by building a network of people who know, like, and trust you—an “army of personal ambassadors,” who might not necessarily buy from you but who always have you in mind. With such an army, you’ll have a stream of referrals.

The way to create a network of personal ambassadors is to stop “keeping score.” In the business and political worlds, you typically keep track of favors—you do favors expecting that others will return the favors and you keep track of who “owes” you. In fact, transactions that people...

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Shortform Exercise: Stop Keeping Score

In the business and political worlds, people often do favors with the expectation that others will return the favors. They keep track of who “owes” them. But the Law of Influence calls for totally putting others’ interests first while trusting that your interests will be taken care of in the process.


Think of a relationship you have where you don't keep score but give freely without expecting reciprocation. How does that relationship compare to a relationship where you keep score?

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The Go-Giver Summary The Go-Giver Guide Chapter 10-11: The Law of Authenticity

The Law of Authenticity: The most important thing you can offer is yourself.

Joe’s next visit was to an annual sales conference to hear a speech by Debra Davenport, the city’s top Realtor in both the residential and commercial markets. However, as she explained in her speech, her career was a failure until she applied the Law of Authenticity.

Twelve years earlier, when her husband walked out on her, Debra earned a real estate license to support herself and her children. She was a good student and learned all the sales techniques but still couldn’t manage to sell any houses. She went to a sales conference (the same annual event she now addressed) where a business consultant (Pindar) spoke about adding value to what you sell. He told the audience: Regardless of what you’re selling, you can succeed by adding value.

Debra couldn’t think of any value she could add that would help her sell houses. She felt like a failure and planned to quit the next day after one final home-showing appointment. Since it was her last sales effort, she abandoned all her techniques and just chatted with the female client about her interests and experiences. And the woman bought the...

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Shortform Exercise: Be Authentic

The Law of Authenticity states that the most important thing you can offer is yourself. Applied to a business environment, it means that when you sell a product or service, you’re selling yourself. If you put on an act instead of being authentic, you’ll fail.


Think of an instance where you played a role or acted in a certain way because it was expected. What kind of response did you get? How did it make you feel?

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The Go-Giver Summary The Go-Giver Guide Chapter 12-13: The Law of Receptivity

The Law of Receptivity: For effective giving, be open to receiving.

Joe arrived at Pindar’s mansion for the next meeting, which was to include a “Friday guest” who would explain the final law. Joe and Pindar had lunch but no other guest showed up. In the meantime, they discussed the concept of giving as it relates to receiving.

Pindar noted that everyone learns the adage, “It’s better to give than to receive,” which is interpreted to mean that if you’re a good person, you give without thinking of receiving anything.

Joe acknowledged that he often thought about receiving and felt guilty about it.

However, Pindar asserted that the adage is wrong: it’s not better to give than to receive. It’s actually crazy to try to give and not receive because receiving naturally follows giving.

They go together like inhaling and exhaling—you can’t do only one of them and one isn’t better than the other. To extend the analogy, humans and animals breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, while plants do the opposite—they absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. They give and we receive, and vice versa.

**You have to choose to receive—or giving won’t create the success...

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Shortform Exercise: Receptivity

The Law of Receptivity states that for your giving to be effective or create the success you want, you also have to open to receiving. Giving and receiving go together like inhaling and exhaling—one isn’t effective without the other.


Think of a situation in your work or personal life that involved both giving and receiving. How did they complement each other?

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The Go-Giver Summary The Go-Giver Guide Q&A: What Does It Mean To Be a Go-Giver?

Is being a go-getter a bad thing?

There’s nothing wrong with being a go-getter—they get things done. However, being a go-getter won’t get you what you want if you don’t focus first on giving value to others. Giving makes you a more effective go-getter.

The opposite of a go-getter isn’t a go-giver but a go-taker—someone looking only for how the world can serve them.

Is the moral that nice people finish first?

The go-giver success formula isn’t about being nice. Being nice, or genuinely considerate, is great but it isn’t what makes you successful. Many nice people are struggling financially. Success is the result, not of niceness, but of creating value, touching many lives, putting others’ interests first, being authentic, and being open to receiving (the Five Stratospheric Laws of Success).

Does giving to charity make you a go-giver?

People often think of giving as making a financial contribution to charity, but the go-giver concept is broader. As Arianna Huffington described it in the book’s foreword: giving encompasses giving thought, attention, care, focus, time, and energy—value—to others.

**Isn’t it easier to give after you’ve become...

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Table of Contents

  • 1-Page Summary
  • Introduction | Chapters 1-2
  • Chapters 3-4: The Law of Value
  • Exercise: Giving Value
  • Chapters 5-7: The Law of Compensation
  • Exercise: Enlarging the Number You Serve
  • Chapters 8-9: The Law of Influence
  • Exercise: Stop Keeping Score
  • Chapter 10-11: The Law of Authenticity
  • Exercise: Be Authentic
  • Chapter 12-13: The Law of Receptivity
  • Exercise: Receptivity
  • Q&A: What Does It Mean To Be a Go-Giver?