The following is a summary of the book The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann.
The book tells a parable of a man named Joe who, struggling to make his quarterly sales target, meets a mentor named Pindar to help him. Pindar then teaches Joe the “Five Laws of Stratospheric Success” by having Joe meet various people who have already mastered the five laws.
The book is a short read, but it contains a powerful message. One that aligns with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Law of Compensation: you will always be compensated for your contributions, one way or another. Therefore, it’s better to focus on giving more if you wish to receive more. That’s the secret of the book in a nutshell.
But it’s expanded into five laws, which the author recommends you actually try, instead of just thinking about them. That way, you can determine for yourself whether these laws work or not. The laws are as follows:
The Five Laws of Stratospheric Success
1. The Law of Value — Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.
2. The Law of Compensation — Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.
3. The Law of Influence — Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.
4. The Law of Authenticity — The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.
5. The Law of Receptivity — The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.
For more context, and to expand on these laws a little, I’ve also includes my favourite quotes from the book below:
(Note: If you would like to download a high-quality PDF version of this summary, just click here.)
Chapter 2: The Secret
You get what you expect.
What you focus on is what you get.
Ultimately, the world treats you more or less the way you expect to be treated.
Chapter 3: The Law of Value
A very useful thing to remember: appearances can be deceiving.
Everyone likes to be appreciated.
People will do business with and refer business to people they know, like and trust.
But a great restaurant — ahh, a great restaurant strives to defy imagination! Its goal is to provide a higher quality of food and service than any amount of money could possibly pay for.
First Law: Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.
The point isn’t to have them pay you more, it’s to give them more. You give, give, give. Why? Because you love to. It’s not a strategy, it’s a way of life. And when you do, then very very profitable things begin to happen.
All the great fortunes in the world have been created by men and women who had a greater passion for what they were giving — their product, service or idea — than for what they were getting. And many of those great fortunes have been squandered by other who had a greater passion for what they were getting than what they were giving.
Chapter 5: The Law of Compensation
The First Law determines how valuable you are. In other words, your potential income, how much you could earn. But it’s the Second Law that determines how much you actually do earn.
Second Law: Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.
Or to put it another way: Your compensation is directly proportional to how many lives you touch.
And there are two amazing things about this. First, it means that you get to determine your level of compensation — it’s under your control. If you want more success, find a way to serve more people. It’s that simple.
It also means there are no limitations on what you can earn, because you can always find more people to serve. The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, ‘Everybody can be great because anybody can serve.’ Another way to say that might be, ‘Everybody can be successful because anybody can give.’
Chapter 6: Serving Coffee
Sometimes you feel foolish, even look foolish, but you do the thing anyway.
Chapter 7: Rachel
They are the three universal reasons for working. Survive — to meet your basic living needs. Save — to go beyond your basic needs and expand your life. And serve — to make a contribution to the world around you.
Chapter 8: The Law of Influence
Now, by a network I don’t necessarily mean your customers or clients. I mean a network of people who know you, like you and trust you. They might never buy a thing from you, but they’ve always got you in the backs of their minds. They’re people who are personally invested in seeing you succeed, y’see? And of course, that’s because you’re the same way about them. They’re your army of personal walking ambassadors. When you’ve got your own army of personal walking ambassadors, you’ll have referrals coming your way faster than you can handle them.
Stop keeping score.
Watch out for the other guy. Watch out for his interests. Watch his back. Forget about fifty-fifty, son. Fifty-fifty’s a losing proposition. The only winning proposition is one hundred percent. Make your win about the other person, go after what he wants. Forget win-win — focus on the other person’s win.
Third Law: Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.
Because if you place the other person’s interests first, your interests will always be taken care of. Always. Some people call it enlightened self-interest. Watch out for what other people need, with the faith that when you do, you’ll get what you need.
They love to give. That’s why they’re attractive. Givers attract.
Chapter 10: The Law of Authenticity
These lessons don’t apply only to business, Joe. A genuinely sound business principle will apply anywhere in life — in your friendships, in your marriage, anywhere. That’s the true bottom line. Not whether it simply improves your financial balance sheet, but whether it improves your life’s balance sheet.
I care more about my wife’s happiness than I do about my own.
I learned something that day. When I said that my life as a mom, wife and household manager left me with nothing the marketplace wanted, I was wrong. There was something else I’d learned over those years, and that was how to be a friend. How to care. How to make people feel good about themselves. And that, my friends, is something the marketplace wants very much — always has, always will.
What I’m here to sell you on is you. People, remember this: no matter what your training, no matter what your skills, no matter what area you’re in, you are your most important commodity. The most valuable gift you have to offer is you. Reaching any goal you set takes ten percent specific knowledge or technical skills — ten percent, max. The other ninety-plus percent is people skills. And what’s the foundation of all people skills? Liking people? Caring about people? Being a good listener? Those are all helpful, but they’re not the core of it. The core of it is who you are. It starts with you.
It’s worth ten thousand times more than all the closing techniques that ever have been or ever will be invented. It’s called authenticity.
Fourth Law: The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.
Chapter 11: Gus
You just love what you do. You love talking with people, asking them questions, learning all about them, finding ways you can help them, serve them, fill a need, share a resource.
Chapter 12: The Law of Receptivity
It’s better to give than to receive, right? If you’re a good person, that’s what you do, you give. Good people give and don’t think of receiving. But you, you think about receiving all the time, you can’t help it. Which means you’re probably not really a very good person… so why bother trying? All this giving stuff sounds great — for some people. For people like me, maybe, or Nicole, or Ernesto. But not for you. It’s just not who you are.
It’s not better to give than to receive. It’s insane to try to give and not receive. Trying not to receive is not only foolish, it’s arrogant. When someone gives you a gift, what gives you the right to refuse it — to deny their right to give? Receiving is the natural result of giving.
Every giving can happen only because it is also a receiving…
All the giving in the world won’t bring success, won’t create the results you want, unless you also make yourself willing and able to receive in like measure. Because if you don’t like yourself receive, you’re refusing the gifts of others — and you shut down the flow. Because human beings are born with appetite, nothing is more naturally geared toward being receptive than a baby, and if the secret of staying young, vibrant and vital throughout life is to hang on to those most precious characteristics we all have as children but which get drummed out of us — like having big dreams, being curious and believing in yourself — then one of those characteristics is being open to receiving, being hungry to receive, being ravenous to receive!
So the secret to success, to gaining it, to having it, is to give, give, give. The secret to getting is giving. And the secret to giving is making yourself open to receiving. What do you call this law?
Fifth Law: The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.
Chapter 13: Full Circle
You can’t measure your success by whether or not you get the account. That’s not the point. The point is not what you do. Not what you accomplish. It’s who you are.
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