07 Nov The Way We Think About Giving Is Dead Wrong
Too many entrepreneurs are killing it in business, family, and self-development and not doing enough for their communities.
They say things like:
“I wish I had more time because I know I totally should do more for the community.”
“I’ve got to focus on other things and just can’t make time to help others right now.”
“I’m in my accumulation years. I’ll help others in the next decade when I’ve amassed enough wealth to give my time.”
This makes me cringe. It’s never an issue of time so let’s cut the shit. We make time for whatever’s important to us.
Got a new prospect? Time.
Got a new deal? Time.
Got a new idea? Time.
The real issue is that you don’t believe helping your community benefits you or your business.
My thesis is this:
If you truly believed in the power of giving, you would do it more.
And by giving more, you would solve more of society’s problems.
Who better than entrepreneurs to solve some of our greatest challenges? This is what we do.
* * *
I’m a behavioral economist by trade and have spent the past 21 years studying, understanding, and applying the lessons of behavioral science. It’s given me an edge.
Everyone talks about hustling hard, betting on strengths, and creating opportunities. I’m the first to agree. All of that matters to become successful.
But there’s one thing no one talks about. I want to share it with you because it’s taken each of my companies to a whole new level and I think it’ll take yours as well.
So what is it?
Being a giver.
This is more than my opinion – though I’m definitely going to share stories that highlight my points – it’s also rooted in science.
Behavioral science tells us that success depends on how we approach our interactions with others. Being a giver isn’t a one-off thing, it’s how you roll.
In Game Theory, there are 3 ways that people roll:
- Takers – people who expect to gain more than they give
- Matchers – people who expect an equal amount of return for what they give
- Givers – people who give if the benefit to someone else outweighs the cost to them personally
Now here’s something more surprising.
When you look at a ladder of success, you’ll actually find that Givers are at the BOTTOM.
Let’s call them “Bleeders” because they bleed out as a result of giving.
Takers and Matchers are in the middle.
And guess who’s on top?
This is the part that’s going to surprise you…
Let’s call the Givers on top of the ladder “Providers” so we don’t confuse them with the Givers on the bottom — the Bleeders. I call Givers on the top of the ladder Providers because they hook other people up.
So why differentiate Givers between Bleeders and Providers?
That’s what I’m about to deconstruct so you know how to give like a Provider and generate higher growth and retention for your business.
Two things I know all of us entrepreneurs care deeply about.
* * *
But first, here’s why giving is important to me.
A lot of people don’t know this about me because I don’t like to recall it. But the truth is, this context matters.
For the first 14 years of my life, I grew up in a motel in Los Angeles.
My family of four didn’t own the motel, we lived there. In exchange for collecting the rent, keeping the communal bathrooms clean (rooms didn’t have their own bathrooms), and providing overall maintenance, we received a roof over our heads and a $400/month stipend.
I had a family who loved me, but by no means did we have the finances for me or my sister to go to college. Not even close.
I went to college anyway.
I went to college because of the generosity of people who believed in an idea: that if you paid for a hardworking, low-income kid to go to school, you would open up an opportunity to break away from poverty. You would change a life…
It was the generosity of Culver Military Academy in Culver Indiana that completely changed my life. I earned a full-ride scholarship to Culver and then went on to earn a full-ride scholarship to Boston College.
The Greatest Stroke Of Genius In An Academic Curriculum
BC required us to volunteer for two semesters as part of a core curriculum. BC knew that mandatory volunteer time would make us do something we otherwise wouldn’t. But after doing it, we would never be able to live without it.
Fast forward all these years and I still care so deeply about helping others get the opportunities that I had.
I’ve been fortunate to work with incredible teams that send hundreds of low-income, high-achieving students to college with scholarships.
I’ll never know the names of the individuals who gave me these scholarships. I can’t go back and thank them.
So instead, my way of saying thank you is by helping others who are like me.
You could say I’ve gotten myself addicted to giving. It gives me a high. I’m driven to make sure that other low-income youth get opportunities.
These kids face massive problems.
I’m not depending on our government to figure it out.
I’m not depending on businesses to figure it out.
I’m not depending on nonprofits to figure it out.
The only people I know who can stare down a challenge so great and laugh because they’ll figure it out, are entrepreneurs.
And unfortunately, entrepreneurs don’t know that one of the single greatest tools sits untapped. Right in front of them.
I’m tired of waiting for nonprofits to figure out how to engage small business owners. None of us give a shit about having our logo up on some banner or on a flyer.
Entrepreneurs universally care about two things: revenue and costs. What I’m about to show you is going to do both.
If we can help an entrepreneur make more money or reduce their costs, we’ve got their attention.
Have I got yours now?
Great. Let’s start with the first insight.