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Getting vs. Giving

As a lawyer, I would now be marshalling my evidence either for the prosecution (Getting) or defence (Giving). Without rehearsing each and every argument (you know how lawyers like to speak!), the closing arguments might go something like this:


The Prosecution

“Getting is the hard-edged world of commerce; don’t be seduced by this flim flam about giving – that is simply pulling at your emotions. Sure it sounds great in principle but you are going to arrive poor, broke or wound up. Without the cut and thrust of getting – targets, gross and net profit and growth – you would be nowhere.”

And on and on ….

The Defence

“As Seth Godin states in his latest book Linchpin (see p.154):

“The magic of the gift system is that the gift is voluntary, not part of a contract. The gift binds the recipient to the giver, and both of them to the community.”

The point is that starting out with premise of “What’s in it for me” means that you have a trade and sooner or later one party is going to feel, however good the product or service, that they have not got an equivalent exchange. You know that feeling of spending a lot of money on something and feeling let down. In colloquial terms it was over priced and under-delivered. That sets up a train of events which leads you to believe that you either need to get even somehow (pay less or argue for less next time) or in most cases you go elsewhere. The power of the gift is premised on the basis of how much more you give in value than you receive in payment – this is exactly the same as the First Law of Stratospheric Success take from the book the Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann.”


Now, I am truncating things but whoever had to decide the case would clearly, from a logical perspective (or a Dr Spock view point), see the merits of the Prosecution case. Know doubt if the arguments were allowed to develop a voluminous set of (Getting) figures could be produced. Surely the Getting folk have it in the bag.

But wait (think Giving in a broader context) …. just consider the last time you bought something which you thought amazing value, had an experience that blew your socks off or you downloaded something that was entirely free (check out the site Change This for some awesome material including that of Tom Peters and Seth Godin) and felt compelled to repeat it, tell your friends or produce something awesome on the back of what you read.

I will leave you decide on the final verdict but for me I am very firmly in the Getting camp and you if need convincing then watch the amazing video produced by David Meerman Scott where Messrs Godin and Peters set out their underlying philosophy for giving and not getting.