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The Taker, Matcher and the Giver

Updated: Oct 2, 2021

I'm a "giver", referring to the context described by Adam Grant in "Give and Take. Why helping others drivers our success".

The book described 3 styles of social interaction: Takers, Matchers and Givers. The taker takes and keeps more for apparently for self-interests. Examples used akin to a stereotypical businessman who takes-all, wins-all leaving the others feeling sour and disgruntled.

The matchers asked for Quid pro quo, or "mutual benefit" before a deal is made. Such deals are often short-termed and transactional. Each party goes their own way after the transaction.

Adam Grant in this book described the takers as self-focused, evaluating what others offer, while givers are other-focused, paying attention to what others need from them. The book also described Givers as a rare breed in business settings for fear of being labelled 'weak' and self-sabotaging. "If you're a giver at work, you strive to be generous with your time, energy, knowledge, skills, ideas, and connections with those who can benefit from them"

Adam found that in more situations, those at the bottom of scorecards were of the "giver" personality. Yet surprisingly, top performances were, "Givers" too. He further found that givers were more effective networkers, and rewards come in much later often in different forms than the original "race". Those who benefited from earlier deals return to give back.

I met an entrepreneur a few weeks back. The inventor entrepreneur was pursuing a venture opportunity in a novel and superior industrial process. However, his investor requires that he find another co-founder to support his venture. "The investor believes that ventures with solo entrepreneur are risky and requires that I bring in another co-founder. I'm happy to focus on the technology while the new co-founder focuses on business and sales", said the entrepreneur. A week later, I introduced a seasoned veteran in international B2B business marketing and sales who agreed to be his co-founder. Another connection from my network introduced someone who is keen to explore the China market for the novel industrial process.

On another occasion over lunch with a ChannelNewsAsia editor, sensing that she was looking for a recommendation for novel technology startups, I shared a few names and provided the contact details. Over the following weeks, I was surprised to find these companies featured on various segments of CNA programmes. One startup was a little annoyed at first for the disruption by a "last-minute" request for an interview but complied anyway. After the interview was aired, the startup received calls and emails inquiring about the company product.

Armed with the skill of quickly understand deep tech, identifying the potential value it can bring to businesses, I spend my time sharing my knowledge and making connections between innovators and business owners. I also participate actively in the local entrepreneurship circle promoting collaboration between entrepreneurs, business owners and investors. I had seeded more than 40 collaborations, some through casual sharing of information, while some others required more in-depth analysis of "job-to-be-done", solution pros and cons, and even a combination of several solution providers.

I had introduced a technology company to the Singapore Semiconductor Industry Association that resulted in a $5M deal with one of its member company. On another occasion, I had introduced the R&D teams of two MNCS for a collaboration that resulted in the successful commercial launch of a $200M product line. I had also introduced a novel technology provider from overseas that enabled a new line of massage chairs to be developed and commercialised.

In return, I received referrals and introduction to more technology startups, venture capital funds, innovation centres, invitations to various networking reception functions by foreign embassies and invited to speak at events and participated in startup judging panels.

It's a long game as the benefit are often not immediate; no commission fees, no contracts for service, just goodwill. Beneficiaries share with me information about the market place, exciting projects and collaboration opportunities that would benefit people in my network. We exchanged tips, help each other and support each other too. That’s the 'giver' ecosystem that I have build.

Some asked, "What's your business model?" Don't think I have a go-to-market plan. Positioned for failure? Time to pivot? Or am I on something bigger? Only time will tell. Maybe you have an idea. Let me know.

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