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I was sitting at lunch with Bob Burg last week and asked him a question. (That’s right, I haven’t been blogging because I’ve been very busy living with no time to comment on it, but some really cool stuff happened during the last two weeks including a great event with Bob Burg, the author of Endless Referrals and co-author of The Go-Giver! I’ll be updating you all in upcoming posts.)

So anyway, back to the question - I asked Bob, “what percentage of people do you think are irredeemable “Go-Takers?” (Go-Takers, as you know if you read Bob’s blog posts at, are the opposite of Go-Givers. Bob defines them in the blog post as “that person who feels almost entitled to take, take, take without having provided value — to the other person, to the relationship, to the process, etc.”)

Well Bob said he didn’t know and I certainly didn’t know, but it got us talking about Go-Takers, belief systems how to know a Go-Taker and how to work with them when the situation demands it. We never did define “irredeemable”, maybe because neither of us likes to think that anyone is an irredeemable Go-Taker, we just know there are some people we won’t be able to reach.

I think a lot of the “yeah, buts” that we hear about being a Go-Giver are either from Go-Takers or from people who have encountered a lot of Go-Takers in their life. We know they’re out there, in the book Joe was a Go-Taker until he met Pindar and decided to give the “Trade Secret” a try. So if Go-Takers are the biggest reason you think that applying the principles of The Go-Giver might not succeed let’s talk about how to recognize a Go-Taker and how not to let them get in the way of your stratospheric success.

Before we start the stereotypes remember this: we are all a “product of our raising” as a client of mine likes to say. I call it programming, some call it nurture, but whatever you call it unless we consciously override that input it will define our belief system and that belief system will define our behavior and our outcome. So when you see someone behaving like a Go-Taker remember that their behavior is only reflecting their belief system and a belief system can be changed if the person is willing.

So here are a few stereotypes I believe are Go-Takers:

The “let’s make it mutually beneficial because I want to be damned sure I benefit” type. This type talks a lot about how they can help you because their belief system says that “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” and “you’ve got to give in order to get.” So they start by telling you what they are willing to give or “pay” in order to get what they want. Once they get over the shock of meeting someone who will give just for the sake of giving they are usually pretty easy to convert. In fact, this type is often a disguised Go-Giver who would like to give without keeping score but doesn’t want to be seen as an “easy touch” or who just hates to ask for anything or owe a favor. I still fall into some of these patterns and beliefs so I totally get how this happens.

The “isn’t it nice that you’re having some success, now how can I catch a ride on your coattails” type. This type follows the belief that “it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you” but they don’t really get to know people more than superficially because they are always looking past this encounter to see if there is someone more important they should be meeting. They live on borrowed success, they are quick to name drop and to exaggerate relationships. They pretend to influence they don’t have and commit to making things happen when they can’t deliver. They will do anything for someone they view as higher on the ladder but seldom have time for any relationship they can’t capitalize on. In their concern for making the most out of their contact list they forget that the secret to stratospheric success is all about people – we add value to people’s lives, we serve people, we have influence with people, we offer our personal value and we receive from people. So engaging with an opportunity, with a title, with a status symbol or with anything other than the whole individual will never lead to sustainable, stratospheric success no matter how high on the ladder you climb or whose coattails you catch a ride on.

The “can I negotiate one more drop of blood from this engagement” type. This type buys into the belief that you should never leave a dime on the table, never be a sucker and never miss a chance to add a little to the bottom line. As Ernesto says in The Go-Giver, “will it make money isn’t a bad question, it’s just a bad FIRST question.” It’s also a bad last question. If, as Ernesto says, the first question should be “will it serve” then the last question we should ask might be “did I serve?” Because if we served and made money we weren’t suckers and neither was the other party. Because if, as Bob said in his presentation on Friday, “all things being equal, people do business and refer to people they know, like and trust” then we shouldn’t ask them to do business with us if we were so concerned about being a sucker that we made suckers out of them. (Here’s another belief system that holds true in these economically “troubled” times; “all things NOT being equal, people will STILL do business and refer to people they know, like and trust.” Just something to think about.)

I’m sure there are many more Go-Taker stereotypes and I hope you’ll comment and blog on your experiences with them. But let’s take this last paragraph to think about how to keep them from ruining your success. Bob’s advice was simple, “know who you’re dealing with and plan accordingly.” Yup, that simple. Notice he DID NOT say “act accordingly.” You still follow those 5 Laws to Stratospheric Success. But if you recognize a Go-Taker you will want to also take extra care with your contracts, be clear about the commitments you are making and what you can expect from the other party, pay attention to your gut when it says “you’re being taken advantage of.” And there is nothing that says the path to stratospheric success includes losing, just giving. You aren’t being asked to be a martyr, just a giver and receiver. So if there is nothing in it for you, not even the satisfaction of serving, walk away.

I believe that most people would prefer to be Go-Givers if their belief system supported equating giving and receiving without keeping score and stratospheric success. But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to be able to redeem every Go-Taker and neither will you.

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