Book Review: The Go Giver by Bob Burg and John Mann

Go Givers will beat the self-obsessed Go Getters in the long run

Summary: A parable which reminds you that being genuine and engaged can lead to huge rewards. 7/10

Some business books a weighty tomes that promote a single, often self-evident, truth across hundreds of pages. This really engaging little book takes a huge idea and delivers the whole thing in under 100 (small) pages. A Go-Giver is someone who is as driven to help, support and encourage others as a Go-Getter is to take for themselves.

Burg & Mann suggest that Go-Givers ultimately do better than Go-Getters if the giving is done consistently, without expectation and with a genuine desire to see others thrive. The net result should be that good things come back to you.

It turns out I’ve tried to be a Go-Giver all my life. I’ve always got a kick from being able to give others a helping hand and get great satisfaction from seeing friends, family and colleagues thrive. So much so that one of the values I promoted at my old agency was “Celebrate the success of others”. And here’s the rub. I think this book will appeal to people who already think this way. A bit of reassurance and reinforcement. But it’s unlikely to change the attitude of anyone who believe in winning at all costs or people who see everything as a ledger with credits and debits. But that’s no reason not to try.

The idea is developed around five principles — The Five Laws of Stratospheric Success — and explained through the eyes of Joe, a salesman who is in danger of missing his Q3 sales target. Joe meets five go-givers, who illustrate the five tenets, across five days. [Spoiler] Of course, the scales fall from his eyes and miraculously all ends well.

The five laws are: The Law of Value; The Law of Compensation; The Law of Influence; The Law of Authenticity and The Law of Receptivity. The book brings them nicely to life, explores some of the questions that might occur to you and wraps up the concept very neatly. It touches on ideas such as enlightened self-interest (a key issue in the theory) but being a short book, doesn’t explore them in any depth.

I’d recommend the book. It’s a really quick read (but perhaps longer reflection?) which has by all accounts changed peoples lives. It’s a parable, not a text book, so it is meant to prompt questions, not answer them directly. Why not a 10/10? I’m not a huge fan of US of A rah-rah, high fiving books and this leans that way. Beyond “give them this book”, it didn’t really explore how you might spread the word and affect those who would most benefit from learning its lessons. As I was reading I was thinking about the people I know who would enjoy the book — and they were all people who already act this way, but who may need a little reassurance and encouragement. I also thought the five laws were poorly named. In the desire to distil the ideas, something is lost in the naming of laws. That’s one for me to think about perhaps?

This is a classic “pass it on” book. I doubt you’ll want to keep it and refer back to it again and again. Grab a copy and read it, then drop it on someone’s desk. Spread the word and spread the goodwill.

Written by Andy Brown. Originally published on


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