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Summary: The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea by Bob Burg and John David Mann

  • “The Go-Giver” by Bob Burg and John David Mann is a transformative book that challenges traditional notions of success in business, emphasizing the power of giving and serving others.
  • If you want to discover the secrets of true success and how giving can lead to a more prosperous and fulfilling life, don’t miss the opportunity to read “The Go-Giver.” It’s a book that can change the way you view success and guide you towards a path of meaningful achievement.

If you’ve ever felt like you’re working hard and getting nothing in return, it might be time to shift away from what you’re getting and focus more on what you have to give. “The Go-Giver” is a business parable that emphasizes how those who have experienced sustained success give back.

Learn to succeed by giving.


  • Are interested in knowing more about servant leadership
  • Want to be more generous
  • Need a fresh approach to wealth creation


In a culture that emphasizes scarcity and competition, it’s easy to believe that you have to look out for yourself first in both business and life. But truly successful people do just the opposite: They create loyalty and excitement by giving, build rich social and professional networks by being reliable and trustworthy, and gain influence by serving.

Book Summary: The Go-Giver - A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea

Keep in mind the five laws of stratospheric success:

  1. The law of value. Your worth depends on how much more you give customers in value than you receive from them in dollars.
  2. The law of compensation. Your income depends on the number of people you serve and how well you serve them.
  3. The law of influence. Your influence depends on how much and how often you put other people’s interests first.
  4. The law of authenticity. The most valuable thing you can give others is yourself.
  5. The law of receptivity. To give effectively, you have to be open to receiving.

The Go-Getter

Joe started in a position you might identify with: He was a young go-getter at the Claron-Hill Trust Corp., a hard worker headed for the top — or so he would have been if he hadn’t missed his quotas for two quarters. He wasn’t about to miss a third. He needed to land a big account, one he’d nicknamed the Big Kahuna, but even calling in a favor from the Big Kahuna’s broker, Carl, didn’t work out. Instead, Carl told him that the Big Kahuna had taken a lower bid from a relative unknown who had more clout and leverage than Joe could offer.

In response, Joe asked his co-worker at Claron-Hill, Gus, to connect him with a consultant named Pindar who had clout and leverage galore. How Gus knew Pindar was a mystery. Gus had a reputation around the office for doing little work; everyone thought management kept him around out of loyalty. Regardless, Gus gave Joe a number to call.

When Joe reached Pindar’s secretary, he was surprised to learn that Pindar was open to meeting with him the very next day and sharing his “trade secret” — under certain conditions. Curious and stunned, Joe accepted.

The Secret

Joe met Pindar at the consultant’s enormous, beautiful stone mansion. When Joe expressed his surprise that Pindar was willing to share his trade secret, Pindar told him that in reality, successful people share their secrets all the time. This is true: Many of the most successful people in the world have had mentors. Warren Buffett mentored Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs mentored Mark Zuckerberg. Michael Bloomberg took his first job as a trader at the firm Salomon Brothers & Hutzler, where he developed a relationship with Billy Salomon. Salomon taught Bloomberg by example by being the first one in the office every day, showing kindness and respect regardless of rank, and listening to everyone while being ruled by no one.

Pindar pointed out to Joe that they were coming from two very different perspectives about wealth creation. When Pindar said that his cook, Rachel, should start a company and share her amazing coffee with the world, Joe alluded to her opportunity to make a load of money from the endeavor. Pindar spoke in terms of giving; Joe spoke in terms of getting. And that was Pindar’s trade secret: giving.

Pindar agreed to mentor Joe over the next five business days, under the condition that Joe implement the lessons he learned the very same day he learned them.

The Law of Value

On the first day of mentoring, Pindar introduced Joe to Ernesto Iafrate, the owner of Iafrate’s Café, as well as an investor in a number of real estate properties surrounding the café. Ernesto had started out with just a hot dog cart, but businesspeople grew to love the cart and made it their go-to destination for lunch meetings. Ernesto particularly hit it off with families because he was always great to the kids.

Ernesto embodied the first law of stratospheric success: Your worth is determined by how much more value you give than what you receive in dollars. The first question you should ask when you’re figuring out what and how to sell isn’t whether your product can make money but whether your product serves and gives value to others. Take Zappos, for instance: The online shoe retailer built its reputation on customer service. When Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, took executives from a major shoe brand out to talk business, he called Zappos customer service to see if they could recommend a pizza place nearby. The agent initially asked whether Hsieh knew he was calling a shoe company but then immediately offered to help and gave a few suggestions for pizza parlors in the area. The brand was sold.

The Condition

When Joe got back to his office, he received a call from a representative, Jim, from one of Joe’s bigger clients. Jim told him that the company wouldn’t be renewing its contract with Claron-Hill. Despite his disappointment, Joe quickly acted on the lesson he’d learned that day. If his job was to give, he’d give. He told Jim to go to Ed Barnes, a competitor of Joe’s who was well suited to handle the company’s business.

The Law of Compensation

On the second day, Joe went to meet Nicole, whom Pindar had nicknamed The CEO. Nicole was the head of a software company that made learning tools for kids. She had started out as a teacher, inventing games for her students, but the job was stifling and paid very little. She asked a parent who was a software developer if he could help her translate her games into software, and together they formed a company.

Although Nicole grew up believing that rich people got rich by exploiting others — that rich people by necessity couldn’t be moral — once she started working with Pindar, she realized that this belief was flawed. Her story embodies the second law of stratospheric success: Your income depends on how many people you serve and how well you serve them. With this belief, her income could be limitless, because she could always reach more kids.

Marriott International embraces a culture of servant leadership. Employees are encouraged to be enthusiastic about customers, and executives are encouraged to be enthusiastic about employees. In fact, the company sees excellent treatment of its employees as a survival strategy. This culture helped turn Marriott from a root beer stand to a multibillion-dollar international corporation, served by and serving the best people.

Serving Coffee

After their meeting with Nicole, Pindar sent Joe home with a bag of Rachel’s famous coffee. To serve others, Joe decided to share the wealth and serve coffee to his co-workers. At the end of the day, Gus stopped by to check in with Joe and ask how he felt while he was serving the coffee. Joe said he felt kind of foolish. Gus noted to Joe that sometimes you’re going to look and feel foolish, but you have to
do the right thing anyway.

The Law of Influence

On the third day, Pindar took Joe to meet Sam, the most profitable salesperson and adviser at the world’s leading financial services company and the state’s leading philanthropist. Starting out as an insurance salesman, Sam had spent a few years floundering as he pushed to make a profit off potential clients. Changing his mindset from getting to giving was how Sam started to turn his career around. But what really made it take off was his development of a network — not a network of fellow financial advisers only but a network of people who knew and trusted him. By being a trustworthy, reliable friend to many people, he built a network of ambassadors who kept Sam in mind and referred business to him.

His advice to Joe was to stop keeping score and start looking out for other people. Instead of focusing on what other people could give him, Sam said, Joe should start looking for ways to help other people win. And with that, Joe learned the third law of stratospheric success: Your influence depends on how much you place other people’s interests first. If you put other people’s interests first, you can have faith that in times of need, others will help you too.

This advice is embodied by the Giving Pledge. Through this program, wealthy people pledge to contribute the majority of their wealth to charitable causes. Perhaps the most prominent signatories are Bill and Melinda Gates. The couple has created a $50 billion endowment through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, focusing especially on funding grants in developing countries.


Joe got home late that night to his wife, Susan, who had already made dinner. Joe and Susan’s policy was that each of them got a half hour to complain about work each night. Susan was barely into her list of frustrations when her half hour was up, but Joe heard Sam’s advice in his head: Stop keeping score. Instead of counting the minutes, Joe listened as Susan aired all her grievances.

Then he held her as she went to sleep. In the morning, he awoke to a note Susan had left him, thanking him profusely for his generosity the previous night and telling him that she felt very heard and understood.

The Law of Authenticity

On the fourth day, Pindar took Joe to a speaking engagement with Debra Davenport, a leading local real estate agent. Debra’s career had started after her husband left her and their kids. She’d spent their marriage as a housewife. With little professional experience, she decided to get her real estate license. Like Sam, she spent the first year of her career floundering. She worried about how she presented herself to clients, learned every single close in the book, and tried to be the very epitome of what a real estate agent should be. But she didn’t make a single sale.

She decided to quit. On what was supposed to be her last day of work, she had a final appointment to get to. She decided to let loose at this appointment, thinking it wouldn’t matter anyway, since she was going to quit. She let her hair down, chitchatted and joked with the client, forgot her paperwork, and just acted like herself. And she made the sale.

The fourth law of stratospheric success is that the most valuable thing you can give other people is yourself. That’s authenticity.

Take writer Lindy West as another example. During her time at the blog Jezebel, West revolutionized the way personal essayists talked about the news, feminism, and their lives. When she received complaints about using all caps for emphasis in her articles, she responded with a colorful essay titled “I LOVE ALL CAPS AND I AM NEVER GOING TO STOP USING THEM.” Her personality shone through in her writing and gave her an audience, which led to her contributing to The Guardian and writing a hit memoir that went on to inspire the web TV show Shrill.


That night, Joe caught up with Gus. To fulfill the condition for the day, Joe wanted to confess to participating in the rumors about Gus. In doing so, he learned not only that Gus had once benefited from Pindar’s mentorship but that he was also an instrumental part of Pindar’s network.

Pindar called him The Connector because he had a talent for linking talented people. Because of this, Gus had an astronomical net worth. He was “kept around” at Claron-Hill because he needed something to do with his time and figured that working was a good way to fill it — not because of management’s loyalty.

The Law of Receptivity

On the fifth and final day, Pindar told Joe he’d be meeting someone called the Friday Guest. Joe met Pindar at the stone mansion and enjoyed a charcuterie lunch. Joe confessed to Pindar that he still wasn’t quite convinced about the whole giving thing.

Pindar explained that everyone learns the phrase “It’s better to give than to receive” when they’re kids, but it’s not a workable proposition. After all, if you’re giving, someone else has to receive. If someone gives to you, you ought to receive. Who are you to refuse someone else’s giving? It’s nonsensical to say that one is better than the other when they’re one and the same.

The fifth law of stratospheric success is that to give effectively, you have to be open to receiving. Understanding this, Joe was finally able to reconcile the good of giving with the good of receiving.

Pindar revealed that Joe was the Friday Guest.

Full Circle

When Joe got back to work, he realized that he was finally at his deadline for the quarter and still dead in the water as far as business was concerned. He had gone to Pindar looking for clout and leverage and walked away with something else entirely. And while he was grateful for it, he couldn’t help but worry about his future at Claron-Hill. He stayed late, and just as he was getting ready to leave, he received a call from Ed Barnes, the competitor he’d referred his old client Jim to earlier in the week. Ed was looking for a referral for a hotel chain that needed very good gourmet coffee.

Joe knew that with her help, he and Rachel could make this client very happy.


The parable of The Go-Giver reflects the reality of success: To succeed, you must give, give, and give some more. Instead of worrying about competitors stealing your ideas or who owes you what, it’s crucial to look out for and give to other people. By so doing, you can create lasting success — as well as a good life.

Remember the five laws of stratospheric success:

  1. The law of value. Your worth depends on how much more you give customers in value than you receive from them in dollars.
  2. The law of compensation. Your income depends on the number of people you serve and how well you serve them.
  3. The law of influence. Your influence depends on how much and how often you put other people’s interests first.
  4. The law of authenticity. The most valuable thing you can give others is yourself.
  5. The law of receptivity. To give effectively, you have to be open to receiving.

About the author

Bob Burg is a former salesperson and television personality. He is The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Endless Referrals and has written various entries in the Go-Giver series. He was named one of the American Management Association’s 30 most influential thought leaders in 2014.

John David Mann is a concert cellist, prize-winning composer, writer, and publisher. In addition to co-authoring The Go-Giver series with Bob Burg, Mann is coauthor of The New York Times bestselling books Flash Foresight and The Red Circle.


Motivational, Nonfiction, Self Help, Personal Development, Leadership, Business Culture, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Inspirational, Career Success. Sales and Selling, Motivational Management and Leadership, Success Self-Help, Business Life, Self-Esteem, Relationships, Personal Growth

Table of Contents

Foreword Arianna Hiffington xiii
Introduction xv
1 The Go-Getter 1
2 The Secret 7
3 The Law of Value 19
4 The Condition 33
5 The Law of Compensation 37
6 Serving Coffee 49
7 Rachel 53
8 The Law of Influence 59
9 Susan 69
10 The Law of Authenticity 77
11 Gus 93
12 The Law of Receptivity 97
13 Full Circle 109
14 The Go-Giver 117
The Five Laws of Stratospheric Success 123
Acknowledgments 125
A Go-Giver Discussion Guide 129
Q&A with the Authors 135
About the Authors 149


“The Go-Giver” by Bob Burg and John David Mann is a delightful and insightful parable that imparts valuable lessons on the principles of giving and receiving in the world of business and life. The story revolves around the character of Joe, a young, ambitious go-getter who aspires to achieve great success in the competitive world of sales. His journey takes a turn when he encounters Pindar, a wise and successful business guru, who introduces him to a group of influential mentors. Through a series of meetings with these mentors, Joe learns about the “Five Laws of Stratospheric Success,” which revolve around the idea of giving and serving others.

The first law, the Law of Value, teaches us that our true worth is determined by how much more value we give than we take in payment. The Law of Compensation emphasizes that your income is directly proportional to the number of lives you touch. The Law of Influence emphasizes that your influence grows as you place the interests of others first. The Law of Authenticity highlights the importance of being genuinely yourself and creating meaningful connections. Finally, the Law of Receptivity teaches us that to receive, we must be open to it.

As Joe applies these laws, he experiences a transformation in his personal and professional life, leading to unexpected success and fulfillment. This book beautifully weaves a narrative that reinforces the idea that, in the business world, giving and serving others is the key to achieving lasting and significant success.

“The Go-Giver” is a book that brings a refreshing perspective to the often cutthroat world of business. It challenges the conventional notion that success is solely about competition, profit, and self-interest, and instead champions the idea that true success comes from a mindset of generosity, empathy, and a focus on adding value to others. The authors skillfully convey these principles through a captivating and easily relatable story that engages the reader from start to finish.

The storytelling format makes the book accessible and enjoyable, making it suitable for readers of all backgrounds, whether they are seasoned professionals or individuals just starting their careers. The characters are well-drawn, and the dialogues are insightful, making it easy for readers to relate to the lessons being imparted. This book is a quick read but leaves a long-lasting impact as it challenges readers to reevaluate their approach to success.

While “The Go-Giver” might seem idealistic, it effectively shows how these principles can be applied to the real world, with practical examples and actionable steps provided throughout the narrative. The book successfully demonstrates that, in business, the focus on giving, rather than taking, can lead to a more fulfilling and prosperous life.

In conclusion, “The Go-Giver” is a book that transcends the boundaries of the business world, offering valuable life lessons on the power of generosity and service. It encourages readers to shift their perspective and embrace a more giving and authentic approach to their professional and personal lives. This book is a must-read for anyone seeking success, fulfillment, and a deeper understanding of the true meaning of prosperity.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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