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Career Advice: Be a Giver - The Atlantic


In 1990, Jon Huntsman, Sr. made a business decision that most in corporate America would probably have called insane. He was intensely negotiating the biggest business deal of his life with Charles Miller Smith, the head of a British chemical company. Deep into the negotiations over the acquisition, Smith's wife died. She had been suffering from terminal cancer. It was unfortunate, but business is business and the negotiation was incomplete. On top of that, Huntsman had millions of dollars on the line -- money that would be his if he just pushed Smith further.

But he didn't.

"I decided the fine points of the last 20 percent of the deal would stand as they were proposed," he later wrote. "I probably could have clawed another $200 million out of the deal, but it would have come at the expense of Charles' emotional state. The agreement as it stood was good enough."

In his 2008 book Winners Never Cheat, Huntsman summarized his philosophy on business and life, writing, "Monetarily, the most satisfying moments in my life have not been the excitement of closing a great deal or the reaping of profits from it. They have been when I was able to help others in need ... There's no denying that I am a deal junkie, but I also have developed an addiction for giving. The more one gives, the better one feels; and the better one feels about it, the easier it becomes to give."

Huntsman is what organizational psychologist Adam Grant calls, in his provocative new book, a "giver." In Give and Take, Grant, the youngest tenured professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, wields a large body of social science research, much of it his own, to challenge the idea that career success is a zero-sum game in which your gains equal my losses, a harmful idea that discourages people from helping each other out at work....continue reading at The Atlantic.

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