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


By Bob Burg and John David Mann

Published May 16, 2015; 150 pages; Portfolio/Penguin Books

Reviewed by Chris Wendel

Hardcover $24, paperback $14, e-read edition $6

In a nutshell: A fictional parable centered on a dedicated go-getter who is “ … doing a lot of going but not a lot of getting.”
Who is it for? Recent college graduates, those new to the workforce, newly promoted managers or those in need of a fresh perspective.
Author quote: “As long as you’re trying to be someone else, or putting on some act or behavior someone else taught you, you have no possibility of truly reaching people.”

“The Go-Giver” is a book I’ve heard a lot about but for some reason never took the time to read. Originally published in 2007, authors Bob Burg and John David Mann rode the success of the original version to form a franchise of sorts with “The Go-Getter” seminars and subsequent books “Go-Givers Sell More” and “The Go-Giver Leader.”

The book centers on protagonist Joe, who is working hard at his job but not producing the needed results. His frustration boils over when there is a sales performance goal that will likely not be met. When the pressure starts to get to Joe, a co-worker named Gus mysteriously appears. Gus refers Joe to a high-profile consultant named Pindar.

Pindar insists at an initial meeting with Joe that he will reveal his secrets only if Joe agrees to certain conditions. The primary condition is that Joe promises to take an hour every day for one week to meet with Pindar to learn a series of rules. Each meeting is covered by one of the book’s chapters. Collectively the chapters are connected to form the Pindar’s “5 Rules of Stratospheric Success.”

The general premise of “The Go-Giver” focuses on giving to and caring more about others. The writers explain that adding value to others’ lives essentially leads to unexpected returns. This philosophy can also be applied to work or personal relationships. The book explains that when one keeps score with favors or kind gestures, they are looking at life more as a creditor than someone providing value.

For each of the rules, Joe is introduced to friends of Pindar’s who have implemented the laws of success into their businesses. “The Law of Value” is demonstrated by a restaurant owner named Ernesto, who places an emphasis on providing a “higher quality food and service than any amount of money could ever pay for.” The idea is that one’s true worth comes from how much more you give in value than you take in payment.

These laws seem counterintuitive to Joe at first, but it isn’t long before he is seeing the value in his mentor’s methods. The book is at its best when Joe is confronted by the pressing demands of work and home and has breakthrough moments implementing the “5 Rules of Stratospheric Success.”

Short parable business books have their own unique appeal, some of which build popularity with wide- reaching audiences. “The Wealthy Barber,” “The One-Minute Manager,” “Who Moved My Cheese” and “Built to Sell” are books that share a similar fable formula, where a sage mentor enlightens the struggling protégée with a philosophy that contradicts prevailing thought.“The Go-Giver” follows this pattern with a few unique twists that may make readers believe that fiction is actually stranger than truth.

Despite its fairy tale-like story line, “The Go-Giver” is an ideal book to read to help recalibrate and take stock of where one is at heading into the New Year. Burg and Mann create a unique tale that holds readers’ interests while laying out a worthwhile message for achieving success.

Chris Wendel is a business services consultant with Northern Initiatives, a community development financial institution based based in Marquette, Mich. that provides money and know-how to businesses throughout Michigan. Wendel lives and works in Traverse City and can be reached at