Bob Burg and John David Mann
Overview: Some of the most important lessons about life, personal conduct, relationships, and right and wrong, we learn from the stories we hear as children. A good story will engage more than raw statistics or facts do; it will evoke our emotions and cause us to personalize the precepts that are presented. But, this is generally true only with a good story, and that is what Burg and Mann have given us. The Go-Giver tells a parable about a young man hungry for success and desperate to achieve it within a week. Using the story of Joe and his interaction with an improbable mentor and a cast or remarkably successful people, the authors lead the reader to discover, along with Joe, the Five Laws of Stratospheric Success (123). Readers will find, as many others have, that the book and its laws are extremely useful in every facet of life. To facilitate the reader’s experience to enable understanding that hopefully leads to movement from just thinking about it to actually applying it, the authors have included a “Q&A with the Authors” section (135) and “A Go-Giver Discussion Guide.” To aid in applying these laws to a military context, the following thoughts are also offered:
- In the introduction (xvi), the authors claim that many have attested to the usefulness of the book “in the world.” Do you think the book’s principles as laid out in the “Five Laws of Stratospheric Success” will work in a military environment?
- Joe is having trouble grasping Pindar’s worldview in chapter 2. In discussing successful people’s willingness to mentor and aid others Pindar quotes Larry King as saying, “The bigger they are, the nicer they are” (9). Within the Air Force does this maxim hold true? Why or why not?
- After Joe meets Ernesto and discovers this former hotdog-stand owner is the real estate magnate he was to meet, Pindar reacts to Joe’s surprise by asserting, “Appearances can be deceiving” (23). How has the Air Force accepted this axiom, or has it conditioned Airmen to believe the opposite—your appearance says it all?
- Nicole paraphrased the second law as, “Your compensation is directly proportional to how many lives you touch” (43). Within the Air Force is an Airman’s compensation connected to their impact? Based on this is the compensation system appropriate, or what are some ways to improve it?
- In chapter 8, is Sam’s view of networking—an army of personal walking ambassadors (62)—the same as the “old boy” network Airmen often grouse about in the Air Force? Sam believes getting people to invest in your success requires you to first invest in them—making sure they win. Is this consistent with our perceptions on how to rise through the ranks in the military?
- Pindar says, “A genuinely sound business principle will apply anywhere in life—in your friendships, in your marriage, anywhere” (78). Considering the Air Force’s track record embracing and discarding the latest business strategy craze, do you believe this adage is true? Could the fact that we are eventually discarding these benchmark methods speak more to the Air Force embracing “business strategies” instead of solid “business principles?”
- In chapter 10, Debra Davenport argues, “The most valuable thing you have to give people is yourself” (87). In essence she says this means we must be authentic. How does this relate to the core value of Integrity?
- While discovering the fifth law, The Law of Receptivity—the key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving—Joe met himself (104-105). What does this law say about our relationships, responsibilities, and rewards within the Air Force? Who do you give to; who do you receive from? How do you define a good person, and has this chapter affected your view (101)? Has this book spurred any self-reflection, and if so, what have you learned?
- Can application of these five laws in the lives of individual Airmen help the Air Force as a corporate whole? If so, how will you get the process started?