In 2013 I attended the Points of Light Conference for Volunteering and Service in Washington DC. Like most conferences, this one was filled with good intentions. There were tons of breakout sessions to hear from self-proclaimed experts, lots of networking and folks who attend year after year catching up with colleagues, and of course a line up of “big names” to take the stage. A little known, newly published author, and professor of business from Wharton was the speaker at one of the lunch programs – Adam Grant. After years of conference speakers, I expected the usual nugget or two of knowledge but not much more than that. What I didn’t expect was someone who would enthrall me from his first words to his last- someone that I would run out and buy the book- someone I would reference repeatedly for the next 7 years.
If you haven’t heard of Adam Grant by now, I would be shocked. He has a podcast, has written several books and now is so sought after that I doubt Points of Light could afford the speaker fee! He is an organizational psychologist and is “a leading expert on how we can find motivation and meaning, and live more generous and creative lives.” And while I abhor the overuse of the term “thought leader” since so many people who think they have an opinion can then claim that title, Adam Grant is truly a THOUGHT LEADER. So if you are looking to expand how you think about motivation, how people operate, how innovation happens, consider his thought leadership.
GRANTED is his newsletter- one of my favs, he gives you links to articles that he finds interesting with no extra fluff. It will put you out in front of your peers on the latest and greatest. It won’t clog your inbox because it doesn’t come out that often and you will probably save them all in a folder like I do. It is a fantastic newsletter.
WORK LIFE is his podcast. As described on his website “Adam Grant takes you inside some of the world’s most unusual workplaces to discover the keys to better work. Whether you’re learning how to love criticism or trust a co-worker you can’t stand, one thing’s for sure: You’ll never see your job the same way again.” I love podcasts and listen to them constantly- this is one of my favorites.
BOOKS- Give and Take was his first book and was transformational for me. I lent out the book so often that it eventually didn’t make its way back to me. If you are wondering if you are a giver or taker, he has a quiz that you can assess yourself. You will be surprised to find out who is more apt to be successful- givers or takers.
Originals talks about what makes innovators who they are and for the first time allowed me to forgive myself for procrastination. I have always felt guilty and been made to feel “lazy” because I am the person that will wait until the last minute. But my “wait until the last minute” process usually produces the most creative and most successful products for me. Talk about infuriating my mother in high school! Thanks to the work of Adam Grant I can say I understand why now and instead of fighting it, I plan for it and embrace it. I need the pressure of the deadline in order to perform at my peak. And if you are wondering, yes I am writing this the night before it is due because I put it off for three weeks:)
Adam Grant also co-wrote a book with Sheryl Sandberg after the untimely death of her husband about overcoming adversity, building resilience and finding joy. It is called Option B and is his only book I have yet to read.
So now you know I really dig Adam Grant. During that luncheon talk in 2013 he said that he reads AND RESPONDS to every single email he gets. EVERY SINGLE EMAIL. He knows how important it is to acknowledge when someone writes to you, even if your response is “Sorry I cannot help.” When I returned from the conference I needed to get a speaker for an event we were going to host. I figured I would try to see if he would/could speak at our event and if he really does answer every email. I emailed him on a Sunday morning directly- I looked up his work email – he responded by Sunday night with a very kind and thoughtful response. Our event was the same time his students had finals and he does not book anything then because his students take priority. He then recommended his speakers bureau with an intro to see if they could help me find someone. I try to emulate him by answering every email I receive in a timely fashion. And when someone answers me, I don’t take it for “GRANTed”.
If you haven’t already checked out Adam Grant I hope this blog post will prompt you to do so. Is there a great author, speaker, podcaster that you want to share with others? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear about it!
You can find all things Adam Grant here: https://www.adamgrant.net/.