Shifting one’s focus from getting to giving—consistently adding value to people’s lives—is not only a nice way to live one’s life, but a very profitable way, as well. The degree to which you add value to the lives of others is the degree to which you yourself will prosper. Why? Because all things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust. And being a sincere and genuine giver of value (whether through the value of your product or service, advice, resources, referrals or anything else) is the most effective way of eliciting those feelings toward you in others.

“Fine and well,” you might think, “in a vibrant economy where everything comes easily and plentifully. But what happens when conditions are not all rosy? In tough economic times, doesn’t that idealistic equation tend to break down? Don’t we need to take more drastic steps to keep our heads above water?”

Not so fast. In tough economic times, it’s easy to slip into panic mode. But just because the economy seems to be hitting turbulence around us doesn’t mean we are at the mercy of uncontrollable forces.

Ever since the advent of market economies, economic conditions are always rising and falling, but that doesn’t mean your own personal economic condition has to rise and fall with them. In fact, when the general economy is going through a downturn, those with the right attitude and right plan can not only hold their own economically but actually get much farther ahead.

At the moment, key economic indicators are down big-time across the board, including housing, consumer spending, business-to-business spending and corporate profits, to name just a few. That’s bad enough. What compounds the situation is the fact that many have bought into the media’s declaration of economic doom. This is the stuff of self-fulfilling pro-phecies.

Given the economic situation, let’s take a look at what can we do to get past it and live in bounty and abundance, even if others choose not to. Who knows—with enough of us doing so, perhaps we can reverse the momentum of public opinion, at least within the sphere of those we each have the opportunity to influence.

The Go-Giver’s 3-Step Plan

1. Decide that we are in an excellent economic climate.

We’re not advocating that you be self-delusional, but realize that the flux of human economies is to an extraordinary extent a state of mind. The condition of your personal market is largely up to you. This means that while you rationally know that other people are struggling through tough economic times, you can simply choose not to participate.

Even during “down times,” personal fortunes are made. Why? Because while most people are acting like Chicken Little and slowing their activities down, thus putting a moratorium on providing value to the marketplace, go-givers continue steadfastly to operate according to their normal precepts. They keep their eyes on the prize, so to speak, knowing they will be rewarded.

What distinguishes a go-giver is the nature of that prize—because it is measured not by what you get, but by what you give. Unlike get-oriented goals, it is something you can always determine, regardless of economic climate.

2. Continue adding value to everyone.

If you want to thrive in a “down” market, simply focus on doing exactly what a go-giver does in an “up” market or any market: adding value to people’s lives. This is the central distinction of the go-giver approach; in our book, it is the first of Pindar’s Five Laws of Stratospheric Success, the Law of Value:

Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.

The pragmatic beauty of this law is that it puts the principal determinant of your success in your own hands, rather than leaving it in the hands of your circumstances.

When times are tough, prospects can be more hesitant about making decisions where money is involved. A typical reaction you may have is to lower prices, but a more effective solution may be to look for ways to further increase value, thus making it easier than ever for prospects to go with a “yes” decision. For example:

For your customers, or anyone with whom you already have business relationships, look for ways to further add value to the experience of doing business with you by providing an unforgettably great customer service experience.

3. Remove yourself from the outcome.

While it’s good to care about making the sale, it’s even better to care … but not that much. In other words, while you prefer a certain outcome, you’re not emotionally attached to it. People typically resist doing business with those who are needy for their business—and in a “down” market, this tends to become the norm. Separate yourself from the “desperadoes” and communicate the fact that business is fine. Adopt within yourself a sense of economic boom times, and let that sense show.

We call this your business posture. By posture, we don’t mean acting phony in any way. We’re talking about posture as in your physical posture, just like when your mother used to say, “Stand up straight!” It means recognizing and communicating the fact that regardless of the market conditions around you, no one person or market force can make or break your business.

Imbue your posture with the convictions that go with the value you provide, and you’ll find your perspective will become contagious. Many prospects out there will be only too happy to do business with you. They might even “catch” your posture!


BOB BURG and JOHN DAVID MANN are coauthors
of the national bestseller
The Go-Giver.