How Top Givers Help Others Without Burning Out

Managing The Mindset

Remember your own interests- As Adam Grant has remarked in writings about his book Give and Take, there is a difference between generosity (“giving without depleting your time and energy”) and selflessness (“helping without boundaries.”)

  1. Coaches teach skills.
  2. Mentors give advice and guidance.
  3. Connectors make introductions.
  4. Extra-milers show up early, stay late, and volunteer for extra work.
  5. Helpers provide hands-on task support and emotional support.

Managing Your Minutes

Limit your “help” time- Allow yourself only a set number of meetings a week to help others, or allocate yourself only a specific amount of time to help others- a half hour before work each day, Friday evenings, or however you decide to set the boundary. Technology can be useful here- for whatever scheduling platform you might use, you can block off specific times, only during which you are open to “help” meetings.

  • R1 Labs Founder Daren McKelvey creates a time-efficient, accelerated framework for some people by first asking them the top 3 goals they need help with achieving in order of priority. Then he hashes out a list of names of 5–8 people who may be strategically helpful in supporting those goals in the short, medium, and long term. Once opt-in intros are made to people in his community of connections, he sets a follow-up meeting to check progress on the initial goals.
  • Multiple givers I spoke with have those requesting a connection write the introduction language to be used. (This is a common but not universal practice.)
  • Andrew Horn focuses on having people make sure they are asking themselves the right questions. “Often times people are looking for clarity about what to do next and have no sight of what the ultimate goal is… Questions help people establish a Northstar of what is most important to their personal development and professional success.” His biggest questions: 1. Why am I passionate about this, why does it deserve to exist? 2. How do I want to make money off this, how big can it be? 3. What is the most important thing I need right now?
  • Horn is also a fan of having people starting the business process refer to the Guy Kawasaki pitch deck- to give people clarity about what they need and whether or not they truly believe in their business.
  • For those who already have documented content (videos, audio recording, articles and books on a topic) they directed people to those resources first, as a way of hearing the advice they’d normally give. That allows them to address more advanced topics if and when they met with people.
  • For those “brain pick requester” emails, startup strategy consultant Avery Roth suggests creating an FAQ doc which you can send back with a nice note attached. “This can work efficiently for the stock questions (‘what’s your story, how did you achieve XYZ, what’s your advice for breaking into XYZ’) and/or for beginners on their particular path, whose questions will still be quite general.”
  • For author Dorie Clark, deciding which questions merit a writeup is a simple rule of 3: If at least 3 people ask the same question, write up a documented response, in whatever form that may take.
  • You also don’t have to invent the wheel when there is writing already out there on a topic. Creator Lab podcaster Bilal Zaidi keeps a log of relevant articles on Evernote and in his bookmarks to share with people. A friend also recently shared with me a fantastically structured email in which KEC Ventures investor Brian Laung Aoaeh provided a digest of 60+ resources for first-time startup founders.
  • For organization: I like to use the Streak chrome extension to keep track of followups. If I promise to check in with someone in two weeks about their progress, I send myself a scheduled email, and it comes back into my inbox then to remind me. Strategist Tina Yip is a fan of Trello boards to keep track of who she is in touch with and wants to check up on.

Managing Your Messaging

Make promises you know you can commit to- There is really nothing worse for your credibility than not being a person of your word. For talent strategist and investor Arthur Matuszewski, it’s better to set expectations to keep others’ needs in mind and do so than promise specific things that are onerous to deliver. The “front of mind” promise can include sending along relevant articles, and dropping their name in conversation with relevant people to help spur interest.

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