The 3 Types of People in This World

& how creating a culture that promotes giving can help changemakers thrive.


On his TED talk, Adam Grant identified that there are 3 types of people in this world: The Givers, The Takers and The Matchers.

Imagine a whole pie of pizza.

Some people would look at their pie and instinctively took it upon themselves to share it with others, some people would keep it to themselves and finish it on their own (maybe even asking if someone else in the group have an ice cream that they could have for dessert), and there are some who would barter one of their Margherita for a Pepperoni.

One way or another, there are three very different kinds of people in this world, and the way that they approach a situation determines whether they fall into a particular group.


Shocking Fact #1 — The worst performing people across different industries identifies themselves are givers.

They perform badly on the metrics, not because they are not capable, but because they spend a lot of their time doing other people’s work instead of their own.

When this example was mentioned, I remembered an analogy told by a friend about the hungry baker, the one who fed an entire village but did not take care of himself. In the end, he got sick, and no one else was capable of feeding the village. Had he taken the time to take care of himself, or had anyone else bothered to take care of the baker, the village would not go hungry.

This leads to a very important insight:

You cannot help others, until you have meet your own needs (& that it’s always good to help those who has the heart to help others).

Shocking Fact #2 — The best performing people are also givers.

Not only are the givers the worst performers — they are also the best performers. Recently I have been reading a lot of books about personal growth & development, and as I was reading I was often baffled to see the lengths that people are willing to take to help other people.

It really is pretty darn amazing.

There are a lot of philosophical theories, of what someone ought to do to help others. Right now I’m reading a book by Peter Singer aptly titled as, The Life You Can Save. One of the popularly held theories is that, you should help others when it’s convenient to do so — or when it does not take much sacrifice on your part.

But some mentors would sacrifice their sleep and wake up earlier to meet with their mentees, stay later to help them out with a project or a problem that they are struggling with, or even — God forbid — work on weekends. And I think that’s going above & beyond the limit of convenience!

This example reminded me of a quote that I read a while back:

If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.

And I think this quote really do embody the true spirit of giving. You give, because you realize that one of the greatest satisfaction you can get in life, is to see the impact you can have on another human being.


Now the question is of course:

What can we do to create an environment where givers feels safe to give and will continue to give?

Protect the givers.

In an organization, they are your most valuable asset. There are not a lot of people whose default is to help others, and it is important to make sure that they do not burnout (or lose faith in humanity).

Encourage people to ask for help.

Asking questions are often seen as something that shows incompetence. Throw this notion away, as far away as you can. Make people realize that it’s okay not to know everything, and that it is always better to ask now than to be sorry in the end.

For the givers out there — it is okay to be on the receiving end of things too.

Remember that the more you have, the more you can give & that you cannot give, if you have nothing.

Identify & weed out the takers.

For givers to give freely, you also need to make sure that there are no one who will blatantly take advantage of them. Of course, this is the hardest part, but essential nonetheless.


Other concepts that I loved from the talk:

Disagreeable givers are people who has a bad interface, but a great operating system.
The most meaningful way to succeed is to help other people succeed.
Pronoia — the delusional believe that other people are plotting your well-being, that people are going behind your back, and saying exceptional things about you.

Thank you Adam Grant for an inspiring TED talk. You can listen to the original talk here. Or if you are more of a reader, you can buy the book here.

P.S. The other 3 types of people in this world can be categorized as (1) those who eat pineapples with their pizza, (2) those who don’t, (3) and those who doesn’t’ care enough.