I met Cheryl and Wayne Baker in 2005 when I was President of the Ann Arbor IT Zone. We set up a Reciprocity Ring to spur collaboration among our tech ventures. I was amazed at how well it worked.
The Reciprocity Ring is a great exercise that teaches everyone why it’s important to ask for help and how to do it effectively. The exercise then gives everyone the chance to practice. After everyone makes a request, people in the same group meet those requests for help. I saw first-hand how powerful it was for founders and leaders to connect in this way.
Then the Bakers met Adam Grant, author of the bestseller Give and Take when Adam was getting his PhD at Michigan. Adam was one of the first facilitators of the Reciprocity Ring and talks about it in his book.
In Give and Take, Adam shares powerful research: those who give help at work, are stronger for it and, ultimately, more satisfied and successful.
In his book, All You Have to Do is Ask, Wayne shares his research on asking for help. It turns out that many of the same benefits exist. Askers are happier, healthier and more successful.
Asking and giving are two sides of the same coin, after all.
Based on their work, Givitas is a purpose built, knowledge-sharing platform that offers a simple path to give and get help.
Here’s why it works:
1. Givitas reduces the stigma of asking for help and makes it easy to be a giver.
2. Givitas leverages social science that proves connected, generous groups outperform others in satisfaction, efficiency, and overall business performance.
3. You don’t have to know who to ask, and the responsibility of generosity is spread across the community with no undue burden on a few givers. Everyone has equal access to mentors and experts.
Our goal at the CIE is to help entrepreneurs and advisors by providing equal access to the collective intelligence, knowledge, experience, and expertise in our region. Givitas grows our entrepreneurial community and improves business success.
We also have a robust mentoring program. For us, Givitas has proven an invaluable way to introduce new mentors and participants to a powerful and effective way of exchanging help with people they might not otherwise get to know.
What used to happen – people would call me and ask me if I knew any manufacturers who could help build a prototype, or if I knew investors who might be interested in a specific technology. I was happy to help, but worried that I was a bottleneck. I also realized that while I have great connections in the region, opening these requests up to a broader group would expand the possibilities and potential audience and network.
Givitas has given people direct access to one another without having to go through me or wait for me to make a connection.
Some examples of people who have gotten help through our Givitas network:
These are just a few recent examples of the kind of help being asked for and given in our Givitas group.
Everyone is welcome to join our Givitas network.
Diane Durance, MPA, is director of UNC Wilmington’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). The CIE is a resource for the start-up and early-stage business community to help diversify the local economy with innovative solutions. For more information, visit www.uncw.edu/cie.