The Givers are the Winners

For centuries, we lived in scarcity economy. If you made a pair of shoes for someone, you couldn’t give them to someone else as well.

Scarcity refers to the basic economic problem, requiring people to make decisions about how to maximize limited resources efficiently. Scarcity is also known as ‘paucity.’

Today’s economics have moved away from scarcity economics. It’s because the most valuable things are more valuable when they are used more.

The video game Fortnight is free to play and yet has made over $1 billion in a little over a year. The more people play it, the more others want to play it. Call it the connection economy, the network effect. Whatever you call it, in the modern world, the more you bring people together, the more money you make.

Wharton professor Adam Grant has become an academic superstar analyzing who does best in the workplace: givers, takers, or matchers. Do you do better if you give to others, take from them, or aim to trade evenly? What he found was the worst performers were givers. They gave so much that they were taken advantage of.

Interestingly, the best performers were givers as well.

Successful givers have strategies to help in ways that protect themselves from burnout: like helping for 5 minutes instead of an hour. Their generosity tends to forge deeper relationships, creating new opportunities for themselves as their reputations spread. “They become trusted collaborators, winning the loyalty of their colleagues, and the leaders whose staff rise to the occasion.” Read more here.

Portland is a small town. It’s a relationship town. Networks matter. And the more you’re willing to share your network, the more valuable you become.

Even in recruiting our first cohort, I’ve been able to make connections: a prospective student is a videographer while a Facebook friend was looking to produce a marketing video. My mentor was looking for a new co-working space and another prospective student runs a co-working space. And that’s just me. The network effects become exponentially higher as the number of people join. As the number of people increase linearly, the power value of the network increases exponentially. (Nerd dive here).


A friend was visiting this weekend. He’s lived in Nanaimo British Columbia for 30 years and is a professional photographer.. He told me:

You’ll make more money being a mediocre photographer with a great network than if you’re a great photographer and with a mediocre network.

At Mycelium, we want to help you become better at your business. That’s what 20 projects in 20 weeks will do.

But the real value is the power of the network and the network is built spending 20 weeks caring about each other and each other’s businesses.

One of the key characteristics we’re looking for in a Mycelium student is the willingness to give and to participate in the generosity economy. In this relationship town, the more you give, the more powerful you are. Is that you?

Come for the tools. Stay for the network.