In Collaboration

Guest blogger Katie Elliott shares her experience: what it was like to ask for help on Givitas, what happened, and where she is now. 

 

While reading Adam Grant’s email newsletter last December, I came across an invitation. 

Adam mentioned that he was setting up a group on Givitas for people who receive his Granted emails: a place to offer and request help from one another. Curious about the opportunity for connection, I followed the link.

By the time I arrived on the Givitas platform, there was already a flurry of activity. I remember feeling pleased when I came across a request I could respond to. I started offering help immediately, but it took me a few days to pluck up the courage to ask for anything.

However, since there was clear encouragement to make a request – and an acknowledgement that although we might find it harder to ask than to offer, it was important to do both for the group to work well – I decided to ask if anyone could help me find guests for Adventures in Behaviour Change, the podcast I was preparing to launch.

I was nervous about posting, not least because I felt like something of an imposter. I had no qualifications, connections or professional expertise in the field of behaviour change – just some personal experience and a fascination with the subject. My podcast hadn’t launched yet. There was no social proof to reassure people that I was someone worth talking to. Why would anyone want to help me? 

What happened

I was out celebrating my younger son’s birthday when the responses started arriving. I ended up turning my phone off – it was just too tempting to read all the messages as they appeared. Some came via the Givitas site, others as personal emails. Within a few days I’d received nearly 40 offers, recommendations, and introductions from people all over the world. 

…..

For several years I’d been obsessed with the idea of crowdsourcing information. Of talking with lots of different people about their experience of being human in an attempt to understand what it takes for us to be healthy, happy and do our best work. Of exploring how it is that some people always seem to find a silver lining or bounce back from adversity, whilst others struggle. The interest was personal. As a life-long struggler, I wanted to find better ways of doing things.

But to crowdsource anything, you need networks – and I’d deleted mine. Some time earlier, I had realised that being active on social media wasn’t helpful for my mental health, so I’d gotten rid of all my accounts. I have no regrets about doing it, but there’s no doubt that I lost many opportunities for knowledge-sharing in the process. 

So to be able to instantly connect with a wide range of generous, well-informed people in a quick and easy way was the most extraordinary gift. And it came at exactly the moment I needed it.

The outcome?

The podcast launched in February 2019. Nine of the 23 episodes released so far feature interviews that would never have happened without Givitas. Eight more of these Givitas-sourced guests are scheduled for later in the year. Together we’ve explored subjects ranging from sleep and energy management to mindfulness, productivity, neuroplasticity, gamification, kindness, procrastination, ‘indistractability’ and more. It has offered the richest environment for informal learning I’ve ever experienced.

Making a request created a surprisingly powerful sense of accountability. There’s nothing quite like telling people you’re going to do something and enlisting their help to do it as a way of keeping yourself on track in the moments when you feel like giving up. Without lining up all those interviews at the start, Adventures in Behaviour Change might well have succumbed to ‘podfade’ by episode seven, like so many others. 

After interviewing behavioural scientist Aline Holzwarth (also a Give and Take guest blogger), I happened to mention an idea for a simple, evidence-based, self-care tool I was interested in developing. Encouraged by her response and the information she gave me, I decided to pursue it. Thanks to our conversation, that idea has now come to life. It goes into production next month.

I’m still in touch with many of the people who offered help all those months ago. Many have become friends and I continue to be astonished by their generosity. One such person is productivity consultant, Sharon Danzger. After our interview, Sharon introduced me to four colleagues in related fields, all of whom have now become guests. She regularly emails me with helpful information and encouragement, invited me to write for her blog and even posted her own request on Givitas, asking people if they would listen to and review the podcast when it launched.

What I like most about Givitas

So clearly I’m a fan of Givitas – but what are the things I like about it most?

  • The rules of engagement are clear

Interactions on Givitas are focused on asking and offering, rather than status updates or socialising. Participation is quick and uncomplicated, which – for those of us who find navigating social media etiquette stressful and time-consuming – is a welcome relief. 

  • It offers access to ‘generous objectivity’

It can be tempting to turn to the people we know best when looking for help, advice or feedback – however they are not necessarily well-placed to offer the experience and expertise we need. Even if they are, it can be difficult for them to see things objectively, or for them to feel free to say what they really think. Givitas opens up the possibility of asking people with relevant knowledge and experience for honest feedback, in a safe, generous-spirited environment. 

  • It democratises knowledge-sharing

No matter who we are, there is so much we all have so much to contribute, through both giving and receiving. Yet it can be all too easy to avoid doing either because we think, “Who am I to ask / offer?”Givitas creates a space in which it is safe to ask and where everyone is free to respond or not, without expectation or awkwardness. And that – in my experience at least – opens up the possibility of a whole lot of ‘yes-saying’ that would never otherwise happen.

To subscribe to Adam Grant’s newsletter, visit his website. He talked about Givitas in his December 2018 and January 2019 issues.

About the Author

Guest blogger Katie Elliott is the founder of the Little Challenges project, host of the Adventures in Behaviour Change podcast and creator of Amiko Cards. A former children’s author and illustrator, jazz musician and social entrepreneur, Katie works from her home in Wotton-under-Edge, a small, rural town in Gloucestershire, UK.

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