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Wayne Baker

What's the one thing standing between you and success? The willingness to ask for help.

Management Professor at the University of Michigan | Author of All You Have To Do Is Ask

Contact Wayne For Booking
Wayne Baker | Management Professor at the University of Michigan | Author of All You Have To Do Is Ask
Lavin Exclusive Speaker

The biggest barrier to success is our inability to ask for help when we need it. Wayne Baker, a Professor at the University of Michigan, believes that creating a culture of generosity and reciprocity at work leads to our biggest rewards: stronger employee satisfaction, engagement, productivity, and success. Drawing from the insights found in his employment software company—co-founded with Adam Grant—and his upcoming book All You Have To Do Is Ask, Baker teaches us how to tap into our potential by using our greatest resource: each other.

“The teachings of Wayne Baker and Adam Grant have greatly influenced how I think about the concepts of reciprocity, generosity, and networking in my workplace, with my team, and in my personal life.”

— Gail Campanella, Director at the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation

In his latest book All You Have To Do Is Ask, Wayne Baker reframes the notion of asking for help. There are many reasons we might not ask for help: we underestimate the willingness of others to give it; we over-value self-reliance; we consider it a sign of weakness; we fear being seen as selfish. Circumventing these obstacles can be difficult, but it’s absolutely crucial to our success that we do. As a Professor of Management and Organizations at the University of Michigan, Baker has the academic research to back up his claims. His book offers science-backed strategies—favored by companies like Google, GM, and IDEO—to transform the act of asking for help from a loathsome task into a powerful organizational habit with valuable results.

 

The book includes “The Reciprocity Ring,” a revolutionary group exercise that Baker developed to help build community, strengthen relationships, and make giving and receiving help an effortless experience. “It's easier to ask for what you need when you learn that asking an intelligent request actually increases others' perception of your competence,” Baker explains to Forbes. To date, “The Reciprocity Ring” has been used by nearly 100,000 professionals worldwide, and features tangible real-world results. The exercise is offered by Give and Take, the company that Baker co-founded with his wife, social science innovator Cheryl Baker, and psychologist Adam Grant. In addition to “The Reciprocity Ring,” the company also created Givitas: a scalable technology platform that helps share knowledge across teams, severing bureaucratic hierarchies in favour of open, lateral information exchange. Supported by Baker’s award-winning research, Give and Take shows us how to develop a culture of generosity at work, leading to happier, more efficient, and successful teams.

 

Baker is Robert P. Thome Professor of Business Administration, as well as a Professor of Management & Organizations at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. He is a Professor of Sociology at the University, and a Faculty Associate at the Institute for Social Research. His work focuses on social networks, generosity, values, and positive organizational scholarship.  He has published several books on his research, as well as scholarly articles, appearing in The Harvard Business Review and Chief Executive Magazine. Baker serves as Faculty Director of the Center for Positive Organizations, a world-class research center focusing on positive organizational scholarship.  Prior to joining the Ross faculty, Baker was on the faculty at the University of Chicago School of Business. He earned his Ph.D. in sociology from Northwestern University and was a post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard Business School. 

Speech Topics

Corporate Culture
All You Have To Do Is Ask How to Master the Most Important Skills for Success
When Wayne Baker developed his revolutionary group exercise “The Reciprocity Ring,” he thought the goal was getting people to become more generous. He soon discovered that generosity wasn’t the problem. People are actually very willing to help others. The real struggle is getting them to ask for what they need. Our early conditioning in school has led us to believe in the myths of self-sufficiency: we’re meant to do everything alone; asking for help makes us look ignorant; and other people are uninterested in helping us, anyway. As a result, instead of reaching out when we need help, we tend to isolate ourselves and suffer through our work. In this keynote, Baker shatters these long-standing myths that no longer serve us. Drawing from the lessons in his upcoming book All You Have To Do Is Ask, Baker shows us how to ask meaningful questions, co-create better solutions, and build generous organizations from the ground up. The result is a happier, more productive, and highly engaged workplace.