Greed vs Generosity: Which Gives a Better Competitive Advantage?

Many people think that in the professional world, selfishness and greed are the characteristics that pay dividends. But the truth is, excepting win-lose situations, that the most successful people in the medium and long term are those who are the most generous in their business and personal lives.

Ambition is a desire to take on more than you can realistically accomplish, to constantly strive for improvement, to grow both personally and professionally, and, of course, the desire to generate more income. However there comes a time when ambition crosses a line, and when that happens it becomes greed. Greed is the desire to chew more than you can eat, a desire that distracts you from realistically possible goals. Greed is wanting to get more than what you have actually earned, obtaining maximum profit at minimum cost, or as an old adage has it: “Grasp all, lose all.”

Today there is an abundance of courses and books on finance, limitless knowledge on hand with a simple click. But to know what is right, to subdue the pirates of greed and to follow your trading plan- this is another story. People who look for easy money invariably find that there is no such thing, paying a heavy price for this lesson. Ego, vanity, and revenge play a part, causing people to fail on their trading accounts. This is one of the factors that explains why people might not fall into the exclusive 10% that ‘win’, and find themselves one of the 90% that lose.

Literature and film are full of greedy and stingy characters, and the moral of films like ‘A Christmas Carol’ or ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ is always the same: the fate of the greedy is heartbreaking. Their addiction to work means that they live a lonely life, and their search for wealth means that at the end of their lives, they have only the sober memory of their friends from the Stock Exchange.


People do not realize that giving without expecting something in return could be a competitive advantage, as well as making ones outlook more positive. Studies have shown that the most successful people are generous. At least this is the affirmation of Adam Grant, a psychologist and professor at Wharton and author of “Give and Take”.

A generous person builds bigger and stronger networks, improves communication with their existing contacts, and also finds it easier to interact with people outside of their core network- this gives them access to new contacts and valuable sources of information. Generous people inspire in others a predisposition, or positive receptivity, to reconnect with them, as well as a greater willingness to collaborate.

Moreover, being a giver encourages persistence because givers are able to enthusiastically motivate people, inspiring confidence, because they are liberal with praise. They create a generally positive environment. Talent is important, but the most important factor in success is persistence. And what’s even more interesting is that being a giver has an energizing effect that increases levels of happiness.

According to Bill Williams, famous trader and writer of “Trading Chaos”, people with a ‘giving’ mindset enjoy more happiness and success. For example, later in his career Bill always traded two accounts, one for himself and one for his charities. The charity account always made more money, even though he traded using the same method with both accounts. In the charity account he never veered from his strategy, while in his own account he would sometimes take a trade based on a “feel”, or get in a trade before the actual signal. This shows us the importance of sticking to a plan, but also the importance of being a ‘giver’.

Giving distracts us from our problems, adds meaning to our lives and helps us feel valued by others. This explains why avidity and egoism are the trader’s worst enemy. Having a benevolent mindset while trading helps the trader to increase performance. Happy people earn more money on average, score higher yields, make better decisions and contribute more to their organizations. Furthermore, traders who are givers are at the top of the most successful trading operations.


Focusing only on money results in the ‘greedy effect’, something that all professional traders know. In fact, one of the most common pieces of (rarely followed) advice that newbies receive is to shift their focus from trade results to the trading process, analyzing and following the rules of their trading system. Another suggestion is to start reasoning in pips and ticks instead of dollars. This reduces the greedy mindset and develops a more reliable attitude.

However we can make a further effort to improve our performance by shifting our focus to be more generous. One example is trading for charitable purposes like the aforementioned Bill Williams, another could be simply committing a small part of your monthly or annual profit to microcredits, which promote a world of stability and self-sufficiency, key to overcoming poverty.

Material things can be recovered, but feelings of guilt, helplessness and loneliness cannot be solved with money. If humans would be more understanding of and generous to others, the world would be a very different place. And that is why those who practice generosity, making it part of their daily lives, experience an uplifting of their mental and emotional state, and are generally filled with more satisfaction in their professional and personal lives.

In conclusion, we see that generous people are the most successful in their daily trading performance for the reasons described above. Having a giving mindset helps professionals become part of that exclusive group, the 10% of winners.