My Dad asked me the “Skin in the Game” question when I was 23 and I will never forget it.  I had a friend who believed a certain company was going to grow really fast.  He said I should invest. So being the wise 23 year old, I said something like this to my Dad – “Dad this company is going to do big things, you should consider investing in them”. I wanted my Dad to think I had good insight into investing.  My Dad’s response was classic.  He said, “Son how much have you invested (the Skin in the Game question)”. I said, “none”.  He replied, “Tell me when you make an investment and then I will consider it”.

I love Shark Tank – I am addicted to it. Entrepreneurs come into the tank and make their pitch to get an investment from the Sharks (usually 5 investors).   The Sharks ask questions about debt, their valuation of their company, sales and then the “Skin in the Game” question. This question sounds like this: “So what do you have personally invested in this company”. People often talk about their sweat equity (some “Skin”) and then explain their financial equity (major “Skin”). It is interesting because some come to the Tank looking for the Sharks to take a financial risk – when they have little “Skin in the Game”. It usually doesn’t end well on the investment side for those without “Skin”.

“I believe that is the first question everyone on the team you lead is asking (sometimes out loud) – “What skin do you have in the game?” ” Sometimes leaders mistakenly think “Skin” looks like this:

  • A great idea I have been dreaming for years
  • I am the leader and that is my “Skin”
  • Or we make it spiritual – “This is God’s Will” for you to invest in our ministry!

“Skin in the game” merely means you are making an investment that you ask everyone else to make a similar investment. So ask these questions before you ask for others investment:

  • If you challenge people to do the hard work – Are you?
  • If you ask people for a financial investment – Are you leading financially?
  • If you ask people for time – Are you investing your time?
  • If you are asking people to bring passion – Do you work with passion?

“So the next time you make a “Big Ask” to me ” be ready for the “Skin in the Game” questions of:

  • Wallet – are you financially invested?
  • Calendar – What kind of time will you spend making it happen?
  • And Passion – How will you demonstrate your desire?

What shows “Skin in the Game” for you?